The enemy of my enemy is NOT necessarily my friend
Posted by Don McLenaghen on August 30, 2010
I made a comment on a friend’s FaceBook page and I used this line thinking it profound and salient. However it was met with a bit of confusion and snubbed (it was profound damn it!). The issue at hand was the protest over the building of the Islamic cultural center in New York. The post was referencing a bit on Fox News apparently promoting the idea of setting up a gay bar next to the center to “promote understanding”…supposedly between the gay and Muslim communities.
The question is should I support the groups attempting to prevent the setting up of the Islamic center?
As a hard-core Dawkian Atheist, I think religion is innately bad for society and inevitably destructive to communities. With this hat on, I think no ‘house of worship’ should be built, all those that exist should be ‘expropriated’ and converted for social housing/services. I do not support the construction of this or any other religious cultural center…New York, Vancouver, anywhere. However, there is more to this than just religion.
The groups that are the most vocal on this issue are not Atheists. They do not oppose the construction of a ‘religious center’; they ONLY oppose Islamic centers…Fox News and the ‘bar’ entrepreneur fall into this category. Their attack is not atheist but racist; as such I can also say I do not support those racist groups protesting the religious center but here it gets complicated. Separating the genuine secular groups (i.e. Libertarian Party) from the (arguable) racist ones (i.e. Tea party) is not easy and when we support a position, we as ethical atheists, must ensure we are not used by hate groups to promote their bile.
The ‘gay bar’ was proposed by a guy who had pulled other publicity stunts in the past. Everyone knew that this was not a serious proposal but merely another flaw to throw at the oppositions. Fox news, among others, find ‘brown people’ useful, demonizing them (be it Latino immigrants or Arab Muslims) for populous support. It is a topic for another post (?) how racist Fox news is, but we can agree that these types have alternate motives to opposing the Islamism center, motives that run contrary to Atheists.
Some responded that “turnaround is fair game” with regards to the idea of a gay bar next to an Islamic center. In a perfect world I would agree; if the proposal was genuine; if the group making/promoting the idea was not itself known for its anti-gay stance. It is not ‘turnaround’ when the only intent is to ‘use’ a victimized group to attack another group. As ethical atheists we cannot ignore the fact that what is going on in NY is more than just a fight against religion…if it is an atheists/secular movement at all. It’s not ‘fair game’ when racism is one of the rules and hatred standard equipment.
I am a white male and cured with an ethical nature, an inquisitive mind and out-spoken friends; as such I may be more ‘sensitive’ towards effects and altered motives of others and secondary effects of events. Events that on first glance I may have supported as ways to fight dogma but upon second thought reject because they have been high-jacked by xenophobic racists – ie. Draw Mohammed Day by the Aryan Nation. Group that I might have support because, at first glance, we have a common cause but upon second thought denounce because the motives for their actions are repugnant – i.e. American Center for Law and Justice on NY Mosque.
Just because a group or event supports something we would, in a perfect world, support does not mean we SHOULD support it. Sometimes the motivation behind them are antithetical to our own…sometimes the consequences are appalling. I can be against the building of any religious centers in NY (including Islamic ones) and still be against Fox news and their attempts to use this issue to promote hatred. The point I was trying to make was that sometimes we find ourselves supporting (if only by association) bad (and even religious) groups who oppose one thing we also oppose while undermining our long term goals…that is not being an rational or ethical atheist. As I stated at the start, I am hard-core against religion and think we should give no quarter in that struggle but that does not mean I will give-up on ethics to forward that cause for it ultimately is self-defeating.
The clip in question, if on The Onion, would have been funny as it was – it was not meant as a joke but as bigoted hate and that I cannot support.