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← Response to My Fellow 'Atheists'

eXcommunicate's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by eXcommunicate

"I'm Black" is also a "loaded label" to many bigots, but would Harris suggest African Americans stop using the term? "I'm a Republican" would be a loaded statement in New York City. "Liberal" would be a loaded label in a conversation with a conservative. It's not the problem of those that the label applies to - its the ignorance of those that perceive the label in a bigoted manner. Attitudes do change regarding labels. Isn't that what we're striving for in the first place? To change the zeitgeist and affect real change in hearts and minds? Essentially we want to change the amount of respect accorded to the labels Christian, Muslim, Wiccan, and others, so why not also change the level of respect accorded to the label "Atheist"? I'm not saying Sam is advocating we roll over and play dead - far from it! But I see real value in sticking to our guns and not abandoning a term that adequately and rationally describes the beliefs or lack thereof of the majority of non-believers. Add additional words to the movement if you like; I even prefer the term "Rationalist Movement" to encompass all kinds of views, including atheism; but "atheist" still applies to me, to Sam Harris, and to most of us at this website and I for one am still going to use it. ;)

I am with BicycleRepairMan in that we don't have to bring atheism into every political subject. Atheism is only part of Rationalism. We must first and foremost approach things from a Rationalist standpoint and if Atheism is part of the equation then apply it. No need to run from the term, but no need to cloak everything with it either. I am reminded of the term "Progressive" that liberals not unlike myself have coined to relabel themselves because "liberal" has politically become a "dirty word." The reason it's become a dirty word is two-fold: 1) The abdication of the language of debate to conservatives, and 2) Many liberals used the term to beat upon their opponents, creating a backlash against it. It's an interesting parallel to this "atheist" discussion and something we can learn from.

Mon, 08 Oct 2007 13:30:00 UTC | #73486