Since it’s December, Fox News is inevitably running their annual War on Christmas extravaganza. They want you to think that every instance someone says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is an attempt by liberals to drown the baby Jesus in the name of political correctness. But while the pundits on Fox News continue to wail and cry about the supposed failing of American values, most of the rest of the country tries to ignore them and enjoy the holiday season however they wish.
Sometimes, though, a brave soul (figuratively speaking) will march right into the corridors of Fox News itself, and call them out on their bull. Lately, that man has been David Silverman.
If you don’t know who David Silverman is, he’s the president of American Atheists. I’ve never been much of a fan of his style. Silverman can come off as very caustic. He’s a hardliner who will fight any fight to keep separation between Church and State. Some of his tactics are off-putting, and for someone like me who tries to take a more accommodating stance, he can actually be an obstacle to opening good dialog. Silverman, and others like him, reinforce the stereotype of the angry atheist.
But for all of that, you have to admire the sheer determination and sheer audacity to bring his brand of atheist firebrand to a Fox News panel. The past few weeks has found him returning again and again to the Fox News studios to sit next to panelists like Rabbi Schmuley Boteach, Bill Donahue, Marius Forte, and Todd Starnes. And even though Silverman is constantly interrupted, yelled at, and insulted by the people surrounding him, he steadfastly argues his point.
For example, he was brought on to religious panel to discuss a farmer putting up a billboard saying there was no afterlife. Though most of the discussion was calm and generally pleasant, Catholic League President, Bill Donahue, opened up by insulting and belittling Silverman.
During the discussion Donahue says anyone with intelligence believes in an afterlife, and that atheists are good for nothing. This is of course coming from the man that believes that homosexuality causes priests to molest children. Silverman refuses to take these personal attacks and immediately responds to them.
In another interview, he’s paired with author Marius Forte to defend his organization’s provocative billboard in Times Square. Forte, however, seems to want to speak about anything but the subject at hand, and rambles on incoherently.
No matter how much Silverman tries to keep Forte on point, Forte bounced around aimlessly, touching on all the tired cliches. America is a Christian nation, atheists aren’t attuned to god, etc. Forte refuses to address the simple point that if Christians can put up billboards claiming that god is real, there’s nothing wrong with atheists putting up billboards that say the opposite.
Next, there’s Silverman’s appearance on Hannity to again defend the billboard American Atheists put in in Times Square. The thing I don’t understand about this is why Sean Hannity even bothered to have him on. Hannity had no interest in listening to what he had to say, and spent most of the interview interrupting Silverman or changing the subject.
Once again, no matter how much Hannity tried to change the argument or interrupt, Silverman was determined to get his point across.
Lastly, there was the panel he went on to discuss the Satanist’s proposed monument for the Oklahoma State Capitol building (which I talked about a few days ago)
The entire panel jumped on Silverman for saying the government has to treat all religions equally, but he resolutely repeated that his opinions and their opinions don’t matter when it comes to fair governing.
Look, David Silverman is abrasive. He’s purposely provocative and insulting, and sometimes he gets in the way of his own message. But the thing is, for the most part he’s right. Fairness is a simple concept. If the government allows one religion’s monument on its property, it must allow all religions the same opportunity. If Christians can put up billboards that say “Jesus is the reason for the season!” then it’s perfectly acceptable for atheists to advertise the opposite.
The talking heads on Fox News want to live in a bizarro world where Christians get to loudly proclaim their faith everywhere from the halls of government to the public square of every small town, but nobody else gets that same right. And as much as I have trouble with David Silverman’s tactics, I’m glad he’s there at even turn standing up to say, “No! That’s now how this country works.”