Before Aron Ra and Matt Dillahunty, before Dawkins or Dennett or Harris or even Hitchens, there was Madalyn Murray O'Hair. In the midst of an America where Christianity was being flaunted as a defense against the godless communists of the Soviet Union, Madalyn insisted on separation of church and state, the removal of forced prayer from public schools, and the recognition that the United States was emphatically NOT a christian nation. Now, Netflix has produced what they purport to be a biography of Ms. O'Hair, one which I have not seen myself but which Seth Andrews has and finds badly wanting for accuracy and verity.
Thus disappointed, Seth goes to work, finding a gentleman who worked closely with O'Hair during the formative days of the American Atheists organization, one Frank Zindler. Together they discuss Madalyn Murray O'Hair, warts and all, and make a far more honest attempt at finding out just who that woman was.
I think their conversation is worth a listen. Please enjoy.
I enjoyed this video because it was informative. Before this, I knew little about O'Hair.
I'm glad she had the courage to continue despite horrible opposition.
One thing that struck me was that it sounded like her "warts" were not entirely her fault. I think a lot of the blame should be on the hatred that religious people heaped upon her. Then there were the police, that did not do their jobs on her behalf, in fact just the opposite. They beat her up and damaging her hands, so that she couldn't play the piano anymore, which she loved.
I think most people that went through what she did would develop some anger and other problems.
The point was made during the podcast that, if O'Hair had been all sweetness and light, no one would have bothered to notice. This of course is a corollary to the phrase, "Well-behaved women rarely make history!" Fact is, she was up against an America to whom atheism was beyond anathema, it bordered on being un-American, and to a degree, that remains true today. Hers was a massive push against that inertia, and I firmly believe that it played a significant part in what we are doing half a century later.
I remember that part now. She purposely pushed back against stupidity and falsehoods with vigor because she knew that she would have no impact otherwise.
I don't consider that a wart or a personality problem. The same goes for atheist's today. Religious people get upset when someone points-out the stupidity of religion or the harm it does, and accuses the atheist of being mean or vicious, which is not the case.
At least part of my problem with O'Hair was here Playboy Interview, which was particularly strident. In addition, her mention of being interested in "stud service" struck me as not being the best thing to bring up in that audience. Still, she was playing hardball throughout, and there's a quote I remember from the movie Patton which is apropos as regards that:
L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace.
-- Frederick the Great
Without Christianity, she might have been a concert pianist, considering the story about the Chopin.
I thoroughly enjoyed this. I read so many things on and by her after becoming an atheist and many of them said the same as this. I think one of the things they forgot to bring up was that she was also had many appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (a fellow atheist/humanist?).