Earlier today, I wrote to the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture (Vancouver's community for Secular Humanistic Judaism) to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences following this weekend's attack on the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and by extension Jewish peoples around the world. These are undoubtedly trying times and the resurgence of openly violent antisemitism is deeply concerning.
Donna Becker, Executive Director of the Peretz Centre wrote back to me with a message for BCHA members:
The kind of action we saw in Pittsburgh and in other places in the US and even in eastern Canada is unbelievably terrible. The Pittsburgh murders raise antisemitic attacks to a new level—orders of magnitude beyond desecrating a graveyard or vandalizing a synagogue.
We at the Peretz Centre have sent condolence letters to various mosques, churches and synagogues in the recent past, and It is so good to know that the BC Humanists stand behind the Jewish community, as we stand behind other victims of ignorance and bigotry.
We mourn those killed in the anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life #PittsburghSynagogue & recognize the tragic impact on the community. We also recognize this as an example of a white man radicalized by a regime bent on using divisive hate-filled rhetoric to bolster its base. pic.twitter.com/HfGhk0juVL— American Humanist (@americnhumanist) October 28, 2018
This was not an isolated incident. Earlier last week, it was widely reported that another far right extremist sent pipe bombs to numerous Democratic officials and a white supremacist murdered two innocent people at a drugstore. The resurgence of violent antisemitism and white supremacy occurs amidst a clear campaign by far right groups to use racial resentment to divide and radicalize people.
Humanists and atheists are not immune from contributing to this toxic climate. I've seen atheists bring up the antisemitic conspiracy theory of cultural marxism. Even more blatantly, I've seen atheists claim "the religion of Judaism is worse than Nazism" in an ugly effort to try to make some cheap point about how much they dislike religion. It doesn't take long to hear similar comments about Muslims or Islam in many atheist spaces these days either. Regardless of efforts to caveat that the point of that such statements are about challenging ideas and not people, given the broader discourse we have a duty to think far more critically about the arguments we are making, or letting go unchallenged. Because it is neither reasonable nor productive to make comparisons between a religion that's practiced by around 15 million people and an ideology that is dedicated to the eradication of all of those people.
Humanist values should compel each and every one of us to condemn all forms of bigotry and motivate us to fight discrimination and intolerance in our communities. We need to take responsibility not just for our own comments but for our own silence in the face of others' hatred.
Finally, we must stay committed to our common humanity. Humanism calls on us to utilize free inquiry for the furtherance of peace and in the service of compassion. So let us aim to be thoughtful and compassionate as we continue to work for a better world.
Next steps on charities reform
The Government of Canada today introduced a bill to remove restrictions on charities' political activities. This looks more promising than the draft legislation released last month. Read more...
Peace Poppies Ceremony
Once again the BC Humanist Association is honoured to cohost Let Peace be Their Memorial on November 11. The event, held at Seaforth Peace Park in Vancouver at 2:30 PM, features representatives of overlooked victims of wars laying wreaths in memory of the many lives that are touched by armed conflicts. This year, Tima Kurdi, aunt of Alan Kurdi, will be the keynote speaker.
New on our website
- The hypocrisy of Quebec's move to ban religious dress from The Conversation
- There's no podcast this week. Unfortunately we didn't have permission from Dr Tworek to record her lecture on fake news as it included prepublished information. You can read some of her work on The Conversation and her forthcoming book on misinformation in Nazi Germany is available for preorder on Amazon.
Sunday, November 04, 2018 at 10:00 AM
- Vancouver Sunday Meeting: Dr Lynne Marks - Infidels and the Damn Churches at Oakridge Seniors Centre, Vancouver
Tuesday, November 06, 2018 at 08:30 AM
- Secular Humanist Thinkers Cafe at Urban Fare Cafe Mission Park, Kelowna
Tuesday, November 06, 2018 at 07:00 PM
- Book Club: Jihad & Co by Aisha Ahmad at Goldis' Home, Vancouver
Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 10:00 AM
- Vancouver Sunday Meeting: Donald Gutstein - The Big Stall at Oakridge Seniors Centre, Vancouver
Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 02:30 PM
- Let Peace Be Their Memorial 2018 at Seaforth Peace Park, Vancouver