4 Things the Atheist Movement Has Done Badly (and How to Do Them Better) | Alternet

Posted: February 6, 2016 in Atheism, Islamophobia, New Atheists, Secularism

3. Reject violence and militarism. While atheists as a whole are one of America’s most progressive voting blocs, it’s an unfortunate quirk of history that some prominent atheists have been aggressive advocates of neoconservative foreign policy, which calls for the subjugation of Muslim countries through bombing and invasion. Although religious terrorism is a real threat, too many atheists can’t conceive of any way to respond to it except with more violence.

A case in point is the late Christopher Hitchens, who was a brilliant and fearless writer but will forever be tainted by George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, which he enthusiastically supported on many occasions. Another example is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who deconverted from Islam and rose to become a member of the Dutch parliament. While Hirsi Ali’s life story is undeniably inspiring, and she’s endured great personal trauma and danger for her apostasy, she’s adopted xenophobic ideas about the Western world being at war with Islam. Last but not least, there’s Sam Harris, who’s made many hair-raising comments about Islam such as a call for airport security screeners to profile anyone who “looks like” they “could conceivably be Muslim.”

All these thinkers bought into the destructive fantasy that endless war and brutality, or the all-seeing eye of a surveillance state, are the ways to stop terrorism and other dangerous outgrowths of fundamentalism. There may be cases where military force is the only option, in self-defense or to prevent genocide, but this can only be a last resort. The battle against jihadism and other violent ideologies is ultimately a battle of ideas, not of arms. We’ll only win when we quiet the siren song of destructive fundamentalism and make people feel they have a stake in their own future. And that means we need to invest in democracy, education and true nation-building, rather than cozying up to corrupt rulers or local autocrats who promise to cooperate in keeping their people repressed.

Source: 4 Things the Atheist Movement Has Done Badly (and How to Do Them Better) | Alternet

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