Friday, October 11, 2013

Anti-religious Hate Sells for Alternet

It would be a hard determination to make that it is the biggest one, but it's my impression that the often useful news accumulator site Alternet is a major non-specialist source of anti-religious hate-talk on the left.   I am only a casual reader of it but I don't recall a single time I've gone there when what can only be called anti-religious hate talk doesn't figure on its front page.   Today's carries one of Amanda Marcotte's anti-religious rants, "How Christian Delusions Are Driving the GOP Insane."  As is generally the case with Marcotte, her post may carry a germ which might bump against something real,  but she reduces a complicated issue into a convenient factoid of her typical anti-religious invective. This, part, in particular is just plain distortion and crappy journalistic practice

Pew Research shows that people who align with the Tea Party are more likely to not only agree with the views of religious conservatives, but are likely to cite religious belief as their prime motivation for their political views.  White evangelicals are the religious group most likely to approve of the Tea Party. Looking over the data, it becomes evident that the “Tea Party” is just a new name for the same old white fundamentalists who would rather burn this country to the ground than share it with everyone else,...

Apparently, from the comments I could take reading, not many people followed up on the link to Pew, because here is what the article said on that topic:

The analysis shows that most people who agree with the religious right also support the Tea Party. But support for the Tea Party is not synonymous with support for the religious right. An August 2010 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that nearly half of Tea Party supporters (46%) had not heard of or did not have an opinion about “the conservative Christian movement sometimes known as the religious right”; 42% said they agree with the conservative Christian movement and roughly one-in-ten (11%) said they disagree.3 More generally, the August poll found greater familiarity with and support for the Tea Party movement (86% of registered voters had heard at least a little about it at the time and 27% expressed agreement with it) than for the conservative Christian movement (64% had heard of it and 16% expressed support for it).

Let me point this sentence in what Pew said, again

But support for the Tea Party is notsynonymous with support for the religious right.

The article Marcotte claimed as supporting her theme, contradicts it.   I have long suspected that the decrease in reading comprehension might account for a good part of the atheism fad as well as the fall of journalism,  people who are attracted by hate talk aren't much different from those attracted to other forms of stereotype based hate.   I've had my problems with Marcotte and false representations of what I wrote, just over seven years ago.  As is generally my experience with her,  she won't correct herself no matter how obvious the misrepresentation is.   That has been my experience when I was misrepresented by atheists.  Why that should be the case is something I won't speculate on but it has been my experience.

And it seems to have worked for Marcotte, other than that incident when the Edwards campaign dumped her as a campaign blogger when the early and less genteely espressed hate talk in her archive was used to embarrass them, Marcotte has benefited from the attention that her hate talk has gained for her.  She appears regularly atAlternet and more occasionally on other sites that are definitely a step up from Pandagon, where I first encountered her.  I even recall Rachel Maddow had her on once, in her more recent, cleaned up style.  If it were Jews or Muslims who were the focus of her hate talk instead of Christians, that would not have happened. 

An important clue to why she and other anti-Christian, anti-religious hate talkers have flourished saying inaccurate, untrue things that would not have never been accepted on "the left" if said about other groups can be found on the side column of Alternet.   This story is listed as #7 in its most read,  it is #5 of its most e-mailed, it is #1 of the most discussed.  Hate talk sells.  If you go on pushing the buttons to see what Alternet content is linked to on Reddit you'll find, "One-Third of Americans Under 30 Have No Religion -- How Will That Change the Country?" "Why are So Many Christians So Unchristian" and "Holy Freeloading! 10 Ways Religious Groups Take from the Public Purse"  by Valerie Tarico, another of Alternet's  in-house anti-religious specialists.   And they're not done there. Alternet hosts far more anti-religious content and bloggers, such as Bruce Wilson.   You can see more if you click on the tab marked "belief" to get a good idea of how Alternet generally presents religion, under the "Living" tab on their index bar.   For the people who run Alternet, hate sells.

Alternet may carry some useful content but it clearly is in the business of catering to bigots as surely as FOX is.  Unfortunately for the would-be left, the group they love to hate comprises the largest part of the population.  That is a political non-starter.  It is riding the crest of a fad for atheism which has been a minor fad and which will almost certainly not continue as a feature of a working left.  Anti-religious hate has been one of the major issues that has defeated the left in the period after the successes of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.   Hate has worked far better for the right, the goals of which are advantaged by hate. 

It might come as a surprise but I am of the opinion that there needs to be more informed criticism of Christian conservatives who I believe are misrepresenting the teachings of Jesus and those of his followers who knew him, something which is a serious and important obstruction of change in the direction of real American style liberalism.  It discredits one of the most potent forces for that change, Jesus advocated the most advanced of radical economics, far more radical than anything any Marxist has, and a far more radical egalitarianism than any secular group I'm aware of.  The anti-religious "left" generally devolves into either something which ends up aiding the far right or, as in the case of such people as Max Eastman, Christopher Hitchens and David Horowitz, they eventually join up with the far right.   Any atheist who wants to disavow the practices and the values of such people can, of course, disassociate themselves from them but that isn't done very often that I've ever seen.   I think it's way past time for religious liberals to do that with the fundamentalists.  We need to defeat the right wing abduction and misrepresentation of one of the greatest voices for truly radical change, Jesus.  Anti-Christians of the alleged left are enabling that misrepresentation for what boil down to quite similar goals.

It's up to religious liberals, those well versed in the record of what Jesus and his followers said to fight the "christian" right.   They are equipped to do that.  Anti-religious atheists have a long track record of failure on that account, as, indeed, they have in making much in the way of durable political progress.


  1. "It's up to religious liberals, those well versed in the record of what Jesus and his followers said to fight the "christian" right. They are equipped to do that. Anti-religious atheists have a long track record of failure on that account, as, indeed, they have in making much in the way of durable political progress."
    What about President Obama and Madam Secretary Hilary Clinton? Obama has been attending the annual White House Prayer Breakfast since he was a senator. Now that he' president, he delivers the keynote speech. The theme is how Christianity justifies whatever policy he's instituted or legislation he attempting to get through congress. Yep, just like George Bush did for 8 years! But does Alternet even mention this? What happened to all the hand-wringing about separation of church and state they screamed about during the Bush era? I remember listening to gnu podcast dedicated to debunking conspiracy theories, had one guest describing "The Family" as the dark force ruling the nation and controlling the Bush administration. Many of hate-indoctrinated online gnu atheists still believe Obama is a closeted atheist. That's just as insane as believing he's a secret Muslim or was born in Kenya!
    In my opinion, the Tea Party lost it's steam when they expanded the primary focus on governmental fiscal responsibility. Now they've scooped up all the ideological baggage that the "Religious Right"has earned over time.

  2. Good points. I agree that lots of alleged liberals haven't done a good job of either representing real liberalism or of opposing the far right. A lot of that is due to the media actively acting as a filter to keep real liberalism from electoral success. In the case of liberal politicians by attacking them, in the case of liberal religion by pretending it doesn't exist. How many times does a liberal religious denomination get in the news unless it is for them to report on a group of angry conservatives angrily leaving it?