Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A(nother) Response To Greta Christina

Quoth Greta Christina:

There are the ones who care about social justice; the ones who want to make organized atheism more welcoming to a wider variety of people; the ones who want their atheist communities to do a better job replacing the very real services that many marginalized people get from their religions; the ones who want their atheist communities to work in alliance and solidarity with other social change movements. (Or, to be more accurate — the ones who care enough to take real action.)

And there are the ones who don’t care, who aren’t interested in connecting their atheism to social justice — or don’t care enough to take significant action. They’re the ones who would be perfectly happy to have more women or black people or other marginalized folks at their events, but don’t care about it enough to examine why their events aren’t diverse, to listen to criticism about it, to accept some responsibility for it, or to change what they do. In some cases, they’re the ones who don’t want to connect their atheist activism with social justice — and don’t want anyone else to do it, either, to the point where they’re actively working to poison any efforts in that direction.

However, she has also said:

Now, I’m going to be very clear about this: We don’t all have to agree about how exactly social justice should be reached, or what our priorities and goals should be in reaching it, or even what the concept means. We don’t have to march in political lockstep. One of the best things about atheism/ freethought/ etc. is that we value lively dissent, and that we don’t have any dogma we’re all expected to agree on.

So someone explain to me how it makes sense to devote the Atheist community to "social justice" when we shouldn't even be expected to agree on what that means? I mean, hell, John Rawls and G.A. Cohen are both concerned with "social justice", but you get radically different results depending on which one you pick. Or consider the issues that Amartya Sen (generally considered to be a warm and cuddly progressive AFAIK) raises in his essay Equality of What?.

I encourage Greta Christina to consider that some fraction of the Atheist community aren't assholes, they just don't consider "social justice" to be a sufficiently well-defined concept to be able to commit to it. As an alternative, perhaps she could state some specific propositions with which people can explicitly (dis)agree?

Also, vaguely annoyed that registration is required to comment on her blog.

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