Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[Bar chart showing how many Canadians think “Islamophobia is an increasingly disturbing problem in Canada”, by political affiliation. 57% in total agree with the statement. 71% of Liberal voters agree, 69% of NDP voters, 71% of Green Party voters, 37% of Conservative Party voters, and 47% of Bloc Québécois voters.]

If you ignore Conservative and Bloc voters, 70% of Canadians think we have a problem we need to be concerned about.

  • [] Climate action requires climate science

    While the Trudeau government is orders of magnitudes better than the Harper government on climate change, it brings with it new problems: it’s very good at talking the talk, but it doesn’t always walk the walk.

  • [] Emails reveal hurdles for patients seeking assisted deaths at faith-based facilities

    Religious health care facilities who refuse medical assistance in dying on the premises have been trying to justify themselves by claiming that transfers are a breeze – no problems at all. Several horror stories of botched transfers have called that into question, but the religious facilities swear blind those are rare and isolated incidents. Well, surprise, surprise, that turns out to be untrue.

  • [] Albertans say no to National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia: Poll

    Oh, Alberta. Actually, taking into account the CJPME survey mentioned further down, this may not actually be a regional thing at all, but rather a political one.

  • [] Federal government urged to set guidelines on hate crimes

    The article doesn’t say so, but this is the M-103 report. The final report and its recommendations were exactly as mundane as every Canadian who’s not an idiot expected them to be.

  • [] COMMENTARY: The implosion of Canada’s M-103 conspiracy theories

    The Toronto Star article in the item is the “higher ground” take on the M-103 report. This article, however, was one of several that made a point of taking the piss on all the morons who thought M-103 would usher in “sharia law”, and the Conservatives who egged them on.

  • [] The alt-right is killing people

    Although this is us US-focused, the Québec mosque shooting dominates the data. Elliot Rodger, Dylann Roof, and Christopher Harper-Mercer each killed more, but the 19 non-fatal injuries is matched only by driving a car through a crowd (James Fields at Charlottesville, who killed only Heather Heyer), and puts Bissonnette’s rampage over the top.

  • [] “Secularism is under threat”

    Very nice interview with Andrew Copson about secularism.

  • [] 2018 survey: Islamophobia in Canada, still a grave problem

    Excellent and comprehensive report on attitudes toward islamophobia in Canada. If there’s a single takeaway, it would have to be that there are sharp political divisions. Conservative and Bloc voters are far more likely than anyone else to not give a fuck about islamophobia.

  • [] Georgian College cancels diploma in homeopathy

    This was originally mentioned in an item a couple weeks back, and this I was surprised to see it suddenly getting national media attention. Georgian College initially tried to defend the program, but flipped a few hours later. So, good for Georgian College, right? Fuck, no. They’ve still got the courses in acupuncture and “traditional Chinese medicine” mentioned in the previous item.

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5 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. 5-Feb-2018] The alt-right is killing people

    Is the alt-right synonymous with the Christian right? Does anyone really believe that those alt-right characters parading around with burning crosses are anything other than evangelical Christians? In which case why not call them what they really are, modern day Christian terrorists.

    No wonder their so upset, the last time they legally murdered someone, at least that I know of, was back in the 1600’s in England for blasphemy. Of course Christian wars of aggression against non-believers around the world haven’t always really just been murder by another name.

    • The alt-right and the religious right are not the same beast. The alt-right is really just a loosely-connected mob of angry assholes, who aren’t really all angry for the same reasons, but all agree that tolerance and multiculturalism is to blame. They do share some overlap with the traditional religious right, but they also have some major differences. There are very large chunks of the alt-right that are atheists (for example, one of the major leaders of the alt-right, Richard Spencer, is an out atheist – and CA frequently has alt-right fans commenting on our spaces).

      It’s a very complicated relationship that I wrote a whole long article about, but the summary is: no, the alt-right is not evangelicals, and it is not “modern day Christian terrorists”. They do have some Christian leanings, but this is a problem that atheists cannot simply shrug off and blame on others.

      • Indi I’ve noticed reading your comments for the last couple of years that you often seem to make the point that a significant segment of the atheist population holds what might be called ‘militant atheist’ views. I agree with you that this is a fairly new phenomenon among atheists. However, I’m not so sure that I agree that it is necessarily such a very bad thing for the following reason.

        The individual I was referring to in my original comment as being the victim of ‘legal murder’ at the hands of Christians was Thomas Aikenhead. He was a student in Edinburgh, Scotland who had the distinction of being the last person executed for blasphemy in Great Britain (information about his story obtained from Wikipedia). He was tried and executed for blasphemy on June 8, 1697 when he was 20 years old. His crime was for having the temerity to say, among other things, that “theology was a rhapsody of ill-conceived nonsense”.

        When I read a story like this I have to wonder where his good atheist friends where on the day of his death. I think justice would have been much better served on that day if his atheist friends would have entered the court room at the time of the verdict and taken the judge and jury out and hanged them.

        I think history has shown time and again that you have to back up your words with more than hot air if you really expect them to mean anything to anyone.

        • I’m not keen on the term “militant atheist”, for a couple reasons. First, it’s usually used by people who are trying to discredit atheist activists, and not actually by atheists (except sarcastically). Second, it gives the wrong impression. “Militant” implies belligerent, or maybe even violent. That’s such an inappropriate implication for atheists. There’s the old meme about how “militant” religious activists blow up abortion clinics or bomb planes, while “militant” atheist activists write books or give talks. Virtually all atheist activists abhor violence, and generally speaking they’re not so much looking for a fight as they are reacting to a fight that was brought to them.

          I am also not keen on the argument that atheists need more than “hot air”. The way you’ve stated it – plus the Aikenhead example – suggests you think atheists need to get violent to protect themselves or their rights.

          Frankly, that’s bullshit.

          Right now, in Canada, atheists are winning, and they’ve been winning for decades now. And all indications suggest we are going to continue winning for the foreseeable future at least. I’ve been an atheist activist for around 20 years now, and sometimes I am in awe of the progress we’ve made in that time. The Saguenay decision that ruled government meetings couldn’t have prayer in them is less than three years old, and right now the news media is masturbating over the fact that our Prime Minister has stripped federal funding from groups with regressive principles based on religion. Just the other day yet another survey was released showing that Canadians in general and especially younger Canadians are on our side in revering rights over religions. And there is a very good chance that we are only a few weeks away from another momentous Supreme Court decision that could strip religious organizations of substantial power. I could go on with many, many more examples.

          I know that some days it feels like two steps forward, one step back, but we need to keep perspective. “Two steps forward, one step back” still adds up to a step forward. We really are winning. Let me be clear in saying that our struggle is not over, and we absolutely cannot rest on our laurels. We are winning, but we haven’t won. And maybe we never will win completely. But we are winning. If we forget that, or lose sight of that, we could undermine our whole struggle, and lose everything we’ve gained so far.

          And here is the most important point I want to make: Everything we’ve won, we’ve won without any violence.

          Now, I am not a fool. I don’t believe that progress never requires violence. Sometimes the only way to fight a corrupt system is to take up arms against it. That is undeniable, and in fact telling people that they should never use violence to defend their rights is no different from telling them to surrender those rights. But we need to keep perspective. Violence is sometimes necessary to protect your rights… but sometimes it is exactly the wrong strategy. And I think that right now, in Canada, that’s the situation.

          The history you’re pointing at to justify violence is not only not Canadian, it is over 300 years old. It simply doesn’t apply to our contemporary situation. Not only do we not live in a society that executes people for blasphemy, we actually – right now, as I write this – live in a society that is weeks away from repealing its blasphemy law. As I said, we’re winning. And more than that, we have the people on our side… especially the youth, which suggests that not only will we keep winning, but that our victories will actually accelerate. This is not the time for revolutionary action. A revolution is a craps shoot; it may radically advance our agenda, or it may completely destroy it. We’re winning right now by evolution, and while that feels frustratingly slow sometimes, it’s still winning.

          If we start using violence… hell, if we even start promoting violence, or possibly even just talking about it as a viable strategy… we could very rapidly destroy all the goodwill we have with the majority of Canadians. And especially younger Canadians, who are generally much less tolerant of violence.

          A large part of the reason we’re winning right now is because we’ve been making all the right moves. We’ve been working within the system. We’ve made the system ours… not entirely yet, but we have far more power than we’ve ever had in the past, and it’s growing. This is the time to be careful; this is the time to start thinking politically. This is not the time to fantasize about lynching judges, it is the time to send letters to your MP and MPP. (Seriously, every Canadian atheist that reads this site should send a letter every week to their MP and/or MPP. I’m actually building a tool to make that easier.) We may only be a few short years away from an openly atheist Prime Minister – when I started as an atheist activist, it was a ridiculous idea… but it really could happen soon. We’re too close now to fuck it up by being childish and impulsive. Throwing around impolitic ideas like violence as a tactic could ruin everything.

          So that’s what I think about violence as a tactic to promote atheist rights in Canada… but that’s not exactly the right answer to your concerns.

          Because, you see, the atheists I speak out against are not a problem merely because they are violent, or because they encourage and promote violence. Those things are a problem, as I’ve explained, but that’s not the main problem with those atheists. They’re a problem because they’re bigots, racists, xenophobes, and generally irrational assholes.

          For example, I mentioned Richard Spencer. He is atheist, but he’s not only a white supremacist, he believes that the US should be a (Christian) theocracy. And that’s not rare in the alt-right; quite a few of the alt-right atheists who have commented on Canadian Atheist spaces have said similar things: even though they’re atheists, they believe that Canada should promote Christianity. (Because, in their fucked up “logic”, that’s the best way to fight Islam and “creeping sharia” in Canada.)

          There are a lot of atheists, too, who are straight-up islamophobes. It’s one thing to say Islam is stupid and wrong – there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s even okay to say Muslims are stupid and wrong (specifically for their belief in Islam). I say both of those things all the time. But the moment someone makes the leap from there to “therefore, Muslims should be stripped of their rights”, or, “therefore, the government should suppress Islam”, they’ve crossed into crazy town. That’s when I have to take a stand against them, regardless of the fact that they’re fellow atheists.

          Remember: Just because someone is atheist, doesn’t mean they’re not a fucking idiot. Or straight-up evil.

          • The point I am trying to make clear is that I don’t believe in pacifism. I believe that if you aren’t willing to defend your rights/beliefs you will simply lose them. If defending your beliefs/rights means taking up arms to do so then that is what an individual should do.

            I like your description of yourself as being an atheist activist. I haven’t seen that term before and I think it is a very good one for agnostic/atheists like myself to be aware of.

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