Many commenters feel compelled to point out that atheists of all sorts are often not afforded the respect and tolerance that Linker wants atheists to extend to theists. This is factually correct, but as a defense of the likes of Hitchens and Dawkins, it’s nothing but a tu quoque. Moreover, even if returning the disrespect in kind had some sort of strategic value, which I can’t really see, Hitchens and Dawkins attack illiberal and intolerant believers and ecumenical, pluralist believers with the same broad brush.
Right. The level of intolerance that’s directed at atheists in the United States is, in my view, disgusting. From Mitt Romney’s speech to the polls showing that tens of millions of my fellow citizens wouldn’t vote for a non-believer, our culture is full of horrible stuff. But directing equal and opposite illiberal bile at the direction of religious people in a way that draws no distinction between liberal and illiberal strains of religiosity isn’t a solution to anything.