Friday, April 11, 2008

Dear Ms. Davis

Dear Representative Davis:

First, I want to congratulate you for that back-handed apology to Rob Sherman – the one where you linked Sherman’s atheism with a school shooting. You got Mr. Sherman to say “Thank you,” and “I forgive you,” and to announce this on his web site, while the rest of the atheist community wonders where those finger marks on their cheek came from. That was a political masterpiece. I wonder, did you think of that yourself, or did some PR firm recommend it to you?

What’s particularly impressive about it is that the bulk of the country doesn’t even know you apologized. MSNBC, like all news organizations, condemned you in ways that were transmitted all over the web, but the apology was scarcely mentioned and certainly not repeated outside of the group you most needed to silence.

To the rest of the world, you stood up to the atheists, you insisted that they had no right to even be represented in Congress, you called their beliefs ‘dangerous’ saying that children should not even know that their philosophy exists. And then . . . silence.

I have no doubt that your actions will serve as a valuable lesson to the rest of the country – that they can stand up to atheists, put them in their place, and nothing will come of it.

By now, their initial blog postings would have scrolled off of their front pages and into the archives. Their attention will move on to some other issue, and you will still be here.

We have often said that our rights are in poor hands if trust them to atheists. This, certainly, is proof. Atheists will not even defend their own rights – so we certainly cannot trust them to defend the rights of others. And, of course, nobody else will stand up for the atheists. Why? It’s like a soldier bravely defending an able-bodied adult who, nonetheless, lies cowering and sniveling in the corner. Why do for atheists what atheists are not willing to do for themselves?

They say that they do not believe in a God. Yet, they certainly act as if they are waiting for some kind of divine being to descend from heaven and smite their enemies. As atheists, you would expect them to think and act as if they believe that nothing gets done on this planet except through their hard efforts. You would think that they would shun the idea of doing nothing and waiting for things to happen for them. Yet, they do nothing, and wait for some mysterious actor to act on their behalf.

These people pride themselves on their rationality, and yet they write letters to you, Ms. Davis – a person who has already said that you consider theirs a ‘philosophy of destruction’ and something that children should not even know about. What type of person do they think you are that a letter from a person who only believes in destroying might persuade you to do what they want?

In fact, what are these letters but proof of their determination to destroy everything good in the state? Certainly, your representation – and in particular your willingness to stand up for God against the heathens and infidels – is one of the good things in this state. Of course they would want to destroy it. Of course they would want to see you resign.

I hope that writing these letters made them feel better, because that’s all the good they are ever going to get out of them.

As far as I am concerned, the best thing to come from this – the best thing to come from their pathetic and ineffective response to your outburst – is that this might help other legislators across the state and across the country find the nerve to put atheists in their place like you did. We know that there are a lot of them out there. Now, thanks to you, they know that standing up to atheists comes with no adverse political consequences.

Like I already said, the rest of the country knows that you stood up to Sherman. They know what you said, and, as far as they know that was the end of it. Except, you have become the darling of people who have wanted to tell atheists off for decades now. You are now their hero. One nice thing about heroes is that they breed more people like them.

That is one reason why you must stay in office, Ms. Davis. That is one reason why you must weather this storm. You must do so to give strength and to give voice to legislators across this country when it comes to standing up to those atheists. With your leadership, with your example, others will begin to realize that they, too, can take the position that you have taken with regard to these atheists, and that no harm will come of it. Indeed, their positions will become more secure – because the atheists will do nothing, and the theocrats will rally to your cause, and the atheists by their unwillingness to act will make sure that the theocrats will win.

And they will win, Ms. Davis.

We live in a country where a sitting President of the United States twice said that no atheist is qualified to be a judge. He said that “we need common-sense judges who realize that our rights come from God, and that is the type of judge I intend to appoint.” He said it once during a Presidential debate. What is that if not a statement that no atheist is qualified to be a judge? What is this if not a statement by the President of the United States to any atheist who comes in to be interviewed for a post as a Federal judge to, “Get out of that chair! You have no right to be here!”?

Bush not only survived making such statements. Nobody challenged him. Nobody said a word against him. Clearly, that sent a message across the political community that denying atheists any role at all in government is politically viable. We can see how Bush’s ability to explicitly deny atheists a role in government without any political consequences has affected even the Democratic candidates in this election.

I enjoy the way that atheists moan and cry about how if you had said the same thing about some other minority – if you had told some Jewish witness that this was a Christian nation, that theirs was a philosophy of destruction, and that it was dangerous for children to even know that Jews exist – that you would be out of a job.

Of course you would be out of a job. This is because every civil rights organization across the country would be making telephone calls and sending representatives out here demanding to see the governor and the House and Senate leadership, and the Democratic Party leadership, and every news reporter in the country demanding your head on a platter. They would have no choice but to deliver it.

Then there is the trick of turning public attention against the atheists by taking a quote from Sherman out of context to make it look as if he is the bigot. Thanks to that brilliant move, the atheists are now on the defensive. On the context of talking about Martin Luther King, Sherman used the word 'Negroes', and suddenly he is the bigot - irrespective of the fact that King used the word 'Negroes' 15 times in the 'I Have a Dream' speech alone.

Since people have such a deep-seated hostility towards atheists, they are naturally going to accept our interpretation of Sherman's words. They are not going to give it a favorable interpretation or see our actions as manipulative, because they want to see the atheists as the bad guys and us as the good guys. We must never forget that we have this advantage over them, or lose any opportunity to use the negative perception of atheists to our advantage.

You would think that these self-professed masters of reasoning who call themselves atheists would figure out that there is a direct relationship between a government’s tendency to stomp on a group of citizens and their tendency to let it happen. They’ll blame some non-descript ‘other’ for the way they are treated but take no responsibility for the contribution they make to this situation.

The Jews, for example, would know full well that a similar string of statements made against them are not a Jewish issue. This is not just a matter of Jews defending themselves from people who claim that “children ought not to even know that Jews exist.” They would make sure that the world knew that a threat against the Jews is a threat against any minority that might find itself the object of political hostility. They would have every organization that sees reason to fear a government that gets away with saying – “you have no right to be here” contacting representatives and friends of representatives demanding your resignation. And the noise will not end until they got it.

These things do not happen to other minorities because those minorities defend themselves, while atheists run and hide. The atheists might as well simply tattoo a sign on their bare back that says, “Kick me (again).”

Those atheists, if they really were as rational as they claim to be, would not be sending you emails or calling your office. They would be sending letters or calling the offices of American Atheists, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, The Secular Coalition, and they would be asking, “What are you going to do about this?” And if the answer is “Nothing”, they would shout – literally SHOUT - “Well you had better fracking get a plan and get it quick or my membership will go to the one who does! What the frack is wrong with you people!”

Those atheists, if they were rational, would be convening meetings within their own states asking, “What can we do to keep anything like that from happening here?” They would be organizing a campaign to talk to their own legislators and saying, “See what happened in Illinois? I demand (and ‘demand’ is the right word) a statement from you condemning her words and saying that if any colleague of yours in this state were to do the same thing you would demand their resignation.”

If they were rational, they would be contacting their county Democratic and Republican party headquarters and saying, “I demand a resolution from you stating that you recognize that the statement that ‘atheists are responsible for all of the school shootings’ to be morally equivalent to ‘Jews are responsible for all of the wars’ – an expression of blanket hate-mongering bigotry that has no legitimate place in this state.” And then when that party refuses, make sure that the public knows the bigotry that the party represents. They would make sure to inoculate their own state from the effects of your success here.

If they were rational, they would not be blind to the fact that a leading Democratic Presidential candidate is an Illinois legislator, and they would not shy from any opportunity to embarrass him until he disowns you and your remarks as he was forced to disown the remarks of his own preacher.

However, as I have already said, the scientific method itself confirms the fact that it is foolish to expect atheists to defend anybody’s rights to equal respect in the eyes of their own government, even their own. This is not an insult, this is just an empirical fact.

Mark my words, Ms. Davis. Nothing is going to happen to you. I’m going to check back here next Monday, and I bet the whole issue will have been forgotten, your position in this legislature will actually be stronger (because of the support of those who want to stick it to the atheists the way you did), and you will be an important role model for politicians across the whole country during this election.

Mark my words, Ms. Davis. Nothing will come of this.

It never does.

18 comments:

Obbop said...

Maybe I prefer the simplistic approach but that lengthy diatribe...couldn't it be condensed to:

Ms. Davis is a poo-poo head.

Nyah nyah nah nah nah.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

obbop

Since the post isn't really about Ms. Davis (it uses the current incident to make some other, related points), I don't think your translation will work.

Obbop said...

Damn

Calvin said...

Waitasec - Davis' apology didn't tie atheists to school shootings at all.

The original context of her explanation is crystal-clear: horrible news of yet another atrocity against a child (22 murdered kids in a year is kinda a big deal) filled her with pent-up anger looking for an outlet, and she blew up in the face of the first passionate disagreement she came across, which just happened to be with an atheist.

Had the docket been different that day, any number of different straws could have, and in all likelihood would have, broken the camel’s back.

There is not a shred of substance behind this attempt to play victim. I submit, Alonzo Fyfe, that you are guilty of precisely the sort of demagoguery you claim to be opposing.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Calvin

If you are not aware of the constant stream of statements saying every time that there is a school shooting that it is because the atheists have removed prayer in schools and that atheists and evolutionists have undermined morality, than you have had your head in the sand for a bit too long.

Just do an internet search on school shootings, and see how atheists, secularists, and the teaching of evolution are scapegoated for these crimes.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Calvin

Also, consider that she not only tore into Sherman after hearing about a school shooting, but the things she said.

"It is dangerous for children to even know your philosophy exists."

"What you have to spew is extremely dangerous."

"You believe in destroying!"

If hearing about a school shooting causes her to rip into an atheist in this way, particularly in a culture saturated with bigots linking atheism to school violence every time something like this happens, and with Monique Davis already working to sneek prayer into schools through a "moment of silence" - a measure that, itself, is associated with the bigotry linking atheism to school violence - there is not much of a leap here at all.

Calvin said...

Oh, I’m well aware of such statements. And even if they miss the mark (which, admittedly, they do in the specific shooting instances I recall), the broader point—that by purging America of her Judeo-Christian roots, secular activists risk removing a powerful check on mankind’s darker impulses—is correct. That’s not to say the average American who happens to reject God deserves scorn, far from it. But it does mean Americans are right to be angry at overreaching attempts to secularize the nation, and to be angry at the crusaders (if you’ll pardon the term) perpetrating them. Because yes, they are “dangerous.”

“It is dangerous for children to even know your philosophy exists.” Judging by Davis’ original comments, it seems pretty clear to me that she wasn’t simply talking about the philosophy that God doesn’t exist, but rather the crusader brand of atheist mentality that Sherman certainly adopted. After all, this is a guy who gets up in arms over the very presence of the song “God Bless America” in a public school. Children should be aware varying philosophies exist, including obsessive hatred of religion, but not until they are capable of critical analysis.

It seems clear to me that people like Sherman, who want the public sphere wiped totally clean of all vestiges of religion, do “believe in destroying” something—not people or buildings, but they believe in destroying a significant part of our heritage. Maybe they can make the case that the religious part should be destroyed, but at least call it what it actually is.

Is this harsh, ugly criticism of certain atheists? Sure. Can it reasonably be attributed to Davis? Yes. But none of it rises to the level of claiming radical atheists WANT violence to happen, and more importantly, it is NOT directed towards atheists in general.

True, saying “you have no right to even be here” was inexcusable. But there’s still no reason to believe that being confronted by an opponent on any other hot-button issue—say, gun control—wouldn’t have set her off with an equal loss of control.

martino said...

Hi Calvin

the broader point—that by purging America of her Judeo-Christian roots, secular activists risk removing a powerful check on mankind’s darker impulses—is correct.
This is a deeply morally dubious claim you are making, where is your evidence and argument to support such a claim?

That’s not to say the average American who happens to reject God deserves scorn, far from it. But it does mean Americans are right to be angry at overreaching attempts to secularize the nation, and to be angry at the crusaders (if you’ll pardon the term) perpetrating them. Because yes, they are “dangerous.”
Where is your evidence that this is dangerous. No atheist in the name of atheism has killed someone, yet, many specific religionists have killed in the name of their religion. So who is really dangerous? Where is your evidence for this claim without it it looks like you are encouraging immoral bigotry, but I hope not.

“It is dangerous for children to even know your philosophy exists.” Judging by Davis’ original comments, it seems pretty clear to me that she wasn’t simply talking about the philosophy that God doesn’t exist, but rather the crusader brand of atheist mentality that Sherman certainly adopted.
What makes you think that this is at all clear, if your point is even valid, to anyone who came across this news item, and has no knowledge of Rob Sherman except that he is an atheist, could otherwise possibly conclude?

After all, this is a guy who gets up in arms over the very presence of the song “God Bless America” in a public school.
What is wrong with that?

Children should be aware varying philosophies exist, including obsessive hatred of religion, but not until they are capable of critical analysis.
So this is an argument not to sing "God bless America" in school then, isn't it? :-)

It seems clear to me that people like Sherman, who want the public sphere wiped totally clean of all vestiges of religion, do “believe in destroying” something—not people or buildings, but they believe in destroying a significant part of our heritage.
I cannot speak for Rob Sherman, but if the best you can do is say he is against the singing of "God bless America" in school that is hardly the basis for making any of the assertions you have just made.


Maybe they can make the case that the religious part should be destroyed, but at least call it what it actually is.
This is a highly bigoted statement and you should be ashamed of making it. I would not be surprised that a few anti-atheists who say this but you are implying that this applies to most atheist and this is bigotry since I and most other atheists would disagree. Dare I say this is also an example of the pot calling the kettle black. Look at your favorite sacred book for numerous examples of wanting to destroy atheism and non-believers.

Is this harsh, ugly criticism of certain atheists?
Glad you now qualified this. I would also criticize such atheists I just have never come across any with such views.

Sure. Can it reasonably be attributed to Davis? Yes.
Oh so her apology was irrelevant. She in fact quite correct to say what she said to Sherman in your opinion?


But none of it rises to the level of claiming radical atheists WANT violence to happen, and more importantly, it is NOT directed towards atheists in general.
OK so I take back my point about bigotry above, maybe if you can answer this. Who are these mythical atheists you are complaining about? Where are the buildings blow up with planes, trains and buses blown up by suicide bombers killing innocent women and children, doctors being assassinated because they are providing medical treatments and so on. Until you can answer this it still looks like bigotry to me.


True, saying “you have no right to even be here” was inexcusable.
On this we agree

But there’s still no reason to believe that being confronted by an opponent on any other hot-button issue—say, gun control—wouldn’t have set her off with an equal loss of control.
Yes there is plenty of reason. She made an inference to school shootings and atheists in her apology. And secondly she has said she was only reflecting the views of her church. This was not a proper apology but an admission of guilt, that many others such as you refuse to condemn and are by so doing endorsing such bigotry, as is reflected in your statements here. It looks like you want a bigoted USA, most atheists do not.

Eneasz said...

I would like to submit Calvin as a shining - truely and absolutely STELLAR - example of the results of the "atheism = all that is evil" campaign that has been waged in America for decades now. Re-read his last post. He believes (altho won't admit it in so many words) that atheists are evil and dangerous, and America must be defended from them. That a man trying to stand up for his rights and the prinicples of a fair society is instead a crusader for this evil. And that because of this Rep Davis was justified because she was basically speaking the truth, just with a bit more emotion than is polite.

THIS is why we must act.

Calvin said...

RE: Martino,

Where’s my evidence for calling cultural secularization dangerous? It’s an observation that has been almost universally recognized throughout human history, from Polybius of Rome to the Founding Fathers to de Tocqueville, just to name a few.

And the line that “No atheist in the name of atheism has killed someone, yet, many specific religionists have killed in the name of their religion” is nothing more than a straw man. Our argument is not that anyone kills “in the name of atheism,” but that the absence of Judeo-Christian values—notably the sanctity of every human life—leaves a vacuum in which any number of less noble ideas can take hold. If you can open your mind long enough to do so, I suggest taking a look at Dinesh D’Souza’s “What’s So Great about Christianity”—it offers plenty of history to back up my claim.

“What makes you think that this is at all clear, if your point is even valid, to anyone who came across this news item, and has no knowledge of Rob Sherman except that he is an atheist, could otherwise possibly conclude?” I’m sorry; I assumed y’all were better than passing judgment without getting all the facts. I won’t make that mistake again.

What’s wrong with objecting to “God Bless America?” The absence of a rational basis to be offended by it. The song’s reference to God is totally benign, which is itself a vitally-relevant reference to America’s heritage—entirely appropriate for public venues. Equality and sensitivity to differences doesn’t mean one is entitled to complete isolation from things one rejects. If I, as a non-black, claimed to be offended every time I saw an element of African culture, I don’t think anyone would mistake it for anything other than bigotry. What’s the difference?

“…if the best you can do is say he is against the singing of ‘God bless America’ in school that is hardly the basis for making any of the assertions you have just made.” As far as I’m concerned, that bit of fanaticism is more than enough of a barometer into his perverted conceptions of justice. Even so, in that quote I was talking about radical secular activists in general, and even granting you that there exist bigoted Christians in America, cases of atheist bigotry, atheists wanting to destroy, are abundant as well (plenty of them are collected in another book you might want to check out, “Persecution” by David Limbaugh).

“This is a highly bigoted statement and you should be ashamed of making it. I would not be surprised that a few anti-atheists who say this but you are implying that this applies to most atheist and this is bigotry since I and most other atheists would disagree. Dare I say this is also an example of the pot calling the kettle black. Look at your favorite sacred book for numerous examples of wanting to destroy atheism and non-believers.” Umm, what the heck are you talking about? I don’t even know what your objection here is. I’ll restate my original point: maybe they can make a substantive argument for why America’s religious heritage should be uprooted and destroyed, but they ought to be honest enough to acknowledge that’s what they’re doing.

Yeah, the only part of Davis’ comments I object to is where she suggests atheists have no right to the democratic process.

“Who are these mythical atheists you are complaining about? Where are the buildings blow up with planes, trains and buses blown up by suicide bombers killing innocent women and children, doctors being assassinated because they are providing medical treatments and so on.” Again, quit with the straw men. We’re not accusing atheists of being violent. We’re condemning those with a vendetta against the religious part of our national heritage.

“She made an inference to school shootings and atheists in her apology.” Umm…yeah. The shooting was why she was angry; the atheist was who she was apologizing to…“And secondly she has said she was only reflecting the views of her church.” In relation to what? The initial comments, or school shootings?

“It looks like you want a bigoted USA, most atheists do not.” Man, Fyfe has you guys well fed on anger and victimology, doesn’t he? “A Christian dislikes what certain atheists are doing, and thinks it’s OK to harshly criticize the ones doing it! Oppression must be around the corner!”

RE: Eneasz,

Sorry, I have a policy of not wasting time with people whose rebuttals display a total lack of comprehension as to what I wrote the first time around.

Eneasz said...

Lack of comprehension is it? I comprehend it fully.

Here you demonstrate complete acceptance of lies spread by those who promote hatred of atheists. None of these statements are at all representative of what atheists are trying to do:

people like Sherman, who want the public sphere wiped totally clean of all vestiges of religion, do “believe in destroying”

they believe in destroying a significant part of our heritage.

maybe they can make a substantive argument for why America’s religious heritage should be uprooted and destroyed, but they ought to be honest enough to acknowledge that’s what they’re doing

Equality and sensitivity to differences doesn’t mean one is entitled to complete isolation from things one rejects

We’re condemning those with a vendetta against the religious part of our national heritage


Here you simply deny reality to justify your bigotry:

Davis' apology didn't tie atheists to school shootings at all.

there’s still no reason to believe that being confronted by an opponent on any other hot-button issue—say, gun control—wouldn’t have set her off with an equal loss of control.


Here you help futher spread the lies that atheists are evil and immoral and would destroy the nation if not for the righteousness of the Christians. These lies make me particularly sick:


by purging America of her Judeo-Christian roots, secular activists risk removing a powerful check on mankind’s darker impulses

yes, they are “dangerous.”

Where’s my evidence for calling cultural secularization dangerous? It’s an observation that has been almost universally recognized throughout human history

the absence of Judeo-Christian values—notably the sanctity of every human life—leaves a vacuum in which any number of less noble ideas can take hold


And here you again demonstrate you are also a bigot and don’t have any of the moral insights you claim your Judeo-Christian “values” give you:

children should be aware varying philosophies exist, including obsessive hatred of religion

Americans are right to be angry at overreaching attempts to secularize the nation, and to be angry at the crusaders

Yeah, the only part of Davis’ comments I object to is where she suggests atheists have no right to the democratic process


Of course this identifies part of the problem:


I suggest taking a look at Dinesh D’Souza


I would only suggest looking at him to tell others they should treat him as they would a convicted felon. D’Souza has as much respect for honesty and integrity as Richard Nixon did.

Calvin said...

Eneasz, your ability to sputter about how much you hate what I say is amusing, but until you back it up with argument, it's meaningless.

Eneasz said...

When a white supremacist says "Niggers are sub-human animals who can't do anything but destroy, both the whites and the blacks are better off when the whites care for and own them as cattle." there is NO responsibility on the part of the black american to provide any evidence or argument to the contrary, aside from saying "You are a filthy racist, it's disgusting that people like you still exist." The fact that the white supremacist even said what he did is all the argument that is needed.

I trust you see how this applies to your "arguments" as well.

Calvin said...

This is your idea of substance?!

Wow. I honestly didn't realize you were THIS irrational.

I'm talking about individuals within atheism, who commit specific actions. In all of my comments, I've been careful not to paint atheists as a whole with a broad brush.

But if you want to cling to a hive mentality that "you're with us all, or against us all," then you're sadly beyond the realm of serious discourse.

You're free to lead a life hating people if you wish. See how far it gets you.

martino said...

Calvin and Eneasz

Having now heard Davis's diatribe, as a publicly elected official operating in her official capacity that it is brutally clear that she was expressing ignorant bigotry.

Anyone who supports a fair and just USA enough to be vocal about irregardless of their religious belief would condemn her and demand that either she either resign or makes a full apology - which she has not done yet, she makes Mel Gibson look like a saint in comparison.

It is difficult to conclude other than that anyone who supports her is themselves a bigot. Calvin is clearly such a bigot, especially since he has amply displayed his own bigotry in this forum.

Eneasz you are wasting your time dealing with such a closed-minded ignorant, dangerous and hateful person such as Calvin.

Calvin said...

Sorry guys, your hyperventilating just doesn't intimidate me. It always amuses me when people unable to refute reasonable arguments settle for declaring their superiority self-evident & debating further a waste of time.

Best wishes in your future debates, though I humbly suggest you stick to the shallow end of the intellectual pool for a while.

PS: Would it also be "bigotry" to add a God Bless at the end?

Eneasz said...

Martino - I know, you're right. I'll end this after one final thought.


I'm talking about individuals within atheism, who commit specific actions. In all of my comments, I've been careful not to paint atheists as a whole with a broad brush.


Right, you have no problem with atheists who sit quietly at the back of the bus and don't make a fuss. From your previous comments it's apparent that the only atheists you have a problem with are those who stand up for their rights. Once that happens, out come the lies and slander. I'm sure you'd be comfortable with the people who didn't mind blacks, jews, and women as long as they didn't get "uppity" and start demanding the equality you pay lip-service to. You'd probably be quite comfortable with the people who didn't mind gays, as long as they stayed closeted and children weren't allowed to know they existed.


PS: Would it also be "bigotry" to add a God Bless at the end?


Not if you mean it, no. But alas, you don't.

Calvin said...

LOL. Just keep on diggin' yourself deeper, buddy.