I’ve been drawn into an interesting discussion on a few other blogs. It started the other day while watching the TODAY show as I dressed for work. Matt Lauer had his panel of “experts” addressing controversial topics of the day, and one of them involved “outsourcing” Christmas obligations, like shopping, card sending etc, and the propriety of doing so. In the course of the conversation, Nancy Snyderman said she didn’t like the religious element of Christmas, in effect, it’s what ruins it for her. It was a short exchange, not well fleshed out, but it was clear there was a disagreement between Star Jones, who felt “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” while Snyderman did not.
I guess everyone is well aware of the Arab Spring that has swept across the Middle East and North Africa, with the toppling of regimes in countries like Libya and Egypt. It seems to bear out the idea that people everywhere are more or less the same, regardless of their ethnic, cultural or religious differences, in the areas of political and personal freedom. They will put up with a crap-load of oppression and lack of freedom up to a point, but when that point is reached, they’ll snap, rise up and get rid of their oppressors. Usually, this happens in conjunction with an economic downturn. So it’s no surprise to see this with a world economy on the fritz, and it also explains American movements like the Tea Party and the Occupy movement. When people are able to exist with enough of the necessities of life, they are…well, maybe not happy, but content enough with their lives to let sleeping dogs lie. But when every day is a dog-eat-dog form of existence, the rulers better watch out. But enough with the canine cliches.
Here’s something that’s been bugging me, so allow me a little rant.
It seems like every time an atheist makes a comment about some aspect of religion that bugs them, they are quite forcefully and specifically told to shut up. Religion is not a topic one is supposed to discuss in polite company (along with politics and sex, and we know how often that rule is broken). Atheists are made to feel like every time they criticize theism, they are stepping over some boundary of propriety. Due to my upbringing, I often find myself gauging the sensibilities of my listener to see if I might offend them, but I notice that never does a Christian (I don’t have much contacts with Hindus, Muslims and members of other religions) stop and think before they “thank god” or “god bless me” or otherwise inject their religious beliefs into a conversation.
You may or may not be aware of the recent clashes the Taliban influenced populace of Afghanistan has had with authorities over the inadvertent and unintentional disposal of a few Qu’rans, resulting in daily protests, suicide bombings and other violence. All over some janitor burning a few books that were probably in the way. I often wonder how this actually can seem to be so horrendous to the protestors that they would resort to such extreme measures to voice their discontent. I can’t imagine getting that upset over the loss of a book.
People think we atheists pick on Christians too much, but tend to shy away from picking on Muslims. Actually, just about everything we object to, while often directed to some inanity of Christianity, could be easily extrapolated to any religion, because it’s theism that atheists don’t buy into. Christianity is just the most pervasive form of theism on the planet, and a known target. In addition most atheists, if they were once part of a theistic community, were probably Christians, or at least live in a predominately Christian area. There are not a lot of formerly Islamic atheists out there. At least there are not many talking about it, even if they exist.
One part of me says, “it’s about time”. The other part is somewhat sad. I guess you could describe it as mixed emotions.
Mark Twain once said
I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not a post meant to disparage any religion, especially the Muslim religion. You know, the “religion of peace”.
Muzzammil Hassan was a cable TV producer, who set up his own cable studio to broadcast shows that “promote[d] understanding of his Muslim culture”. He started the studio with his wife, Aasiya Hassan, the 37 year old mother of his two children. They wanted to counter the negative stereotypes of Muslims perceived by Americans since 9/11. On Feb 12, 2009, he stabbed her to death with two knives he had purchased about an hour earlier at Wal-Mart, six days after she had filed for divorce.
By now you’ve read about the latest Islamic Andy Warhol, looking for his 15 minutes and 72 virgins, who tried to set off a car bomb in Portland, Oregon during a public tree lighting ceremony, while shouting “Allahu Akbar!” – Arabic for “God is great!”. What’s with this Allahu Akbar!” shit?
PZ regularly posts some of the crazy email he gets to his blog. I’d love to be able to say I get the same shit, but I don’t. Oh, occasionally some whack job Christian shows up here, and leaves really odd comments (I’m looking at you, Gideon), but they usually do it right on the blog, rarely by email. I’ve gotten a few over the years, but never anything to get worked up about.
Our Secretary of State, on behalf of her employer, has rejected the notion that religion can be defamed. That’s the official United States position before the world. A resolution condemning religious defamation has been proposed before the United Nations General Assembly. Amazingly, this proposal actually was endorsed by the U.N. Human Rights Council, by a vote of 20-17 (with 8 abstaining and 2 absent). One wonders what kind of minds operate behind that particular council.