Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Republican Candidate Michael Stopa's Anti-Atheist Bigotry Ignored.

One of the reasons why atheists are so politically impotent in America is because they allow statements like those of Republican candidate Michel Stopa go unchallenged.

(See: The Sun Chronical, It's a matter of faith

"I actually don't think Barack Obama is a Muslim. I think he is a nonbeliever," he said...."I have no specific evidence, but I think he's sympathetic to anybody who is opposed to America and American values."

So, all athiests are opposed to America and American values.

Imagine a candidate saying that all Jews are opposed to America and American values.

Or Muslims or . . . well, just about anybody.

That's it. Political career is over.

But atheists?

Atheists shrug and do nothing.

Doing nothing in the face of these types of claims is pretty much the equivalent of abdicating any type of political voice. There is a REASON why none of these other groups would tolerate a candidate making such a claim. Because they know the effects of this tpe of bigotry - they have tasted it - and they have learned to strike back whenever it appears.

There is only one legitimate response to this type of claim. It is time for Republican candidate Michel Stopa to step aside and leave the candidacy for whatever off ice he is seeking (Attleboro, Massachusetts) to a qualified political candidate.

And for any political party or organization he may be a member of to explicitly distance themselves from him and his brand of bigotry.

If you are looking for one thing useful to do today, it would be to make some sort of public statement - and by "public" I mean something that involves an audience of not just atheists - that any decent person would consider Michael Stopa's bigotry to disqualify him for any kind of public office.


EricVDG said...

@Alonzo: I couldn't help but notice that I did not see any commentary from you in the "Comments" section at the end of the article per the URL your provided. I totally agree with your stance and would have commented myself, but it requests a membership (which I am unwilling to pay). If you're wealthier than I, won't you consider lending your good name to a cogent response?

Christian Poppycock said...

Religious belief or non-belief has nothing to do with anti-American sentiment. I'm sure there are plenty of Christians outside of the US who would sign themselves up on the anti-American side of the ledger, and I know plenty of pro-American atheists, including some in the military.

Not all douchebags are Christian, and not all Christians are douchebags, but Michael Stopa is a Christian douchebag

Violence B. Gawn said...

For what it's worth, I sent Mr. Stopa this note yesterday:

I read with some annoyance your comments questioning President Obama's faith (http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2010/08/21/news/7838367.txt) and wanted to give you a chance to clarify. Are you really suggesting that all atheists are Marxist and, therefore, anti-American? I am a passionate supporter of the American democratic system, a high-bracket taxpayer, supporter of our military, a non-believer of all things superstitious and am offended by this unfounded association. Please explain yourself.

I got his response from Mr. Stopa today:

"I said (i) that I believe that President Obama is an atheist and (ii) that I believe that President Obama supports what I view as anti-American voices. I never suggested that those two were related. To the extent that it appeared that way I was misrepresented.

-Mike Stopa"

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Vilence B. Gawn

There are several problems with this response.

First, the article I linked to also says the following:

Stopa, a Harvard University physicist, said he has no proof for his claim, but says Obama has the radical anti-American views of an atheist.

Second, I have seen nothing to suggest that Stopa has asked for a correction or in any way saw the allegedly false attribution was a mark against him.

Third, he did not see fit in his response to contract or deny the claim that atheism is linked with radical anti-American views.

em said...

pseudo-ironically (truly ironic in MS's headspace), the strength of US 1st amendment's protection of atheists (and of the religious, of course) is rare.

MS: "I never suggested that those two were related. "
AF: "his response.. [did not] deny the claim that atheism is linked with radical anti-American views"
Er, am I allowing MS to apply an overly large brush with "never suggested... those two were related"?
I agree that MS is unlikely to tell a large mob, er townhall meeting, of baggers that atheists aren't necessarily anti-american :-)

em said...

"Imagine a candidate saying that all Jews are opposed to America and American values. Or Muslims or . . . well, just about anybody. That's it. Political career is over."
that depends on the politician's groupies.
michele bachmann's career depends upon statements about muslims that are *worse*.

"Atheists shrug and do nothing."
I don't think so. There's just not enough time to respond to all of the continuous barrage of silly mindless cr@p.
OTOH, *is* there a (true) freedom of religion lobbying group? Maybe they also are too understaffed to counter crazy-talk that the group determines to fail the cost:benefit ratio?

em said...

"article I linked to also says the following:
'Stopa, a Harvard University physicist, said he has no proof for his claim, but says Obama has the radical anti-American views of an atheist.' "
that phrase soundly intertwines "atheist" with "anti-american", so MS should have grabbed the opportunity to scold "those liberal reporters" for misquoting him (even if they *hadn't* misquote him).

And hmm, how many (few) physicists number their points using roman numerals? Isn't that style more favored by lawyers?

Mike Stopa said...

I'm getting tired of chasing these things down. I have no bias whatsoever against atheists and I never have had. I do not think being an atheist suggests in any way anti-American views.

Alonzo Fyfe said...


I thank you for your comment.

However, I would like to ask why you are going to the effort of tracking these things down?

This suggests that you want to tell atheists that you have no bias, but you don't want word to leak out to the public. Possibly because a false impression of bias against atheists (generated by the news article I mentioned) is politically useful and, as such, not something you wish to refute in a more public setting.

Tell the newspaper that said:

Stopa, a Harvard University physicist, said he has no proof for his claim, but says Obama has the radical anti-American views of an atheist.

. . . to retract the statement and print a correction.

I haven't been able to find any type of public retraction. The link to the original article is on my blog.

So, go to the source and have them print a retraction. Or, if already done, point it out to me.

Can you do that?

F.G. Fitzer said...

Thanks for writing about this story. I agree, it hasn't received the publicity it deserves. I've written about it at IrregularTimes.com tonight, and will continue to work to spread the word tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Look, 30% of the Republican party have bats in the belfry. They are the tea-baggin' base. Once upon a time they knew they were just supposed to keep their nutty paranoia to themselves. But since Rush/Coulter/Beck etc "legitimized" their fever swamp lunacies, they have come out of the attic and now infest our political discourse. The egomaniacs among them even run for office.

They regularly use hate speech against the usual victims - atheists, other non-xians, liberals, peace-lovers, etc. They especially hate atheists probably because atheism presents the biggest intellectual threat to their worldview. Also, I believe many of them are emotionally twisted - on some level they enjoy their hate and fear. Hate makes them feel alive, while fear makes them feel like the victim instead of the perp as they lash out against "the other".

So though I agree we should fight back, both on principle, as well as to keep our arguments well honed, I am under no illusion that it will be very effective until intelligent atheism is presented regularly and accurately by the mainstream media. And that will not happen as long as the right owns the media. Murdoch and other corporate owners know that the more they allow the nuts to go unshamed in their media, the more the nuts will carry water for them. They get the results they want from nuts, results they could not get from sane people - that is, they get elected officials who let them to do what they want. Pols who demand the country go deeper in debt to give corporations more tax breaks.