Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Anti-Atheist Bigot

Old Business: Bush's Leak

I have listened to and read several discussions on Bush's decision to authorize Scooter Libby to 'leak' information from the National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq.

I have not seen any who are describing the situation correctly.

What I keep hearing is that President Bush has the right to declassify whatever information he chooses if he decides that it will not damage national security. In this case, he determined that the need to counter information in the press by Joe Wilson, countering claims that Saddam Hussein was seeking technology for nuclear weapons warranted releasing information contained within the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. So, he 'declassified' the information and authorized Libby, through Cheney, to get the information out there to the press.

This is the "urban legend" version of events.

The problem with this version of the story is that Libby did not reveal any information contained within the NIE. What Libby did was pretend to be leaking information contained within the NIE. He told Judith Miller of the New York Times that a key finding in the report was that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear technology. That finding was not in the report. In fact, in the addendum to the report, the NIE claimed that evidence for such a claim was "highly dubious."

So, we are not talking about a case in which President Bush authorized a leak of classified information. If Libby's actions were authorized by President Bush, then Bush authorized Libby to tell yet another lie about Saddam Hussein pursuing nuclear technology, while pretending to leak information from the NIE.

What Bush did here was exactly the same thing he did in the State of the Union message. He lied to us about having reliable information that Saddam Hussein was pursuing nuclear technology.

Bush wanted to be a war president and he lied to us in order to fulfill his wish. Because, if he did not want to be a war president, then why did he lie us into war?

It is one thing to debate the moral merits of Bush revealing classified information. It is quite another to talk about the moral merits of Bush authorizing a flat out lie in order to deceive the people once again into believing he had good reason to invade another country.

If you know of people who are still using the 'declassified information from the NIE' spin, please invite them to get their facts straight.

Old Business: Gerrymandering

On the issue of gerrymandering, I wanted to show some math that showed the ultimate immorality behind this practice.

Through gerrymandering, it is possible for a group of legislators to create a situation where they can hold onto power unless a super-majority of 75% of the population turn against them. As long as the right 25% continue to support them and vote for them, they can stay in power indefinitely.

It is a situation that can only be described as one of destroying democracy for reasons of personal ambition. It is a situation that exists in many part of the United States today.

Let us assume that there is a state with 100 districts. The gerrymanderers want to stay in power, even though they are about to start imposing legislation that 74% of the voters would oppose, and 26% would accept. So, they rig the districts. They find out where their most loyal supporters live. Then, they create district where these loyal supporters will make up the majority in 51 districts. This also includes 49 districts in which opposition is unanimous. When the next election comes, the 26% minority who supports these measures will give their party 51 seats out of 100 -- or control of the government.

Current events suggest that about 30% of the population is so partisan that their party can lie the country into war and they will still support the party. They see their party as incapable of error. With this fact, it is possible for any party to make itself the official political party of any state, even when up to 74% of the people oppose their policy.

If you have a legislative candidate who embraces gerrymandering, then you have a legislative candidate who will destroy democracy for the sake of personal power. He has to be a person who can destroy democracy without a twinge of conscience. If he hates democracy so much, then we have to ask whether this is the type of person who has any right to be elected in a country that is supposed to embrace democracy.

With the enemies of democracy in control of the government, it will take a supermajority of 75% of the voters to end this sytem and restore the principles of democracy in this country. I wonder if we can possibly get 75% of the people who are capable of putting the principles of democracy above party loyalty.


New Business: The Anti-Atheist Bigot

We all know the claim that no person can be moral who does not know God and follow a religious ethics. This doctrine lies sit at the root of the fact that atheists are the most hated and distrusted subgroup in America. Where people are permitted to claim, without challenge or objection, "People of type X are morally inferior to the rest of us," it should not come as any surprise that "People of type X" become the most hated and distrusted people in that society.

In responding to the "atheists have no morals" claim, I think that most atheists give a wrong set of answers. The answers that I read from fellow atheists try to answer that there are fewer atheists in prison per capita than theists. Or they try to convince the readers or listeners that they have been good little boys and girls.

The problem with these answers is that they all assume that the challenge is legitimate and deserves an answer. By assuming that we have an obligation to defend ourselves from such an accusation, we assume that it is morally permissible to make such an accusation.

In fact, expecting the atheist to respond to this challenge with evidence to the contrary is a fully bigoted and immoral expectation to start with, and that is how it should be answered.

Imagine a radio host interviewing a KKK member and an African American. The KKK member makes a claim that blacks are inherently morally inferior to whites. The radio announcer then turns to his African Americans guest and asks, "How do you defend yourself from this accusation?"

Does the African American then have an obligation to pull out statistics that show that African Americans are better behaved than white Americans? Would evidence to the contrary prove that it is permissible to assert a policy of making African Americans second-class citizens in their own country?

Or imagine the same interview involving a Nazi and a Jew, where the Nazi accuses Jews of being involved in a conspiracy to hoard wealth and to keep all of the wealth in their own little cabal of friends. Then imagine the interviewer turning to the Jew and expecting the Jew to refute these charges.

The very act of turning to the victim of these types of claims and execting a refutation is an act of bigotry.

That is how these types of claims should be answered.

"What wrong are you accusing me of? If you are going to sit there and say that I am morally inferior to you, then you must have evidence that I have committed some moral crime that makes me worthy of condemnation. What evidence do you have? Without it, your statement that atheists cannot be moral is no different than that of the Nazi condemning all Jews, or the KKK member condemning all blacks. You are proving yourself to be no better than either of them."

The opponent may respond to this by saying, "I did not say anything about you being immoral or doing anything wrong."

In fact, he did. "You just sat there and said that atheists cannot be moral. You just sat there and said that we cannot have a fully just, moral, law-abiding society until we do something to get rid of all of the atheists. That is no different than the Nazi calling for the elimination of all the Jews or the KKK members saying that all the blacks should be exported back to Africa. You might not use the same emthods, but you are certainly advocating the same type of goal."

The opponent might say, "How dare you compare Christians to Nazis and the KKK!"

The answer to this is would be, "I am not comparing Christians to Nazis and the KKK. I am comparing YOU to the Nazis and the KKK. You are the one claiming that we must get rid of all of the atheists if we are going to have a fair and just society. You are the one blaming atheists for all of this country's ills. There are other Christians -- decent Christians -- who would say such things. There are other Christians -- decent Christians -- who would find the statement that we need to rid the world of atheists to be as repulsive as the claim that we must rid the world of Jews or rid America of blacks. There are other Chrisians who are not bigots. You happen to be one of the few -- hopefully, few -- who are both a Christian and a bigot."

The fact is, statistics on the average prison record of the atheist compared to the Christian is as irrelevant as similar statistics on the average black versus the average white American.

Each individual has a right to be judged on his or her own actions, not by his or her membership in a class or group. When somebody crosses that line, we should make it perfectly clear what those types of statements say about those who make them.

4 comments:

LBBP said...

Although I agree with the spirit of your argument against atheist bigotry, I think the practicality of the issue is more difficult. Because when you say, "What wrong are you accusing me of? If you are going to sit there and say that I am morally inferior to you, then you must have evidence that I have committed some moral crime that makes me worthy of condemnation. What evidence do you have?" Their response will be, "It's right there in scripture (insert quote from bible, koran, etc..) and that is all the evidence I need."

So for the most part, I think you are right, the only way to try and open peoples eye's is to keep it personal and say, "So do you think that I am immoral?" Sadly, they will probably say, "Yes".

Alonzo Fyfe said...

They probably will.

But, then, the Nazi and the KKK also would say that their preferred hate group is, indeed, morally inferior as well. Their disposition to answer 'yes' is not a sound defense.

Angry Atheist said...

Perhaps a more productive way to construct a phrase with the same meaning would be:
You don't know me, and you don't know that that's true. In fact, you have no reason to think it is. By applying these negative and false stereotypes to a whole group of people, you're doing something that's not much different to what was done to Jews prior to the holocaust.

You could even smile and add:
If I weren't a gentle person, I might take serious offense to that.

It pays to know your audience - right?

If you can figure a way to modify your tone and structure in order to avoid resistance, anger and meltdowns ...

well, that's the burden of being brainier. ;)

The Justifier said...

Although I agree with the spirit of your argument against anti-atheist bigotry, I think the practicality of the issue is more difficult. Because when you say, "What wrong are you accusing me of? If you are going to sit there and say that I am intellectually inferior to you, then you must have evidence that I have committed some intellectual crime that makes me worthy of condemnation. What evidence do you have?" Their response will be, "It's right there in scripture (insert quote from richard dawkins, karl marx, etc..) and that is all the evidence I need."

So for the most part, I think you are right, the only way to try and open peoples eye's is to keep it personal and say, "So do you think that I am stupid?" Sadly, they will probably say, "Yes". Atheist bigots often can’t see past their nose.