Friday, October 31, 2008

I Proudly Am An Atheist

The recent news cycle has once again reminded us that we atheists are a subhuman species, not deserving of the oxygen we are hogging that might otherwise go to good godly people like... well, everybody in the media, every politician, every soccer mom, brave firefighter, patriotic flagwaver, and superhero--you know, the Good Folk. Greg Laden's blog has some examples--I don't want to link them here.

The second video at that link, in particular, turns my stomach. I can't watch it without hearing other terms substituted, all of them inappropriate and best left in the past, casually uttered by racist, sexist, homophobic, antisemites like, say, my Grandfather. His generation saw nothing wrong with such language--well, at least not among good white christian folk like him.

Gradually, of course, such language became an embarrassing remnant of an earlier time, relegated more and more to isolated pockets, to divided subcultures. The vocabulary is still there, but is no longer a part of polite talk; it is, at least, recognized as the insulting behavior it is. No one on the national stage would ever speak freely and casually about any of these groups as second-class citizens, let alone pariahs. (Yes, there are still the Sally Kerns of the world, and the YouTube videos of groups waiting for McCain rallies, but the very fact that these are posted as examples of inappropriate behavior, and that these people would never say the same things on national television, is precisely my point.)

With one exception. Atheists are fair game. "Godless" is still defined as "wicked; evil; sinful"; an accusation of "consorting with atheists" is grounds for slander. Not just in hushed tones when we are fairly certain the microphone is off, but proudly, deliberately, on national television. Not just Liddy Dole's shameful ad, but the CNN discussion of that ad, takes the moral inferiority of the atheist as a given.

Disgusting. Just as it was before with any other group. And just as divisive as before--using group membership as a weapon. I had hoped for better. I hope that some newsperson, somewhere, on the national stage, has the guts to call out his or her peers on this. I will not hold my breath.

I proudly am an atheist;
I do not share your views.
Imagine how insulting,
When I watch the evening news
And I see you point at folks like me
Indignantly, with rage,
As if we were the lepers
Of a less enlightened age!
No need to watch your language
Or to treat us with respect—
Because demonizing us is still
Politically correct.
You’d never talk like this regarding
Blacks, or Gays, or Jews,
But with atheists, just look at all
The language that you use!
“Obama is a terrorist”—of course
The claim’s obscene;
But “Hagan is an atheist”?
The worst you’ve ever seen?!?
Comparing her to me is now
The lowest of the low?
It’s good I don’t believe in Hell—
I’d tell you where to go.

I proudly am an atheist
I proudly am a Jew
I proudly am a Christian,
And I’m proudly Muslim, too.
I’m proud to be both Gay and Straight
I’m proudly Black and White
I’m proudly Man and Woman
And I’ll proudly join the fight.
I proudly am Humanity,
Whatever that is worth;
There is no group below me,
Or above me, on this Earth.


Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Excellent work DC.

Cuttlefish said...

Thanks, Cath-- I was (and am) a bit angry.

Angry enough that, even though I remembered this week (*blush*), I am not putting up a Friday Limerick, just to leave this one on top for a bit.

Unknown said...

Great work. I like it a lot.

Jennifer said...

I am not normally moved by poetry, but this hit me in the gut. You have accurately expressed my and, I hope, others' feelings in this brief piece. It is angry, yes, but the last section is very beautiful and thoughtful. I think you should be proud of it.

It would make a fine photo essay or youtube video... (if only I knew how)

Thinker said...

Wonderful as always, Cuttlefish!

When hearing this story of divisiveness and other similar ones along the lines of "us" vs. "them" while I was on a trip in the US during the last few days, I couldn't help thinking of Tom Lehrer's old song National Brotherhood Week; you know, the one with the lines:

All the Protestants hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics hate the Protestants
And the Hindus hate the Moslems...
And everybody hates the Jews!

Lehrer, of course, didn't even mention unbelievers...

My own comment :

It hurts to hear such vanity,
This breathtaking inanity;
It pains me that my second home’s abuzz with vile chatter.
When Limbaugh, Dole or Hannity
Spew forth like this, my sanity
Remains, but only ‘cause I live where gods no longer matter.
I, one of “sub-humanity”,
Your partner in profanity,
Protest these pols’ and pundits’ populist and PC patter!

Dana Hunter said...

Tremendous, DC! Moments like this make me utterly proud to be one of the godless. Someone needs to put this poem to music so we can take it as our anthem.

Anonymous said...

That's a title worthy of a banner on a bus.

mumfie said...

Your second verse reminds me of:

"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."

Johnny Vector said...

I do agree with the Request For Music.

Oh look, it's got 12-line stanzas! Thanks Cuttlefish!

I-I-I-I-IV-IV-I-I-V-IV-I-I (throw in some 7ths to taste)

James Hanley said...

Well, I'm only an agnostic, so I can't say I'm proudly an atheist. But I can wholeheartedly support this post anyway, because I so despise the theocratic tendencies of the American right.

Dare I say "Amen," Cuttlefish?

critter said...

I'm a white female heterosexual atheist.

I didn't have a choice in those categories; and being or not being any one of them does not make me superior or inferior.

Monado said...

Cuttlefish wins the Internets!

ScienceGirl said...


Jess said...

I love what you have written, it is sad how true it is. ( I once called my self a Christian and I myself have thought and spoken just like you wrote.) It's truly sad how some people think, I am speaking from experience.

Chris said...

utterly awesome.