In a recent series of Tweets, CJ Werleman has attempted to call New Atheists to task. His usual kinds of arguments against anti-theism have, to me, occasionally merited a brief mention behind the likes of Reza Aslan or Glenn Greenwald. But now I feel Harris might have taken the most appropriate actions with Werleman by vowing never to write about him again.
Sometimes, however, the temptation is just too great. I’m not writing about CJ’s words in this instance in the hope to debunk them, as I know public opinion will do that work for me. Rather, I’m posting them here to make sure they’re not quickly reconsidered and deleted (as CJ has done with several extraordinary Tweets in the past). Without louring too much on the phenomenal pathos of CJ’s rhetoric, here are his thoughts. These are, as the contextual threads will show to anyone who cares to look, in direct reference to New Atheists:
CJ’s incredible (literally) slanders are far beyond the typical lexicon of neoliberal argument as we have seen in recent months. If one were to be as fair as possible, I think that the angle from which CJ approaches Middle Eastern foreign policy has a small modicum of sense–that is to say, it would be foolish to ignore entirely the socio-political elements that have given rise to debate-worthy events in the area. But to call us to task as “white supremacists”, to hypocritically broad-brush the anti-theist movement with the same kind of irrevocable slander which he has accused us of doing to Muslims is the very height of intellectual self-destruction.
I’ve avoided writing too directly to or about CJ on many of his thoughts as, truthfully, many of his topics are peripheries to the kinds of discussions in which I am interested. It is beyond pertinent, however, to ask nothing of CJ: his accusations are precursors to the inanities that will no doubt be his responses. More importantly, I think, his readers should be asked what the hell they are doing supporting a man who not only thinks that anti-theism has anything to do with race, but that it bears the same racist ideology inherent of religious groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, and the apartheid-endorsing Dutch Reformed Church?
To thoroughly pick apart this topic, that is to say: to demonstrate that anti-theism obviously does not “threaten pluralistic, humanistic, democratic, secular values”, is a task which I feel has been done plenty well enough by anti-theists of the past and is continuing to be done so. This piece would serve no one by attempting to recycle a response to the now deplorable straw-man argument that Werleman, Aslan, and others have so diligently fought to vindicate. Time and again, his Tweets refer to “New Atheists” as some ambiguous group, rather than present specific arguments detailing the ways in which we are, say, white supremacists, or how we threaten democracy.
How is the criticism of religion (which is not based on race) an endorsement of white supremacy?
How could anti-theism be a white supremacist mentality when an overwhelming amount of anti-theist invective is against Christianity, which has its base in conservative white America?
How does his white supremacy accusation account for the numerous non-white anti-theists in the world?
These questions are so self-evidently simple that it’s a wonder they require asking. The more I push to illustrate the bizarre implications of Werleman’s claims, the more I feel like it is a futile endeavor.
It should be more than enough to submit that a person who has accused anti-theists of marginalizing and demonizing Muslims and then to brazenly do the same thing himself has sufficiently demonstrated his inability to be part of the discussion. This is hypocrisy defined, to say nothing that it comes from a man who wrote a series of obviously anti-theistic books and endeavored to publish several more.
There comes a point when such rhetoric makes fun of itself. Werleman has undoubtedly achieved it.