The Enemy of Your Enemy Isn’t Your Friend

I’ve noticed a trend among some atheists on social media in which they’re aligning themselves with far right (mostly christian) conservatives because they happen to overlap politically. I noticed this during the U.S. presidential campaign and see that it hasn’t abated much since.

I understand this.

Atheism, while mostly associated with liberals, is nothing more than the lack of belief in a god, and everything else is up for grabs. That’s why people say getting atheists together on anything other than that lack of belief in a god is like herding cats.

However, as much as I understand it, I’m also baffled by it because while I understand that the conservative atheist and the conservative christian can come together in their hatred of the left or Social Justice Warriors or what have you, I doubt they’re going to agree when it comes to teaching creationism in science class or teacher-led prayer — prayer to Jesus, of course, — in public school. And if you look at how the far right christians are positioned in our government — federal, state and local — we’re probably going to be facing these issues sooner rather than later.

So while you’re all free to retweet and ‘like’ those deplorable Pepe-faced, god, country, patriot, MAGA assholes, I don’t want to hear you crying when your kid comes home from school telling you how the animals on Noah’s ark repopulated the world after the great flood or about the cool guy with the long, blond hair with holes in his hands who does magic tricks that the teacher told them they have to pray to every day before class.

I don’t want to hear it.

Because these enemies of your enemies who are your friends now won’t be when you tell them “No, I’m sorry, you can’t bring religion into our secular government,” and “No, I’m sorry, you can’t institute prayer in public schools,” and “No, I’m sorry, you don’t get a religious exemption for your kid dying because you decided to pray instead of taking them to the doctor,” and “No, I’m sorry, but you’re just going to have to keep your unprovable fairytale bullshit to yourself, thank you very much.”

And trust me, if these people every truly gain control, you’re going to find out pretty quickly who their enemy is, and your mutual hatred of whatever the fuck it was isn’t going to save your ass.


Normal everyday racism

I’m late to the party, but by now everyone is familiar with Bill Maher’s incident on his show recently. The casualness with which he used a racial slur made me think of an incident that happened a few weeks ago, and one that I’ve been meaning to write about, but hesitated because it brings to the surface the kind of person I was, and the kind of person that I am, and I’m not happy with either one.

I attended a lunch meeting a few weeks back with a group of people I had to meet with because of my job. During the course of the meeting one of the guys made a joke using the N word.

Most everyone laughed.

I remember shaking my head and thinking, “Jeeze, glad I wasn’t raised to be like that.”
But I was. I was raised to be like that.

My father had a problem with black people — specifically black men who dated white women. He also had some very strange beliefs, such as the reason black athletes are superior to white athletes is because their bodies have extra muscles and ligaments, which give them abilities white athletes don’t have.

True story.

Neither my mom nor I know where dad came up with this stuff. But I imagine it came from his childhood and his friends with whom he grew up.

The same way I heard it.

I grew up in an all white, middle class neighborhood. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, which was probably 99% white. And everyone I knew — all my friends, and my parents’ friends — said racist things.

It was normal.

It was normal to make racist jokes and it was normal to refer to blacks as, well whatever you can imagine. And I’d like to say that I didn’t participate, but I’d be lying.
So, yeah, I was a shit. Some would say I’m still a shit, but I’m trying.
Trying to not be a shit, that is.

The point is, having lunch with this group — many of the guys much younger than I — further demonstrates that we’re not making much progress when it comes to the issues of racism; it’s like a diseased gene that keeps getting passed on from generation to generation. I think we like to fool ourselves into thinking that we’re getting somewhere, and maybe we’ve moved the needle forward a pinch, but I don’t think our attitudes are much better than they were 50 years ago. We bury them, hide them, but they’re still there. And when we’re with a group of seemingly “agreeable” people, that’s when we let it out.

While the lunch meeting bothered me because of the language that was used, I was bothered much more by the fact that I was too much of a coward to say something. I was afraid I’d be the one to look like a dick. That somehow I’d be the asshole. And I would have too. In that group, I would have. But it would’ve been the right thing to do, and my failure only helps to perpetuate the problem.

So I guess in many ways, I’m still a bit of a shit, and like a lot of us, I still have a lot of work to do.