Atheism For Dummies

« July 2006 »

Memo to Lt. Col. Frank Kauzlarich: WE NEED TO TALK.

Because you might not be dumb. You might just be ignorant. Of course, taking actions and making decisions from a position of ignorance is fucking dumb, but I am feeling kind and gracious today, so let's see if we can't clear up a few of your misconceptions before we label you a hopeless commando-monkey.

Kauzlarich, you see, doesn't understand atheists. This would normally not be an issue, because while I won't speak for the rest of the atheists out there, I for one don't need to be "understood". But in Kauzlarich's case, it becomes important. Because Pat Tillman's family are, if not atheists, at the very least irreligious. And Kauzlarich was in charge of the first investigation into the whole sorry Tillman mess.

If you don't remember Pat Tillman, he was the football player who gave up a promising pro sports career to fight in the Army, in Afghanistan, in the new post-9/11 world. And when he got killed, his became a tale of heroism and sacrifice for the ages. And in many ways, rightly so. Of course, Tillman wasn't killed by the implacable Islamofascist barbarian foe in a clash of civilizations. He was shot in the head by US troops. Which really fucks up the official narrative.

And any further details of what happened, or why, or how the Army may have conspired to keep the Pat Tillman myth alive after they knew what really happened... well, that shit is still way up in the air.

The Tillman family would like to know what happened. A reasonable person would assume that Pat Tillman's family would like to know what happened because the Army has been less than forthcoming with actual facts for over two years. Kauzlarich is not, at first glance, a reasonable person. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"But there [have] been numerous unfortunate cases of fratricide, and the parents have basically said, 'OK, it was an unfortunate accident.' And they let it go. So this is — I don't know, these people have a hard time letting it go. It may be because of their religious beliefs. When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don't believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more — that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don't know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough.

OK, first of all, the term is WORM FOOD. Not worm dirt. What would worm dirt be, anyway? All dirt is potentially worm dirt. Dead people don't turn into dirt no matter what your religious belief is. So this army dude either has issues with the process of decomposition, or can't get simple common slang phrasings right. I find either troubling.

But the thing I want to focus on here is "I don't know how an atheist thinks." This is a common problem among the religious. The answer is, 95% of the time, just like you do. Because that's how the world works. Barring crazy people and priests, whether you believe in God or not doesn't actually come up all that often.

If an atheist and a Jesophile go to a deli together, and they both order the turkey on rye, and the turkey on rye is exceptional, they do not get into an argument over how the turkey got to be so damn delicious. When changing lanes, the atheist and the theist will both check their blind spot. Life as we know it is, in large part, a series of logistical challenges. Get dinner done. Make sure you don't run out of gas. Don't forget to tape the new episode of Iron Chef. God, or Not God, doesn't enter into it at all. Except atheists have between two and six extra hours a week to get all that shit done.

So when the Army tries to turn your son into a patriotic martyr for the Global War On Terror, wanting to get to the bottom of that has shit-all to do with whether Pat Tillman is in a better place, or is being munched by annelids. It's not religious belief that would enable the Tillmans to "let go". But I think Kauzlarich knows that. I think Kauzlarich knows exactly what it would take for the Tillmans to "let go". And while it's something that CORRELATES with religious fervor, causation is a whole other story.

"There is not a whole lot of trust in the system or faith in the system [by the Tillmans]. So that is my personal opinion, knowing what I know." - And there it is. The Tillmans are suffering from a lack of faith... in the system. In the Army.

But faith in the system is not faith in America, and faith in America is not faith in God. No matter how much they want us to think it is. No matter how much people like Kauzlarich may need to believe that it is, so that they can sleep at night, and go to church every Sunday, secure in the knowledge that they are doing the right thing. By God, via his proxy, America, via its proxy, the reputation of the Army.

You don't need to be an atheist to realize that's fucked up. You don't need to think differently. You just need to think.