Here’s one for the ‘tell us something we don’t know’ bin.
(Warning to the sarcasm-impaired: prepare yourself.)
Razib Khan has blown the pernicious canard that ‘atheist conservatives and libertarians are rare‘ out of the water.
A generous definition of rare I would think is 10% or less (you might argue for a more stringent threshold, but let’s work with 10%). So what are the politics of atheists? I bring this up because someone named Bridget Gaudette is looking for conservative and libertarian atheists to ask them about their views (so naturally I came up), but prefaced her inquiry to me by the assertion that “conservative/Republican” and “Libertarian” individuals in the “Atheist community” are rare. I don’t think this is empirically valid, depending on how you define the atheist community (e.g., atheist activists are probably to the Left of the median atheist). But even among the types who are motivated enough to attend secularist conferences, a substantial minority are non-liberals. I know because many people approached me after I spoke about my conservatism at the Moving Secularism Forward event last spring, and expressed their libertarianism, or specific conservative heterodoxies. Many of the young male atheists who I encountered in particular tended to be libertarians. Genuine self-identified conservatives are moderately rare, to be fair.
As we’d expect atheists lean liberal and Democrat. But >20% of atheists in this data set identify as Republicans or conservatives. I think the conservative identification is somewhat misleading. Many of the “conservatives” are actually libertarian. That’s obvious because though atheists are diverse in relation to fiscal issues, they tend to be liberal on social issues.
Thank you Mr. Khan for breaking the spell! We were all deluded before — dogmatically adhering to the idea that all atheists agree with progressive causes like social justice. We never would’ve thought that there was such a large number of “young male atheists… who tended to be libertarian”!
Right, Jen McCreight? There’s no online gangs of dude-bro MRAs constantly harassing feminist atheists, right? Who ever heard of that? I mean, it’s silly to think libertarian atheists would live to wallow in the sexist, racist, homophobic slymepit while relentlessly attacking any woman who dares to challenge their historical dominance in the movement. Silly, I tell you!
We never before thought to say that atheists lean left! For too long we have not acknowledged that there are many (too many, IMHO) Ayn Randian atheists — we just assumed that every atheist had the same radical leftist political views that we do. (Cough… Penn Jillette … cough…)
In fact, we progressive atheists were so oblivious to the demographics of the New Atheist movement that we haven’t made any effort whatsoever to distance ourselves from the emotionally stunted among our “young male” cohorts. Some of us haven’t, for instance, caused a stir by starting an explicitly progressive, ethical branch of movement atheism — which incidentally isn’t called Atheism+ — designed to put some air between us and MRA dude-bros like, i.e., The Amazing Asshole.
(Cough… PZ Myers sed…
There are no leaders, no organization behind it, no money, no coercive power at all. It’s entirely spontaneous. Currently it’s little more than a label.
It’s an emergent movement, bubbling up out of resentment at some of our atheist “allies” who turn out to be regressive thugs. We can’t very well kick them out of the atheist movement — none of us have that power, and they legitimately are real genuine atheists who just happen to also be assholes. And some of us don’t like associating with them.
We really believed that the atheist community is one big, happy, ultra-progressive commune — always open and welcoming to women, racial minorities, homosexuals, transgender folks and the disabled. We never ever never would have thought to draw a distinction between ourselves and the bigots in our midst!
So thank you, Mr. Khan.
Thanks for pointing out that too many “young male atheists” are ‘complete fucking tools’.
Now how about telling us something we don’t know, and aren’t trying to fix. Or even better — how about helping us fix it?
Maybe you have some pull with these dude-bros, because they come unhinged like Ron Paul nuts when their self-perceived status as would-be leaders is challenged by us left-leaning atheists — especially when we’re women. Like most conservative and libertarian men, the MRAtheists are pure know-it-alls who would rather destroy the entire movement rather than let it lean left.
(BTW that last bit wasn’t sarcastic. I know… it’s tricky biz for the sarcasm-impaired.)