".....The late Christopher Hitchens provides the most obvious example, a celebrity atheist as famous for boosting wars as for baiting clerics.
Liberal admirers often mentally separated the atheistic Hitchens from the political Hitchens but in reality the two personas were inseparable. When, notoriously, he lauded Bush’s cluster bombs, he did so – typically – by combining his two passions. ‘Those steel pellets will go straight through somebody,’ he chuckled, ‘and out the other side and through somebody else. So they won’t be able to say, “Ah, I was bearing a Koran over my heart and guess what, the missile stopped halfway through.” No way, ’cause it’ll go straight through that as well. They’ll be dead, in other words.’
Because Hitchens was so rhetorically intemperate (recall his attack on the Dixie Chicks as ‘sluts’, his description of the war widow Cindy Sheehan as a ‘sob sister’ and so on); because, as Corey Robin says, he often evinced ‘a cruelty and bloodlust, a thrill for violence and apocalyptic confrontation, an almost sociopathic indifference to the victims of that violence and confrontation’ (witness, for instance, his reaction to the Fallujah offensive, his cry ‘the death toll is not nearly high enough … too many [jihadists] have escaped’); he was treated indulgently, even by liberals, as New Atheism’s mad uncle, whose uglier outbursts could excused on the grounds of his very eccentricity.
But his weaponised atheism was no anomaly.
Attendees at the convention can, after all, hear much the same thing from Sam Harris, another of the so-called ‘Four Horsemen’. Harris, like Hitchens, thinks that atheists have a special insight into the war on terror, which should, he says, understood as a conflict against ‘a pestilential theology and a longing for paradise’. Most liberals, he continues, fail to understand ‘how dangerous and depraved our enemies in the Muslim world are’. Indeed, ‘the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.’
Harris calls himself a liberal but his positions on Islam are to the Right of any Australian parliamentarians, with the possible exception of Cory Bernardi, a notorious conservative crank.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, another conference speaker, carves out similar territory.
‘We are at war with Islam,’ she says bluntly. ‘And there’s no middle ground in wars.’
Elsewhere, Hirsi Ali, a fellow at the neonconservative American Enterprise Institute, explained the home front consequences of that total war.
‘All Muslim schools. Close them down. Yeah, that sounds absolutist. I think 10 years ago things were different, but now the jihadi genie is out of the bottle.’
Again, it’s the sort of stuff you’d expect to hear from Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer or other sinister representatives of the so-called ‘counter-jihad’ movement.
Such is weaponised atheism: arguments for war and state repression, tricked out as scepticism.
Obviously, not all speakers at the Global Atheist Convention are Hitchensian warmongers. Many denounced the invasion of Iraq. Some oppose the worst excesses of Islamophobia and have the grace to find the polemical excesses of Harris et al somewhat embarrassing.
Nonetheless, the fact remains: leading representatives of the movement express ideas that otherwise we’d associate with the hard Right – and are celebrated for doing so. This is a phenomenon that requires some explanation....'http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/04/09/ ... f-atheism/