So here are some things to fight about:
1. Failing to make the distinction between sexism and misogyny is as unscientific as failing to make the distinction between authoritarianism and fascism. Precision is important–if we actually want to solve the problem.
2. There is a certain disgust-inspiring smugness that goes with some flavors of agnosticism. Yeah, sure, if you want to say, “I don’t know the answer, therefore neither do you,” then feel free; but not knowing something is a pretty silly thing to be proud of. Agnosticism is a very specific epistemological position, and one that I think is wrong. We can talk about why I think that when you lose your attitude.
3. Speaking of atheism, the fact that some atheists use their belief as an excuse for anti-Muslim bigotry says as little about atheism as the fact that some Christians use their belief as an excuse for homophobia says about Christianity.
I’m on a roll.
4. One more on religion (because if you can’t get into an argument about religion, you just aren’t trying): As an atheist–a materialist–I believe that the history of religious thought is as much a valid subject for scientific investigation as anything else in nature or society. Indeed, I’ll go so far as to say that only as a materialist can one actually understand the development of human thought, religious or otherwise. Point being, the atheist who simply condemns religion as an evil without paying any attention to how it developed, to its complex and often contradictory role throughout human history, to how it emerged from and then in turn influenced the society that produced it, is being profoundly unscientific.
5. Concerning literature, I believe two contradictory things: 1) People can enjoy reading whatever they want, and ought not to be judged for it–if you say, “that book is horrible and you shouldn’t have liked it,” you’re just being an ass. 2) One important part of improving our field is to be sharply critical; if we don’t recognize what’s bad, how are we going to get better? It seems like these two positions ought not to contradict each other, but in practice it always seems like they do. ETA: This is apart from the content, especially in a moral sense, which is a whole different conversation.
6. Obama supporters keep pointing at things Obama has done that Republicans would have supported if Bush had done them. And they’re absolutely right; there is a lot of that going on. They seem to be missing the fact that they attacked Bush for doing the same things Obama is doing.
7. Expanding on something I said a while ago on Facebook: There is a difference between the prejudice felt by an oppressed people, and the prejudice felt by oppressing people. Lenin spoke of the difference between the nationalism of the oppressor, and the nationalism of the oppressed. To just toss it away with, “prejudice = prejudice” is wrong-headed. In the real world, A is never equal to A. The history and experience of oppression makes a difference. If you find yourself saying, “Black people say….” you are being a racist, an asshole, and an idiot. If you find yourself saying, “White people say,” you are just being an idiot.
8. Last but not least, something we can all fight about: driving. People who have the attitude, “I can drive in the left lane all I want as long as I’m going the speed limit,” are jerks. People who have the attitude, “I should be able to go as fast as I want in the left lane no matter what else traffic is doing and if you’re going slower than I want I’m within my rights to tailgate you and flip you off as I zoom by on the right,” are jerks. Both fail to realize that driving is a cooperative endeavor, and the more we all work together, the safer and more pleasant it will be. It’s kind of like life.