Thursday, February 08, 2007

My Thoughts on the CNN Debacle and the Responses from Hunter and Schlussel

I'm finally going to jump on the bandwagon and say something about the CNN piece from Paula Zahn where Karen Hunter and Debbie Schlussel basically told atheists to sit down and shut up since our rights don't matter anyway (you can see it here). At least Steve Smith (of ESPN) had the courage to come to our defense. I clearly wouldn’t agree with him on matters of religion, but at least he knows how our Constitution is supposed to work and what rights we Americans have.

Like every other atheist who has commented on this issue, I was disappointed Zahn did not have an atheist on the panel when thee topic of discussion was discrimination against atheists. However, the format of the show doesn’t really lend itself to a balanced discussion on every issue since it has the same guests throughout the entire episode, so I guess I can understand. Besides, Zahn seemed rather surprised to see that nobody wanted to defend atheists. I can understand that much, I guess. But then a number of atheists contacted Hunter and Schlussel, and the responses the two women have given are downright appalling.

Starting with Karen Hunter, a person using the name CDG posted an email conversation with Hunter on Richard Dawkins’ website. Here are some of Hunter’s more revealing quotes:

You choose to be an atheist. I
didn't choose to be black. I have never seen a sign that read:
Christians Only. You never had to sit at the back of the bus because
you're an atheist and I cannot recall a single atheist being hung from
a tree or drag from behind a truck until his limbs fell or shot at 50
times just because he was an atheist.

You chose to be an atheist. You weren't born that way. It's a belief
system and no one has to know unless you walk around with a sign or
throw in people's faces. Live and let live. Do what you want. But if I
believe that this society lacks morality and I believe that the kids in
my neighborhood would be better served by having a little of that in
their lives, please don't go to the Supreme Court to ensure that they
don't.

The person taking part in the email exchange should have gotten off the issue of race and turned to the fact that Hunter chooses to be a Christian. Since she thinks something you choose is not a right, does that mean she has no right to defend her faith? She completely invalidates her entire argument. Plus, I don’t think anyone is saying that atheists have it as bad as blacks did, but that doesn’t mean we should put up with people being chased from their communities just because of their faith or lack thereof. Besides, so what if you choose your religion but not your race? They’re both matters of equality. Further down the thread on the Dawkins website, Kingasaurus left this comment, which I agree with completely:

Someone needs to tell Karen Hunter that freedom of thought and speech is just as important as racial equality. The fact that one "chooses" religious belief and doesn't choose skin color is a completely irrelevant comment and is a distinction that is completely meaningless in the context of this discussion.

The fact that you can change your mind about your religion and not your race DOESN'T MATTER. The principles of freedom and being treated fairly by the society at large are the same in both cases.

The irony is that it wasn't that long ago that a black woman couldn't be elected dog catcher. The fact that an honest atheist still can't be elected in America seems not to bother her one bit, and she can't see the parallels between the two situations. The differences between blacks and atheists in the context of what they are/were fighting for are meaningless details, but that's what she focuses on because the opinions of atheists are so incredibly foreign to her way of thinking.

Principles should transcend any particular difference of opinion you have with someone else. If you can't do that, look in the mirror.

In the end, I guess Karen Hunter is simply unable to empathize with someone who has different beliefs. It’s sad and extremely narrow-minded, but no surprise there. I am surprised that she's a Pulitzer Prize winning author. Someone that ignorant shouldn't be eligible.

Debbie Schlussel, on the other hand, is even more ignorant and far more hateful. On her blog, she posted a response to the whole incident with the asinine title “When Atheists a/k/a Future Muslims Attack.”

I don't mind receiving the atheist hate mail, since I know that in a few years, many of these same people will either be Muslim extremists (redundant) or helping the country fall further in its fight against the creep of Islamic imposition on America . . . or both.

Look at famous atheists and what happened to them. Adam Gadahn a/k/a Azzam Al-Amriki--now a top Al-Qaeda video "personality"--was raised by his hippie Jewish father and equally bizarre gentile mother as an atheist. And look how he turned out. Ditto for hippie-spawn John Walker Lindh.

Those two people are enemies of America, and many of those who think like them are of equally weak mind. If you don't believe in anything, you'll easily fall for virtual nothings. That's why Europe is so quickly turning Islamist--because atheism dominates and Christianity is rapidly dying there. Over there, the number one cause for which atheists are suddenly finding "god" is Islam.

Over here, as I pointed out on CNN, atheists are on the attack against religion and G-d only when Christians and Jews are involved, not when Muslims and Islam are. A Christian prayer at a public school graduation or football game? Send in the ACLU lawyers. A Muslim prayer at a high school football game in Dearbornistan? Suddenly, when the "Religion of Peace" is involved, atheists boast extreme tolerance and display ultimate deference. No lawsuits. Ever. And the Muslim prayers continue.

To start off with, she clearly has a deep-seated hatred towards Muslims. That should be enough to condemn her right there. How dare she even accuse atheists of hatred when she can’t help but reveal her own bigotry? Then where does she get her data about atheists in Europe converting to Islam? She provides no source, so I have a guess: straight out of her imagination. It’s not a big secret that Europe has had a huge influx of Muslim immigrants. Just do a simple Google search and you’ll see what I mean.

Next, I’d like to see any proof that there have been Muslim prayers in American public schools, but I bet this “fact” also comes from her overactive imagination. If any government-funded school tried to impose a Muslim prayer on their students, I guarantee the ACLU would be the first ones to stand up and file a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, someone showed that atheists can be just as stupid and took it upon himself to post “whore” several thousand times in Schlussel’s comments section. I just had to groan when I saw that. Name calling is never helpful. It closes people off from discussion. Anyway, I digress.

Despite the sheer bigotry this episode revealed, perhaps it will be a blessing (figuratively, of course) in disguise. Hopefully, it will alert people to the issue and show them that we will not tolerate open hatred against us nor should anyone else who believes in the American ideals of freedom and equality. This country will not have true religious freedom until all religions, or lack thereof, are seen equally.

Atheist Ethicist also has a great post on the subject.

I highly recommend you take the time to read it.

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