The ways in which the New Atheism serves imperialism are manifold. It bolsters the “clash of civilizations” narrative used to justify ventures like the invasion of Iraq and the need for repressive measures like state surveillance. Moreover, in presenting itself as a disinterested defense of reason, it lends such arguments a credibility they would lack in the hands of commentators from the political or cultural right. Finally, it shifts the focus from the social ills wrought by unjust economic arrangements to an external singularity called “religion.”
In the colonized states, the colonizers used the woman question to justify their dominance, claiming that women in their subject nations were backward and in need of uplifting. Ignoring the demands of women in their own countries, they were sometimes more willing to push for womens reforms abroad. On the other hand, nationalistic movements in colonized and other non-western nations began to link attempts at modernization with an improvement in the status of women. In many instances, liberal nationalists, many of them male, needed the active support of women to help fulfill their dream of an independent, modern state.