I said I wanted nothing to do with this discussion of A+, but I do still read the Friendly Atheist (see below). The reason is because +Hemant Mehta
is one of the nicest people who writes about atheism, always has reasonable and calm arguments and listens to many sides. I've disagreed a few times with him, but not overly so - just minor differences. He promotes tolerance and calm and doesn't go in for the drama and rhetoric. I respect that.
So when a calm guy like that, who writes about social justice all the time as relating to atheism, comes out against the label and calmly cites his reasons why he doesn't want to be involved, I can only agree - because those are my reasons as well.
The other reason is: I still don't trust or like Rebecca Watson, or her friends. I really don't. There are many viewpoints at Freethought Blogs, and the big names are only a few of them, so I can't say that all FTB is the same. They aren't. But Rebecca Watson has always struck me as way out of her league on atheism and skepticism, which is why I think she made a big deal about feminism - because she has nothing much to contribute to the atheist argument. In fact, I mostly think of PZ Myers in the same way. I used to like some of the things they said, but there are other things which I do not like - and they aren't mild disagreements either. Skepchick always felt like a high school "clique" to me, which is why I actually never got involved. I tacitly supported them, made a few comments there, but never went beyond that. The same applies to PZ's blog. I much preferred reading the thoughts of Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and others who actually wrote real books and made real contributions. I much preferred reading people like Hemant who actually goes out of his way to present reasonable and calm arguments and statements. I have respect for those people. I respected Hitchens the most - even when I passionately disagreed with him on certain issues.
That's the thing: Many people actually completely disagreed with Hitchens on many
subjects, even vehemently so. But they respected him, and they listened to him and wanted to hear what he had to say. The way you present things, and speak about them, and the reading you do beforehand about it, makes all the difference in the world. That's why I can't like or support PZ or Rebecca Watson and their friends in their A+ goals. They are no heavy hitters such as Hitchens. Please excuse me for saying this, but they are no better than shrill right-wing bloggers screaming about Obama and oppression of their rights under his term.
I completely realize that all the heavy hitters which I named are actually men. I'm fully aware that they are "The Four Horse*men* of Atheism". I completely understand that this may appear like a patriarchy to some. But it isn't. Those men
didn't select who is and is not to be a "heavy hitter" in the field. It was simply a natural selection
based on ability, desires, and need. It had nothing whatsoever to do with sexism in "the atheist community" - a term which really shouldn't exist. I dare say that perhaps it may take some more time before we see some really popular and deep thinking atheist women
pick up the mantle. Why? Not because of sexism in the community, but simply because of the natural evolution of the role of women in society.
Men have been writing about these topics for generations, and women haven't. Maybe it will just take some time for the right kind of woman to find her voice - another Susan B. Anthony, for example (who was an atheist). After all, it took generations for a Susan B. Anthony to come around and become a heavy hitter for women's rights. Maybe it'll be a while before the same happens for women in Atheism, even though those situations and causes are completely dissimilar in many ways. Of course, society is evolving faster and faster, and I believe that it will not take nearly as long for such a person to emerge. In fact, I do believe that there already is one: Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I'm a fan - a big fan. And there may be more on the way.
But you can't force the issue. You can't look to bloggers who have no really deep thoughts on these matters and simply prop them up to become the face of women in the "atheist movement". That won't work. It will, and does, feel fake. It makes unprepared lightweights, such as Rebecca Watson, into some sort of glorified Marianne
, which I simply am not buying. Out of all of them, Greta Christina would be the only one who even nearly approaches that level, and I don't think she's even anywhere close to really being that amazing.
So no, I am not going to support A+. According to some in the A+ community, that makes me a bad person. Then again, I really couldn't care less. Will I stop supporting social change? Of course not. Have I not written and supported social causes over and over again? Even more so than atheism, in fact, I have publicly supported social causes. I'm not going to let an immature clique tell me what is and isn't right in a cause which has been around far longer than they have.
Then again, am I going to join the Thunderf00t crowd? No. I've seen far too much "MRA" anti-women crap amongst his commenters to really want to side with them either. I think that Thunderf00t acted very badly and kept beating a dead horse. I still like some of his videos, but I don't really want to get involved in the crowd of many of his supporters. And after reading his writing, I can safely say that he's no Hitchens either.
So please count me out of A+. I don't think it'll last, or revolutionize atheism anyway. I think that they are deluding themselves when they think that they are going to be the equivalent of the new Karl Marx of atheism. It won't work out that way. We atheists have been having a hard enough time getting people to change their views on what is a millennia old idea, so I don't think that these lightweights are going to do anything but make a lot of noise for a while and slowly die out. Perhaps I'm wrong, and perhaps they'll do some good for social change and open people's eyes in the long term.
But not with my help.