Monday, March 7, 2011

Sikivu Hutchinson in Moral Combat (1)

I've been meaning for some time to acknowledge publication of Sikivu Hutchinson's landmark book Moral Combat: Black Atheist, Gender Politics and the Value Wars. I am sure there is nothing like it in the atheist literature in the English language and that in many respects it is a welcome change from the usual narrow preoccupations of the atheist/humanist literature.

Here is a recent interview:

Moral Combat: Interview with Dr Sikivu Hutchinson
(Interviewed by Nathalie Woods, editor of the blog "Echoes of Commonsense")

There is much to applaud here. The contradictions embedded in the origin of Black American Christianity, for example, need to be better understood that simply chalking it up to the "Stockholm Syndrome" or the slave mentality (strong as the latter is). There is one assertion, though, that I find quite questionable:

‎"Ideologically, black atheists are distinct from white atheists in that they emphasize social justice and human rights rather than just fixating on science and the separation of church and state. "

I do think that the overall culture of American atheism & humanism, as represented by the preoccupations of its publications, speakers, leaders, and media stars, is indeed fixated on the natural sciences and has little of value to say about anything else. The rank and file, however, is more varied. Furthermore, there is no lack of reactionaries among black atheists, or of those enamored with the same science-spokesmen that white atheists adore. One thing to keep in mind about American "progressives" and leftists of any color is that they have no constituency, and anyone who pretends to speak for blacks is indulging in self-deception.

America's racial divide indeed as a rule engenders very different reference points for blacks and whites, and this sometimes correlates with different philosophical or political perspectives. However, that correlation can no longer be counted on, and to draw a hard and fast line between white and black atheists is symptomatic of something amiss in allegedly progressive politics.

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