Positive Atheism Forum: Miami Mayor Vilifies Immigration Agents As 'Atheists'

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Update: December 8, 2001

In April 23, 2000, as part of the climax of the Elian Gonzalez affair, INS agents were shown in a much-celebrated photo, guns drawn, capturing the little Cuban child-refugee. That day, Miami Mayor Joe Carollo issued a statement vilifying the agents as "atheists." "They don't believe in God," the Mayor continued.
     An alert and conscientious Positive Atheism reader sent us the article (below) and we sent it out to our e-list for comment, accompanied with the following commentary. Although others have since denounced this move by the Mayor, ours was the only contemporary commentary we know of to denounce his equating atheism with these agents -- who were at the time viewed by many as the very picture of evil. Even more disappointing, only four PAM e-list subscribers responded to the dispatch.
     Earlier this year, in January, the Pope was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for -- get this -- using "his moral authority to hasten the fall of godless totalitarian regimes." The good news was that PAM's reader response to this dispatch jumped by 50 percent -- to six outraged Positive Atheism readers! This story was covered by several activistic groups and organizations, though, and this is the good news: at least the activists ought to be on top of these things even if the people in whose behalf they struggle cannot always be.
     But something has happened since then. Today, things appear to be much different: In the wake of George Bush's call for religiosity (September 14) following the Day of Atrocity (wherein the WTC and Pentagon were attacked), numerous commentators have taken the opportunity to express what we all know are popular feelings about atheists and atheism.
     However, unlike 21 months ago, when Mayor Carollo did pretty much the same thing, and unlike only 11 months ago, when the United States Congress wrote legislation which said pretty much the same thing, today's active atheists are speaking out with such force that in some places our outcry is unprecedented as outcry goes.
     This is very exciting, and PAM's correspondents are honored to be able to report on these changes in the awareness and activism of the atheist communities (see Atheists Come To Power from the November, 2001, Print Edition). We can only hope that this is not just a fluke of some sort, but that commentators, social critics, and others who think they can slander the class of people known as atheists, that they can do this with impunity, will soon learn that this form of bigotry is not to be tolerated any more than the other forms of bigotry which, thankfully, appear to have become taboo in recent years (and in some cases, distant years).
     Some people act as if the one remaining almost universally accepted form of bigotry is atheism. Today we appear to be making up for the lenience that the formerly sleepy atheistic subcultures dished out to Miami Mayor Carollo some 21 months ago. If we remain silent like we did in April, 2000, we send the message that it's okay to treat atheists this way. Positive Atheism loudly proclaims, "It is not!"


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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Positive Atheism List"
Subject: Mayor calls Immigration agents "atheists"
Date: Sunday, April 23, 2000 3:55 PM

The latest cultural villains are obviously the agents who were photographed pulling powerful guns in order to seize the child Elian Gonzalez in a hotly disputed custody case.

Please read Miami Mayor Joe Carollo's comments and tell us what you think: "These are atheists. They don't believe in God," he said.

Mayor Carollo's use of the word "atheists" to vilify the agents, along with his comment "They don't believe in God" to further vilify them deserves the swiftest, sternest, most widespread condemnation the nontheistic communities can muster. Here is our opportunity to bury this misuse of the word "atheist" and its concept once and for all.

Please send your comments to local and national news organs, and please distribute this or a similar message to other freethought- and human dignity-based lists.

-- Cliff Walker, Publisher
Positive Atheism Magazine

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Elian Seized
In Pre-Dawn Raid
On Miami Home
United Press International

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From: "Larry Carter Center"
To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Mayor calls Immigration agents "atheists"
Date: Sunday, April 23, 2000 5:28 PM

Hi Cliff, thanx for the Heads Up on McCarthyistic Miami Mayoral insults further villifying our good name free from the religious heated rhetoric on this alleged holy weekend.

The photo shows the fisherman holding Elian,

Now just what is the "fisherman" who fished Elian out of the water doing in his home 5 months after the "rescue" at 5:15 am with an Associated Press photographer (there from the previous night) standing ready to shutterbug the INS agent genuinely rescuing the poor kid from political insanity?

When I was in the US Navy, I did my job & did not expect to become personnally involved with the lives of everyone I came in contact with.

The answer to this is that thousands of anti-Castro Crusaders, many of them Santeria believers, all want Elian as their poster boy, hardly a community of love most children need to grow up normal.

Larry Carter Center

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From: "Peter M Musial"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Mayor calls Immigration agents "atheists"
Date: Monday, April 24, 2000 8:01 AM

Are not most Cubans religious? Many wanted the boy to stay in the US claiming that he would be find happiness here. Does not their faith teach the morals and the family values? Do they put the material live so far ahead of the family one? What would one prefer, live in US and have a car, VCR, etc and no father, or live in Cuba have less of the material things but instead live with the one that loves him? Coming from Poland, which at that time was also communist country and probably under much stricter regime then Cuba is or ever will, it seemed that people could find happiness in their families and/or what ever believes they had instead of money or comforts.

One should not discount the religion and the religious institutions. It has a good place in the society and an important role, which lately is not being fulfilled. Religion should teach people morals and moderation, however, from looking at the masses of crazed people on the streets of Little Havana, it seems that religion was long forgotten by these people and replaced with material and political aspirations. Isn't this kind of funny that a atheist can look through the clouds of all issues to see that most basic moral right is being raped by the materialism of religious people.

Peter M Musial

Harry S. Truman:
"If you can't convince them, confuse them."

Cliff Responds:

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From: "Smith Design Works"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Mayor calls Immigration agents "atheists"
Date: Tuesday, April 25, 2000 9:49 AM

Dear Mr. Walker it would be an advantage for us Atheists if you would supply the list of e-mail addresses you wish us to respond to.

I believe the response(s) is/are a valid one.

I run a graphic design firm and don't have the time to be looking up various news agencies' addresses. Maybe just said Mayor's office would suffice?

If you could send me a few addresses I will do my part in responding to this critical issue.

Jeffey H. Smith

Cliff Responds:

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To: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Mayor of Miami
Date: Tuesday, April 25, 2000 12:34 PM

Shouldn't somebody tell the mayor of Miami about Leonard Peikoff -- Ayn Rand heir and atheist -- who was trying to help keep Elian in the U.S.?

C. Poe

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From: "Tom Scanlon"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Miami_Mayor_Vilifies_Immigration_Agents_As_'Atheists'_9683
Date: Saturday, June 24, 2000 4:01 PM

What Mayor Carollo and his christian brethren do not realize is that by their beliefs, they condone genocide, hating their families and themselves;(Luke 14:26). And very many more acts of immorality.....Atheists do not!!!!

I would question the Mayors' sense of morality and his values...

I will always refer to myself as a "PROUD ATHEIST" for having been able to reject all the hateful things that I was brainwashed with as a christian child...


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From: "Duval Cellai"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Miami_Mayor_Vilifies_Immigration_Agents_As_'Atheists'
Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2001 12:42 AM

The people that were holding Elian from being united with his father were Christians and they believe in god which is dog spelled backwards.

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