A fresh new murder in Bangladesh marks the third slaying in three months of a secular humanist blogger. This is in a country in which atheists make up less than 5 percent of the demographic pool and are being systematically hunted down like animals. Yet, there were and still are no reactionary hashtags of “secularophobia” circulating online out of solidarity with the persecuted non-believing community in Bangladesh. There are no Glenn Greenwalds and Reza Aslans to caution- if I may recycle Greenwald’s own words regarding Islam baiting- about the “undue focus” on such a minority. The Islamophobia manufacturers have been deafeningly silent about the murderous profusion of atheistophobic zealotry. Furthermore, secularists are not exploiting these tragedies to legislate censorship of Islamic speech- all on the fatuous pretext of “observing sensitivity” towards secular victims of international theocracy. We don’t modulate our own suffering and oppression by translating it into the political cleansing of everybody else’s sentient freedoms. That low mark goes to the credit of the Islamic speech bullies.
However! A cartoon contest in Texas threatens the existence of 1.5 billion people. The speech bullies have warned us over the years that such thought crimes are categorical national emergencies only soluble by the authoritarian muscle of a government intervention- a force so severe that conventional liberal democracies only wield it in the most desperate circumstances (e.g. war, natural disasters, or something equally calamitous). In other words, the same political and economical resources marshaled up to help the millions displaced by an earthquake ought to also be allocated to save millions of people’s feelings from injury by a cartoon. Thats right, we are now morally and logically obligated to compare cartoons to tsunamis and earthquakes. This is simply a circus of stupidity and hypocrisy and we are all being forced to purchase a ticket.
It is precisely this intersection of humanity and mundanity that makes a blog on this topic so painfully necessary. Lord Tebbit, a British politician, once reacted to the moral hypocrisy of a fellow Muslim British politician, Lady Warsi (known for her propagation of the exaggerated Islamophobia meme):
“I would have told her to go to our Christian churches and listen to what was said about her religion and those who practise it, then to the mosques to hear what is said in some of them about the Christian faith and those who practise it (or about Buddhists, Jews, or even those who have no faith at all).”
Sunday Times columnist, Rod Liddle, also said the following:
“Having a go at Islam is fine, but having a go at Muslims, not all of who will agree with all its tenets, is not. I am an Islamaphobe if Islam is homophobic, encourages the subjucation of women and punishes apostasy.”
We now live in a self-mutilating culture which victimizes anti humanist attitudes about society and demoralizes anyone who points out the existence of such articles of hate, in the first place. As long as this asymmetry persists in the moral syntax of free discussion then we humanists have a moral obligation to generate a lot of noise about it. Being called “annoying” or “arrogant” is a small price to pay for demanding our rights. Being pejoratively diagnosed with a “phobia” for defending sexual and gender equality and freedom of expression is- going along with Liddle’s reasoning- a compliment and a badge of honor.