Reclaiming atheism

What with the way the world is at the moment, I've been thinking a lot about social justice. I find myself confronted with sexism, homophobia, and even racism, with increasing frequency both offline and online. Possibly it's just because I'm becoming more conscious of these things as I become more educated about the world, myself and the power dynamics therein. But even empirically it seems like the dark forces are massing.

Recently, we've seen extreme misogyny coming from both sides of the Atlantic in unrelated incidents. Homophobia, racism and religious bigotry are everywhere we look. And that's just in the last few days, and these are far from isolated incidents.

At university, one of the places I found camaraderie was in the newly founded atheist society. Here I found people who celebrated rationality, free thinking and evidence-based argument. The society, too, was not (just) about drunk philosophising and debunking. In our inaugural year we lobbied the union, we protested antisemites, we collected money for AIDS charities, we specifically promoted interfaith dialogues. We were awesome.

But after university, much to my chagrin, some of the largest atheist communities I found outside the bubble were weird maelstroms of assholery. All those vices for which I thought a clear head would hold no hiding place, were still rife.
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