Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Militant Atheism"

It's always hard to start these blogs when I know they are going to be longer than my usual posts, but here goes nothing.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 12.3% of the population in this country is black. 12.3% is a very, very small number. The percentage has only grown a little over one percent point since 1960. Why am I bringing this up? Because even though blacks are in the tiny minority that they are, their cause was heard. The Civil Rights Movement took place and it provided a foundation for true equality among whites and blacks. Obviously there is still plenty more work to be done, but this is an ongoing task which started over 150 years ago.

Most Americans would agree that granting citizens equal rights regardless of race is a good thing. But, and there's always a 'but', if our nation had taken the approach to civil rights that it is taking towards religion, many of my friends would still be using the back entrances to the few restaurants that they were allowed to eat in, they would be drinking from water fountains marked "Coloreds Only", they would be forced to ride in the back of the bus, and their children would undoubtedly still be attending all black schools.

"How do you figure, Steve?" Here's how I figure: The majority of this country is white. It is "One Nation Filled With White People." That being said, it only seems fair that the government should only grant civil rights and liberties to its white citizens and never consider the opinions of the lowly Negro. Do you see what I'm getting at?

There are twenty million "out of the closet" atheists in this country. Based on the other type of person that keeps part of themselves in the proverbial closet, let's assume that there are at least twice that number. Couple that with the other forty million people who are agnostic or claim "no religious preference", and you have the largest minority in the United States. On top of being the largest minority, we have ZERO voice in the political and legislative process unlike the other ethnic minorities.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for, we get to so-called "Militant Atheism".

First off, I abhor this term. There is nothing militant about atheism or our movement. This is a derogatory term that serves only to demonize and group outspoken non-believers with the radicals of other religions that threaten the White Male Christian Power Structure ((c) 2007, Bill O'Reilly). Other folks' beliefs are routinely shoved in our faces and we maintain our right to voice our opinion on the matter. That's part of the American Dream. It's covered in the First Amendment. Let me also add that freedom of religion is guaranteed under the First Amendment as well, and atheists support freedom of religion because it is an issue of free thought.

We are promoting rational thought and the Separation of Church and State, which just so happens to also be covered under the First Amendment. Slowly but surely, this country has been gravitating towards a theocracy since the mid nineteenth century. The Founders, religious and non-religious alike, wanted God to have no place in our government, and they wanted our government to have no place in God (church). They knew of the horrors that accompany a state-sponsored religion thanks to the Anglican Church and they wanted none of it. In fact, that's the whole reason people came to the New World to begin with - to escape state-sponsored religion.

Contrary to what many evangelists believe, and what they would have you believe, "In God We Trust" did not appear on any currency until the 1860s. It also did not become the national motto until 1956. The same goes for the absence of "Under God" from the original draft of the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892. "Under God" was not added until 1952. These things and many like them have been injected into our government like a virus and it's only getting worse. The Reaganites accelerated this process by associating the Republican Party with the "Moral Majority". After that, people began to vote for their religion as opposed to their political preferences.

The far Right Wing of this country, which is supported by almost all of the 30 million members of the National Association of Evangelicals, was completely outraged during the 1960 presidential race because JFK was a Catholic. As a Catholic man, surely he would be taking orders from the Pope and not the American People... But, Kennedy, in all of his charismatic glory, rejected this notion, as did Catholics across the nation. And guess what - he kept his word. Right up until that fateful afternoon in Dallas, he kept his religion out of his politics. He was an American FIRST. This is terribly ironic considering the current political climate in this country, starting with Reagan all the way up to the current Teabagger movement that we see today.

Prior to his three year homosexual relationship with a prostitute, Ted Haggard (PRESIDENT of the National Association of Evangelicals) had WEEKLY conference calls with President George W. Bush. He was one of Bush's most trusted advisors, and contributed greatly to the decisions that were made in the White House. This led to the horribly offensive Bushisms that were used in reference to the war like calling it a "Crusade" and "Our God is not neutral". Pardon my French, but how in the blue fuck is this any different from what Bush's very own party was worried about with Kennedy?

Rev. Haggard was very open about the evangelical movement getting involved in politics as it was "part of their Christian duty". Not only do members of the National Association of Evangelicals preach about Christianity and Biblical morals, they preach about politics and where this nation needs to go, in a sense. They speak of the Christian responsibility to "bring America back to God" and elect candidates who are close with Jesus, despite any lack of credentials or qualifications that they may have regarding the office they intend to hold.

To top this off, you have people who are supposed to be part of an objective mainstream media taking sides and attacking non-Christian members of the population. Glenn Beck is a great example. All you have to do is tune in to his show and I can almost guarantee that at some point during the broadcast he will make mention of atheists being un-American because, after all, this is One Nation Under God. Beck and others like him also insist on calling every non-Republican candidate's faith into question in every election as a means to discredit them. They do this when a person's faith is the very last thing that should be of concern to us. Consider this and the fact that there are still some states, Texas being one, where it is still illegal, that's right, illegal, for an atheist to hold a public office.

Here's where we atheists come into play: We reject the notion of any god or gods or goddesses, but we are completely cool with people practicing their religions as long as they don't discriminate against us or interfere with our personal lives. I understand that it's part of some faiths to "witness" and prosthelytize to every person they come into contact with, so I just do what a normal person would do, and I politely tell them to fuck off.

Our argument, while just as unsolicited as the evangelical argument, is one of sanity. It's the idea that our species has potential. Atheism is not just about the non-existence of a deity, it's about being reasonable and moral without the influence of a god or goddess. It's about doing good for the sake of doing good, and not behaving a certain way for fear of eternal consequences. It's about an objective look at the way things should be so that they may better the lives of all mankind equally.

This will undoubtedly be countered with the Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin argument (if we're really lucky the proponent of this point will be extremely ignorant and throw Roman Catholic Adolf Hitler in there as well) that atheistic societies have contributed to as many, if not more deaths than theistic societies. The missed point that these "atheism is evil" advocates fail to see is that Stalin's atheism did not make him commit those horrible atrocities. There are crazies in every crowd and godlessness is not exempt from that. I believe it was Richard Dawkins that stated, "Stalin's atheism made him no more prone to evil than his moustache did."

But, as atheism did not contribute to those leaders' massacres, religion has influenced and contributed to massive amounts of killings in human history. You've heard about the Crusades and the Inquisition and today's Islamo-fascism, etc. etc. It's very easy to look over just the last 2,000 years and see a very gruesome scar on our past left by religion. Atheism has no set moral code or list of commandments, whereas religion has many. On top of all of the good that can be found in any holy text, there is an equal or greater amount of bad in there as well. You can't rationally use atheism to justify murder or any other type of injustice committed in this world, but you can certainly use the Scriptures to do so. I won't bore you with the endless Bible verses and excerpts from the Qur'an to prove this point because honestly, I don't have the time and I don't think any reader has the patience for it.

So how do we "militant" atheists "combat" this phenomenon of increasing religious intolerance that is sweeping the nation? We do what has earned us this awful title - We go out and inform others of our lack of belief and try to exhibit our humanity simultaneously. We promote critical thinking and rational thought. We aim to educate in all areas, but especially in the social forum that presents us as amoral scoundrels. We want the world to see that we are not without morals and principles the way that the church says we are. Most importantly, we want to uphold the Separation of Church and State that the Founding Fathers so desperately wanted.

It's one thing to have a view on one's own life that is based on religious teachings, but it's another thing altogether to want that same view to be reflected in the operation of the government that writes legislation that affects the lives of the entire population. To put it in perspective, you Christian folks that are terrified of the possible implementation of Sharia Law know exactly how the rest of us feel when you attempt to restrict marital and reproductive rights. Just because something doesn't negatively impact your lives doesn't mean that it's positive. While you may be the majority, if something isn't good for one man, it's no good for the rest. Obviously I'm referring to legislative actions in the government.

So despite the fact that it's still taboo to criticize religion, we continue on. We want to spark constructive, intelligent debate along with equal treatment from the government regardless of religion or lack thereof. I, and the others like me, will continue to be vocal about this issue until there is no more theological discrimination occurring. It may be to the emotional detriment of innocent theists who don't contribute to the overall problem, but that's just going to have to be a necessary casualty in this whole process. It's not personal in the sense that it's not aimed directly at any individuals, but it is personal in the sense that it is something that affects us all and we are very passionate about it.

"The divide of race has been America's constant curse. Each new wave of immigrants gives new targets to old prejudices. Prejudice and contempt, cloaked in the pretense of religious or political conviction, are no different. They have nearly destroyed us in the past. They plague us still. They fuel the fanaticism of terror. They torment the lives of millions in fractured nations around the world. These obsessions cripple both those who are hated and, of course, those who hate, robbing both of what they might become." ~President William Jefferson Clinton

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What I Do Every Year

Here I sit, nine years later. I'm doing the same thing I've done every year since the attack on the World Trade Center - I'm fighting insomnia, listening to Rage Against the Machine, and chain smoking my last pack of cigarettes. Today is tough to get through, and like, I suppose, December 7th is for the folks who were alive in 1941. Today is a somber one and the sadness I feel is not just for the victims of September 11th, but for America on a whole. Before I get to that, I'll start with the obligatory "My 9/11 story."

September 11th is my generation's "Kennedy". Everyone remembers where they were, what they were doing, and who they were with. It was my junior year of high school. I was completely zoned out in front of the school before class and Michael Vickers came running up and said, "Dude! We're being fuckin' attacked! They're bombing shit! They hit the Pentagon and New York!"

I looked at him with bloodshot eyes and told him to shut up and stop bullshitting. It was too early for this madness. I didn't have time for his shenanigans and like most days, I didn't even want to be at school. And who the fuck were "they" anyway?

I don't think anyone was prepared for what was waiting for us when we got to class. I walked to my 1st Period English class and opened the door and there it was. The World Trade Center was in flames. Vickers was not out of his mind after all. Or maybe he was. Maybe we all were.

"Makeshift Patriot, the flag shop is out of stock - I hang myself at half-mast..." ~Sage Francis

In the months and years that followed September 11th, this country underwent radical changes that massively influenced who we are and what we've become. The population grew closer together than we'd ever been and then swiftly drifted farther apart than we were before that day. The government abandoned almost every principle it was founded on with the Patriot Act and an endless assault of propaganda on the general population. Every lunatic came out of the woodworks and was given credibility when, at any other time, they would have been laughed at. A part of us died that day.

"You're either with us or against us," is what President Bush said when he finally finished Siegfried Engelmann and Elaine C. Bruner's The Pet Goat. It's our way or the highway. There will be no questions and the only answer is blind allegiance to a cause that we're still trying to decipher. For me there is nothing more sickening than the way people were swept up in the crazed psychosis. Every car had a yellow ribbon or a flag. Every house had a flag. Being American had been reduced to a trend and that disgusted me.

Where I come from, you either fly a flag or you don't. It doesn't really matter. Looking back now, the same folks who flew a flag before 9/11 are the same ones still doing it. Attack or no attack, threat or no threat, these were people who did it because it meant something to them. It wasn't about keeping up appearances or trying to fit in. It just was. But now that we'd been attacked, EVERYONE had a flag. Everyone was one-upping the next guy to show him that we were just as patriotic as he was. We were even more patriotic. Why? Because we were not going to let the terrorists win! They were after our Lucky Charms and goddamnit, we were not going to let them have some!

But that's exactly what we did. We didn't just give them a bowl, we let them have the entire box.

As if the five dollar plastic flag holder/American flag combo on the back window of your car was going to fight terrorism...

You see, terrorism is "the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion" or "the use of violence or threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes". Not only did the terrorists win, but our own government helped them achieve their goal. Threat levels, ultimatums, terror alerts, wars, sleeper cells, plots, prisons, conspiracies, censorship. If someone didn't follow whatever was proposed, their integrity and patriotism were questioned. If you don't agree with what we're doing, you must be a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer.

Every news clip and article where someone is accused of being anti-American reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus Finch is repeatedly called a "nigger lover". The majority of the country was caught in what I call the Toby Keith Hysteria Wave while the few of us who questioned what was happening were called un-American. We were no different than Mr. Finch in the respect that we wanted the truth and we wanted justice. No more, no less. This should have been a universal aspiration but it wasn't. The government had already given us "truth" and were in the process of seeking "justice". Who were we to question that?

So while Toby's pocketbook and gut got fatter as he stuck his metaphorical boot up Osama's ass (join the military if you're that passionate, you asshat), our economy and lifestyle went completely down the shitter. Illegal wire-tapping was now legal. The 4th Amendment is non-applicable if they say so. "The Constitution is just a piece of paper." Habeas corpus is now just a long forgotten dream. Almost overnight our federal government expanded to three times the size it was prior to the attacks and we ate it all up and asked for seconds. This was going to protect us and make us safer.

I guess what I'm getting at is this: Every year I sit and think about the people who were killed because of this whole thing over the last nine years. From the impact of that first plane all the way up to the most recent casualty in this current "War on Terror". I try not to dishonor their memory by exhibiting fake patriotism and feeding the beast that we've become. And what is patriotism really? Is it just flying a flag once a year, or putting a Made in China bumper sticker on the back window of your pickup truck? Is that what makes you a "Good American"? I don't think it is.

Being a good American is not perpetuating the effects of the attacks. Being a good American is telling Al-Qaeda and any other radicals, "Fuck you, we're not going to change who we are. We're not going to compromise our lifestyle and freedom because you want us to. We're not going to live in fear." That, my friends, is being a good American. Accepting your fellow citizens and not labeling them is patriotic. Questioning the government is patriotic. Standing your ground and not allowing our rights to be stripped is patriotic. Wanting peace is patriotic.

So I sit and smoke and think. I think about how ultimately, the terrorists won. They accomplished their objective. We are a changed nation and not for the better. Racism and intolerance on a whole are at their highest levels in decades. Our economy is in ruins. Our military is fighting an unwinnable war, because how do you fight ideas with bullets and bombs? We are divided and we shall fall unless we pull our heads out.

We need to do right by the people who died and get back to who we were on September 10th, 2001. We need to stare the enemy in the face and stand proudly, saying, "We will not move. We will not be broken. We will not become what you are. We are better and we are stronger. We are everyone and we are no one. We may not be perfect, but damn it, we're trying. We are America." We need this to be heard by radical factions of people around the world as well as our our own government and it needs to be now so we don't become everything we've fought over the years.

We have the right, not the privilege, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and I will not stand for anyone threatening that, be it foreign or domestic, government or public, military or civilian.

Remember September 11th, 2001. Remember the people who died. Remember who and what we were. Remember our potential and what we can be, and be extremely fucking pissed at who we've become.

“But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, President of the Reichstag

Monday, September 6, 2010

Why I Love Science Fiction

It's an old concept that there is some truth in everything, or rather that there is no absolute fiction. The apocalypse is very real and, I fear, inevitable. As Mr. Schwarzenegger said in Terminator 2, "It's in your nature to destroy yourselves."

As a species, we've understood that we suck on a basic level for centuries now. That's why all of these doomsday scenarios pop up in every medium from the book of Revelation to Zombieland. Whether the disaster that destroys us is man-made or not, the underlying theme in most science fiction storylines is the same: We have to put aside our petty differences and fight together to preserve the human race.

Ultimately, there is no just cause to go to war with one another. Not land, not skin color, not retribution, not religion. We have the potential to be better than that. Nothing illustrates this better than these prophetic movies and books, and nothing gets ignored as much either. The Terminator series is one of the most successful of all time, yet people constantly ignore the underlying theme. The average guy that watches these movies is the same one that advocates using the bomb on the Middle East.

This media is a direct attack on the military industrial complex that we love and adore in this country and people just shrug it off as a piece of entertainment because "that could never really happen." But beneath all of the special effects and intense action sequences lies a simple message to the world: Fix yourselves. Fix yourselves, or you won't be around much longer. "Judgment Day" is approaching, my friends. And I definitely don't mean that in a Biblical sense. We're on a path to annihilate ourselves with the same tools we build for our "protection". So keep that in mind the next time you watch some "light-hearted" post-apocalyptic film.

And that's why I love science fiction. It tells the truth. It paints a two sided picture of ourselves. One side shows our potential for self-destruction and the other side shows our potential for good and self-preservation. The Human Spirit, if you will. It gives me a tiny bit of hope thinking that other people out there might "get it" the way I do. Maybe they will take this fiction's frightening possibility of becoming a reality seriously and go out there and spread the Gospel of Peace. Maybe.

I'll end this retarded and cheesy blog entry with an equally cheesy quote....

"There is no fate but what we make." ~Kyle Reese in The Terminator

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Quotes You Can Believe In

This is part 2 of my ever-expanding compilation of dumb shit that I've said. I still contend that I am a modern day Ben Franklin. Enjoy.


Most of the population is concerned with the physical war overseas. I am too, but I'm also concerned about the intellectual war here within our borders. Nothing is more damaging or divisive than religion and it is tearing this nation apart. I would rather lose my life in Afghanistan than lose my freedom to think in the United States.

So, if Noah was a Jew, and all of his family was Jewish, why aren't we all still Jews? And how, in just a matter of centuries, without adequate transportation, were different tribes of people able to spread across the Earth? Tribes of people who have zero history of worshiping the Judeo-Christian god or anything even remotely similar...

Every great scientific discovery piggybacks off of predecessors whose purpose was to more efficiently facilitate death. We certainly are a fucked up, sadistic species.

The next person that says "refudiate" like it's an actual word gets a swift kick in the nuts.

Duck Duck Goose should be mandatory through the age of 45.

Will Arnett makes me want to kill kittens.

Unlike other branches of Christianity, the Mormon Church has EXPLICIT texts from its founders and in its SCRIPTURES that are directly aimed at the supposed "inferiority" of black people. I want to send Ving Rhames back in time so he can bitch slap Joseph Smith and Brigham Young right in their stupid inbred mouths.

I wish I was retarded. Then maybe stupid people wouldn't get on my nerves as much.

I'm pretty sure my ideal woman doesn't exist. On the off chance that she does, she's probably dating some douchebag like Dane Cook or The Situation.

The U.S. Navy: Where you can get $200 sunglasses, $120 switchblades, and 62" TVs for "training", but ordering 2-ply toilet paper for the shitter is out of the question.

Attention: This Grammar Nazi has had it with the majority of his friends prefacing every other statement with "literally". It's completely unnecessary and I get that what you're telling me actually happened. The only time I wouldn't think that it did in fact happen is if you said "metaphorically" prior to divulging your sordid little tales. And remember - too many adverbs will KILL YOU. Thank you and goodnight.

Being charitable is suicide.

The value of a person's life should not be measured by their bank account.

Equality for everyone is exactly what theology does NOT teach. We should fight to preserve rights but not beliefs as people are not born with beliefs. Separation of Church and State exists (not for much longer if people don't speak up) for this reason. To support theocracy is to support blatant discrimination and THAT is un-American.

I always giggle when I see wrecked cars with "Jesus is my co-pilot" bumper stickers. That's nothing to brag about if you ask me and it makes complete sense that they wrecked when you think about it. There weren't cars 2000 years ago, so Jesus doesn't really have the credentials to operate a motor vehicle. I doubt he even has his license.

I'm going to start speaking in tongues at random points throughout my day and see how long it takes before they have me committed.

I'd rather vote for Trig Palin than Sarah anyday. You'd get the same results but at least he's got an excuse...

America: Land of the Free White Protestants

Thanks to wireless networking, I can now surf the web while I take a shit.

If Hitler, Attila the Hun, Stalin, Hussein, Satan, and any other racist, psychopathic, genocidal maniac jerked off into a turkey baster and squirted it into a very fertile Queen Mary I... Ann Coulter is what would pop out of her vagina 9 months later. Ann Coulter is a cunt.

If you like Jeff Dunham....KILL YOURSELF. Seriously. I'm not joking. Kill yourself. You are a worthless and retarded lemming. Kill yourself.

Part of me really wishes the Rapture were real... Then maybe we'd be able to get some shit done in society instead of catering to bullshit fascism that hides under the guise of morality.

Funny how we liberated Europe and they became more free than we could ever hope to be.

No, people, I do not 'worship Satan', nor am I a Satanist. Maybe loosely in a LaVeyan sense, but not really. I am an atheist. That means that God, Satan, and demons (or any other supernatural hibbity-bibbity) are not real. To acknowledge Satan, you have to acknowledge the existence of God. I acknowledge neither. Thank you, and have a wonderful day.

As you go out into the world today, remember these important truths: Right is wrong, everything is nothing, and Ann Coulter is a cunt.

The difference between Republicans and fascists is that fascists never figured out how to bullshit poor people into loving them.

The problem with prayer: John 14:13 "You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father." Someone's lying about something...

If everyone in the country shared the same opinion, we would no longer be free.

As humans we all have two universal things in common: 1) We're all going to die. 2)Nobody knows what happens when we DO die. Nothing else really matters. So why spend the short time we have on this planet fighting and killing one another?

If people wake up and decide to rebel against American Corporatism, there's no need to ask me whose side I'm on. I swore an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States of America and my fellow citizens. I didn't swear to protect a failing economic system or corporate interests. I joined the United States Navy, I didn't apply for a job at Blackwater.

"Steve, why do you think America is such a failure?" The best, of a million examples I could give, is this: One of the smartest people I know works at Taco Bell. True story.

Prideful, outspoken ignorance should disqualify anyone from running for political office. There's a difference between not knowing something and not knowing something and being proud of that fact. I don't trust anyone who doesn't have an answer and has no desire to find one.

Trying to explain how and why things happen in the UFC the way they do is like trying to explain why Japanese porn has subtitles. No one knows.

Growing up in church is like starting a marathon with broken legs.

I need to acquire a disco stick so Ms. Gaga can ride on it.

If you ever bought a Master P record you should just kill yourself. Seriously.

I have been to the deepest darkest corners of the internet and returned nearly unscathed. With all of the sick and depraved shit that I've seen, none of it compares to the unadulterated clusterfuck that is the BP oil spill.

When I am free, I will go wherever I am needed. I will go to the hottest deserts and the darkest jungles and fight alongside those who need it. Any cause which is just is my cause. Any cause which is true is my truth. If my life is lost in the process of freeing others, so be it, but I will not spend the latter part of my life as an armchair revolutionary.

I think it's completely unfair for people to demand that immigrants speak English when half the people who were born here have no grasp on the language.

You can have all the money in the world and own more than you could ever dream of using, but if you do and still lack an education, you have nothing. Having no knowledge provides a meaningless life, and as insignificant and finite as our one life is, it's all we have. Make the most of it and try not to step in the bullshit they've been throwing at you since birth.

I attack ideologies, not ethnicity or nationality. You can choose to be or not to be stupid, but you can't choose your skin color or where you were born.

If you want to respect and honor your god, try not shitting all over his creation. Religious people (most) have no regard for the planet and that baffles me.

Manslaughter. Man's laughter... What the fuck, English?

The only difference between the theocracy in America and the one in Iran is "free market" capitalism exists here. And we also have Snuggies...

The Pope dictating how people should think and behave sexually is like Hitler giving advice on Equal Opportunity programs.

Going to the Republicans for advice on fiscal responsibility is like going to Stephen Hawking for jogging tips.

I find it absolutely hysterical that in a country that's "Great because we're free!" there are people on Facebook that click the 'like' button on pages that urge others who don't share their ideological views to get out of the country. In the America that I dream of, we will celebrate our diversity.

White guys that refer to each other as "nigga" and use that word in conversation as if they are black should be bludgeoned to death.