Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Reason Rally

This was last Saturday. Apparently, God doesn't like atheists, because it rained. But other than that, it looks like they had a great time.

I didn't see anything on the mainstream news about it, did you? I wonder why it didn't get more attention? But maybe they think that, if they ignore us, we'll go away.


m1nks said...

I found your blog a couple of days ago and I've been fascinated by it. For reasons that are rather embarrassing I've been becoming more and more interested in the American political system and way of life. It's been a real eye opener, all my life I thought of America as being a country fairly much like mine and it's only recently I've been blind sided by the realisation that it's like a completely different world. The more I read the more it's driven in; I might as well be reading about some alien race with alien customs and alien governance; it bears virtually no resemblance to my way of life.

This is a demonstration of it. A huge gathering of people viewed as rather fruity outcasts by the rest of society. Ignored by the media, distrusted and (apparently) despised by a huge section of the population. How different from the places I've lived.

There it's the devoutly religious that are more likely to be viewed as being 'different'. Not with hostility (or not in my experience) but more with a sort of bemusement. A 'you believe in what? Seriously?' type of thing. I do know a few people of faith but in my generation they are few and far between - say out of 200 friends, 3 of them are religious.

Older people are more likely to be Christian, including my parents apparently although you wouldn't know it to speak with them as they never go to church, never speak about God and didn't encourage me to go to church when I was a young un. I did that all by myself. Certain ethnic backgrounds are also far more likely to be religious.

Anyway I love this blog although I do have one gripe, well two. Firstly your archive links are right down the bottom of your side column and I keep having to scroll down to access them (all hail the 'instant' generation, we are so ferking impatient!) and two, I can't see any of the video's by the fake Republican. I've totally forgotten his name...

Keep up the good work and fighting the good fight.

WCG said...

Thanks, m1nks. I'm glad you enjoy my blog, even if it seems to be rather like viewing a particularly odd creature in a zoo. :)

First, your gripes: Frankly, I didn't expect that readers would be looking back at my archives, or not much. That's why I stuck them way down at the bottom. Sorry about that.

And did you see my reply to your earlier comment? The Colbert Report is also available on Hulu. But maybe you can't get that in your country, either?

Oddly enough, America never seemed like this when I was a kid (perhaps in the Deep South, but not around here). Everyone I knew was a Christian, as far as I knew, but it seemed pretty casual.

We went to church, like everyone else, but that was it. I always thought it was kind of funny (I don't ever remember believing it), but it wasn't a problem what people wanted to believe. So all this surprises me, too.

What happened has a lot to do with race, I think. The 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed state-sponsored segregation, over the bitter objections of white Southerners. When public schools were integrated, they removed their kids and sent them to private, white-only schools (schools which could also endorse religion).

The South was solidly Democratic, as it had been since the Civil War. But they were furious with the Democrats for supporting civil rights for African Americans, and the Republican Party saw its chance. It began its "Southern strategy" of deliberately wooing white racists.

Politically, that was a huge success. The South is now solidly Republican. But instead of having two political parties with racists in each, this put all the bad apples in one party.

You might wonder what this has to do with religion, but the South is very, very religious, too. (Note that the Bible clearly supports slavery, which was one reason that was so difficult to end in America.) So the same people fighting against racial equality had other interests in common, as well.

These days, politics and religion are very closely connected here. It used to be that both political parties supported our Constitution's separation of church and state, but not anymore. The Republican Party thought to use the racists for its own advantage, but those people took control of the party.

America is becoming browner, and that scares them. America is becoming more diverse in every way. Atheism is growing rapidly, and that feeds their anger and their hysteria.

But right now, Republicans have a lot of political power, even after the complete and unmitigated disaster of George W. Bush. They're backed by the monied interests in America, and elderly people vote much more reliably than the young. And they've packed the Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues.

It's a very scary time here.

Jeff said...


The comedian George Carlin once said, "When you're born into this world, you get a ticket to the 'freak show.' When you're born in America, you get a FRONT ROW SEAT."

Welcome to the freak show that is America, my friend.

Tony Williams said...

"Apparently, God doesn't like atheists, because it rained."

C'mon now, Bill. If the leaders of the rally had been struck by lightning when they tried to speak, THEN I'd have been impressed! And you can be sure it would have been reported....

WCG said...

I'm sure you're right, Tony. Even a heavy downpour might have been reported. God is really slacking off, I guess.

m1nks said...

May you live in interesting times and I think America right now must be having some fairly interesting (scary) times. I’ve been watching with delight the states which are legalising gay marriage/and or proper full civil unions. The panicked backlash due to the precipitate decline in Americas’s morals and the subsequent forcing through of state constitutational amendments stating that marriage is only between one man and one woman and the Defense of Marriage Act. And then with delight again as this is getting challenged as unconstitutional and appears to be getting kicked out. I actually wasn’t expecting that so it’s a happy bonus. Of course I’m just an interested observer from the other side of the world so I could be getting this totally wrong, apologies if I am, but are the winds of change starting to blow just a little harder…?

I think the zoo analogy goes both ways, of course I don’t really think Americans are aliens (hope you didn’t think I was being rude)! Just that I’ve realised that the views and ideals I’ve grown up with I’ve automatically associated with ‘The Land of the Free’ and that’s been blinkered thinking on my part and kinda embarrassing as well; not only did I fall for propaganda, I fell for another country’s propaganda! Shameful. Thinking about it objectively though the views and ideals I thought I grew up with, I didn’t necessarily; I almost certainly have a rosy view of my childhood, growing up with tolerant parents who even if they find something personally distasteful are instinctively moderate in their thinking and believe in a fair go for all. Things probably weren’t as warm and friendly in other houses. It’s no doubt hard to recognise prejudice if you’ve never been exposed to it.

I can’t imagine how someone like myself would ever get on with a devoted Bible belter; even if I’m not gay, black or muslim, I’m still female and uppity as hell. Oh and an atheist/agnostic when I bother to even think about it. I have images of us standing and pointing fingers at each other and shouting ‘You’re a total freak!’ And just now when I got included on a group email from a co worker who is being reamed by a customer, a process he described to all and sundry, management included as “getting it up the arse dry” with no one being offended either by taking the comment as homophobic or pro gay, I wonder if we’d all be condemned to burn in hell simply by association and for rolling about in hysterics and our entirely spurious expressions of sympathy. Common ground? Possibly not so much?

Oh well. I guess I’d just have to live with being disliked and work on corrupting the kids.

And, no, Hulu is also blocked  I might be able to dig something out on YouTube maybe? But I think I’ll just have to accept missing the occasional blog linked in video.

Anthony G Williams said...

m1nks, I'm not sure which country you're in but the impression I get of the USA isn't that everyone there is weird, but that attitudes to moral issues and religion are vastly more polarised than in other English-speaking nations.

In the UK (where I am) religion is generally considered a boring subject, a turn-off, and those who mention their religious beliefs are thought of as rather odd. I'm sure that the same applies to a significant part of the US population too, but the more religious people get, the more noise they make and the more publicity they get.

When I visit the USA I am careful about what I say on a number of subjects, from concern that I might inadvertently cause offence. Religion is one topic I would certainly never mention!

WCG said...

Tony and m1nks, I think you might get the wrong impression of America from outside the country. I've been an atheist all my life, never needed to hide it, and never had the slightest problem with believers. And Nebraska is a very conservative state (but, admittedly, not the Deep South, either).

Most people wouldn't vote for an atheist as President, and they tend to have terrible opinions of "atheists" in general, but the people they know personally are different. I've worked with evangelical Christians, some really devout believers, and our different beliefs just didn't matter at all.

(I might point out that some of these people were part-time clergymen, themselves. In America, you can shop around for a church that fits your beliefs exactly. And if you don't find one, it's common to just start your own. I think that's one of the reasons for so much religion here. You're not forced into a mold by someone else.)

Likewise, you hear about the rabid homophobes, but personally, I'm just astonished at how quickly attitudes about homosexuality are changing. You still hear the stories, like some distant relatives of mine who disowned their daughter when she came out as a lesbian and who treated her disgracefully even when she was dying in the hospital (and then swept in to deny her long-time partner everything).

But far, far more often, parents change their mind when a loved one comes out of the closet. These are, after all, their children, their grandchildren, their nieces, their nephews.

As Tony points out, America is very polarized right now. But even so, people aren't usually as bad as they sound. (America isn't as violent as it sounds, either - at least, outside the inner-cities, apparently. But I only know about them from television, myself. Personally, I've never been the victim of any crime, ever.)

We still have a lot of problems in this country from our tragic history of slavery. Race pervades everything, even economics. People usually don't think that they're racist, but it's easy to think the worst about other people.

But we do take that "Land of the Free" stuff seriously. We actually believe our own propaganda, we really do. You can be a Nazi in America. You can be a white-supremacist. Heck, you can even be an atheist. Heh, heh. You hear a lot of talk about needing to be "politically correct" these days, but the fact is that free speech is sacrosanct. And therefore, there are always a lot of crazies eager for publicity.

Freedom of religion, too, is taken very seriously. Unless you're running for office, or otherwise need to appeal to strangers, you can believe anything you want. You really can. Everyone knows people with crazy religious beliefs (although what's considered crazy and what isn't might vary). For the most part, it's just expected.

I tend to rant and rave about what's wrong with America, and there's no shortage of such things. But, politics aside, there's much that's right, too. And even in the most right-wing parts of the country, there are plenty of people who think differently.

WCG said...

Oh, and re. the first six words of your comment, m1nks, coincidentally, I'm working on a post that starts off with them, too. But it might not be what you expect. :)