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Austin Cline

Chris Hedges: Secular Atheists are to Blame for Norway Massacre

By August 8, 2011

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It was sad, though not surprising, when right-wing Christians tried to blame the shootings in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik on Muslims, even though Breivik is an anti-Muslim Christian. It's a bit more of a surprise to find someone trying to blame secular atheists for the shootings -- at least until you learn that it's Chris Hedges saying it.

Then it's no so surprising because it doesn't seem as though there is any calumny against atheists that is too extreme, too false, or too immoral for Chris Hedges to commit

Chris Hedges writes at Truth (sic) Dig:

The gravest threat we face from terrorism, as the killings in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik underscore, comes not from the Islamic world but the radical Christian right and the secular fundamentalists who propagate the bigoted, hateful caricatures of observant Muslims and those defined as our internal enemies. The caricature and fear are spread as diligently by the Christian right as they are by atheists such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.

Our religious and secular fundamentalists all peddle the same racist filth and intolerance that infected Breivik. This filth has poisoned and degraded our civil discourse. The looming economic and environmental collapse will provide sparks and tinder to transform this coarse language of fundamentalist hatred into, I fear, the murderous rampages experienced by Norway. I worry more about the Anders Breiviks than the Mohammed Attas.

Yeah, I don't suppose that there is any threat we face from immoral purveyors of lies about other groups. You know, the hate mongers who calmly spread lies about other groups in order to encourage hate and suspicion of them even though there is no basis whatsoever for any of their charges or claims.

By the way, Hedges, where are the examples of "racist filth and intolerance" from "New Atheists" which "infected Breivik"? Got any examples at all? No? I didn't think so -- you never have concrete examples to substantiate any of your charges against atheists.

That is what I call "filth". You, Chris Hedges, are guilty of doing to atheist exactly what you accuse atheists of doing to Muslims. It's also disturbingly similar to what anti-Semites have done to Jews for centuries. Can we expect some sort of blood libel from you against atheists any time soon? Or did I just spoil the surprise plot of your next book?

Granted, your words lack the racial component of these other things, but it's still little more than vile, evil hate mongering -- and it's hate mongering in an atmosphere where there are many Christians who are open and unapologetic about their desire to kill atheists. Yes, there are Christians out there who want to see atheists killed and you, Chris Hedges, are feeding them all sorts of fuel to keep their violent hatred going.

If America experiences an anti-atheist Breivik and the killer cites your work as part of their inspiration, Chris Hedges, what would you do? Would you acknowledge your errors and the extent to which you personally have fomented hate and violence against people you don't know, people who have not harmed you, and people who have done nothing wrong but disagree with religious theism?

I doubt it. Such a reaction would require far more moral character and self-reflection than I've ever seen you demonstrate.

Comments
August 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm
(1) Carmen Celestini says:

I have to ask, did you actually read the article Chris Hedges wrote? Or did you read the opening paragraph and then simply become the poster child of what he is speaking about, by spewing anger and hatred without taking the time to look at facts?
I think I should start with announcing I am one amongst the group known as atheist. But, it would appear unlike you, I am a thinking Atheist.
Chris Hedges is NOT attacking all Atheists, he is not putting his condemnation upon this group, his ire is directed at those who are fundamentalists amongst all belief systems. He is pointing out the “othering”, the hate mongering, the blaming and scapegoating of those who have different belief systems.
This is quite well supported in his quotes from Hitchens on Islam. If Hitchens or anyone else espousing hatred and blame unto Muslims would actually take the time to learn the belief system, read the Qur’an and Hadith I think a lot of the hyperbole would deteriorate.
Hedges is speaking of those who bastardize religion, all religions to make malleable a book, a belief to use it for their own gain. Those from Christianity, Atheism, Islam, Buddhism etc who use books of faith to espouse hatred and fear-mongering.
Perhaps if you took the time to read a book or two, like perhaps Hannah Arendt’s History of Totalitarianism, or Paxton’s book on Fascism, you too could see the pattern that is emerging around the world to create fascist regimes based on a theocratic government.
Continued

August 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm
(2) Carmen Celestini says:

Continued:
Hedges is not saying being an Atheist is wrong, or that all Atheists are the anti-christ here to ruin the world…he is saying Fanatics and fundamentalists of all stripes are the harbingers of the continued hatred, war, racism, and bigotry that is stopping us as a species from living in peace.
Your diatribe on Hedges simply proves his thesis correct….those who do not take the time to learn, to read, and to understand are the cause of much anger and problems in society. Perhaps if you had read the article like the “Academic” you claim to be and not the grudge bearing, fear-mongering atheist then you could have provided your readers with an interesting dialogue on the topic.
The link to the article is above….if you use your mouse you can click on it…there are 3 pages…I suggest you read them all.

And this….this article and your pedantic, self defensive stance is such a part of why Atheists are getting lumped together as immoral idiots.

August 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm
(3) Austin Cline says:

I have to ask, did you actually read the article Chris Hedges wrote?

Yes.

But, it would appear unlike you, I am a thinking Atheist.

If you were thinking, why would you incorrectly capitalize “atheist”?

Chris Hedges is NOT attacking all Atheists

He tries not to, but his attempt to blame “New Atheists” when there is no difference between them and “old” atheists effectively results in blaming atheists generally.

his ire is directed at those who are fundamentalists amongst all belief systems.

Except that atheism isn’t a belief system and, therefore, cannot have fundamentalism. This necessarily invalidates all of his attempts to attack atheists.

This is quite well supported in his quotes from Hitchens on Islam.

Don’t you mean Sam Harris? Hedges misrepresents Harris terribly.

Are you sure you read Hedges’ article? Did you read the original Harris writings that Hedges is attacking?

Hedges is speaking of those who bastardize religion, all religions to make malleable a book, a belief to use it for their own gain. Those from Christianity, Atheism, Islam, Buddhism etc who use books of faith to espouse hatred and fear-mongering.

By attributing to “Atheism” the use of “books of faith” indicates that you don’t understand what atheism is.

Perhaps if you took the time to read a book or two, like perhaps Hannah Arendt’s History of Totalitarianism, or Paxton’s book on Fascism, you too could see the pattern that is emerging around the world to create fascist regimes based on a theocratic government.

In fact I quote Paxton quite often on this site. And it’s precisely the concern with theocratic governments which animates atheists like Hitchens and Harris – you know, the ones you’re trying to say Hedges is justified in attacking.

Hedges is not saying being an Atheist is wrong, or that all Atheists are the anti-christ here to ruin the world…

I didn’t claim he was. Are you sure you read what I wrote?

Your diatribe on Hedges simply proves his thesis correct….

So when I point out that his gross misrepresentations of atheists amounts to hate-mongering, I prove that his misrepresentations of atheism and atheists are “correct”? How does that work, exactly?

The link to the article is above….if you use your mouse you can click on it…there are 3 pages…I suggest you read them all.

I didn’t. Curious that you are unable to point to a single error in any of my critique. Instead you just resort to ad hominems – rather like how Hedges engages in little more than ad hominem attacks rather than identify anything substantive in the writings of atheists that he disagrees with.

You’re like two peas in a pod.

August 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm
(4) cliff willard says:

A quote from Carmen Celestini.
“Those from Christianity, Atheism, Islam, Buddhism etc. who use books of faith to espouse hatred and fear-mongering.”

REALLY?

It might surprise you, Carmen, to know that atheists’ have no “Books of Faith”. If you are referring to religious “Books of Faith” such as the Bible and the Koran, you have only to read them to see that they contain many passages full of hatred.

As for Buddhists, I’m not aware of any “hatred” and/or “fear mongering” from them. In fact, just the opposite!

August 8, 2011 at 3:23 pm
(5) murmur55 says:

A sky fairy is a sky fairy is a sky fairy.

August 8, 2011 at 4:58 pm
(6) Eric O says:

Hedges really irks me. I actually have his book, “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (given to me by a family member), though I haven’t read it in its entirety; it’s hard to invest time in a book by an author who has proven himself to be dishonest and malicious in his essays and columns.

If I had a stronger incentive (ie. if I had a blog and needed something to rant about), I’d pick the book up and dissect it argument by argument. For now, though, it’ll just sit in the “unread” section of my bookshelf.

August 9, 2011 at 12:32 am
(7) P Smith says:

Why would Hedges mention Harris and Hitchens so early and so prominently except to deliberately attempt to conflate atheism and extremism? It’s undoubtedly a non sequitur, but when the ignorant read that twaddle, they’ll start out assuming a link will appear later in the text. And when no such link appears, they’ll still falsely associate Hitchens and Harris with religious terrorism.

Hedges’ attempt to associate atheists with christian terrorists, muslim terrorists and jewish terrorists is done for the exact same reasons the regime of George Bu**sh** associated Saddam Hussein and 9/11: to gain support for and justify and unprovoked assault on those who had nothing to do with the key event.

.

August 9, 2011 at 7:04 am
(8) MikeC says:

I’ve read Hitchens, Harris, Dennet, Dawkins, Henderson, & deGrasse Tyson (among other things) and while I have noticed (as Carmen said) a deserved amount of blame, I see no “hatred” towards Muslims, Christians or anyone else.

I DO see frustration, impatience, and an unending will to discuss. But I see no hatred.

Those authors only reiterate what the “holy books” say, and give real life examples of how ancient “holy books” are horror stories, and how that effects human behavior today.

Mockery? Scientific Facts? Rebuttals to fantasy? Is this hate?

No atheist(s) has ever held a Crusade, an Inquisition, a Genocide, a bombing, or even a book burning.
The idea that secular atheists caused a single Islamophobic Christian koo-koo to murder people is asinine.

Atheists rent billboards, talk on the interwebs, have conventions, give to charities, try to get equal rights while dispelling stereotypical bigotry, encourage people to think critically, and try to nurture human advancement.

I do, however, have a certain worry in the back of my mind, about my America becoming a Christian Theocracy/Fascist State. If you actually look closely at it, Sharia law isn’t much different from Judeo-Christian law. But I’ve gotten off point.

Why is it (at least on US media, I prefer BBC)) when a Christian commits an act of terrorism, he’s “not a real Christian”, and doesn’t represent Christianity in any way shape or form?

Why is it that when a Muslim commits an act of terrorism, his entire religion is blamed, even though many other Muslims insist his views are a gross misrepresentation?

Terrorism is terrorism. Murder is murder. Siding yourself with one religion or another does not justify that. It just gives one a “good” reason to do it.

August 9, 2011 at 12:13 pm
(9) ChuckA says:

Face it, my fellow persistent atheist friends…
What irks ALL heavily indoctrinated believers of religious fantasies no end, be they clerics of whatever ‘ilk’, “Professional Theologians, various conspiratorial “Woo-woo” advocates, or, in the particular case of Hedges…an, obvious, somewhat parisitcal fringe-roosting believer/author on the subject…
WE’RE the most dangerous threat to their often extremely comfortable, highly esteemed, but delusional societal status.

Hmmm…is “Pedestal Overturning” (arogant ass-kicking?) the new potential/intellectual “Atheist World Order” sport, perhaps?
Of COURSE, I’m kidding…ROIT?
:shock:

August 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm
(10) Nigel Sinnott says:

A marvellous reply! Well written!

August 12, 2011 at 10:13 pm
(11) Hedged says:

Chris hedges has a pugnacious look on his face you just wanna wipe clean off. That’s all.

August 13, 2011 at 2:49 am
(12) Sally says:

Why don’t my post ever show up?

August 15, 2011 at 12:25 am
(13) Lucis Ferre says:

Hedges is a despicable character, not for his comments in this particular Truth Dig article but for his continued method of operation. C. Hitchens and Dr. Harris criticize religious zealots who kill in some twisted (and sometimes not twisted) understanding of their religious “mission”. Anders Behring Breivik is precisely what Harris and Hitchens criticized. Breivik didn’t shoot innocent school children because of anti-Muslim rhetoric. He shot them because he’s mad.

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