Saturday, 4 October 2014

Read up, wise up and join in

Next Sunday afternoon I will be at the Isle of Man Freethinkers AGM. This year I have a more than usual interest in proceedings (more on that after the event).
Sadly, though, it means that I will not get over my Britphobia long enough to experience this amazing conference (see https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/marieme-h%C3%A9lielucas-maryam-namazie/promoting-global-secular-alternative-in-isis-era and the full conference agenda at http://www.secularconference.com/agenda/ ). Still, I can at least urge anyone in the UK who hasn't yet booked to get along to what is - without a shadow of a doubt - the most important meeting of secular minds in the British Isles this year; in fact, given the timeliness of the subject matter and quality of the speakers, possibly this decade.
Maryam Namazie, Houzan Mahmoud, Taslim Nasrin , Gita Saghal and numerous other speakers are people who shatter the myth that secularism is somehow a white or 'Western' project. I am proud to say I have corresponded and worked with a few of them in recent years, and if I have learnt anything about global secularism in the last decade it was directly due to them. While straight, white, male and old “celebrity atheists” are the ones inevitably appearing on TV or pushing flabby abstractions in opportunist pot-boilers passed off as “serious books”, these are the folk at the coalface, squaring up to the mad mullahs and getting chased out of their homelands (or, if born nearer here, their ethnic ghettos) by pitchfork-wielding mobs. As if that was not bad enough, once in supposedly more liberal places they are blacklisted (I know, joke in poor taste, but absolutely correct here) by the kind of pathetic, white and privileged guilt-trippers who make many ”progressive left” organisations a nonsense (check Gita Saghal's experience with Amnesty International as a typical example).
In between the UKIP-lite shite about non-whites being peddled by some “celebrity atheists” and the Stalinist groupies who think it is somehow cooler to hug self-hating to the point of suicidal, religious apologistic bombers than properly deal with the complexities of neo-colonialism, trying to do the right thing without resorting to magic and Imaginary Invisible Friends has never been a tougher gig – and more necessary.
As Maryam concludes: “It is not racist to defend equality or secularism. In fact, it is racist to deny people the same rights and freedoms because they are deemed “different”. Also, secularism is not a western concept but a universal one. It is a demand of people everywhere. Nor is it “progressive” to support Islamism vis-√†-vis imperialism. Islamism is our far right. Any progressive person or group must oppose all forms of fascism including the religious right. And they must support and show solidarity with those who have survived and are resisting. This is a fight we need more people to join.”
So read up, wise up, and join in.

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