Well, this is horrifically sad: Craig Stephen Hicks, a white 46-year old outspoken atheist, gunned down three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Caroling yesterday. Their names were Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.
Police are investigating the motive (Hicks turned himself in, so that should be fairly easy), but have said that Hicks appears to have been driven to murder over a parking spot.
On the one hand, it is easy to say that this appears to be about a parking spot only, with nothing to do with religion or race. But on the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine what would drive someone to murder three people over something so stupid, unless the murderer for some reason did not see his victims as full humans deserving of the right to life. And if you have paid any attention to the current state of capital-A-Atheism, you would have to see the growing problem with the continued dehumanization of Muslims, women, and other marginalized groups by community leaders like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Lawrence Krauss, the organizations that support them with awards and speaking engagements, and the mass of young and angry atheists on sites like Reddit.
When you combine that dehumanization with violent rhetoric, it’s inevitable that someone will commit an act like Hicks. That’s how the “men’s rights movement” led to people like Elliot Rodger, and how the “pro-life movement” led to people like Scott Roeder.
Knowing what we know about the end result of dehumanization combined with violent rhetoric, maybe it’s time that atheists as a group decide to retire this cartoon, which may have been true once but hasn’t been relevant at least since Dawkins started Tweeting about why women who don’t abort fetuses with Downs Syndrome are immoral: