Saturday, August 21, 2010

No True Scotsman

Barack Obama is Christian. He’s not Muslim like the right-wing bigots claim. He’s not atheist, either (a lot of atheists speculate that he is ‘secretly’ one of us and only pretends to be Christian because it’s the only way to get elected; you may as well call him an uncle tom.)

You are what you say you are. Regardless of whether it’s Christians saying that “he’s not a real Christian because …” or atheists saying “he’s not really Christian because …” it all boils down to the same logical fallacy. It’s called No True Scotsman, and it’s rampant.

Here’s how it works:

Person A says: “X's always Y.”
Person B says: “Well this X doesn’t Y, how do you explain that?”
Person A says: “Well then that X isn't really an X.”
Get it? It’s like saying a particular 2 isn’t 2 enough to be a 2 and should be counted as 3.

Total bullshit.

The thing that pisses me off isn’t that Christians don’t want him to be one of them because he’s compassionate and black (definitive irony). What pisses me off is that generally rational atheists are so eager to claim him as one of our own.

He’s not. Deal with that. Why would you like him more if he’s been lying to us from the start anyway? Thing is, he hasn’t lied. Obama hasn’t misrepresented himself once. That’s why nothing he says fits into a 15 second clip that the media can exploit. Don’t get me wrong; Obama is a thoughtful, intelligent guy. He’s not a creationist, he’s not a bible literalist … but he’s still a Christian.
I’m not one to automatically count that as a bad thing. I was a journalism major and fond of Hunter Thompson so insanity has it’s place, but …Check this out:

"… a
2007 Pew survey found that 45 percent of Americans said they would be less likely to vote for a Muslim. 61 percent said they would be less likely to vote for an atheist. Only 25 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate. Sixteem [sic] percent said they would be less likely to vote for an Evangelical and 11 percent would be less likely to vote for a Jewish candidate. Far fewer, 6 percent, said they would be less likely to vote for someone who is black." [Source: ABC News]

So … that’s what we overcame, 6 percent. Now look around at the way Americans react to Muslims trying to build mosques and consider: We (non-theists) are more hated than Muslims, hell we’re more hated than the GLBT community. Gay people get elected. We got one atheist in the house; there are a good handful of gay governors and senators. I’m not trying to downplay the severity of their problems, we’re in the same boat with them a lot of the time; and I don’t care who you fuck, but the math is screwy isn’t it?

There are more non-theists than there are gay people (self-reporting both, I admit). They feel under-represented, so why don't we?

Remember how proud everyone was that we overcame the race barrier by electing Obama? According to 2008 statistics America was 14% African-American. By way of comparison an ABC news poll found that:

“Eighty-three percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Most of the rest [emphasis mine], 13 percent, have no religion. That leaves just 4 percent as adherents of all non-Christian religions combined — Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and a smattering of individual mentions.” [source: ABC News]

So think about that. The second largest religion in the US is … none. There are almost as many non-theistic Americans as there are African-Americans. And only one elected federa official is an atheist. Now, I don’t mean to suggest that the plight of either Jews in the US, or African-Americans hasn’t been hard fought. Their victories over intolerance are well deserved. They both had it way worse than we have for a lot longer. My point is that we haven’t stepped up.

Now I know, we’re all natural iconoclasts. In this country we wouldn’t be atheist if we weren’t. I’m one of you. Shit, I’m downright misanthropic. I know weird it is to organize around a non-belief. But can we at least say though, that no matter how little chance they have of getting elected … we’re (non-theists) voting for the least religious person on the ballot, PERIOD? Maybe even *gasp* get a few atheists in office?

Atheists are under-represented because we’re a bunch of pussies. We act like agnostics whenever the issue comes up (“well, neither of us can PROVE it, so … fiscal policy it is”). Call a spade a spade. There’s no evidence for any god. Stop pandering. Stop picking the lesser of two evils. Know your shit and walk the talk. Because, to quote … well at this point I don’t know who said it first (I first heard it from Penn Jillette on an episode of P&T’s Showtime series) “the lesser of two evils is still evil; and the enemy of my enemy is not my friend”.


Steve said...