Cal Colgan Blames New Atheists for Chapel Hill Shooting

Here’s an idiotic tweet from @calcolgan, ironically calling out his imagined idiocy of others:

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/565909458736672768
4:25 PM – 12 Feb 2015
“New Atheist” idiots are turning nonbelief into the very violent fanaticism they oppose. We atheists shd condemn this http://nyti.ms/1FyYOqN

From a twitter exchange this is what he thinks about the #ChapelHillShooting:

  • Colgan says New Atheists idiots have turned non-belief into violent fanatcism.
  • Colgan claims there’ve been numerous violent atheists – and is asked which ones.
  • Colgan responds with: What about state sponsored terrorism.
  • Colgan complains that New Atheists focus on Islam.
  • Colgan accuses Hitchens of supporting the war in Iraq because he and other New Atheists want to kill off Islam.
  • Colgan implies that Harris and Dawkins think all religious people are terrorists, “Doesn’t mean all religious ppl are potential terrorists.”

Nowehere does he actually back up his claims that:

  • New Atheists are turning non-belief into violent fanaticism
  • That Dawkins and Harris are somehow at fault for focusing on religion and Islam specifically
  • That Hitchens backed the war in Iraq because he wanted to kill off Islam
  • That any New Atheist has remotely suggested that all religious people are terrorists.

The New Atheists I’ve come across have been humanists, and some are subscribing Humanists through various national and international organisations.

I don’t know of any atheists, new or otherwise, that have committed violence in the name of atheism or New Atheism; and in fact violence is antithetical to their humanist beliefs. I can understand why Colgan would be dismayed at such people turning non-belief into violent fanaticism, if only they had. But of course they haven’t. It’s all in Colgan’s head. And remember, this Colgan calamity came out of the #ChapelHillShooting, and the investigation has yet to reveal the actual motivation of Hicks the shooter – unlike the many terrorist attacks by Muslims (NOT ALL MUSLIMS!) where we know the motivation, done explicitly in the name of Islam, often with quotes from Islamic texts to justify the attacks.

He’s right on state sponsored terrorism of course, in that the US and allies have done some atrocious things. And New Atheist humanists object to them as much as anyone, even if much of their public writing has other targets. So why is Colgan providing state sponsored terrorism as an example of the numerous atheists (or New Atheists) performing terror acts in response to the works of Dawkins and Harris – I don’t recall any reports from Wikileaks of clandestine activities quoting Dawkins or Harris.

And though Dawkins and Harris do focus on Islam rather than state sponsored terrorism, why does that mean that they should not criticise religion, or Islam specifically, when the religious doctrines advocate anti-humanist, anti-liberal, anti-democratic presscriptions, and in the case of Islam, actual violence, oppression and terror. If Dawkins and Harris have their specific concerns about religion, and feel that great journalists like Glenn Greenwald, and of course Cal Colgan, have state sponsored terrorism covered, what exactly is Colgan’s beef?

I mean, it’s not as if Islam is not a source of terror. If Colgan thinks state actions constitute terror, then why not religious rules that prescribe (and in some Islamic states result in) death for apostasy – how is that not a tool of terror. How are blasphemy laws not a tool of terror when laced with the threat of death? Why does Colgan think Islam gets a pass on these and many other tenets that are explicitly part of the religion? Why do Hadith that prescribe tossing homosexuals off buildings not count as terror threats?

Why single out Islam? Islam isn’t singled out. All religions are criticised. But, in Colgan’s words, let’s be real: the following were done directly in the name of Islam or its prophet in order to inflict terror, suppress criticism, avenge Allah or Mohammed for the insults inflicted upon them:

You wonder why Dawkins and Harris make it all about Islam? because so many Muslims are making terror all about Islam. Of course there are other factors that should be addressed. There are many people around the world with real and legitimate grievances against someone or other, but few do it in such a monolithic manner using the texts of a religion to justify attacking and killing innocent people. I don’t see many Christians rushing to fight for the latest Crusade in defence of Christians persecuted by Muslims.

And here’s Harris, having to spell out how he has spelt it out already,

“Although I clearly stated that I wasn’t claiming that all Muslims adhere to the dogmas I was criticizing; distinguished between jihadists, Islamists, conservatives, and the rest of the Muslim community; and explicitly exempted hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t take the doctrines about blasphemy, apostasy, jihad, and martyrdom seriously, Affleck and Kristof both insisted that I was disparaging all Muslims as a group.”

It is totally dishonest of Colgan to even imply it as he did.

Another significant point that Colgan misses is that state sponsored terrorism has always been done against the spirit, and usually (though becoming less so) against the law, of the constitutions and principles of all western democracies – and of course Colgan is targeting the US and allies here, but neglects to mention Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and of course Saudi Arabia, and other Islamic states where the doctrine and politics of Islam dictates such terror sponsorship. He also seems to miss the fact that much of the state sponsored terror carried out by the US is in the capable hands of right thinking Christians – ‘In God We Trust’ and all that. Atheists are a minority in the US, and New Atheists an even smaller minority, and none of them, as far as I know, are engaged in or support state sponsored terrorism. Why the fuck does the stupid Colgan associate his claim that New Atheists are inciting violence, with state sponsored terror? He’s deluded himself. Good job. To be honest, I don’t suppose he does think they are associated. It’s more likely he was busy backtracking after a gratuitous opportunistic dig at New Atheists – welcome on board the Greenwaldian bandwagon Cal.

The only belief system providing an explanation for British born, Pakistani heritage, youth travelling into Syria and Iraq is because they have been called to do so by fellow Muslims, to defend and/or spread the Muslim faith, to join the long anticipated Caliphate. It doesn’t matter one holy fuck that the majority of Muslims choose not to follow suit. It matters not a jot that so many Muslims ignore the terror incitement contained in their holy texts, or make pathetic excuses for it in the name of ‘context’, because the incitement remains for the crazy and the gullible to follow, and that’s the nature of the specific problem with Islam, right now, today. The problem with Islam isn’t most Muslims, it’s Islam.

Colgan, your original tweet and follow up is a complete fucking joke. You are making a damned fool of yourself buying into this crazy Greenwaldian double speak. The New Atheists are not inciting violence in any way whatsoever, while the inerrant Quran itself does, along with the Hadith. It is fucking dishonest to try and make the false equivalences you do, between New Atheists and Islamic terrorists, or between New Atheists and state sponsored terror.

As a final appeal to common sense, let me spell out a few of the points again:

  • New Atheist coverage of Islam at the omission of coverage of state sponsored terror is no more an endorsement of state sponsored terror than Glenn Greenwald’s focus on state sponsored terror at the expense of his possible focus on Islamic terror is an implication of his endorsement of Islamic terror.
  • The humanism of the New Atheists’ and their criticism of the anti-humanism of Islam has fuck all to do with some atheist going off on one and killing three Muslims, for whatever reason. Even if it turns out Hicks thinks it was inspired by New Atheism.
  • Blaming New Atheism for Hicks is as as dumb as claiming that someone reading Glenn Greenwald criticism of NSA spying on its citizens was incited to spy on US citizens, and it’s Greenwald’s fault, for criticising spying on US citizens.
  • Is in no way equivalent to the Islamic terrorism that has actual Muslims (SOME MUSLIMS, NOT ALL MUSLIMS! FUCK, HAVE YOU GOT THAT?) declaring they are performing the acts of terror in the name of Islam, using the actual texts of Islam to justify their actions. Because the former has zero incitement to violence but actually opposes it, and while the latter actually incites violence, , as many engage in violence, and while many of its adherents are duplicitous in their denial of it.

Earlier I asked, “Why does Colgan think Islam gets a pass…” I’m sure he doesn’t give Islam a pass really. My guess is he opposes many aspects of Islamic doctrine, just as New Atheists do. So, what’s his problem with New Atheists? Because that’s what his tweet is all about, and precious little to do with Chapel Hill, which is only a convenient outlet for his opinions. I’m not suggesting his sorrow at the event is any less than that of Dawkins or Harris.

The thing is, what you find with many like Colgan, is that they are great on criticism but short on solution. Colgan may think Islam has problems (I doubt he thinks it totally benign in all regards) but he opposes attempts to do anything about it, or interprets the words of the New Atheists in calling for reform in Islam (and note the work of Maajid Nawaz here and his collaboration with Harris) as New Atheist terrorism, racism, bigotry. He’d rather hope the problem goes away than risk offending Muslims. He has no problem offending fellow atheists though. Not that I object to him offending fellow atheists, but I do object to his double standards

Below is a collection of tweets that were used as a source for this post. If any significant ones are missing, or if I’ve misrepresented Colgan’s views as portrayed in his tweets, then I’d be glad to make corrections. If Cal Colgan wants to comment I’d be glad to hear from him.

Hide tweets

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/565909458736672768
4:25 PM – 12 Feb 2015
“New Atheist” idiots are turning nonbelief into the very violent fanaticism they oppose. We atheists shd condemn this http://nyti.ms/1FyYOqN

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566027677510139904
12:14 AM – 13 Feb 2015
One violent atheist and “idiots are turning non belief into the very violent …” Get some proportion.

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566315517838114816
7:18 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Let’s be real: There’ve been numerous “violent atheists.” Atheists are only united in our nonbelief.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566317218305441793
7:25 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Really? Numerous? Violent against the religious because of their atheism? Which ones? Compared to theists violent FOR religion?

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566320771879153664
7:39 PM – 13 Feb 2015
I’m not going to get into a tired debate abt how Islam is the chief perveyor of terrorism in the world.

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566320995620118528
7:40 PM – 13 Feb 2015
If you define terrorism as killing of innocents for political gain, state terrorism by Western govts has higher death toll.

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566321149609791488
7:40 PM – 13 Feb 2015
But Dawkins, Maher, Harris, et al only seem concerned about Islam, b/c it’s easier to criticize outspoken fanatics than govts.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566322451345575936
7:46 PM – 13 Feb 2015
So what? They do do other things of course, but so what? Dawkins is anti-religion because of evo education.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566322902359105536
7:47 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Terrorism is intentional killing of innocents, for terror – clue in name. With gvt. it’s usually a fuck up and not primary intent

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566328939535417344
8:11 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Sigh. I’m not saying theists haven’t committed more violence. But state atheism has lead to millions of deaths as well.

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566329036629352449
8:12 PM – 13 Feb 2015
The problem isn’t necessarily religion. The problem is the authoritarian manipulation of religion.

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566329195819962368
8:12 PM – 13 Feb 2015
For every MLK & Malcolm X, there’s a Jon Tiller or Osama bin Laden. Doesn’t mean all religious ppl are potential terrorists.

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566329346798133251
8:13 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Also, way to downplay the killing of innocent people by govts. Christopher Hitchens would be proud.

https://twitter.com/nalathekoala/status/566338641518399488
8:50 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Actually, he’s right. You made a moral-equivalency argument between ISIS and the US. And what about Hitchens, exactly?

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566345579832561664
9:18 PM – 13 Feb 2015
I don’t downplay gvt., of US, UK, oh and Islamic Saudi, Islamic Iran. Compare US Constitution with Sharia

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566346004342276096
9:19 PM – 13 Feb 2015
But go on, give examples of 9/11, 7/7, Madrid, embassies, …, by US/UK

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566346444597387265
9:21 PM – 13 Feb 2015
1.) US has been around longer than ISIS. Not saying savagery is the same. Proportionality of violence different.

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566346614080806913
9:22 PM – 13 Feb 2015
2.) Hitchens famously defended the Iraq War, and other New Atheists defended it b/c “Islam needs to die.”

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566346936715075586
9:23 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Sure. 9/11/73: CIA-funded military coup of Chile resulted in fascist dictatorship. Thousands died ovr next 10 yrs.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566346994885873664
9:23 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Proportional to capability. You think ISIS wouldn’t do more if it could?

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566347199693729793
9:24 PM – 13 Feb 2015
30,000 ppl slaughtered in Argentina’s Dirty War. CIA trained right wing gov’t.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566347404082163712
9:25 PM – 13 Feb 2015
So nothing to do with Chilean get. And Mid East nothing to do with Iraq,Iran,Saudi,… All down to US?

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566347449024151554
9:25 PM – 13 Feb 2015
1982 — priests were killed & nuns were raped & killed by CIA-funded AUC death squad in Colombia.

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566347719900676097
9:26 PM – 13 Feb 2015
You’re mincing words. Didn’t say Mid-East has nothing to do with it, but US, Britain, France played big part in chaos

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566347723507793923
9:26 PM – 13 Feb 2015
All states meddle where they can. Just that some have more power. Not excusing it, but not all down to US

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566347877749116928
9:27 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Never said it’s all down to US. Funny how you make blanket criticisms of Islam & then defend US state terrorism

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566347884233502720
9:27 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Supporting Taliban, then opposing them? Yeah, got’ fuck up.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566348162362015744
9:28 PM – 13 Feb 2015
But still, where in Constitution is that justified. Quran/Hadith EXPLCITLY incite violence and oppression.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566348358928072706
9:29 PM – 13 Feb 2015
All states play part in chaos. So, your point then is what?

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566348591137304576
9:30 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Again, where in US constitution, UK law, is justification for control of belief (apostasy) criticism (blasphemy)

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566348889612382208
9:31 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Quran is claimed to be inerrant. So ISIS has good claim to be following it. More so than moderates.

https://twitter.com/calcolgan/status/566349362209759232
9:33 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Nowhere, but Founders also went through with 1798 Alien & Sedition Acts — 7 yrs after Bill of Rights passed.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566350124583223296
9:36 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Where have I defended it?

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566350673424687105
9:38 PM – 13 Feb 2015
And the blanket criticism of Islam is because this is in all versions of Quran: http://quran.com/24/2 So, yes.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566350872792539136
9:39 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Like I said, US ‘terror’ is failure to comply with own constitution. ISIS is complying with Islam.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566351807572881410
9:42 PM – 13 Feb 2015
U twist my blanket crit of Islam for “all relig ppl terrorists” Where’ve I seen that misrep. before. Reza Aslan, Glenn Greenwald?

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566352978685485056
9:47 PM – 13 Feb 2015
Sigh. I’m not saying state action doesn’t. So we agree then. Islam bad. Not all Muslims bad. Some state acts bad.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566353375063982080
9:49 PM – 13 Feb 2015
“The problem isn’t necessarily religion.” Yes it is. Read violence in Quran.

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566353691578359808
9:50 PM – 13 Feb 2015
“Authoritarian manipulation”? LOL. Religon IS authoritarian. Apostasy. Blasphemy. Lashes. Stoning. What are they?

https://twitter.com/ronmurp/status/566353920998789120
9:51 PM – 13 Feb 2015
“School of Americas, and the Contras didn’t intentionally kill innocents?” Where did I say that?

https://twitter.com/nalathekoala/status/566365195531194368
10:35 PM – 13 Feb 2015
And Hitchens spent his life trying to get the parties responsible to face accountability–he made a movie about it!

https://twitter.com/nalathekoala/status/566366305377607680
10:40 PM – 13 Feb 2015
The Founders? Hm, I guess Jefferson and Madison (who greatly opposed the A&S Acts) weren’t “Founders”.

View tweets

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