It’s always a touchy subject when atheists go after Islam.
Not because we shouldn’t — Islam has the same level of credibility every other religion does: none. It’s the same type of superstition and nonsense you find in other faiths, mixed in with a few nuggets of wisdom that its proponents love to promote. Islamic extremists have obviously taken their interpretation of the Koran to horrific lengths, but extremists in any faith or dogma are capable of atrocities.
So of course we should continue arguing against faulty beliefs, no matter what they are. (I say this as someone who’s promoted drawing Muhammad in the name of free speech. Twice.)
It’s a touchy subject because people have to be very careful that they don’t stereotype all followers of Islam as if they’re all extremists. Our society does a terrible job of this. Atheists, especially when they’re “leaders” among us, ought to know better than to fall into that trap.
That’s the mistake made by Ernest Perce V, the Pennsylvania State Director of American Atheists in a recent Facebook post:
I will say to you Islam, “I do not respect your filthy, repugnant, and vile views. I will not allow you put fear in my mind or those whom I know! I will not be silent with my disdain and disgust for your culture or your terroristic ways. I am an American Atheist, and I am not afraid to deal with you openly and in the same manner that I treat christianity. I am not afraid to publicly blaspheme your pedophile prophet Mohammed of Islam. I will do this on a corner, in a crowd or a parade! While so many others draw mohammed, I am Mohammed in open public! Am I worried about being attacked or death threats? I’m more worried that if I stay silent that the energy and emotion within me will be worse to me than being attacked or even death threats! So do your worst and I will do mine.”
Ernest Perce V, PA State Director
Oh boy. You think all Muslims are terrorists? You don’t think many Muslims oppose (and actively fight against) cultural “norms” such as honor killings? Does this AA State Director really represent other AA members in Pennsylvania?I mean, more power to him for having the courage to openly treat Islam as we atheists treat most other faiths, but keep the finger pointed at the faith itself, not every single believer of it.
At least John Shook of the Center for Inquiry didn’t hold back in his response:
From a state director, apparently endorsed by American Atheists, Inc. (Official). Irresponsible hatred and bigoted racism towards a billion people? Check. Know-nothing atheism rearing its ugly head again? Check. There are more dignified and civil ways to defend civil society, surely. Those who would teach others the value of free speech should use it for something better than this.
And people wonder why atheist public relations is so difficult…. brought to you by folks unconcerned for the public reputations of anyone save themselves. Atheists “doing their worst” shouldn’t require descending to their target’s level. And we wonder why atheists aren’t generally trusted? I wouldn’t trust someone so motivated by hatred, either.
Yes. That. Allllllllll of that.
Even worse than hatred is hatred motivated by ignorance. Atheists ought to be the first people who look for evidence to challenge our own beliefs and Perce’s claims are so goddamn easy to disprove…
I want to hear an apology from him. A real one, too, not one of those that begins, “If I offended anyone…”
I emailed him last night about this and I’ll update this post if/when I hear back…
(Thanks to Greg for the link.)
***Update***: Ernest has responded (via email):
To all those offended by my recent statement of Islam on a public radio show and american atheists wall, I say, “if people put a gram of shit on an APPLE PIE it’s still a shitty pie.” No matter how you dress islam up it is still shit! That’s right, I said what I mean and mean what I said. Islam is shit and so is their pedophile prophet mohammed!
So, yeah, I think he learned his lesson…