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American Atheists, American Humanists and The Secular Coalition join the woke church
A number of American atheist, secular and humanist organisation have released public statements strongly condemning atheist thought leader Richard Dawkins. American Humanists even went so far as to withdraw their ‘Humanist of the Year Award 1996’ from the evolutionary biologist. Gosh.
So, what on earth did Richard Dawkins do to attract so much ire from self-professed ‘sceptics’? It must have been very bad. One would think perhaps he joined ISIS. But no, he did something far more unforgivable in the eyes of the modern progressive—he asked questions about the concept of ‘self-identification’ as it relates to gender ideology:
Richard Dawkins is clearly attempting to instigate discussion on a prominent, relevant issue that has far-reaching implications given that the self-identification model of gender identity appears to be the one taking hold. If someone is a man yesterday and claims to be a woman today, does that make it so? Well, this is the question we are all going to have to grapple with, as this specific concept of self-identification appears to be at the forefront of activism, policy and lobbying on the topic of gender identity.
Dawkins is doing what he has always done of course; poking at dogmas that intersect (and often conflict) with our scientific understanding. Something the aforementioned groups were happy to cheer along just so long as it was aimed in the direction of creationists and Christian conservatives.
If Dawkins was to make any mistake here, it was to forget that he was on Twitter and therefore not in the presence of actual adults capable of regulating their emotions.
Woke alarm bells started ringing a while back when American Atheists’ board member (and former reasonable person) Matt Dillahunty labelled JK Rowling a ‘transphobe’ for detailing her experience of sexual assault and raising perfectly sensible concerns about self-identification.
Richard Dawkins also crossed a line with Matt when he recommended the book ‘The End of Gender’ by Dr. Debra Soh:
Oddly, Matt Dillahunty came out strong in opposition to the idea of reading books and objecting to the intimidation of female scientists, telling Richard Dawkins ‘Just fucking retire. You're an embarrassment’.
Not a very reasonable or humanist response one might think.
I’ve read the book in question myself and interviewed the author here. The book is a wonderfully objective, compassionate piece of writing on one of the biggest issues of our day. You’d think this is precisely the type of discourse one might wish to support if your goal is to disempower bigots.
The statement from American Atheists attempts to link Richard Dawkins’s words to the unacceptable violence and attacks visited upon trans people. This statement was then endorsed by the Secular Coalition for America. Not only are the claims of anti-trans violent attacks highly questionable, but statistically rare too, thankfully. And even were it open season on trans people, it would still be absurd to link such atrocities to the tweets of Richard Dawkins.
Amazingly, American Atheists did something similar after the Christchurch attacks in New Zealand where an anti-Muslim terrorist killed 51 worshippers at a mosque. Rather than reiterate a commitment to opposing anti-Muslim bigotry and asserting the right to criticise fundamentalist Islam, they instead shared appalling opinion pieces blaming Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins for the attack. It is unforgivable that an atheist organisation is unwilling to defend innocent, prominent atheists when they are irresponsibly smeared as the cause of a terrorist attack. What use are American Atheists if they were of no use here?
Were I so inclined, I could simply reverse this dishonest game and accuse them of wishing to destroy the lives of young adults who are pushed into transitioning too soon--due to the stifling of open discourse on gender. Or perhaps I could tag them as misogynists for dismissing the impact of self-identification on women’s rights, sports and spaces?
Are American Atheists responsible for the violent attacks visited on oppressed Christians across the globe because they question the existence of a soul? After all, religious people identify as having a soul, does that not make it so then? Should we all live our lives and restructure institutions, society, language and law as if those identifying as having a soul actually possess one? And if we don’t, are we ‘erasing their existence’ and encouraging violence against them?
Gender identity isn’t the same as claiming to have a soul of course. But If you don’t believe that having a soul is central to the identity of pious religious people, then you have not been paying attention. People literally dedicate their entire lives to the ‘truth’ of this concept. And to them, the stakes of this ‘truth’ are astronomically high. It’s the difference between salvation and eternal torture. And these Atheist/Humanist groups have not thought twice about openly ridiculing, criticizing and opposing such people.
Hemant Mehta of ‘the Friendly Atheist’ released a blog under the especially unhinged title of ‘Richard Dawkins is Still Denying the Basic Humanity of Trans People’. Where was anyone's ‘humanity’ denied?
Hemant spends a huge proportion of his time mocking, criticising and blogging about the irrational beliefs of Christians and Republicans. Would he accept the suggestion that he is dehumanising these groups? Encouraging violence against them? Because Hemant’s rhetoric in the direction of Republicans and Christians is far more scathing than anything Richard Dawkins has ever said about trans people. In fact, Dawkins actually said nothing about trans people at all.
Dawkins later followed up his initial tweet with somewhat of a mea culpa for enraging the woke mob:
Of course, this was not enough for Hemant who then engaged his impressive mind-reading skills to conclude that Richard Dawkins's clarification was not genuine, commenting that it had 'all the sincerity of a YouTube apology video'.
You'll notice those infected with woke ideology only twist the knife more when their target attempts to acknowledge and address criticism. Because it’s not about wanting to help others understand you see, it’s about enjoying the feeling of righteous superiority. A feeling that evaporates when your target clarifies they were not actually doing the thing you accused them of doing. And that’s no fun when you want everyone to know how much better you are, is it?
Although Dawkins’s concern with being ‘misconstrued’ is understandable, it’s too charitable in the assumption that those angriest with him desire to understand what he actually thinks.
And just when you thought the hyperbolic, unhinged hysteria could not be ramped up higher from ‘violent attacks’ and ‘denying basic humanity’, in steps American Humanists to take gold.
In the statement from American Humanists, they accuse Richard Dawkins of attempting to ‘demean marginalized groups’, ‘attacking black identity’ and implying that trans identities are ‘fraudulent’. They also announce that the board has voted to withdraw the Humanist of The Year Award (1996) from Richard Dawkins,.
As this situation has now reached embarassing levels of parody-like pronouncments, I’d like to remind you at this point that this is all happening because Richard Dawkins tweeted this:
These organisations and individuals also make another fundamental mistake in this area too—they assume all trans people subscribe to the far-left, progressive viewpoint when it comes to gender identity. And that’s simply not true. When they talk about defending trans people, they really mean defending the viewpoints of trans people that match their own.
Trans people are not a politically homogenous group. It may come as a shock to these American groups that many trans people also identify as centrists, conservatives, right-wing, Christians etc. And many of them do not care for the lunacy on the left that is dominating the discourse on trans issues either—which often makes their life more difficult. Are you ‘erasing the identity’ of these trans people when you demand the acceptance of a myopic, progressive viewpoint on their identity?
Trans rights should be guaranteed of course. Personally, I’d go even further and say that dignity and compassion isn’t too much to ask for either. I also don’t personally have an issue with using someone’s ‘preferred pronouns’ —just so long as it’s my own free choice to do so. And anyone who wishes to oppress and abuse trans people can consider themselves enemies of mine.
Everything else is up for discussion however. This is precisely where we need actual sceptics. This is where we need the tribeless, free-thinking adults to rise above the noise and bigotry to make sensible noises.
Instead, we now have atheist, humanist and secular organisations attempting to create a climate where mere discussion on this issue is to be considered beyond the pale and worthy of excommunication. This is what ideologues do. And like all groups of ideologues, they will eventually implode under the force of their own purity criteria.
I’ve lost my interest in mainstream atheist/humanist/secular groups in the states in recent years. They have become utterly infected with woke ideology. There’s no backbone, no radicalism, no room for heterodoxy. They have simply just rejected one church in favour of another.
I've never subscribed to an 'atheist community', but I did expect organisations flying under that banner to be better placed to resist intolerant and irrational ideologies. You cannot consider yourself a 'sceptic' and excommunicate someone for wishing to discuss self-identification and gender. These groups will no doubt attract ideologues of the same woke denomination, but they should no longer describe themselves as ‘free-thinkers’.