Tuesday, May 26, 2020
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Partisan Hypocrisy | Bert Bigelow


Partisan: (adj.) Exhibiting strong and sometimes blind adherence to a particular party, faction, cause or person. 

Hypocrisy: (n.) The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.

Members of many types of groups exhibit partisan hypocrisy; political parties, religious organizations, and many other special interest groups. The recent impeachment investigation and trial were a vivid example of this. The Democrat-controlled House conducted a hearing that has been labeled “unfair” by Republicans and “fair” by Democrats. In the Republican-controlled Senate, a narrow, partisan majority voted to block witnesses, which some, but not all, Republicans applaud, while Democrats, and a majority of the American people, condemn. They especially want to hear what Bolton has to say.

Needless to say, there is partisan hypocrisy (hereafter PH) on both sides, and the media have amplified it, especially Fox, Breitbart and other right-wing sources.

If you look back at the Clinton impeachment it was quite a different story. The shoe was on the other foot, with Republicans attacking and Democrats defending the President. But both the House and the Senate had sizeable Republican majorities…and still they voted to acquit Clinton. Of course, the case was quite different. Clinton’s flagrant affairs were stupid, and demeaning to the office of the President, but they did not involve corrupt efforts to involve foreign nations in our election process. One of the charges raised against Clinton was “abuse of power,” the primary charge against Trump. But the heavily Republican majority in the House rejected that by a large margin…285 – 148. They also rejected a finding of lying under oath, even during the civil deposition of Paula Jones — by a 229-205 vote.  No PH there. But that was over twenty years ago, and the Republican party has changed a lot since then.

Think about this: What if Clinton, not Trump, were being impeached right now by a Congress with the sizeable Republican majorities that it had back in 1998? Do you think they would have acquitted Clinton?

Let’s take a side road for a minute: Consider the issue of government spending and federal budget deficits. Republicans of forty or fifty years ago called themselves Conservatives, primarily because of their belief in limited government, responsible spending and balanced budgets. They labeled Democrats “tax and spend liberals.” And then, along came Ronald Reagan, who ran the biggest budget deficits in our history up to that time. His successor, G.H.W. Bush quickly surpassed Reagan’s record, and his son carried it to new heights. Since then Democratic administrations have consistently run smaller deficits than their opponents. Clinton, the whipping boy of Republicans, actually had budget surpluses for four of his eight years, and only small deficits in the other four. And yet, Republicans still call Democrats the big spenders. PH indeed.

Back to the impeachment. David Berstein, writing in Reason magazine, says that the House managers botched the hearings by limiting them to just the Ukraine mess and obstruction of justice.

“I was listening to NPR in my car today and heard one of the House managers make the case that I thought the Democrats should have made all along–that Trump’s Ukrainian mess was not a one-off, but part of a very troubling pattern of behavior by the president that renders him unfit to hold office. This includes everything from insulting a gold star mother to asking Russia to hack Hillary’s emails to constant lies and deceptions, and so on.”

He goes on to say that he has “…come to the conclusion that impeachment should be reserved for presidents who are not just incorrigible in misbehaving, but incorrigible in ways that Congress can’t easily control through normal checks and balances. There is a good case to be made that this describes Trump.”

He concludes with the following:

“Let’s say I were a Senator voting my conscience, and I believed the following: (1) Trump’s conduct is “impeachable”; (2) I wouldn’t normally vote to convict on the level of misbehavior alleged in the articles of impeachment, especially in the absence of strong public support for it; and (3) allegations and evidence not put forward by the House persuade me that Trump is unfit to be president. Should I vote to convict?”

The impeachment process is not a legal process. It is a political process. If a Senator knows of any evidence, whether it was presented or not, that makes Trump unfit to be President, then his oath of office requires him to vote to convict, whether the public support is there or not.  Unless, of course, he allows PH to override his oath and dictate his actions.

The only remaining real Republican in the Congress agrees. In a statement to the New York Times, he said:

“I believe that attempting to corrupt an election to maintain power is about as egregious an assault on the Constitution as can be made. And for that reason, it is a high crime and misdemeanor, and I have no choice under the oath that I took but to express that conclusion.”

—Mitt Romney

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Don’t Mix Football and Politics!


We have just had a State of the Union address where Pelosi was rightfully disgusted with the outright continual lies of the POTUS. This follows hot on the heels of Trump’s Superbowl shenanigans. When Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem and there was a whole furore over people making political statements within the context of sport, the right-wing went nuts. Donald Trump himself said that football and politics shouldn’t mix. Indeed, The Washington Post reported:

“…I love sports. But they shouldn’t get the politics involved.”

Trump has been the most prominent critic of players using the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality, first suggesting last fall that owners fire protesting players. He said last week there are better outlets for NFL players to voice their concerns, and he said he’s open to hearing recommendations from players about people deserving pardons or commuted sentences. It seemed to be an olive branch of sorts, and Trump cited his recent decision to commute the sentence of a woman serving a life term for a first-time drug offense at the urging of Kim Kardashian West, the reality TV star.

“I told the NFL players, indirectly, I said you have somebody that’s aggrieved — because they’re saying people are aggrieved — okay, let me know about it,” Trump said Friday. “I’ll look at it. If they’re aggrieved, I’ll pardon them. I’ll get them out.”

And then Trump went and spent $1 million on a Super Bowl advert or two…

The hypocrisy is so stark it should be embarrassing. but it’s also the tokenistic use of black people to advance his agenda. It’s not like this advert is designed to appeal to black people, though; this is an advert that is designed to appeal to his white core base as if to say “Hey, we’re not racist, look at what we’ve done for these poor black people!”

And from what I gather, Trump has not actually commuted or pardoned all that many people. He has, however, shouted about what he’s done so it seems like he has done a lot more than the statistics bear out. This is where Trump is good at marketing himself because he consistently shouts about his supposed victories as if they are commonplace. It is the Mere Exposure Effect in action. The more you say things, the more those things are believable to the masses.

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After the Interlude: The Story of an Ex-Muslim


Some years back, I compiled and edited a collection of deconversion accounts with Tristan Vick called Beyond an Absence of Faith: Stories About the Loss of Faith and the Discovery of Self (UK) that covered a range of different deconverions from around the world. I thought I would share with you part of one of the chapters (I have not included the whole piece here) for you. It came from a 17-year-old Muslim girl living in the States who was also studying to be a creative writer, and it is one of my favourite in the book. It is compellingly written.


After the Interlude

Things change. Bad memories and the recollection of laughter; everything fades.

The world passes by in a blur.

The beginning

It starts with something small.

The sun is setting, and like always, my dad marches around the house pulling my siblings off computers and down from their rooms for prayer. Here they come, tramping down the stairs with frowns on their faces because they just don’t want to, but they have to anyway.

I’ve grown used to this by now. I obey in silence, zoning out like I always do, letting my thoughts wander to my novel’s latest chapter as my father does the adhaan.

And then comes my little sister in her five-year-old, princess-like glory, bouncing on her feet, her pink dress that she insisted she’d be allowed to wear every second of every day swaying with her movement.

As we spread out the prayer mats, she waddles up to my dad, who prepares to lead the prayer.

“Papa, can I stand next to you?” she asks. My mother has already tied a purple scarf around her head; it’s already coming loose. Nothing can tame her hair.

Dad gives her a cursory glance, the smallest of acknowledgements. He doesn’t seem to like her dress.

“You can’t,” he tells her. I cringe at can’t. “Boys stand in the front. You’re a girl.”

How many times have I heard that one before? Angry words come bubbling up to my tongue in passionate fury, but I bite my lips to restrain them. They are dangerous.


That wasn’t even the first time. The first time I was angry, the first time I wanted to rip the scarf off my head and throw it at my parents’ faces. The first time I questioned the existence of an almighty being who was the sole reason I was quarantined in my house. No, I’d experienced all those firsts since the beginning of awareness, since I realized there was something wrong with forcing me to stay inside while my brother roared in laughter in the backyard with his friends, and mine were turned away at the door.

But somehow, hearing my sister be told that she was a girl, that she was not good enough to stand in the front with the boys, made my blood boil. My sister’s reaction was to shrug and join my side, as if this was perfectly okay. It was not perfectly okay. And the more I thought about it, the more frustrated I got. I’d never allowed myself to dwell on such things, fearing that I’d let my thoughts go too far, that my disapproval for everything we did would destroy me.

And it nearly did.

A taste of freedom

We’re in New York, where my cousin lives. Somehow, she and I have found our way outside for some fresh air. Our mothers are not far behind, their voices loud and staccato in the silence of the night. We’re going in circles around the neighborhood, and the serenity is so tangible I want to reach out and grab it, douse myself with it.

Yet, maybe I’m doomed to unhappiness. For the umpteenth time, I adjust my hijab, pushing hair out of sight, loosening it from around my neck. Finally, I’ve had enough, and this time when hair escapes I don’t bother to fix anything. Another step, and the pink material slips further down. A few more heavy footfalls and now it’s completely off, hanging around my neck. I spread out my arms, and I’m flying. I imagine this is what freedom feels like—not living a life in eternal darkness, hiding behind a silly curtain. I imagine going to school like this, not getting scrutinized by those who don’t even know me. I think of the questions they ask. Why do I wear it? What does it prove? To me, “because God said so,” isn’t enough. My heart swells with the pain that always comes with longing.

I want this freedom to be real.

Coffee break

The school literary art magazine is nearly complete. We’re in the final editing process now, and after the endless sweeping through all work, after fixing the tiniest of typos for over an hour, I tug at the part of the scarf that loops around my neck, like a noose.

I step outside. A few of my friends, those who didn’t hold out as long as me, are just down the hall. They’re playing ninja. It looks like a fun game. I’ve never actually played, so I don’t know the rules. I want to join them. But pink fabric frames my face—and it’s more than that. It’s a curtain that stands between them and me. A wall that stands between their laughter and my tears. Some say, “it doesn’t bother me.” Some say, “it’s my choice.”

Well, what if it isn’t mine?

What if the mere thought of quitting sets my mother’s teeth on edge, makes my father question the goodness in me?

And if you truly believe you will be sent to the fiery abyss that is hell if you refuse to cover, if you truly think that men are savage beasts that cannot control themselves and it is up to women to protect their delicate, jewel-like beauty…

Is it really a choice at all?


It was the summer of that same year when I finally took it off. I remember feeling lost and scared for a moment there, and going to Muslim friends on Facebook whom I had gone to school with for support. I remember one particular friend who reacted to my doubts as if I had slapped her in the face. “I don’t wear one yet,” she told me, “but when I do I know I will never take it off.” She called me a traitor, someone who had been “brainwashed” by the West. I remember throwing my phone against the wall, and the feeling of someone squeezing my heart in the palms of their hands.

Then I got up and collected the pieces of my phone, and put them back together. I stared at it for a moment before sending a spontaneous message to a close friend who already knew of my liberal feelings towards many Islamic prejudices. I told her how I felt, what had been said to me.

Her response was probably what kept me going in the end. She waited intently as I banged away on the phone’s tiny touchpad, letting out my tears through words like I knew how to. And when she responded, her messages were equally as long. She told me I was allowed to do whatever the hell I wanted to. She told me that if anything, be it a measly piece of cloth, ever made me feel less than I was, then she would personally “chuck it in a bin.” She told me she was my friend no matter what I did, and so long as I was happy, she was happy.

I cried. Right then and there, on my bedroom floor, clutching my battered phone to my chest, I cried. This couldn’t be real. I’d been depressed, and I’d never been able to accept it until that moment. I’d been sad, feeling walls coming in on me. I’d been Atlas, struggling under the weight of the sky, and now it had finally been removed from my shoulders.

My mother, although reluctantly, allowed this small infraction. Suddenly, one day, I was stepping out of the house with nothing covering my head. To many this probably sounds like nothing, but to me the feeling of the wind in my hair was what heaven actually was. I was no longer cut off, isolated from the world—I was part of it. Sure, I was small, most likely meaningless, but at last, I felt like a piece of the puzzle. I was not a pale mannequin who was desperately trying to disguise herself as something she was not.

After all that struggling, I could finally be me.

A new person

Summer camp. Creative writing sessions for three hours a day at George Mason University. My first time out without my scarf, with people who haven’t known me before. I enter the room with a little bit more confidence than before, as if it has filled in the missing place of my hijab. No one glances at me twice, and I love it.


Strangely enough, I hadn’t really lost faith in Islam quite then. There was anger, definitely, and other feelings—bitterness, sorrow, passion. But there was still faith. All make-believe was not quite lost. And to be honest, I can’t remember exactly when that realization struck. Perhaps it hadn’t been a realization at all, just a slow descent to the already known. Because somehow, lying awake one night staring at the ceiling though I couldn’t see it, I wasn’t quite as surprised as I expected to be, and that maybe, just maybe, death meant closing your eyes and never opening them again. That death meant falling asleep and never waking up, never knowing that you have died. An abrupt end.

But that came later. Because first, I was too happy. Suddenly, I could wear earrings. I bought fifteen different pairs and a new jewelry box. I smiled at myself in the mirror. I didn’t feel ugly.

I felt like me.

A light in my eyes

The first day of school at the end of summer. I’m wary, anxious, excited. It’s nerve-wracking. I put on my nicest shirt, a pair of jeans. I wake up twenty minutes earlier than usual to enjoy the simple act of doing my hair. I settle for a simple pony-tail. It is enough.

My creative writing teacher is the first to see me. She already knows, has already seen me at summer camp, but she smiles nonetheless. She says she likes my earrings. I grin back.

Everyone is surprised. Friends I have known since freshman year don’t recognize me at first, and when they do it is with a flourish of surprised gasps and lots of clapping. Everyone is so, so, happy for me. Because there’s a new light inside me, and it comes pouring out of my eyes. Because my laughter is more genuine, because there’s an air of positivity to the words that leak from my pen.

I talk more. I’m not afraid to defend myself from prying eyes. I stand up for friends being insulted, ex-boyfriends being douchebags. I wear heels, and I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m weird. Because when I’m doing something, it is all of my own accord. I try to come up with an allegory that suits this situation. It was as if someone had forced me to wear a Justin Bieber shirt and people had rolled their eyes at me, called me a silly little teenage girl who doesn’t know right from wrong. And all the while I wasn’t allowed to say that perhaps I didn’t like him at all, that in fact I wasn’t sure I approved of what he was doing. Instead, when people asked why I was wearing the shirt, I had to make up fake excuses.

And then I was allowed to wear something different. I was allowed to march around hallways with the Jonas Brothers smiling out at everyone who looked at me. This time I didn’t care about the stares. The eyes. The snickering. Because I liked them, and I knew why I did, and no one could make me feel terrible for something I knew I cherished for reasons they didn’t need to know.


Government class. In walks Malaika, the Muslim girl I met last year who has more lenient parents, who is adept at the best eye make-up. She stares at me momentarily, gives me a strained smile.

“Why’d you take it off?” It’s something they always ask. I shift my weight uncomfortably from one foot to the other.

“I didn’t quite feel … right in it.” It’s the best I can come up with. Because this is a girl I can’t tell. I can’t say I don’t believe in Allah anymore. She will stare, and she will no longer talk to me. So I shrug, and I hope it is acceptable.

She smiles now, more easily. “Aw, but you looked so cute in it! You inspired me.”

No, I think. I wish I didn’t. And perhaps I didn’t. Perhaps what you were feeling, Malaika, was guilt. Because you somehow thought that it was wrong of you to go bareheaded as an equal to all, rather than a lesser being because you’re a girl. Maybe you hated me inside.

But I say nothing.


They decided who I was to marry when I was thirteen. He comes from a good family, they said. He’ll take care of you, they said. I didn’t mind before. I was too young to care about my own happiness. If my mother was happy, I was happy. What more was there?

But then things changed….

To continue reading, please grab a copy of Beyond an Absence of Faith (UK).

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AR Lawmaker Wants to Cut PBS Funding Since Billy Porter Will Be on Sesame Street | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist


Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert, best known to readers of this site for erecting an unconstitutional Ten Commandments monument outside the State Capitol, wants to defund Sesame Street because a gay man will appear on the iconic children’s show.

Actor Billy Porter visited the set last week to film an upcoming episode, and he and the show posted pictures of him in his memorable Oscars tuxedo dress.

It’s not clear what Porter will actually say or do on the show. But the idea of kids seeing a man in a dress has deeply offended Rapert, who can’t handle children learning about anything outside his conservative Christian worldview. He asked people on Facebook if they wanted “taxpayer dollars” promoting “the radical LGBTQ agenda.”

He said in comments that he could “pass a bill to cutoff all funding for the rebroadcast of PBS programming through [Alabama’s PBS affiliate] AETN and also stop all funding for AETN altogether if necessary.”

In other words, he would prevent children from learning anything from the show because they invited Porter to tape a segment. That’s the sort of politician he is: A man whose goal is to make Alabama’s children as ignorant as he is.

Rapert claims he supports PBS in general but thinks showcasing a gay man who doesn’t dress the way he expects amount to the show getting “politicized.” He’d prefer to erase LGBTQ people entirely — something he doesn’t think is political at all.

It’s bad enough a bigot like this is a state senator. But this is a guy who’s already announced a run for lieutenant governor in 2022. He’s showing us what he’d do with more power: He’d punish any attempt to normalize LGBTQ people.

AETN, by the way. is the same network that chose not to air an episode of Arthur that showed a same-sex marriage. So it’s not like the people who run it are that far from Rapert’s perspective. But that’s apparently not good enough for his brand of hate.

(Thanks to Dawn for the link)

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Black Santa | Atheist Revolution


Black Santa

I had to go to Home Depot the other day to return a couple of things I had bought right before my injury. I didn’t want to go, as I knew that navigating the store right before Xmas on crutches would not be much fun. Unfortunately, I did not have much choice. The items were not cheap, and I needed the money now that I was facing unplanned healthcare costs. The window within which they could be returned would be closed long before I would be able to use them, and so I found myself in the return line.

The store was filled with Xmas decorations, just as you would expect. As my eyes drifted around the front of the store, I noticed two life-sized Santa Claus figures standing side-by-side. They were very realistic and seemed far too nice for the kind of thing somebody might put in their yard. I assumed they were intended as indoor party decorations. One was Black, and the other was White. I laughed out loud at the fact that it took me a few extra seconds to notice this. I had been marveling at the level of detail I could see and somehow didn’t immediately notice their skin color. I kept laughing as I thought about how angry the sight of a Black Santa would make many of the White conservatives on Fox News (and probably at least some of the White conservatives who watch Fox News).

I desperately wanted to snap a photo of the Santas. Sadly, there was no way I could pull my phone out while balancing myself on crutches and maintaining my hold on the bag containing the items I was returning. As I hobbled out to my car, I realized that I probably wouldn’t have taken that photo even if the crutches hadn’t been an issue. I wouldn’t have wanted anybody in line behind me to think I was mocking the Black Santa or anything like that.

Why can’t Santa be Black? I live in a state with a large Black population: Mississippi. I see no reason people shouldn’t have a Black Santa if they want one. It is not like Santa is real and we need to be concerned about historical accuracy or anything. Santa can be whoever people want, not unlike gods.

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Trump’s State-of-the-Union School Voucher Proposal Would Rob Public Schools of $5 Billion Every Year


Cranford, NJ–In response to President Trump’s call for a $5 billion giveaway to religious schools at his 2020 State of the Union Address, American Atheists’ president Nick Fish released the following statement:

Americans agree: public funding is for public schools. Only a small minority—a mere quarter of Americans—supports taxpayer money going to religious education. Nonetheless, President Trump and Betsy DeVos are pandering to religious extremists at the expense of the 91% of students who are in public schools.

These voucher schemes rob public schools to fund discriminatory religious schools that turn away students with disabilities, LGBTQ students, and students who are the ‘wrong’ religion. What’s more, these private schools often harm students’ academic outcomes. In fact, despite the President’s false claim that public schools are ‘failing,’ multiple studies have shown that public school students perform better than students in voucher programs.

If President Trump wanted to put our nation’s young people first, he would ensure that they receive a quality education that puts facts above religious dogma. But instead, he’s selling out public school students in a cynical ploy to win the support of the religious groups he needs for re-election. It’s shameful.

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Democrat Candidates and the Religiosity of Their Supporters


Pew Research Center have been at it with their data collection concerning the Democratic candidates for the primaries. The synopsis is interesting if hardly surprising:

On the whole, among registered voters who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, Protestants and Catholics are most likely to name Joe Biden as their first choice, according to a national survey Pew Research Center conducted in January.

Religiously unaffiliated Democrats lean more toward Bernie Sanders, with self-described atheists and agnostics especially more likely to name Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as their preferred choice….

No candidate has majority support from any of the large religious groups, and many voters still say they are undecided or decline to name a favorite. Among black Protestant Democratic voters, for example, 44% name Biden as their first choice – four times the share of any other candidate – but 30% remain undecided or give other responses indicating uncertainty in their vote choice.

Taking a very early look ahead to November’s general election, the survey also asked registered voters across the political spectrum to predict their vote – whether it would be for Donald Trump or the yet-to-be-determined Democratic nominee. Similar to other recent elections, most white evangelical Protestants say they will definitely (59%) or probably (17%) vote for Trump, and just 14% say they will probably or definitely vote for the Democrat. White Protestant voters who do not identify as born again or evangelical also are more likely than not to say they will vote for Trump in November.

Most black Protestant (79%) and religiously unaffiliated voters (66%), meanwhile, intend to vote Democratic, including majorities in each group who say they will definitely vote for the Democratic candidate.

Catholics are more evenly divided between those who say they will definitely vote for Trump (33%) and those who definitely plan to back the Democratic nominee (32%). About one-in-ten Catholic voters (11%) will probably vote for Trump, while an identical share (11%) will probably vote for the Democrat. Among Catholics, as among Protestants, racial and ethnic factors play a role: White Catholic voters lean more toward Trump than the Democratic nominee, while Hispanic Catholics are much more likely to say they will vote Democratic.

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Praise Jesus! God Destroys Family’s House But Leaves Behind Some Bible Verses | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist


A house burned down in Springfield, Louisiana. That’s it. That’s the story. The family is thankfully okay.

But the Livingston Parish Fire Protection District #2 would like everyone to know that there’s some good news, too! The fire didn’t take down a few Bible verses that had been written onto a few of the wall studs.

The home is obviously a complete loss. What caught our eyes was that the homeowners had written scriptures on wall studs through the house. The fire stopped at the scriptures!!

If the goal is to talk about the goodness or power of God, this is a horrible way to do it.

How many children would have had to die before one of these Christians in the comment thread admits God isn’t looking out for the family’s best interests? That’s a drastic thing to say, but apparently a burnt down house didn’t convince them.

This isn’t a blessing. And anyone who says it is should answer this question: Would you want to swap places with this family right now?

By the way, there were “60-80 scriptures” written on these posts throughout the house. Not all of them made it. That didn’t seem to override the general sentiment that God was sending the family a sign.

Oh. One more thing:

Family members say at least one pet bird died in the fire, and they are missing cats and dogs.

If God exists, He’s not a fan of this family. He didn’t leave a message; He left a warning. It’s silly to pretend the exact opposite is true.

(Thanks to Kealoha for the link)

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Choosing a Primary Candidate Who Can Win


Iowa farm silos

When we approach presidential primary elections, I think that most of us are guided by two considerations:

  1. Which of the candidates would I most prefer as president?
  2. Which of the candidates has the best chance of winning the general election that follows the primary?

For some lucky voters, there is only one answer to both questions. The person they would most like to see as president is the person they think has the best chance of winning the general election. These voters have their candidate and can move on without worrying about anything else. This post is for the rest of us.

Answering question #1 is usually fairly easy. After all, this is really a question about us and our personal preferences. We may like multiple candidates, but we usually prefer one even if it is only by a slight margin. On the other hand, answering question #2 can be very difficult. The reality is that nobody knows the answer to this question, so all we can do is guess. Unfortunately, most people seem to base their guesses on considerations that fail to take into account how presidential elections actually work in the U.S. (i.e., the popular vote is next to meaningless, as only a handful of states decide our presidential elections). Remember, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 but lost the election because she did not win the states that mattered.

It is very tempting to pick out a candidate we like and claim that voter enthusiasm will propel them over the top in the general election. Just look at the social media buzz around them, the turnout at their rallies, and the intensity with which people seem to support them! But we have to be very careful when we do this to make sure we are focusing on their support relative to the other party in the key states. Getting a skewed picture is not helpful.

Many of us on the left, including me, would prefer to see one of the more progressive candidates win the Democratic primary in 2020 (e.g., Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders). But as tempting as it is to argue that one of these candidates would be more competitive against Donald Trump than anyone else, we need to remember that it is going to come down to how they perform in a few key states (e.g., Wisconsin, Pennsylvania) and not what the national polls might suggest.

Suppose for a moment that we finally had an open atheist running on the Democratic side. No matter how good this candidate looked during the primary contest, the party establishment and countless voters would express concern about whether an open atheist could possibly win the general election. Now suppose that we decided to focus primarily on California and New York. Polls in those states might tell us that this candidate’s atheism was not much of an issue and that most voters would likely turn out to support them. It is easy to imagine moving forward to nominate this candidate and then losing the general election badly because the region of the country often referred to as the heartland was far from ready to support an atheist. Had we bothered to ask the people who lived there, they would have warned us. We didn’t ask them, and now it is too late.

What is crazy-making here is how much emphasis we have to put on questions like, “But how competitive will this candidate be in Wisconsin?” This shouldn’t matter, but it does as long as we cling to the electoral college and refuse to replace it with a national popular vote. In the meantime, I think we have to wrestle with the fact that winning may require us to nominate candidates that will appeal to voters who are considerably less liberal than many of us are and then show up to support them.

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End Blasphemy Laws Internationally | American Atheists


Washington, D.C.–Today, American Atheists submitted testimony in support of House Resolution 512, which calls for the global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws.

The resolution calls on President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo to prioritize the repeal of blasphemy laws and the release of imprisoned blasphemers in bilateral relationships with all countries.

“Thankfully, [the U.S.] Congress has the ability to promote international religious freedom and encourage other governments to follow the protection of freedom of thought, conscience, expression, and exercise,” wrote Alison Gill, American Atheists’ Vice President for Legal and Policy. “Several countries have taken steps toward repealing these blasphemy laws, including Greece, Ireland, and Canada, but more needs to be done on the international scale.”

The resolution also encourages the President and the Secretary of State to designate countries that enforce blasphemy laws as “countries of particular concern for religious freedom.”

Finally, it urges the President and the Secretary of State to oppose the United Nations and other international forums if they support blasphemy laws.

“Sadly, we must note that the United States does not have a perfect record when it comes to anti-blasphemy laws,” said Gill. “States such as Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wyoming continue to have inactive anti-blasphemy provisions within their state law. Just as the U.S. condemns blasphemy overseas, Congress should encourage states to repeal these outdated statues.”

Image by Soumyadeep Paul under CC BY 2.0

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