Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Atheist group raises funds for charity in honor of murdered North Carolina Muslims

Atheists and humanists around the world, including me, have condemned the murder of Deah Shaddy Barakat (23), his wife Yusor Mohammad (21), and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha (19) in North Carolina.

Deah Barakat was pursuing his doctorate in dentistry at UNC Chapel Hill and planned to travel to Syrian refugee camps this summer to perform emergency dentistry for refugee children through the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation (SAMS). At the time of his murder, Deah Barakat was raising funds for SAMS to equip the teams in the refugee camps.

Foundation Beyond Belief mounted a drive for SAMS in support of Deah's vision and in one week raised $20,125 for SAMS. Congrats, fellow atheists, secular humanists and other free thinkers for showing the compassion I have felt again and again from you all.

You can still donate to the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation!

Friday, February 13, 2015

No, I won't apologize - just as you won't

How is that so many Muslims that were outraged by calls for all Muslims to apologize for the murders of the Charlie Hebdo staff are now calling for all atheists to apologize for the murders of the college students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina?

I am horrified and disgusted by the murders of Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

I'm also an atheist, and I feel no compulsion whatsoever to claim any responsibility for their deaths. None.

Atheism means just one thing: no belief in a god or the supernatural. That's it. There are nice people that are atheists. There are rude people that are atheists. There are humanitarians that are atheists. There are murderers that are atheists. Atheism doesn't drive any of those characteristics or actions.

I refuse to say the name of the man who murdered those three people in North Carolina - he doesn't deserve to have his name said. Anyone who would let their fury over parking or religion... or satirical, insulting cartoons... lead them to believe that they are entitled to murder is completely beyond my understanding.

I do find it interesting that the murderer's first ex-wife told The Associated Press that, before they divorced about 17 years ago, his favorite movie was "Falling Down," the 1993 Michael Douglas film about a white, divorced, unemployed engineer on a shooting rampage, a film that was roundly criticized at the time as racist. She said, "That always freaked me out. He watched it incessantly. He thought it was hilarious. He had no compassion at all." Neighbors told reporters that the murderer was known for angrily confronting people over just about anything, from loud music to parking. One neighbor described him as prone to "equal opportunity anger" and she said that, last year, the situation got so bad that his neighbors organized a meeting "to talk about how he kind of made everyone feel uncomfortable and unsafe." His Facebook posts show a far greater hatred of Christianity than any other religion.

This was SO much more than hating these students for their religion. SO MUCH MORE. But even if it wasn't, it's still beyond disgusting. No matter what the reason, it's horrific.

I'm gobsmacked that a person that said he supported marriage equality, abortion rights and civil rights for all races could, at the same time, be so full of arrogance, entitlement and hatred - but, then again, I'm also confused by people that say they are members of a religion of peace, or follow a "prince of peace," can murder people - and they do, frequently. Hatred can, apparently, eat away the heart of anyone, religious or atheist alike.

So, no, I'm not going to apologize for this wacko, just as Muslims refuse to apologize for the Charlie Hebdo murderers, the September 11, 2001 murderers, the Peshawar school murders, and on and on. Just as Christians refuse to apologize for the Wisconsin Sikh temple murders, the murder of Dr. George Tiller, the Centennial Olympic Park bomber, the Spanish Inquisition, the mass killings of American Indians, the Nazis using Christianity to justify the Holocaust, and on and on.

Instead, I'm going to honor the memory of these three people by supporting the fundraising effort to provide urgent dental care to Syrian refugees that was launched by one of these murdered students. I'm going to support more gun ownership restrictions and speak out about the glamorization of gun ownership by the NRA and other groups - as tabulated by the Violence Policy Center, this was the 29th shooting involving three or more victims by a concealed handgun permit holder since mid-2007.

I'm going to continue to encourage people get a handle on outrage and fury - especially when they think they've been insulted. Being insulted is NOT being oppressed.

Peace, people. Peace.

Also see:

I get insulted. But I don't murder. 

Do religions know what "peace" means? or "irony"?