Home / News / Canadian journalist diatribes against atheists in National Post: We're sick of your victimhood issues
Canadian journalist diatribes against atheists in National Post: We're sick of your victimhood issues

Canadian journalist diatribes against atheists in National Post: We're sick of your victimhood issues

Barbara Kay at the National Post in Canada has had enough of atheists and their victimhood issues as noted in yesterday's "Full Comment" section.  In response to a complaint filed by atheist Ashu Solo in which a dinner blessing by a councillor at the City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan volunteer appreciation dinner made Solo feel "like a second class citizen," Kay reams him out, as well as every other atheist in North America–or possibly, the world. First, a little sarcasm to start the conversation:

Don’t you feel sorry for atheists? They’re so downtrodden. They can’t catch a break. People are always saying to them, “Oh sorry, no, you can’t apply for this job. You should have told me right off the bat that you didn’t believe in God!” When they get on buses, they’re directed to the back with disdain. Their kids are bullied in school.

When they go to fine restaurants, the maître d’ looks right past them or puts them at the table next to the kitchen.

They’re social pariahs. Their voices are chilled in the public forum of ideas. No mainstream media outlet dares to arouse their Christian readers’ ire by printing their views. Really, it’s a national scandal how frequently and with what cruel indifference atheists are denied their Charter rights and are so marginalized in Canadian society. It’s time we mounted a -

Brrrring! Oh, sorry, my alarm just went off. Just when I was in the middle of a hilarious dream about atheists needing their own civil rights movement.

Then, on to the main course of dripping antipathy:

Let’s see, what’s in the news today? Oh, what a coincidence. Here’s atheist Ashu Solo from Saskatoon, a member of that city’s cultural diversity and race relations committee, who intends to complain to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission because a municipal banquet at which he was a guest was introduced by a blessing over the food which included the words “Jesus” and “amen.” Mr. Solo is all riled up about this: “It made me feel like a second-class citizen. It makes you feel excluded,” he said. Mr Solo finds it especially ironic that he should have become “a victim of religious bigotry and discrimination” because the occasion was a volunteers-appreciation dinner.

Mr. Solo, can we talk? I have advice for you that you would be well advised to take. First, put away your religion-hating books by Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and whatever other obsessive gurus fuel your dreams of revenge against Christians, and take a deep breath. During this deep breath, reflect on what your little diatribe about victimhood might sound like to, say, Christians in China or Egypt or Pakistan who have been imprisoned or even killed for having dared to poke tiny holes in the totalitarian clouds -– one atheistic, one hyper-religious — that hang over them.

Then take another deep breath and consider what our human rights commissions were really designed for. Your intention to use them for this beyond-trivial complaint will now be exploited by many observers, including me, as one more example of why human rights commissions should be abolished for speech purposes. They tend to encourage people like you, people with micro-grievances, to turn to official bodies for redress rather than working them out in a direct and reasonable and civil way.

Kay then suggests that Solo might instead have been to pull the host aside and make a little quieter complaint about the separation of church and state:

That way, Mr. Solo, you would indicate that your purpose is not to bring division and hostility to the table, but to look for a positive solution that is a win-win for you and your fellow citizens with opposite beliefs. That way you would spare your well-intentioned neighbour the public embarrassment he is presently experiencing. More important, that way you could have spared yourself the high probability that your name will become a Canadian byword for grinchdom, incivility and disrespect for the real suffering of the millions of people in this world who can only dream of the joy of sitting at such a table as you were at, and listening to any blessing whatsoever.

What do you think?  Did Solo overreact, does Kay have a point?  Or is this just another example of atheist bashing by the media?

About Dakota O'Leary

Dakota O'Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. She is a contributing writer focusing on eschatology, biblical prophecy, and general religious news. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week. We like to call her "our in-house Biblical prophecy expert" as her articles on eschatology have received over 200,000 views on God Discussion.
  • Sheldon

    That remark about feeling like a second-class citizen was ridiculous and I don't believe him for one second. I am pro-reason. I have been in similar situations as Solo many times and have never felt second-class and many of my pro-reason friends would attest to the same.

    Solo could very easily have done all of this in private and probably gotten the result he was looking for… if that was what he wanted. This leaves me with two simple questions… what other reason would Solo have to be in the press right now and I wonder how long it will be before he is running for one political office or another?

    And yes, there was definitely some bashing going on in Kay's rant but, in her defence, Solo's talk about a human rights tribunal to assuage his hurt feelings makes him look like a gigantic idiot.

  • http://twitter.com/petertferguson Peter Ferguson

    I have followed this news story a bit and and have left comments on a few articles and I have asked the very same question each time, but I am yet to receive a reply. The question being, if it was a Muslim who said a prayer evoking Muhammad and Allah, would a Christian sit idly and allow that religion to take precedence over their personal beliefs.

    Atheists want all beliefs, religious and non-religious, to be treated equally with none being shown preference or privilege, and when you are in a setting where a belief is shown preference over your own then it makes you feel like an outsider. Imagine if you will, and dinner full of people of a certain race or sex, and that race/sex made an announcement praising said race/sex regardless of any minorities there. If that were the case then this wouldn't even been a discussion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Whitestone/100001682409207 Margaret Whitestone

    I can't speak to what goes on in Canada, but here in the US atheists face a great deal of bigotry and discrimination.  Being an atheist can cost a person their job in some places, regardless of what the law says.  Atheists who "come out" can face ostracism from friends and family, and teens have been thrown out of their homes for announcing their non-belief.  Atheists who seek to rectify violations of Church and State (such as when Jessica Ahlquist asked for an unconstitutional prayer banner to be removed from the wall of her school) are met with virulent hatred and even death threats from Christians.  Even seemingly innocuous things, such as billboards or other advertising that merely announce the existence of groups for atheists, result in vandalism and hate mail.   But apparently some people think we're just whining, and that everything is A-OK.  

  • Eyedubya

    The invoking of Jesus was out of place, but it only serves the forces of non-reason to over-react and take this to the HRC. Mr. Solo's shrill reaction to this non-malicious action. should be dicouraged in the future. Atheists, I my view, merely want equal consideration in society. I feel no desire to postulate the merits of atheism, nor do I want to alienate my friends and neighbours. Peace, Love, Unity, Respect

  • Peter

    I'm Canadian and I guess once the world
    viewed us as a liberal, tolerant society. No more. Mind you, the National Post
    is a right-wing rag that loves publishing ridiculous, provocative editorials;
    we'll ridiculous if you’re a liberal. But this screed about atheists is just
    the proverbial tip. Kay, of course, doesn't realize the Canadian Constitution
    has no provision for the separation of church and state, that's American. I do
    think it's a trivial complaint and in my case I just ignore it when something like
    this happens. If it bothers you just leave that's a better way to protest. I do
    think, however, positions are hardening up here and it's not about atheists but
    Muslims. I get anti-Muslim e-mails all the time and theme is send them back
    home because they're taking over our society. These idiots don't realize Muslim
    immigrants only make up about 10-12% of the total and are no threat to our
    society. They claim we are a Christian country but you can look in vain for any
    mention of Christ and Christianity in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. No,
    it's getting scary up here and the real threat is from Christian
    Fundamentalists. Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is an evangelical
    Christian as are most of his Cabinet. Now that he has his majority he can enact
    his agenda which means repealing our gun laws and progressive legislation
    concerning same sex marriages and abortions, and the list goes on. This isn't
    the Canada I recognize and fear for my grandkids and the society they inherit.
    Scary.   
     

  • Guest3

    Everyone should read what Ian "Crommunist" Cromwell has to say about this matter:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/05/17/taking-them-on-solo

    Everyone should read Ian "Crommunist" Cromwell's full interview with Ashu Solo:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/?p=4678

  • Guest5

    Everyone should read what Ian "Crommunist" Cromwell has to say about Solo's case:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/05/17/taking-them-on-solo

    Everyone should read Ian "Crommunist" Cromwell's full interview with Solo:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/?p=4678

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