The Blind Leading the Blind

The Blind Leading the Blind July 8, 2016
The Blind Leading the Blind
The Blind Leading the Blind, by Pieter Bruegel the Younger.

I’m a bit late to the game, but I feel I have to lend my voice against the raving jihad of the so-called Amazing Atheist against the Patheos Atheist blogger Martin Hughes, over at barrierbreaker. The Amazing Atheist and his nasty ninjas  have made Martin’s life miserable ever since he had the temerity to criticize their YouTube messiah.

I had never heard of the Amazing Atheist–AKA TJ Kirk–until this war erupted, but apparently he’s been producing his rageful screeds on YouTube for ten years. [A note on the link: the RationalWiki page is far from dispassionate, but instructive nonetheless.] Though I’ve been an atheist since I was fourteen, I’m new to movement atheism.

I’m glad there was no such thing as YouTube when I was fourteen.

TAA produced an ignorant, racist video called “20 Answers for Black People.” No, I won’t link to it; I don’t want to give him more clicks. If you have a strong stomach for ignorant, juvenile rants, you can Google it. If not, I’ll sum it up in two sentences. Black people are part of a victim cult. Kicking poor blacks out of their homes for gentrification is cool because then I can grab an overpriced latte. No narcissism there.

Victim cult? Um, Keith and I were stopped for a broken tail light years ago. I didn’t watch him die in front of me after he reached for his ID. We’re white. Philando Castile was quite literally a victim. No cult required.

At any rate, Martin addressed TAA’s arguments in a post. That’s it. You know, assuming that we live in a society of rational discourse. But that is far from TAA’s shtick. Like a monkey at the zoo, Kirk responded by unleashing a shitstorm. Then he followed Martin’s response with–wait for it–even more racism.

If I sound angry, well, that’s because I am.

I don’t think I can really speak to this controversy any better than my fellow Patheos bloggers. Yes, this is hardly the way to broaden the atheist community. And I agree that TJ is mostly doing this for clicks. Roll to Disbelieve made many of the arguments about humanistic empathy that I was going to make. Indeed, every blog I’ve read so far have taken the words out of my mouth. I’m still in awe of Kaveh Mousavi for his witty takedown of Kirk’s bigotry, and for her best-ever post image, which perfectly encapsulates what the TAAs of the atheist movement are doing. Like Galen Broaddus, I feel I need to add my voice of solidarity for Martin and everyone working for an inclusive community of nonbelievers.

I was going to begin this post by establishing that white people cannot begin to understand the pervasive prejudice encountered by people of color from earliest childhood onward. But I think that’s a given, at least for anyone with a modicum of empathy.

But what I do know from intimate experience is bullying. And perhaps that explains a bit about my anger.

TAA and his rabid minions are nothing more than atheistic version of the bullies who haunted my childhood. Thousands of them have descended upon Martin, Steve Shives, and a growing number of non-Patheos bloggers who have come to their defense. Rather than list them all, I will direct you to Captain Cassidy’s post, We Can Do Better Than This Racism Crap, which has the latest compendium.

TJ is nothing more than an “adult” version of Leroy, the boy who waited every day after school to make my life a living hell. The one time he got into trouble was when he kicked me in the crotch during recess. He should’ve waited until I was alone. Rookie bully mistake.

Image credit.
Image credit.

If Leroy isn’t dead or in prison, I imagine he’s supporting Donald Trump today.

Though TAA has a gang of fellow bullies to sic on anyone who criticizes him, I believe there are far more atheists out there who simply enjoy a passionate, but respectful, exchange of ideas. Certainly, most of my commentators have demonstrated that.

Is this what we want movement atheism to become? A World Wide Web of exclusionary hate? An atheist version of a Donald Trump rally?

Yes, the bullied little girl in me is afraid that Leroy/TAA will wait for me after school to beat me up. But I believe that I will have many more atheists standing with me if he does. I’m in the schoolyard now and I’m not alone. And neither is Martin Hughes.

You too can prevent atheist dumpster fires. Leave an encouraging comment on barrierbreaker or Steve Shives’ YouTube channel. Donate to Martin’s Patreon. Prove to the haters and theists alike that the atheist community as a whole is better than this.

I will leave you finally with Steve Shives’ interview with Martin, the one that pulled Steve into the meanness maelstrom of the Amazing Atheist.

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