Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kay Hagan's Disappointing Response to Dole's Anti-Atheist Ad

Kay Hagan responded to the despicable Dole ad which insinuated that she consorts with atheists and is one herself. Unfortunately, her response does not include a defense of the Godless Americans PAC or of atheists in general, but is merely an impassioned defense of her Christianity.

She head-fakes towards defending American atheists, but then pulls it back:
At their core, Americans aren't Democrat or Republican, red or blue – they're Americans, plain and simple. We ALL love our country, and we all value the role of faith in American life.

Shame on anyone who says differently.

No, Senator Hagan, not all of us "value the role of faith in American life." Some of us value the role of reason, of compassion, of a million other things. But one does not have to be a theist to be a good American or a good politician.

The Atheist Ethicist worries that politicians are going to be extra-careful in the future to avoid appearing anywhere with atheists.

Does this whole episode imply that groups like Godless Americans do more harm than good? Maybe, but maybe not. You've got to be out of the closet before people start accepting you. At least we're discussing the issue.

This is reminiscent of John McCain "defending" Obama when one of his supporters referred to him as an Arab: "No, ma'am. He's a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements wiamth." Um, Arabs can be decent "family men" as well, and even citizens of our great country. So can atheists. And even people without families can be decent, while we're at it! At least McCain can argue (although he hasn't) that he didn't intend to imply otherwise -- he was speaking live and everyone makes unfortunate statements by accident. Kay Hagan's non-defense of Godless Americans came in prepared remarks, and her statement that "we all value the role of faith in American life" was explicitly anti-atheist.


The Candy Man said...

The parallels between gays and atheists become even clearer. It seems no mainstream politician in our parents' generation has the cajones to stand up for either group.

Pathetic. As Yoda might say, THAT is why we fail.

NYAttorney said...

Kay Hagan should make an ad, standing between Woody Kaplan and Ellen Johnson, declaring that she is proud of her atheist friends -- and explain in detail that despite her differences with, she has found common ground with the Godless PAC on certain issues.

Peter L. Winkler said...

In American politics, you have to pour God over everything like ketchup to win.

While it would have been nice for Hagan to defend atheists' right to disbelieve, it would only have been used by Dole as proof of her earlier ad's accusations.

Hagan's ad takes the issue of the table.

Unknown said...

Hold up. It's Obama and his supporters who most often makes an emphasis about how he is NOT Muslim, as if that's some horrible thing.

Freethinking Upstart said...


Are you serious? First off, you realize that it's McCain's camp that is making the accusation in the first place, right? You've heard the battle cries from the RW Nut Jobs, "Terrorist!", "Get Karl Marx outta here!" I'm sure.

Everyone's got there extreme and nutty fans. God comes to mind and a whole heap of great men, like Moses, Jesus, the Buddha, and Richard Dawkins. McCain and Obama are no exceptions.

But you implied that Obama is suggesting that it's a horrible thing to be a muslim. Please see this short clip from a Larry King Interview with Barack Hussein Obama.

Unknown said...

Shalom, y'all...

Not to jump to the defense of blind expediency, but I don't think we can expect much more than this from Kay Hagan. Remember that this was Jesse Helms' state. North Carolina is very conservative and very religious, pockets like the Triangle notwithstanding. About all Hagan can do here is appeal to a purported Southern consensus on the value of faith, while repudiating Dole's atheist-bating. In a tight race, in a Bible-belt state, I don't see how she would have a prayer of winning if she openly leapt to the defense of atheists.

Which doesn't mean that North Carolina atheists (and Jews, and Jewish atheists) won't be much better off with Hagan as senator than with Dole.

Kylopod said...

I am not inclined to defend McCain at this stage, but I really don't think he meant to make it sound like Arabs aren't decent family men. I think he was genuinely taken aback by the woman's looniness, and he was essentially trying to say, Madam, you're wrong, he's not an Arab, and you're wrong, he's a decent guy. The way he phrased it was awkward, but that's understandable given that he was trying to challenge both the factual claim (he's an Arab) and the moral one (he's untrustworthy) in a short space.