The “regressive left” was originally coined by Maajid Nawaz to describe a certain subset of liberals who, in an effort to appear tolerant and culturally sensitive, try to shut down any criticism of Islam or Islamism by calling it “Islamophobia” or racism. The term has expanded over time to include those who push for trigger warnings, safe spaces, who promote the idea that we are living in some sort of rape culture and who see cultural diversity as a great thing until you shove a California roll in your cake slot, then it’s just cultural appropriation.
Some regressives are atheists as well, however, they appear to be self-loathing atheists who wouldn’t stand up for their own rights if they were tied up and force-fed Jesus wafers by Joel Osteen himself. They seem to think us atheists are a nasty bunch, themselves included, and I think this comes from a good many misconceptions they have about atheists and atheism itself. Here, I would like to address five:
One: They think atheism is a “movement”. It’s about as much of a movement as the moon landing was faked, and if you take off your tinfoil hats I’ll explain it a little better. You see, I was born into an atheist family. I was raised without religion, never believed in God for a day in my life. I was an atheist when I was 2, 4, 9, 11 years old. I was part of a movement? My son is seven and does not believe in God. What role does he play in the movement? What about all the atheists who remain hidden and keep their disbelief a secret? What part do they contribute to the movement? The vast majority of atheists are quiet about it, going about their lives right in front of you without you so much as whiffing a suspicion that they might be godless. How is that a movement? What are the goals of a movement in which the majority of its members are quiet about it?
Two: Atheists do nothing to promote diversity amongst atheists. I was reading a Salon article this morning (yes, I should have known better than to do any such thing) and they asserted that:
The atheist movement’s roots in mostly white, mostly male, mostly upper-class people show all too clearly in its tendency to parade the same faces over and over
Meanwhile, on that very article:
Of all the people you could have paraded around as the featured image on that article, you chose Dawkins. You criticize the atheist movement of “not taking diversity and inclusion more seriously” while perpetuating the very problem you assert is true. You could have chosen prominent, smiley atheist Hemant Mehta (who is just about as recognizable to us atheists as Dawkins). You could have chosen outspoken podcaster, Lalo Dagach. You could have used a photo of Maryam Namazie, Sarah Haider, Gad Saad, Stephanie Guttormson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or even me. Instead, you chose an old white guy. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dawkins’ work and I take no issue with his face being associated with atheism, but you used his image in an article criticizing the use of such images. I think the problem here, is that regressive rags like Salon push this old, white guy image of atheism and then tell us it’s a problem. It’s not actually. If you ventured out of your own echo chamber, you’d see that the diversity in loud atheist voices is immense, and that you’re the only ones pushing this Dawkinsian image of us. We celebrate our diversity. We love our Middle Eastern ex-Muslims, our southern black voices, our women, our Nigerian humanists, our friendly ex-Jains… we love them all as much as we love our wise, white biologists, neuroscientists, physicists and philosophers.
Three: Atheists are misogynists. Of course we are. We promote the early childhood sexualization of girls by telling them to cover up lest their prepubescent bodies provoke a man to molest them. We push the idea that women’s bodies are vulgar by telling them to maintain modest dress. We try to silence and discredit the voices of women who speak out against female genital mutilation. We love to silence the criticism of cultures in which women are nothing but glorified cattle with inviting wet holes. We especially like to shut down the outspoken ex-muslim women who have left their religion behind to do things like educate themselves, teach others, and hold office. We certainly do not lift them up and try to get their voices heard more. Nope. Not at all.
We also get these women uninvited from conferences, and side with oppressive, misogynist, religious freaks who rudely speak over these women as they give talks at universities. That’s totally us. Wait…
Four: We don’t like Muslims. I don’t even know what to say to this, but let’s start with Star trek, naturally. There was a time I didn’t like Star Trek. This was, of course, before I had ever watched it. Clearly I was a closed-minded idiot for portions of my life, but I digress, I didn’t like it. I had a lot of friends and even a couple of boyfriends who did, though. Now, my unfounded (and frankly, embarrassing) dislike of Star Trek never got in the way of me loving my friends who did like it. It didn’t get in the way of me falling in love with a guy who loved it. It was rarely an issue between us, so long as he didn’t try to force it on me and I didn’t try to stop him from loving it. It was cool. It was totally cool between me and the trekkies.
Now, replace Star Trek with Islam. You know, with the slight difference being that Star Trek earned my love by being awesome, and Islam, well, I’ve read and studied and traveled and immersed, and there ain’t nothin’ gonna make me think it’s okay. Ever.
But I still love the people who follow it. In fact, my biggest concern about Islam, is for those who follow it, because they suffer the most from its shortfalls. I’d venture to say that this is the case for most atheists who express a concern for the issues that arise from Islam.
Five: We have no tolerance for religious people at all. While I could easily parade out my religious followers, guest posters, friends and family who respect me here, I won’t. What I will do is explain what I don’t and won’t tolerate. When someone’s unfounded belief affects negatively and unconsentually the life of another, it is intolerable. I couldn’t care less what people believe in their personal lives, so long as those beliefs, while they are not demonstrably true, do not affect policy in any way, shape or form, nor do those beliefs inform actions which harm other people. As the old saying goes, your right to swing your fist stops at my face (or the face of anyone else). If you keep your swinging fists away from everyone’s faces, we don’t need to discuss it any longer. Swing away, my whimsical friend.
If the regressive left is correct, we’re racists. We hate women. We can’t stand religious people. Most importantly, each and every one of us is an old, white man. If this is all true, then my tits are a lie and the only method of redemption is to put down that appropriated hummus, you vile shitlord, and go adopt a therapy hamster, now.
Except it’s not true. None of it is true, and the only thing these regressives are accomplishing by pushing this fallacious bullshit, is making themselves look petty, uneducated and willfully ignorant.