Not “Nones” but a proud American Atheist

I’m fascinated by the double standard presented in the guidelines for the tennessean.com community which are at the top of every comments section in big bold letters, specifically this section;

“Guidelines: You share in the tennessean.com community, so please keep your comments smart and civil.”

So what exactly is civil about an article where a writer, with all the arrogance and smugness you get from the small thinking and narrow minded says;

“None is an appropriate title for the atheist.”

Nice job slick. Now you’ve got something in common with the first person who decided it was a good idea to use the word “colored” in a derogatory, dismissive fashion against Black Americans.
colored fountains

For those who are a bit slow to understand the problem here, I give you this passage from; “Beyond Black and White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the U.S. South and Southwest
(edited by Stephanie Cole, Alison Marie Parker, Laura F. Edwards)

“Mexican Americans also learned that the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service had instructed applicants for social security cards to check either the “white” or “negro” box on the application forms. If applicants were neither white nor negro, they were instructed to write out the “color or race” to which they belonged and gave as examples: “Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Filipino, etc.” Once More Mexican Americans in El Paso and elsewhere in Texas wrote indignant letters to the treasury department complaining bitterly that Mexicans were white and should not be included in the same category with nonwhite groups like the Chinese and the Japanese. The storm of protest led federal officials to acknowledge the error and to promise to reprint new forms. Tens of thousands of the old forms had already been mailed to numerous states, however, and could not be recalled. The commissioner of the Internal Revenue suggested that Mexicans could simply check the “white” box. One Mexican America attributed the confusion surrounding the racial status of Mexicans to the influx of “white trash” into Texas who were ignorant of the fact that the “first white explorers and settlers in the state of Texas were the Spanish speakers.” Long-term Anglo residents of the region, he seemed to imply, knew better.  The real issue over racial classification was clearly as much about Mexican racial pride as it was about fear of discrimination. In Texas, Mexicans endured the injuries of discrimination daily. Middle-class Mexican Americans needed to believe that segregation stemmed from Anglo ignorance of Mexico’s history and the fact that many middle-class Mexican Americans, like their Anglo counterparts, actually believed that whites were superior to both Indians and Africans. Mexican Americans did not necessarily acquire a belief in white racial supremacy in the United States, although it was certainly reinforced there whenever one encountered blacks and Indians in the United States.

These mostly middle-class Mexican Americans were not simply content to deny any “negro ancestry.” For many Mexicans and Mexican Americans, “colored” meant racial inferiority, social disgrace, ad the total absence of political rights-in short, the racial equivalent of Indian or Negro. In their injunction against the El Paso city registrar, for example, they cited Oklahoma Law that made it libelous to call a white person “colored”.

Labels matter and how those labels are used matter even more, especially when they’re the only options presented for use by an authority in power. Being an Atheist in America is hard enough as it is. We face ignorance about what we are and what we believe on a daily basis (of which Dr. Kevin Shrum’s article is a classic example).

So is it really so much for people like Dr. Shrum to please NOT come up with cute, clever little ways to further label and marginalize atheists?

I’m not a “none”.  I’m also not a “none of the above”.  I’m an Atheist, one of many American Atheists who only want to be treated with the same equality and civility that we offer to you.

Thanks to Dr. Shrum I will never check “None of the above” again.  From this day forth I will refuse to be categorized according to his Christian-dominated Cultural standards. I will cross off the entire section and proudly write in big letters across it:

“ONE OF MANY AMERICAN ATHEISTS.”

Rev. P. Rose

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