You Are the Oppressor
Posted by Rystefn on August 8, 2009
I know I haven’t exactly made a big deal about around here, but this blog was created for a different reason. Since it doesn’t really serve that purpose anymore, I may as well start putting it here as well. So far, I think the only real indication I’ve put up that I’m an atheist is the Dawkins scarlet A in the sidebar over there. If that lead some of my readers to think I’m one of those quiet, polite atheists who don’t stir up trouble, the you don’t know me very well. I’m one of the loud, angry, strident atheists who make a scene in public if I hear someone make an offhand comment that “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance isn’t that big of a deal, or that America was founded a “Christian Nation™”.
You may not know this (it’s easy to wear blinders when it’s someone else’s problem), but there is a concerted effort in this country to oppress the nonbelievers. Atheists are among the least trusted groups is America, despite being among the least violent and least likely to commit crimes of any kind. People toss around phrases like “militant atheist” to make themselves feel better about claiming people demanding equal rights need to be quiet about it. We live in a world of real militants. Militant Islam is not Muslims standing up and demanding fair treatment, it’s Muslims picking up weapons and killing people. A separatist is someone who wants to separate. A militant separatist is someone who is killing people about it. We use the same definition of “militant” for every religion and philosophy it’s ever been applied to… except atheism.
If you’re one of the people who use the phrase “militant atheist,” then you’re one of the oppressors. If you’re one of the people who say atheists shouldn’t be so loud/angry/strident/impolite/irreverent/willing to disrespect a cracker, then you’re one of the oppressors. If you hear about a civil rights rights struggle, and don’t get involved, then you are the oppressor.
Every day, I hear some asshole say we’re alienating potential allies by being so vocal. Really? There are people out there whose willingness to see us get the freedoms that are our right hinges on how polite we are? You know what I say to that? Fuck those people! I’m not interested in trading angry oppressors for kinder, gentler oppressors. I will not allow my rights to hang on the whim of another, whether that other wants to deny them as a matter of course, or simply because I said the word “fuck.”
You do not have the right to not be offended. Whether you’re offended by my language, my disrespect, or the fact that I reject your belief system doesn’t matter. You do not have the right not be offended by me, and you do not have the right to deny me mine because you are offended. If you think you do, the you are the oppressor. If you think to yourself that you’re a nice person, not like those raging, angry fundamentalist types, so you shouldn’t have to hear us shouting about being oppressed, guess what? You’re oppressing us, too. At least the openly anti-atheist crowd are honest about it. “The world would be a better place without atheists in it” is oppressive, but guess what? So is “the world wold be a better place if I never had to hear about the atheists.” If you wish we would just shut up or calm down or get over the little things or any variation on the theme, you’re not just enabling the oppressors. You are the oppressor.
I know someone is going to come along and say something against me for having an “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality. That’s not accurate. There is a third group: the group that doesn’t realize anything is happening. You know what’s a good way to get someone’s attention? Shouting. If you’re telling us to stop shouting, you’re telling us to stop trying to tell the people who don’t know that there’s a problem. Whether you’re doing it intentionally or not, you’re trying to stop our fight for civil rights before it even really gets started. That puts you squarely against us, doesn’t it? If you wonder why people are mad at you even though you’re polite and soft-spoken and don’t want to take away our right to vote or hold office or not have our children indoctrinated into your delusions, that might be why.
It’s because you are the oppressor.