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Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Attack Highlights the Best of Atheist Blogging

Now is not a good time to be a Republican politician. Way back in August, Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole found that defending her seat against Democratic challenger Kay Hagan might not be as easy as she thought. One of her ways of fighting back was to demonise Hagan for meeting with atheists and taking donations from them. The press release from her campaign said:

On September 15th, Kay Hagan is heading to Boston, Massachusetts to attend a fundraiser for her Senate campaign. What may surprise mainstream North Carolinians is that the fundraiser will be in the home of leading anti religion activists Wendy Kaminer and her lawyer husband Woody Kaplan -- who is an advisor to the "Godless Americans Political Action Committee."

. . .

"Kay Hagan is trying to run a campaign in North Carolina that casts her as a moderate but the money that's paying for it is coming from the left-wing fringe of political thought," said Dole Campaign Communications Director Dan McLagan. "You can tell a lot about a person by their friends and these are friends most North Carolinians would not be comfortable having over for dinner."

Got that? Atheists are people "most North Carolinians would not be comfortable having over for dinner." Note also that the Dole campaign's description of the Kaminers' activities suggests to me that the Kaminers are activists for church-state separation and for the civil rights of atheists rather than "anti religion activists" as labeled by the Dole campaign.

At the time, atheists in the blogosphere seized the opportunity to show support for the acceptability of atheist voices in the political process by donating to Hagan's campaign (see, for example, here) and writing to Elizabeth Dole to explain why.

For a variety of reasons, I'm sure, Hagan has now shifted ahead of Dole in the polls. The Dole campaign is fighting back -- and they haven't given up on the atheist connection! A recent mailout from the Dole Campaign, displayed on the blog of an understandably angry North Carolinian atheist blogger, attacks Hagan yet again for daring to accept support from atheists. The mailout includes two quotes from the atheist blogosphere. Fairly innocuous quotes, at that. One is from a comment on Friendly Atheist, and reads:

I don’t know that I’ve ever been to North Carolina besides driving through, but I just donated [to Hagan's campaign].

The other is from a post on Daylight Atheism:

Kay Hagan ought to be rewarded for inviting nonbelievers onto her platform . . .

I'm startled that the Dole campaign thinks this is a good move. Only voters with a truly overt prejudice against atheists are likely to find a website name like "" threatening.

Whether or not Dole has helped her own campaign, she has certainly helped the atheist movement! She's promoting the atheist blogosphere at its best. Any North Carolinian who follows the attribution of those quotes will be led, not to some scary den of atheist supremacy, but to the open-minded affability of Friendly Atheist and the even-tempered eloquence of Daylight Atheism. American atheists couldn't choose a better pair of blogs to represent their cause.

[By the way, here are the respective reactions to this news on Daylight Atheism and Friendly Atheist].


Anonymous said...

Dole is obviously desperate. It's hilarious that she's inadvertently leading her followers to two articulate atheist bloggers who are very articulate and whose comment threads are frequently as interesting as the blog posts. Visitors to those sites are in for a treat.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind mention, Lynet! Personally, I'm far more flattered than I am upset. I have no fear of North Carolina voters or anyone else coming to visit my site as a result of this; they can see for themselves just how much resemblance my views bear to the laughable stereotypes that the Dole campaign flings around.

I really didn't think I was enough of a thorn in their sides to merit this reaction. Frankly, if that quote was the most damning thing they could find, I think I'm on solid ground. Who, other than the lowest of bigots (and I'm pretty sure those people have already made up their minds on who to vote for) would object to the idea of Hagan inviting nonbelievers to join her platform along with everyone else?