Say anything

Once again I’m startled at the casual malice of Andrew Brown. No charge is too unsupported to make, it seems. No inhibition causes him to pause and ask himself, ‘Wait, do I really know any of this? Am I just blackguarding a whole category of people on the basis of nothing in particular? Should I perhaps rephrase things by adding a ‘some’ or a ‘may sometimes’ in places just to be fair?’ – no sense of shame prompts him to stop making things up about a group of people he dislikes. Why is that?

Oh well, the pope does it, Kevin Padian does it, so why should a journalist hesitate?

At any rate, he doesn’t.

It’s obvious that in the US, the new atheism is a reassuring fundamentalism for the college educated: it provides them with the assurance of a brighter future and with an enemy (“The religious”) on whom can be blamed all the bewildering and humiliating changes in modern American society…

No it’s not obvious. It’s possible, and it may be true of some people, but it’s not obvious, and Andrew Brown just spinning words about it doesn’t make it obvious.

How can we maintain the distinction, so essential to civilised life, between ourselves and the readers of the Daily Mail? The new atheism supplies a clear and simple answer. Subscribe to a set of pious hopes about reason and progress, read a few of the right books, and you have found a clear social identity…Obviously, it is no longer done to sneer at the working classes for being idle, brutish, smelly, and breeding too much. But it’s perfectly OK to sneer at “faith heads” for all these things: that shows you’re enlightened. It’s pure coincidence that the despicable believers are for the most part lower class as well.

Is it perfectly ok to sneer at Andrew Brown for being exceptionally vulgar? Because he is. It’s sheer vulgarity to abuse people on the basis of your own fantasies that way. That’s not to say that there is no possibility that atheism can sometimes be tainted with intellectual snobbery – but that doesn’t justify Brown’s trashy raving.

Somebody should do a vulgar hit-and-run pseudo-sociology job on why Andrew Brown is the way he is.

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