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Austin Cline

Elizabeth Dole: Equality for Atheists Not a North Carolina Value

By September 3, 2008

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Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), August 31, 2004
Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)
August 31, 2004
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
In her campaign battle against Kay Hagan, Republican Elizabeth Dole has apparently decided that she can improve her chances of winning by making explicit appeals to anti-atheist bigotry among North Carolina voters. I don't know which is more depressing: the fact that Elizabeth Dole would make such explicitly bigoted appeals, or the fact that her hate mongering might actually help her.

It's really no better than appealing to racism or anti-Semitism, but at least those sorts of appeals have to be made implicitly by bigoted Republicans. Hate mongering can be more open and explicit when the targets are atheists and gays. I have to wonder, though, if Dole gave any explicit thought to her bigotry before doing this or if it just happened automatically and naturally.

I also wonder why she hates atheists so much that she would not only attack us, but attack the very idea of our wanting equal civil rights in the first place. That's not casual hate; this is a strong and deep hate motivating her to attack atheists very ability to live in the community as equals.

The specific context of Elizabeth Dole's hate mongering is Kay Hagan's fund-raising trip to Boston, Massachusetts and the home of Wendy Kaminer and her husband Woody Kaplan, both of whom are involved with the "Godless Americans Political Action Committee."

Kaminer is also an advisory board member (Woody is the chairman) of The Secular Coalition for America which is "the national lobby for atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheistic Americans with the unique mission of protecting their civil rights.” (Secular Coalition For America, Press Release, 1/16/08) Kaminer's husband, Woody Kaplan, is also an advisor to the Godless Americans Political Action Committee which sees itself as a counter-force to religious groups in public policy debates.

"Kay Hagan is trying to run a campaign in North Carolina that casts her as a moderate but the money that's paying for it is coming from the left-wing fringe of political thought," said Dole Campaign Communications Director Dan McLagan. "You can tell a lot about a person by their friends and these are friends most North Carolinians would not be comfortable having over for dinner." ...

"Kay Hagan does not represent the values of this state; she is a Trojan Horse for a long list of wacky left-wing outside groups bent on policies that would horrify most North Carolinians if they knew about it," McLagan said. "This latest revelation of support from anti-religion activists will not sit well with the 90% of state residents who identify with a specific religious faith."

Source: Elizabeth Dole Web Site

Let's review the implicit claims being made by Elizabeth Dole's campaign here:

  • Protecting the civil rights of nontheists is on the "left-wing fringe of political thought." Presumably, attacking and infringing on the civil rights of nontheists is seen by Dole as "moderate" or "mainstream."
  • People who want to protect the rights of nontheists would not be welcome for dinner in the homes of most North Carolinians. Presumably, people who attack the civil rights of nontheists would be welcome.
  • Protecting the civil rights of nontheists "does not sit well" with North Carolinians who identify with a specific religious faith. Presumably, attacking the civil rights of nontheists does sit well with them.

Let's replace "nontheists" with other minorities to see how all that reads, shall we?

  • Protecting the rights of gays is on the "left-wing fringe of political thought."
  • People who want to protect the rights of blacks would not be welcome for dinner in the homes of North Carolinians.
  • Protecting the civil rights of Jews "does no sit well" with Christians in North Carolina.

Notice that none of these hypotheticals mention any of the policies or the beliefs of the groups being targeted. The same is true of Elizabeth Dole's press release. Nothing is cited about atheists generally or the Secular Coalition For America that is or can be presented as the least be objectionable — except for the fact that they work to secure equality for atheists. If Dole were raising a philosophical or political objection to the policies and agenda of people her opponent is working with, that is a potentially legitimate argument to make. It wouldn't necessarily be bigoted (depending on how it is phrased).

Instead, her entire press release is about nothing more or less than "my opponent can be found associating with atheists and people who want atheists to have equal civil rights" then treating that as self-evidently odious, objectionable, and indicative that a person is unfit for public office in North Carolina. This judgement is effectively made about every person who doesn't believe in any gods, even though Elizabeth Dole can't possibly know even most of them, never mind all of them.

Judging people simply because they don't believe in any gods is on the same moral level as judging people for their skin color or their sexual orientation. This places Elizabeth Dole and her Communications Director Dan McLagan on the same level as racists — and worse, racist politicians who exploit the racism of voters in order to turn them against more liberal politicians who dare to associate with racial minorities and/or those who support equal rights of racial minorities.

As I said above, attitudes and beliefs like this are not motivated by mere "casual" hate. People who say and think like this have developed a very deep and strong hatred towards their scapegoats. Elizabeth Dole may not quite be at the stage of burning crosses in atheists' yards, but frankly her press release doesn't make her sound all that far off, either. No matter how bigoted and discriminatory the Democratic Party can be towards atheists, I guess it's always possible for Republicans to be far worse. Amazing, isn't it?

Others have also been writing about this:

Comments
September 3, 2008 at 12:57 pm
(1) Mark Paterson says:

All you have to do is disprove Charles Darwin. Not prove Jesus Christ or God.

September 3, 2008 at 1:06 pm
(2) Ned B. says:

Mark,

Not sure what you mean here. Could you elaborate? Thanks.

September 4, 2008 at 10:12 am
(3) tracieh says:

I’d like to see some of these “horrific” policies enumerated. I’m just curious what that means. It’s funny she says they’d be horrified “if they knew about [them],” but then makes no attempt to inform.

I also have to laugh about being uncomfortable having them over for dinner. What’s that? Are they advocating Hannibal Lecter-type behavior? Seriously–how BAD would a person have to be to make me “uncomfortable” having them for dinner? That’s pretty bad in my book. Even people I don’t care for, with views I disagree with, don’t make me uncomfortable to be around. Discomfort comes from a feeling of threat. We’re not talking about people who are simply boring or obnoxious or with whom we disagree–she’s, frankly, labeling these people “dangerous” (unless she’s just really easy to make uncomfortable)…? Is she that sensitive or that threatened? And if she’s that threatened by the mere proximity of another human for the time-span of a dinner–I’d like to know the types of things she thinks these people are going to do to her based on these scary policies she’s mentioning…?

September 4, 2008 at 10:18 am
(4) tracieh says:

Just to quickly add–it is amazing how closely the anti-atheist and anti-gay language (and often even the issues) often parallel racist language (and issues). It’s as though the people speaking either can’t hear themselves, or have some sort of disconnect on that level. Is it that they can’t be outright racist in the modern age as well (and are being consistent with groups they _can_ publicly insult)? Or that they’re over the racism, but don’t understand the parallel to the prejudice and bigotry they’re exhibiting toward other groups in a very similar fashion?

Remember “guess who’s coming to dinner”? It’s really ironic she would use that same language of being uncomfortable with these types at dinner.

September 4, 2008 at 12:09 pm
(5) deegee says:

Another thing Dole fails to grasp is that atheists might actually AGREE with her on one or more issues. While atheists may lean leftward on many social issues because the conservative position on them is often based solely on religion, there are plenty of purely secular issues atheists may lean rightward.

We free-thinking atheists are probably more independent than the population at large, so it would not surprise me if atheists are all over the political spectrum regarding issues which are not religiously oriented.

I happen to be a registered Independence Party member because I lean rightward on some (but not many) issues while I lean leftward on others. I guess that would not matter to Elizabeth Dole, however.

September 5, 2008 at 12:42 pm
(6) Sherry says:

I’ve been a registered Republican for 35 years. I refuse to leave the party because Christians want to run it, they will have to expell me first. Barry Goldwater warned us about the neo-cons. He sure was right.

I wrote an e-mail to Dole, telling her about my hero, Pat Tillman, and detailing my families military service back to the Revoltionary War. I asked why she did not feel that atheists could be patriots and citizens.

Of course I got back a canned message, that ended with — God Bless. ARGGHHHHHH!

September 5, 2008 at 2:48 pm
(7) Jason says:

Sherry,

I wish more Republicans were like you. :)

September 5, 2008 at 3:23 pm
(8) Marc says:

Those controlled by organized religion are accustomed to be controlled by fear. It’s all about fear! All you must do is convince them that they should be fearful of a group or groups and you’ve got them! Great political tactic! My own mother is so fearful that the “godless” people of the world will take away her religious freedom and persecute her, she will support taking that very freedom away from everyone that does not believe as she does!

September 5, 2008 at 4:25 pm
(9) Laurie says:

I also sent her an e-mail and got the canned response that ended with god bless…blah…blah…blah. I also donated $50 to the Kay Hagan campaign even though I live in California.

September 5, 2008 at 5:54 pm
(10) Drew says:

Well, at least you got canned responses. I guess they noticed my Canadian email address, so I didn’t get a reply at all. Oh well, anything to help out my atheist neighbours!

September 5, 2008 at 5:56 pm
(11) Lee Picton says:

I also sent money to Kay Hagen and then sent a letter to Dole explaining why (and I’m in Maryland). Of course, I got the canned reply with the god bless at the end.

September 6, 2008 at 11:12 am
(12) vjack says:

Thanks for the link and for covering this important story. I stumbled your post.

September 6, 2008 at 3:30 pm
(13) John Halloran says:

Sherry, I hope you and other Republicans like you can hang in there long enough to wrest your party’s reins from the fists of its current unprincipled, amoral masters. It’s quite reassuring to know that you haven’t all been “borged” by the neocons.

September 21, 2008 at 11:42 am
(14) John K says:

Rumors are that Dole had to skip the Republican national convention and stay home to campaign because the polls are turning against her.

October 7, 2008 at 1:21 pm
(15) Brian Westley says:

Dole and the NC Republican party have gone full-bore hate mail against atheists (full scans at the URL):

Message to Elizabeth Dole

October 29, 2008 at 2:13 pm
(16) DARYL HOLMES says:

Anti-atheist bigotry?I have heard it all now.Open hate toward christians and religion is bigotry.Kay Hagen should have the backbone to admit she went there.Why is Hagen not a bigot for denyong this?Why is she going to bring a preacher on to deny this?Lesbians openly attend her church.Her church is a joke.Why do atheist defend pedophiles,anti religious bigotry,homosexuals and other sexual diviant behaviors?Atheist find it neccessary to make us accept thier BS WHILE INSULTING religion.

October 29, 2008 at 2:26 pm
(17) daryl holmes says:

Lots odf atheist from other staes are admitting to sending kay hagen money.I have notified Dole campaign to look at these.How nice for Hagen to have to defend your admitted donations while she brings out her preacher.You may be a present to Dole-Your nonsense did not work against Helms and it wont work now

October 29, 2008 at 4:18 pm
(18) Austin Cline says:

Anti-atheist bigotry?I have heard it all now.

Are you denying that it exists?

Open hate toward christians and religion is bigotry.

Can you point to any?

Kay Hagen should have the backbone to admit she went there. Why is Hagen not a bigot for denyong this?

She hasn’t denied it. Why should she?

Why is she going to bring a preacher on to deny this?

She isn’t going to bring a preacher to deny that; she is bringing a preacher to deny that she herself is an atheist — an allegation which Elizabeth Dole has tried to imply.

Lesbians openly attend her church.Her church is a joke.

Is this “hate” towards her church?

Why do atheist defend pedophiles,anti religious bigotry,homosexuals and other sexual diviant behaviors?

Feel free to point to atheists defending pedophiles and anti-religious bigotry. Once you’ve finished that perhaps you’ll explain how and why homosexuality is in the same category.

Atheist find it neccessary  to make us accept thier BS WHILE INSULTING  religion.

First, religion is a type of ideology and can no more be “insulted” than a political or philosophical belief system. Second, even if it could, why should it be exempt from “insults” when other belief systems are not?

Finally, who has tried to make you accept what BS?

Lots odf atheist from other staes are admitting to sending kay hagen money.

I’m one of them. Is it odd or a problem that atheists should support a candidate running against a bigot who is deliberately and openly using bigotry as part of the campaign?

I have notified Dole campaign to look at these.

Go ahead, but be sure to include the fact that atheists are donating money because the Dole campaign is trafficing in hate and bigotry.

You may be a present to Dole-Your nonsense did not work against Helms and it wont work now

Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that Elizabeth Dole is behind in the most recent polls. Apparently, her own constituents don’t agree with that sort of bigotry, either.

Thank you, though, for making the comparison between Dole and another Senator who was also a bigot — it helps make the connection between Dole’s anti-atheist bigotry and both homophobic bigotry and racist bigotry.

October 30, 2008 at 5:59 pm
(19) daryl holmes says:

Last night,church organized a bus to take people to early vote against Kay Hagen.There were people taht actually were going to vote foe Hagen cause she lives in our county.Ad never sais Hagen was an atheist,it just told people she is willing to go to Boston and take money from atheist.Oddly,Hagen ran against a gay in primary and printed flyers telling people about it and now her chickens have come home to roast.Hagen got atheist money before ad came out and ad coming out saturday will show people this.Thanks for informing the people of North Carolina Liddy Dole about Hagen

October 30, 2008 at 6:16 pm
(20) Austin Cline says:

Ad never sais Hagen was an atheist,

One ad did try to imply it, that’s why she’s going to court.

it just told people she is willing to go to Boston and take money from atheist.

Only a bigot would find that something to be concerned about.

It’s on the same moral level as complaining that she has taken campaign donations from Jews, gays, or blacks.

October 31, 2008 at 3:36 pm
(21) John Hanks says:

Most religion is just a protection racket. Scare um, protect um, fleece um. There is nothing wrong with pointing out a racket.

October 31, 2008 at 3:38 pm
(22) daryl holmes says:

Nonsense,though like gays its a behavior or a belief which is like calling someone that tells people a pedophile has moved in the neighborhood is a “bigot”.You insult blacks and gays by lumpimg them in with gays and atheist.Sorry,deviant acts are choice as is also odd and unstable beliefs in atheism and its push to bring its weird negative thinking.It is childlike not being “told what to do” or having any rules, regulations or moral fiber.Courts will throw it out this joke of a law suit because its kay hagens mind that thinks its saying she is an atheist.The ad says whats she promising “them”-this is separating Hagen from the atheist group.Wake up,you are not going to stop religion or turn everyone gay.

October 31, 2008 at 3:48 pm
(23) Daryl Holmes says:

You say only a “bigot” would be concerned-Why would a christian not be concerned when atheist are the ones that got prayer taken out of schools and it has resulted in causing crime to rise in the past 40 years.Atheist try to stop someone from saying “merry christmas” or force a christian doctor to perform an abortion.Atheist are very dangerous and history has show leaders like stalin,Pott,Mao and even some say Hitler was an atheist though he pretended to be a christian in public.Your hate has caused the deaths of christians throughout history and never again can this evil lie be allowed to fester and become the puss filled sore on the face of america

October 31, 2008 at 3:54 pm
(24) Austin Cline says:

Nonsense,though like gays its a behavior or a belief which is like calling someone that tells people a pedophile has moved in the neighborhood is a “bigot”.

What? I’m sorry, but I can’t make any sense out of that. Could you rephrase it?

You insult blacks and gays by lumpimg them in with gays and atheist.

How so?

Sorry,deviant acts are choice as is also odd and unstable beliefs in atheism and its push to bring its weird negative thinking.

What are “beliefs in atheism” and what do you mean by “weird negative thinking’?

It is childlike not being “told what to do” or having any rules, regulations or moral fiber.

Is it your claim that atheists don’t want to be ‘told what to do,” don’t want any rules or regulations, and don’t have any moral fiber?

Courts will throw it out this joke of a law suit because its kay hagens mind that thinks its saying she is an atheist.

So, showing a picture of Hagen with a voice that sounds like Hagen saying “there is no God” can’t reasonably be interpreted as an attempt to get people to believe Hagen is an atheist?

Wake up,you are not going to stop religion or turn everyone gay.

Who is trying to turn everyone gay?

What is the relevance of stopping religion?

You say only a “bigot” would be concerned-Why would a christian not be concerned when atheist are the ones that got prayer taken out of schools and it has resulted in causing crime to rise in the past 40 years.

1. Actually, it was Christians who had state-written, official prayers removed from schools.

2. Where is your evidence that the absence of state-written prayers (as opposed to personal, private prayers) has led to a rise in crime? Desegregation occurred at about the same time, but you don’t attribute the rise in crime to that. The reason why you shouldn’t is because correlation is not the same as causation.

Atheist try to stop someone from saying “merry christmas” or force a christian doctor to perform an abortion.

Feel free to cite actual examples of this.

Atheist are very dangerous and history has show leaders like stalin,Pott,Mao and even some say Hitler was an atheist though he pretended to be a christian in public.

Feel free to show how the actions of any of these individuals can be connected to atheism.

Your hate has caused the deaths of christians throughout history

Feel free to provide evidence that I hate anyone.

and never again can this evil lie be allowed to fester and become the puss filled sore on the face of america

Well, what do you propose happen with atheists in America?

October 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm
(25) The Sojourner says:

It would seem to me that Daryl’s spelling (“sais, puss filled, diviant”?) leads me to believe he is not only opinionated, but probably minimally educated to boot. He can’t even use elementary grammar correctly. Is this the type of Christian you’d want for a spokesperson?

By the way, Daryl, something puss-filled would be something full of cats! It’s “chickens come home to roost”, not roast.

Back to the subject now. At last count Dole was behind by nine points and Hagen is definitely suing for defamation of character. Lost in all this hoo-ha is the fact that religion has become an unfortunate part of this country’s politics.

This proves again that atheists are the most despised minority in the country. I hope the day will come when this is no longer an issue for concern.

November 1, 2008 at 4:13 am
(26) Tom Edgar says:

I know that America ranks about twentieth out of about 24 advanced countries in education.

I’m beginning to think that poor “Darryl” managed to make those figures even worse all on his own.

It is very easily proved that the lower the education standards are of a country, a county,or a district the more intensive are the religious beliefs. One has only to look at the Middle and Far East to see extremes of intellectual poverty aligned with strong affiliation to a number of religions.

The Christian counterpart is South America,
say compared to Canada. Or the Bible Belt compared to, well, just about anywhere actually, maybe Alaska excepted.
I’m joshing here a little but the truism still holds. Maybe Darryl is actually still in school, or is writing in what is, for him, a second language and is only writing to try to improve his English skills. So we shouldn’t condemn him unless we know. Whatever the reason for his lack of education and understanding of the world and its people he should be encouraged, not denigrated. He has a lot to learn, and by our forbearance we could be of assistance.

tomedgar@halenet.com.au.

Oh Darryl that little au on the end of my address means AUSTRALIA. And in case you don’t know it.
We are a very godless lot down here. Less than half ever go to a Church Synagogue or Temple.

November 1, 2008 at 4:51 am
(27) Tom Edgar says:

Oh Darryl
Just to enlighten You Stalin was born a member of the Orthodox Religion. Pol Pot was a very strong Catholic as was Adolf Hitler and his deputy Goering along with ninety percent of the German people of that era. I know, it was my era too. For your information Chairman Mao although a professed atheist, it was not unusual in pre war China,(Pre war in this area means before the 1930s), and not only that he never attacked outside his own country. He was too busy defending it from the Shinto/God Emperor religionist Japanese and the would be collaborators the Kuomintang. So get your facts right as well as your grammar.
tomedgar@halenet.com.au

November 1, 2008 at 2:03 pm
(28) George says:

Obviously Darryl is the kind of low information voter that belongs to a Dole desired demographic. Sarah Palin will suck up that kind like a paper towel.

November 1, 2008 at 4:20 pm
(29) The Sojourner says:

Tom:

I applaud your generosity in regard to Daryl. However, I have found Daryl’s educational level seems about par with many comments I have read over time that were offered by his fellow fundie types. You should check out a site called “FundiessaytheDarndestThings.com”. Check some of the links to the actual sites the comments are from. These are authentic comments from real people.

If Daryl is a foreign person or still in school, he has my apology on his language skills, but not his opinions.

November 1, 2008 at 5:38 pm
(30) Tom Edgar says:

Sojourner.

Ah! the exaggerated hyperbole I employed was actually a two edged sword. Whilst the general thrust can be interpreted as being sympathetic, believe me, I was being rather devious in my use of sarcastic denigration. I realise, in the words of Oscar Wilde, “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.” But one does have to descend sometimes to the level of the intended victim’s intelligence to ensure comprehension. Even then I feel Darryl would have difficulty along with his boondocks buddies in understanding anything but simplistic bible texts. Poor things.

tomedgar@halenet.com.au

November 2, 2008 at 1:50 am
(31) Drew says:

Wow, what a surprise – the retarded theist Daryl Holmes spells every word but his own name incorrectly in his posts. Yet more evidence of the relationship between religious belief and low education.

November 2, 2008 at 6:24 am
(32) The Sojourner says:

Tom:

A comment on your previous comment above. I guess one of the problems with the printed word is the inability to get the inflection of the words sometimes. That’s where I think smileys (or is it smilies?), etc. can help.

I know some people frown om them as silly or juvenile at best. Personally, I think they can be useful in some instances(hint, Austin).

November 2, 2008 at 6:32 am
(33) The Sojourner says:

Should have been frown “on”. Believe it or not, I used to proofread at one of my jobs.

November 2, 2008 at 1:03 pm
(34) ELAINE says:

What makes anyone think they’re better than anyone else. Do not judge. Do not be horrible to others when you are not personally involved with them.
People who do not have respect for others are bigoted. As an atheist I believe unless someone is evil, as priests who mollest children,religious fathers who tell their children that god says they should have sex with them,etc.Just being kind and generous to others is what matters. What sex orientation people are… None of your business.

November 2, 2008 at 1:09 pm
(35) elaine says:

Are these really people like this. How evil. They know in their hearts there is no god but an excuse to say terrible things about others and get away with it. If there is a hell as she believes well thats where she will be going.

November 2, 2008 at 2:05 pm
(36) Dave says:

Daryl has the same problem as most fundies, its not low education, its retardation, the simple reality is that if our country enforced it its inbreeding laws most of these fundies wouldn’t be alive, this is why they are so against abortion being legal.

mongolism or trisonomy as the conditions true name is steadily on the rise in this country and nobody seems to notice or care

and the fact that the Catholic Church promoted inbreeding as a way of controling the masses, the most common being the right of the King or one his Duke had the right to first hump of newlywed virgin Women to guarantee that preceding generation would not be able to think clearly, as well as the murder of anyone that could read the bible and notice the inconsistencies of the stories.

Retardation is the way of The CHURCH and there is a good chance the retarded will always belong to the church.

Now a great many christians will say this is bigotry, the fact is that this is historical fact, the church is guilty of more atrocities than any one nation, from genocide to pedophilia, and anyone that believes this to be false needs to read some history books in a big way!!!

November 4, 2008 at 4:08 am
(37) Tom Edgar says:

Sojourner.

I appreciate your remarks but you will notice I said my humble offering was “Two edged.”

The sarcasm passing for wit and the truth of the submission were meant to be taken literally and interpreted according to your personal desires.

Maybe I was speaking in parables. Which is just another way of confusing the confused.

I have a very large book “The Sojourners.”
History of the Chinese in Australia. My wife was a descendant of one Chinese man, circa 1852.
No connection? She also had a familial connection to the Ozarks but the Chinese blood helped to live that down.

tomedgar @halenet.com.au

November 4, 2008 at 5:44 pm
(38) aveteran says:

- daryl holmes blubbered:
Last night,church organized a bus to take people to early vote against Kay Hagen.

Please tell us the name of the church. I’d like to know where NOT to go.

November 5, 2008 at 6:07 pm
(39) The Sojourner says:

As of this writing, Kay Hagen has won! Proving that there are people out there who actually have some brains! Sorry, Daryl… Goodbye Liddy and good riddance! Chalk up another defeat because of bad campaigning. I think Hagen’s church is a moderate one, not fundie. I wonder though, how long will it be until atheism, is no longer considered a slur? Perhaps next time an atheist will actually win an election.

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