The new atheist response to being told to quiet down

Greg Laden puts the matter neatly:

The “new” part of “New Atheism” to me has always been this: You are willing to get up into some[one’s] face to make your argument because religion, with its centuries of experience in being on the scene for every aspect of everyone’s life every minute of every day, is already there in the face making its argument. The new atheist response to being told to quiet down is to point out that being told to quiet down (or be more civil or follow certain rules) is step one (or two) in a series of steps that the established religio-normative culture routinely uses to end the argument and let things get back to what they think is normal.

Precisely. And the settled idea that the silence of the atheists is both normal and desirable is the very idea that new atheists want to discredit and dispute and disrupt, so energetic attempts to re-impose the idea are naturally going to irritate. It’s like telling The People’s Campaign for XYZ, “stop campaigning for XYZ.” It’s not going to be taken as useful advice or a friendly tip or a minor disagreement among allies. It’s going to be taken as what it is: rejection of and enmity toward The People’s Campaign.

So it’s not a matter of, we’re all atheists, so don’t take it amiss if some atheists tell other atheists to be atheists in a more covert and unobtrusive way. It’s not a disagreement about a minor side issue. We, gnu atheists, think it is of the essence for atheists to be free to talk back. We don’t consider atheists who 1) tell us not to or 2) call us rude names for doing so, to be On the Same Team.

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