Sunday, December 03, 2006

My name is Nick Kristof

For reasons that passeth all understanding, the NYT pays me a fortune to say stupid things in print.

OK, indulge me for a moment as I try to scrap away the fatty, surplus verbiage from Nick Kristof’s imbecilic NYT column ("Modest Proposal for a Truce on Religion") to get at its absurd central tenet and illustrate a larger point.

(emphasis added)

If God is omniscient and omnipotent, you can’t help wondering why she doesn’t pull out a thunderbolt and strike down Richard Dawkins.

Or, at least, crash the Web site of That’s a snarky site that notes that while people regularly credit God for curing cancer or other ailments, amputees never seem to enjoy divine intervention.

“If God were answering the prayers of amputees to regenerate their lost limbs, we would be seeing amputated legs growing back every day,” the Web site declares, adding: “It would appear, to an unbiased observer, that God is singling out amputees and purposefully ignoring them.”

That site is part of an increasingly assertive, often obnoxious atheist offensive

It’s a militant, in-your-face brand of atheism…

Look elsewhere on the best-seller list and you find an equally acerbic assault on faith…

The number of avowed atheists is tiny, with only 1 to 2 percent of Americans describing themselves in polls as atheists. But about 15 percent now say that they are not affiliated with any religion, and this vague category is sometimes described as the fastest-growing “religious group” in America today (some surveys back that contention, while others don’t).

Yet the tone of this Charge of the Atheist Brigade is often just as intolerant — and mean. It’s contemptuous and even ... a bit fundamentalist.

“These writers share a few things with the zealous religionists they oppose, such as a high degree of dogmatism and an aggressive rhetorical style,” says John Green of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. “Indeed, one could speak of a secular fundamentalism that resembles religious fundamentalism. This may be one of those cases where opposites converge.”

Granted, religious figures have been involved throughout history in the worst kinds of atrocities. But as Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot show, so have atheists.

Now that the Christian Right has largely retreated from the culture wars, let’s hope that the Atheist Left doesn’t revive them.

We’ve suffered enough from religious intolerance that the last thing the world needs is irreligious intolerance.

So donning his deerstalker cap, La Dim Nikita has tirelessly scoured the foggy moors and mires of the American polity and exposed the real spanner in the gears of our civic discourse.

Turns out it's the fucking atheists!

Not sure from his column if it's all eleven of them that are the problem, or some subset, but thank Providence and the gods of deductive reasoning that Nick has a soapbox as enormous as the New York Times from which he can sound this Very Important Alarm!


Also I’m sorry, but I must’ve been on one hella fucking bender the weekend “the Christian Right…largely retreated from the culture wars”.

So remind me, Special K. When exactly did that happen?

To be sure, on November 7th, the Right certainly got their collective noses bloodied and asses sawed off and served to them on the good china.

This happened when a majority of the voting public finally showed its contempt for a clique that had literally done nothing with its One Party Rule but endlessly hector everyone else on morality, while happily giving aid, shelter and comfort to a menagerie of Pious, Jebus-luvin’ liars, traitors, briber takers, bribe makers, war profiteers, war criminals, looters, child sex predators and, just for goofs, gay-hooker-frequenting, meth smoking preachers…so long as they puked up the correct slogans or voted the right way.

Sure, that happened, but since when has simply being massively wrong about every single thing impeded the neutronium-clad belief in his own, invincible Rightness of single Conservative Evangelical troll?

Seriously, who but a Persistent Vegetative Pundit actually believes that the Terri-Schiavo-Died-For-Your-Sins Right has suddenly up and decided to fold its revival tents, deep-six its demands that the Ten Commandments be incised onto every flat surface in the Universe, eschew its Long March of Justice Sundays, embrace tolerance, Darwin a pair of opposable thumbs, clamber down out of the Stoopid Tree and walk upright like men?

These people don’t retire and reform -- They rearm and regroup.

And so it is well to remember that Kristof is not bystander in the culture wars.

His focus on Darfur has been resolute and laudable, but he has also been a consistently obedient disease vector for the Right’s perverse ideology. And here his facile assertions and his despicable conflation of genuine atheism with State Personality Cultism like Stalinism, Maoism (or Bushism) do little more that show his own positively Maoist loyalty to that all-purpose Conservatives firewall: The fake Centrism Fraud that Liberals/Atheists/Progressives/Whoever-is-Left-of-Dobson-today are always automatically, equally and oppositely as bad as the worst excesses of the Right.

Because they have nowhere else to go, although long discredited, this is still the emergency fallback position of Cornered Rat Conservatives everywhere. Their ridiculous, dogmatic assertion that no matter how much blood they have on their hands, somehow everyone on both sides is magically, equally wrong.

Their ginned-up “culture war” has been the maggot-riddled meat on which the Rightards have picnicked for at least thirty years.

Their raging paranoia and obsession with how terribly oppressed and culturally martyred they are is what gives the Christian Right its feverish energy and cohesion, and you can absolutely bank on the fact that it will continue to be the sole and cornucopic larder of rationalizations for their medieval, theocratic beliefs for the next thirty.

So frankly, Nick, it’s just too fucking bad that, like a lot of us, the evil atheists have developed, among other weapons, “an aggressive rhetorical style”.

Because I kinda understand how they might feel.

Because, just maybe, their attitude might not be some sinister, emergent property of their beliefs.

Maybe instead it comes from being called Culture of Death worshiping, un-American traitors for thirty years by Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Ann Coulter and the rest of the spokesrodents of the Conservative Right.

While people like you stood idly by and gave them a wink and a nudge and a pass.

Maybe, like me, the Evil Atheists have finally fucking had it with playing nice with the thugs and fake Christians that now comprise the majority of the Republican Party.

Maybe, like me, they just finally had it with being tolerant and forgiving of people who do nothing but insult and debase everything their own faith is supposed to stand for every time they open their mouths.

Maybe they finally got tired of being far, far better Christians in practice than Bible-pounding, scripture-mouthing hypocrites like James Dobson and Phyllis Schlafly.

Maybe they finally got tired of trying to reason with people who proudly reject reason, and trying to talk intelligently with people who consider stupidity a virtue.

And maybe, Nick, like most Conservatives, you just freak out when your victims finally stop running and turning the other cheek and decide to punch back.


Because what 30 years of Rightwing Christian activism has proven beyond doubt is that, far from tolerance and forgiveness and turning the other cheek, the ONLY thing the Red State Righteous understand and respond to is a rhetorical and electoral 2x4 upside the head.

Administered, I profoundly hope, repeatedly and precisely until they are the ones who make up nothing more than a cranky one percent of the population.


roxtar said...

As long as the Fundamentalist Christian swag bag contains a Get Out Of Hell Free card and a big ol' can of Ersatz Brothers Instant Rectitude ("now with twice the Self-Righteousness!"), they're gonna win the recruiting wars every season. Hell, Team Atheist doesn't even have uniforms.

Anonymous said...

Can I have a go with that 2 x 4 when you're done with it?

Anonymous said...

Obviously, no amputee has ever accepted J.H. Christ as his/her personal savior.

I blame the amputees.

Jim Yeager said...

Well, I'm best described as an agnostic -- I don't have an answer to the God Question one way or the other. But I find it telling, and sometimes amusing, that the Godaholics who claim to be the true Christians in this country keep falling for the "your fly's open" trick, yet never seem to learn from their repeated mistakes. You'd think that God, whom they have a direct and secure line to (just ask them), would have clued them in by now, but no...

The sad part is, they ruin things for the large majority of Christians who put God before themselves -- the ones who try to find Him rather than sit around waiting for Him to find them. People like me were written off generations ago. We don't have a place in the Bible-thumpers' scheme of things outside of Hell, and we never will. Which I'm perfectly content with. Heaven may have the loveliest weather, but Hell has the best company -- besides, who wants to spend eternity singing "Holy Holy" with James Dobson and Jerry Falwell?

As for the do-nothing Republicans: You're wrong. One thing they did very well on a daily basis was shred the Constitution like it was going out of style. It's a bullshit achievement, but it is at least something...

driftglass said...

mimus pauly,
About the Party 'o God, I stand corrected. They were very efficient Constitution crushers.

effing godless, limbless bastards!

us blues,
I have spares. Help yourself.

I'm thinking something in a turtleneck and a medallion. Say Limoy's attire in the remake of "Body Snatchers".
Or maybe whatever the hell they wore in "Search" or "Probe".
Something that says, "it's the late-70s an I've read Walden II" :-)

Anonymous said...

I don't know why God allows tragedies to happen; I would only guess it's for some reason resembling Trek's "Prime Directive".

I'm a Christian, United Methodist variety, although I'm missing today because I woke up with a nasty sinus headache. :(

I think Hell is a "hospital" of sorts, for sick souls. A hospital is a place of suffering, but not of punishment. My concept more resembles the Purgatory of Catholicism; I think sick souls are healed there, redeemed. The "sick" bring the sources of their sufferings with them; it is not inflicted by the "staff". We know torture to be sinful [well, at least those of us who are not Elephascists know it ;)], even as punishment for the legitimately guilty, hence God, who is sinless, would not make that part of His rehabilitation system.

Our predecessors in the faith did not know that, just as they did not know that slavery was always sinful. People had harsher ideas of justice back in the old days, and their understandings of the afterlife reflected that. God will always be at least partly beyond our understanding, hence all our understandings--mine, yours, and even those of Scripture writers and religious leaders--of God and the things of God will be MISunderstandings to some degree, so we can become confused about things like slavery. I don't mean this to disparage my predecessors in the faith. If in some ways I see farther than they, it is because I stand atop the edifice of faith that they built.

Also, a God that deeply loving and forgiving is useless for frightening exploited workers into obeying an unrighteous social order, which has been one of the main functions of Christianity ever since it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. I think that first mingling of Church and State began the degeneration of the Church into the brutal institution it has all too often been, and even remains at times. That is one of the reasons I support separation of Church and State.

I don't think anyone goes to Hell merely for unbelief, because pride is a sin, hence God, who is sinless, has no pride, so why would He be offended? In the account of the Last Judgement given in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus does not say a word about what people believed, or did not believe, about Him or His Heavenly Father. Nor does He say a word about what we did with our genitals, although many Christians (and Jews and Muslims) seem to think the Deity is quite obsessed with that subject. ;) No, Jesus is concerned with how we treat one another, particularly with our caring for the less fortunate of His children. In light of this, it's strange how many holier-than-thou Christians oppose the welfare state for the common citizen. [I say "for the common citizen" to distinguish it from our extravagant welfare state for corporations and fat cats, mostly disguised as "defense" spending.]

I will not be surprised to find non-Christians, including atheists and agnostics, in Heaven. It should be easy to spot the A/As ; they'll be wearing the "WTF?" expressions. :)

Grace and Peace, Kid Charlemagne

Anonymous said...

Yay obnoxious atheists!

"far, far better Christians in practice..." Ain't it the truth.
My blood just boils the few times a year that I go to church with my father. His fat, bloated, puffed-up bastard of a minister spouts the most hateful, stupid, bullshit. I always have a running rebutal in my head (and I suspect a throbbing vein in my forehead). "Where's the lovingkindness?" I wanna ask. "How much is your salary?" "Why do you give money to churches in India, but don't feed the hungry in your own community?"
No, it's often just how all the pagans and Muslims are evil and going to hell.

May I also add that my dad thinks this guy is kinda a prick, too. But it's the church nearest them and his wife wants to go there.......what's a man to do? Oh, I guess he could be a real christian and beat the shit out of her....

"They" just don't seem to get it. I don't give a rat's ass what they "believe" until they get up in my face about it. Abortion's a sin? Fine, don't have one. Want to see the 10 commandments? Fine, write them on the inside of your windshield. Etc, and so on. But "they" do want to make this country a theocracy, just watch their actions.
So yeah, the "others," the atheists and agnostics and other godless sodomists are fuckin' sick and tired of it.

"spokerodents" hehe

Anonymous said...

Even though I'm more of an agnostic monist myself, this post was brilliant. We have to get you nationally syndicated...

Anonymous said...

...well let's HEAD down to the home depot and get SWINGING some WOOD, because i for one am SICK of these BASTARDS.... could someone possibly be OFFENDED when an UPTIGHT hypocritcal psuedo moralist tells them that the THOUSANDS of years of CULTURE and history they BRING to the FRIKKIN table just doesn't COUNT?

...i'm goin ta HELL ive been told..problem is, i JUST dont FUCKING believe in it..

...why is it SO hard to decide that smashing someone's COUNTRY or INFRASTRUCTURE or FAMILY shouldn't be done cause it's FUCKED UP as OPPOSED to some nebulous THREAT of eternal DAMNATION?

..i'm sick of it, SICK of the pinhead EMBRACE of INTOLERANCE CONFORMITY and BRAINLESSNESS>..

..I'm SICK of havin ta push for EMPIRICISM over fairy tales to comfort the SIMPLE MINDED...

..WORSE, i'm TIRED Of havin their fanciful, FEVERISH delusions of DEITY being given the SAME if not MORE weight than actual FACTS on tha GROUND or immutable laws of PHYSICS...

...look, the BOY king invaded iraq on what we were TOLD was the intelligence left over from when clinton BOMBED in '98 (and WE pulled our investigators OUT) ...if information FOUR years outta date led us to this CLUSTERFUCK of unreality, whaddya think hewing to a 1500 year old TEXT as the IMMUTABLE word of yer frikkin allmighty might DO?? think ANY of those corporate WHORES would use FOUR year old information when purchasing STOCKS?

...why an't these DELUSIONAL fuckers just OPEN their GODDAMN eyes???

...sign me UP drifty, reality HAS a bias..and HOPEFULLY a LEGION of 2x4 wielding EMPIRICISTS to back it UP...

Anonymous said...

Me Thinks you is slandering Cecil (The Sea-Sick Sea Serpent)...and WHERE did ya get that pic anywho?

This one is gonna give me childhood nightmares...*wink*

Anonymous said...

"I'm coming, Beany buddy!"

What a delightfully demented show that was (at least, the animated version, which is what I remember). But what else would you expect from the (hilariously) twisted mind of Bob Clampett?

driftglass: "La Dim Nikita"? Sweeet ...
if not quite grammatical.

When it comes to religion, there's always one of my favorite lines from Woody Allen's Sleeper: "I'm a teleological existential atheist. I believe there's an intelligence to the universe -- except for certain parts of New Jersey."

And, I might add, Washington, DC. And the NYT. And so on and so on and scoobie doobie doobie ...

Anonymous said...

As long as human beings suffer and die, you will never get rid of religion. Hence, the evangelical atheists of the Dawkins type need to get busy and find some scientific means to make us as invulnerable as Kryptonians and immortal as Tolkien's elves, or else they're just wasting time and effort. :)

Anonymous said...

KC, you're a natural minister.
peace & cheers!

Anonymous said...

it's NOT really about's about being left the FUCK wanna pray ta whomever turns you on, be my guest. you wanna FORCE me to play along with your DELUSIONS of divinity, i'm gonna have ta tell you to FUCK off...

belief AINT fact. there are certain things a modern human kinda NEEDS to know in tha modern world....

...things like aeroplanes and electric turbines don't work cause you believe they MIGHT...

you never NEED to believe ANYTHING...though you're PERFECTLY entitled to PRAY when flying a domestic carrier UNDERPAYING its MAINTENANCE crews these days, no matter of 'hail marys' or 'yaweh please' will get the fucker OFF tha GROUND...

it MIGHT make you feel better...

but that's ALL it ever did...

"...i mean, which do you prefer, the red ants or black ants?"
"Uh? well i don't have any particular preference.."

"Exactly, Well, imagine how John feels."

...AND if there WERE beings with the pysics-twisting powers we ascribe to the gods, wouldn't they toy with us like Trelane, or condescend to us like Apollo, or ignore us the way Orion ignores the bugs?

...cause they sure as SHIT ain't gonna treat us as EQUALS....

Anonymous said...

I don't intend to force anyone to fake any belief, EB. I'm just saying that I don't think the majority of human beings can manage to adopt a Stoic acceptance of death as THE-END-no-ifs-ands-or-buts, at least not without significant pharmacological modification of the brain.

Human beings possess the same natural fear of death as other living things, but as far as we know, only we can foresee the inevitability of our demises. I think this makes our entire species crazy in one way or another; really, it surprises me that we manage the level of sanity we do.

Some people lack the normal horror of their eventual death, and thus can cope without religion, and/or they have such horrid personal experiences with religion that accepting death becomes less painful. Likewise, some people--I mean healthy young adults here--have naturally weak sexual drives and so can embrace chastity happily. Do you think either group composes the majority of humanity, or will do so in the foreseeable future? The Dawkinsian type of non-believer reminds me of the anti-sexual type of believer, in that both try to harangue other people into suppressing their natures.

You seem to assume automatically that our hypothetical metaphysical being(s) would share the all-too-humanlike failings of Trelane, Apollo, Orion, or the detachment of Dr. Manhattan. Why?

Grace and Peace, Kid Charlemagne

Anonymous said...

I think Dawkins' greatest point is his objection to the "tolerance," and blind "respect" that all religionists feel entitled to. Why should we allow groups of people who believe that some unnamable, unseen, unproven "being" is in charge of the cosmos run our public discourse, our social policies, and untold other activities without contributing money (taxes) that the rest of society has to pay? Wouldn't those monies alone feed the poor and clothe the naked? Why should parents allow a Catholic nun to hit their children when they pay her to educate them (badly, according to a doctrine that some old Italian white man wrote too long ago)? The "MIssions in Africa" are mere scams for pumping up an obscene patriarchy than for trying to help humanity.

I'm disappointed in Kristof. I haven't read him lately because I won't pay for the subscription. I'm happy to read this post because I missed it.

I have no reason to be polite or tolerant to people who want to see me tortured and burned here or hereafter because I don't buy their stories. I'm not stupid, or lazy, or odd. I respect life much more now that I know that HERE and NOW is important and matters--not something unknown and uncaring.

Anonymous said...

"You seem to assume automatically that our hypothetical metaphysical being(s) would share the all-too-humanlike failings of Trelane, Apollo, Orion, or the detachment of Dr. Manhattan. Why?"

...inventions OF mankind, drawn IN mankind's image BY mankind would by DEFINITION be as FAILABLE as's ALL we know..

(kinda why aliens in scifi are bilaterally symetrical, it's what we know)

...and if the allmighties were REAL and not figments of IMAGINATION what tha HELL would they wanna do with us UGLY bags of MOSTLY water?

..would they REALLY care to pick one football team over the other or one HYPERAGRESSIVE nation over another, or one SMALL sect of humans with delusions of GRANDEUR over say, ANOTHER sect?

(you KNOW< red ants OR the black ones?)

...we ARE all gonna DIE (seem to have LOST my PHANTOM ZONE projector SOMEWHERE along the line)..

...some of us ACCEPT that, some of us won't EVER, i can BUY that..what i CAN'T is focusing on some AFTERLIFE at the EXPENSE of one's ACTUAL life...

...there ARE questions that ONCE upon a TIME the RELIGIOUS once had the answers to, until humans, using the POWER of their MINDS UNDERSTOOD more CLEARLY..

..organized RELIGION thrives on the SUPPRESSION of dissent, the SQUELCHING of doubt as well as the REPRESSION of knowledge.. NEVER will you hear a so-called religious leader uttering the magical words "hey, i REALLY don't KNOW!"

..cause for the religious, ALL the answers have ALREADY been signed SEALED and delivered...

(and yeah, i know, two star trek references, one Alan Moore and one Fourth World, not really peas in a pod)

..i see the VEXATION expressed by the dawkinsian types as a NATURAL response as HUMANISTS or ATHEISTS or EMPIRICISTS struggle with the notion that WAY more people in this country believe in ANGELS (or fairies or goblins) than they do EVOLUTION, which has been proven more or LESS six ways to sunday...

..STILL waiting for the PROOF of ANGELS...

(and NO, final fantasy's SEPIROTH DOESN't count...)

(..tho show me a BABEL FISH and i MIGHT change my mind...)

BitterHarvest said...

Oh Man! You always write a beautiful one when it comes to the religious right, D.

Also I’m sorry, but I must’ve been on one hella fucking bender the weekend “the Christian Right…largely retreated from the culture wars”.

So remind me, Special K. When exactly did that happen?

You tell 'em, D!

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for other believers, but I don't believe God plays favorites between nations, or faiths, or between non-believers and believers for that matter. I reckon He's a lot more interested in how we treat one another. Since He doesn't have an ego like we humans do, He doesn't care if we worship Him or not. What matters is how we treat one another. I addressed this a few threads back.
I also cheerfully accept evolution as a fact.

One thing about being a liberal believer--you catch hell from both fundamentalists and the more strident sort of non-believers alike. :)

Anonymous said...

My duties at the Ministry of Silly Walks call me now. "Au reservoir". ;)

Anonymous said...

Correction: I addressed some of that a few posts back on THIS thread. Now I must go off to work.

driftglass said...

If I coulda found a church that was anchored in this kind of theological interchange, maybe I'da gone more often.

Anonymous said...

You're implying this ain't a church?
ruh-roh! Next you'll tell me I can't substitute tater tots for the eucharist (mmm... sacriLICious!) At least you're using malty beverages instead of that Wine-inna-Box crud.

anyhoo - whether I have much in common with KCs specific faith or not doesn't matter to me - I like his spiritual leanings. My gaze toward the soul can be summed well by the humor in Mary Roach's new book 'Spook'.

"This is a book for people who would like very much to believe in a soul and in an afterlife for it to hang around in, but who have trouble accepting these things on faith. It's a giggly, random, utterly earthbound assault on our most ponderous unanswered question."
-said the Amazon reviewer

Anonymous said...

Driftglass you are THE MAN. Thanks so much for you commentary on Kristof's column.