To pair the term ‘militant’ with atheism is to really water down our perception of militancy. It should stir as much panic and hysteria as intolerable music or insufferable comedy. I have yet to see crowds push each other to the ground in a desperate, adrenaline fueled scramble to flee the room Dawkins or Harris walks into, that would be seen as a huge overreaction. Like music or comedy, a non religious view isn’t invasive.
How hard is it to switch the radio off or not buy a ticket to go see a controversial stand up comic? Those with the biggest objections to the thoughts of the ‘outspoken’ atheists are often the ones willingly buying their books and attending debates. No one is being waterboarded or flogged for not reading the God Delusion. It is however true in certain regions of the world that this punishment would be considered for buying The God Delusion.
I will know militant when I see it, thankfully I haven’t experienced such unsuspecting panic in person. I have seen footage of the scramble an ISIS attack results in, or more recently travelers spilling onto the airport tarmac as a gunman opens fire. The broad definition of militant is an action favoring violent and confrontational methods to get a message across or objective completed. Kidnap, rape, murder, imprisonment, injury and death are depressing repercussions of standing in the path of a militant agenda.
I have to add here, I am not comparing militant atheists to music that irritates me or a distasteful comic. I type this with the theist in mind, one that perceives atheists in the same way. You don’t like Dawkins? Don’t read his books. Harris and Hitchens offend you? Don’t type them into the YouTube search bar. This blog makes your skin crawl? Unsubscribe. There are multiple options to evade us militants, run to your church on Sunday and forget all about skeptics for example. When you take a deep breath and poke your head out onto the street afterwards, you will realize no one was chasing you.
The reality is atheism, in all it’s militant glory, is much more compassionate and concerned of your welfare than the religious fundamentalists that share at least some of your beliefs. The real danger lies in the violence fueled by theism, there are people out there that would have you flee a building or even a city. To call authors, debaters, lecturers, scientists, philosophers or bloggers militant for wanting a world rid of violence, is irrational.