Let me start by saying that I am an atheist, and have no problem with self-identifying as such, but recently I have started to get annoyed by some of the denizens in the atheist community.
I will go over the types of atheists that have started to get my goat a little. [note that I am currently in a lot of pain thanks to my sciatica, so my tolerance has evaporated, so I need to vent a little]
The “Anything But Atheist” atheist.
These types have so bought into the theist definition on what defines atheism that they refuse to call themselves atheist, even though they “do not believe in any gods” and are thus atheist. They either use the wishy-washy term Agnostic, which has nothing to do with belief in deities anyway but knowledge and certainty of the state of existence of deities, or they simply refuse to answer any direct question on belief in deities.
To them, the theist definition of an atheist as; a hater, a person with no morals, a person with no compassion, etc. is the definition they also use. All atheism is is the lack of belief in deities. These atheists should try to reclaim the definition of the word from theists. Not believing in gods does not automatically attribute any other belief or behaviour to you.
The “True Atheist” atheist
There is a certain subset of the atheist community that have so strongly tied their personal sociopolitical philosophy to their atheism that they cannot divorce the two. To them, anyone who does not share their sociopolitical philosophy is not a true atheist. Even if their philosophy has been tried and yet failed, they will claim that it was not implemented correctly in its true form and so you cannot consider it to have failed. It was not a true implementation. These people are usually; marxist, objectivist, libertarians, anarchists, etc. However, there is a growing group of secular humanists, whether they call themselves such or not [they use a bunch of different labels for the same ideals], that are being equally exclusionary. This is an amazingly religious approach to creating a homogenous community out of the distinctly heterogeneous community that is atheism. Defame those in your community whom you consider are not pure enough. Everyone who does not believe in deities is an atheist. Simples.
The “Islam is the only evil” atheist
Thanks to news media pumping out a continuous stream of sensationalist pieces about extremist Islam we have a situation where most atheists are fully aware of the evil bits of Islam, but willfully ignorant of any other bits of Islam. There is also a tendency from this type to purposely confuse the cultural aspects and religious aspects of Islamic society. Simply put, these people are bigots.
Many thought leaders in the community incorrectly jump to the defence these people saying, “Criticising the nasty bits of Islam is not bigotry”, and they are right. It is not bigotry to criticise the passages in the Quran and the many conflicting Hadith that contain horrors, however it is bigotry to repeatedly post cartoons of Mohammed, in a Sikh style turban no less, fucking a camel. In just the same way that showing an orthodox Jew sucking the blood from Christian babies is bigotry. Or showing an atheist with devil horns committing acts of depravity is bigotry. They never post anything of an equal bigoted nature for non-Islamic faiths, so their argument that they are simply criticising Islam in the “same manner as other religions” is plainly bullshit.
The community should call out these bigots for what they are. They are couching their irrational bigotry within the defense of rational criticism. They do the community a disservice.
What also irks me is that they are so dismissive of the atrocities contemporaneously perpetrated by other religions. The Lord’s Resistance Army’s atrocities in the name of Jesus in Africa are ignored, and yet the Boko Haram is not. The 969 movement in Myanmar and the tacit governmental support of its atrocities in the name of Buddhism are ignored, and yet the Islamic State is not. They are ignorant to the contemporaneous reality of religiously motivated violence for any religion other than Islam and only ever present a view of Islam that is so bigoted it looks like it came straight off a Christian Evangelist website. [Which is probably where they got the cartoons from anyway]
The “Atheism is an Ideology” atheist
In there with the “True atheist” atheist, maybe even a variant thereof, this type contends that people act upon their atheism. This is taking a page from the theists definition of atheist, whereby an atheist is; immoral, cruel, etc. because they are an atheist. It is a contending a false-equivalency between religious belief and atheism. However, there is a problem with this way of thinking in that atheism is actually not a thing. Atheism is a lack of a thing.
Now, it may seem pretty weird that atheism cannot contribute to a person doing something, but think about it this way; have you ever done anything because of your lack of belief in leprechauns? The answer is of course no, but if you accept the premise that atheism is an ideology then you must accept that people are willing to act out of their lack of belief in something. Which is insane.
Now, that does not mean that atheism does not inform a persons beliefs. And it can also be integral to a particular belief, like Ayn Rand style Objectivism or Marxist-Leninism, but it does not in itself lead to any form of agency. It requires something else to be the impetus of such agency. And that something else is an ideology where atheism isn’t. I, for instance, am a secular humanist. Most of what I post on religion, and atheism for that matter, comes from these beliefs and not from my atheism, which represents a lack of belief. [you can claim I am splitting hairs here, but the distinction is an important one]
Well, my naproxen has finally kicked in, thankfully, and so I am winding down my venting.
All of the above types of atheist are atheists and members of the atheist community. I may not agree with them, especially those bigots, however I still consider them to be true atheists, whatever that means.
My opinions are, as ever, my own.
[Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/nathangibbs/98592171/]