Monday, February 16, 2015

Adding My Voice to a Chorus

I hardly ever do any posting to The Repeal of Gravity Blog nowadays. Mostly I do my online posting to my Facebook account, which is set up with privacy protections so that I'm sharing with my small group of friends and my somewhat larger but still pretty smallish group of Friends. Today I'm reposting something here that I posted there last week, simply because I want to make sure that it really is a public declaration. This is not my best piece of writing. It's not the most important thing I've ever said. It's not the thing that I would most want to be remembered for. I merely want to add my voice, unabashedly, to a righteous chorus [however small, however quiet]. What follows is that contribution.

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Anyone with a working brain and any sense of the world knows that heinous terrorist acts committed in the name of Islam and/or Allah are not in any way representative of Muslims in general. Likewise, anyone who's been paying attention in the last 13.5 years knows that there's been and continues to be a steady and extremely persistent effort to conflate radical Islam [the hate-filled ideology that provides our news coverage with heinous acts committed in the name of Islam and/or Allah] with Islam [the religion that does not]. We all ought safely to assume that almost all Muslims are deeply offended and truly revolted by the horrendously bad behavior of groups like ISIS/ISIL/The Islamic State/Daesh and Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab. And yet, clearly not all of us are willing to make that assumption. We regularly hear calls for Muslims or "moderate Muslims" or "Muslim leaders" or "prominent Muslims" to go out of their way to publicly denounce whatever the latest radical Islamist terrorist act happens to be. These calls are silly.
If you are Muslim, I will always take for granted that you are not a radical nutjob unless/until you choose to indicate otherwise. I think your religion is idiocy, but I don't think you're a hate-filled murder machine just waiting for your button to be pushed. The same is true [both that I assume you are not a radical nutjob and that I think your religion is idiocy] if you are a Christian. Or a Jew. Or a Buddhist. Or a Taoist. Or a Hindu. Or a [fill in the blank].
As silly as they are, these calls for public denouncement—essentially an accusation that any Muslim who has not bothered to say "NO!" loudly enough must therefore be a sympathizer at best or, more likely, a co-conspirator—are out there and they're probably quite effective at encouraging anti-Muslim sentiment in this minority-Muslim nation of ours.
I mention all this because a heinous terrorist act was committed yesterday by someone who happens to belong to a group [not a religion, but for argument's sake essentially the same thing] that I too happen to belong to. I am an atheist. And, now, an atheist is a domestic terrorist. If you believe that it's the responsibility of all decent Muslims to stand up and denounce the horrendous acts and rhetoric of the world's least decent Muslims then it stands to reason that you must believe that it's my responsibility [as a decent atheist] and the responsibility of all other decent atheists to stand up and denounce the acts of the world's least decent atheists. If you believe the one and don't believe the other, I want you to examine why not and then I want you to explain why not. Please.
Of course I denounce the killing of three innocents in Chapel Hill yesterday! You ought not need me to say so. You should just assume it. That horrible act has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with my philosophy or my ideology or my world view or my affiliation or non-affiliation or my association or non-association with any group. Shame on that guy! If he did it [and I have absolutely no reason to doubt that he did] I want him convicted and sentenced and I don't want his sentencing to be anything less than harsh. I am a member of a society, and on that basis alone you ought to know better than to think that I condone or endorse or feel even the slightest bit of joy over what happened in Chapel Hill yesterday.