Zeal of the X syndrome
I googled zeal of the convert syndrome, out of curiosity, even though it’s pretty self-explanatory. The meaning is pretty self-explanatory, but I was curious about what and whom it’s applied to. The answer is: lots of things. Islam, Zionism, Bush/Fox News/Palin derangement, Stockholm syndrome, Yvonne Ridley syndrome (funny that one syndrome refers to others, but apparently it is so).
So anyway, does new atheism fit? Sure, probably. Clearly a lot of things fit, so why wouldn’t gnu atheism? It has aspects of “a movement,” it is in some ways political, so sure, it probably has aspects of zeal of the convert syndrome too.
But I don’t think that’s the source of my “zeal,” at least (assuming for the sake of argument that I have zeal – that zeal is the right word for what I have). I’m not a convert, for one thing…at least not to atheism, though I may be a convert of sorts to a more overt or active atheism. But even that dates back to the mid-90s, and I don’t think a mere “conversion” from quieter atheism to noisier atheism counts as much of a conversion for the purposes of syndrome-ascription.
So I’m not really a convert in the relevant sense, so my zeal, if such it is, isn’t really that of the convert. What is it then? I think it’s the zeal of the person who is chronically surprised at the malice and mendacity of the (for want of a better term) other side. I think what keeps me interested in this, and commenting on it, is the steady stream of dishonest enraged polemic issuing from the people who detest gnu atheism. Without that – I just wouldn’t keep commenting on the subject, because what would there be to say?
So we have a perpetual motion machine here. The other side keeps offering up its fury and scorn and misrepresentation, so people like me keep pointing out the disproportionate fury and the misrepresentation, so the other side does what it does some more, and so on, ad infinitum. Ironic, innit.