You can be skeptical and friendly at the same time.
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Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.
Out of curiosity, has that actually been the narrative? And if so, has there been overlap with the type of people depicted on the left? It’s really easy to call the nebulous “they” hypocrites when one is actually conflating the talking points of two different groups of people.
Well, the Sun newspaper here in the UK blamed Al Qaeda on the front page this morning, and I doubt they’ll print a retraction.
well look who owns the Sun, how long until you guys shut him down BTW?
The powers that be have been kicking around an idea of actually doing something about the rule that says you must be “fit and proper” to own papers in the UK. Not that fit and proper means anything, but The Sun may just have made it easier to say he isn’t.
I have to agree with K.
If we’re going to nitpick, then also remember that it’s inappropriate, inaccurate, and ultimately unfair to generalise all members of any group of people–though it’s functionally relevant to human experience.
Nearly a hundred people are dead, many of them teens who were at a summer camp. Gunned down by a man pretending to be the police. I can’t even begin to describe how awful this is, maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to appreciate the hypocrisy. Maybe tomorrow…
As of today, do you know of any charities that are starting collections for the families and communities, anything?
I’m not sure money is of much immediate significance here; this is Norway so medical care for the wounded will be provided. Sympathy is what is needed. I can’t imagine the horror the victims faced and what the survivors, parents, family, and friends are facing.
I checked for whether the Norwegian consulates have condolence books set up, but, I think they are still in shock (and also locked down for security). Some groups such as the Irish Labour youth group have set up their own which will presumably be delivered to the Norwegian government (or in the case of the Irish Labour youth group directly to their counterpart in Norway whose youth camp was attacked).
I will look into something of that nature, any small thing to help. Though I know there really isn’t much most of us can do.
What Erp said. What we need now is to know that people are thinking of us, really. Just that seems to bring a lot of comfort. Everything from hospital stays for the injured to the searching for missing people with mini submarines is already covered, so what cost remains may just be funerals, and one can get money from the state to cover that, too, should one need it.
But condolence protocols, flowers or cards, those little things mean a lot.
Well that’s a quick turnaround on the continued politicizing of a tragedy. Bad form.
This comic is spot on. Too many nebbishes make for a crummy “movement” indeed. No wonder the right-wingers get to frame the debate, we’re too busy nitpicking each other. Jeez.
And this is why I carry a concealed firearm at all times. At least I can shot back and have a chance to survive.
As for the story. If you are white, blue eyed and Christian you are not a terrorist. Just a very bad guy.
That cartoon is dead on.
And it’s waaaaaay too soon.
how is this too soon?
Yep, because it’s totally appropriate to make jokes about a tragedy the day after it happens.
Don’t be thick, man!
It’s not making fun of a tragedy. It’s pointing out the vile, self-serving hypocrisy of certain religious extremists.
Still… it’s a bit too soon. For me.
either it’s all ok or none of it is.
FYI, that was sarcasm.
It’s never too soon.
I don’t see it. We all had to wait for more information before coming to a conclusion on who was at fault, but with the last decade in mind, I think it’s reasonable to have initially thought it was probably another Muslim bomber. I still can’t grasp how many so called rationalists will go for the throat of Christians over anything, yet will be sympathetic of Muslims.
So we only go after Christians because we dislike them, but apparently are Islam fans. Cute story.
First off, this blog has criticized Islamic religions several times, you should look up ‘Draw Muhammad Day’ and other related posts.
Second, it isn’t the majority of atheists who started a big fuss in the USA and have refused peaceful Muslims the freedom to build their own places of worship. Many of us are strong supporters of freedom of speech and religion.
In the US, it hasn’t been Muslims who have been getting more and more involved with politics to create laws blurring the lines of government and religion, it hasn’t been the Muslims who have raised huge amounts of cash to keep same sex couples from marrying their loved ones. It hasn’t been the Muslims who, in some states, have created laws that criminalize and jail women who have miscarried their pregnancies.
I’m not going to compare the evils of Christianity vs the evils of Islam with you. I’m not sure why you’d even bother with that.
And yes, there is some criticism of Islam. I didn’t say there wasn’t. I said Muslims, the followers of Islam. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’re not the only one who doesn’t understand the distinction.
To be fair, I think the point is that in the past few years, terrorist attacks like this have mainly been done by Islamic terrorists. (Apart from (say) the ETA which this clearly wasn’t, it being in Norway.) In that there is this history involved, it is understandable that the immediate thought would have been that Muslim terrorists were behind it.
As an analogy: imagine a serial killer is on the loose in a small area. In the same area there have been various other attacks, but nothing approaching the scale of this serial killer. A dead body is found, killed in a similar style to the serial killer’s other victims.
It is not unreasonable to tentatively assume this was the work of the serial killer.
What is unreasonable is to not change your mind when the evidence comes in showing it was someone else.
Anyway, I don’t think the problem the cartoon highlights is the immediate suspicion that the terrorists were Muslims. The problem is the ways some people react to the idea that this tragedy was instigated by a Muslim, and the same people react to the idea that it was a Christian that did it.
However, in certain circumstances, this attitude is still not entirely unfair:
If the Islamic terrorists claim they did what they did because of their faith, and the Christian terrorist happens to be a Christian, but didn’t do what they did because of their Christianity, for example… There’s a difference between Islamic Terrorism, and terrorists who are Islamic, and similarly with any other ideology.
(Note: I’ve been under a rock for the last few days, so I’m going to assume that the cartoon accurately represents the views of people.)
Actually the attacker to protect Europe’s “Christiandom” from Islam. So he did do it for right wing conservative reasons.
Yeah..where is anyone being sympathetic of Muslims? I think you’ll find atheists think all religions are equally ridiculous (and also dangerous when used as a tool by terrorists).
“So-called rationalists” huh? Does the mere existence of atheism make you a little prickly and defensive? It’s OK, I’ve been there before, and I think you’ll come around. The fact that you’re here is a step in the right direction.
Watch Sam Harris attempt to discuss how moderate Muslims share some of the responsibility for the change in their religion. He’s consistently booed. Islam and extremist Muslims are vilified sure, but there’s a huge portion of Atheists who will jump to the defense of moderate Muslims. Whereas even some of the most liberal Christians get bashed.
“”So-called rationalists” huh? Does the mere existence of atheism make
you a little prickly and defensive? It’s OK, I’ve been there before, and
I think you’ll come around. The fact that you’re here is a step in the
Don’t pull this trite with me. I am an Atheist. Just because this community doesn’t often point out the distinction between an Atheist and a Rationalist doesn’t mean it’s not there. That was my point. Too many Atheists think they go hand in hand. Frankly, with all the bickering over things like accommodationalism and that stupid “elevatorgate” crap, I don’t see how anyone can consider this a community of Rationalists.
No, not reasonable at all. In 2010, the EU’s Terrorism Situation and Trend Report listed 294 failed, foiled, or successfully executed terror attacks in Europe. Of those, precisely 1 was committed by Islamist terrorists.
The remainder were primarily separatist movements like the Basque ETA, or various native extremists.
There’s one massive thing missing in what you’re saying, and that’s what kind of attack it was.
For instance, here’s a small exert from a report from the FBI
“In keeping with a longstanding trend, domestic extremists carried out the majority of terrorist incidents during this period. Twenty three of the 24 recorded terrorist incidents were perpetrated by domestic terrorists. With the exception of a white supremacist’s firebombing of a synagogue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, all of the domestic terrorist incidents were committed by special interest extremists active in the animal rights and environmental movements. The acts committed by these extremists typically targeted materials and facilities rather than persons.”
Yes, terrorist attacks are common, but very few of those are attacks on people. Of the ones that are, the majority are attacks on individuals. So very few terrorist attacks kill civilians. Yet there have been some big attacks where killing civilians not only occurred, but was the goal.
I’ll be the first to admit that not all of these were by Muslims. Obviously, the Oklahoma City Bombing, (which was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil until 9/11) was domestic.But that was also 1995. 16 years later, it’s an afterthought for a lot of people.
Now, check out the terrorist attacks in the U.S., or targeting Americans since:
I’ll let you do the math here. Since 9/11, how many deaths were caused by Terrorist attacks by Muslims targeting Americans? And how many were caused by domestic terrorists?
Now, do you still think it was unreasonable to have initially SUSPECTED Muslim involvement for the Norway bombing?
Since we’re talking about Europe, not the United States, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to quote US sources talking about US attacks. If I were feeling uncharitable, I might call it transparently dishonest, but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt on that one.
Yes, I do think it’s unreasonable to initially suspect Muslim involvement, when the source you cite gives most attacks post-9/11 as occurring in the Middle East. Which count as far as terror attacks go, I suppose, but not in terms of attacks in Western countries.
Also, I note that source conveniently leaves out two of the largest sources of domestic terrorism in the US, namely the anti-choice groups (Tiller’s death was a terror attack), and the anti-LGBT groups. These groups conduct terrorism, in the form of harrassment campaigns, bombings, beatings, and murders, against American citizens on a regular basis, and they are themselves mostly white American Christians. Why do their actions, which meet the definition of terrorism, not count?
“Since we’re talking about Europe, not the United States, it doesn’t make
a great deal of sense to quote US sources talking about US attacks. If
I were feeling uncharitable, I might call it transparently dishonest,
but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt on that one.”
You can call me whatever you want, if it makes you feel better about your argument.
If you don’t even know what we’re talking about, I’m not sure why you commented to begin with. We’re discussing the initial reaction of an attack in Europe. Those reactions don’t necessarily have to be those of Europeans. In fact, since this website is American based, I felt it safe to assume the post’s commentary was about American reaction. Also, I’m Canadian, so most of the news I hear is from North America. The people I interact with, are mostly in North America. Therefore, I didn’t feel comfortable arguing what a reasonable European reaction would be. I provided American reports, because that’s the perspective that matters in this discussion.
I can say, that before this Norway attack, the three big terrorist attacks that people had on their minds, were 9/11, the 7/7 London bombings, and the (thankfully) failed Times Square bombing. There are 2 main things those events have in common. They were carried out by Muslims, and they were intended to kill as many innocent people as they could.
There was a 15 year span, where all the major bombings like this were carried out by Muslims, with the sole intent of killing innocents. Do you think everyone was just oblivious to the pattern set by that?
Well, I’m out of benefit of the doubt, now. Since you ignored everything I said about how many terror attacks have been committed domestically by white Christians, I must conclude that you are being intellectually dishonest.
Not only did I address what you said, I quoted an FBI report that supports it. I’m sorry if I understand that not all terrorist attacks are exactly the same. There’s not a clear definition of “terrorism” as it is, so the term gets thrown around a lot. As you can see though, even the FBI counts targeted acts of vandalism as terrorism. That’s why just looking at a statistic and making assumptions doesn’t work.
In terms of terrorism attacks targeting innocent civilians (like Norway), they’re much fewer. If a comparison of attacks is to be made, it should be with similar attacks.
George Tiller’s death was terrorism in the loosest sense of the word. Many may have jumped to call it terrorism, but it’s not the first time sensationalism has been used. The attack targeted one person, and did not show disregard for innocent lives. It was terrorism in the sense that it was a murder based on ideologies. With that definition, many murders could be considered terrorism. The death of Theo van Gogh even had a note threatening other countries, yet I wouldn’t jump to calling it terrorism in any meaningful sense. It was a murder motivated by conflicting ideologies.
So again, there needs to be a distinction between attacks. Only one group has killed innocent, random people with bombs, for the last 15 years. That set a pattern. Now, the pattern is broken, so hopefully next time people will not jump to their suspicions.
Keep dancing around, trying to avoid admitting what you really want to say: it’s only terrorism if it’s committed by scary brown people.
This cartoon implies that Christian fundamentalists hypocritically switched from an assumption about Muslims to a stance of holding back judgment. Maybe some have.
How many people here had the immediate thought that the bombing was probably done by Muslims?
I have to admit I did.
I’m not glad it apparently wasn’t Muslims, and I’m also not glad it apparently was somebody who characterizes himself or is characterized by others as a “Christian fundamentalist.”
I’m not glad at all. I’m just horrified by the death, pain and grief.
Lunatics have access to instruments of mass death, and the energy at their disposal is becoming more powerful. I don’t know what we can do, but we must try to do something.
“How many people here had the immediate thought that the bombing was probably done by Muslims?”
While it is unfair to blame the usual suspects in these cases… it generally does turn out to be them. (And they don’t do much to alleviate the charge).
And when your guess is right most of the time – you’re just dealing with psychology instead of prejudice. Generalizations are bad – but they are part of evolved survival strategies.
“…but we must try to do something.”
Excuse my glibness – but being an atheist is a good start.
“Excuse my glibness – but being an atheist is a good start.”
I could not agree more.
Bombs and firearms have been around for centuries. Automatic weapons have been in existence for over a century. I’ve yet to see any data that would support the notion that denying law abiding people the means to defend themselves adequately would lessen mischief makers ability or desire to wreak mayhem.
There is another way to look at this. If there had been one or more persons on that island who were legally carrying firearms, there is a possibility this tragedy could have been mitigated to some degree. The killer might even have been deterred from committing his act in the first place.
Denying the innocent the means to defend themselves is never the answer. What happened in Norway, while tragic, is not a reason to restrict freedoms, in the same sense that 9/11 was not a good reason for the Republicans evil “Patriot Act”.
Not to make this a discussion on gun control, but I did find your last statement somewhat provocative. I’d rather focus on healing the victims, bringing those responsible to justice and discussion on how to promote peace, tolerance and understanding in this world.
Just my humble two cents.
Well, I wasn’t even thinking of gun control until you mentioned it. That view seems to be peculiarly american. Richard’s comment didn’t seem provocative at all, just an expression of his feelings of sadness and helplessness.
I don’t see what being American has to do with this. If the Jews had been sufficiently armed, the Nazis wouldn’t have had such an easy time rounding them up. The last time I checked, the Nazis didn’t round up and gas any Jews in the United States.
They didn’t round them up and gas them in the UK either.
That’s pretty unique to the Nazis
Well golly-gee-whiz, you got me there.
The american bit is referring to gun-control comments on just about any news item where someone kills someone else with a gun and commenters suggest that maybe guns shouldn’t be so easy to get.
As for the Jews comment – that doesn’t even make any sense. If Jews had starting attacking Nazis in Germany, then they would have been killed off even faster. There certainly weren’t enough to overthrow the Nazi state, which was supported by the majority. Of course, the Nazis weren’t in the US, (well except for valuable scientiests after the war) so of course they didn’t round up Jews there.
I never once mentioned anything about Jews attacking Nazis. Completely absurd.
Well, I wasn’t quite sure what else to make of your comment that the
Jews wouldn’t have been so easily rounded up if they had been armed. None of this really matters now anyway, my original comment was to do with you mentioning that Richard’s comment was provocative, which I didn’t think it was. Or are you just being silly now?
Why would you have thought it was done by muslims?
See, that’s the point, everyone just made assumptions that since violence had happened, a brown non-christian must have done it. But I could tell right away this was not a religious based attack. Hell anyone who read more than the headlines should have seen that. The targets themselves give that away. A government building? Kids at a left wing political camp? That is not the trademarks of al qaeda, that’s the trademarks of Oklahoma city. So far the terror attacks carried out by muslims have been on targets of mass opportunity with no regard for political or anti-government statements. So had this been an attack on a train station, or mall, then yea, that could have been a reasonable assumption, but everyone rushed to absolve themselves of thinking and just shouted muslim.
“A government building? Kids at a left wing political camp?”
I guess you aren’t paying attention. Muslims do in fact target government buildings and left wing children. Embassies are government buildings, and the Beslan school was filled with left wing kids. Communists are about as left wing as you get.
You made the same exact mistake as those who assumed it was Muslims.
No, I am using evidence to come to a determination. Sure embassies are government buildings, but in other countries. They are not the same as domestic buildings. This screamed local politics all over it!
“I am using evidence to come to a determination”
So is everyone else. I don’t think anyone is saying they KNEW it was Muslims, but rather they initially SUSPECTED it was Muslims. Just about everyone waited for more information before coming to a conclusion. But in that time, suspicions were mentioned. Many were saying, it’s PROBABLY Muslims, which is a hell of a lot different than blaming them outright.
You still aren’t paying attention. Islamic terrorists bomb government buildings in their own countries, in other countries. Hell they even bomb Mosques.
In fact if I hear about a Mosque bombing I could easily make lots of money on even odds betting it was a Muslim perpetrator.
You were guessing and there is no reason why you couldn’t have been wrong. It is entirely possible that it could have turned out to be an Islamic terrorist despite your “determination”. The criteria you provided fits the Islamic terrorist MO perfectly as well.
Hell the guy could even be a white Norwegian and still be a Islamic terrorist. There seems to be a disproportionate number of white terrorist converts.
Sam Harris certainly rushed to judgment after 9/11 to produce The End of Faith which in effect blamed all believers for everything, followd up by Richard Dawkins telling us religion is the root of all evil and Hitchens tell us GING.
Tbey all did their share to spread the hate.
Right, they spread “hate” because they disagree with you and see your religion as a divisive, destructive force.
You’ve just validated the illustration above. Of course, you won’t be able to see that.
Wrong, they spread hate not because they “disagree” but because they use labels to brand “religion”…without qualification…as a divisive, destructive force, just as a any bigot would label his particular target.
Just like you did in your post.
And as you do around the blogosphere.
Oohh, I guess I’ve been told.
Don’t worry, Randall, I’ll be in hell soon enough. That will give you a great deal of pleasure, I’m sure.
Opps! Looks like somebody struck a nerve with Cipher! LOL!
I’m curious, what is this qualification you speak of, which you say the authors you mentioned seem to lack?
“You’ve just validated the illustration above. Of course, you won’t be able to see that”
Wow. Can you be any more patronizing? How about instead of just saying he won’t understand, you try and explain it?
P Z Myers quotes today from a 1500 page screed this guy wrote, and it contains a lot about atheism.
He says he is not that religious, but may pray when the crunch is on.
He says you don’t have to believe in Jesus, and on Facebook he considers DEXTER one of his favorite TV shows…in the show Dexter is protrayed as an atheist.
His sole twitter quote is from J D Mill, an atheist.
As more of his screed is examined, and he talks in contradictory fashion about many subjects, what if he turns out to be a Nihilist, not a fundamentalist?
Because that is what it looks like.
You’re right. I’ve been reading similar stuff. It’s funny how this community will insist they’re rationalists, yet will jump on any opportunity to demonize Christianity
I think the serious problem here is that the media rarely uses logic or analysis. When I heard ‘government building’ and ‘dressed as police officer’ I cued in to Right-wing, Nationalist, or Anarchist. If I had heard about it being military or intelligence agency targets, I would have cued in to old-timey Communist action groups (Red Army Faction, etc.). And if I had heard about it being an attack on a shopping mall, open-air bazaar, then I might have considered it to be an Islamic terrorist…or maybe an eco-terrorist. There are unique characteristics to each set of targets each group goes for. Reason, use it.
I was surprised yesterday to see people on Twitter blaming video games for the attack, but then I saw that there was a screenprint of the attacker’s (alleged) facebook account, with very little information on it. It did, however, mention his like of the World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare games. In the absence of much information, people were jumping on anything, and were calling for the ban of these games! Absolutely ridiculous, but just goes to show that when emotional, people will grasp anything to try and make sense of a frightening situation.
Got me there…
The cartoon needs a continuation since misses the new meme that they are pushing on the net today. That this is what happens when you force multiculturalism on people. Sure he was a bad guy they are saying, but this is what happens when you let muslims around, they even make good white christians go bad. Seriously I’ve seen that about four times already today.
The cartoon need a new panel to catch up to the new meme being pushed today. Now people are claiming that this is what happens when you force multiculturalism on people. Sure he was a bad guy they are saying, but it’s still the muslims fault (just for being around) that he did this. It’s the “he was just pushed too far” argument. Seriously I’ve seen that 4 times today already.
In fact it is not hypocritical. Suppose someone were to jump to the conclusion that a news story in the south of a lynching was done by the KKK. Suppose they condemn the KKK for that act only to find out later he was killed by a member of their own group. It would only be hypocritical if their own group called for lynching blacks. I don’t recall Christ calling for followers to spread terror through the land the way Mohammed did. Islam from its very inception was about killing people specifically for non-belief, and failure to give Islam a privileged position.
“Islam from its very inception was about killing people specifically for
non-belief, and failure to give Islam a privileged position.”
To be fair, when the car bomb went off in New York there were screams of ‘TEABAGGER’ going out all over the blogosphere, in comments at news sites, and from that matter, from Bloomberg. (Well, technically he used code words like ‘home-grown terrorist.’) Upon discovering the terrorist was actually a Muslim immigrant there was a lot of very swift back-pedaling accompanied by rather disingenuous cries that we shouldn’t be jumping to any conclusions.
Naturally, the response of OMG MUSLIM followed by…LET’S NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS is bullshit, but we shouldn’t forget that the hypocrisy cuts both ways.
The cartoon exhibits what is called the “No True Scotsman Fallacy” made popular by Antony Flew. The fallacy arises frequently in various contexts, and it is useful to be familiar with it. One can read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman
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