Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Three Muslim Students Shot

Atheists are gonna be really defensive about the shooting of three Muslim students. It was apparently a fight over a parking spot and the shooter turns out to be an atheist.

While this seems to be a fight over a parking spot, not over religions, I think that those who are actually involved and active in the atheist community (or communities) should take this seriously. I think we are too tolerant of dehumanizing rhetoric about Muslims. I think racism and xenophobia IS an issue when it comes to the one major religion where many of it's followers are foreign to us in ways other than just their religion. I can't tell you how many times I've heard atheists, including the top (most well known) mouthpieces claim that Islamaphobia isn't a real thing because there are legitimate reasons to fear Islam. There are legitimate reasons to fear heights too, but we don't argue that one can't also have an irrational fear of heights, one which is hysterical.
Just as we on the left called on the right to tone down the rhetoric after Gabby Giffords was shot, I think it's time we without gods look at our rhetoric, and the rhetoric of those we champion, associate with, or even just tolerate.

I'm sometimes accused of being less hard on Muslims than on Christians. Guilty. I grew up Christian. Most of the people I know and share a culture with are, or have been Christian. So yeah, I tread a bit more carefully when dealing with people who I already have so many other cultural differences with. I will not apologize for this.

Do you know a Muslim? If you don't know at least one Muslim, actually know them as a person, try to fix that. Let's reach out to our fellow humans on things we do agree on. And yes, of course, let's continue to champion reason and to be critical of human rights abuses and bad science, but keep the dialogue intelligent and respectful. Find some empathy. Without it we're all screwed.

(I will be keeping an eye on the comments. Please refrain from insults, name calling, and other ad hominem attacks. Let's talk. But act an ass, and you will be excused. My thoughts on this particular case are still evolving and I look forward to hearing yours.)