Siding with the enemy.

Posted: April 8, 2015 in Atheism as I live it.
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Recent events in Australia have highlighted the danger presented in being overly passionate about antitheism. Passion can sometimes cloud a person from rational thought and leave themselves and their motives vulnerable, open to manipulation and question. I think the German people in the wake of WWII would have some reason to agree with me given Adolph’s rise to power over a largely non-Nazi population. Emotion and rational thought will always clash and unfortunately we are all susceptible to emotion.

I myself have pointed out these vulnerabilities, these wounds in some peoples personal anti-theism because of the danger it presents. I have argued them and been accused of many things including being a muslim sympathizer, muslim lover, lefty and greenie as if these emotional attacks on my person made the counter argument stronger. I argue because I believe that as a community it is better that we open the wounds ourselves and not allow it to fester and poison atheism.

That is not to say I support that wonder drug and failed attempt at an ideology for atheism, atheism plus. Religion suffers from the problem of festering wounds because it is trapped in its codes, its unquestionable doctrine and always covering up its problems. Atheism has no such problem and we shouldn’t ever allow it to be so. Atheism plus all at once tried to present itself as the only perfect political correct voice of atheism – and got it wrong – as if most atheists were not already trying to be better and more rational people. We are trying to be more and we are not stuck in the past trying to excuse the horrors contained in ancient moral codes. To become better atheists atheism needs different voices, different ways in which to express our atheism and anti-theism, different ways to evolve our way of thinking.

The event that drove this article was a series of comparatively small Easter Sunday anti-sharia protests across Australia. Not unsurprisingly – because atheists come in all shapes and sizes – a small number of atheists surfaced saying they had taken part in the event, an event which is well in line with the current trend of hate powered ignorance being promoted in our current political and social arenas.

Protesting the very idea of islam is not new, as an anti-theist myself I often protest islam and the actions of muslims. Christianity has been at war with islam for hundreds of years, an extremely severe version of protest. Christianity is not alone, in other places other religions are also at war with islam. Islam, it seems, has a way of making enemies and action against it is certainly not new. My own anti-islamic actions are not new and I will side with most any anti-theist action that is free from hate of race, people or unsupportable agendas.

Unsupportable agendas is where we find our problem. Anti-islam groups can include ignorant people who don’t know a great deal about islam but will absorb anything they are told by vested interests, white supremacist groups who often fail to understand that Arab muslims are a minority group in islam, religious groups who often hate atheists more than muslims and we atheists and our anti-theism. Sometimes these groups are mixed, it takes nothing to find an ignorant christian nazi hating islam on social media or ever an undereducated reactionary racist atheist for that matter.

At the event the obvious swastikas tattooed about some peoples bodies was the focus of press coverage because news broadcast is all about sensationalism. I have personally known bikers who are educated and friendly people I also know the darker side of the clubs. It is very possible there was a white supremacist ideology present and that the tattoos were not simply decorative. That doesn’t make them the bulk of the people represented. The pseudo Nazi biker groups may have been the focus of the press but in focusing on them the press missed the fact that many of the speakers and organizers were right wing evangelist christians and known racists. These people who may themselves have little real knowledge of what an islam or sharia are are not stupid, they understand islam is an theological enemy to many and easy target that will bring supporters to their cause. Amongst their supporters would be the people willing to soak up their message on social media, people just like them. The leaders don’t care who comes to the rally however, to gain numbers they send a false message of nationalism, impinged upon freedoms and liberties and promote a hate of things-unknown amongst the many event attendees. The message is promoted with examples of atrocities in far off lands that don’t support the argument for claimed legal, political or social changes at home. These messages are meant only to appeal to the deepest fears of anyone in ear shot.

Neo Nazi groups as they are often called and evangelist christians don’t drive these campaigns because they feel we should remain a secular state, far from it. They argue that this is a christian county, a white country and demand that sharia endangers or “christian values”. They hate we atheists with the same if not more vigor than they do muslims and if they could rid the world of islam atheism would atheism be next? These people are not our friends and we should always give careful consideration to standing beside them as allies. Anyone with an anti-islam agenda who also supports an anti-atheist agenda surely has to be unsupportable.

To make clear my own perspective on who I perceive as an enemy, I am not frightened of a few loonies who want the world to be the thing they imagine. I am also not adverse to protesting islam or any other religion that harms individuals or restricts freedoms. Doctrine, regardless of its being political or religious, should always be open to question. Even though I believe hate is a very important tool in the human emotional arsenal (hating individuals with solid foundation for said hate is not something I would condone) I am against is any doctrine or belief that empowers blanketed blind hate on entire populations of people.

This is the heart of the issue for me, empowerment.

As the dust settles from the easter weekend the haters promote how widely accepted their hate is by the numbers of people who attended. No matter how ill informed the participants were, how varied their thinking, the level of their understanding or how wrongly they fear sharia law in Australia. The truth they will promote is that their personal version of hate was supported by a large number of people (though the numbers attending the counter protests were it seems bigger). The promoters and speakers will not shy away from using this support to justify their own underlying agendas to anybody willing to listen. They will not care that atheists also stood in the crowd as they call for christian law rather than islamic law.

The trouble is that biblical law is no less my enemy. Biblical law is often cited in our society and due to christian bigotry our legal system still struggles with some very basic concepts such as allowing marriage to be for everyone who wants it. Christian bigotry held back our legal systems with regard to abortion and birth control. When HIV became an issue christians became a problem spreading false information and slowing the implementation of free condom programs. In my life christian law or the impact of christianity on or laws, has had a worse impact on my friends and family. Christianity has subverted public funds for it cause like no other religion and tried to indoctrination me and my children. Christianity abused my grandmother as an orphans in their care causing her mental problems late in life and beat from one of my uncles his natural left handedness all with protection from legal action until quite recently. I already have one religion playing the part of very real enemy and I will not empower it to stop a possible or potential enemy. If anything biblical law is more my enemy.

Okay so as an antitheist I openly admit that I am also very anti-sharia but what is sharia and how do you stop it? What is it the protests are actually achieving?

Protests first, what do they achieve. This is problem that surfaces for antitheist often, entrenchment. Antitheism is largely a war of words where we atheists attack religion at the core of its doctrines and beliefs. There is not one standing argument for god that has not been refuted time and time again. Theists keep dressing up their arguments in different clothing but be it a coke can, and aircraft or a watch it is still the watchmaker argument. The last defence of theists, when arguments run out is to dig in, to entrench themselves in their beliefs and their community, to stop listening to any form of reason and deny all forms of evidence. When this happens over a war of words how much more entrenched do people become when they see a mob protesting them in the streets? Anti-sharia protests serve more inclined to create people willing to become martyrs and entrench others in defence of their beliefs.

How do we overcome this problem? Not through ignorance and hate. Of the people I have spoken too none seem to understand that sharia is an integral is part of muslim ideology and that to stop it the way they want to stop it you must implement thought policing. To stop a section of the islamic population forever seeking sharia you would have to outlaw islam or put in place constant surveillance of the islamic population to catch them out if they mention the idea.

Now obviously sharia is not a real impending problem, the muslim population are far from having the voting power to change our legal system. Even if they had greater voting power our legal system as it stands would take nothing short of revolution to change in a single generation. It would be our kids kids generation at best who chance to make that much change to our society. The only part we have to play is in the education our children about the dangers or radical politics of any sort. If we really want to ensure sharia never takes hold in Australia our best efforts are not spent creating extremists and martyrs but in educating children with a fact based education. Fact based education is import because studies now show that religious children are less able to recognize fact from fiction. Converts to islam are less likely to be from atheist circles because accepting a lie is harder if you know it for the lie it is, converts are more inclined to be those moving between imaginary friends.

I am no defender of that which even believers can't defend. Wanting to rationalise my dislike of islam doesn't and not go off half cocked doesn't make me a supporter.

I am no defender of that which even believers can’t defend. Wanting to rationalise my dislike of islam doesn’t and not go off half cocked doesn’t make me a supporter.

Sharia is an issue in the muslim community with communities often hiding their problems and settling them themselves. Even so not all muslim communities support the same level of sharia adherence, sharia is to some degree a matter of interpretation. Sharia in communities is not a problem for our nation overall and the idea of communities hold their own court has precedent in our nation. The commonwealth government many years back allowed Aboriginal communities to use tribal law so why not religious laws. The jewish community has, for maybe as long as they have existed as a community in Australia, held their own courts without legal grounds but nobody was concerned about that. The christian churches are now being found to have held their own court for longer abusing children and hiding the crimes through their own internal systems. It’s time some perspective was used here and perhaps time the laws of this country were again one law for all.

Stepping down from the extremes of sharia to halal food certification we find the one complaint people have which holds some water. Halal means accepted or approved so I’m told and can have relation to things not food. Halal as most people understand it is food certification and all too often is held up as a sign that sharia is being implemented in our country thought it is far from the same thing. The valid argument against halal is that by certifying foods corporations are taking it upon themselves to implement a religious tax on us, a tax which goes to unknown places and projects through unelected parties. There are many “taxes” on our food, costs and regulations that companies must undertake to sell their product in our market. In the name of profit motive halal is one additional and not legally required cost corporations would I think do well to avoid.

However, as consumers we do have a vote on halal taxation, we vote with our coin. You may think you are being hard done by if you have to go without your morning Vegemite while you exercise your right to not buy it or you can write to the corporations or even start petitions. Not having your Vegemite is a small sacrifice compared to the people who sacrificed themselves to get us shorted working weeks and other improvements we take for granted, maybe the thing missing is perspective. A corporation is a private entity not a government and they can make any decisions they like regarding products but they will always bend to the dollar when it comes to maintaining sales. Vegemite and butter didn’t stay on shelves long and baby Vegemite also didn’t last, we simply voted not to use these pointless variations on our trusty spread and the corporations listened. Consumer campaigns can work to change corporate minds.

When it comes to the necessity for halal certification in islam we have another issue altogether. Halal certification is not required at all. Mohammed is the example for all muslims to live up to (a very low level to reach) and even for mohammed it was enough for him to pray over food that he suspected as not being halal. Mohammed didn’t want his life to be more difficult than need be, he took shortcuts around protocol any time it caused him trouble. To top it all off vegetables and a very large range of other products never need certification or even praying over, they are not mentioned in islamic writing and considered free from doctrinal rulings.

There is one last item needs to be addressed with relation to religious food taxes. Why it is only now people are complaining? Jewish kosher certification has existed a lot longer without complaint. Why was it these protests were not held over the risk of jewish law? Most people don’t even know that the islamic food certification is taken from jewish law and that the jewish community have discussed working with the islamic community to do their certification because the two laws are so similar.

With so many unjust and corrupt practice’s being discovered in religious communities or organizations in our country why are some people so focused on islam? Where are the marches against sex crimes in religious communities? Where are the marches against tax free status for religions who play at politics and take tax money anywhere they can get it? Where are the marches against religion in our secular public schools? The simple answer for most is that those religions are more acceptable but that answer should be the wrong one for any serious anti-theist. ”

We anti-theist atheists have a duty to understand our enemies and the causes we follow in combating them. We have no reason to follow blindly the dictates of other people, we should learn about the topic at hand and the people pushing the agenda. It is a duty to ourselves as much as our community to not to support any one enemy over the perceived dangers of another. Even if we were facing very real dangers it is important that we stand to the side and make it known that we do not support the other agendas being promoted at events. We should remain intellectually true and honest to ourselves and others and not let emotion rule our actions wherever it is possible to do so. Failing to be honest to our own anti-theism and atheism endangers our personal creditability and downgrades the message we are trying to send.

May your gods remain fictional

The Antitheocrat.

Sometimes personalising a problem does bring discussion into the open. I am not against pushing buttons in a non-violent way :)

Sometimes personalising a problem does bring discussion into the open. I am not against pushing buttons in a non-violent way 🙂


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