Credit – publicinsightnetwork.org
I have and will continue to defend Muslims against hateful rhetoric whenever I hear it or see it no matter who is behind it. Just as I do the same for others who are experiencing discrimination and hate against them. Millions of others will continue to do the same thing, including millions of other non-believers and progressives. Bill Maher simply does not speak for the majority of us non-believers and progressives, he simply speaks for himself and the minority of non-believers and progressives who have chosen to give into the politics of hate, division, and exclusion. Many of us have no problem with people of faith or even religion in general and God even though we may choose not to believe. This includes when speaking of Islam and Muslims. Many of us are as opposed to hate within atheist circles as we are hate within religious circles. Hate has no place in belief or non-belief.
I find it frankly hypocritical some of the same people who become enraged when they feel someone is pushing religion on them have no problem frequently pushing their atheistic views onto others. They are just plain cruel to people of faith and say the most hurtful things. They broad brush all people of faith, based on some people of faith. They insult their intelligence, their beliefs, their entire scripture, their God, even their humanity every chance they get. They live to persecute people. You don’t have to believe in God and religious based morality to know it is wrong to discriminate against people and preach hate. I believe in reason and science as much as the next non-believer, am as skeptical of religious traditions, am as bothered by many religious scripture passages, am as upset by religious extremism, am as angry over religious conservatives preaching hate and trying to force their morality into law, etc… but I refuse to malign entire faiths and believers as a whole. I refuse to help propagate hate and cruelty in this world. I refuse to help propagate hateful propaganda. I refuse to see any of my fellow humanity as less than human.
Non belief without such ethics and secular morality can be as evil as religious extremism. We only need to look at examples in history of examples of evil tyrannies not based in religion to know they too can be just as evil as religious tyrannies. Every time I hear some of my fellow atheist blame religion for all tyranny in the world, I remind them of Joseph Stalin and the former Soviet Union or other such tyranny. Some of my fellow non-believers conveniently forget such examples of tyranny. Atheist can and do commit acts just as evil as people of faith. Atheist can and do commit acts just as virtuous as people of faith. The presence or absence of faith alone should not be used to judge someone’s character, values, motivations, heart, mind, etc… I tire of atheist self-righteousness as much as I do religious self-righteousness. Let’s face it we are all human beings and as human beings we all have thought, said, and done things we are not proud of. Anyone who says otherwise is lying or without a conscience. Lets get over this us against them attitude, believers vs non-believers, and learn to recognize we are all imperfect human beings.
There is another thing I tire of, intellectual bullying, that some like to engage in. I have nothing against intellectuals at all and am an avid learner myself, but those who use their gift to cause harm to others or advocate hate, cruelty, hardship, etc… on others yes I am very opposed to that. People should not use their gifts they posses like a good mind, good heart, good looks to use for evil against their fellow-man. Such traits can bring a lot of good to the world or a lot of evil depending on how people make use of those traits. People can use their good mind to deceive, lie, advocate for policies that will harm people, etc…. People with a good heart can use that to gain trust in people when their intentions are bad, to cause people to accept something that is hurtful to people, to lead people astray etc…. People with good looks can use them to seduce people to do something that goes against their own interest, to more easily get away with doing bad, to get people to support them even when they are advocating for harmful things, etc… People should not use their intellect and knowledge for bad purposes such as to discriminate , persecute, and cause hate against others.
Bill Maher is acting as an intellectual bully, a self-righteous militant atheist, and cynical misanthrope against his fellow humanity. Sadly he is not the only non-believer and progressive who chooses to behave that way. This is not to say in any way or even suggest such has anything to do with non-belief or progressivism. I only mean to say I am tired of this kind of behavior and attitudes among some of my fellow non-believers and progressives. They are one of the reasons there is a lot of negative beliefs about atheist and progressives. It is unfortunate that many people broad brush people, pigeonhole, categorize them, etc… based on the beliefs and actions of some but they do. We see this same phenomenon happening to every class of people in the world. Many rather than looking at people as individuals, they look at them as what class of people we as society have categorized them into. They judge that class of people they belong to based on some, including some well-known and vocal people of that class. When some people hear your atheist and a progressive the first person they may think of is Bill Maher. I am here to set the record straight; Bill Maher speaks and acts on his own like everyone else. He nor anyone else should be seen to represent anyone other than themselves.
Since 9/11/01 what I have witnessed against Muslims and the Islamic faith has made me sad and angry at the same time. Sad that in the 21st century still this hate, fear, and ignorance. Angry that people unapologetically could speak and behave in such a way and have so many cheering them on. It may not be near to the level of antisemitism in Nazi Germany but if something is not done to combat this hate in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Russia etc… I fear we are heading in that direction. Muslims are being verbally and physically attacked at an unprecedented rate. Muslims are being verbally assaulted while out in public, Mosque have been attacked and vandalized, anti-Muslim demonstrations have been held, harm and death threats have been issued, some Muslims have even been tortured and beaten to death. Everyone of you who have spoken hateful and harsh things against Muslims and Islam are partly to blame for that. Just as the Germans in Nazi Germany who saluted and followed Hitler were partly responsible for the crimes that took place in Nazi Germany and Europe. Words can kill, any who do not realize that should just look at history. The worst evils in the history of humanity began just as ideas, then words, then actions. Islamophobia is just as ugly as racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment and all the other kinds of hate we on the left especially speak out against. It is time to speak out against Islamophobia and all its many expressions.
I have had it with hate and cruelty in this world. I am sick of it. I am losing patience with those who promote it. That is no matter what faith they belong to or if they belong to know faith at all. No matter what race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, ability or disability, etc… a person has, hate is still hate and cruelty is still cruelty. I have even heard such hate in my family, among my own friends, in my neighborhood, in my community so it hits very close to home. I have made a point to speak out against it and even make a point to avoid certain people including family members and relatives who continue to promote it. It has nothing to do with self-righteousness but everything to do with refusing to support hatred and cruelty or be around those who promote it. I refuse to be friends with people who continue to promote hate and cruelty. I don’t want that kind of negative energy and influence, to support that kind of ignorance and hate, to associate with people with that kind of mentality. I still love them, it hurts with some of them I can not have a good relationship with them, but I refuse to be around such negativity and negative people. They can be as hateful and cruel as they want but I am not going to listen to it or be around it. I tried in the past to bite my tongue, ignore it, overlook it but that has become very difficult. I refuse to be silent no longer.
I say its time we all do the same thing, speak out and refuse to tolerate hate. It is when hate is ignored and tolerated when it grows. It starts out small enough a comment there, a comment here, then rhetorical talking points, then fiery speeches, then support of inhumane polices, then enacting those polices, then tragedy. Ignoring such hate and cruelty is what has happened in our Nations schools with bullying; the attempt to excuse it, minimize it, ignore it, allow it to grow more severe has created an environment in many schools where bullying is common place. We need not become severe ourselves in seeking solutions to combat hate and cruelty, but we need not excuse it, minimize it, ignore it, or allow it to grow more severe either. We need to, as we have largely as a society did against racism and sexism and attempting to do the same with homophobia, do the same to combat Islamophobia. We need to not just nip it in the bud but extract it at its roots. Its roots being ignorance and fear. I am not going to stand by and watch a repeat of the antisemitism of the 1930’s and 1940’s happen to Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern peoples or no other peoples. I see us as a world heading in that direction if we don’t do much more to address such now in its earlier stages. We can not let such gain a foothold and grow. Eventually as these things tend to do, it gets to a certain point and it is hard to combat. Then tragedy happens.
Some will accuse me of being like the character Chicken Little saying the sky is falling. Some will attempt to minimize the degree Islamophobia has taken root in our societies. Some will write this article off as the ramblings of some politically correct, liberal, lunatic. However in the early 30’s few saw the dangers of antisemitism and people who were speaking out against such went largely ignored, were criticized, or even demonized. A few years later into the decade though many began to see the dangers of such. When even a sizable percentage of the left, that has historically been champions of religious minorities, has began adopting ideas and words out of Islamophobia then we should all begin to be afraid. I am not even Muslim and I am afraid of what I am hearing and observing regarding Islamophobia happening in the United States and various places around the world. When I see it becoming part of the political debate and policies in various places around the world I began to fear for the future. I am not going to be silent, I am not going to submit, I am not going to follow hate and cruelty or those who routinely actively promote it. We all need to speak up, before we are forced in a few years or decade’s time to bear witness to tragedy. Islamophobia is not something to pretend it is not a major problem or that it will go away on its own. We must not allow history to repeat itself.
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Martin Niemöller
Continuing to fight the good fight,
Alan Curtis Montgomery