“militant” … a word that is greatly abused by some 3


The word “Militant” is often prefixed with the word “Atheist” to describe Richard Dawkins, and yet when I hear this gross abuse of the term, I can only think of the person deploying it … “What an ignorant twat”.

To those that happily abuse the term, let me remind you what it actually means. To do this I’ll take a story from the news today (you never have to look too far in time to find such examples) …

Standoff at Nairobi mall after gunmen kill at least 30

Attackers threw grenades and opened fire at the Westgate mall

… “The Kenyan govt (government) is pleading with our Mujahideen inside the mall for negotiations. There will be no negotiations whatsoever at iWestgate,” the al Shabaab militant group said on its official Twitter handle, referring to the mall where the attack happened.

… The Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera said the Somali Islamist militant group Al-Shabbab had told the channel that it had carried out the attack.

… “They asked people ‘Are you a Muslim?’ and anyone who answered ‘no’ got a bullet,”

… “The gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave. They were safe, and non-Muslims would be targeted,”

… The gunmen carried AK-47s and wore vests with hand grenades on them

… “They just came in and threw a grenade. We were running and they opened fire. They were shouting and firing,”

… People clutched their small children, and some cried. At one point in the day mall guards used shopping carts to wheel out wounded children.

Now that is “Militant” Islam, and is just the news for today, oh and it is also the correct use of the word.

Has Richard Dawkins ever advocated any form of violence, does anybody at all who reads “The God Delusion” rush out to pick up an AK47 and start murdering innocent children on the sole basis that they simply have a different belief. To prefix the word “Militant” with the word “Atheist” is not simply offensive, it is factually wrong.

Criticism of bad ideas and bad beliefs is wholly appropriate and is not “Militant”, nor is it even aggressive, it is simply the deployment of reason and critical thinking. In stark contrast, there are some truly violent Islamic factions that will not in any way hesitate to murder you if you do not believe what they believe, and that includes murdering other variations of Islam that renounce such violence.

When you deploy murder as your preferred form of rebuttal to those that do not agree with you, then you have not only instantly lost the argument, you have also abandoned any claim to being a decent human being.

Why are they like this?

These religious thugs have not abandoned Islam, but rather have embraced it completely and decided to literally practise what is written in the Quran …

Sura (8:55) – Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve

Sura (48:29) – Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves

Sura (8:12) – I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them

Sura (9:123) – O you who believe! Fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness

The above is simply a small sample. The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with non-believers, and so if you read it, you soon discover that Allah is a violent intolerant psychopathic thug – but luckily is just a myth and not actually real.

Criticism of such ideas matters, because those that bask within and embrace such daft superstitious nonsense as the directives of a god, will try to murder you. So if you are indeed prefixing the word “militant” with the word “atheist” because fact-based and wholly appropriate criticism of bad ideas is being deployed, then you might like to pause and consider the thought that by attempting to censor such criticism, you are in effect giving the nod to these religious thugs that you are OK with their actions and would indeed prefer not to “hurt” their utterly irrational religious feelings with harsh criticism.


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3 thoughts on ““militant” … a word that is greatly abused by some

  • RP

    I have no beef with the word at all, if used correctly.

    Militant, as in its first variety, covers neither “New atheists” and the aggressively active way of promoting their cause (i.e. countering the claims or practices of religion, as well as the promotion of skepticism and/or science), or the example of feminists who do exactly the same thing for their cause, but vis-a-vis patriarchy and (institutionalized) sexism.

    It doesn’t say actively aggressive, but rather aggressively active. And combative covers that sensibly as well (from the same source): “having or showing a willingness to fight or argue.” That covers making dogma discussable, as well as arguing the ‘sacredness’ of some ideas/tenets, as well as fighting rubbish such as creationism.

    As for aggression, that simply points to anger, a feeling. Though some would deny the concept of the ‘angry atheist’, to me that’s clearly something that is typically (though not universally) involved as well.

    Frustration and anger can of course be expressed calmly as well, if one has the patience and composure. We don’t need to shout or bash someone (physically or even verbally) to express our anger or discontent.

    There is, in my view at least, no doubt that there is some anger and/or frustration involved when describing certain enshrined aspects of religion that, at least according to some, poison everything.

    Words, meanings, and perceptions of either, can certainly create problems. Certainly if one isn’t clear about their definitions and/or relations to other concepts. It’s certainly has been a staple of philosophy for a long time. And it’s the cause of people talking past each other (due to differently concepts) when they don’t explicitly define upfront what they are talking about, and thus end up making the wrong assumptions.

  • Dave Gamble Post author

    RP … I understand the point you are making, but I don’t think I agree … lets look at the Webster def …

    1 : engaged in warfare or combat : fighting

    Clearly not the variation applied to RD

    OK, and the other …

    2 : aggressively active (as in a cause) : combative

    This is where we might quibble a bit. Once again, I’d argue that RD is neither aggressive nor combative, then again, you might counter with the thought that RD is being verbally combative.

    One aspect that I do indeed need to come to terms with is that language is not simply what the dictionary says – words can be slippery things – over time the meaning and deployment can indeed change. … yet … because the word is being applied to RD, does that now mean that it is describing fact-based critical thinking? … If so, then I’d suggest that it should be equally applied to anybody deploying any argument for any issue, and would perhaps render the word to the status of meaningless prefix.

    My argument is that it is actually a slur intended to express the fact that beliefs have been a sacred preserve beyond criticism and RD is challenging that. Having seen RD argue his case, I find no aggression, instead he simply spells out his views and explains why. I also confess to admiring his patience, I’ve seen him interview some spewing complete nonsense to which he calmly replies – in the same position, I’d perhaps be waving my arms about in complete and utter frustration.