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Identitarianism Is Incompatible with Humanism
‘Identitarianism’ isn’t tearing humanists apart. It’s making us stronger
Affirmations of Humanism (1980)
Humanist Manifesto II (1973)
Humanism and Its Aspirations: Humanist Manifesto III (2003)
A Neo-Humanist Statement Of Secular Principles And Values: Personal, Progressive, And Planetary(2010)
The Philosophy of Humanism (8th Edition 1997)
On Naming Names at The CFI Student Leadership Conference
Dawkins and “Dear Muslima”
My Talk at WIS2(2013)
Dave Silverman went on InfoWars to promote his conservative atheist group
And lest you think I am being “triggered” by the editorial, here is the Table of contents to the June/July 2022 issue of “Free Inquiry”:
Click here to read full transcript
Doug Berger 0:00
If we believe what Blumner is talking about, about the individual being the primary foundation of humanism, why are we even talking about transgender people and denigrating them? Why are we denigrating another group of people, you know, we’re not going to gloss over and ignore that somebody in our movement is trans or gay or woman or black, we’re going to acknowledge that they’re trans, they’re gay, they’re a woman or they’re black. And we’re going to celebrate that and bring their voice into the humanist community, because that’s the only way that we’re going to have a sustainable, equitable, humanist community, and that is conclude everybody.
Doug Berger 0:44
In this episode, we examine an inflammatory editorial by Robyn Blumner nerve from the Center for Inquiry. She believes there’s a schism in humanism, but she’s wrong to think it’s identity politics. The schism is between those who believe social justice will lead us to a sustainable humanist community that includes all voices, and those who, like Richard Dawkins, we have to bring along kicking and screaming like a toddler tonight their favorite candy. Which side do you want to be on? I’m Doug Berger. And THIS is Secular Left.
Doug Berger 1:35
Normally, with these episodes on secular left, I tried to deal with a secular perspective on politics. And usually we’re talking about church and state separation. We’re talking about the insidious way that religion gets its way into public policy, such as same sex marriage and, and things like that. What I wanted to talk to you today is about politics within the secular movement, specifically humanism. I am a humanist. I found it I’m president and founder of the secular humanists of Western Lake Erie. I’ve been a humanist leader for probably almost 30 years now, in some form or capacity. And so I’ve been intimately involved with the running of day to day organizations, the major organizations there, there are several, these are atheists slash humanist slash agnostic, slash secular groups that are national, we have the American Humanist Association, which my local group is a chapter of, then you have American Atheists. And then you have the center Center for Inquiry. And that was an offshoot of Dr. Paul Kurtz, who founded it, probably back in 1980 or so late 70s, early 80s. And its main focus was on secular humanism. That was his thing. He was previously on the board of the American Humanist Association. He edited the magazine, the humanist. And then they had a falling out. And in the late 80s, he didn’t appreciate the direction that American aid, American Humanist Association was moving. And so he left that organization and started his own and call and ended up being called the Center for Center for Inquiry. Dr. Kurtz left that organization by 2010 2009, he has unfortunately, passed away. So he’s no longer around. But Center for Inquiry still exists. And it’s still one of the three major groups secular groups in this country. They have, they do the things about skepticism. They have a big conference each year. It’s been in Las Vegas the last several years. Celebrities are part of it, such as a pen from Penn and Teller, the magician pen. He’s a member of CFI. I know some people personally, I personally know some people who are members of CFI. Many years ago, we had a lobby day down in Columbus, Ohio that I was part of, and that was sponsored by the local CFI affiliate in Cleveland. And a friend of mine was the president of that affiliate at the time. So I’m very familiar with CFI. Then several years ago, what happened was that the Richard Dawkins Foundation and CFI merged, and when that happened, Robyn Blumner became the president and CEO Have CFI and I’m going to use that initial CFI. And I mean Center for Inquiry, because that’s what we call it. That’s the, the nickname we give it in the secular movement. And anyway, so Robyn Blumner is the President and Executive Director. She previously was the President and Director of
Doug Berger 5:28
Richard Dawkins. He’s the biologist who wrote The God Delusion book, and he’s a very famous atheists. He had a foundation for science and, and whatnot. And she was in charge of that, before that, she was a journalist in Florida. And she wrote many articles in support of Church and State separation. And so she was very popular in the secular movement. The recent, they have a magazine called free inquiry. That’s their official magazine. And it recently came out with its most recent issue, and it’s the way some of these magazines work is they come out, and in this case, it’s a by it’s a two month bi monthly magazine. So it was the June and July issue came out. And in that issue, and a friend of mine had sent this to me, friend, my friend, Derek, who lives in Columbus, I’ve known for 30 years, sent this to me because he has a subscription to the magazine. And I don’t and I’ll get into that, probably late into this episode. Why I don’t have a subscription to free Inquirer magazine. And Robyn Blumner wrote an editorial. And I read this editorial and it just took me aback. It starts out with the title identitarian ism, is incompatible with humanism. And so then they have a pull, pull quote next to it. It says, just at a time when it is essential for all of us to come together to work arm and arm against Christian nationalism, and the rise of religious privilege and law, humanism is facing a schism within its own movement. Am I okay? I believe it, there is a schism. It’s been around for quite a while, what was she talking about? So she begins the essay, or her editorial, defining her terms, as a good writer should do, you know, they should, shouldn’t just use jargon just to use it, they should explain it. And then she says, identitarian a person or ideology that espouses that group identity is the most important thing about a person, and that justice and power must be viewed primarily on the basis of group identity rather than individual merit. And she has listed as the source Urban Dictionary. And then she has a quote from the affirmations of humanism. And that is a document that was written by Dr. Kurtz back in, in the 80s. And it was their initial explanation of their beliefs back when he first formed the group, and so they have the affirmations of humanism. We attempt to transcend his divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity and strive to work together for the common good of humanity. And again, that was the affirmations humanism Paul Kurtz free inquiry magazine, spring 1987. Okay, and so that little bit from Dr. Kurtz, I totally agree with it that we need to get over our divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity and strive to work together for the common good of humanity, I get that. So she goes on and says, in her editorial, the division has to do with a fundamental precept of humanism, that enriching human individuality and celebrating the individual is the basis upon which humanism is built. Humanism valorizes, the individual and with good reason, we are each the hero of our own story. Not only is one’s individual sovereignty more essential to the humanist project and one’s group affiliation, but fighting for individual freedom, which includes freedom of conscience, speech and inquiry is part of the writ large agenda of humanism. It unleashes creativity grants us the breathing space to be agents in our own lives, or at least that or at least that idea used to be At the core of humanism.
Doug Berger 10:03
Today, there is a sub part of humanists identitarian ones who are suspicious of individuals and their freedoms. They do not want a free society if it means some people will use their freedom to express ideas with which they disagree. They see everything through a narrow affiliate facilitative lens of race, gender, ethnicity, or other demographic category seek to shield groups that they see as marginalized by obsessional psychic harms, inflicted by the speech of others. This has given rise to a corrosive cultural environment are a raw awash in controversial speakers being shouted down on college campuses, even liberal professors and newspaper editors losing their jobs for tiny one off slight, the cancelation of great historical figures for being men of their time, and a range of outlandish claims of micro aggressions, cultural appropriation and other crimes against current orthodoxy. Okay, so now we know that take the she is going on here. She is complaining about identity politics is what they call it. That’s what conservatives call it. And so I have to break down exactly what she’s saying. And she, she claims that humanism within humanism, the philosophy of humanism, the fundamental precept is that enriching human individuality and celebrating the individual is the basis on portal upon which humanism is built. Blumner never misses the point of humanism. And it’s, and, you know, I’m not sure how much about humanism, she really has gotten into, I don’t know, I know, she’s an atheist. I don’t know if she is a humanist or not. But humanism, let me put it this way, the individual is not the primary factor for humanism, okay? Humanism is a world philosophy or worldview of how we live in the world with each other. And so it’s how we, how we form a society, how we form a committed community, which we acknowledge there are many different kinds of people, different individuals, how do we come together and solve human problems? We reject supernatural, the supernatural. We don’t, you know, thoughts and prayers, we don’t do that. So how do we come together as individuals, and build up a community, where all of us are equal, and all of us can prosper together and be together and be safe? That’s what humanism is. That’s what, that’s the whole point. That’s why we fought fight for individual freedoms, such as freedom of conscience, speech and inquiry against those people that try to keep us down in those parts, and usually it’s the government, okay. Freedom of speech only exists as a response to an overreach of government. freedom of conscience affects government or public, you know, public public areas or the government. Okay? These the Bill of Rights is in the Constitution, because that tells that that builds the relationship between the people who formed the government and the institution that that formation accomplishes. All right, so that’s one of the mistakes a lot of these libertarians make and that, and I’m gonna say right now that the Center for Inquiry is more libertarian, than they are humanist, and more than they are secular. They’re libertarians, first and foremost, up at the top. And libertarians, they have this thing that the the individual is the primary. Everything else is secondary. And with humanism, it’s not that way. And humanism, the individual is equal to the community. All right. And I just want to share some quotes from some, some other humanists. For example, blood donor mentions
Doug Berger 14:41
Dr. Kurtz, and uses a document that he wrote back in the 1980s. Well, Dr. Kurtz also helped write the humanist math manifesto too, which was published in 1973. And one part of it starts out human life has meaning because we create and develop our futures. Happiness in the creative realization of human needs and desires individually and in shared enjoyment, our continuous themes of humanism, the preciousness and dignity of the individual person as a central humanist value. Individuals should be encouraged to realize their own creative talents and desires. We reject all religions, ideological or moral codes that denigrate the individual suppress freedom. Don’t intellect D humanize personality. We believe in maximum individual autonomy constant with social responsibility. Although science can account for the causes of behavior, the possibilities of individual freedom of choice exist in human life and should be increased. Then it goes on we deplore racial religious, ethnic or class antagonisms. Although we believe in cultural diversity and encourage racial and ethnic pride, we reject separations which promote alienation and set people and groups against each other. We envision an integrated community where people have a maximum opportunity for free and voluntary association. We are critical of sexism or sexual chauvinism, male or female, we believe in equal rights for both men and women to fulfill their unique careers and potentialities, as they see fit free of in business discrimination. So that was Humanist Manifesto two. All right. Well, in 2003, the American Humanist Association, the American Humanist Association, updated the manifesto. And it’s called humanism and its aspirations. And in that, the thinking was updated. And I just read just a small part here it says humans are social by nature, and find meaning and relationships. Humanists longed for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of purity and its consequences are differences are resolved cooperatively, without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with inter dependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice and opportunity for all. And so just so we know that Dr. Kurtz was kind of on the same wavelength. After he left CFI he started another group a think tank, and he came up with another document another essay talking about beliefs. And the title of it was a NEO humanist statement of secular principles of values, personal, progressive and planetary. This was published in 2010. And it says, Neo humanists recognize that no individual can live isolated from others, but should share values with others in the community. Individuals should be granted the right to make their own decisions and actualize their own values, so long as they do not impinge on the rights of others. We submit that terms left wing or right wing are holdovers from Elliot, Elliot, earlier periods in history and have little meaning on the current scene. Neo humanists recognize that humanity needs to move beyond ego centric individualism, or the perspective of chauvinistic nationalism. So basically, what I’m trying to get forward here is that humanism operates on consensus. There isn’t some Pope of humanism, dictating what humanists believe, and what values we hold. It’s all we get, we gather together. And we make these documents like the Neo humanist one in the manifestos. The International humanist group has one I think it’s called the Amsterdam declaration. And you can see where all these different documents have, they share points, and they diverge a little bit depending on where they are written and who participated. So at this point, the humanists consensus means that the individual we’re not just a loose collection of individuals that happen to be in the same room.
Doug Berger 19:38
But we are a collection of individuals who have decided that this is how we want to live. This is how we want our world to be and then we work together to do that. And that’s the main point. That Blumner near misses in the opening of her editorial, where she talks about the individual being the primary foundation of humanism. It’s important, but it is not more worth more than the community. It’s an individual and the community. Because the things that you do as an individual affect the community, and the things that the community does, affects the individual. And also the bill of rights and the rights of conscience and freedom of speech only apply to the individual’s relationship with the government government, not a social organization, not your neighbors, you know, you can have quite a few examples, you could have a Trump sign up in front of your house. And you shouldn’t be surprised if people tell you to screw off. Or maybe your neighbor has a competing sign that says, you know, fuck Trump. You know, your freedom of speech would be violated if the cops came by and took your sign down. For no apparent reason. It wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t doing any damage. It wasn’t hurting anybody. It was just sitting there in your yard, and they come onto your yard and take it down for no apparent reason, then you could have a case that your freedom of speech was violated. But I did want to share one more quote with you concerning the individual in and community, which is more important than and which is not. And this is from Corliss Lamont. He wrote a book called The philosophy of humanism. And at the time that he passed away, it was in its eighth edition in 1997. And it’s Well, that was shortly after he died, was when it was the eighth edition. That’s one of the first books that I read about humanism. And in it on page 14, he writes, humanism believes that the individual attains the good life by harmoniously combining personal satisfactions and continuous self development, with significant work, and other activities that contribute to the welfare of the community. So again, there’s that interdependence between the individual and the community. And I wholeheartedly agree with that particular take, rather than Robyn Blumner’s.
Doug Berger 22:33
For more information about any of the topics covered in this episode, check out our show notes at secularleft.us.
Doug Berger 22:47
So why did Blumner start out like that make use a word from the Urban Dictionary, and talk about the primacy of individuals. Mainly, you hear a bit of it, when she talks about canceling people, and, and I think I’ve covered this before Cancel culture is a myth made up by conservatives because they can’t use the N word. Or whatever, bigotry, bigot sounding words that they want to use, or whatever terms they want to use. Free speech, doesn’t it? Even if we for a moment believe that free speech is a thing outside of the individual relationship with government? If we think that this is something that should be in society, free speech still does not absolve you of the consequences of your speech. You know, if you call somebody ignorant or or call their mom ugly, and they slap you, you can then whine and cry about it and say your free speech was violated. Because it’s not true because you actually said it. You just didn’t like the consequences. On the second part of her essay, or then we get into the crux of it. And it says good people with humanist hearts have been pilly pilly yard if they don’t subscribe to every jot and tittle of the Identitarian gospel. A prime example is the decision last year by the American Humanist Association a che to retract its 1996 award to wear to Dawkins as humanists of the year. The man who has done more than any month alive to advance evolutionary biology and the public’s understanding of that science, who has brought the light of atheism to millions of people and whose Marisa Varus opposition to Donald Trump and Brexit certainly must have burnished his liberal cred became radioactive because of one tweet on transgender issues that the AHA didn’t like. Apparently, decades have passed good works are erased by 200. 80 characters just poof. No wonder a New York Times poll recently found that 84% of adults say it is very serious or somewhat serious problem that some Americans do not speak freely because of fear of retaliation or harsh criticism. Okay, so now we know why she wrote the article, and it’s to support her boss, Richard Dawkins. Well, one of her bosses, he’s on the board Anyway, her former boss boss. So let’s talk about Richard Dawkins. Yes, the AHA did resend its humanist of the Year Award for him that they awarded him in 1996, just after he had published The God Delusion, and then he was the toast of the town and new Atheism was the next big thing and, and all that stuff. Well, what happened was that he might be a good teacher of biology, he might be a good writer of science books. But he is awful on Twitter. He has constantly over the years, put his foot in his mouth, on Twitter, and also in comments on blogs. This has been going on since 2002 1011. And it was a situation that’s referred to by people that followed it at the time as elevator gate. I’m not going to go into the details of elevator gate. But basically what it was is that a woman Rebecca Watson was giving a talk at a CFI conference in Dublin, Ireland. And she had mentioned that the night before or a couple of days before, it was late, early in the morning, like three, four o’clock in the morning, she was taking the elevator back up to her room at the hotel, and one of the conference attendees got on the elevator with her and propositioned her. And so in the speed, this talk that she was talking about sexism is, ironically enough talking about sexism. She said that, you know, if you get on, you know, she said, guys, if you get on an elevator at four o’clock in the morning with a with a woman you don’t know, don’t proposition her. That’s all she was talking about. She just said that. It makes you look creepy. She She didn’t fear for her life. But she was very, very aware of how late it was. And she was alone. And it made her feel very uncomfortable. She said, Don’t do that.
Doug Berger 27:28
And the flood of misogyny just over almost overwhelmed her. And the comments. People talked about it, there were blog posts and this before podcast, but there’s probably some podcast, early podcasts about it. And they just raked her over the coals for simply wanting people to treat other people with basic dignity. And don’t you know, you don’t proposition somebody that you don’t know, in a situation like that in the elevator? Well, of course, the center writer that I’m familiar with PZ Myers had a blog post about and talked about it, and Richard Dawkins decided to comment about it. And this is known as his infamous dear, my most Liam. Note. And in that note, II complained about women in the United States complaining about being propositioned in an elevator, when there are Muslim women in Islamic countries being murdered in honor killings. And so basically, he was saying that, that, that they were being whiny that the American women were being whiny about trivial stuff. And that they should be worried more about these women and these other countries who are being who are losing their lives. Okay, and so that just started the whole thing. And he got a lot of pushback for that, which he should have. And that was 2011. All right. The tweet that finally broke the camel’s back for the A che was that he attempted to equate this woman who was an NAACP leader, who fraudulently claimed to be black. And he tried to equate her and the reaction to her with transgendered women, transgender women, who are now you know, who transition to being a woman who identify as women. And so I know Hemant Mehta, I think has a piece about that if to kind of talk about that more in more detail. But to in any sense, let’s discuss and it’s just like people was heads exploded, you know, because he was equating somebody who was legitimately committing fraud. I mean, there was no question that this woman was trying to surpass as black. She was not black, she was white. And she was trying to do that, and saying that that was the same thing. As a person who was born male, wanting, knowing that they needed to identify as a woman. And why don’t they get pushed back for committing? Basically, he’s saying that they were committing fraud that and I don’t know if this is like a British thing. But because JK Rowling has a big, big thing, she’s doubled down on transphobia. But Dawkins is right there with them. You know, and he says stupid stuff, I guess all the time. There was another another thing before that, where he tried to trivialize child abuse, simply because he had been abused as a child. And he turned out okay. You know, and so you’re thinking, this guy is a scientist? You know, he wrote this book, he said, toast to the town, why don’t you shut the hell up. Or if he says something outrageous, and he gets pushed back, then he says, Hey, maybe I’m more wrong. But he never does that. And here blood donor is is defending him. And so it wasn’t just one tweet, okay. There’s been a history of problems with Dawkins and his big mouth.
Doug Berger 31:48
And the thing is, he hasn’t been canceled. In the parlance of people who say, cancel, there’s a canceled culture. I mean, he still he’s, he still gets money from his books, he still makes public appearances. There was just something the other day where he was in a video with Jordan Peterson, for some reason, well, you know, birds of a feather flock together, you know what I mean? And he makes public appearances. And they still, when science questions come up, he still gets asked, and he hasn’t lost any money or anything. He hasn’t lost a job. He’s Richard Dawkins. But the point that I want to make by by bringing that out by talking about Dawkins like that, is that we should not be putting celebrities quote, unquote, on a pedestal. You know, they make mistakes. People are, you know, they’re human, they make mistakes, they have wrong viewpoints. And they should be held accountable for those viewpoints, especially when they have a massive platform like Richard Dawkins does. I mean, he had a found a, he has a foundation, it’s now part of CFI. You know, he shouldn’t it be like if he was talking about promoting anti vaccination stuff. You know, people wouldn’t take it from him. They’d be like, you know, shut the hell up. But because it’s going against women and transgender, trans transgender woman, transgender women, it seems to be okay for most people. And that’s, that’s wrong. Especially, it’s really disappointing to see Robyn Blumner, you’re right about that. You know, cuz you wouldn’t think that a woman would try to defend somebody who’s had issues with women, like Rebecca Watson. And I mean, just to tell you, you talk about the Dawkins being cancelled after this elevator gate brouhaha simmer down a little bit. Rebecca and Dawkins are supposed to appear to get not together together, but at the same conference event. And he got the conference, people to cancel her invite, and said, I’m not going to appear if she’s there. So you want to talk about Kancil culture, it’s always the right wingers that do it. And I consider Dawkins a little bit of a right winger when it comes to social justice issues.
Doug Berger 34:27
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Doug Berger 34:42
So then we move on to later in the essay, that editorial and and blunder brings up CRT critical race theory and how that’s causing a problem and, and, and she’s using talking points that I’ve seen on Fox News in in in conservative, conservative publications that that there’s a draft plan in California to de emphasize calculus as a response to persistent racial gaps and math achievement. Suddenly a subject is racially neutral as math has become a flashpoint for identity Marion’s set on ensuring equality of outcomes for certain groups, rather than the far more just standard of equality of opportunity. Now, if she had done her research, and actually checked into this issue, she would have found that California has a draft plan to de emphasize calculus, because people aren’t getting it. And there’s no real reason for regular students to learn calculus. I didn’t learn calculus. I didn’t, it didn’t, I didn’t require calculus to graduate high school. I avoided it like the plague, because I wasn’t going to be an engineer, I wasn’t going to be a scientist. And when you have school districts that have limited resources, they can’t be spending money teaching a subject that is not going to apply to a majority of the people in their in their school. You know, especially low income, socio economically disadvantaged, you know, you can take teach some basic calculus and see who picks it up, and then you can move them into another class. But to emphasize that,
Doug Berger 36:38
as needing to learn it, in order to graduate high school is ridiculous in this day and age, I’m sorry. And the teaching of math, there’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not it’s actually racially neutral. But that’s for another time. I don’t want to get into that. And then she finally finishes up her main argument about, of course, identitarian. ‘s focus is not just on racial issues, gender divisions also play out on center stage. I was at a secular conference recently, when a humanist leader expressed the view that if you don’t have a uterus, you have no business speaking about abortion. Really, only people a female reproductive organs should be heard on one of the most consequential issues of the day. Such a call itself is a form of lamentable sexism. And it seems purposely to ignore the fact that plenty of people with a uterus are actively opposed to the right to choose, are plenty of people without a uterus are among our greatest allies for abortion rights. Why should those of us who care about reproductive freedom cut fully half of all our humanity from our roster of potential vocal supporters and activists? Well, basically, because if you don’t have a uterus, you have no business speaking about abortion, plain and simple. You can have an opinion about it, you can speak about it. But your opinion and your what you say about it really has nothing to do. If you don’t have a uterus, it’s it’s irrelevant. You know, you can be on the good side of history and support a woman’s right to choose or you can just get out of the way because it’s not to me it’s not a debatable issue. And that’s another conservative libertarian talking point is that these types of things are, you know, that she deserved to have the right to decide if her abortion Well, what about the man know, the man made his decision when he gave up his sperm, but ultimately, it’s still the woman’s decision. It’s her body her choice. And then finally, she concludes the editorial with the individual is the most important unit and humanism, when our individuality is stripped away so we can be fitted into prescribed identity groups instead, something essential to the humanist project is last. Those pushing for this concept conception of society are misconstruing humanism, diminishing power, human potential, and self actualization, and driving a wedge between good people everywhere. And as I said, she’s the one that misses the point of humanism. And I have to say, we all have an identity of some kind, even humanists. Humanism is an identity. Man is identity woman’s identity, US citizens and identity. Whether or not you play, Dungeons and Dragons is an identity. Whether or not you’re a math scholar As identity we all have, there’s all these identities, okay? And so what she’s saying is we should strip all of that away. And we should all come together and be together and be humanists only. Okay? And to me what that sounds like is, during Martin Luther King’s birthday, when all these Republicans brought out, trotted out kings, I Have a Dream speech about being colorblind and not and not thinking about somebody’s skin color. You know, you know, we should, and so that is fine for people to say things like that, to say that, that we need to, we need to get rid of all these parochial loyalties and identities and just be together Kumbaya, and, and be humanists. And that’s all well and good when you’re already at the top of the heap, when you’re already at the finish line. But it makes no sense for you to say that when there are people that aren’t there with you, and it’s our responsibility as humanists to bring as many people with us as we can. And so if somebody like Richard Dawkins, tries to claim that a woman falsely claiming to be black is the same as a man being a trans woman, and that they’re both frauds, well, then they need pushback, they need to be called out on it, and they need to shut the hell up.
Doug Berger 41:37
Because, you know, if we believe what Blumner is talking about, about that, that the individual being the primary foundation of humanism, why are we even talking about transgender people, and denigrating them? Why are we denigrating another group of people? If, if she complains about that being done to her and to Richard Dawkins? Why aren’t Why doesn’t she complain about Dawkins doing that to transgender people? Because that’s essentially what he’s doing is he’s denigrating another group of people, for no other reason, there is no rational reason for him to talk smack about transgender issues at all. You know, we’re not going to gloss over and ignore that somebody in our movement is trans or gay or woman or black, we’re going to acknowledge that they’re trans, they’re gay, they’re a woman or they’re black. And we’re going to celebrate that and bring their voice into the humanist community, because that’s the only way that we’re going to have a sustainable, equitable, humanist community. And that is to include everybody.
Doug Berger 42:59
This is secular left.
Doug Berger 43:07
I know I’ve talked a lot about this issue, and this particular editorial. And so I just kind of want to finish up with a kind of a personal ish note about Center for Inquiry. This isn’t the first time that CFI has been on the wrong side of humanism. There’s been many incidences over the years one, the ones that come out that are they had an editor of their magazine, one time write an essay against same sex marriage, and this was back before same sex marriage was legalized in the United States. I think it was about the time that Colorado and voted Colorado voters had voted to make same sex marriage legal in that state. And he wrote an essay making the argument that same sex marriage was bad, because of the tax implications, that because people would be getting married, that it would increase their tax liability. All right. That was a ridiculous article. Then you had a previous president and CEO. give a keynote speech or whatnot, a keynote it was a welcoming speech. At a conference that CFI was hosting called with women and secularism. And it went off the rails and he complained about feminism. He said that feminists could only get could only succeed if they destroy capitalism or some ridiculous crap like that. And he doubled down on it. And finally they had to force finally they were able to force him out. But after he gave that speech denigrating feminism at a woman conference so what a conference about women and secularism mind you they lost a lot of women that worked for them a lot of people with energy and enthusiasm they did he just cut it just hit it and it took the wind right out of it. I looked at the the table of contents for that issue the the June July issue with blenders editorial. And it’s like the title of one of them was humanism and woke ism introduction, critical race theory and woke liberalism. Waking from woke ism inoculating ourselves against a mind virus. Excerpt from what racism how a new religion has betrayed black America. I was like, Oh my goodness. It’s like when did free inquiry turn into David Silverman his Twitter feed. You know, anytime I see an article or group or group of people talk about woke ism, and especially if they’re white.
Doug Berger 46:25
I just tune it out. Because it’s going to be it’s going to be have tinges of racism. And they’re going to miss the point. And it really disappoints me. The other thing that bothered me about this issue was the fact that they took a cheap shot at the AHA. And it’s a cheap shot. All right, because the American Humanist Association, they can award their humanism of the Year Award to anybody that they want, anytime they want, for whatever reason they can take it away. CFI has no say over that. They should never have any say of that. You know, and there was a another podcast that I host, where we delved into some of the people that have received the humaneness of the Year award in the past that maybe probably would not receive it in 2022. All right, the other time that CFI has taken a shot at the AHA was after the American Humanist Association absorbed the Humanist Society. They’re the people that did the the ordain humanist celebrants. They might have been around that time, but they had what a tax exemption, we have a 501 (3c) tax exemption. And at the time, American American Humanist Association had a religion tax exemption, like a church would have. And free inquiry had a whole article blasting the AHA about it saying, Well, if you want to have real secular group come to CFI, blah, blah, blah. You know, there’s just no reason to do that.
Doug Berger 48:12
The other reason why I don’t care for the CFI, for CFI, as a group is kept because for the longest time, Paul Kurtz was still alive. And still in part of that group. He proved he personally prevented the formation of the Secular Coalition of America for many years for probably five or six years, I think, after it was founded. And he prevented that from being what it is today. And one of the things that he told the Secular Coalition at the time was that, that he and the group CFI, and the board of directors of CFI, had a fiduciary duty to the members of CFI, that if they were wanting to spend their money on a group, they needed to be in charge of it. And so I think until it might have been, when he finally was kind of pushed out and made to retire, then CFI joined the Secular Coalition. I don’t think they should be a part of the Secular Coalition. If you’re going to support denigrating a group of people, simply because you don’t understand it or you think it makes you feel icky. That you can’t understand why a person born with a penis would want to be a woman, then you don’t need to be part of the Secular Coalition because what we’re doing, at least we what the Secular Coalition for America is doing is fighting for social justice. One of the things that They’re going to be working on the American Humanist Association and American Atheists are working on is trying to get a law passed, that would do away with the ability of religious adoption agencies to discriminate against people because of religion. recent Supreme Court decision said that it was okay. For adoption agencies that are run by religion, religious groups, they could keep somebody from adopting a child if they weren’t of that religion. And we think that that’s wrong. I don’t know about CFI that I am, I’m guessing they would think that that’s wrong. But a lot of the but a lot of the stuff the rancor about transgender issues, is steeped in separation of church and state issues. Because there aren’t any scientific or data one way or the other, you know, and, and it doesn’t matter if somebody wants to identify as a woman, or if somebody wants to identify as a man that possibly wasn’t born as that because gender is a social construct.
Doug Berger 51:18
Sex is not a social contract construct that is biology, but gender, you know, how we treat women, how we treat men, how we deal with that, how they dress, their behaviors, that is all a social construct. Just like racism, racism is a social construct. So if we can, so if we can work together, and take down systemic racism, then we can also take down the discrimination against transgender people. And that’s what I think should happen. And that’s why I don’t think CFI is going to do it, and I am less likely to support anything CFI does in the future.
Doug Berger 52:08
Thank you for listening to this episode. You can check out more information, including links to sources used in our show notes on our website at secular left.us. Secular left is hosted, written and produced by Doug Berger, and he is solely responsible for the content. Send us your comments, either using the contact form on the website or by sending us a note at comments at secular left.us Our theme music is dank and nasty composed using amplify studio. See you next time.
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Secular Left © 2022 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.
Produced, written, and edited by Doug Berger
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