“If there is one thing that an atheist movement should stand against (or at least be reflexively suspicious of), it is the erection of cults of personality around individual voices. Most movement atheists will be able to, without breaking stride, list a number of specific examples of religious movements that have gone terribly awry when a single person is placed at their zenith. Atheistic communities are no exception, or at least should not be. If Richard Dawkins is ‘a liability’, it is because we atheists have failed to resist the urge toward celebrity worship. In a perfect world, Dr. Dawkins‘ opinions on evolution would be evaluated and lauded when accurate, and his opinions on other matters would be seen as irrelevant when they are false. The fact that he regularly repeats fairly common bromides about rape culture and xenophobia would be seen, in this better world, as reflective of an incurious mind that speaks more than it thinks. To the extent that this is not the case (many atheists I know have no interest in Dr. Dawkins‘ opinions), it should be seen as a failing of the community to live up to its principles. When people continue to write articles as though it was still 2007 and The God Delusion was still one of the only popular sources for atheist advocacy, it cements the perception that Richard Dawkins is reflective of the atheist movement rather than being simply one voice among many.”
Ian Cromwell (@Crommunist) (via feminace)
Quote is from Is Richard Dawkins An Asset Or A Liability To Atheism? No. Must…read. Love how he questions the question itself (problem with liability/asset binary), questions the idea that there is “one” atheist movement (nope) and illustrates how similar personality cult in secular space is to it some theist ones. Oh and I’m one of the atheists that has "no interest in Dr. Dawkins‘ opinions." Must read full essay!
Dawkins is a cult like figure, but he is one primarily for white atheists, white male atheists in particular. These people are the ‘dudebro’ faction of atheism. They are humorously known as ‘Dawkbros’. The Black atheists I know don’t particularly care about Dawkins. He’s basically a non-entity. Like Cromwell said, this isn’t 2007 and the God Delusion was a long time ago.
What I have seen from white atheists is that they typically only know 3 voices, and those voices are Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens. Each voice serves a purpose and in their opinion, makes their worldview rounded. Harris is the calm voice. He’s not prone to outbursts, which makes his blatant islamophobia seem “rational” to white people. He tweets nonsense like Dawkins, but it flies under the radar because while popular, he isn’t Dawkins popular. And let’s face it, less people will read an article critiquing Sam Harris than Richard Dawkins. Few editors will greenlight an article taking Harris to task simply because it won’t garner as many eyeballs. Critiques on Dawkins are always welcome because it will bring traffic.
Hitchens is dead, but he was largely revered because he was confrontational. Before Dawkins got on twitter, the articles being written were taking Hitchens to task, so Dawkins just slipped into that role with the ridiculous things he says. Hitchens was taken to task not just on atheism and his outlandish persona, but for his zealous support of the Bush/Cheney administration and the war in Iraq. He morphed into a bizarre neocon who loved the military industrial complex and the “war on terror” to get the ‘evil muslims’. “Shariah is coming” he would squeal. He was the guy who always went off the cuff. He was surly, in your face and always looking to debate. He also sometimes added entertainment value (i.e. his debates with Dinesh D’Souza and Al Sharpton). “What will Hitch say next?”, his audience and detractors alike would ask.
Dawkins is the academic. At least that was who he was until he got on twitter. Now he’s just a blithering fool. He seems to think that being an academic expunges foolishness from someone and that his opinions are strictly a matter of rationality.
There is a 4th atheist in the mix, and he is also an academic, and that is Daniel Dennett. He rounds out the “top 4” white male atheists, but he just isn’t as known as Dawkins, Hitchens or even Harris. Which is why I mentioned 3. Dennett is on the periphery, but he’s a joke too.
A few years ago, Dawkins and Dennett championed a movement known as “The Brights movement”. The term ‘Bright’ was appropriated and applied to atheists, secularists and non-believers in general, as if being an atheist means you are intelligent by default and that being a believer means you are unintelligent. Dawkins compared the Brights movement to gay people using the term ‘gay’. Everyone I encountered in the Brights movement was a white Dawkbro loser. Everyone of them. 100% of them. There wasn’t one of them that had a redeeming character. These clowns really thought that they were going through a civil rights struggle like Black Americans and that the dawn of enlightenment was upon us and that Dawkins and Dennett were ushering it in. It was very cultish and new-agey. Even Christoper Hitchens thought the idea was silly. These jokers were walking around calling themselves “Brights”. It was awful and scary at the same time. They really were some sort of fangled, new age atheist cult. No sir, I was not going to drink that kool-aid.
The problem white atheists (white people in general) have is that like other aspects of their lives, they are only hearing reassuring voices. They only listen to people like them. They go through life in a tunnel. They have no idea what other people are doing or saying. They don’t know other atheist voices outside of the white male prototype. Intersection is not a reality in their world. If you ask them who Sikivu Hutchinson is, most would have no idea. White atheists are very insular and in an ironic way, people like Dawkins end up being their messiahs. It’s like the church of new atheism. It’s very ‘dear leader-esque’ in the Kim Jong-il, North Korean sense.
Sadly, I’ve seen prominent African atheists like Leo Igwe aligning themselves with Dawkins. That is a shame. Igwe actually does important work, like speaking out and fighting against the child witch hysteria across West African nations. He puts himself at risk and he’s actually saving lives, unlike Dawkins who pretty much just gives talks, has debates and tweets nonsense. Why anyone is aligning with Dawkins is beyond me. I suppose some people think you can’t earn your atheist stripes without getting a “blessing” from the atheist Pope, which many have christened Dawkins more or less by their idolatry of him.
The less I read about Dawkins the better quite frankly. My eyes start to glaze when I encounter atheists that worship this man. The veneration white atheists have for this clueless old git speaks volumes. Dawkins is smart as an evolutionary biologist, but that’s where the buck stops. He doesn’t know how to interact with people and he inserts his foot in his mouth time and time again. I knew he wasn’t shit when he referred to indigenous African beliefs as “the great juju up the mountain”.
This is how Dawkins acts. He’ll say something about a group of people that is either bigoted, insensitive, short-sighted or flat out wrong. He will then get called out. Instead of owning up to his mistake, he masks this canard as “rationality”. I’m tired of the word ‘rational’ being abused like this. In fact, the word ‘rational’ is an anathema to me these days and it is in large part due to people like Dawkins and white atheists. Rationality is just a new way for them to carry out their fuckshit. What is rational about cultural insensitivity and bigotry? Not a damn thing.
Dawkins does this rinse and repeat, but the thing is that he isn’t losing followers. On the contrary he’s gaining them, white men in particular. They aren’t reading articles taking Dawkins to task, or they aren’t taking them seriously. If you read these articles, you’ll always seen the Dawkins army in the comment section defending him. They do it because they mask their white centrality as rationality. See, it’s not bigotry or Eurocentrism that makes Dawkins only acknowledge that white people have done great things or that the finest music in the world are from dead white classical composers or that the best literature in the world is from dead white writers. That’s just “rational” thought processes. He just rationalized greatness and civilization as white. You see, white supremacy is rational. It’s totally normal in their estimation for the only worthwhile things in life to be white. This is their dear leader and they will protect him at all costs. It’s not just about atheism, they are defending his ideas and Eurocentric worldview because they too believe it. If it was purely about atheism, then why aren’t they protecting Black women atheists like Sikivu Hutchinson in comment sections when people vehemently disagree with her? Right.