Thursday, July 28, 2011

Erasing cigarettes: American Atheists v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey



This past Monday, The American Atheists filed a lawsuit against Port Authority to have the "9/11 Cross" removed from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. "Government enshrinement of the cross was an impermissible mingling of church and state," according to The American Atheists.

Here at The Offensive Atheists, we think that they are wrong.

For better of worse, the intersecting beams that form the cross left standing in the rubble of The World Trade Center resonated with the general public at time when everyone was searching for an answer to this chaos. Any answer.


Was it right that many looked to this symbol of a God who was unwilling, or unable, to stop the horrible series of events that happened on that day in September? No. The millions who looked to these remnants of the structure that once was, and saw the majesty of God protecting them, without questioning where this God was 12 hours before, were deluded, confused, and indoctrinated to the point where they practiced internal apologetics to the point where they believed that a GOOD God was watching over as these events unfolded.

I want to scream at these people until my blood boils. I want to show my rage, and light up the night sky like Vishnu with the fire of a thousand burning suns. I want to breathe smoke.

I want to live in a world where, when tragedy strikes, we do not look to fairy tales and invisible men in the sky for answers.

We live in a world where, when tragedy strikes, we look to fairy tales and invisible men in the sky for answers. That cross WAS a part of the events of that day. It was reported on the news, injected mainline into the homes of Americans watching that day, and we all were watching. To deny that is to deny a part of those events.

As an Atheist, would I object to a crucifix in a museum? No, I would not. It was (is) a part of our religious iconography. It was (is) a part of what we once believed. It is a part of the human story, how we came to be us. Denying our history is something the young earth creationists do, not those of us who are supposedly 'freethinkers.'

As an Atheist, when I go to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, I want to see that cross there. It certainly stands for something to me, albeit quite different from what it represents for a majority of the population. I hope one day, years from now, that the cross will still be there. That it will come to represent a time when we were engaged in vicious and horrible tribal warfare over our misplaced beliefs. A time when holy books spoke to us, telling us to take up arms and fight to the death...and we believed them.

At the top of this post are two pictures of Winston Churchill.  One is the actual picture, and the other has Winston's trademark cigar removed. For a while there we began digitally removing cigarettes from old movies, old historical pictures, etc. We've come to accept that cigarette smoking is bad, and the idea was to protect our children from seeing these people who were held in such high regard doing something so blatantly negative. The problem is, Churchill was a cigar smoking drunk, that is as much of a part of who he was as is the warrior who defended England's borders during World War II at all costs. To deny his flaws is to... deify him.

We have done amazing things as a nation, and we have done horrible things. And everything we've done has made us everything we are...warts and all.

-Paul Wittmeyer

5 comments:

  1. I was all ready to say you were wrong, that we need to remove *every* religious symbol from public spaces, but then I looked up the story. Guess I either missed that part of the story 10 years ago (can't believe it was so long ago) or forgot. Anyway, your point is valid.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I suppose the T-Beam can just be a constant reminder of religious (T)errorism and that God hates the infidels so much that he has prepared a special Hell for all of them.

    ;0)

    Seriously, though, the idol worship of one religious sect is not a true and honest memorial of and for all of the people who were murdered there.

    As such, all symbols must be included or we can just put up one that represents all who have suffered and who find hope in human love, liberty and peace.

    Now, what kind of symbol would encompass that?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Steve,

    To memorialize the wishes of the dead would be to imply that they are still witness to our actions long after brain activity has ceased. The memorial and museum exists for those of us who are still here to venerate the events that occurred...AND the causes for these events.

    Remember, this was not a symbol thrust upon that day, but rather an artifact that naturally occurred. The religious implications are inferred by you...me...a majority of the country. I want it to stay because I want to see a day when two welded and riveted girders are just that...two girders.

    For those of you reading this, Steve Schlicht is an author, and a member of msatheists.org. I promise you that Steve has a point of view, and is a good writer to boot. I ask that you read his blog...his points are as valid as mine. (Steve, I'll let the cop thing slide.)

    -Paul Wittmeyer, Offensive Atheist.

    ReplyDelete
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