There is an amazing piece at Alternet (amazing and amazingly silly) by one Robert Wright positing that although the overwhelming majority of atheists are left-leaning in their political stances, the leaders of the "New Atheism," Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris, are "right wing hawks." I say amazingly silly because participtation in this online community convinces me that atheists come in all colors and have a wide disparity of political leanings and geopolitical beliefs. So I resent the writer's generalizations. I also resent Wright's taking issue with the New Atheists' (and particularly Hitchens') argument that there would be no Iraeli-Palestinian conflict but for religion. Wright says this is "just plain wrong."

Hitchens et al. would argue that the proposition is demonstrably true. To begin with, the Israeli government refuses to set the stage for a two-state solution to the conflict by tacitly authorizing the colonialism run rampant in establishment of satellite communities in formerly Palestinian lands: the settlement issue. A recent article in The New Yorker told how the right wing fundamentalist religious groups actually fund the settlements; they've infiltrated the army and fund the building of the infrastructure, all with the government looking the other way. And when asked how they can do these things when it so obviously exacerbates tensions among the two ethnic groups, their answer is -- guess what? God told them so. They believe that God gave them the "Holy [or is that Holey?] Land" and that it is thus manifest destiny.

No wonder the evangelical dominionists here send moral and monetary support to the Israelis and join forces with their influential lobby in D.C. to do all that can be done to aid Israel at the expense of the Muslim peoples. These mindless halfwits have a vested interest in speeding up the Apocalypse (no matter that John of Patmos was writing about Nero Caesar) so that they can bring about their longed-for "Rupture, uh, I mean Rapture, the end times, when Jebus will save all the "good" people and punish all the "bad" people in a fiery conflagration. (As the nutty parochial preacher in Cold Comfort Farm was wont to put it, "It'll be hot there, and there wont be a drop to drink.")

If Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris are hawkish on Afghanistan, it is only because they view the Shariah-obsessed Taliban as a threat to world democracy. (One supposes these leading "New Atheists" would like to do away with the dominionists, too, but that is another war, not yet fought.) Mr. Wright should meet a few of us rather than simply judging all atheists by the writings of the three men he criticizes. I can't speak for all of us, but I am a bit left of Karl Marx, and I support the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Am I "just plain wrong"?

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Karl Marx probably wouldn't support invading a country just to build a pipeline through Anbar.

Just sayin...
No, you're not wrong.

Maybe one should stop looking at Alternet; it's as full of unsustainable reactionary opinion as Fox News (sic).

I read that article. I wish I hadn't. Apart from the logical fallacies and poorly constructed analogies -- well -- actually no, it's still a bad article.

He seems to stress this atheist love of Israel -- where that comes from I don't know -- that Hitchens and Dawkins et al stand with Peres and Dobson on Israel. I don't even know how he draws that conclusion. Hitchens, at least, favors a two-state-solution (where the other two cited stand, I do not know) -- as written in his FUCKING BOOK, the book that Mr. Wright cites as evidence of near exclusive Muslim-criticism. Hitchens has been the loudest critic of Israeli settlements and the invasion of Lebanon of the Four Horsemen and has praised the Palestinians and PLA for marginalizing Hamas.

The only thing that was even remotely true in that article is that they are ecumenical in their criticism of religion.
Yeah, I think you're mostly right (I mean correct), but I liked Hedges' book on the extreme right wingnut religious creeps who block voted for Bush II twice because he did things he promised he'd do in order to win a first term, e.g. one of his first executive orders was to effectively shut down much of stem cell research, and then there was the ban on abortion funding in foreign aid to developing countries. Hedges' book was eye-opening even to me, and I thought I knew plenty about the far right element in fundamentalist Christianity. He had a whole chapter on the dominionist movement. It was a good read.

On the other hand, he is, like Andrew Sullivan, an enabler. All mainstream (non-evangelical) Christers are enablers, as Harris pointed out in his running debate with Sullivan at some web site -- I think it was But I have to agree with you about the right and left (or is that "New Left"? -- being anti-atheist in the main. One recalls during the Vietnam era the Berrigan Brothers, who were devout Catholic priests who had to suffer FBI investigations, wiretaps, &c., because of their anti-war activities, but they remained devout Catholics. (If only today's Catholic priests would take time out from their pedophilic activites and organize demonstrations against, say, capital punishment; where I live, at least one parochial high school posts "Execution Day Today" signs on their lawn, but they could do so much more!) We don't have any Berrigans, I fear.

But let's face it, even if you believe science and religion can be reconciled (they cannot), you might be among the ranks of those who believe atheists are not only wrong but dangerous. You make a good point there.
I doubt Hitchens can sober up long enough to admit he was wrong about Iraq, lol. However, I wonder why Sullivan didn't catch on earlier that Iraq was a boondoggle. Like Hillary, he was duped. Desite her vote for war, I initially supported Clinton for president, but when she lost the primaries I thought Obama's ascendancy had something to do with his having voted against the war in the first place.

I know I am in the minority of progressives: they are mostly against the Afghani incursion, but I cannot get out of my mind the sight, on TV, of the Taliban blowing up those magnificent cliff carvings of the Buddha. To destroy great works of art -- think of Mt. Rushmore -- just to reinforce one's religious beliefs is unimaginable. (At the time I was in my last pre-atheist Buddhist period; I had not yet realized that Buddhism was what the Pope said it was, "an atheist religion," and although he later apologized, I thought, in a certain sense he is correct, as Buddhism does not require belief in a personal deity, an idea that is wholly anathema to Islam.)

However, I must add that I differed with the Sullivans of this world in another respect: I never viewed Bush II as a legitimate president. He was crowned by the Nine Nutty Professors (well, actually, only five of them). Alan Dershowitz wrote a great book on the decision in Bush v. BGore. The day Dubya was sworn in, I was driving home from upstate where I had been attending a legal seminar. I actually began to weep at the thought I would live a country with such a total loser in the White House for the next four years. Boy, did *I* have a surprise: he would be there for eight.

When, during the run-up to the invasion, I heard Saddam say, "It doesn't make any difference that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction; Bush will invade us anyway," I knew that he was right. It really saddened me when Colin Powell lied to the U.N. claiming that the evidence was clear as to a Saddam-al Qaeda connection, &c. That man lost all credibility in one speech. But the real villain was the congress, voting repeatedly to fund the fiasco. They lost all nerve, and in that the Dems were at least as much if not more culpable than the GOPS.

Oh, well, nuff said I suppose.
Interesting you bring up the part about religious hospitals and birth control, since once of the fear-mongering talking points of the Repubs in their "Obama's Waterloo" assault on the universal health care bill now being thrashed out in the congress is the claim that the Dem version contains a provision that will put all Catholic hospitals out of business if passed. I probably got it garbled from a friend I had dinner with, but she passed it on all the same. I thought (and responded), how could that be, the Catholic hospitals do not perform abortions here now. (We have three Christus Spohn Hospitals here, part of the Christus chain that is found in several Texas cities. When I get sick, that is where I go for care, but having to look at the pale Galilean on the wall all day and night might actually make me sicker.)

The talking point posits that the Dem bill will force religious hospitals (and that generally means Catholic) into stocking birth control pills and/or doing emergency abortions, and while I am sure that these hospitals do not stock contraceptives and might not even do emergency abortions, I don't know for sure. As it is, our most visible abortion doctor, a South American named Aquino, has had to erect a high wooden fence around his clinic to prevent his patients having to see the almost year-round protestors waving signs like "Abortion Kills Babies" and so forth (not if "babies" means "persons" as is pointed out in a brilliant website article:
Someone bought a two-story building across the street so that they could post signs from the second story with the same silly nonsense, thereby defeating Dr. Aquino's wooden fence.

They say politics makes for strange bedfellows and the health care reform debate certainly proves as much.
Thanks, Sarah. Now, what do you want for your birthday? :-)
By the way, my wife and I had two sons and I guess I was incapable of siring a daughter, but we both agreed that if we did have one, she'd be named Sarah. (Actually,it was one of the few things we did agree on. We divorced prior to her death, from cancer, and only then became true friends.) I love the name, despite its obvious Booblical origins and connotations. Do you know Dylan's song, the one that goes, "Sarah, oh Sarah...." Runs around in my mind a lot. I think his first wife or a sweetheart was named Sarah.
I warn you, it's about 20 minutes long. He really worshiped that woman.
I agree, and Ms. Homan makes an excellent point about the hypocrisy of being anti-abortion AND anti-healthcare reform. As for stem cells, you're really preaching to the choir. I have leukemia and wonder if stem cell research might lead to a cure for that (among the countless other diseases and syndromes it might help cure, especially Parkinson's). When you get right down to it, religion is the only possible basis for all of these positions taken by the whacky right. (Note that they go to great lengths to find "practical," non-religious justifications for their stances, e.g. claiming that abortions cause more than normal risk to feminine infertility.)

Say what you want about Hitchens, but he hit the nail on the head when he said religion poisons everything. Not too many people know that the underlying reason the Inquisition encouraged villagers to "out" the pagani and even local folk as "witches" was not because they were doing anything genuinely "evil" -- that is, evil per se -- but because the Wise Women knew how to induce abortion through use of herbs, &c (abortificants, I think they're termed). The mindset of most Christians is 11th or 12th century (the time of the Crusades); they haven't progressed or evolved a bit since then. Whenever a Christian is against this or against that, I always look for an ulterior motive, and I usually find it in some interpretation of scripture.
Insightful comments, James.

Without religion, Zionism will evaporate.

'What had once been the nationalist ideology of a stateless people has
undergone a tragic transition. It has, for a growing number of Israelis,
been corrupted into an uncompromising ethno-religious real estate pact with
a partisan God, a pact that justifies any and all actions against real or
imagined threats, critics, and enemies.'
- Tony Judt paraphasing Amos Elon on the subject of Zionism
War is self-perpetuating. Israel came about because the Brits had occupied Palestine and did not want to turn it over to Muslims. The Israelis pushed the Palestinians out when they moved in. World War II left an unsettled planet with built-in aggressions and stages set for ethnic violence. Each time a despot is toppled, chaos follows in his wake: it happened after the death of Tito and it is happening now in Iraq. Wars beget wars. There is no end to them. Among the absolute truths to be found in the otherwise at-times-silly Booble is the statement, "There will always be wars and rumors of war." (I think that was in Second Centurians.) The West's support for the Israeli state has been the cause of almost all terrorism against Western (mostly Christer) nations. Obama is the first president since the end of WWII to offer a glimmer of hope in what is inevitable if there is to be peace in the Mideast: forcing the Israelis out of the settlements. This amazes many because the two men closest to Obama now are both Jewish. But they are not Zionists. And they are pragmatics. I am encouraged by the administration's steadfast insistence on change. I think it more important than health care, the economy, and all the social issues combined. Unlike Pete Townsend, however, I will get fooled again. I don't think Obama can stand up to the Israeli lobby, and I am sure they fund the anti-Muslim hawks in the Senate (e.g. Lieberman and that whiney-voiced wimp, Eric Cantor). The Zionist lobby covers both sides of the aisle.
Another thing that really annoys me about this article is this:

"If some Jihadists are motivated partly by fear that the west threatens their religious culture, is the optimal counter-terrorism strategy to have know-it-all westerners tell them their God doesn't exist?"

(you can find the whole article here if you ever feel the need to autolobotomize.)

Essentially claiming that if we just let the Muslims have their religion, they'll leave us alone. It's the same nonsense I read from idiots like Chris Hedges.

But just for a moment, let's say that they're right. Let's say that if we DO leave the Muslims alone, they WILL stop being terrorists. Say that if the entire world treats Islam the way England has and surrenders the most extreme religious exceptionalism to them that they will stop being violent. Say that we allow them to force their women to walk around covered in curtains; to murder "promiscuous" daughters; to beat to death adulteresses; to execute couples who have the tenacity to love each other despite pre-arranged marriages to others; to deny women education; to deny women medical care by only allowing men to be doctors; to marry nine year old girls; to prosecute and jail rape victims for having the tenacity to be raped; to place death warrants on individuals who leave the faith -- say that we allow all that -- say that we give them warrant to do whatever the fuck they want -- does one REALLY believe that they'll be satisfied with that?

The better question is, have they been satisfied? Everything I've written above are things that they've allowed themselves to do because their desert cult commands them to. They're not things they've done to "know-it-all westerners," these are things they've gleefully committed against each other because their religion says they can and they should.

But say that Mr. Wright is correct, that because we allowed them to commit such theocratic violence against each other they never attacked us, say that never had terrorist camps or had hostility towards the West; say that they exacted their violence strictly among themselves; how can one consider all of those atrocities a worthy trade to sequester them in their corner of the world. "Oh we should just let them have their religion because then they'll stop wanting to attack the West." How can this Robert Wright even imply something so viciously immoral and unethical and untrue and still consider himself a better person than his scarecrow "hawk atheists."




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