Accommodationism: the enemy of progress

As a “Gnu Atheist”, I run across the accommodationist trope in the fight against the toxic shit that comes from religion on a daily basis. But it’s not the only area in which it is present, and in all of them it is the enemy of making actual progress. The call for politeness, for measuredness, for being nice to to the haters and reactionaries who take away and deny us rights, has always been present. The suffragettes were being called unladylike and both anti-women and anti-men (yes, the suffragettes were the first feminazis!) before they ever started throwing stones, and even today people are disputing whether their actions actually helped women gain suffrage (I guess it’s just coincidence that suffrage was achieved after the moderate methods of the suffragists were abandoned in favor of civil disobedience and eventually real militancy). And this has not changed since. Even today, women are still told that “the effectiveness and inclusiveness of women’s advocacy is inversely proportional to its radicalism”.

The Civil Rights movement also had the famous “Uppity Nigger” trope, and MLK himself expressed his frustrations with the “moderates” and accomodationists among the white population in the Letter from Birmingham Jail*:

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

The same is being asked of LGBT activists who are called strident for kissing in public like everyone else, mentioning their partner in casual conversation like everyone else, and participating in those shrill, loud, Gay Pride Parades which corrupt children and somehow shove sexuality down people’s throats (as opposed to, you know, simply loudly proclaiming that gays are real people that really exist, not abstracts).

And in all these cases, it’s bullshit. The moderate stance is not accomplishing anything.

Or, if I want to be generous, it’s not accomplishing anything by itself. The moderates need the radicals. For one, without the radicals shifting the Overton Window, they themselves would be seen as the radical end of a spectrum (and in some cases, they are called that anyway). Two, throughout history it took serious threats of social disruption and violence (and sometimes ACTUAL social disruption and violence) to get anyone to do anything. Rights are taken, not politely asked for. Even the two most famous non-violent movements that were successes, were successful because everyone at some point realized that the choice was between dealing with MLK/Ghandi, or dealing with the seriously radical, violent elements (Malcolm X and Subhas Chandra Bose respectively). And let’s face it, even those non-violent movements made the real accommodationists clutch their pearls, since they WERE breaking laws and disrupting the existing social order. they just did it in such a way that none of their opponents were hurt (and nevermind that their opponents definitely didn’t have such scruples. but accommodationists never see that, do they).

Not that, at this point, I’m advocating turning to violence to get our points across, but at some times in history, it seems the threat thereof is the only way to get some social justice. Plus, I wanted to underscore how much less radical the “radical, strident, and militant” feminists/atheists/anti-capitalists/environmentalists/etc. of today are, compared to some of the social justice movements in the past. And yet, the accommodationists whine.

Well, fuck them. Sideways, with a Stinging Tree

– – – – – – – – – – –
*and also against the “time is on our side, so just sit and wait” BS I wrote about in my last post. But that’s not the point right now.

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35 comments on “Accommodationism: the enemy of progress

  1. Martin says:

    Good post, and interesting to see how MLK viewed “white moderates” ! But I do think this comparison is problematic, because religion came into existence pretty much through a design flaw(it could be said that it wasn’t a flaw back then) in the human brain, whereas people who oppress minorities have made a conscious decision to do so.If you decide to be an oppressor of a minority, then confrontational behaviour might be more intuitively justifiable.

  2. Being polite and “accommodating” is too often seen by the religious as an invitation to marginalize atheists even more and as approval of their actions.

    We’ve had hundreds of years of accommodation, and where has it gotten atheists? Nowhere.

    So, yeah, I’m proud to say, “I’m here, I’m godless, get used to it!”

  3. DeviantOne says:

    You know what’s the worst part? This:

    “I’m here, I’m godless, get used to it!”

    SHOULD NOT be a radical statement!

    If someone existing happily while godless invalidates your belief to such a degree that you cannot continue it, where does the problem lie? Not with the person who exists happily while godless, that would be my first guess.

  4. 'Tis Himself says:

    The accommodationist stance, as explained in King’s letter, is for the oppressed to sit back and wait for “time” to make things all better. How this is supposed to happen isn’t quite explained. But it’ll happen, the accommodationists just know it.

    Even the two most famous non-violent movements that were successes, were successful because everyone at some point realized that the choice was between dealing with MLK/Ghandi [sic], or dealing with the seriously radical, violent elements (Malcolm X and Subhas Chandra Bose respectively).

    If we’re Malcolm X and Bose, who are King and Gandhi?

  5. Jadehawk says:

    I don’t think we (in the sense of us Gnu Atheists) are Malcolm X and Bose, and maybe they will never be necessary. Hopefully they will never be necessary.

    As it is though, the work of such places as No Longer Quivering is deeply within religious territory, but it still does necessary and important work in fighting the shit religion does to people. and I grudgingly admit that maybe it really wouldn’t be as effective if it forced these women to choose atheism or their current fate. So there’s people and organizations in the middle that do do good work that requires a different tactic. But none of them are aligned with the faitheists, to my knowledge

  6. David Marjanović says:

    Subhas Chandra Bose

    Wow. What an unpleasant fellow. :-S

    Well, fuck them. Sideways, with a Stinging Tree

    Win.

    Good post, and interesting to see how MLK viewed “white moderates” !

    That quote is so famous that I’ve probably read it 10 times by now, most or all of them on Pharyngula.

    Except…

    Everyone stops two sentences before the end of the first fucking paragraph!!! Thanks a lot, Jadehawk, for bringing (more of?) the whole thing to my attention. It just gets better and better!

    I don’t think we […] are Malcolm X and Bose, and maybe they will never be necessary. Hopefully they will never be necessary.

    When I think about what “militant” has come to mean, I find some reason to hope that this time is one of those when history repeats itself as a farce, when mellow, mild-mannered mentors amid Morris, Minnesota, are today’s version of towering, history-changing, blood-spilling, plundering and burninating figures. :-)

    BTW, audio files of the generic Indian bh, dh, gh, jh etc. are here.

  7. Paul says:

    If we’re Malcolm X and Bose, who are King and Gandhi?

    I’m tempted to say that Mooney is our Gandhi. I’ll leave it at that so as to not go too Godwin.

    Nice post, although unfortunately not anything that hasn’t been said before. It still falls on deaf ears — but venting can be therapeutic.

    Since you picked up on the Gnu atheism meme, I picked up the gnuatheism.com url on a whim. Still not sure if I’ll do anything with it. Right now it just redirects to Coyne’s first post using it (I’d have posted to the B&W comment thread where it was coined, but it wasn’t really brought to attention or discussed much right off the bat). The name made me smile, which is pretty hard to do >.>

  8. Jadehawk says:

    Thanks a lot, Jadehawk, for bringing (more of?) the whole thing to my attention.

    well, i think that’s the whole of the anti-accommodationist part, but everyone should read the whole Letter from Birmingham Jail (linked in the post) at least once. Lots of good stuff in it.

  9. Wonderist says:

    “I’m tempted to say that Mooney is our Gandhi.”

    This must be a joke. What a laugh. Mooney is the king of the accommodationists. What an insult to Gandhi.

    Jadehawk, although you’ve made it quite clear in your post and subsequent comments that you’re not advocating violence — which I appreciate — it does appear as if you’re potentially advocating the threat of violence:

    “Two, throughout history it took serious threats of social disruption and violence (and sometimes ACTUAL social disruption and violence) to get anyone to do anything. Rights are taken, not politely asked for. Even the two most famous non-violent movements that were successes, were successful because everyone at some point realized that the choice was between dealing with MLK/Ghandi, or dealing with the seriously radical, violent elements …

    Not that, at this point, I’m advocating turning to violence to get our points across, but at some times in history, it seems the threat thereof is the only way to get some social justice.”

    While this may have been true of many movements in the past, I do not believe it is actually necessary, and I would urge you to avoid advocating it (or appearing to advocate it).

    Personally, I am always thinking about how my words and ideas could be interpreted or abused long after I’ve said them. If I ever ‘inspired’ someone to actually commit an act of violence I would consider that a huge personal failure.

    IMHO, we do not need even *threats* of violence to accomplish our goals. It didn’t require threats of violence to convince people that the world is round, that the Earth orbits the Sun, that humans are animals and the product of evolution, etc. etc. etc. Each of these, in their time, were hotly rejected by dogmatists — in some cases to the point of persecuting their advocates (e.g. Galileo).

    What worked in these cases was simply persistent, unapologetic appeal to evidence, reason, critical thinking, and the rest.

    Another good example would be the gay rights movement, which does not (as far as I’m aware) need threats of violence to make continual progress. We should be following their example. There are much better ways to change hearts and minds.

    Personally, I advocate ‘unapologetic atheism’. If I could invent a backronym for GNU Atheism, it would be something like ‘Galvanized ‘N’ Unapologetic Atheism’. We just keep talking about religion, criticizing it, ridiculing it, blaspheming it, proving it wrong and harmful, and never apologizing for merely being atheists. None of this requires violence or event threats of violence. It only requires Freedom of Thought and Speech, which fortunately we (most of us) have in our countries.

    Also, another great way to turn the tide is to use popular media to express an open and realistic portrayal of the atheist viewpoint. I’m thinking along the lines of when Ellen DeGenres (sp?) came out as gay on her popular TV show. She didn’t have to make a big deal out if it — she just portrayed it as normal and ‘no big deal’. That’s what we need to push for.

    When we’ve had our ‘Ellen’ moment, GNU Atheism will have accomplished its mission. IMHO. No threats of violence necessary.

    Cheers!

  10. Paul says:

    This must be a joke. What a laugh. Mooney is the king of the accommodationists. What an insult to Gandhi.

    Thanks for telling me something I didn’t know. I was totally unaware about Mooney’s position on accommodation. I was thinking that with the Godwin reference you might pick up what I was referring to. Mooney thinks we should attempt to accommodate (by which he means never criticize, unless of course they are also global warming deniers or Republicans, they are fair game) even the most ridiculous religious views, because we don’t want to alienate people. Gandhi thought nonviolence was the best way to deal with a genocidal dictator. The parallels were unpleasant, but I thought worth pointing out. There are limits to what you can accomplish within any given framework, and they both fail to recognize it while ostensibly fighting for the “right” side.

  11. Wonderist says:

    “There are limits to what you can accomplish within any given framework, and they both fail to recognize it while ostensibly fighting for the “right” side.”

    Ummm. Gandhi did accomplish his goals. Mooney doesn’t. Parallels? What parallels? Gandhi stood up and criticized the status quo. Mooney doesn’t. Gandhi listened to opposing views and responded to them. Mooney doesn’t.

    “Gandhi thought nonviolence was the best way to deal with a genocidal dictator.”

    And he was right, and it worked. So….. what was your point again?

    The only mistake Ghandi made was forgetting that religious fanatics are crazy and that’s how he got assassinated. But the British had already been expelled by that point. If he had taken more care with body guards, he might have lived to be an old(er) man.

  12. Paul says:

    And he was right, and it worked. So….. what was your point again?

    Yes, Hitler was removed by the world holding hands and singing Kumbaya. My mistake, I forgot my World History lesson.

    Nonviolent protest is great. But in this world, it’s a means and not its own end. Same with accommodationism. The principle is good, in some situations. The problem is when people treat the means as an end in and of itself, and alienate their allies by insisting that their tactic is the only viable tactic in all situations.

    Sorry I didn’t unambiguously praise your hero. I have much respect for him. He did great work in India. He’s still an ideologue for pushing nonviolence as a viable path in facing the Nazis. Nobody’s perfect.

  13. Jadehawk says:

    Wonderist, I’m not responsible for people’s reading comprehension failures any more than the Beatles are responsible for Manson. I wrote about the violence to point out how very much non-militant the “militant” atheists, feminists, and environmentalists of today are: to bring into perspective the sort of thing sometimes necessary to bring social change, in comparison to what we’re doing, which is fluffy pink softness compared to older social movements.

    And why are you confusing social progress with scientific progress? The methods by which these two kinds of progress happen is completely different, so comparing feminism to heliocentrism is completely and utterly absurd.

    And as for the LGBT not needing violence… ever heard of the Stonewall riot?

    I know everybody seems to have interpreted this thread as primarily about GNU Atheism and religious accommodationism, but that’s not really what this was about, at least not exclusively. I’m a “strident new atheist” as much as i’m a “feminazi” or environmentalist. I wrote this precisely because the same “be polite and don’t rock the boat” shit comes at all progressive movements, and it’s just as wrong in regards to all of them.

  14. Wonderist says:

    “Wonderist, I’m not responsible for people’s reading comprehension failures any more than the Beatles are responsible for Manson.”

    Then I guess the only thing left to do is ask you straight out: Do you advocate using threats of violence in the Gnu Atheist movement? Because it appears to me, that you very well might.

    “And why are you confusing social progress with scientific progress? The methods by which these two kinds of progress happen is completely different, so comparing feminism to heliocentrism is completely and utterly absurd.”

    Hardly. People have been persecuted and even killed for heliocentrism just as they have for being women. This is not merely a matter of answering a scientific question. In both feminism and heliocentrism, it’s a matter of changing the public opinion about a question which challenges dogma and the status quo. The success of scientific progress in bringing about social progress (by changing people’s minds non-violently) is something that should not be ignored, especially by science-minded atheists.

    Here’s a perfect example of how science can be used to change minds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6w2M50_Xdk Convincing, moving, science-based, evidence-based arguments, relentlessly confronting faith-based bullshit with unapologetic reality. It’s powerful. It works. It’s not accommodationist, and it definitely does not require violence or threats.

    “ever heard of the Stonewall riot?”

    Stonewall was in direct response to violent police raids. If police violently raided atheist meetings, they should of course fight back. But this is not what we’re talking about. We’re talking strategy here. It was not a part of the strategy of the gay movement to orchestrate Stonewall; it was a self-defensive response to direct oppression.

    Self-defense is about the only exception I can think of to non-violence, and my major difference with Gandhi and other strictly non-violence advocates.

    My point still stands that the movement has not advocated violence or threats of violence as methods of changing people’s minds. And yet, they have changed peoples’ minds. The reason people are more accepting of gays today is not because gays threatened to instigate more riots, but because of the efforts to make homosexuality (and other sexualities) more open, out-of-the-closet, and accepted by the mainstream.

    I didn’t give up homophobia because of threats, but because of friendships with everyday homosexuals who were open and unashamed of their sexuality. It forced me to confront my latent fears, realize they were foolish, and just drop them.

    “I wrote this precisely because the same “be polite and don’t rock the boat” shit comes at all progressive movements, and it’s just as wrong in regards to all of them.”

    I’m all for being rude and rocking the boat. What I’m against is the use of terror-based tactics such as actual violence and threats of violence. Let the religious threaten violence and we can use that against them to undermine their claims to moral authority.

    Ultimately, my train of thought boils down to the fact that we simply cannot afford to go down the path of violence on this planet, with our current technology. What are we going to do? Start a war? With nukes and other weapons on the table, it’s just not a sensible option any more. And if we cannot follow through with a threat, then we shouldn’t make the threat. Because eventually someone will call the bluff, and it becomes a game of chicken, except the crazy fanatics will be willing to follow through and we won’t. And, ultimately, we’ll all lose at this game of chicken. There are no winners in such a war.

    Fortunately, we don’t even need to go there. We don’t even need threats. We can accomplish everything we want without any of that. We just have to be smarter than our opponents. And… well… we are.

    We just have to have a better message, a better argument, better evidence, more convincing appeals to common sense, funnier and sharper criticisms, more compelling stories, cooler music, actual science on our side, more persistent ridicule, better answers to questions, etc. etc. What we don’t need is bigger sticks. And if they pull out their sticks, we can have bigger and better lawyers, because we already have the law on our side. And if they try to change the laws, then we need bigger and better politicians to block them. And if the populace is fooled by Bushes and Palins and Tea Parties, then we need to take the argument and vision and ridicule and alternatives and criticism and education and all that stuff to the populace and change their minds from the ground up.

    We’re already doing it. We just gotta keep it up. Move it forward, gain momentum, keep it going, and keep innovating and trying different tactics. But we don’t need violence, or even threats. Do you disagree?

  15. Jadehawk says:

    jesus fuck, wonderist, you’re a pain in the ass.

    I’m not advocating violence as a strategy.

    I’m pointing out that it was, in some contexts, historically necessary. And because history has a tendency to repeat itself, it might well become so at some point in the future, for some social cause or another. Or even just in some other place, that happens not to be as fluffy, “civilized” and democratic as even the US still is. But that has fuck-all to do with current atheist strategy, you fucking moron.

    And women’s rights were not achieved with scientific, rational arguments. Civil Rights were not achieved with scientific, rational arguments. Human interactions don’t work that way. The battles for having scientific facts accepted are not very similar to those to improve people’s lives. Because it’s not about facts, it’s about attitudes: or do you think the scientific evidence that societies are healthier when they’re more economically equal would convince those who don’t give a flying fuck about a healthy society?

  16. Paul says:

    Because it’s not about facts, it’s about attitudes: or do you think the scientific evidence that societies are healthier when they’re more economically equal would convince those who don’t give a flying fuck about a healthy society?

    Well, obviously, the solution is to make rich friends and teach them that society is important, and that poor people are real people too. If it doesn’t work, it’s because you’re either not friendly enough or your arguments are not good enough, not because those in power tend towards sociopathy (or at the very least, extreme selfishness).

    Blame the poor people, they should learn to argue better if they want to improve their lot. Blame the atheists, if they want people to stop treating them like they eat babies in their spare time them they should stop getting in people’s faces about religion (even though most of them don’t…). Blame the gays for not wanting to make friends with religiously motivated homophobes who just give them stock speeches about “loving” them but hating their “sin”. If people don’t like you it’s because your message isn’t good enough, not because they refuse to think outside the boxes drawn for them.

  17. Wonderist says:

    “jesus fuck, wonderist, you’re a pain in the ass.

    I’m not advocating violence as a strategy.”

    You being the one to complain about reading comprehension, I wish you had taken the care to apply your own reading comprehension skills to my comments.

    I never said you advocate *violence*. In fact, I said quite clearly, in my very first post, that I understand very well that you *don’t*. Here’s a quote to prove it:

    “Jadehawk, although you’ve made it quite clear in your post and subsequent comments that you’re not advocating violence — which I appreciate — it does appear as if you’re potentially advocating the threat of violence”

    Get that? I was very careful to make the distinction clear in my very first, and also subsequent, posts. I’m not asking you if you advocate *violence*. I’m asking you if you advocate *threats* of violence.

    Here is a quote of my direct question:

    “Do you advocate using threats of violence in the Gnu Atheist movement? Because it appears to me, that you very well might.”

    Here is the reason (again, from my very first post) why it appears to me that you might be advocating the use of threats. You wrote:

    “Two, throughout history it took serious threats of social disruption and violence (and sometimes ACTUAL social disruption and violence) to get anyone to do anything. Rights are taken, not politely asked for. Even the two most famous non-violent movements that were successes, were successful because everyone at some point realized that the choice was between dealing with MLK/Ghandi, or dealing with the seriously radical, violent elements …

    Not that, at this point, I’m advocating turning to violence to get our points across, but at some times in history, it seems the threat thereof is the only way to get some social justice.”

    See? You, yourself, used the word ‘threat’ as distinct from *actual* violence. I’m asking you to clarify: Do you advocate the use of threats of violence in the Gnu Atheist movement? Simple question.

  18. Jadehawk says:

    I’m not making a distinction at all. Only pointing out that the (credible) threat of it was often necessary. not my fault you think it’s possible to have a threat of violence without some violence. It’s an Overton Window thing, where those on the extreme fringe scare the fuck out of people, so that those not as far on the fringe can use this as a bargaining point (“we’re the nice guys; we want to talk, and settle this diplomatically and non-violently. But if you ignore us for too long, the fringe will take over and people will get hurt”).

    In atheist activism, we are the extreme fringe, and I don’t advocate us using violence. Threats of such would be inconsequential, since they wouldn’t be credible.

  19. Wonderist says:

    If someone did make such threats, would you sanction it? Would you say, “This guy is helping the cause because he’s shifting the Overton Window, allowing us non-violence-threatening atheists to seem unextreme.”?

  20. Jadehawk says:

    how many times do I have to repeat that I don’t support violence in the name of atheism (because it’s unnecessary) before you get the point?

  21. Wonderist says:

    How many times do I have to explain that I’m talking about threats of violence, not violence per se, before you answer the question?

  22. Paul says:

    How many times do I have to explain that I’m talking about threats of violence, not violence per se, before you answer the question?

    Only an idiot would draw a tactical distinction there. If the threat is not credible, nobody will pay attention. If the threat is credible but actual violence is out of the question, you are risking actual violence against your cause in the hopes that someone is scared enough of you to do what you want.

    Doing so in the name of atheism, in this place and at this point in time, would be stupid. Nobody is sanctioning it. Jadehawk’s original post did not, nor did any of her follow-ups. Your implicating otherwise seems like willful misreading and deliberate obfuscation.

  23. Jadehawk says:

    Only an idiot would draw a tactical distinction there. If the threat is not credible, nobody will pay attention.

    yeah, I’ve pretty much already said that in comment #18, but Wonderist here just keeps on jumping back and forth, not accepting anything as a valid answer.

    seriously, what’s so fucking hard to grasp abut this?

    1)In some contexts, the oppressed have no other means of achieving their goal than with credible threats of violence coming from the extremes, to give the less-than-extremes a space to be heard and be taken seriously.

    2)There are no credible threats of violence without someone actually committing small and limited acts of violence already. You can’t have one without the other.

    3)atheists are not in the situation described in 1), so no (threat of) violence is necessary.

    did that get through your thick head now, wonderist? because I’m fucking sick of repeating myself.

  24. Wonderist says:

    “There are no credible threats of violence without someone actually committing small and limited acts of violence already. You can’t have one without the other.”

    This is a very strange opinion. In the US it is an illegal act to make death threats against the president. No actual violence is required. The threat doesn’t even have to be ‘credible’ according to your made-up standards. I’m sure it’s also illegal in certain circumstances (such as on a plane or in an airport) to threaten bombing or other kinds of violence.

    In Canada, “it is an offence to knowingly utter or convey a threat to cause death or bodily harm to any person. It is also an offence to threaten to burn, destroy or damage property or threaten to kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that belongs to a person.” No actual violence is necessary. Just a threat.

    So, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that some ‘new atheist’ makes a threat of violence — credible or not, let’s say it’s potentially credible, but currently just a threat — in a western country where such threats happen to actually be legal under the circumstances. *Would you* sanction such a threat as a valid strategy for shifting the Overton Window? “Hey theists, talk to us, otherwise you’ll have to deal with those crazies who are threatening violence.”

    Again, a very simple question, which you still have not answered. (You’ve said it wouldn’t be necessary or credible, but you haven’t said whether you’d sanction it. A simple yes or no will do.)

  25. Jadehawk says:

    In the US it is an illegal act to make death threats against the president. No actual violence is required.

    actually this is false. only serious threats are investigated. otherwise, all those preachers who were making veiled threats would be in jail now. and the “actual violence” of having had a number of presidents assassinated or gravely injured in the past doesn’t exist in your universe?

    In Canada, “it is an offence to knowingly utter or convey a threat to cause death or bodily harm to any person. It is also an offence to threaten to burn, destroy or damage property or threaten to kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that belongs to a person.” No actual violence is necessary. Just a threat.

    that’s nice, but what does that have to do with the effectiveness of threats of violence as a method for social change?

    Again, a very simple question, which you still have not answered. (You’ve said it wouldn’t be necessary or credible, but you haven’t said whether you’d sanction it. A simple yes or no will do.)

    liar. I’ve answered it exhaustively four times now. not my fault you don’t want to understand. I’m seriously sick of replying to your ever-shifting goalposts. I’ve given you my full position on this. if you can’t answer your questions yourself from what I’ve already written, I can’t help you.

  26. Wonderist says:

    Actually, it’s true: “Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, the President-elect, the Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President of the United States, or the Vice President-elect, or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the President, President-elect, Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President, or Vice President-elect, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. ”

    Although not all threats are investigated, all such threats are still illegal, just as I’ve stated.

    “that’s nice, but what does that have to do with the effectiveness of threats of violence as a method for social change?”

    Nothing. It has to do with whether threats require prior acts of violence to be considered actual threats. And it directly contradicts your claim that such prior acts are required for a threat to be an actual threat.

    Again, my question is not, and has never been, about the ‘effectiveness’ of threats. My question is whether *you* would condone such threats. And you still haven’t answered.

    “liar. I’ve answered it exhaustively four times now.”

    You have never answered the question of whether you would condone threats of violence. You always dodge the question by shifting to actual violence, or by claiming that such threats wouldn’t be necessary or effective. But those do not answer the question that was asked. Regardless of their necessity or effectiveness, the question is would you condone or sanction them? You, personally, Jadehawk. Would you think, “Ah, great, they’re making threats. That’s good because it shifts the overton window.” Or would you reject the threats and denounce them, or would you do something different? It really is a simple question, and if you’re frustrated that I keep bringing it back to the same exact question as my second post, then you only have yourself to blame. You could simply have answered the question and be done with it.

    “ever-shifting goalposts”

    The question has been the exact same since I first asked it: “Do you advocate using threats of violence in the Gnu Atheist movement?” You have never answered this question. You’ve side-stepped it in a myriad of ways, but never actually answered it. I don’t see what’s so difficult about a simple yes or no.

    If you believe that you really *have* answered this question directly, please quote the text that I missed. I just went through the comments again and I definitely could not find it. If I’ve missed it, I’ll apologize for dragging this on. But as far as I can see, it simply is not there.

    Here is an example of someone answering the exact same question clearly and unambiguously, without side-steps or red-herrings. Sapient wrote: “For the record: I don’t condone violence or threats of violence either.” See? Isn’t that easy?

  27. Jadehawk says:

    “that’s nice, but what does that have to do with the effectiveness of threats of violence as a method for social change?”

    Nothing.

    precisely. therefore it has fuck-all to do with what I was talking about.

    It has to do with whether threats require prior acts of violence to be considered actual threats. And it directly contradicts your claim that such prior acts are required for a threat to be an actual threat.

    really? do point out where I was talking about the legal definition of threats, as opposed to their effectiveness as a strategy for social change? Empty threats don’t change anything. Threats that are realistic do. Which is why, as I keep on repeating, using violence, and using the threat of violence, are on the same spectrum of “using violence for social change”

    Here is an example of someone answering the exact same question clearly and unambiguously, without side-steps or red-herrings. Sapient wrote: “For the record: I don’t condone violence or threats of violence either.” See? Isn’t that easy?

    yes, very easy. also, very dogmatic. good thing the suffragettes, the Civil Rights Advocates, the Abolitionists, the ANC a lot of other movements didn’t share that sentiment.

    My opinion is a conditional one. I’ve made clear what the conditions for using (threats of) violence are, in my opinion. If you think I’m going to take you seriously when you imply that I condone unnecessary (threats of) violence, you’re really fucking wrong.

  28. Wonderist says:

    So, then, to clarify:

    “In atheist activism, we are the extreme fringe, and I don’t advocate us using violence. Threats of such would be inconsequential, since they wouldn’t be credible.”

    Are you saying that if threats of violence were credible/effective/consequential in the Gnu Atheist movement, you would condone them?

    ” Only an idiot would draw a tactical distinction there. If the threat is not credible, nobody will pay attention.

    yeah, I’ve pretty much already said that in comment #18″

    Are you saying that if the threats were credible, and people would pay attention, then you would condone them?

    “1)In some contexts, the oppressed have no other means of achieving their goal than with credible threats of violence coming from the extremes, to give the less-than-extremes a space to be heard and be taken seriously.

    2)There are no credible threats of violence without someone actually committing small and limited acts of violence already. You can’t have one without the other.

    3)atheists are not in the situation described in 1), so no (threat of) violence is necessary.”

    Although step 3 says that threats are not ‘necessary’, it does not say that you would *not* condone such unnecessary threats if they did occur.

    Given your persistent ambiguity, I’m left to conclude that: If unnecessary, credible, effective, consequential threats of violence were made within the Gnu Atheist community, you still may either condone them or not condone them, depending on how you feel at the time (since you’ve stated no other criteria for not condoning them).

    Does this represent your view? Because if it does, then I maintain you still haven’t actually answered the question, because it still leaves the question unresolved. If it doesn’t, then I also maintain that you still haven’t answered the question, because that is the most benefit-of-the-doubt interpretation I can make of your statements, and it doesn’t answer the question, and no other statements are available from you to clarify your position.

    It would be like asking a politician: “Sir, if congress proposed a new tax this year, would you vote for it?” And the guy says, “Such a tax proposal would be ineffective and unnecessary, lacking credibility and therefore inconsequential.” “But sir, would you vote for it or not?”

    It would be intellectually dishonest for the politician to reply, “It’s not my fault if you can’t figure out my position from what I’ve said. I’ve answered your question completely thoroughly. You’re an idiot for asking me again.”

    The politician in this scenario has *not* answered the question in good faith, and appears to be dodging giving a concrete answer, perhaps to give himself room to vote in favour of such an unnecessary tax, should congress defy his expectations and actually propose one. Of course, the politician doesn’t want to admit this hedging of bets, so he gives a word-salad response without actually committing to a real answer.

    Now, I’m not saying you are that politician. I’m just saying that you’ve given me no clear reason to believe you definitely aren’t. Your answers are too ambiguous and slippery to know for sure where you stand. It would be soooo easy for you to rectify that ambiguity by simply answering my question. But you persistently dodge it. So what am I to think?

  29. Jadehawk says:

    Does this represent your view? Because if it does, then I maintain you still haven’t actually answered the question, because it still leaves the question unresolved

    no it doesn’t, and I have, but I can’t help it if you have the deductive reasoning ability of a grapefruit. Nobody else thinks I left any doubts as to where I stand on the issue

  30. browncoat syd says:

    “It would be like asking a politician: “Sir, if congress proposed a new tax this year, would you vote for it?” And the guy says, “Such a tax proposal would be ineffective and unnecessary, lacking credibility and therefore inconsequential.” “But sir, would you vote for it or not?”

    It would be intellectually dishonest for the politician to reply, “It’s not my fault if you can’t figure out my position from what I’ve said. I’ve answered your question completely thoroughly. You’re an idiot for asking me again.””

    I think you’ve set up enough straw-men, (well, straw-women) already, voting against a possible tax without knowing what the tax is on, or what the money would be used for is wrong, and is not applicable to what Jadehawk is saying. Jadehawk has repeatedly said she does not condone violence, or the threat of violence, and trying to say otherwise just means you aren’t actually reading what she wrote. What was pointed out was that many times the overton window doesn’t move just because the oppressed people ask them to stop really politely, and sometimes violence, (or the credible threat of violence) helped push things in the right direction, or scare the oppressors enough to deal with the more moderate people of the group. She is not advocating violence against anyone, and saying that it has worked in the past does not equal condoning it.

  31. David Marjanović says:

    Although step 3 says that threats are not ‘necessary’, it does not say that you would *not* condone such unnecessary threats if they did occur.

    That’s because the answer to that question is already contained within the word unnecessary.

    “Benefit of the doubt” my ass. You’re not even trying.

    Thinking that people are to be considered assholes until they state the obvious is evil.

    Why would any politician vote for a tax they consider unnecessary??? Raising taxes for shits & giggles tends to get them voted out very, very quickly.

    Jadehawk doesn’t dodge anything as far as I can see. She simply thinks she has expressed herself clearly (five times over by now), because she considers it obvious that the unnecessary should not be done if it’s harmful to other people.

  32. Wonderist says:

    @browncoat:
    “Jadehawk has repeatedly said she does not condone violence, or the threat of violence”

    She hasn’t actually said the latter. If you disagree, please quote her where she has said so.

    @David Marjnović:
    “she considers it obvious that the unnecessary should not be done if it’s harmful to other people.”

    She has not actually stated that she considers this obvious. That’s your own interpretation. She has, in fact, avoided answering that ambiguity repeatedly.

    She has, in fact, stated that she would consider such threats useful for the purposes of shifting the overton window, and she has not qualified this by saying that this effect would disappear if the threats were unnecessary. An action may be unnecessary and still considered useful and good. It’s not necessary for someone to hold a door open for me, but if they happen to do it, I would appreciate it and find it useful and good. Such may still be the case of Jadehawk’s opinion of unnecessary threats made within the Gnu Atheist movement. She may personally find no need for them, but still appreciate them and judge them good and useful if they did happen to be made.

    She may not make them personally. That’s not the point. The point is that *some* people might make threats, and my question was, is, and remains: Would she condone such threats as a good thing (for whatever reason, e.g. because of the shifting of the overton window) within the Gnu Atheist movement?

  33. Jadehawk says:

    omfg. yes. I totally condone unneccessary violence despite the fact that I only condone violence when necessary. because I like holding contradictory positions like that.

    you will not be posting here again, wonderist. I don’t need to listen to you accusing me of considering violence inherently good, I don’t need to listen to you taking my arguments about the Overton Window out of context, I don’t need to listen to you nitpick everything I say to imply the worst possible motive. Go annoy some other people somewhere else.

  34. Paul says:

    Good call.

  35. David Marjanović says:

    She has not actually stated that she considers this obvious.

    It is obvious. Are you a postmodernist or something?

    omfg. yes. I totally condone unneccessary violence despite the fact that I only condone violence when necessary. because I like holding contradictory positions like that.

    LOL! Perfect response. :-)

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