Religion and Wars [WIP]

‘Uberfacts’ on Twitter quoted a somewhat dubious statistic that only 7% of wars have been religiously motivated throughout history and this has led many religious apologists to start crowing about a (somewhat strawman) of the atheist position that religion causes a lot of conflicts and deaths.

I believe the real point is that religion is a dangerous motivator for war and an extra source of conflict (over something that doesn’t even exist) and that it has led to or made worse some of the bloodiest conflicts in history.

Part of the problem hinges upon what you consider religion, and how much needs to be present for it to be causal. Is nationalism religious? I would consider it so, but I would consider most ideological extremism to share character with religion as well.

To take WWII and Nazi Germany as familiar examples, the belief in the Aryan race and its superiority was a supernaturalist belief and won that drove the nationalist and Germanic unification projects of the Reich as well as informing the Ahnerbe and their strange concepts around history, race and archeology. Anti-Semitism was also key to the Nazi ideology and also key to their blaming of the victors of WWI and the revenge philosophy behind that. Their Christianity alongside their superstitions and nationalism were also absolutely key to their opposition to ‘godless’ communism.

Combine all that and we can see that religion was a key motivation for the Nazis and integral to the war (not to mention the Holocaust), yet it is not commonly thought of as a religious war.

The book referenced apparently uses a 0-5 scale, with 0 being no religious involvement/motivation and 5 being an absolutely religious conflict. I’ve used the same.

I’ve sourced my list of conflicts from the link below.

I have selected the 20th century as it is the century with the least religious conflicts. If we include 21st century conflicts things will skew too heavily to making the atheist point, since so many current conflicts involve Islam. If we go much earlier than the 20th century we’ll also find a lot more religious motivations as well, as the world was a more religious place in that time.

If the least religious century (you could make an argument for the 19th whose conflicts were mostly nationalistic) turns out to have relgious involvement and motivation greater than 7%, then we can fairly safely consider the greater argument about religion not being a major factor in conflict debunked.

Source of Conflict List: http://www.war-memorial.net/wars_all.asp

So far I have processed the first 50 notable conflicts of the 20th century and have the following results:

Conflicts With Significant Religious Involvement (binary): 56%
Total Religious Motivation of All Conflicts: 25.6%

Frankly it seems unlikely that either of these measures could drop beneath 7% and so it may not be worth continuing.

252 total 20th Century Conflicts.
Sample size 50.
Error Margin: 12.43%

1. Sino Russian War
Religious Involvement relating to Boxer Rebellion which had a large component of religiously motivated violence. Scale? 2
2. Boxer Rebelion
Religious involvement in terms of anti-Christian sentiment Scale? 4.
3. Second Boer War
No real religious involvement. Scale? 0.
4. Phillipine Insurrection
No real religious involvement. Scale? 0.
5. War of a Thousand Days
No real religious involvement. Scale? 0.
6. Illinden Uprising
No real religious involvement. Scale? 0.
7. Angolan Uprisings
Religious involvement limited in degree (anti Christian, anti-colonial sentiment). Scale? 1.
8. Second Yemen Rebellion
Zaidi sectarianism key. Scale? 4.
9. Uruguay Civil War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
10. Southwest African Revolt
Religion involved in that priests were omitted from rebel attacks and that dominionism played a role in the colonial conflict and prejudice. Scale? 1.
11. Russo Japanese War.
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
12. Maji Maji Revolt
Rebels claimed to use magic and set traditional beliefs against religious colonialism. Key motivator/exacerbation. Scale? 3.
13. Russian Revolution
Muslim group involvement and Tsarist strong belief in ‘Divine Right of Kings’ make religion significant if not a key driver. Scale? 2.
14. Third Central American War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
15. Zulu Rebellion.
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
16. Mahdist Revolt
Religion absolutely key. Scale? 5.
17. Dutch-Achinese War
Jihad by Muslim forces against the Dutch making this explicitly a religious war. Scale? 5.
18. Fourth Central American War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
19. Romanian Peasant Revolt
Anti-Semitism involved. Scale? 1.
20. Morroco Unrest
Insufficient Information. Assumed non-religious. Scale? 0.
21. Iranian Constitution War
Shariah Law and sectarianism contributed to conflict and issues around the war. Scale? 2.
22. Korean Guerilla War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
23. Ma’Al’s Insurgency
Islam vs Christianity a key component. Scale? 4.
24. Portuguese War Against Dembos
Insufficient Information. Assumed non-religious. Scale? 0.
25. The Second Rif War
Islam a background motivator and source of confluct. Scale? 2.
26. Conquest of Widai
Islam vs Christianity an important element. Scale? 2.
27. Asir-Yemen Revolt
Sectarianism as background. Scale? 1.
28. Chinese Revolution
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
29. The Negro Rebellion
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
30. Sino-Tibetan War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
31. Italo-Turish War
Islam vs Christianity as background. Scale? 1.
32. Paraguay Coups
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
33. First Balkan War
Revolt against Islamic (Ottoman) rule a key background component. Scale? 2.
34. Moro Rebellion
Islam a key component. Scale? 3.
35. Second Nationalist War
Conflict between traditionalist and Communist groups played a minor role. Scale? 1.
36. Second Balkan War
Revolt against Islamic (Ottoman) rule a key background component. Scale? 2.
37. Bai-Lang Rebellion
Religio-ethnic background to aspects of the conflict. Scale? 1.
38. Russo-Turkistan War
Insufficient information, presume religion not involved. Scale? 0.
39. World War I
In many ways the ‘last gasp’ of the Divine Right of Kings, key to the old monarchic order. Scale? 2.
40. Southern China Revolt
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
41. Second Sino-Tibetan War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
42. Finnish Civil War
Christian traditionalist Vs Communism. Scale? 2.
43. Third Anglo-Afghan War
Religious background. Scale? 1.
44. Sparticist Uprising
Socialist/Communist uprising vs Conservative, Christian elements. Scale? 2.
45. Hungarian/Romanian War
Socialist/Communist uprising vs Conservative, Christian elements. Scale? 2.
46. Dervish State Vs Ethiopia
Sectarian Conflict. Scale? 3.
47. Mexican Revolution
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
48. Caco Revolt
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
49. Latvian Liberation
Included Communist vs Conservative/religious elements. Scale? 1.
50. Estonian Liberation War
Included Communist vs Conservative/religious elements. Scale? 1.

Working

1-1-2(5)
2-2-6(10)
3-2-6(15)
4-2-6(20)
5-2-6(25)
6-2-6(30)
7-3-7(35)
8-4-11(40)
9-4-11(45)
10-5-12(50)
11-5-12(55)
12-6-15(60)
13-7-17(65)
14-7-17(70)
15-7-17(75)
16-6-22(80)
17-7-27(85)
18-7-27(90)
19-8-28(95)
20-8-28(100)
21-9-30(105)
22-9-30(110)
23-10-34(115)
24-10-34(120)
25-11-36(125)
26-12-38(130)
27-13-39(135)
28-14-39(140)
29-14-39(145)
30-14-39(150)
31-15-40(155)
32-15-40(160)
33-16-42(165)
34-17-45(170)
35-18-46(175)
36-19-48(180)
37-20-49(185)
38-20-49(190)
39-21-52(195)
40-21-52(200)
41-21-52(205)
42-22-54(210)
43-23-55(215)
44-24-57(220)
45-25-59(225)
46-26-62(230)
47-26-62(235)
48-26-62(240)
49-27-63(245)
50-28-64(250)

Religious Involvement: 56%
Religious Motivation: 25.6%

#Atheism – Chapel Hill

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Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

We don’t know that much about thee Chapel Hill shootings yet, partly because there seems to be little interest in the mainstream media in talking about the story at this point. What appears to have happened is that a man has shot three young Muslims dead in America. We don’t know his motivations etc yet, but he appears to have been an atheist and anti-theist and the speculation is that these are the reasons for the attacks.

As a member of the atheist community I apologise for this person, this killer and will be more vigilant in keeping watch on other members of the community latching onto atheism as a cover for racial or other hatreds.

That said, I think it’s important to draw a line between atheism and religion as motivation for doing bad things. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in god. That is simply all it is. It has no dogma, no book, no set of commands to kill the believers. It is not a religion, it has no canon. Basically there’s nothing in atheism to excuse or promote death or dehumanisation as there is in, say, the Bible or the Koran.

‘You’re as bad as us’ isn’t an argument that makes you look very good and honestly we’d have a lot of catching up to do, to be as bad as religions on the death stakes. We’ll see what happens as the story unfolds. That he attacked Muslims in a country replete with Christians may suggest that his attacks were’t anti-religious per-se, but that he had some problem with these three people in particular.

Religion is still a blight on the human race, but we win with logic, reason and evidence and in the field of ideas. Not with violence.

“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
― Steven Weinberg

#Atheism – Why I Loathe Islam

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
– Inigo Montoya

Time was, I would have told you that while Islam was a horrible, nasty, squalid little religion it wasn’t really that much of a threat to modern Enlightenment values or the west, but that Christianity was. In the triage of religions we needed to marginalise it seemed to me that Christianity had far more sway over public life than Islam did, what with Church schools, Creationist nonsense, evangelical scam artists and so on.

I’m not as sure as I once was.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks I posted a bunch of the cartoons that were made in response with the tagline ‘Fuck Islam’. Impolitic, perhaps, but truthful.

The resistance to that simple, pained and understandable statement was incredible and not from the kinds of people you might expect to be against murderous religious nutcases enforcing censorship from the barrel of a gun, but from my fellow left-liberal types. All manner of apologia for the actions of the terrorists and ways to excuse Islam from the equation were presented, even a great deal of victim blaming as we’ve also seen in the mainstream media. The idea that somehow this reaction should be expected and normalised because they were being provocative.

Disgusting.

There’s a kind of paralysis that falls over my fellow lefties when you can be accused of a thought crime. Whether it’s ‘islamophobia’ (which is a dog whistle for ‘racist’) or accusations of ‘misogyny’ when you’re fighting against censorship and for ethical journalism in games media. There mere accusation is enough to taint any further discussion and it doesn’t seem to matter how wrong or ridiculous the accusation is, it has power.

Let’s get a couple of things out the way first:

  1. Islam is not a race. There are Muslims of pretty much any race you care to mention. This should be obvious enough that it doesn’t constantly need restating, yet here we are.
  2. Phobia’s are irrational. Islamophobia would be an irrational fear of Islam. Given the context of Shariah law, the links with terrorism and other barbarisms it could be argued that ‘phobia’ is an inappropriate suffix. Fear of Islam, given the content of the Koran and the state of Islamic nations would appear to be a perfectly rational response. Islamomisia, irrational hatred of Islam, would seem to be equally inapplicable in most circumstances. It’s going to be impossible to avoid Godwinning in this article, so let’s get it out of the way. You wouldn’t accuse a Jew in 1940s Poland of being ‘Naziphobic’, because their fear and hatred would be entirely justified because of the beliefs and actions of Nazis. So it goes.
  3. Islam isn’t like other religions. While there are commonalities, mostly between the Abrahamic faiths, Islam isn’t a personal religion that confines itself to faith, belief and personal conduct. It is a complete system for theocratic autocracy with a great deal to say about personal, professional, governmental and judicial conduct. It is as much, then, a political ideology as a faith and one that draws its authority from ‘god’. The ultimate autocratic dictatorship. It’s not some wishy-washy, half-hearted spirituality like the Church of England, it has very defined and delineated ideas – many of which are anti-human.
  4. Islam ≠ Muslim. There are many lovely Muslims but the fact of the matter is that you can only be a lovely person by being a bad Muslim. If you’re OK with people making fun of your prophet and your god you’re a god, chilled, laid back person, but you’re a bad Muslim because the Koran and Hadith and the example of Muhammed himself (Al-Nadr bin al-Harith, Uqba bin Abu Muayt, Asma bint Marwan to name but three)  tell you that you should kill people who do that. There are many great people who are Muslims, but they are great by virtue of being bad Muslims.
  5. Hating with Good Reason is not Bigotry. Merriam-Webster defines a bigot as ‘a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc.’ The key here is ‘unfairly’, which shifts the question to asking whether it is fair to hate Islam or not. I would argue that it is.

I have read the Koran and many of the Hadith (all of the Sahih). I have engaged in very long arguments with Muslim apologists and creationists and have even had brushes with Islamic spokespeople like Anjem Choudary and Mo Ansar. I have devoted considerable time to trying to understand the faith and its adherents and have come to the inescapable conclusion that it is a primitive, violent and dangerous faith with no good prospects for reform.

But why?

  1. Extremism is Mainstream. When you say ‘religious extremism’ you might be thinking of something like the Westboro Baptist church. A couple of dozen loony-tunes existing at some far-flung edge of the religious spectrum. While Islam has those too, even mainstream, ‘moderate’ Islam is pretty damn extreme. Wanting to live according the Shariah, a set of hideously barbaric rules come up with in the 7th century here, today, in the modern era is mainstream for Muslims, but extreme to everyone else. 20-40% of UK Muslims polled want Sharia law brought in, and that poll is from 7 years ago, according to most analysts things have gotten worse. Another poll showed unanimous loathing for homosexuality amongst British Muslims, with a margin of error of 4%.
  2. The Koran is Unquestioned. A huge part of the problem we face with any religion that is based on a supposedly divinely inspired book is that it is simultaneously the ‘perfect word of god to be followed to the letter’ and riddled with contradictions and vague statements that can be interpreted as one sees fit. The Koran is no different on this score but, unlike Christianity, does not have a kinder/gentler second book that justifies ignoring most of the first for its followers.  When the book outright advocates death, torture, mutilation, wife-beating and all the other horrors we’re now all to familiar with its hard for anyone claiming the title Muslim to speak against it – or they’re an apostate and subject to imprisonment, shunning and/or death. This is only made worse by the Hadith which, generally speaking, prioritise and give license to the more violent and horrible passages.
  3. Muslims Weasel. Getting a straightforward condemnation of the actions of ‘extremists’ is very hard, excepting some of the more politically minded or already outcast Muslims (such as the Muslim Council of Britain or Majeed Nawaz). Why? Because the ‘extremists’ are drawing from the holy Koran, which is the infallible word of god, so to condemn or question the ‘extremists’ is to question god or the prophet. Things which aren’t allowed. It’s like getting blood from a stone to get a clean, clear, outright condemnation of terrorism, violence, intimidation, poor treatment of women or even, most telling of all, child rape. Why the last? Because of Mohammed’s marriage to Aisha. Admitting that it’s wrong to have sex with children would be condemning the prophet, so you can’t do it.
  4. Islam Appears to be Unique. Islam’s ability to create suicide bombers, to excuse and encourage the worst aspects of human behaviour wherever it is followed, to unleash real horrors upon innocent civilians and the militarise believers appears to be unique in its scope. Terrorists exist across all ideologies and faiths – yes, even Buddhism – but Islam is the grand-daddy of them all possibly because of the cult-like nature of it, its internal enforcement and the lack of access to alternative points of view in Islamic communities. Yes, the actions of The West and Economics play a role, but to ignore the role of religion is ignorant.
  5. Islam Makes People Stupid. Not the Muslims, but my fellow lefties. Islam terrifies many of them in its implications, but so does the idea of being ‘racist’, of not being completely accepting and open to other points of view – even if those points of view are wrong, stupid, violent and dangerous. Never mind that you would not the same reaction when criticising any other ideology. If one were to say one hated Stalinism, for example, because of its cult of personality, the gulags, the purges of the intellectuals, its insane ideas about agricultural policy and the genocide of the kulaks, you would not be accused of being racist and your points would be taken seriously. Say something similar about Islam however and people will lose their minds.
  6. Islam is Hugely Arrogant. According to Islam we’re all born Muslims. This is why they use the term ‘revert’ for converts to Islam, instead of converts. This would just be annoying were it not for the fact that apostates (those who leave the religion) are subject to death under the Koran. Handy, but hardly fair or respectful.
  7. It’s Just Horrible. Sexist, racism, advocating for slavery, rape and murder, mutilation and so many other horrors. Its beliefs helped end the Islamic Golden Age as they became more rigorously enforced, it’s viciously anti-semitic, anti-scientific, dogmatic, autocratic and domineering. It has no true ‘moderate’ centre as we would understand it. I don’t see how any moral being can excuse it.

Nothing is simple, there’s always other factors, but so long as we keep ignoring Islam’s dogma, hate fuelled passages and its affect on the world we’re not going to be able to find or work towards solutions that might help. Ideally the human species needs to divest itself of religion (and faith) altogether, but that’s an unrealistic goal. Islam, at the very least, needs a reformation or a new sect. One that is explicitly peaceful and distances itself from its own violent past, one where membership is not automatic and enforced under pain of death.

Charlie Hebdo’s approach, that so offended Muslims, was to treat Islam the same way it treated every other religion. With scorn and childish schoolboy insult. ‘You’re not special’ was the message and it’s one that needs to be seen more. Instead, increasingly, we get cowardice in the face of Islamist threats and news organisations bowing to their demands, even while those who share their professions lay dead in morgues for standing up for universal principles that make life better for everyone.

I don’t hate Islam through ignorance, racism, bigotry or prejudice. I hate Islam having studied it, having seen what it does and what it believes and having seen how its unreasonable threats and terrorist actions make coward and hypocrites of those who should be standing against it.

And now I’m going to try ignoring it, like Gamergate, because people can’t stop and think whether I have a point long enough to overcome their panic.

2015 can’t get any worse at least, right?

#JeSuisCharlie Ceci N’est pas un Bomb

charlie-hebdo

A paedophile, a murderer, an epileptic madman and the prophet of a major religion walk into a bar.

“Morning Mohammed,” says the barkeep.

Did you laugh, did you even smile? Then you’re marked for death, as I am for writing it, as anyone could be for drawing a stick figure and writing Mohammed beside it.

Cartoonists have been gunned down for standing up against the increasing censorship in our society. This makes me feel terrible and pathetic because I recently backed out of one the other important fights about free expression that are going on simply because I was told to by my friends. While others are standing up and being shot, taking on Islam’s hatred and arrogance, I am sitting down and stepping back from fighting the far less violent forces of ‘social justice’.

In the face of what we’re seeing now, that seems like it was a mistake, however good the reasons for doing so.

Still, it’s clear that even in the face of an atrocity like this, people are still unwilling to admit there are problems. Problems with censorship, problems with religion, problems with Islam in particular.

Here is an unreformed, barbaric religion whose followers, globally, support – in the majority – stonings, Sharia Law, the death penalty for ‘disrespecting the prophet’. Even in the UK alone, with its relatively progressive Muslim population, 40% are in favour of imposing Sharia Law, 20% had sympathy with the 7/7 bombers and some 78% thought mocking the prophet deserved prison with 12% agreeing that it should be punished with the death penalty.

Even today it is virtually impossible to get even moderate Muslims to condemn the killings. They simply, at best, stay silent.

Islamic sensitivity is far from our only issue though and perhaps those incapable of or unwilling to examine their own censorious issues and hypersensitivity are excusing Islam for more personal reasons. We’re not so immune to this creeping madness. One need only look to the Twitter Joke Trial, the recent arrest of the gentleman who made an off-colour joke about the Glasgow Truck Accident or Criado-Perez’ prosecution of her (predictably pathetic) trolls for ‘threats’ that were obviously spurious. One could also look to Gamergate and gasp at the sheer hypocrisy of those who ARE standing up for free expression against gun-toting Islamists but who didn’t dare to raise a peep against other – less violent – forms of censorship.

While they may not be shooting anyone, yet, is there really any difference between the claims that insult amounts to ‘real harm’ from the religious:

Because it is, and I pick my words carefully here Mr Choudary, ‘fucking insane’. You’ll note, also, how he uses the ways in which we have already chipped away at the edifice of free expression in his arguments:  

The answer is not to ban or prohibit Islam, or indeed any other form of expression, no matter who thinks it is hateful or dangerous (unless it can be show that it actually is). The answer is virtually always ‘more speech’.

  • Holocaust denier? Hit them with stats and mock them.
  • Anti-immigration racist? Show them the economic data, and mock them.
  • Climate change denier? Show them the data, then mock them mercilessly.

Anything and everything must be open to mockery and it is these same, vital, Enlightenment principles of free expression, satire and free society that also make us free to protest and expose the actions of our governments, which are sometimes blamed as being the ‘true reason’ behind these barbaric attacks upon artists, writers, comedians, film-makers and others.

Atheist Imprisoned for ‘Insanity’

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While atheists have plenty of issues all around the world, at least we don’t have to deal with this sort of problem any more.

In Nigeria, Mubarak Bala has been beaten, threatened, drugged and confined to a mental institution simply for being an atheist.

He lives in Kano in Nigeria‘s predominantly Muslim north. The state adopted sharia law in 2000 and has a strict Islamic police force called the Hisbah.

You can read a full run down of the issues at the following links:

While Change.org is essentially a meaningless online petition site, you can sign HERE.

You can email the Nigerian Ministry of Justice directly HERE.

International pressure and human rights pressure CAN make a difference here. Nigeria is an up-and-coming economic and social power in Africa and wants to be seen as a modern state. Mubarak’s situation runs counter to those wishes and so they should be vulnerable to pressure from groups like Amnesty. As a member of the Commonwealth they may also be susceptible to pressure from the British government. You can email the UK Foreign Office HERE.

 

#Atheism and the MRA ‘Problem’ – Follow Up

free_thought_white_by_betolaza-d5rp0aeFreethought Blogs, perhaps the most ironically named website since ‘Reasonable Faith’, posted a response to my previous item on this. The article didn’t actually progress the discussion any and merely restated the same issues again, without addressing any of the content honestly. Still, it’s worth a reply to point this out:

There was a piece of research done on the MRA of r/mensrights on Reddit which showed that they are mainly White, Young and Atheist. Now I know there was a bot entering values so it should be discounted but I do think there are is a fairly large representation of MRA or their ideas that are vocal among atheists.

‘Research’ is a strong word for a survey limited to a single site. I do not find it surprising in the slightest that skepticism of feminism – and other ideological claims – is present in atheism. The problems seem to occur when those who hold to these claims are called to defend them, explain them, consider other points of view or are presented with the same sort of skepticism we give to religious claims. Then you get the abuse, the accusations etc and very little – if any – examination of the actual arguments.

This one’s by Grimachu and there are problems with this. And the major one is the request for dialogue while simultaneously excusing bad behaviour. This has always been a problem. See the notion is that we are at fault. That FTB is a monolith. Never mind the fact that I noticed the slymepit coo gleefully over my stance against certain A+ members and indeed feminists over FGM without realising that feminism is itself not a monolith.

Properly dissenting views have been excluded from FTB (Thunderf00t), the blocking etc policies certainly appear to be biased and, well, you can see the problem here. Saying that I am excusing bad behaviour while simultaneously excusing FTB, A+ and feminism as ‘not a monolith’ is just ironic.

While MRA may have become a slur, it is a slur brought on by the actions of MRA. The MRA have not worked to help men but to fuck over women.

Well, allow me to retort. ‘While feminist may have become a slur, it is a slur brought on by the actions of feminism. Feminism has not worked to help women, but to fuck over men’. This is just as valid (or invalid) a statement as the one above. Valid or not, it is the crux of MHRA’s objections to modern feminism.

Except if MRA actually were dedicated to men’s health, welfare and the various discrepancies of power they would not be raising so much fuss. Seriously? We need more support for male victims of rape. No one is saying not to this. People will however say no when you demand the closure of women’s shelters or if you demand women’s shelters also take men when the entire point is that women’s shelters are gender segregated because a lot of women are running FROM men.

They are, from what I’ve seen. While there’s also a bitter, nasty side to it (and I wouldn’t call myself an MHRA incidentally, because I think they make a lot of the same mistakes as feminism) there’s also valid points, same as with feminism. The problem we have, and the source of conflict, is that feminist ideological doctrine is often promoted in a way that does directly and indirectly harm and silence men.

My last tangling with Thunderfoot was over a video from India that he blundered into and floundered about like a tazed octopus. He literally didn’t understand the context of a video or the entire joke. That the women in a video were reciting REAL statements made by famous Indian politicians to excuse rapes. Of women being blamed for wearing leggings under their salwar kameez rather than baggy trousers. Of women being blamed for wearing jeans, talking to boys, going out after dark and eating chinese food. Thunderfoot blundered into that with a spiel about defensive clothing which is laughable because it assumes that there is no rape if you wear a burkha and about body language using a mountain lion as an example.

I have reason to doubt your reading of this. His point really didn’t seem that hard to grasp, being that while, yes, the rapist is always culpable, suggesting ways to minimise risk and threat do not amount to rape apologia. He’s right, but frankly it doesn’t matter whether he was right or wrong on that point or not, it has nothing to do with whether he’s right or wrong on the other points. Which again, in my opinion, he is.

Because it shows how detached from reality the dialogue is if the most well off and benefited group from society thinks it has it the worst. It also shows the entrenched racism within it since places like the Spearhead exist which bemoan the loss of the “White lady” to the dastardly coloureds. It also shows the lack of diversity within it and indeed the lack of any outside views. It is the same as the Republican party. It literally is a poisonous circle jerk that deludes its followers into think the world sucks for men due to dastardly women rather than the world benefits men but has a couple of hand grenades since benefits and power do not come without responsibility.

I don’t think anyone’s claiming they have it the worst – overall – but then each group or subsection you care to look at has its advantages and its disadvantages. The point, once again missed, is that this is utterly, breathtakingly and absolutely irrelevant to the arguments in question. Its fallacious. Being subjectively ‘privileged’ doesn’t make your arguments invalid, doesn’t strip you of empathy and the comparisons with racism are disingenuous at best. More irony in the accusation of ‘poisonous little circle jerk’ which is exactly what the nexus of ‘Social Justice’ and A+ and its ilk is. The world does suck in many ways for men, some of them because of women, some of them because of various other factors. The problem comes when this is twisted into a blame on ‘patriarchy’ and no grander scale form of victim blaming can be conceived of than to claim men control and dominate society for their own benefit and then use it to harm themselves.

The benefits and responsibilities point is a good one, but not in the way the article writer believes I think. Men did used to have many more rights and much more social regard in many arenas. That has, rightfully, been eroded in the name of fairness but the reduction in responsibilities, duties and the strictures of male roles have not been commensurately reduced. Arguably men now put in to society far, far more than they get out.

Ah yes. The bad behaviour of MRA is due to trolls. But Atheism + is due to the movement. Good to know.

Anonymous, anime-avatared non-entities versus proud social justice warriors who are more than happy to use their real identities and to consider what they do to be for ‘great justice’. Yes, I feel fairly secure in stating that this is true in the majority of cases. I’m not an MHRA but I recently joined AVFM’s forum as I have some criticisms and thoughts I want to reach them and because I want to keep as much of an eye on them as I do internet feminism. A ‘professional troll’ there has been posting articles and content recently and has received a great deal of push-back and criticism there. Something I do not see happening within the ‘social justice’ sphere.

Since I defended Melody Hensley I have received hate mail. I ignore most. The one that got me was the charming man who tried to trigger my PTSD with balloon explosions. Rather droll, since my net is poor and “popping balloons” in the title made me turn it off. Had my volume been turned up and I not paid attention it may have shocked me a bit. But the goal was to try and trigger my PTSD.

You ‘defended’ someone misusing and abusing an alleged mental health diagnosis and by attaching yourself to them you attracted trolls. Quelle fucking surprise. I’ve had a great deal of internet abuse, some of which contributed towards my depression, but that was the people who were genuine. Not the trolls who were trying to get a rise. I coped, so can you.

No I am afraid if your argument is that people cannot suffer mental trauma from the Internet then your target being Melody Hensley is fucking small potatoes. Take on Dan Savage and it Gets Better. Go tell those poor gay  kids who are bullied to suicide that the Internet can be turned off and “it is just trolls”.

False comparisons. Though that would be great advice for them. Toughening up may actually be a valid piece of advice, rather than telling people to define themselves by their weaknesses. Here’s a suggested read on the topic.

No. You picked on Melody because the conflation of MRA and Atheist would agree with your harassment. And you wanted to trigger her. That was the goal of all of this. Watson? Really? She just said “do not approach women in closed spaces where you traditionally do not engage in socialisation”. Is your game so reliant on Elevator Sex?

I chose Melody and Elevatorgate because they are two of the most well known and egregious examples of social justice nonsense going off the rails. They are so obviously and utterly ridiculous that the first, and correct, response of sane people is to scoff and roll their eyes. They are representative of the problem.

So your statement is “we shouldn’t respond to injustices”. Then what’s the damn point. What the fuck are for? Your response to racism is to stay quiet. Mine’s to point out that it is bad. I get lumped with more racism thanks to that. Your statement is “see trolls”. Mine is this. If you stand quiet and don’t oppose the status quo of harassment, bigotry and douchebaggery then the status quo remains. You are merely propping it up. Those trolls exist and are validated by the fact that you keep silent.

Of course we should respond to injustices. What you fail to see or to understand is that responding to injustices is exactly what your critics are doing. It’s exactly what the MHRA is doing. It’s exactly what Thunderf00t, myself and other critics are doing. Even if you don’t agree with us, you should at least understand that this is what we see ourselves as doing. You see, I understand that (some of) you think this is what you’re doing, which is why I invest so much time trying to understand how and why you came to this viewpoint, especially while simultaneously claiming to be critical thinkers and skeptics.

When you respond to trolls you are giving them exactly what they want. Attention. You’re responding. You’re getting emotional and that’s what they like. The age old advice of ‘don’t feed the troll’ remains the best advice and that, along with blocking, remains the best way to deal with them.

Think about it. Do you really want to end internet anonymity? Do you want to cut battered women and men off from support structures they can access privately? Do you want to sell out political dissidents around the world simply because someone called you a ‘vile shitlord’ on Twitter? That’s what an end to internet anonymity would mean, and that’s the only thing that would end trolling, and even then not for those with any real computer skills. I think the minimal cost justifies the enormous benefit.

But then, we’re in a weird position now where the Social Justice types are feeding off the trolls and vice versa. Trolls can get a huge reaction, even hitting the mainstream media or making public figures flip out on social media and become international laughing sticks. In return the SJW types can point at the trolls, yell, scream, act like it’s a real and serious problem and bend the ear of government to their cause. Then we get nonsensical trials which are a huge waste of taxpayers money and only reveal what we already knew all along. That trolls are sad little sociopaths parasitising internet controversy.

Where does it end?

You’re into your self-righteous rant and accusatory mode by this point, which was a huge part of what I was criticising, so that’ll be irony again. Still, I think you misunderstood what GWW was getting at by framing Afghanistan contextually and I think you should go listen again. Again, even if she is wrong on that one point, it doesn’t invalidate anything else. She’s meticulous in her research and factual presentations, unlike many other gender commentators who are much more celebrated, and at least deserves some respect for that.

It is the MRA whose entire dialogue is entrenched in the notion that women are all out to get them thanks to feminism. Rather than society is patriarchal and for a long time, men had a major advantage. In losing the advantages men are made to realise that there are some disadvantages to being top dog too. Rather than try and equal out the disadvantages, the MRA are all about opposing the equalisation of advantages.

The people I mentioned are the problem. These are the ones killing debate, splitting and harming atheism and skepticism and even – I would say – harming the causes of racial and gender equality by conforming to what I used to think were outdated stereotypes. They’re the ones driving the discussion and distorting reality.

Western society is not a patriarchy. It was, but it is not now (see previous posts). As we covered earlier, men have rightly lost a lot of advantages, but there has not been a commensurate reduction in responsibilities. Furthermore masculinity is being rebranded, by feminism, as toxic. Men are being treated as though they are all violent rapists. Men get virtually no help or attention where they’re at a disadvantage while women get lots of help, even where they are already advantaged (such as education). When it comes to sex crime allegations even the most basic presumption of the justice system (innocence until proven guilty) is under attack.

If you genuinely think the MHRA are against actual equality, you’re not paying attention and again, both sides think that’s what they’re for but it may not necessarily be true, though in my experience it’s less true on the feminism side.

Veronica Varlow’s ‘Riot Grrl’ feminism is the kind of thing that I recognise as feminism. Equality, not domination, not man hating. I wouldn’t call that feminism though, because feminism no longer fits that definition. That’s egalitarianism and humanism.

Now to address some of the equally shoddy comments:

Sally strange claims that criticisms of feminism:
Yes, but their arguments fall, consistently, and all in the same manner. The observation that the same type of people make the same type of failed arguments is not dismissing the arguments because they come from white cishet men. It is explaining why white cishet men are wrong, over and over again, in that same particular flavor of wrong.

Saying that they fail is not demonstrating that they fail and blaming it on being white is racist, cis is cissexist, and male is sexist, not to mention heterophobic. The arguments do not, in my opinion, fail but rather feminism descends into religious style apologetics and hands-over-ears behaviour rather than deal with it. It’s so much easier to hurl abuse an accusations than to debunk.

Besomyka wrote:
And all that is fine in it’s way. Disappointing and sad, but it’s pretty standard right-wing libertarian things are as equal as we can make them stop complaining arguments. Until he argued that money going into STEM programs should be cut or redirected to men “who it might work on better”. When he brought up the STEM stuff, a bell went off in my head and I knew I had to bow out. I was just going to get angry, and that doesn’t benefit anyone. I recognized the position, it was from Charles Murray. I don’t know if that fellow even knows who that is or that his position mirrors Mr. Murray’s, but it did and I just can’t argue with something that view in good faith, making it seem like they have any validity worth considering at all.

I’m a left-anarchist.

With regard to STEM, a hell of a lot of money has been poured into trying to recruit women into STEM fields whilst participation and educational path choice for both men and women has dropped sharply. We need more people in STEM fields, desperately, but all this effort is not making much of an impact in persuading women to choose STEM careers. My point was, merely, that the money might be better spent encouraging either a) everyone or b) men (who it seems are already more inclined to take STEM careers) to do so, rather than throwing away more money essentially trying to force people who aren’t interested into a field they don’t like.

To extra-clarify, though it shouldn’t be needed, it’s not a matter of capability, but interest. I was good at maths at school, but I hated it and didn’t want to pursue it. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t any good at it.

I don’t appreciate the disingenuous comparison with racists either.

Seven of Mine said:
This sentence is, in a nutshell, why MRAs aren’t taken seriously. They speak as if the ideas they consider crazy are self-evidently crazy. It’s one big argument from ignorance. The resolute pretense that they don’t understand any difference between interpersonal prejudice and systemic prejudice is infuriating, even accounting for the fact that, colloquially, we use “racism” and “sexism” as if they’re synonymous with personal prejudice. When I was active at the A+ forums, and on at least one occasion around FTB, I’ve been involved in lengthy arguments over the definition of these words as “prejudice plus power.” This equivocation (not unlike creationist equivocation between scientific and colloquial definitions of “theory”) is a deliberate derailing tactic right up there with the “we’re not all like that” argument.

Many of these ideas are what I would consider self-evidently crazy. Such as the idea that in an age of freely accessible internet porn, banning Page 3 is a meaningful act, or that we live in a patriarchy, or a rape culture. However, in my experience people do not stop at saying ‘this is crazy’, but go on to explain in great detail how and why it is crazy. They are, then, however dismissed with ‘check your privilege’ or similar, which IS fallacious and empty.

The second half of this about *ism, and just repeats the mistake. Sexism and racism and all the other *isms are not being used colloquially when they refer to prejudice on the basis of race/sex etc. They are being used correctly. ‘Prejudice plus power’ is a fallacy of redefinition, used to excuse the prejudices of the person using that definition. This is a rare, rare case of Rationalwiki getting it right.

It is nothing like creationist abuse of the term theory and no, it’s not a derailing tactic. It’s making sure communication is possible with a parochial grouping that abuses language. Neither is ‘we’re not all like that’ derailing, it is – after all – simply what various anti-prejudice movements have done down the ages. Humanise themselves and point out that stereotyping is invalid.

Not all bitches be crazy, not all bros be dogs.po

F says:
And for those who find some kinship with MRA groups because they have been fucked over by the system, treating feminists as the enemy is about the dumbest thing one could possibly do. Feminists are fighting against that same system. But I haven’t seen any self-identified MRA group ever join feminist groups to fight these problems, they just tend to sling mud at any women (or other men, but the women take the damage) who simply won’t nod and agree with them. They don’t want to fix what is broken in society, they just want to go back to when everything was completely broken in their favor (even if not all of it really was in their favor).

Why would someone screwed over by the system, side with the people who made the system screw them over? Feminists aren’t fighting the system that screws over men, they’re fighting to turn it to their benefit. That’s why feminists don’t campaign on issues where men are screwed over, like custody hearings, reproductive rights, alimony, job safety etc but concern themselves with their own issues – which is fine until they start actively campaigning against men.

Taking things to an extreme, why would the Black Panther Party join with a white supremacist group, even if they’re both – ostensibly – against ‘the man’?

Within the skeptic/atheist movement our positions are not so diametrically opposed. Nor are the STATED positions of the MHRA or modern feminist movements, but the stated positions don’t necessarily match the reality.

Xanthe said:
It’s really quite laughable how MRAs of the calibre of Paul Elam think that putting the word ‘human’ into their acronym to obtain ‘MHRA’ makes their lack of activism and appalling misanthropy any more acceptable. Their human rights are not under any sort of challenge and even if it were, their activism is possibly the worst way of going about it. From the quotes given I see Grimachu seems to have bought into that pathetic rebranding exercise; that says it all, even if he hadn’t gone on to endorse GWW, what a fool.

Adding the ‘H’ emphasises the point I think. That men should also be regarded as human and that men’s rights are human rights. If you think they’re not under threat, I think you’re not paying enough attention. As to the lack of activism, it’s a relatively small movement but I do see more happening from their side, which will hopefully add to the conversation and oppose some of the more excessive nonsense being passed around by feminists, especially on campuses. The constant bashing of GWW who always seems calm, reasonable and well researched to me suggests that insults are all her critics have.

Gillell said:
Why on earth should I want to work with people who don’t see and treat me as a full human being, who don’t think that my gay family members should have equal rights? I know quite a lot of people who are religious and who agree with me on those issues and I’ll choose them over some atheist dudebro every time. Because actions speak louder than words.

Now you understand why men don’t necessarily want to work with feminists. The rest is just bizarre and unjustified conflation of nonsense, trying to tar with the same brush and also irrelevant. Secularism – for example – is one fight, equal marriage another. Expecting everyone to agree is what killed Occupy. Spare me the adhom ‘dudebro’.

Thetalkingstove said:
I’d like to see the examples of prolonged, vicious harassment of MRAs with the slurs ‘fedora’ and ‘neckbeard’. There must be lots of them in order to make a genuine comparison to the treatment Watson, Sarkeesian, Hansley et al have received. Right? Or maybe those words are just thrown around occasionally as little jabs and are actually nothing like rape threats and misogynistic abuse. Who can tell! I’m still baffled by this. Someone you don’t know makes a claim that you find dubious. Ok. You’re free to disbelieve them. But why would this *incense* you? Melody’s claim of PTSD is hurting exactly nobody. It makes no one else’s PTSD worse or less worthy of sympathy.

Hie thee to Twitter or Tumblr if you want to see it. There’s plenty. However, you’re comparing apples to oranges, or, rather, logical fallacies (ad hom, poisoning the well) to spurious and meaningless trolling.

Melody’s claim of PTSD is harmful, potentially very harmful if the idea spreads at all. It trivialises a very serious condition and sets the bar incredibly low. It’s hard enough to get mental health problems recognised and taken seriously already without someone claiming to be traumatised over some internet insults. It falls into the same nonsensical category as article trigger warnings and characterising things like misgendering someone as ‘violence’.

Not that I think that my feelings alone are sufficient reason to damn her for it, but I do have a ‘dog in this race’, so to speak.

SMRNDA said:
I tend to find that meme of ‘one isn’t ALLOWED to question feminism’ (or that racism is a thing, or issues involving homosexuals and such) kind of deliberately missing the point. I can question that the earth revolves around the sun, but I still have to actually deal with the evidence. One cannot dismiss something by fiat. It seems many MRAs want to be able to void any and all conclusions of feminism by assertion.

Gender studies and women’s studies courses do not include critique of the assumptions made by those courses. It would be like a political science class teaching everything from the perspective of 16th Century monarchy. It’s just not good practice apart from anything else. Dissent is not allowed, men’s lectures and groups are shut out, protested, accused. The conversation never really gets started.

The claims made by modern feminism, gender feminism if you will (CH Sommers at least has a good term for it) are not akin to ‘the Earth revolves around the sun’. They’re sociological and psychological claims which, to quote Walter Bishop is ‘Not an exact science’ and to quote Peter Bishop is ‘NOT EVEN SCIENCE!’

To get to the truth we have to struggle past all sorts of biases, control for all sorts of factors, acknowledge that the situation is fluid, meticulously craft studies and try to get down to the truth of it. Gender feminism has dominated all these concerns for too long with no real opposing voice, to the point where many of its claims have become dogma – as was seen in this article and the comments.

The wage gap, for example, virtually disappears when you control for all the other factors leaving a small fraction which may be down to innate gender differences. Less than 5% or so. It is simplistic and ‘economical with the actualite’ to cry sexism without a proper, critical examination.

The evidence does not support a lot of the claims, or does not support them to the extent that they are pushed or the zeal with which they are wielded like weapons.

Until disagreement and skeptical examination can be treated as what it is, without demonisation and merely making the same mistakes all over again – as this blog in reply to me did – there’ll be no progress.

#Atheism has an MRA Problem?

tumblr_mqkupetBAj1syitgfo1_500A response to this article.

No, atheism doesn’t have an MRA problem and, frankly, I expect a bit better of Patheos than to take sides in this particular, ongoing conflict.

‘MRA’ has become a slur to be hurled at anyone of dissenting opinion in the arguments over gender etc in much the same way as ‘feminist’ used to. Maybe we’ll see that change over time (the shift to MHRA -Men’s Human Rights Activist – is hopeful). It says nothing, it’s just an ad hominem shut-down attack in the same way ‘fedora’, ‘neckbeard’ and other nonsensical terms have become. None of it adds anything to the debate, but these slurs tend to go ignored while trolling gets taken seriously and treated as though it were people genuinely involved in the debate.

It is, perhaps, more appropriate to say that atheism has a feminism problem, in the shape of Atheism Plus.

Atheism Plus and it’s Tumblrist, pseudo-progressive nonsense has driven a wedge clear through the atheist community. The arrogant presumption was that simply because everyone who was an atheist didn’t believe in god they would have to agree with everything else they thought. That’s not the case at all. The only thing that unites atheists is their lack of belief. Otherwise you will find atheists of all manner of beliefs, all manner of political affiliations, all manner of positions on other topics.

There’s some things that are true as a demographic, we will TEND to be more liberal, TEND to be more intelligent, TEND to be more educated, TEND to be more law abiding but a tendency doesn’t describe the whole. Personally, I find the kind of ‘social justice activism’ promoted by A+, FTB and their ilk to be archly conservative, dangerously censorious and perilous to free thinking.

As with our engagements with religion, we find that people are perfectly happy for us to be skeptical in our examinations of any faith but theirs. We are not, it seems, allowed to be skeptical of feminism. As an ideology it seems to be considered beyond criticism, beyond challenge. Any challenge to its ideas, even the crazier ones, is treated as though it were heresy. Little wonder, then, that people like Thunderf00t, frequently criticised for his skepticism of feminist claims, have taken exception to it.

Are we skeptics or not? Do we want to know what’s true or not? Why would we tolerate conspiracy theories like ‘Patriarchy’ and leave them unchallenged when we’re willing to critically examine closely held beliefs that have lasted thousands of years? Why can’t we point out the flaws in the Wage Gap when we can challenge the very claimed existence of Jesus?

There’s a deep inconsistency there.

I also expect better from Patheos than to use fallacies in attacking something they don’t like. What possible difference does it make that MHRAs are white, (racism), young (Ageism), male (sexism) or conservative? An argument stands or falls on its merit, surely? Ah, but then according to some of these people you can’t be racist to whites, sexist to men etc etc. Pure bunk and another idea that should be subject to robust critique.

There’s another false assumption in the article that mass attacks by trolls are somehow the actions of MHRAs or other atheists rather than… trolls. It’s never been adequately explained to me why people think this. I’m sure there’s some crossover of course, but who benefits from treating trolls like they’re serious threats and genuinely mean it? Well, you need only look at how Sarkeesian, Criado-Perez and Watson have profited from their victim status (legitimate or not) to see why someone might take trolling more seriously than it deserves.

Speaking of this, Melody Hensley has come under concerted attack recently. Why? She’s publicly a feminist (a popular troll target because feminists react), she’s publicly an atheist (another popular target for trolls), and she’s claimed to have PTSD – a dubious claim and another big red rag to trolls.

Should she be trolled? No. Is it understandable that she is being? Yes. Can we separate the trolling from the scoffing, skepticism and arched eyebrows? Sure we can. What about the claim itself? PTSD from social media? That sounds unlikely in the extreme and little wonder that a great many people who do suffer from PTSD and other forms of mental illness (myself included) are incensed by what we see as her trivialisation and devaluing of a very real and present problem for a lot of people.

Still, conflating MHRA with troll is just as unfair and dishonest as conflating feminist and troll, and believe me, it’s tempting to do that. I’ve been verbally attacked, threatened, had my jobs come under attack, my work boycotted (failed) and it blows up again and again. Whenever I try to honestly engage in debate and try to understand the Social Justice Warrior position all I get is my appearance attacked, called names, my hat mistaken for a fedora (as though that were relevant), my past scraped over, threats of doxing (not that I’m that secretive) and on and on and on. Something I’ve not suffered from actual trolls or people who just disagree with me – even religious nutters, even Jihadis and right wing terrorist groups like Christian Identity.

I think that says a lot, but I’ll still – try – to take people one at a time.

So what’s really going on here?

I think I’m going to blame ‘intersectionality’. It sounds good on paper, considering the way different forms of advantage and disadvantage interact, but in practice it divides and subdivides a community more and more, diminishing and diffusing any power it has to be a unified voice.

Here’s a radical idea I want to present. So long as we all agree about religion being wrong, let’s agree about that and work on that problem – debunking creationism, promoting skepticism, secularism and freethinking. If we don’t agree on what political party to vote for or whether same sex marriage should be legal or not, who gives a fuck? We can campaign on those individual issues with people who agree with us there.

We don’t NEED to be a homogenous whole.

That’s not to say we can’t have this debate, but let’s make it a ‘goddamn’ debate, not a slagging match.

My door’s always open to sensible debate and there are no sacred cows here. Let’s extend that to the rest of the community.

 

Post-Script:

A few short years ago I would have considered myself a feminist, in that I would advocate for equal rights for women. However, that is no longer what feminism is and that became abundantly clear to me when my defence of freedom in fiction made me a target. ‘The radical notion that women are people’ or the cause of equality is not the feminism of the censors, it’s not the feminism of Criado-Perez or Suey Park, it’s not the feminism of Watson, Sarkeesian or Atheism Plus. It’s not the feminism of holding men guilty until proven innocent, it’s not the feminism of blaming everything on ‘patriarchy’ or using ‘privilege’ to silence contributions. It’s not the feminism that speaks of ‘male violence’ or terrifies people with specious talk of ‘rape culture’. If you’re a feminist in terms of equality, you’re not the kind of person being grumped about.

I’m on the verge of actually ‘joining’ the MHRA movement if only because I see the same kinds of irrational bitterness driving it I also see in feminism and I think it needs more sane voices. I also think the association with the right is problematic, as is feminism’s association with the ‘left’. There are plenty of left/liberal critiques to be made of modern feminism that are going unsaid.