Anti-Jewish Fervor Among Atheists?

As I've mentioned before, I am on the ReligionLaw mailing list run by Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy. It's a valuable resource for many reasons, but especially because I get to interact with and hear the views of some of the preeminent legal scholars on church/state issues, including Doug Laycock, Marci Hamilton. Sandy Levinson and many others, in almost immediate response to new cases and controversies. The list also includes a few folks I consider cranks and they are generally tolerated (as am I, an opinionated non-lawyer type). One of those cranks has been the source of some controversy on the list and in the blogosphere lately and I thought I'd draw out the full story here for those who might be interested. I find the situation fascinating for several reasons.

The person in question is named Larry Darby. He is the former head of the Atheist Law Center in Alabama, and he recently resigned from that position to run for Attorney General of that state (where, frankly, as an atheist he has about the same chance of being elected as I have of winning the next season of America's Top Model). Now, one would think that I would generally be allied with someone who is a staunch advocate of separation of church and state, particularly one in Alabama where many of his opponents, like future governor Roy Moore, are genuine theocrats. Alas, Mr. Darby turns out to be a bigoted nutball who sounds very much like a member of the KKK in his anti-semitic rhetoric.

All of this began to come to my attention when Eugene Volokh posted an item to his blog a few weeks ago, and copied it to the ReligionLaw list, concerning Mr. Darby's bizarre views. He wrote:

Leading Atheist Legal Activist and Candidate for Alabama Attorney General Has Some Rather Interesting Views About Jews, Zionism, and the Holocaust...

Mr. Darby also (1) apparently wrote that "David Duke is right on with the problem of Zionism and the Zionist-Occupied Government we live under," (2) seems quite interested in whether media representatives who contact him about such matters are Jewish, and (3) was substantially involved in organizing a speech by noted Holocaust denier David Irving.

I first heard about this when an acquaintance of mine e-mailed me an exchange that included Mr. Darby's "Zionist-Occupied Government" quote. I then e-mailed Mr. Darby to verify the quote. (I had and still have no reason to question my correspondent's veracity, but I thought that checking would be a good idea.) The closest Mr. Darby came to denying the accuracy of the quote is when he eventually said -- after an exchange of several e-mails -- "Know that what you sent to me as represented by [my correspondent] is not authentic," which seemed to me like a somewhat coy way of addressing whether Mr. Darby indeed said the "Zionist-Occupied Government" item.

I then followed up by asking "My question was simply whether you did or did not e-mail the text I asked you about. Did you or didn't you?" He didn't respond to that question, but instead insisted that I tell him whether I was a Zionist and a Trotskyite.

Volokh wrote to Darby asking him to verify or deny these things and received, in part, the following reply:

[F]or the record, Dr. David Duke does offer insight into the neoconservative or Trotskyist government in Washington, DC. Some of what he has been saying for years is bearing out in the news today. Have you ever read anything of Duke's your self? I'm sure he'd talk to you. Write him at and find out for yourself. And read what he really says for yourself, without relying on what Jewish Supremacists say about him.

Have you been keeping up with all the Zionists (Jews and Jewish-Christians) being arrested by the FBI? I know it hasn't made mainstream media, but it is happening and expectations are that when Kidan turns evidence against Uber-Zionist Abramoff, some other members of Congress might be indicted. Those are only two of several people arrested.

If you aren't keeping up with those issues, then likely you won't be able to understand that Dr. Duke knows what he's talking about when it comes to Jewish Supremacism and Zionism...

Now, it seems to me that if one is being accused of anti-semitism (which surely includes paranoid ravings about how the Jews really control the US government and the world), one is not going to disprove such allegations by ranting about "Jewish Supremacism" and "Uber-Zionists". Indeed, such terminology strongly suggests that the accusations are true. But Darby wasn't done confirming those accusations, not by a longshot. In a post to the ReligionLaw list this morning, he launched quite an incoherent screed against Volokh and against a wide range of targets. It really has to be read to be believed. I'll post some of it here:

More and more people are wondering what has happened to our Republic and more and more people are awakening from a dumbed-down trance or stupor of 4 or 5 decades, when it has been politically correct to ignore anything negative when, for example, US foreign policy in regard to the Jewish state should be discussed, but I digress. (We just blindly continue to pay U$Trillions in tribute, as if the US Constitution really is based on submission to Jewish law via the Noahide laws.) Preserving the myths regarding "the holocaust", which is a modern religion for Zionists or Israel-Firsters, is what motivated Volokh to write his piece about me, without interviewing me or addressing genuine issues. Criticism of Trotskyism or Communism, which is the ideology of the Nonconservatives (Jewish and Jewish-Christian Zionists), is what Volokh feared. He later revealed that he had lied to me when he claimed he did not know what "MOT" means, but I digress again, which is easy to do when pretentious "scholars" reveal insidious motives that, if successful, will result in the destruction of our Republic or the principles of individual liberties forged during the Enlightenment and manifested in the US Constitution. A reason why the Traditional Enemies of Free Speech are quick to holler "anti-semite" or "holocaust denier" or "anti-Jew" (terms of art for Zionists) is that they fear that when a truth-seeker begins looking into taboos of Judaism, World Jewry or its organizations, and their global endeavors, that their cover will be blown, so to speak. In my investigations of modern mythology, such as the Six Millions Lie, which by the way was first trotted out by Zionists during or immediately after World War One, there is a nasty aspect that is too often ignored - that of Jewish Supremacism. I've noticed megalomania or superiority complexes even with so-called secular Jews. Even though so-called secular Jews reject the existence of YHWH (the Jewish God of War, the surviving god of all the gods Jews once worshiped) who made them the Master Race, according to the Tanakh, so-called secular Jews are still Jewish Supremacists.

Talk about ducking into the punch. Larry, if you're going to claim not to be anti-semitic, ranting incoherently about "World Jewry" is not the way to do it. If you want to show that you're not a holocaust denier, invoking the "Six Millions Lie" and parroting ridiculous rhetoric from the holocaust denial movement is not going to help your case. Nor is demanding to know whether someone is an "MOT" (meaning "member of the tribe", i.e. a Jew) before answering their questions. And crawling in bed with David Duke doesn't exactly boost your credibility either. One thing I find interesting about all of this is that an atheist is parroting the rhetoric of the KKK. White supremacists have been delivering similar rants about Jews for well over a century, but they base their bigotry on their warped religious views. That an avowed atheist would ally himself with such scum is astonishing to me. I fully agree with Prof. Volokh when he concludes:

It seems to me very important that irreligious people participate in public debate, to defend the legitimacy of their views, and to protect themselves against religious discrimination and hostility. I don't agree with everything that all atheist activists urge; for instance, I don't think that the Establishment Clause is properly interpreted as banning religious speech by the government. Nonetheless, there are indeed some egregious forms of discrimination against the irreligious (or the less religious), for instance in child custody cases -- these should be assiduously fought.

Moreover, there seems to be a great deal of hostility to atheists among the public: A July 7, 2005 Pew Research Center poll, for instance, asked people about their views of various religious and political grounds, and whether "your overall opinion of [the group] is very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable, or very unfavorable?" For Catholics, the total unfavorable percentage was 14%; for Jews, 7%; for "Evangelical Christians," 19%; for "Muslim Americans," 25%; for "Atheists, that is, people who don't believe in God," it was 50%, including 28% "very unfavorable" (only 35% said they had either a "very favorable" or "mostly favorable" view of atheists). Such religious hostility, it seems to me, should also be fought (though of course through argument rather than litigation). Anti-atheist bias is no more justifiable than anti-Jewish bias.

I therefore have nothing at all against atheist political movements in general, nor do I have any reason to believe that atheists generally have any hostility towards Jews, or affection for David Duke. Yet this makes it all the more important, it seems to me, for atheists who are deciding whom to ally themselves with -- or for that matter, for members of other groups, such as Scouting for All or any marijuana decriminalization groups -- to know Mr. Darby's views that I describe above, views with which I hope most atheists much disagree. Likewise, Alabama Democrats should know who's running in their primary, and should keep in mind the views I note above, even if some of them are tempted to agree with him on marijuana decriminalization, juvenile justice, or even religion in public life. (I doubt there are that many Alabama Democrats who do agree with him on those latter issues, but I imagine there are some.)

And it's also important for Jews -- even in America, the place in the world in which it is probably safest to be a Jew -- to be reminded that these sorts of views do exist in America, and in what might to many seem like quite unlikely circles.

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Atheism is not a body of belief or an organized society. It is a belief that crosses many boundaries, as do many beliefs. While nothing in atheism contraindicates anti-semitism, nothing in atheism supports it either.

The guy's a whack-job who happens not to believe in god. You could probably also find an atheist who believes in chiropractic, macrobiotic dieting, or Penta-water. Or all three.

So, you're getting in good with Tyra Banks, are you? Darby's views, sadly, might improve his chances at election in Alabama (the home of Roy Moore, remember).

Darby is a lawyer, and he should be aware that in California, there is a ruling of judicial note on the Holacaust. That the Holacaust occurred is a matter of fact so solid that it is also a matter of law.

Heck, with powers of denial so strong in Darby, maybe he's a candidate for new spokesperson for the Discovery Institute, no?

By Ed Darrell (not verified) on 02 Jan 2006 #permalink

I used to subscribe to his newsletter. At first I complained that I thought I was subscribing to an atheist newsgathering list not a "I hate Jews" list. I also hated his constant references to "The Jewish 10 Commandments," pointing out it was ONLY Christians pushing the government to endorse them. His answer was rude and foul-mouthed. Then one day he posted something from a holocaust denier.

I love to debate and spend a lot of my spare time debating creationists. Creationists are not really bad people, merely misguided. There are 3 types of people I will not debate: (1) Racists, (2) HIV deniers (3) Holocaust deniers. I consider those three classes of people to be evil. I wrote Mr. Darby privately and complained again. After an exchange of several e-mails I finally told him that if he got investigated by the FBI I needed to not have my name on his mailing list. We did not part friends. I'm glad he resigned from the Atheist Law Center.

I find mailing lists to be impossibly difficult to follow the debates.

I'm really glad you posted this, Ed. I read Prof. Volokh's blog and was aware that Darby was posting such messages to the newsletter. But the context of what Darby was saying was not presented, and I was very confused. It was really hard for me to believe that what was being said was really anti-semetic. I assumed I was misunderstanding what Darby meant. Now I know that I was right.

It's true that athesits are still prone to idiotic or pseudoscientific views, but as an athesit myself I don't want a jackass like Darby even vaguely associated with me.

And the neocons are all followers of communist philosophy? That's a new one to me. I had to read that sentense several times, and I'm still baffled.

By chrisberez (not verified) on 02 Jan 2006 #permalink

Oh my. I had heard of this fellow, but had heard nothing of his views. I doubt that Alabama would elect him to anything His atheism is too big a hit down here in the land of the fundamentalists, where even scientists and engineers can delude themselves (Yes, there are some in northern Alabama). But I also suspect his lunatic ravings would not go down particularly well. After all, most Alabamians support the current government, whether Zionist occupied or not.


I'm fully aware that atheism is not a positive set of views, or an organized community. I'm also quite aware that Darby's views are extremely rare among atheists, which is exactly why I think they need to be publicized - not because they indicate anything about atheists, but because atheists will likely (and rightly) want to disavow those views to avoid such indications. Were this just a guy who happened to be an atheist, I would not have bothered to out him. But he's a prominent figure, founder of a major atheist organization, and running for office. All the more reason to point out his views and give atheists the chance to see who is speaking (falsely, I would argue) in their name.

All this shows is that wacky people can be found anywhere.

I wouldn't make too much of this; I doubt that very many people have heard of his organization or his web site.

NB: It's "wack" not "whack." "Wack" comes from wacky, which basically means "crazy." Whack comes from "to hit." On the other hand, if you want to whack him, feel free ;-)

What's the beef guys? So he says that the U.S. has a "Zionist-Occupied Government" and is "Trotskyist". Is there really anything wrong with being against "Jewish Supremacists" who are "preserving the myths regarding 'the holocaust', which is a modern religion for Zionists or Israel-Firsters"? I mean, if he's just interested in investigating "taboos of Judaism, World Jewry or its organizations, and their global endeavors," and "the Six Millions Lie, which by the way was first trotted out by Zionists during or immediately after World War One" Honestly, what's antisemitic about that?

So anyways, being that people generally don't like atheists and definitely won't vote for a holocaust denying crank, i'm guessing joke write-in votes beat out Darby.

[joke] Of course we atheists hate Jews.

We hired them to kill Jesus, and he got up three days later!


When you want something done right... [/joke]

Mark me down as one heathen who definitely denounces this loony-tune. If there is any group that pisses me off way more than antievolutionists it's racists (of all political/ethnic stripes).

Fortunately they have been relegated to the fringes of society for the most part.

Btw, the racist whack-job Tom Metzger at one point (back in the early 90's) claimed to be an atheist (after leaving the Klan). This is the first I've heard of an "atheist racist" since then.

By Troy Britain (not verified) on 02 Jan 2006 #permalink

Ed says, "I'm fully aware... "

My apologies: I know you are, don't know what I was thinking. Too many windows open at once, I guess.

Thanks for the heads-up on this wack-job. No doubt we'll see connections made between anti-Semitism and atheism now, so we'll have an idea where it comes from.

I've re-read the post. I wonder why Volohk is scratching this itch. I doubt that many people have heard of this web site, and by "scratching the itch" he was merely advertising the site.

Hint: not every itch needs to be scratched.

I belong to a lot of atheist and humanist organizations, and for a long time they have all been very aware of what is usually referred to as Darby's fall off the deep end. Many of them have put out official statements to members explaining that both Darby's support of David Irving and his stance on Jews are in no sense endorsed by any of the groups themselves. Some groups say that this is a separate issue which stands or falls on the merits of the argument and they will not involve themselves in the debate: other groups have specifically attacked the theory as unsupported by the evidence.

I think these organizations have felt obliged to do this because the Atheist Law Center's brave fight against Moore and the 10 commandments monument in Alabama has been reported by all, and Larry Darby has been a sort of folk hero for freethought in our circles (for good reason, I think.) Being realists, we're disappointed but not terribly shocked to find out that nobody (not even an atheist) is perfect. People are complex and contradictory and you can't simply go out and find some guru you can implicitly trust. No kidding. That's what we've been pounding on from the beginning.

I've seen some of Darby's email replies to the (many) nontheists who have (of course) criticized his stance, and they're pretty similar to what is reproduced here -- except that what I read here didn't play the "unholier than thou" card and complain that critics are not acting like TRUE atheists.

Actually, I have noticed that when I go to atheist conventions I seem to run into more people with a propensity for paranoid conspiracy-type thinking and sweeping black-and-white generalizations than when I go to skeptic or humanist get-togethers. I suspect that this may be because the emphasis of the latter is primarily on method and how one arrives at a conclusion, rather than just on what one believes.

As others have already pointed out, someone's being an atheist tells you little about them. A person can be an atheist for completely irrational or contrarian reasons. That's one reason I usually prefer to self-identify as secular humanist, rather than atheist.

I'd like to think that atheists will take this as an opportunity to shun the man. Mercilessly.

Unlike Christians with lunatics like Pat Robertson: they've instead chosen to line his pockets and hung on his every word like fools.

Thank you for bringing this to light. It is unfortunate that Darby has allowed himself to fall into this hole. As an Atheist, I can assure all your readers that the majority of Atheists I have talked to disagree with Darby and his recent dive into nonsense and bigoted drivel. As an Atheist in Alabama, I can assure your readers that most of us in this state are not like Darby and his Neo-Nazi followers.

Darby is not only supporting known Neo-Nazis like David Irving, but also KKK member David Duke. Darby has consistently said in the past that all press is good press (as if he is a Hollywood star) and he is surely loving all the attention, but that does not mean we should stop talking about this issue and making sure people know what Darby is up to.

For clarification: Darby IS NOT associated with American Atheists.

Blair Scott
Alabama State Director, American Atheists
Organizer, North Alabama Freethought Association
Director, Atheism Awareness
Director, Alabama Atheist

For people who see through the lies and distortions being presented by enemies of liberty, you may show your support for a USA-First Government.

Contact Mr. Darby:

Larry Darby for Attorney General
P O Box 3722
Montgomery, AL 36109

By FreeThinker (not verified) on 08 Jan 2006 #permalink