A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Revisiting the Existential Threat to Western Society

I've argued this before but the topic is still hot so I'm going to approach it from a different perspective.

Believe it or not, Muslims are not inherently bad or evil. It's one thing to challenge their claims and criticize their actions when they behave badly, but that's not what a lot of the criticism is doing. I don't like vilifying Muslims as a group for a number of reasons. One is because they're not a majority in my society the way Christians are, so it's not as easy to punch up. Were I living in Iran or Saudi Arabia that would be a different story, but that would carry its own set of problems worthy of criticism in their own right. Vilifying Muslims in a Christian-dominated society doesn't promote secularism or anti-theism so much as give shade to Christian agendas. Even if you're not intending to promote Christian supremacy, unintended consequences are still a thing. If we want a post-religious society then I strongly believe that secularism needs to be our goal, not anti-theism. When enforced correctly secularism can't be so easily subverted to promote a sectarian agenda. Anti-theists can get so caught up in focusing on a particular threat that we ignore all others.

Another reason I don't support vilifying Muslims or other minority groups is because in spite of our recent gains atheists are still a minority. If there's anything that Christians and Muslims agree on is that atheists are a threat to religion. If you think that Christian society is a valid defense against Islamic aggression what you're doing is empowering Christians to fight against ideological threats. That necessarily includes us. Speaking as an atheist, if you think that Christians won't use the power we give them to shut us down with the same zealotry they'll use against Muslims you're sorely mistaken. We are the original Other, the true existential threat to all religious agendas. We may not use violence to achieve our ends the way Christians and Muslims do, but we are no less dangerous to their goals.

Christian extremists have been looking for ways to roll back the clock on the Enlightenment, to overturn secularism and restore their religious power in Western society. We should not help them achieve their goals by undermining secularism in our zeal to oppose Muslim terrorism. It will not stop with Muslims.

So think again before you share a post from Breitbart, World Net Daily and other right-wing sources. Look to see what else they have to say about religion in general; are they just anti-Islamic in particular or do they promote secularism in general? If the latter then go ahead and share it and I'll support it when I see it. But if it's just the former then most likely they're promoting a Christian agenda and no matter how much you may hate Islam or Muslims, that's not going to help anyone who isn't a Christian. Like me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Help We Can Do Without

I voted today, and I'm glad I did. I couldn't find the ballot they sent to me until my wife kindly informed me it was probably buried in the pile of mail I hadn't noticed. But I dropped it off the completed form this morning on my way to work and all is well with the world. I hope.

Something in particular caught my attention, though. Now that the election is finally almost over and we're just about done with the Wikileaks' dump of hacked emails attacking Hillary Clinton they've gone and made a curious claim that they weren't trying to harm anyone in particular, they just wanted to provide a service by informing the general public. Nobody's buying it, and no one should. Here's why:

  • They had this information back in March, long before the nomination was decided, before but carefully timed the releases in such a way to do maximum damage not to a specific candidate but to a specific party.
  • They did not visibly work toward exposing corruption in both major parties. They just shrugged and said because no one had tried hacking the RNC it wasn't their problem.
  • What they did release was overhyped but ultimately very weak tea. The most common comparison was with sausage: you don't want to watch it being made, but that doesn't make it bad. What we learned from those emails is that Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff are seasoned politicians, not that they'd actually done anything illegal or unethical.
  • Even though they also claimed they didn't have any information damaging to the RNC, Assange admitted to having information on Trump. He claims he didn't release it because what Trump was saying to the media was far worse than anything he could release. He hasn't given us the opportunity to decide that for ourselves.

So I call bullshit on any claims of objectivity or being nonpartisan. This was very clearly a hit job on a candidate and a party that they didn't want to win the election today. Between Wikileaks and James Comey it's clear that if any rigging is going on it isn't in favor of the Democratic Party.