Letters to the Editor

For HumanistNetworkNews.org
Nov. 18, 2009

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More on war and peace from our readers

(Re: Saving the Soul of Secularism, Humanist Network News, Nov. 4, 2009.)

In his response to Jeff Nall's article on Nov. 4, Drew Shaw writes:

"Preventing Afghan women from being beheaded merely for wanting to be school teachers is to me something that all humanists should support; …my opinion (is) that ISAF troops in Afghanistan are undertaking an armed defense of humanist values against Muslim terrorists."

What is strange is that Shaw seems to think that the only way to prevent Afghan women from being beheaded is through war. He forgets that in the process of "saving" these women with military might, thousands of innocent lives are lost, many of them women (that he claims to want to save), and innocent children and men (who are killed by our bomb).

Shaw is doing what Nall talks about in his article, i.e. putting forth a secular narrative that contributes "to grossly simplistic political analysis and worst, justification for militaristic violence."

Shaw thinks he can get away with this by hiding behind women.  Shaw's problem is that his argument is ideologically driven, and not "guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience" (as stated in the Humanist Manifesto III).

–Armineh Noravian, president of the Humanist Community in Silicon Valley, Calif.


Yes, we humanists must be more vocal, more assertive in opposing war, that most inhuman of human activities. We should oppose our government whenever it sends troops anywhere. We have no interests in Iraq or Afghanistan which are more important than the lives being lost — American lives and other lives.

-Joel Welty, Blanchard, Mich.


I am truly tired of those humanists who believe that their political beliefs give them a lock on humanism. Climate change skeptics, neo-liberals, non-eco-extremists–all have the "you are not welcome here" sign thrust at them by some humanists.

Nobody–humanist or otherwise–should support gratuitous violence, but the stark reality is that there are people who do. Among the terms that characterize me are "humanist" AND "rational". Therefore, I am not prepared to renounce violence per se: I will "speak softly and carry a big stick".

Jeff Nall is, of course, entitled to promote his views, but I think all human beings would be better off conveying their beliefs if communication tricks were seen as anathema.

I cite:
(1)"that they repudiate secular violence (militarism)".  Do all forms of secular violence represent militarism?
(2)"neo-liberal imperialism and militarism". Why the adjective 'neo-liberal'?

In my opinion, humanists have too much work to do, and are far better served by the absence of purists and their purges.

–Robert Henry, St. Catherine, Jamaica (West Indies)