Thursday, August 19, 2010
More me-bait: Florida Congressional hopeful hates "Coexist" bumper stickers.
I saw this on Wonkette. It surprised me. I am an atheist, and I'm all about the co-existing. "Coexist" strikes me as being a statement about tolerance, looking for similarities, and not hating. As a person of minority religious views, maybe it appeals to me not to be ganged up on and abused for what I believe, or what I don't. But Allen West feels differently, so let's hear him out:
I'm actually thinking it's better not to be afraid to "coexist". I coexist with Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims and Christians all the time--I don't believe in their religions, but I don't necessarily think it means that the people of other religious opinions are bad or whatever. They just have a different opinion from mine, and I'm much more concerned with what people do, anyway. But when someone has a problem with "Coexist" bumper stickers, which is really an expression of nonviolence that applies to everybody, I get bummed. Why does this intolerance persist? To my mind, Christians or Buddhists or anyone, frankly, are just as capable of being religiously intolerant and reality-denying and atrocity-committing as anyone else. The point isn't about the qualities of the faiths, but the reality that faith and religion get used as tools.
The "No True Scotsman" argument usually gets trotted out to proclaim that a true Christian, Muslim, etc., would behave much better than some noxious example of the creed in question who has wronged our common societal sensibilities. A true Teabagger doesn't "coexist" with people who think differently. And a true atheist--would that person want to coexist with all these others?
I'd say "yeah", because I think existing is better than not existing. And I acknowledge all these other people, and hope they tolerate me.
But I don't think Allen West would. Not because of his "true Teabagger-dom". But because he said he wouldn't. I'd say it hurt my feelings if I cared more.
And by the way:
(Postscript: This isn't really the sort of blog where I get all that serious too often, but a thing that made me think more about "Coexist" was posted on The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg. I can't make the same profession of faith Imam Rauf did, but because of our mutual humanity, I feel like a Muslim when I see people being accused of the very opposite of what they are about just because of a label. The first thing I think people really need to sort out is--we're human, and we're all in this world together. "Coexist" damnit! And I still think shit like sharia as practiced by Saudi Arabia is inhuman--look at this garbage . No true Muslims are doing that? No. They consider themselves Muslims; they are just awful human beings. But there are awful human beings of every religion, color, creed and description. And the victim was a Muslim, too. As was Aisha, victim of the Taliban. And so was Neda. And so on, and so on. Go on, and figure out how their religion made them less human, or why their plight is less compelling than that of a true "whatever you call yourself." That's why I think I smile when I see a "Coexist" sticker. It means there is someone that would not hate me for what I think about religion. And would even see me as human.)