Despised is despised

I sometimes see indignation about claims that atheists are a despised minority, on the grounds that other despised minorities had it much worse. That was one of Karla McLaren’s many claims.

As you may recall, this word [“accommodationist”] was first used by black Americans in the Voting Rights era against people who were seen as being too subservient and too accommodating to whites. I could write a whole ‘nother post about how interesting it is for atheists to imagine that their struggle is similar to that of African Americans.

But not everyone considers the comparison obviously wrong.

Long after blacks and Jews have made great strides, and even as homosexuals gain respect, acceptance and new rights, there is still a group that lots of Americans just don’t like much: atheists.

That’s the first line of the piece. Well: is it false?

It seems to me to be obviously not false. The air is thick with complaints about atheists, considered as a group and considered guilty as members of the group. This is not to say that atheists are as despised as any other group, nor is it to say that they are as badly treated as any other group. It’s just to say that they are despised as a group. It’s funny, in a way, that it’s often the very people who are calling atheists names are the ones scorning the idea that atheists are despised. McLaren is a good example of that, too. A torrent of atheist-bashing plus a smug dismissal of the idea that atheists get bashed.

As with other national minority groups, atheism is enjoying rapid growth…designed to overcome the understandable reluctance to admit atheism have found that as many as 60 million Americans — a fifth of the population — are not believers. Our nonreligious compatriots should be accorded the same respect as other minorities.

I’ll look forward to that.

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