Time Magazine uses Oklahoma tragedy to take deceptive potshot against "secular humanists"

Writing in a Time cover story about the virtue of service, Joe Klein took a religious detour: in the relief army helping Oklahoma recover from a barrage of tornadoes, he wrote, "you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals." He's lying out of his ass, Hemant Mehta points out. But that is the point, isn't it?


    1. Religions have many other things besides propaganda, but like any institution, they will inevitably draw dogmatic authoritarians who are threatened by dissent from within or without.   Jokeline is one of those (and not just with religion).  Personally I like my religion quite a lot, it’s a great community, and a source for connection, inspiration, and reflection on deeper meaning for me, but I am perfectly fine with people accepting alternate religious views, or opting out altogether and judge people by their character and deeds, not whether they are in my clubs.

  1. Oops, confused Joe Klein for Joel “racist against Indian immigrants” Stein. Similar sounding trolls.

    1.  Except Stein writes a humour column, and the things he says really shouldn’t be taken seriously. While he’s often irreverent and inaccurate in said columns, that’s generally part of the joke. Even then, he released several apologies after the fact.

      I don’t think Klein has ever apologized for any of the stuff he’s said. (I could be wrong, but unlike Joel Stein’s all-to-frequent apologies for putting his foot in his mouth in an attempt to be witty, I’ve certainly never SEEN one of Klein’s apologies if they exist)

      1. “While he’s often irreverent and inaccurate in said columns, that’s generally part of the joke.”

        Racist jokes aren’t humorous. I don’t see the difference between the two, especially when Stein discussed how the Indian immigrants were ruining his hometown. That’s Glenn Beck territory.

        1. Some racist jokes are humorous.  This has been demonstrated over the years by folks like Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, among many, many others.

          1. Some of them are.  And some are just funny, racist jokes.

            Like these… (NSFW language)

            If Jeff Ross told these jokes to a white audience, they might be more offensive, but they wouldn’t be more racist.

          2. Jokes about race or racism aren’t necessarily “racist”.

            Can I be completely honest? Sometimes I fuckin’ wonder about people. O_o

          3. I agree, and never implied otherwise.  But some flat out racist jokes are funny.  See my reply to Zachary above.

          4. I love it when people confuse racist jokes for jokes about racists.

            Hint, you’re talking about the latter.

            If you can’t tell the difference between it and sincere racism, you fucked up somewhere in life.

          5. I love it when people pretend to know that their interpretation of comedy is the correct one and that people who have different opinions must have life issues.  

            Hint, comedy is subjective.  And there are different kinds of racism, some offensive, some innocuous, and some really funny.  

            I posted a link to a video of Jeffrey Ross roasting Emmitt Smith and telling a lot of really, really racist jokes.  (That post was removed.  I can only imagine why, since there was no explanation.)  Ross wasn’t making fun of racists or racism, he was (for instance) comparing Shaq to a gorilla.  And most of the mostly African-American audience (including Shaq) was laughing.  

            But obviously those people, not sharing your taste in racial humor, must have fucked up somewhere in life.

      2. God, (is it weird that I use “God” as an exclamatory even though I’m an atheist?) I actually seem to remember him apologizing for one single thing on his blog some years ago. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was, but I remember it as much less egregious than the usual Joke Line stuff. 

  2. Meanwhile I DO see some Christian groups pushing the line that only through grace, not good works, does one go to Heaven.

    1. Funnily enough, Joe himself, being Jewish, shouldn’t believe in salvation through good works.

  3. Maybe if having organized groups of atheists is so desirable we should reflect that in the tax code.

    1.  мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

      Racist jokes aren’t humorous. I don’t see the difference between the
      two, especially when Stein discussed how the Indian immigrants were
      ruining his hometown. That’s Glenn Beck territory.

  4. Actually, the level of blindness here is really strong: I looked at the Team Rubicon web site. Not religious. So, even with an example in the exact center of focus, he still makes that statement. 

  5. Even the term “secular humanist” sounds pejorative coming from this guy.  Makes me think about the term in general: we don’t call people doing good works who happen to follow a particular religion “religious humanists”, now do we?  Oh, no, it’s like gender: the norm is religious, and so you only have to make a point of indicating that someone happens to be a decent human being DESPITE not worshiping your god.

    1. Sectarian Humanists exist. The term originally arose to differentiate people who were religious and used that as justification to do awful things to others, like slavery, and those who were religious and used that as justification to oppose those awful things.

      A Secular Humanist is someone who has adopted the life philosophy of humanism for purely secular reasons. It’s distinct from atheism in that atheism is a lack of a specific belief, and makes no statement on one’s life philosophy.

      He was mainly using the term in that way because the group that was there used the term in their group name, and the best way to rile up hate is to give them a specific target, the same way they demonized the word atheist for centuries. 

  6. No, no, guise, YOU don’t see the secular humanists cuz there’s only one set of footprints in the sand amirite?

    1. “When you saw only one set of footprints,

      It was then that I carried you with My noodly appendage.”

      1. So let’s say I wanted to print this onto a bumper sticker. How would you like to be credited?

    2.  When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that we each hopped along on one leg.

    1. Who bothers to fact-check a joke?  Especially one based on a stereotype, and told at the expense of  a cultural minority. Remember Polack jokes?  Ha ha!

  7. In some places in the world this could not happen. To make it happen, religion needs to be an issue. And non-religion needs to be an issue. And the religious segment would have to be relatively large and relatively powerful. Yet they also need to feel threatened by the existence of different ideas. 

    For example, it would be almost impossible for this article to appear in the UK. Despite the similarities in language, foreign policy, wealth distribution, banking, and pop music, it happens to be a very secular place. The point is simply that for every issue, there is one side and the other side, and there is a world apart where the elements necessary to even construct the issue and create conflicting ‘sides’ do not exist. I guess I’m saying, not only is the dichotomy false, there isn’t really even a dichotomy.

    The quote is a variation on Christianity’s tentpole concept that you can’t have morality without religion, ie. we have one foot in the wilderness, so we need religious discipline to prevent anarchy. I can’t imagine this isn’t tightly wound up with the concept of elite panic:

    Charlie Brooker on Elite Panic

    1. “You can’t have morality without religion”

      Thankfully, you *can* have ethics without religion. Morals have been used to justify some pretty abominable actions.

  8. As a Liberation Theology Catholic Cherokee living in eastern Oklahoma, first I must note that victims of Global Warming caused by the evil use of Fossil Fuels by Fossil Fools [both Christian and secular humanists] are not at all concerned with which terrestrial angels come to our aid. Did this issue come up in Jersey? Probably, somewhere. No matter, for the record, I’ll note that the vicious weather that we bring down upon ourselves is NO Act of God. As a rule, I ignore anything that Joe Klein issues forth; he’s a well-paid vulgarian, a stump preacher selling Bibles and snake oil alike (or is it only the Talmud and snake oil?). We dodged the Monsters here, but I watched in the evening sunset what looked like Earth-scouring giant black anvils of swirling menace being drug northward to the West. I hate the heretic politics of Coburn and the whoring lunacy of Inhofe. A shame they were not in the eye of the storm. 

  9. Incidents like this are why I am currently writing my dissertation on the history of anti-atheism in America. There’s a long tradition of delegitimizing non-religious motivations for good works, thus making invisible the good works that are done without a transcendent rationale behind them. 

    1. I’d love to learn more about your dissertation research; might you email me at zbos at atheists dot org?

    2. Speaking of delegitimizing, atheists even took heat when they raised money for Rebecca Vitsmun.  Then, the narrative was: “OK, so you atheists are raising money– but only for other atheists.”

      1. Indeed. What about the $29k Atheists Giving Aid raised for the benefit of victims of the Boston bombing?

    3. I hope you will discuss something I see often among both theists and atheists – individual leaders who are articulate and who clearly think deeply, idolized by more numerous chanting mobs who actively promote hate against “the others” regardless of any teachings of tolerance or love from the leadership, and both groups outnumbered by mostly silent masses who rarely think on the subject at all, and just go to church or not out of habit.

  10. I guess he didn’t notice the presence of the secular and humanist American Red Cross. Which despite the implication of its logo is not a Christian or even remotely religious institution and provides a far more reliable and generous level of support to disaster victims than any religious institution on the planet.

  11. Also, because there are more theist organizations with more infrastructure, I’d wager a fair amount of atheists would look for organizations already on the ground at Oklahoma and volunteer to work at whatever organization, theist or not, is already there that needs workers.

    They, unlike Klein, wouldn’t care if they were “counted” as a theist, when all they want to do is get in and help.

    This is, again, a theist “calling out” atheists as The Other. It is despicable. And it’s in a Time cover story, no less.

  12. Ok, just read Mr. Klein’s article. Whole thing is a piece of propaganda and religious felation. If Joe Klein is Jewish I’m Pope Petersquat! He’s more likely a Jew for Jesus. The article is all about getting PTSD vets into community service. A noble goal if that’s all it was. No, this was a call to recruit the Holy Christian Army, cause only service through Christ can one be forgiven for Bush era war crimes.

    Before reading his crapola I was angry about the atheist thing. Afterwords however, I’m more offended by this preying on wounded solders. Especially since he wasn’t all that opposed to the war that wounded them: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/02/05/298531/-Joe-Klein-stale-DC-narratives-and-warmed-over-conventional-wisdom#

  13. Funny thing…

    When I worked disaster relief along the US Gulf Coast following Katrina, one of the groups doing the very best work when it came to feeding and clothing and offering medical supplies/help to everyone from Katrina victims to the other relief workers who had flooded in to help was The Rainbow Family.  If you went to the Red Cross tents and food vans, you were expected to pay. No pay, no help. But the Rainbow Family? They just showed up and were bringing supplies in  from all over. Donations of money, material and labor were all appreciated, but they were not required and no one was ever turned away because they didn’t have any jingle in their pockets.

    Klein like to write as if he is full of knowledge. Well, he’s full of something all right, but knowledge ain’t it.

  14. He’s right… all us secular humanists are busy laughing at religionutters who believe that people in Oklahoma getting fucked over twice in a month is somehow part of god’s grand plan.


    1. no no that is God’s punishment because in a handful of states they decided to let gays marry violating a line from a holy text surrounded by many other “rules” they decided they didn’t have to follow.

        1. “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Hitchens annoy/ed me, but their harm is pretty limited to distaste.

          And not all “atheists” are obnoxious, tarring every public-speaking atheist with the same brush is unnecessary.

  15. Also not pictured the standard policy of: if you want our help, worship our god.

    1. Yeah,  It’s cute.  I was on the streets/squatting/in precarious days-to-police eviction living situations for a few years as a youngster.  Can’t count the times I hari’d the krishna and praised the baby jesus for the obligatory hour before the food got handed out.  That in an urban US setting, where literally starving to death is nearly impossible with so many dumpsters to dive-now here in the 3rd world where malnutrition is serious, not so cute at all.  

    2. When shit hit the fan in Yugoslavia and society broke down, people turned to international religious organisations for help. Of course resources were limited, and priorities were set, and one of the parameters obviously was “which god do you worship, exactly?”. A bit sickening; like everything in war, it manifested our ancestral social instincts in the worst possible way. Then again, back then every little helped.

  16. that’s because you don’t see ‘organized groups of secular humanists’ *anywhere* – expect perhaps at (shudder) a richard dawkins event

    1.  Isn’t *any* group that’s not specifically grouped by religion by-definition an organised group of secular humanists?

      You may hate Richard Dawkins but he goes up to bat for Atheists and completely wipes the floor with his religious haters. I’ve not once seen him effectively argued against and it’s because he took the time to formulate a structured response to religion’s bullshit. Religious people should really be thanking him for even addressing their intellectual destitution with rational responses. The rest of us never even bothered because religion’s rules (yes all religion) are arbitrary, illogical and simply idiotic.

  17. This whole thing reminds me of a bunch of kids on the elementary school playground calling each other names.  Religious folks do a lot of good, atheist folks do a lot of good; religious folks do many evil acts, atheist folks do many evil acts.

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