Atheist Activist Claims Atheists are Victims of Microaggressions

Trigger Warning: Atheist Activist logic will be subjected to critical thinking

Miri Mogilevsky is a feminist atheist who is complaining about “Christian privilege.” 

According to Mogilevsky, atheists are routinely victimized by microaggressions from Christians.  What are microaggressions?  She explains them as a form of “oppression” that happens “on a smaller scale and involve harm that is less obvious or less immediately threatening, but nonetheless painful in a more insidious way.”   I’ll take a look later at this notion of “microaggressions,” but for now, we’ll just roll with it.

From the start, Mogilevsky apparently draws from the New Atheist stereotype of Christians as evil.  She sets the stage assuming Christians as “oppressors” and sets out to show that they do harm that is “painful in a more insidious way” and, as such, helps to promote the “Christians are evil” meme that is popular among atheists.

Let’s have a look at these “microaggressions against secular people.”   In each case, we’ll briefly analyze the alleged “microaggression” and then show how it is easy to turn the tables by highlighting the “microaggressions” secular people make against Christians.  For the record, I can say that I have never employed any of the five “microaggressions” Mogilevsky raises.

Microaggression #1. “You’ll Change Your Mind When You’re Older”

According to Mogilevsky, “Young atheists hear this a lot from older Christians” and ” It invalidates our identities and implies that the older person knows what’s good for us better than we do.” She even complains that such a comment is “ageism.”

Since I have never made this comment to any atheist, I can only guess as to why someone would make it.  My guess is that older people have something younger people do not – experience.  Older people have experience as a younger person and as an older person.  Younger people have experience only as a younger person.  As such, the older person may simply be referring to his/her own life experience and acquired wisdom and no sinister putdown is intended.  For example, in my case, many of the views and ideals I had in my twenties have significantly changed over time.  It’s called learning.  In fact, I think I would be a little concerned if most of the views I have today were the same I had after experiencing life as an adult for a mere few years.  It would suggest a life without learning.  For what are the odds of getting all the important things in life right just a few years after adolescence?

Anyway, in this case, the “microaggression” could be used by anyone.  An older secular person might say the very same thing to a younger Christian.  And they do.  So why is Mogilevsky selectively targeting Christians and trying to pin this microaggression on them?

Microaggression #2. ‘Wow, You’re So Nice for an Atheist!’

Here Mogilevsky talks out both sides of her mouth.  She complains that “many Christians stereotype atheists as angry, rude, and confrontational” but also “sympathizes deeply” with her angry atheist friends who are “more upfront than I am about why Christian privilege is so harmful.”

It would seem Mogilevsky is arguing for some type of secular privilege, where atheists get to stereotype Christians as “harmful,” make themselves angry because of this stereotype, and then get even more mad if someone notices they are mad. In other words, if the red-faced, outraged atheist wants to identify as a “nice person,” we’re all supposed to go along with it.

It’s tit for tat time.  A similar and common atheist microaggression would go like this: “Wow, you’re so smart for a Christian!”  This atheist microaggression exists because many atheists stereotype Christians as dumb, ignorant, and delusional.  In fact, they’ll even borrow from microaggression #1, insisting “You’ll change your mind when you become educated.”

Microaggression #3. ‘I Would Never Date an Atheist (Or Want My Child To)’

With this example, Mogilevsky implies this is because Christians “hate” atheists and uses her psychic powers to read between the lines to translate for us: ” But when religious people say that they would never date an atheist, what they usually mean is that there’s no way an atheist could be as moral, caring, trustworthy, or likable as a religious person.”

My guess is that nothing as sinister is involved here.  Christians who claim they would never date an atheist might say this for two reasons:

  1. How could you date someone who, by definition, views you as being, at the very least, delusional?
  2. Many Christians view dating as something that has significant potential of ending up in marriage. Since Christian faith is an important part of a Christian’s identity, it would not be wise to become married to someone who can’t share that part of your life without sneering or rolling their eyes.

Anyway, in this case, this is another “microaggression” could be used by anyone.  An atheist might claim that they would never date a fundamentalist Christian.  And they do.  So why is Mogilevsky selectively targeting Christians and trying to pin this microaggression on them?

Microaggression #4. ‘Did You Have a Bad Experience in Church?’

Here Mogilevsky again talks out both sides of her mouth.  She argues that many atheists are people who suffered “spiritual abuse and trauma” and “Identities forged through trauma are as valid as any other” but then wants to complain if someone notices the origin of that person’s atheism is rooted in an emotional response to such an experience and not objective, reasoned analysis as we are often expected to believe. I think Mogilevsky is trying to spin this observation as a “microaggression” as an attempt to shield the “I became an atheist because of reason and science” posturing that is so common in the atheist movements.

Tit for tat time.  A common atheist microaggression would go like this: “You’re a Christian only because your Church indoctrinated you as a child.”  This microaggression extends from the “Christians as stupid and deluded” stereotype held by atheists, as we’re supposed to believe that people who were raised as Christians never once in their lives pause to intellectually reflect and analyze what they received.  I guess they’re just too stupid to do that.

 Microaggression #5. ‘If Not Religion, What Stops You From Doing Immoral Things?’

Mogilevsky writes:

The assumption that secular people have no moral code is one of the most damaging assumptions about us.

While a Christian asking this question might be doing so out of genuine curiosity – as in, they really want to know how I make ethical decisions – the way the question is framed presumes that only religious belief can be a valid way to make those decisions.

This assumption isn’t just hurtful to individuals who are secular. It also directly influences the many ways in which our society is set up to marginalize secular people.

In this example, Mogilevsky is trying to take a serious question and marginalize it by spinning it as a microaggression while misrepresenting it in straw man terms.

I’m sure most Christians recognize that atheists have a “moral code.”  But the question asks what is it that would compel the atheist to adhere to this moral code.  What’s to stop the atheist from modifying or even abandoning the moral code, even on the case-by-case level, given the subjective origins of their moral code?  For example, Richard Dawkins has said that eating meat is just as evil as having human slaves.  Yet he eats meat.  Or Jerry Coyne claims to champion free speech and condemns censorship.  Yet his blog is among the most heavily censored blog on the internet.  Or PZ Myers claims to be a champion of social justice, yet jokes about committing acts of violence against Christians.  Or Miri Mogilevsky complains about people having stereotypes about atheists, yet promotes various stereotypes about Christians.  In fact, consider the activist atheist movement itself.  They hold themselves up as Champions of Reason, even to the point of having a “Reason Rally.”  Yet they embrace the use of propaganda and stereotypes in their culture war against Christians.  After many years of experience and observation, it seems to me that atheist activists adhere to the following principle: “The ends justify the means.”  And if that is the case, the question asked is entirely valid and it is intellectually dishonest to try to silence it by portraying it as a “microaggression.”

Tit for tat time.  In this case, we have something more serious than a microaggression; we have a macroaggression – Activist atheists insist that Christians are evil.  Whether it’s Miri Mogilevsky accusing Christians of being evil oppressors or Richard Dawkins encouraging other atheist activists to mock and ridicule Christians in public, the core macroaggression is the same.  Given the activist principle of “ends justify the means,” I suppose any form of rhetoric or propaganda is permissible as long as it works to propagate the notion that Christians are evil.

In summary,  Miri Mogilevsky’s article promotes anti-Christian bigotry through its false and Christophobic portrayal of Christians as oppressors engaged in constant acts of aggression against atheists.  There is nothing about examples 1 and 3 that should be specific to Christians, examples 2 and 4 involve Mogilevsky talking out both sides of her mouth, and example #5 is a flippant attempt to censor a legitimate question.  Also, with all examples, it was very easy to come up with a counter-example demonstrating atheist microaggressions.  Apparently, as part of her secular privilege, we are supposed to ignore that and just focus on the Christian microaggressions.  After all, that’s how atheist activists help advance their hateful Christophobic agendas.

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15 Responses to Atheist Activist Claims Atheists are Victims of Microaggressions

  1. TFBW says:

    I received “microaggression #1” from a high school geology teacher, once, in relation to my creationism — and it left an impression, clearly, because that was decades ago. It didn’t strike me as aggressive at the time, though — just smug and condescending. I must have gotten over my hypersensitivity problem by then.

    Another “tit for tat” variation on #4 is Dawkins’ favourite of, “your religion is an accident of birth.” That is, if you’d been born elsewhere, you’d have a different religion, with the implication that there has been no rational decision-making involved.

    Is this how passive aggression works? You seethe inwardly with hate, then project that hate out onto the people you hate, and take offence at everything they do as though it were the product of spite and malice?

  2. IchBinEinBerliner says:

    Reading the link, this passage caught my eye:
    These comments remind me of the assumptions some people make about my queerness – that it’s something that happened to me as a result of “bad experiences” with men.
    While I don’t think that was the case for me, it can sometimes happen that way.

    She apparently believes that sexual identity is culturally conditioned, not innate. So i wonder if she agrees with all the fundamentalists who contend that people can talked out of their homosexuality?

  3. Ilíon says:

    IchBin,
    Surely you don’t expect logical consistency from those who expect to be taken seriously (and coddled) when they whine that they’ve been “micro-aggressed”?

  4. actually, it’s found that one of the only constants about religion is that is does grow with age:
    http://www.norc.org/NewsEventsPublications/PressReleases/Pages/international-perspectives-on-theism.aspx.

  5. TFBW says:

    … so “you’ll change your mind when you are older” is statistically likely? I think you need more than a correlation between higher ages and higher proportions of theism for that to hold, but you may be right.

  6. Bilbo says:

    Mike,

    I didn’t sense that much hostility towards Christians in Mogilevsky’s article. Perhaps if I read more of her blog I would sense it more. But meanwhile her article seemed to be more about trying to educate Christians about ways that they are being insensitive to atheists and those of other faiths. I agree with you that atheists have their own “microagressions” (and “macro”) toward Christians and those of other faiths. And I would guess that Mogilevsky hasn’t realized that. If she reads your article, I hope she takes the good from it.

  7. Mark Lieberman says:

    Oh no! Us Atheists are supposed to be smart! Now feminism is coming in the picture? We should know by now microaggressions are bullshit

  8. sober0 says:

    Reblogged this on Sober Technique.

  9. TFBW says:

    Bilbo said:

    I didn’t sense that much hostility towards Christians in Mogilevsky’s article.

    Clearly your microagression-sense is lacking.

  10. Bilbo says:

    TFBW,

    You’re probably right. I’m not saying that Mogilevsky doesn’t have her own “microagressions.” I think Mike showed that she probably does. I’m saying that I’m not sensing a lot of conscious, overt hostility from her toward Christians in that article. Maybe if I read more of her stuff (must I?), it would become more apparent.

  11. Michael says:

    Bilbo,

    I didn’t sense that much hostility towards Christians in Mogilevsky’s article. Perhaps if I read more of her blog I would sense it more. But meanwhile her article seemed to be more about trying to educate Christians about ways that they are being insensitive to atheists and those of other faiths.

    Her hostility (which is representative of SJA) is not overt. She doesn’t express it like a Gnu (with name-calling or front-on attacks). She expresses it obliquely through the narrative she sets up. She draws your attention elsewhere in order to slip in the attack through the backdoor. It doesn’t seem that hostile. It just looks like advise to Christians about their insensitivity in certain situations. Yet the narrative she is softly selling is this: Christians are evil (they are the privileged Oppressors) and they are constantly try to keep their boot on the oppressed atheist necks with their stream of hurtful and manipulative “microaggressions.”

    If an atheist views Christians as Oppressors who inflict daily harm on atheists, I don’t see how they cannot be anything other than hostile. After all, there is nothing in atheism akin to the ethos of love and forgive your enemies.

    I agree with you that atheists have their own “microagressions” (and “macro”) toward Christians and those of other faiths. And I would guess that Mogilevsky hasn’t realized that.

    I am sure she does realize that atheists have their own “microagressions” (and “macro”) toward Christians. They are intentionally ignored. That’s because they don’t fit her narrative. She is not interested in the morality of microaggressions. That slippery concept is just a plot device, useful for setting up the Christians as the evil ones.

    If she reads your article, I hope she takes the good from it.

    Activists are not interested in anything other than advancing their agenda. She would quickly dismiss my analysis, probably arguing that atheists cannot commit microaggressions because they are oppressed.

  12. Dhay says:

    Here’s a link to a Righteous Mind article, “Where microaggressions really come from: A sociological account”, by Jonathan Haidt.

    http://righteousmind.com/where-microaggressions-really-come-from/

  13. Bilbo says:

    Mike,

    I assume your conclusions about Mogilevsky are based on a larger sample size than her one essay. If so, I’m willing to take your word about her.

  14. Dhay says:

    Looking at what else is on that everyday feminism website, it seems full of eg 5 microaggressions, 10 this, 7 that, 4 ways, 3 reasons, etc.

    For interest, I viewed one notionally un-numbered article, but found it followed the same format of emboldened headings and short texts; add heading numbers, it’s of identical format to the others.

    Such titles and articles are very characteristic of clickbait; the appeal of such, to me, is negative appeal; a measure of interest and learning quickly becomes boredom.

  15. TFBW says:

    Dhay’s microaggression link makes for interesting reading. The overall thesis is that we have come from a culture of honour (in which honour must be earned, and one must avenge attacks on that honour), through a culture of dignity (in which dignity is considered intrinsic, rather than earned, and society deals with attacks against persons through such instruments as the courts), and now into a culture of victimhood (in which parties actively try to portray themselves as victims so as to make instruments like the courts act on their behalf against others). With that precis in mind, consider the following excerpt.

    Indeed, the core of much modern activism, from protest rallies to leaflet campaigns to publicizing offenses on websites, appears to be concerned with rallying enough public support to convince authorities to act.

    I’m tempted to say that nothing in SJA activism makes any sense except in the light of this theory.

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