Sunday, September 22, 2013

An Idiot's Deal

Rachel Held Evans does seem to be a nice enough person but she has proven on more than one occasion that she is equally clueless and rather willfully ignorant. Here recent piece, "Hey atheists, let’s make a deal", is so loaded with false equivalencies, double standards, and outright bullshit it's hard to decide where to start. To make it simple I just start at the beginning.

Her very first paragraph states, "Famed atheist Richard Dawkins has been rightfully criticized this week for saying the 'mild pedophilia' he and other English children experienced in the 1950s 'didn’t cause any lasting harm.'" Notice she doesn't bother to mention who has been criticizing him. She never bothers to mention that some the earliest and most vocal critics have been atheists. I have myself read some rather scathing takes on Dawkins latest stupid comments by among other P.Z. Myers, Greta Christina, and Ophelia Benson. She can't mention that since a huge chunk of her narrative relies on falsely implying that we atheists don't go after are own when they act like assholes. We do.

She quickly follows this nonsense up with,
"Dawkins is known for pushing his provocative rhetorical style too far, providing ample ammunition for his critics, and already I’ve seen my fellow Christians seize the opportunity to rail against the evils of atheism.
As tempting as it is to classify Dawkins’ views as representative of all atheists, I can’t bring myself to do it."
Here we get a twofer; a false equivalence combined with a myth. Later she brings in Pat Robertson as a sort of Christian counterbalance. But there is no equivalence. Dawkins never sites atheism as a reason or justification for his comments. What does his atheism have to do with it? How can any decent rational human being even consider tarring all atheists with the comments of one individual who just happens to be an atheist? Robertson has not only said far worse but always justifies it with Christianity. He even quotes scripture (you know, that stuff all Christians claim to be sacred to them). As for Evens not bringing herself to tar atheists, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING?! That's pretty much the whole point of the piece. That's what the "deal" in question is about.

After proposing her deal not to throw Dawkins in our face if we don't throw Robertson in Christian's faces she comments, "Believe me. There are plenty of Christians who raise hell every time Robertson says something homophobic or a celebrity pastor somewhere says something misogynistic." Who? I have heard some, usually liberal leaning theists, offer rather mild criticism but "raise hell"? I can't think of a single critic of Robertson who did try playing the "True Scotsman" gambit at some point during their milk-toast criticism of him. They always try to distance themselves by implying if not outright claiming Robertson isn't a "true Christian." Of all the atheists I've read that berated Dawkins, not one even suggested he isn't actually an atheist.

She continues her string of false equivalences and double standards two paragraphs later with,
"What if, instead of engaging the ideas of the most extreme and irrational Christians and atheists, we engaged the ideas of the most reasonable, the most charitable, the most respectful and respected?"
Now I freely accept that Dawkins in the past few years has made some rather stupid comments but I fail to see how they rise to the level of "most extreme." They certainly are nowhere near as heinous as the things Robertson and any number of other Christian leaders have spewed. And what exactly is it about Robertson's views that any "Christian" can really refute? He has on numerous occasions quoted verbatim from the Bible. But, no we can't engage in a way that might actually question the very underpinning of Christianity without being label all sorts of ugly things. Scripture is the foundation of Christianity whether Christians want to face it or not.

Towards the end she rambles on about Dawkins not being representative of atheists and throws out the names of some atheists she seems to like. It's a nice little sop but does nothing to diminish that fact that the whole tone and outlook of the piece is built on and perpetuates a variety of myths and stereotypes. It is also rather pathetic that her main points depend on double standards, logical fallacies, ignorance that borders on delusional.

What deal? Does she really think others won't continue to tar and feather atheists on the flimsiest of excuses. She can't even acknowledge that she herself is guilty of doing the very thing she's asking others not to do. Then again, our criticism actually have a basis and we don't have a problem policing ourselves. We will continue to behave rationally and ethically whether or not theists choose to follow our example.

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