Just days ago, an article came to my attention about “new” atheists “flirting” with Islamophobia — an issue that was already old when it started over ten years ago — and I decided to share it on an online discussion group on Facebook, accompanied by a direct call for concrete action (a boycott of Dawkins and Harris) against the promotion of racism, which is embedded in this issue at several points.
Here is a link to the article*, which has been edited since the night I posted it late in the evening. The original version of the article stated quite plainly that both Dawkins and Harris make a regular habit of comparing religion to the Nazi Holocaust. As I personally am a Slavic Jew (part of my mixed ethnicity, not my religious affiliation), and was born in North America — rather than somewhere in my ancestral homelands — precisely because of widespread anti-Semitism, Nazi occupations of several countries, and finally, the Nazi Holocaust, I took such profound offence to the idea that I had to do something about it. I demanded that people give their heads a shake and start boycotting Dawkins and Harris for their frequent outbursts of sexism, racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. I reasoned that these two individuals continue to brazenly air the same kind of vitriol and hatred, to hundreds of thousands of followers every week, that created the social conditions my blood family fled two generations ago. Now here I am, in North America, with an ever-expanding chosen family that includes residential school survivors—people who have survived cultural genocide on Canadian soil.
* Fucking update: Here’s another article on the same issue that is significantly better written.
How did the secular community respond, and why am I talking about this in the very beginning of my open reply to your open letter? Well, CFI and associated numb nuts, the secular community insisted on debating the credibility of the article, and demanded that I (boycotting the two authors in question already for several years) prove to them (the fucking devoted readership of these two authors) that Dawkins and Harris are racists. When I asked exactly when the last time my opponent applied this lukewarm stance against racism into some form of concrete action, they evaded the question entirely. Multiple times. When the same person began pestering me about the issue on a CFI discussion group online (because I had already stopped engaging them in a separate discussion group online), asking me what is racist about comparing religion to the Nazi Holocaust (what kind of disingenuous horse shit is this question?), I told them to fuck off and pick up a fucking book while they’re at it. One of your faithful discussion group moderators appeared in the conversation to police the hostile tone of the conversation, after I had already blocked the individual from engaging me any further. I am talking to you about this experience here because it is an exact repetition of the kind of lukewarm politics your organization promotes, while pretending to uphold the values of social justice, and giving yourselves a round of back-pats for being nice guys.
Now that it’s been a couple days, I find your open letter to the secular community, full of the same patronizing attempt to tone-police the entire fucking online English-speaking secular community. Exactly how many of you fucking numb-skulls did it take to put this letter together?
In case no one has ever permeated the thick crusts of cerumen in your ears with the following message before, tone-policing is when you dismiss what a person has to say, not because you have a valid reason to disagree with them, but because you simply don’t like the way they said it. This isn’t just a perfect fucking example of sexist bullshit, because it’s also completely fucking passive-aggressive, useless, and utter nonsense when applied to a string of characters on a computer monitor, which in case it didn’t occur to you before now, don’t have a fucking tone.
Ever been “the man” in a disagreement with a woman who is getting visibly distressed because you’ve been ignoring what she has to say, gas-lighting her, and then telling her that because she can’t stay calm, it’s her fault you can’t have a civil discussion about the problem? Because I’ll tell you something, CFI: just about every adult woman on the face of the planet has been silenced in a disagreement by a man relying on tone-policing to “put her in her place”. Tone-policing is founded in the idea that no matter how fucking righteously furious women are about all the sexist shit they have to deal with, they still have to come up with a passive, gentle, sweet-sounding and polite way to say it, so that they don’t trample on your delicate man-feels. You know what stings worse than someone being angry with you for being fucking obtuse and lazy towards the idea of taking concrete action against sexism? Experiencing unrelenting sexism for the entire duration of your fucking life, for starters.
Not being heard, of course, often leads people to passive aggression. And because women are less often heard than men, a stereotype of women is that they don’t communicate directly—even though it is men who are being passive-aggressive from the very start, all along, in order to “put her in her place”. But CFI, your open letter is transparently passive-aggressive. Either you’re convinced you’re not being heard, or you just want a particular portion of your respondents to shut the fuck up. I wonder which one it could be? Maybe I’ll even answer that directly (spoiler: I already have, I will again, it will be in bold letters, and my answer will clearly demonstrate that you just want to silence teh wimminz).
Passive aggression, such as tone-policing, is also completely fucking useless, because it does nothing to address the concerns, real problems, or rebuttals—of, say, passive aggression. It also just makes most people flip their fucking shits, who are immediately aware that you’re clearly not even trying to hear them, because you’re more concerned about the tone of their voice than the content of what they have to say. If this wasn’t already tone-policing, it would qualify as concern-trolling.
Importantly, when your focus is on online communications, as the entire length of your letter is, what you’re really saying is that when you read words on a computer monitor, and the narrator in your head announces them to you in a condescending tone of voice, that’s somehow anyone else’s fault but yours. Sorry, Muffin—oh, I mean CFI and its brilliant team of fucking rocket surgeons—but that’s not how words on a screen work.
“The Debate over Sexism and Feminism”
Just what fuck do you all think sexism is? This isn’t your high school debate club, where it’s still funny to play “devil’s advocate” and pretend that the pro-life side of their own manufactured abortion “debate” is a legitimate philosophical stance to assume for a half an hour. Sexism isn’t a fucking debate—it’s a fact, demonstrated by systemic gender inequality. The side that disproportionately benefits from this relationship, or the “winning” end, is where collective male privilege comes from, which is where individual shares of male privilege come from. Or did you still need “evidence” to support that claim?
And while we’re on this vein, just what the fuck do you all think feminism is? Let me be the first to inform you that it’s not some sort of secret remote lesbian colony where women grow out their armpit hairs, talk about castrating men while they sit around drinking hemp tea, and have sex exclusively by holding hands with each other whilst running in slow motion through an open field. It’s also decidedly not a debate, but many possible answers to several debates. Political ideologies. You know. The kind of shit from which people build entire organizations like yours.
See, it’s obvious that to you, it’s still funny to play “devil’s advocate” and pretend that sexism and feminism are still “debates”. And that, Muffin, is an example of one of the principles upon which your organization is built. All this tone-policing you’re promising to enforce online, and all pleading with the entire fucking online English-speaking secular community to play along with, is just your attempt to placate teh wimminz so you can keep on giving each other back-pats for being nice guys in between heated “debates” about shit that does fundamentally fuck-all to challenge established gender inequality — either systemically throughout society, or even within your own movement. You can’t claim that, as a movement (one you apparently think you hold collective title over), the belief “that women and men should have equal rights” is one of your core principles, and then answer the presence of people within your movement issuing rape threats and death threats against women in your communities by promising to moderate your forums a little more sternly. If you “unequivocally and unreservedly condemn those who resort to communicating in such a vile and despicable manner”, as you claim to, you’d be fucking jumping up and down to launch a consciousness-raising campaign against these fucks as often as possible. You’d be launching regular counter-tactics against the pro-life movement. You’d be an actual fucking feminist organization; rather than one that wets its pants at the sound of the word “feminist” or publishes a diatribe on the importance of tone—even resorting to calling anything “drama” if it falls outside your irrationally conservative criteria for acceptable speech. And where do you think that idea came from? It sure as fuck didn’t come from thinking critically about why profanity makes you have bad-feels.
For a movement that thinks everything sacred to be banal, and which at times quite literally fetishizes the profane, you sure have a fucking problem with curse words. And for a movement that prides itself on how hard it works to establish social justice, you sure are completely missing the fucking boat. Repeatedly. All while rabid misogynists are running around terrorizing women from within, and you idolize people who publicize racist and sexist rants on a weekly basis. I’m referring, of course, to Richard Dawkins in reference to weekly tirades, but that’s another blog post.
The least you could do is exactly fuck-all (which means you’re complicit with the shit you spend so much time claiming to vehemently oppose). But no, you just keep making work for yourselves to avoid all those bad-feels that come from doing nothing while you congratulate yourselves on how self-righteous you are. I wonder where that comes from, too.