September 3, 2008

Elizabeth Dole is a Bigot

In the modern U.S., where one segment of the population pushes an agenda of political correctness while another rails against any sort of tolerance, calling someone a bigot is a serious accusation. Is it fair to bring such a charge against Elizabeth Dole? Many in the atheist community believe so, and I count myself among them.

The campaign website of North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole posted a press release accusing Dole's opponent, Kay Hagan, of demonstrating poor judgment by associating with...(gasp)... atheists. Here is the entire release, unedited except for the addition of the bold font which I used here for emphasis:
On September 15th, Kay Hagan is heading to Boston, Massachusetts to attend a fundraiser for her Senate campaign. What may surprise mainstream North Carolinians is that the fundraiser will be in the home of leading anti religion activists Wendy Kaminer and her lawyer husband Woody Kaplan -- who is an advisor to the "Godless Americans Political Action Committee."

Kaminer is the author of Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials, in which one reviewer said Kaminer is ". . . trying to save us from ‘the perils of piety’-the pestilence of organized religion and its encroachment on public life. Should we be surprised that Katha Pollitt, atheist-in-chief at The Nation and author of a book called Reasonable Creatures, has given Kaminer's book a gushing blurb?” (Norah Vincent, Op-Ed, “Unbelievable,” National Review, 11/22/99)."

Kaminer is also an advisory board member (Woody is the chairman) of The Secular Coalition for America which is "the national lobby for atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheistic Americans with the unique mission of protecting their civil rights.” (Secular Coalition For America, Press Release, 1/16/08)

Kaminer's husband, Woody Kaplan, is also an advisor to the Godless Americans Political Action Committee which sees itself as a counter-force to religious groups in public policy debates.

"Kay Hagan is trying to run a campaign in North Carolina that casts her as a moderate but the money that's paying for it is coming from the left-wing fringe of political thought," said Dole Campaign Communications Director Dan McLagan. "You can tell a lot about a person by their friends and these are friends most North Carolinians would not be comfortable having over for dinner."

Hagan's campaign is being largely funded by labor unions intent on ending North Carolina's status as a right to work state, liberal trial lawyers and ultra left wing groups like which is a deeply anti-military organization. Now Hagan has added anti-religion activists from Boston Massachusetts to the list.

"Kay Hagan does not represent the values of this state; she is a Trojan Horse for a long list of wacky left-wing outside groups bent on policies that would horrify most North Carolinians if they knew about it," McLagan said. "This latest revelation of support from anti-religion activists will not sit well with the 90% of state residents who identify with a specific religious faith."
It is fairly obvious what this press release is trying to accomplish: instill fear of her opponent in North Carolina voters. In addition to the common approach of the far right to cast anyone slightly left of them as "far-left radicals," we see not so subtle anti-atheist bigotry.

What Dole is saying here is that persons seeking representation for nontheistic Americans are merely "anti religion activists." She uses "atheist" as an insult to devalue, distance, and dehumanize. For Dole, atheists are useful only as the vilified other. She projects her hatred of atheists onto North Carolina residents by claiming that the people she represents would not want an atheist over for dinner. She characterizes North Carolina as an intolerant place where her constituency would be "horrified" that anyone would bother to represent the atheists among them.

I have visited North Carolina a number of times over the years and have certainly not found the people there to be the ignorant, intolerant, hate-mongers Sen. Dole seems to think they are. Sen. Dole, your anti-atheist bigotry is unacceptable, and so is your willingness to unfairly stereotype the very citizens you claim to represent.

H/Ts to Atheist Ethicist, Life Without Faith, and Friendly Atheist

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