Friday, April 20, 2007

Where are the atheists?

This is the question Dinesh D'Souza, Dartmouth alum and right-wing darling, has asked.

"Notice something interesting about the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings? Atheists are nowhere to be found. Every time there is a public gathering there is talk of God and divine mercy and spiritual healing."

Now, I know that it's hard for wanky narcissists to imagine caring for other people more than caring for oneself or one's own agenda. It's just not in their genetic code, I guess. But, I (and lots of other atheists, I imagine) have the capacity to empathize with all sorts of people, even when neither they nor their experience bears any resemblance to me and my own.

This is because I am not a douchebag*.

You see, it is because of this capacity for empathy that I don't go around spouting hurtful things to people who are in pain. If I were to show up at a gathering of grieving people who find great comfort in believing in and talking about their god(s) and started telling them that their god doesn't exist, I would be an asshole. To use such an occasion to advance my own agenda instead of using it to comfort and support grieving fellow human beings would make me, well, it would make me Fred Phelps (only slightly better because I wouldn't be attacking an already-persecuted minority group). And it would make me Dinesh D'Souza, who assumes that there were no atheists grieving, no atheists among the dead, and uses the occasion to advance his own pro-God agenda instead of offering support to the whole of the grieving community.

Atheists are everywhere, Mr. D'Souza. Look around. We're usually the ones being considerate**.

*I don't like how this word gets its derogatory power through misogyny, but I haven't discovered a suitable replacement that packs the same punch. Any suggestions?

**Unless we're provoked, that is.


EBuz said...

You are so right.

This post reminded me of that episode of "30 days" where an atheist woman had to move in with evangelical Christian family. The evangelicals were apopletic about the fact that the atheist woman had children. Since she wasn't teaching them about Jesus, they could not fathom how she could possibly be raising them to be good people.

Christians are moral people.
Therefore, no non-Christians are moral people.

Not exactly Aristotelian logic.

Gender Blank said...

Christians are moral people.
Therefore, no non-Christians are moral people.

This sounds like some neighbors I had growing up. A lot of the guilt I had about not being a Christian came from this kind of "logic."