New Forms Of Discrimination Essay

2334 words - 9 pages

When the topic of discrimination is brought up people often envision young African Americans during the 1960s trying to secure their constitutional rights and in the process being thrown to pavement, dragged by the force of fire hoses being wielded by bigoted men with badges. There is no denying that those men and women faced some of the harshest and most blunt discrimination that human beings have ever conceived of. However, there are other, subtler ways for discrimination to be inflicted on people throughout our society. Instead of facing the threat of physical violence, a person might be ostracized from certain social groups, or be unable to reach their full potential professionally. Discrimination doesn’t even have to be based on physical characteristics such as skin color. The pressure to behave a certain way or to profess certain beliefs publicly in different pockets of our society can be overwhelming for the few people whose opinions or lifestyles differ from the majority. In more recent years the struggles of the LGBT community has received increased attention as more people have acknowledged their homosexuality publicly, doing away with society’s unwritten rule that they must remain “in the closet”.
There is another minority group facing discrimination however that hasn’t received the same level of national attention. A national survey of more than 2,000 households conducted by the sociology department of the University of Minnesota found that when it came to “sharing their vision of American society” this group rated below gays and lesbians, recent immigrants, Muslims and other minority groups (Edgell, Gerteis and Hartmann 211-224). No, not communists, but atheists. The word “atheist” itself is not a very good word. The reason why a lot of atheists don’t like to use that moniker is that they feel that there shouldn’t even be a need for it. There is no word for someone who doesn’t believe in the Santa Clause for example. Some non-religious people say it’s impossible to know whether or not God exists, and they prefer to be called agnostic, and there are others that vehemently believe religions are a negative force in society that prefer to call themselves anti-theists.
There is a popular aphorism that goes, “there are no atheists in foxholes”. While it is true that a large majority of American soldiers can be broadly defined as Christian, a sizeable number of soldiers do not affiliate with any religion at all. The number could be as high as 20% according to polls conducted by the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers and the non-partisan Population Reference Bureau (Segal and Segal). One of the most famous openly atheistic soldiers was Pat Tillman, an NFL star for the Arizona Cardinals who turned down a $3.6 million contract to enlist in Army after the 9-11 attacks, only to be accidentally killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan (Holden). Pat Tillman’s fame protected him from discrimination for his beliefs, but there...

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