Greta Christina’s recent blog post on the difference between a diplomatic atheist and an outright accommodationist is one such piece of shiver-inducing, shout-producing writing. This is a memo every sycophant of religion should get, since they seem to have trouble with making the distinction between respecting people and respecting ideas. This may come as news to them, but you can do the former without also doing the latter, especially if the ideas are demonstrably wrong, harmful or just plain idiotic.
I have religious friends who I respect and admire, and even have deep affection for a few, since the values we hold in common greatly outweigh our metaphysical disagreements. I try to be diplomatic by not callously sticking a knife into their beliefs every chance I get. But I do not accommodate those beliefs by pretending that they’re rational or true, or accepting that they’re protected by an anti-criticism force field. And my theist friends know all too well where I stand on the matter of religion.
Forthright critics of theism and the religious structures built around it are often recipients of undeserved invective from nicer-than-thou types. People like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Maryam Namazie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Christina herself are called everything from arrogant to militant to simplistic by those who either haven’t actually read their work, or have read it but consider any criticism, no matter how valid its basis and measured its delivery, to be a smack to the face.
And all that’s coming from their fellow atheists!
Christina’s article is a much needed corrective to the prevalent misconception held by ‘nice’ atheists that being diplomatic to religionists means bending over backwards to accommodate their irrational, pernicious, baseless superstitions. Whether it’s out of political correctness, or a (misplaced) sense of fairness, or, let’s admit it, fear of being shot, cut down or blown to bloody pieces by death-cult fanatics, the accommodationist wet-dream where critics of religion either play nice or just STFU is misguided, cynical and cowardly.
Christina sums it up beautifully:
Our problem is not with being civil and friendly to believers, or with trying to make alliances with them. Our problem is with bowing to religion. Our problem is with accepting religion’s assessment of itself as a special case, an idea that ought to be above criticism. Our problem is with seeing religion the same way believers see religion, and treating it the way believers want it to be treated… even when it’s grossly harmful, laughably ridiculous, wildly out of touch with reality, or all three at once.
Our problem is not with working with religious believers as equals.
Our problem is with bending to religion as its subordinate.
Accomodationism is not diplomacy. Accomodationism is not necessary for diplomacy. Let’s not treat it as though it is.
Yes. Right on. Damn straight. Fuck yeah.