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  • Discovering Their Own Prejudice

    Posted by Shannon Love on February 10th, 2009 (All posts by )

    So, a white, Catholic, leftist, college student dresses as a Muslim woman in small-town Alabama to examine predjuces against Muslims. [h/t Instapundit] Instead she finds:
     

    “I expected people to say, ‘What is this terrorist doing here? We don’t want your kind here,’ ” said Woldt, a 22-year-old blue-eyed Catholic, recalling her anticipation before stepping into a local barbecue joint. “I thought I wouldn’t even be served.”
     
    Instead, Woldt’s experiment in social anthropology opened her own eyes. Apart from the initial glances reserved for any outsider who might venture through a small-town restaurant’s doors, her experience was a pleasant one.

    What Woldt discovered was not the prejudices of the small-town, southern, white American but instead the prejudices and stereotypes of contemporary leftist academia. Woldt expected to find prejudice not because she had already seen it but because her education indoctrinated her to expect it in others. This little incident opens a window on the insular, elitist and bigoted world of leftists in contemporary academia. 

    My own hometown of Brownwood, Tx is the very archetype of small-town America. With a population of 18,000 it is the largest community in a radius of 70 miles (112km). It is the biggest small town in a broad swath of small towns. Yet Brownwood has a small population of Muslims who came in the mid-1990s as refugees from Kosovo. Even before then, Brownwood had Buddhists and Hindus who came to open businesses (seems like almost all the non-chain motels in Texas are owned by Hindus) or who moved there after marrying someone in the service. A large percentage of the population has lived and worked overseas either in the military or in the oil industry. 

    Yet I am sure that an academic like Woldt would look at Brownwood on the map and instantly conclude that it is filled with rednecks from a Simpsons cartoon. It’s startling to remember that academia was once associated with well informed people who pursued questions from diverse perspectives, instead of the ignorant, indoctrinated drones we see today. 

     

    82 Responses to “Discovering Their Own Prejudice”

    1. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Drain the swamp.

    2. Rawsnacks Says:

      How do you mention Brownwood & not BBQ?

      Anyone who thinks that America is full of bigoted rednecks need only watch The Price is Right. Apparently we can all get along.

    3. Lexington Green Says:

      Academics are extremely insulated and bigoted, in far too many cases.

    4. w3bgrrl Says:

      Is it that we become what we claim to hate or that we claim to hate what we know we really are?

    5. David Says:

      Is it better or worse to be noticed because you’re “different” in a small town, or studiously ignored because you’re “different” and we wouldn’t want to have eye contact with a “different” person in a larger city?

    6. Adrianne Says:

      Heh — I’m caucasian, married to a guy whose parents are from India; growing up together and dating each other in Texas, no problems (except from his family, of course), but at university in Boston? Either I’m bringing on terrible things for us by wanting to marry and live in hateful Texas, or, even better, I’m evil and racist for wanting to pollute the quaint ethnic customs of this American-born brown guy. Jungle fever, or perhaps neocolonialism (I’m trying to “whiten” him by marrying him)… couldn’t possibly be that we grew up together and saw each other as people… that’s just not believable to an academic!

    7. Shannon Love Says:

      Adrianne,

      I’m caucasian, married to a guy whose parents are from India; growing up together and dating each other in Texas, no problems (except from his family, of course)

      I’ve seen that in other inter-cultural relationships. People from other cultures are much less tolerate than Americans when it comes to bridge marriages. I think it comes from a lack of experience. Even the insular American community has more cross-cultural relationships than most large cities in the world.

    8. K.J. Webb Says:

      This is my first visit. Lo and Behold, I see a contributor from the town of my birth with an affiliation to my alma mater. This linkage is rare.

      My grandfather delivered most of the babies in Brownwood (including me and my sister) during a span of four or five decades, latterly from the Medical Arts Hospital founded by himself. A depiction of that noble institution appears in all the glory of its two stories on my birth certificate.

      Fess Parker’s father walked in to the Palace Drug Store on Coggin Avenue one Sunday afternoon. I happened to be hanging around there, killing time on a family visit to my grandmother (we lived in Abilene). “I am Davy Crockett’s father”, he announced, and bought all the kids in the store Davy Crockett comic books. That was the greatest man I had yet met!

      At the University in 1964 several of us undergrads residing at Burton-Judson had the bright idea of inviting Milton Friedman over to joust with. We got more than we bargained for. In the B-J Library after dinner, sipping cognac and puffing on cigars, we 18-year-olds indulged ourselves in contempt for greedy capitalists. The little man quietly devastated us about as thoroughly as he devastated Donahue. He didn’t condescend in the way we no doubt deserved. I wondered why he had accepted such an unpromising invitation in the first place. Maybe he wanted to rattle the chains of our cages just a bit. He was the second greatest man (after Mr. Parker) I had then met. I met a few other greats before departing the University, but alas, never again shared a cigar with Professor Friedman.

    9. Letalis Maximus, Esq. Says:

      I guess her next stop will be a NASCAR race.

      Oh. Wait.

      Its been done.

      The problem with people like Woldt is that they don’t realize that the cafe scene from “Easy Rider” is fiction. Just like the rest of that movie.

    10. onparkstreet Says:

      [Comment deleted at the request of the commenter.]

    11. onparkstreet Says:

      [Comment deleted at the request of the commenter.]

    12. onparkstreet Says:

      [Comment deleted at the request of the commenter.]

    13. Shannon Love Says:

      Onparkstreet,

      In the fascism-lite of postmodernist thought, you really are nothing more than your race. Individuals are not useful for those craving power. Only abstract groups serve that purpose.

    14. Kevin Says:

      Seems like most of the story I was going to mention have been.

      My brother’s step kid did the same thing and now no one in the family seems to notice the mix.

      I do have a question: why didn’t he try the reverse too? Send a white Christian or a Orthodox Jew into a Moslem country or culture?

      But then again, I bet I know the answer…

    15. Tatyana Says:

      That’s all fine and good (predictably), but here’s a question: how your beloved small-town Texans would react to a newcomer who’s an atheist? No outside signs of “otherness” show, of course, just aversion to referral to deities and rituals.

      By my experience online, I believe the reception is not going to be particularly nice.

    16. Jim Lindgren Says:

      She should have worn a Palin T-shirt on her campus last fall and recorded her impressions, then switched to an Obama shirt.

    17. Lexington Green Says:

      “… grandkids have a way of easing a lot of stuff.”

      It is absolutely transformative.

      Makes sense. I assume it is hardwired. If you don’t like a spouse for one of your children, at some level, it is because your genetic heritage is threatened, and a better spouse would be better. Once the grandchildren come along, the grandparents have a stake in a “real, existing” genetic heritage, not a theoretical one.

    18. Mwalimu Daudi Says:

      In the fascism-lite of postmodernist thought, you really are nothing more than your race. Individuals are not useful for those craving power. Only abstract groups serve that purpose.

      Especially if that group can portray itself as a “victim” in need of god-like government control of society for the purpose of “correcting past injustices”. So-called “multiculturalism” seems to have that as its main objective.

      My wife is a black African (born in Africa), and I am white. Our son is biracial. We live in Texas and have never encountered any racist prejudice from anyone. But to watch the media and listen to some self-proclaimed intellectuals most outsiders would think that in the South the KKK is to be found lurking under every bed. That stereotype is very hard for some non-Southerners to get past.

      I wonder if Woldt will learn from this experience. It will be hard to change – the pressure in academia to conform to the Official Truth is very powerful.

    19. Michael Z. Williamson Says:

      A far left black state senator here in Indiana started a rant about the racist rednecks at gun shows, and maybe he should just urge a hundred black people to go in and try to buy guns and see what happens.

      I have news for the moron. Several thousand black people come to EVERY Indianapolis gun show (and the fairgrounds are in the middle of a predominantly black area). They’re almost without exception polite and safe, and we dealers are happy to take their money. Everyone’s green in the wallet. That, my friends, is capitalism.

    20. John Lindsey Says:

      This is my first visit on a recomendation from a friend expecting me to get chewed up by all of tese Bad Boyz from Chicago. . . it may happen or maybe not. I simply try to stick with the facts I have observed as any good engineer will do.

      AND

      Sometimes I recall them incorrectly as any good human being will.

      I grew up (thru my teen years) in the 1950s, and as a former marine, I was a green weenie in themiddle of a town of black and white in Memphis, Tennessee. . . when Elvis was popular. . . town brawls were common back then, and as a young dumb marine I enjoyed them every weekend.

      I grew up next door to a black doctor who’s wife treated me better than my own mom and fed me whenever I came past her back door at age 3-4-5-6-7. . . I actually never knew there was any difference between our family ad theirs except that all of our men had gone off toy war, and the blackmen were still mostly at home with their families.

      As I traveled all across the world, I discovered that everyone has some sort of predjudice and some of them seemed pretty odd to me. I grew up inside of an integrated armed force, and went on to Japan and VietNam and a number of pother countries. I learnedthe same few lessons about life in my service and in my church. . . take care of the people around me, andmake sure that if someone was hurtor in pain that I would find a doctor to take care of him/her before it got too bad.

      Mostly, when predjudice shows up in my memory fear was involved. In the mid-west fears are reserved for cyclones and a few other weather or climate related things. . . other than that I recall nothing else to fear in my growing up in semi-rural Ohio.

      No one worried much about anything except the boys off fighting the war. . . My daddy was in the pacific a navy fellow in a marine unit. . .blown up at Pelieu, he was 33 months in the hospital recovering his body’s functions. He returned home as an angry alcoholic Lawyer who used to blow off hot air about how great the war was. . .

      I joined the marines as quickly as I could do so after graduating from military school. . . I had a great time until I was badly burned and killed in August 1961 fighting a fire that took out the entire center of the town near where I was stationed for a year. . .

      I actually didn’t experience any predjudice until I got old, and discovered that a lot of experience is looked at by the younger supervisors as being intimidating and frightening.er 45 years as an engineer, social security seems to be taking pretty goodcare of me. It doesn’t allow me togain much weight, nor does it make me lose too much either. Still, I’d rather be working than not!

      Happy Springtime
      John Lindsey

      Fortunately for me, aft

    21. Michael Z. Williamson Says:

      White friends of mine specifically asked for and adopted a black baby, knowing they were harder to place. They live in Alabama. It doesn’t seem to be a problem with the locals, even with his older white sister.

    22. filbert Says:

      At the risk of drastically oversimplifying:

      The intellectual left sees primarily groups, and classifies people by (largely visual) stereotype). The intellectual center/right sees primarily people, and classifies individuals by their observed behavior.

      (This is a stereotype, too. User discretion advised.)

    23. New Frontiersman Says:

      Now, walk down Castro Street in a Latter-Day Saints T-shirt.

    24. Shannon Love Says:

      … how your beloved small-town Texans would react to a newcomer who’s an atheist? No outside signs of “otherness” show, of course, just aversion to referral to deities and rituals.

      Well, given that there are atheist in town I think that atheist can get along fine as long as they don’t get in people’s faces (just like anyone else). Online experiences probably don’t tell you much about people’s realspace behavior. People are far more tolerant in real life than online, especially as compared to online debates.

    25. Tatyana Says:

      True, about difference between real and virtual life. Although the difference that I perceive, mostly, is a degree of sincerity: how much of what people really think and believe themselves to be on the right side they are willing to reveal aloud. Some [falsely] think their relative anonymity allows them to throw away good manners, but besides that unpleasantness, I tend to think internet discussions are really helpful in seeing what’s hidden by a veil of habitual politeness.

      Now all is left for us to determine what is a definition of “getting into people’s faces”.

    26. frontierbabe Says:

      Small (TEENY TINY) Texas native here. My grandfather memorized the bible in the 30′s to argue with the Holy Rollers. A better atheist could not be found anywhere, even in the Ninth Circuit. People who make judgments about other people need to spend some time in those cities. Er, hamlets.

    27. onparkstreet Says:

      Sorry about asking to have my comments deleted above, especially to those of you who responded. I got a bit shy about them…..

    28. Shannon Love Says:

      Tatyana ,
      Now all is left for us to determine what is a definition of “getting into people’s faces”.
      I say just follow the rules for civil religious discourse. Don’t loudly insist that your faith, atheism in this case, is the on true religion. Don’t call other people stupid for their beliefs. Don’t go into someone else’s community with different traditions and try to change them on the basis of you being so damn superior to everyone else.
      In other words, don’t be the kind of jerk that give’s atheist a bad name.

    29. Dude Says:

      Ah, the “smart” are so foolish. I was born in the north (Pa.), lived in Watts from ’58 til ’62 then raised in South Florida. I have nieces and nephews that look like the UN, from tall, red haired, blue eyed to short, round dark curly headed… they are my blood and no one messes with blood.

      I now live in Arkansas with many Buddists (Laotion refugees), Hindus (Wal-Mart programmers), animists (Solomon Islanders relocated here before the bomb blasts) along with Californians, New Yorkers, and escapees from the rest of the US… Fayetteville has a thriving community of gays (boys and girls) who are pillars of the town… and of course we have our more recent influx of latinos from everywhere south of the Rio Grand and across the Caribbean. (Did you ever try to find a Mayan interpreter for a nice Guatemalan lady?) All this, mixed in with the pre-existing Rednecks, Hillbillies (They are not the same thing!) and Indians (Creek, Cherokee, Micosukee, etc).

      We live what the academics claim to strive for, content of the person’s character and all that.

      I have lived in big cities and tiny towns but I will die here in heaven, not because we are tolerant but because we are intolerent of asses. That is what pisses the elites off… we see them for what they are, condescending jerks and call them on their ignorance… politely pointing it out at first (southern hospitality demands that one be polite) gradually escalating to finger pointing and outright laughter. One never laughs at the less fortunate, those who got shorted in the crap shoot of life… but… one can laugh at those who insist on remaining stupid in the name of dogma, in the face of facts.

      To those who look at us in the south with bigoted eyes, I have lived in your house and found it to be a place of hatred and anger… you are welcome to come down and visit ours, but leave your attitude at home… you wouldn’t want us to point and laugh at you, would you?

    30. Tatyana Says:

      You misunderstood me. I didn’t ask for advice of how I should behave. [that's speaking of "People who make judgments about other people".]

      Atheism IS superior to religious outlook (see the interview with Ain Rand that I linked to in Dan’s post above). Saying it is so is no more offensive than for an atheist seeing a placard next to a church in Xmas proclaiming “The Lord has risen!” Or walking past houses with collection of various statuary in their front gardens: creepy gnomes, somber Marys, St. Francis, paired with birdbath, all of them one happy gypsum family. And you want us to take you seriously?

      I find that it is easier for a Christian to be visibly tolerant and even respectful of a Muslim (doesn’t matter, brown, yellow or polka-dotted) than of an atheist. Two of the previous comments, by Shannon and *frontierbabe are good illustrations.

      Online or off.

    31. Shannon Love Says:

      Tatyana,

      Atheism IS superior to religious outlook (see the interview with Ain Rand that I linked to in Dan’s post above)

      Well, as a philosophical agnostic and a pragmatic atheist I agree but that doesn’t mean I go out of my way to poke people with sticks.

      Saying it is so is no more offensive than for an atheist seeing a placard next to a church in Xmas proclaiming “The Lord has risen!”

      I had in mind actions such as someone in New Jersey with the help of a literal handful of judges deciding that two centuries of prayer in public schools was suddenly a grand affront to truth and justice and that it had to wiped out everywhere even in communities where literally all the parents wanted it.

      I find that it is easier for a Christian to be visibly tolerant and even respectful of a Muslim (doesn’t matter, brown, yellow or polka-dotted) than of an atheist

      I think that is true. Religious people have an external governance for their behavior. They have humility to subvert their own judgement to tradition. This makes them more predictable. Atheist by contrast have no external governance and little humility. This makes them unpredictable. People recognize the discipline inherent in those observing other faiths and they respect that.

    32. Jim Hurt Says:

      If you want to know what a liberal feels about anything specific in life or politics; watch what they accuse conservatives of doing. Being atheist is also a belief system. I’m a Christian. I don’t hate atheist. In fact, I feel sorry for them. I can’t imagine going through this one life we have hating people for what they believe. If I’m wrong about there being a GOD, then I WILL have had a good life trying to live free of sin. BUT, WHAT IF I’M RIGHT?????????????????????

    33. quo vadis Says:

      I grew up an atheist in a small town in Texas. Nobody cared any more about my beliefs than they did about those of any of the other atheists growing up in that small Texas town.
      On the other hand, I do face prejudice from ignorant people for having come from a small town in Texas.

    34. Tekkie Says:

      “I expected people to say, ‘What is this terrorist doing here? We don’t want your kind here,’ ” said Woldt, a 22-year-old blue-eyed Catholic, recalling her anticipation before stepping into a local barbecue joint. “I thought I wouldn’t even be served.”

      If the restaurant in question serves pork barbecue, a practicing Muslim would never have entered to begin with, much less ask to be served–a fact that seems to have escaped our clueless, yet highly educated, young liberal.

    35. Nahanni Says:

      Just another example of the bigotry, ignorance, and hypocrisy of the “intelligent and educated” leftist liberals.

      For her next ‘experiment’ she should try walking around Berzerkley with a ‘God bless our troops’ T-Shirt on. For added effect she should be drive up in a car with Texas plates and a ‘W’ sticker on the bumper. At the end of the day she will be lucky to get out alive and with her car intact.

    36. Tood Says:

      This funny picture shows what leftist women like Woldt have become, and why they are such.

      But I see too many conservatives acting cowardly and not holding leftists accountable for their bigotry. Why are conservatives so afraid to call a spade a spade with regards to leftists?

    37. Tood Says:

      Walk in San Francisco or Berkeley wearing a US military uniform. THEN you will see real persecution in America.

    38. newton Says:

      “Yet I am sure that an academic like Woldt would look at Brownwood on the map and instantly conclude that it is filled with rednecks from a Simpsons cartoon.”

      Heck! Even in cartoons! There was one episode of Family Guy about spending some time in Texas, aired not long ago. It was bigoted stereotype galore!

      As a former resident of the Northeast (five in NY, three in DC) and current TX resident (ten years), I have found the prejudices of that one Family Guy cartoonist (a Brown University grad) a bit shocking, but not surprising.

    39. Dictyranger Says:

      Tekkie: This was Texas. Texas barbecue is beef. Texans tend to feel strongly about this, in my observation.

      As for the atheist issue: I have several Northeastern-raised friends who live in small-town Georgia. None are religious. Religion does come up in their conversations with the locals, since “Where do you go to church?” is a common conversation-starter. They tell me that people seem more perplexed than upset when they say they don’t attend. None of them have had any trouble because of it, and one even got elected to office in his town. What does seem to get people into trouble is Northeastern brusqueness: politeness and friendliness are high on the list of Southern virtues.

    40. Sissy Willis Says:

      A perfect piercing of a Pauline Kael bubble!

      Note to commenter W3bgrrl:

      It’s that we claim to hate what we deny we really are, what Dr. Sanity would term displacement:

      “Displacement can be thought of as an slightly more mature type of projection. In projection, the individual remains oblivious to the fact that he owns and is responsible for the emotions that he imagines are in the person or group into which he is projecting. In other words, ownership of the idea and/or affect is banished from the self.

      “In displacement, the idea or emotion is deflected from one object to another, less threatening one, but the ownership of the negative emotion or idea (e.g. animosity, anger) is retained–and is often raised to a virtue. A common example is the person who is angry at a loved one, but settles for kicking the dog. The anger is evident in the action and is still owned by the person experiencing it.”

      More here: http://drsanity.blogspot.com/2006/07/denial-and-displacement.html

    41. Fen Says:

      “Saying it is so is no more offensive than for an atheist seeing a placard next to a church in Xmas proclaiming “The Lord has risen!”

      Just be sure you recognize that you would ALSO be proselytizing. And that most “athiests” simply redirect their spritual energy into other forms of worship, ie Global Warming, Messiah Obama, etc.

    42. Tekkie Says:

      Tekkie: This was Texas. Texas barbecue is beef. Texans tend to feel strongly about this, in my observation.

      Dictyranger: Actually, according to the post the restaurant was located in ALABAMA. ;oP

    43. Tatyana Says:

      Thank you, newcomers, for making my next case for me, namely: when conservative Christian hears of someone being unapologetically atheist, expect two standard and automatic reactions.
      - he immediately label an atheist a lefty; not just that – he uses qualifier “atheist” to”recognize” a lefty. (see Jim Hurt up there). Mr. Hurt, I am a libertarian, atheist and anti-communist. Not a lefty, see? There are many people like me.
      - he immediately accuses an atheist in proselytizing his “belief system” (or “pocking people with sticks”, or “redirecting his spiritual energy into lefty causes” (here’s the baseless “lefty” again).
      Atheism is not a belief system. It is a fundamental difference worth repeating; atheism is based on reason and rational, logical thought.
      People who have psychological need to lean on religious faith for guidance can’t understand that there are others who have different psychological composition: we feel fine not believing. And somehow, we don’t commit crimes and “live in sin” without instruction from a pastor. Actually, contrary is true – look at all those Latin thugs with mile-long crosses hanging from their necks. Look up statistic of religious vs. atheists in prison.
      Stating one’s views on any subject, including religion, is not proselytizing, as suggested by Fen. It’s called freedom of speech. Engaging in debate is optional, but necessary when others are being “perplexed” about atheists.
      I live in a Muslim neighborhood. All around me, in my building, on the street when I go to a subway station, in the grocery stores there are believers in traditional garb. If I were “perplexed” every time I saw this picture, I’d be perpetually stunned. Add to this crazy (for NY) amount of churches, one in fact right across the courtyard from me – I don’t know how am I even able to function! If I had a perfectly mirrored reaction to that of Georgians that Dictyranger described, I’d be turned into a Stone of Perplexity long time ago.
      That doesn’t mean I start theological discussions. But I reserve the right to stop one initiated by zealous believers around me (including online) when it is directed at me.

    44. Charlie Says:

      Pretty much the only reliable bigots you run into anymore in the US are coastal urban lefties.

      Told my neighbors in the SF Bay Area I was headed for Texas five years back and was greeted with a boorish litany of “rednecks,” “Bush country,” “racists,” and yadda yadda. Here in Texas, I expected to get the reverse end… “San Francisco, huh? The land of fruits, nuts and flakes!” But no, not once. Only graciousness.

    45. JorgXMcKie Says:

      hat’s all fine and good (predictably), but here’s a question: how your beloved small-town Texans would react to a newcomer who’s an atheist? No outside signs of “otherness” show, of course, just aversion to referral to deities and rituals.

      Tatyana, you seem to have a few problems. First, let me state that I’m not even atheist. Areligious would describe me better. You seem to be confusing atheist with a**hole. In my small Baptist town the former would be accepted without much problem (my father was probably the most noted atheist in town, from a very Baptist family, and he was *very* well regarded and his thought was sought out in all matters non-religious). The latter would be shunned whether a self-proclaimed ‘hardrock Baptist’ or simply a non-churchgoer or an unannounced atheist.

      I’m not sure where your smug sense of superiority (on display here) comes from, but it is dangerously close to putting you in the latter category. It is perfectly possible to make your case in a more civil manner.

      As a matter of fact, you really cannot ‘argue’ with a believer if you’re an atheist because there is no grounds for argument that you can agree on. Faith in the unknowable is pretty much the foundation of all religious beliefs. OTOH, you can ‘discuss’ religion with believers at some length and occasionally find enlightenment on some topics. My True Believer Hardrock Baptist brother and I have been discussing religion for decades without either of us moving the other from his foundation and without the least bit of incivility.

      I’m sure he prays for me each night and I’m also sure it doesn’t harm me a bit.

      The larger point is, far too many ‘atheists’ seem to see their life’s mission as shouting at Believers about how stupid Believers and the things they believe in are. That definitely puts those who do so in the a**hole category. Please try, for your own sake, to avoid this.

    46. Harry Says:

      I live fifteen miles from Arab, AL. The restaurant in question (one I’ve eaten at a half-dozen times – great iced tea!) is not a BBQ joint, per se, it’s more of a chicken shack…

    47. Shannon Love Says:

      Tatayna,

      I am a libertarian, atheist and anti-communist. Not a lefty, see? There are many people like me.

      We are still oddities. It’s changing and atheist are growing more politically diverse but statistically atheist still come down firmly on the left. The division was very dramatic as little as 40 years ago when your average western atheist was (1) Marxist and (2) a Freudian.

      Atheism is not a belief system. It is a fundamental difference worth repeating; atheism is based on reason and rational, logical thought.

      No, the only logical stance is agnosticism. The question of whether a personality exist that defines all the laws of reality cannot be answered using the mechanism of the reality that the personality created in the first place. Atheism, the definitive statement that reality constructing personality does not exist, requires a leap of faith.

      And somehow, we don’t commit crimes and “live in sin” without instruction from a pastor.

      Except for the French Revolution, Communism and a prominent role in Fascism. China today has the highest percentage of self-described atheist in the world but I don’t know if I would want to live there. The fact of the matter is that whenever atheist have dominated society and wielder political power things have turned ugly in a hurry. Atheist may only function well as a minority in a otherwise religious civil order where the external governance of the religious controls atheist’s behavior as a side effect.

      Look up statistic of religious vs. atheists in prison.

      I have and the statistics show that people who are observant of some faith are underrepresented in prison. If you define religious as people with some vague idea that something like god exist then you see not a lot of them in prison. If you define religious as actively observant then the numbers are very low. There are not enough people who define themselves as atheist actually draw statistical inferences about its affect on their criminality.

      Stating one’s views on any subject, including religion, is not proselytizing, as suggested by Fen

      No, but most religious people only encounter atheist when the atheist try to force religious people to change their traditional behavior or to drive them from the political arena. Madalyn Murray O’Hair would be archetype for this type of atheist. From the point of view of religious people she and other atheist simply exploded onto the scene, highjacked the judiciary and overturned centuries of traditional practice using non-democratic means. Ditto for abortion.

      Given the history of the last 40 years atheist who act all innocent and can’t understand why religious people regard them with hostility make me laugh and weep. The public face of atheist is one of social and political aggression combined with a strong association with murderous collectivist ideologies.

      I don’t blame them for being angry and afraid.

    48. Ginny Says:

      Of course, there is always the bigotry in Texas: I think I mentioned before the colleague of my husband’s who greeted his statement that our daughter was marrying a German with joy; she said, ah, you must have been glad. He asked why; she replied, surely you were afraid she’d marry a Texan. (My husband is from Burleson County – which at least Shannon would recognize as at least as rural as Brownwood.) Of course, our friend who grew up in Brownwood speaks many times the number of languages of any one in my husband’s department.

    49. dan Says:

      “What Woldt discovered was not the prejudices of the small-town, southern, white American but instead the prejudices and stereotypes of contemporary leftist academia. ”

      I live in the Bay Area, CA, and have often heard “progressives” here comment about the racist and bigoted south.

      The reality today is that even in progressive San Fran, Oakland, Silicon Valley, etc. one can witness segregated neighborhoods and schools. And the disparity between rich and poor in this region is some of the most extreme in the nation.

    50. Tatyana Says:

      Shignon,

      The only people who seems to be angry and afraid, in this thread and everywhere I encounter this topic, are religious people. Angry at atheists, conflating atheism with leftism, as you have demonstrated above, and afraid of their power being taken out of their hands.
      You insist on equaling marxism/communism/socialism with atheism; not a well-informed stance, I should say. Correlation is not causation. Collectivism, on the other hand, is perfectly in peace with behavior of religious congregations: look at the teachings of the church our newly minted president attended for 20 years. Collectivism of religious organizations, in my view, tends to lead in the opposite direction from the most important principle that made this country great: individualism.

      Returning to topic of the post; I think my example above demonstrated: it’s relatively easy for majority of a prosperous country (compared to the rest of the world) to be indifferent to minorities of diverse ethnicity and skin color. As long as they display common traits: belief in subhuman guidance. What is more difficult, is be respectful to people who don’t share this belief. Tolerant doesn’t mean: if you act submissive, I won’t kick you. That’s the behavior of pack of hyenas. Oh, sorry: collective of hyenas.

    51. Mark A. Flacy Says:

      Tatyana,

      I am an atheist. You are an angry atheist.

      I do not go out of my way to self-identify as an atheist to random people since the topic of my religion or lack thereof is not an important portion of my self-image.

      What is your ethical system based upon, if I may ask?

    52. Kevin Says:

      I’ll bet if she was a Protestant, no mention of her religious affiliation would have been made.

    53. Tatyana Says:

      Mark, what difference does it make?

      Basis of my ethical system is as irrelevant to the topic of tolerance by Bible Belt residents (the topic of this post) as my mother’s maiden name. As well as speculating of me being angry, or asshole (see *JorgXMcKie above), or any other ad hominem slights.

    54. Shannon Love Says:

      Tatyana,

      The only people who seems to be angry and afraid, in this thread and everywhere I encounter this topic, are religious people

      I think you’re simply ignoring the political history of the last 50 years in which highly visible atheist have launched attack after attack on traditional religious society. There has been a systematic attempt to drive religious people from public life. From the perspective of the religious, they were minding their own business when they were smacked up side the head by screaming hysterics like O’hare. Is that an entirely fair perception? No, but its not entirely unfair either. People with no exposure to evangelical christianity save for television preachers have a negative attitude towards christianity. People with no exposure to atheist except for people in the mold of O’hare and no exposure to atheist ideas save their role in tyrannical ideologies have a very negative attitude towards atheism. Can you really blame them.

      You insist on equaling marxism/communism/socialism with atheism; not a well-informed stance, I should say. Correlation is not causation

      Except that the model used by religious people predicts that humans without external moral governance turn bad. Then they look at political movements form the French revolution onward and see that atheist regimes do turn nasty. In other words, things turned out exactly has religious people predicted. We atheist can bitch and moan all we won’t about how atheist isn’t related but its hard to blame people for not chunking a model that predicted the actual real world outcome.

      What is more difficult, is be respectful to people who don’t share this belief.

      I don’t argue that religious people are less tolerant of atheist than they are of other religions. I think that is correct. However, I also think that a lot of the anger you see personally comes from arrogant, aggressive, dominating behavior on the part of atheist. Moreover, I think that religious people in a majority are collectively more tolerant of atheist in their midst than atheist in a majority are of religious people in their midst.

      You’re very keen to criticize people but you exhibit a complete lack of interest in trying to see things from their point of view. You stereotype religous people but then get angry that they stereotype you.

      You exhibit what is unfortunately for agnostic/atheist like myself a very unpleasant public face for atheism.

    55. Plutarch Says:

      The postmodern problem is Pretend-tellectuals and their masking behavior. The next wave in mental health will be in the institutions of our society and the innate proclivity to select-for sociopathic personalities in positions of authority. Behind the piety of the Pretend-tellectuals you will find masked displacement, projection and other phenomena common to personality disorders, predatory behavior and paranoia.

      The invective arising from this mentality is the protruding mental illness breaking through the masking behavior. They are sick. And they are pathological. They tend to be high-functioning and aggressively power seeking. They run off the mentally healthy and concentrate the sociopathic in positions of institutional authority. This happens in universities, churches and corporation just as it does governments. Heavens, just look at Congress. Sooner of later the sociopaths select-for a psychopath; a Castro, a Stalin, a Mao, a Mugabe, a Hitler.

      We’ll see what we have on our hands when the fabulist POTUS turtle finally cracks.

      Time to pick up a copy of Eric Hoffer’s “True Believer” and get ready for the future. It’s here.

    56. Greg Ransom Says:

      What fantasy world are you living in? It’s always been like this in academia. Only difference? Now it’s worse.

      You wrote:

      “It’s startling to remember that academia was once associated with well informed people who pursued questions from diverse perspectives, instead of the ignorant, indoctrinated drones”

    57. Shannon Love Says:

      Greg Ransom,

      I think is was different up until the 60′s. I’ve read a lot about communism in the 1930′s in U.S. universities and there was definitely a wider ideological range back then than today.

      The basic problem is this fascism/communism-in-drag postmodernist thought. You’re average professor in the liberal-arts today does not view themselves as an intellectual explorer. Instead, they believe they have all the answers and instead just have a moral obligation to use the power of their position to make sure those correct answers get implemented.

    58. Tatyana Says:

      Shannon – my “stereotyping” has been proven by attitude of commenters in this thread, starting with first response to my original posting.

      Our conversation is turning on a loop. You will forgive me, I’m sure, for not willing to rehash the same arguments for a next go.

    59. K.J. Webb Says:

      Anyone who’s been around awhile and has ears to hear and eyes to see knows that the species jackass doesn’t belong exclusively to any political or religious genus. The ones I knew during the first 18 years of my life were of the believing sort. But, then, that was the only game in town in West Texas.

      After I got educated and joined the professional intelligentsia and lived in big cities in the North I hardly knew anyone like that anymore. I and my friends no longer cite scripture, but quite a few of us rely on other forms of holy writ. Reading the editorial page of the New York Times doesn’t ipso facto make you a lazy, middle-browed, complacent purveyor of the received wisdom. It just enhances the shiver that runs through your bones as you think of all those believers and bigots out there in the hinterlands. Thinking those thoughts makes you feel almost as good as getting saved makes them feel.

    60. Stephen Says:

      Tatyana,

      I’m late to this party and haven’t the time to read all the back-and-forth. So let me simply agree with others on the following points, if already stated:

      1. Attitudes, real or imagined by you to exist, among commentators here, prove nothing and in no way justify your stereotyping of commentators here or of a more general population.

      2. Atheism is a system of belief, despite your claim to the contrary. There is no proof of the existence, or lack thereof, for a god-head: that just might explain the frequent use of the term “faith” in these matters. Thus to say that your claim on rationality is superior to that of those you disparage in your assertion, is simply silly. I say this as an agnostic on these matters.

      3. Spent time in Waco, Texas (the belly of your beast). People knew of my beliefs and I was never treated with anything other than respect. And guess what. I was far from alone in my world view.

      4. Take the chip off your shoulder. Victimhood doesn’t become you.

    61. setbit Says:

      Shannon,

      Thanks very much for your insights regarding the difference between honest, “seeker-friendly” atheism and “condescending jerk” atheism. I think this topic deserves its own post or series of posts, perhaps as a follow-up to your comments on The God Delusion.

      I became an evangelical Christian at age 21, largely from the writings of C.S. Lewis and similar, so I have seen the Christian world view both from within and without. As such, I am often dumbfounded by the inability of many atheists to articulate and defend their world view. The recent high-profile atheist writings of people like Dawkins and Hitchens would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that they and many commentators seem to think that this stuff is borderline brilliant.

      I often find myself saying, “I could make a much more convincing argument for atheism than that, and I’m not even an atheist.” Indeed, Christian and other religious-leaning writers often discuss atheism with more coherency and respect than atheists themselves.

      One common explanation for this phenomenon is that atheist writings are stupid or crazy because atheism is stupid and crazy. I would argue that this does apply to people like Christopher Hitchens; even allowing for the fact that he is being deliberately provocative, the man appears to have genuinely lost his mind.

      Obviously, however, there are intelligent agnostics/atheists like you, toiling in obscurity. While that undermines the oh-so-satisfying atheism-is-crazy argument, I’d much rather deal with someone like you, both because I enjoy talking with good, smart people, and because some of the proto-Stalinists out there genuinely scare me.

      So is part of the problem that pro-atheist commentators are self selecting? That is, rational atheists realize there is little or no benefit to be had from actively de-converting the religious, so they don’t generally raise the subject, and they certainly don’t write angry books about it. Rather, they concentrate on what is true rather than what isn’t: promoting rational economics, for example.

      I’d very much like to hear your further thoughts on this.

    62. Shannon Love Says:

      Tatyana,

      my “stereotyping” has been proven by attitude of commenters in this thread, starting with first response to my original posting.

      I would point out that your first post assumed that people in Brownwood would be hostile to atheist. That rather makes its a hostile comment because it obviously arises out of the preconception that they would be.

      My answer remains the same. As long as you observe the social niceties between religions are not singled out. Religious people who loudly claim that their sect is the one true path and that everyone else are irrational deluded idiots get the same treatment that atheist get for asserting the same things. Religious people who find offense and oppression in the traditional practices of others get the same response that atheist who do so get.

      No one in the last 40 years had used the force of the state to project their own morality onto public to the degree that atheist have. People rightly recent that. It’s not fair that those of us who do not behave in such a boorish fashion get caught in the crossfire but that’s life. In my own personal experience people who make a point of telling others they are atheist are more often than not jerks who mistake the reaction to their arrogant bullying as irrational hatred or irrational people. I find their self-pitying wails of victimization disgusting.

    63. Tatyana Says:

      Stephen:
      if you’re not in the military, you missed your vocation.

    64. ashok Says:

      The most interesting thing for me is how contemporary academia created a wall of ignorance around itself. It looks like it accepted a number of highly dubious propositions that were nothing but cheap liberal sentimentality, and created victimization industries upon them. In addition, the political correctness invaded the method of nearly every practitioner of the humanities or social sciences.

      I mean, that seems to be the general narrative, but two things are very notable in saying it allowed: 1) How did academia decide that redressing perceived social wrongs was its primary task? 2) How did “method” get transformed so completely as to exclude any questioning of governing assumptions?

      I think the conclusion has to be that the liberal elitism of those in charge fused with populism. This is sheer demagoguery, where the obvious is neglected in order to create partisans who can only see as far as their sealed bubble lets them. Conservatives who want more accountability for the academy have to think twice about letting the people critique academia’s absurdities. The worldview espoused now is undeniably populist, meant to advance identity politics. One wonders what siren song could be played that would fuse elitism and conservative politics, should we be lucky enough to see the beginnings of academic reform underway.

    65. Roderick Reilly Says:

      It isn’t just the academics, of course, but also the entertainment industry. The piece above mentioned the “Simpsons,” but the most egregious offender is “Family Guy,” a show that can be funny in its edgy way (I laugh at a lot of its humor), but whose world-view is liberal-elite primitive to the crudest degree.

    66. Shannon Love Says:

      Setbit,

      So is part of the problem that pro-atheist commentators are self selecting?

      I think so. I think its largely a matter of the kind of polarizing people who make themselves known for having a particular faith. For example, a for a lot secular people today, there only exposure to evangelically christianity is clearly restricted to outrageous characters such as corrupt TV evangelist or wack-jobs like Fred Phelps of the notorious Westboro Baptist church cult. If that’s all you ever saw of Christianity you probably wouldn’t like it either. Likewise, the most visible atheist are also usually the biggest hysterical jerks. Screaming Madalyn Murray O’Hair being the most obvious example.

      I think a lot of the nonsense you see coming from atheist springs from an utter terror of admitting that anything of religious origins might have some value. This fear clearly influenced Dawkins’ book to such a degree that it became mean spirited gibberish. The great tragedy in the case of Dawkins and others like him is that they let their fear overwhelm their analytical discipline and they end up being just as irrational as those who consciously make a leap of faith. When you dogmatically insist on everything religious being bad, well, you become trapped by dogma.

      I lack this fear because I had think that religions evolve just like every other facet of culture and that just as the trial and error of natural selection creates biological structures of great beauty and utility, cultural evolution can do the same thing. In their parables religions encode sophisticated truths about human nature that mere articulated reason cannot uncover. This realization lets me approach ideas put forth by religious people with more humility and respect.

    67. Setbit Says:

      Shannon wrote:

      I lack this fear because I .. think that religions evolve just like every other facet of culture….

      This seems like such a painfully obvious implication of evolutionary theory that I can’t believe Dawkins, of all people, doesn’t seem to get it.

      If memory serves, he touches on the idea of religion as evolutionary adaptation, but then proceeds to ignore the natural implication, which is, “What adaptive purpose does religion serve, and how do we emulate that effect after we abandon it?”

      As you’ve ably pointed out, the history of the 20th century certainly suggests that perhaps religion isn’t quite so vestigial as some of its detractors would have us believe. I’d think atheists would jump at the chance to acknowledge the benefits that faith — at its best — has brought, and to try and figure out how to bring those benefits to the post-religious world in more rational form.

      Marxism seems to me to have been an attempt at this. I’m not sure to what extent Marxists explicitly identified the idea of it being a superior replacement for religion, as opposed to just repudiating it.

      However, I think we can now safely conclude that Marxism — having starved and murdered so many of its supposed beneficiaries — has failed the test of reproductive viability. So the scientific thing to do is to reject the falsified hypothesis, and see if there is some other non-religious idea or institution that might fit the bill.

      The only current movement even remotely resembling that I’ve seen is the Brights, which — if I may be so bold — is an embarrassment to everyone involved. God deliver us from yet more identity politics.

      So, why is it that many people who loudly and proudly identify themselves as scientists can’t or won’t apply the scientific method to their own political and social ideas?

    68. Kirk Parker Says:

      Setbit,

      I often find myself saying, “I could make a much more convincing argument for atheism than that, and I’m not even an atheist.”

      I know what you mean. OTOH, an even more common experience is to be overcome with chagrin as to what someone inside the faith is saying in public…

      Screaming Madalyn Murray O’Hair

      Ms. O’Hair spoke at my (loosely-church-affiliated) university when I was un undergrad. The school got quite a bit of flack from the more conservative parts of the local Christian community, but I personally know one person who became a Christian as a result of hearing her speak–sort of a reverse-When-Harry-Met-Sally thing, more or less: “I’ll have the opposite of what she’s having”.

    69. Stephen Says:

      Tatyana,

      Thank you, I’ll consider that a compliment. Was it intended as such? If not, why not?

    70. Stephen Says:

      Ashok,

      Have a look at Part I, Chapters 1-5 (about 100 pages) of Steven Pinker’s, “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature”. In these chapters, Pinker outlines the effect of ideology upon intellectual life through the 20th century; in particular, its effect upon the social sciences and humanities. Lot’s of citations included.

    71. Seanf Says:

      Lest we all start to believe that Texas is the promised land for multiculturalists, here is a necessary corrective – an atheist teacher who is claiming he was fired for his (non) belief.

      http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/02/it_must_be_tough_to_be_an_athe.php

      All this patting ourselves on the back on how tolerant we are (except for those godless heathen coastal elites) is risible. We’re no more or less tolerant than we used to be – we just have a different set of prejudices. Human nature is remarkably resistant to change.

    72. Tyouth Says:

      Tatyana said “Atheism IS superior to religious outlook”

      I’m confident that Tatyana meant that on a purely rational, intellectual level. She may be right if we’re talking in the comfort of our living room, at the local pub, or here at C Boyz.

      She’s quite wrong when we’re going about our business in the real world. Real people in real situations become irrational at the drop of a hat. That is, the mind, when a person acts under stress, misapprehension, or some environmentally-induced handicap of the mind, easily, and without great provocation leaves the intellect behind. Now, add in philistinism, low intellect, low intelligence (in all senses of the word), meanness, evil, and the immediacy of which the intellect must sometimes act and the the atheist faces quite a challenge in behaving correctly. Clearly, in the real world that we live in, a religious belief (and it’s attendant codes) by individuals is superior to atheism.

    73. Tatyana Says:

      Tyouth,

      in your world (the one you call real, hilariously) religious people are irrational, low IQ, low morals people who unable to function in society without instruction from religious source. I’m afraid this view is going to be very unpopular in this quarters.

      Aside: I’d like to be addressed directly when my opinion is critiqued; matter of personal preference. Thank you.

    74. Shannon Love Says:

      SeanF,

      Lest we all start to believe that Texas is the promised land for multiculturalists…

      I don’t think anyone argued that. It’s merely were not the kind of people that fevered academics feel we are. Also, as noted above, things are different in small towns. You just can’t ignore people as you do in a large city because you bump into them every day. I’m not sure people in large urban areas are more tolerant or if it is that they just don’t care about the vast majority of people they interact with.

    75. Tyouth Says:

      Tatyana said “in your world (…. hilariously) religious people are irrational, low IQ, low morals people who unable to function in society without instruction from religious source. I’m afraid this view is going to be very unpopular in this quarters.

      T, I never said anything of the sort. I’d suggest that you include the actual pertinent quotation in your comments to help keep your mind clear about what was said. (You haven’t got emotionally involved here and left your intellect behind, have you?)

      Re. your aside: I wasn’t addressing you T, only your ideas.

    76. Tatyana Says:

      Tyouth: when you critiquing someone’s ideas, speak to them directly. Makes good impression. Shows you’re not gossiping behind people’s backs, but in fact are engaged in civil discourse, person-to-person. Respectfully.

      What I said follows from your statement, Tyouth. [I'll fill out the blanks for you.]

      You submitted that under life blows (under such terrible tribulations like misapprehension and stress, or even “environment”…did you mean people who live in Tornado Country?) an adult person becomes some kind of lobotomized rabbit: low IQ, mean and evil, unable to think rationally, capable to “behave correctly” only under religious guidance.
      This statement is laughable on many levels; most obvious one – it will make a perfect apology for state control, since in your opinion adult sane people are unable to function “in real life” w/o assistance from third party. Another thing: you confuse rationality, or reason (which I talked about) with intellect, which is a whole different topic, not an object of discussion here at all.
      But let’s for argument sake leave your statement as is.

      It follows, then, that people whose ability to “behave correctly” (what constitutes “correctly”, I wonder? probably whatever the nuns told one), what was I saying – ah: that there are people whose ability to to behave correctly depend only on religious instruction and “attendant codes”. Who are these people? They are believers in god. It follows (and now I’ll repeat), that religious people are irrational, low IQ, low morals people who unable to function in society without instruction from religious source.

      I don’t agree – but hey, I respect your right to be mistaken, however self-defeating and badly argued your opinion seems to me. I just noted that it’s not going to be very flattering and therefore well received by believers on this thread. But everyone’s entitled, etc.

    77. Tyouth Says:

      Tatyana, You mention “….lobotomized rabbits…., unable to think rationally,….only under religious guidance”.

      You are projecting. I said “the mind, when a person acts under stress, misapprehension, or some environmentally-induced handicap of the mind, easily, and without great provocation leaves the intellect behind.” and that it is a “challenge” for the atheist to respond correctly. This is a far cry from what you apparently think I said. (Challenged doesn’t mean “unable”, confused doesn’t mean “lobotomized”, and “depend only upon” (where did you get that? Really, your thinking is so sloppy here that I grow impatient with you as I write this.)

      The immediacy of decisions, the heat of the moment, I maintain, will provide an extra challenge for the atheist. I might have more accurately compared an atheist on the stage of life as an actor who has not rehearsed his lines and is “more challenged” (rather than “challenged” as I originally maintained) than a religious “actor” who has rehearsed.

    78. Tatyana Says:

      Tyouth, you got impatient with me from the beginning. And “challenged”, all right. Clinging to exact quotes (your own), as if they were holy scriptures – overlooking the flaw in your logic that I showed you already. Repeating it again, more ridiculous this time. Riiight, life is theater, and people – actors! How original!
      You can’t even recognize when you’re made fun of.

      Relax, buddy. Nobody takes away your rehearsed cheat-sheet from you. And if you forget a few lines, there is an instructor on every corner!

    79. Tatyana Says:

      To what passes as you “argument”, Tyouth: what makes you think a non-believer did not rehearsed his lines, too? If believer could rely on set of rules he is TOLD to follow, so is atheist; they are just not attributed to a superhuman power.
      If anything, believers in your example look stupider than non-believers: they need constant reminder (some even 5 times a day, like Muslims), to keep them from acting indecently. They can’t even trust their memory! No reason, low IQ, meanness – and now this awful forgetfulness!
      How low you think of believers, Tyouth!

    80. Tyouth Says:

      Tatayna said “Tyouth, you got impatient with me from the beginning. And “challenged”, all right. Clinging to exact quotes (your own), as if they were holy scriptures – overlooking the flaw in your logic that I showed you already. Repeating it again, more ridiculous this time. Riiight, life is theater, and people – actors! How original!
      You can’t even recognize when you’re made fun of.
      Relax, buddy. Nobody takes away your rehearsed cheat-sheet from you. And if you forget a few lines, there is an instructor on every corner!”

      T, Why would I be worried about a cheat sheet? What makes you think I’m not an atheist or agnostic myself?

      I was not impatient with you from the beginning (you overestimate you ability at mind reading). When were you making fun of me? I’m quite relaxed but I do rather resent snide people – there is too much of it around today. You, on the other hand seem worked up, buddy.

      In reply to your next stab at rationality, logic, and coherence you tell me what I think (that non-believers, as a group, “don’t practice their lines”). No I don’t think that. Many thoughtful non-believers consider the many possible circumstances that life will throw their way,I’m sure;….many do not.

      “How low you think of believers, Tyouth!” No, I don’t think what I believe you’re trying to say. I think believers have a tool that non-believers generally do not have.

    81. Tatyana Says:

      Oh that’s the best kind of fun, when the object of ridicule doesn’t notice and dig himself deeper and deeper.

    82. Ginny Says:

      Tyouth,
      I’ve just been working with Ben Franklin and of course he arrived at the same conclusion you did. (It was Arnold’s, too, a century later.) I don’t know what is. But as you observe (and is indicated here) we do know what works. That’s good enough for me.

      I respect the deeper and more profound feelings of others. But most of all I respect reason. However, it is, as you and Shannon demonstrate so nicely, a means; it is not an end.