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.

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