Brendan O’Neill on the false victimhood of the New Atheists

Full article here: The Passion of the New Atheists?


‘Some atheists would have us believe that, like the early Christians, they are hated and persecuted by the mob.  Don’t buy it . . . Keen to shake off the tag of ‘Darwin’s pitbulls’, atheist campaigners now play the role of put-upon pups.  They’re all about the victimology. . . . Yes, atheists might not be denied the right to vote or attacked with water cannons whenever they gather in public, they might not be forced to sit at the back of the bus or to eat in Atheists Only restaurants, but they feel oppressed, okay?

. . . Something about this atheist victimology doesn’t add up.  Actually, a lot about it doesn’t add up, not least the fact that, although there is certainly cultural hostility towards atheists in parts of America, elsewhere, particularly in academia, publishing and throughout the political and media worlds of Western Europe, they enjoy untouchable ‘darling’ status these days, being fawned over like never before.  There are no legislative restrictions on atheists’ rights or apartheid systems that separate them from the God-fearing, which means their claims to be following in the footsteps of protesting blacks are not only unfounded, but also pretty depraved.  But one thing in particular about these atheist shindigs is weird: if these gatherings really are about challenging persecution, then why do they promote persecution – of Christians?

At the Rally for Reason, British atheist Richard Dawkins, the Mel Gibson of the New Atheist movement, got the crowd going not with demands for freedom or ‘I Have A Dream’ speeches, but by appealing to them to ridicule religious people.  ‘Mock them, ridicule them in public’, he said.  Their beliefs are insane and therefore they should be ‘ridiculed with contempt’, said Dawkins.  Meanwhile, messy-haired pianist Tim Minchin thrilled the audience by singing a song with the line ‘fuck the motherfucking pope’.  Attendees carried placards saying ‘Only sheep need a shepherd’ and ‘So many Christians, so few lions’.  In short, the religious are brainwashed, and wasn’t it a hoot back in the day when we used them as feed for wild beasts?

. . . It is their creation of a movement based on negatives rather than positives which explains why the New Atheists are so screechy.  Because bereft of anything substantial or ideological to cohere themselves around, they instead spend the whole time attacking their opposite number – those who do believe in what New Atheists do not: religious people, the thick, the unenlightened.  Like electrons in an atom, the ‘negatives’ of the New Atheist clique are forever whizzing around the ‘positives’ of the God lobby.  The hole at the heart of modern atheism was best summed up in what Time magazine last month described as ‘The Rise of the Nones’ – that is, the speedily growing group of Americans who now list their religious affiliation as ‘none’.  That is fine, of course, but then to cultivate an entire identity, a whole life’s outlook, on the basis of that ‘none’?  That is sad.  Who wants to be a ‘none’?  I’d rather be a nun.  At least they still believe in something.’

~ Brendan O’Neill

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