Are New Atheists Really That Different From Social Justice Atheists?

Because of the arguments between the New Atheists and the Social Justice atheists (the Id Atheists), it’s tempting to think that at least the New Atheists are the reasonable ones when it comes to things like free speech.  But be careful.  I don’t think many New Atheists truly believe in some universal principle of free speech.  I think it’s more about them worrying that they won’t be freely able to criticize and mock religion.

In other words, I think at their core, most New Atheists are social justice atheists and the debate is simply about the target of social justice retribution and aggression.  In fact, the whole blow up triggered by Elevatorgate seems to be about the Social Justice Atheists not agreeing to restrict their attacks to Christians and Jews.   When the SCA’s broadened their attacks to include secular white men, that’s when things derailed.  Things became even more heated when the SCA’s decided to take Islam off the table when it came to bashing religion.

The New Atheists have the same basic id-based attitude as the social justice atheists.  While the latter view “cis straight white males” as The Problem with the world, the former views “religious males and females” as the Problem.  Both sides like to accuse the “problem tribes” of sexism, racism, homophobia, and transphobia.   Both sides think the “problem tribes” must be stripped of cultural influence as the means to bringing about some wonderful utopia and rely on aggressive methods to bring about their agenda.  After all, both are quite supportive of censoring and deplatforming the “problem tribes”  and creating safe spaces free of the “problem tribes.”  Both the New Atheists and Social Justice atheists embrace extremism because they view themselves as Good and their problem tribe as Evil.

The difference is that the New Atheists (here in the United States) have a tool thanks to historical contingency – a particular Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment.   Thus, they can use the courts to create safe spaces for the secular approach while trying to censor public expressions of religiosity.   To facilitate this, atheists posture as snowflakes who are being psychologically traumatized by public expressions of religious behavior and/or thought. As the government grows in size and reach, the atheist activists are there to ensure it pushes religion further and further into some corner.  Since the SCA’s don’t have a court ruling (yet) that can empower their censoring ways, they must rely on public shaming , protests, witch hunts and even violence.  But you can count on the SJA’s to support the atheist activists push to completely secularize culture as long as a sizable safe space is created for…….Islam.

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Truth vs. Change

Here’s an excellent talk by Jon Haidt that nicely, and fairly, explains the problem with the social justice movement and how it has infiltrated academia. Haidt notes there are basically two types of approaches that now exist within academia. There is the traditional approach that seeks and values truth. For this approach to work best, we need intellectual diversity within the university given the human tendency to rely on motivated reasoning. The social justice approach seeks and values change. For this approach to work best, intellectual diversity becomes an obstacle and everyone must be on the same page in order to more effectively implement change.

The talk is a little over an hour long, but well worth watching. HT to TFBW for bringing this to my attention.

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Social Justice Professor Insists White Men Should Not be Hired

Piper Harron is a mathematics professor at the University of Hawaii.  She posted an article on an American Mathematical Society blog (where she is one of the editors) arguing that white men should resign their positions in academia and no longer be hired. 

Let’s have a look at this expression of social justice.

Harron writes:

Not to alarm you, but I probably want you to quit your job, or at least take a demotion. Statistically speaking, you are probably taking up room that should go to someone else. If you are a white cis man (meaning you identify as male and you were assigned male at birth) you almost certainly should resign from your position of power. That’s right, please quit. Too difficult? Well, as a first step, at least get off your hiring committee, your curriculum committee, and make sure you’re replaced by a woman of color or trans person. Don’t have any in your department?  HOW SHOCKING.

First, I am a male not because I identify as male or because I was assigned male at birth.  I am a male because of my genetics, anatomy, and physiology.  It’s how I was born.  That this may conflict with Herron’s crackpot notions of postmodernism is not my problem.

Second, people who serve on hiring committees or curriculum committees don’t have the power to dictate who will replace them.  Thus, there is no way for an evil white male to “make sure you’re replaced by a woman of color or trans person.”

Third, Herron implies the evil white men are preventing women of color or trans people from joining their departments.  But Herron provides no evidence of this.  She would need to show a history of a department having numerous applicants who were women of color or trans people and a consistent history such applications being passed over in order to hire white men to even raise a justification for a closer look.

Clearly, Herron has been indoctrinated in postmodern, neo-Marxist ideology.  As such, she views the world through a tribalistic “us vs. them” filter.   She lashes out at one tribe and because this tribe has become the bogeyman, she postures with a proposal  that rationalizes retribution.  This is the standard Marxist technique of pitting people against each other.

Herron continues this approach:

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Social Justice Through the Back Door

To understand the mind of a social justice activist, you must understand that their minds are enslaved to their Id.  One clear indication of this is the manner in which social justice activists are obsessed with sexual behavior.

A groundbreaking social justice article appeared a few years back in the American Journal of Sexuality Education written by Susan Stiritz and Jonathan Branfman.  The article is entitled, Teaching Men’s Anal Pleasure: Challenging Gender Norms with “Prostage” Education.

No, it’s not another hoax.  This is social justice “scholarship.”

Here’s the abstract:

To help students critique sex/gender norms, sexuality educators should address men’s anal pleasure. Men’s anal receptivity blurs accepted binaries like male/female, masculine/feminine, and straight/queer. By suppressing men’s receptivity, the taboo against men’s anal pleasure helps legitimize hegemonic sex/gender beliefs—and the sexism, homophobia, and male dominance they encourage. Conversely, by deconstructing men’s anal taboo and creating a new language of anal pleasure—“prostage” (pro-STAHJ)—educators can help students challenge restrictive gender norms. We base this argument on an anonymous, online, mixed methods survey we conducted with 228 undergraduate men, as well as existing literature on men’s anal sexuality.

Let’s take a look at some excerpts from this social justice brilliance below the fold.

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Peter Boghossian Sees the Light

It’s good to see that New Atheists have begun to figure out how reality works.  For a long time now, I have criticized one of the central claims of the New Atheist movement, the notion that if we could only get rid of religion, the world would be a much better place.  Not only was there no evidence to support this belief (which, ironically, was little more than faith), but the evidence we did have pointed in the other direction.  And what was that evidence?  The atheist community itself.  A crystal clear example of what I was talking about was Elevatorgate and the rage-filled rhetorical wars between the New Atheists and Social Justice atheists.  The existence of the Social Justice atheists, along with their power and influence, clearly showed there is no reason to believe that a world without religion would be any better than the one we have.  It could even be worse.

Now, for some time I have noticed that Jerry Coyne, a prominent New Atheist leader, has spent less time on criticizing religion and more time on criticizing the Social Justice atheists (referred to as the Regressive Left).  It’s as if the New Atheists did some soul searching and asked themselves, “Who killed our movement?”  It wasn’t the Christians or the Religious Right.  In fact, it wasn’t any outside force.  Their movement was torn apart from within by the Regressive Left.  As a result, the New Atheists no longer find themselves on the offensive, but often find themselves reacting to the social and cultural changes being imposed on all of us by the Regressive Left.

Peter Boghossian, another New Atheist leader, has been rather explicit about this (HT to Kevin):

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Peter Boghossian’s Hilarious Hoax

As readers may know, I have been very critical of Peter Boghossian in the past.  Nevertheless, when the man pulls off a stunt that is both enlightening and entertaining, I have to acknowledge it.

Boghossian, and his sidekick James Lindsay, were able to get a paper published in a social science journal.  The problem?  It was all a hoax.  Boghossian and Lindsay, using fake names and fake affiliations, actually published a paper that not only argues penises are social constructs, but blames climate change on them.

Here’s the abstract:

Anatomical penises may exist, but as pre-operative transgendered women also have anatomical penises, the penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a social construct isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity. Through detailed poststructuralist discursive criticism and the example of climate change, this paper will challenge the prevailing and damaging social trope that penises are best understood as the male sexual organ and reassign it a more fitting role as a type of masculine performance.

This easily passed peer review.  Do we need any further evidence of just how much postmodernism intellectually corrupts academia?

Anyway, I love the humor they snuck into the article:

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Muddled Thinking from Jerry Coyne

Conrad Black wrote an article entitled, “I put this as simply as possible: Many atheists are excellent, but atheism itself is hurting the West.”  Black has a good grasp on your average New Atheist:

I have had as much as I can take for a while of the belligerent atheists who come crackling through the Internet assuming the airs of prosecutors, declaring ex cathedra that any suggestion of the existence of a supernatural force or that anything is not explicable by applied human ingenuity is medieval superstition. They have a trite little formula that they don’t have to prove the existence of anything and so have the high ground in any argument and then lapse into Hitchensesque infantilistic mockery about pink-winged little men in the clouds. They are repetitive and obnoxious and their fervour betrays the vacuity of their position. I am declaring a moratorium for at least a few months on trying to reason with these self-exalted champions of reason.

This type of summary stings because of its accuracy.  So it’s no surprise that the thin-skinned atheist activist Jerry Coyne would take great offense and flail away at Black’s article.

Coyne writes:

Now he continues in this vein with a newish column, “I put this as simply as possible: Many atheists are excellent, but atheism itself is hurting the West“. Now my first response on reading the title was this: “Even if it is hurting the West, and I believe the opposite, that says nothing about the existence of gods!”

And his first response is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction that has zero relevance.  Simply read the title of the essay – it had nothing to do with demonstrating the existence of “gods.”   Sheesh. That Coyne admits this is his “first” response tells us he is in Hyper-Skeptic Mode.

Coyne continues:

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Professor Tries to Impose Censorship on Students

Another day, another example of social justice authoritarianism.  Today’s example of authoritarian behavior is brought to you by William Thatcher, an assistant professor of Public Health at Fresno State in California.

It all begins when some pro-life students secured permission to write messages on the sidewalk with chalk.  According to the CNN report, the professor  “approached the group and said they had to keep their messages to the university’s free speech area” and “then said he would be back to remove the messages.”

And here is the delicious video:

Several points emerge.

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Sam Harris Promotes Sam Harris Memes

I recently checked out Sam Harris’s blog and found the latest entry entitled “Meme#8” Which means there is a #7, #6, etc.

And they are all quotes from….Sam Harris speaking on his podcasts.

So Harris is using his blog to promote Sam Harris memes.

At first, I thought maybe he was finding his memes and helping to spread them.  But then I noticed that all eight of the memes credit the same artist for the illustration.

Does this mean Sam Harris is actually making and promoting Sam Harris memes?  Some people just can’t get enough of themselves.

Anyway, it does make sense that Harris’s insights are actually…….memes. 😉

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Dysfunctional U.

Fredrik deBoer provides further testimony to just how dysfunctional academia has become.

I thought of all that as I read this piece on the absurd, infuriating, ongoing situation with Rebecca Tuvel and her not-at-all transphobic article. That controversy lays bare all of contemporary academia’s entrenched pathology, the pervasive culture of fear that has settled into the humanities and social sciences, especially in elite environs. For every one of these controversies that goes public, there are vastly more situations where someone self-censors, or is quietly bullied into acquiescing. For every odd example that goes viral, there is no doubt dozens more that occur behind closed doors.

Indeed. Tell us more.

My life, as a academic who also writes about politics and culture, and as someone who is willing to publicly critique the absurdities and excesses of social justice politics, functions as proof of what Oliver is saying. For years now I’ve been the recipient of just that kind of private expression of fear and unhappiness from those who are similarly unwilling to speak out publicly. Since the beginning of my graduate education, I have been someone who other academics feel that they can come to in order to voice their shock and dismay at just how toxic the culture within academia has become. They tell stories about petty witch hunts and show trials within their departments. They share their fear about objecting to arguments they find unfair or unsupported. They say they feel compelled to follow current academic fads for fear of being labeled. They are convinced that stepping out of line with the constant search for offense will render them permanently unemployable, even though they are themselves progressive people. You’ve heard the litany before. They share it with me.

I see.

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