Atheism is the new goth
I hesitate to dignify this trivial, vacuous charge, but since it's considered a good enough argument by some detractors of atheists, I'll deign to address it.
"Atheism is the new goth."
That is the argument in toto, and devastating though it is, some might call it glib, even puerile. It's a category mistake, given that it equates a general philosophical label to a fashion trend -- how can it be such when it can be derived independent of particular culture, precedes the implied time period, and has nothing whatsoever to do with fashion? Was megaphone crooning the heir to Platonism? I'll paraphrase, ironically, the villainous Nicole Wallace from "Law and Order: Criminal Intent," that it's pop-philosophical drivel that wouldn't butter your parsnips. No, I won't indulge the unqualified use of the phrase any further, for it depends entirely on the question that it begs:
"The New Atheism."
My own recent 'conversion' to atheism boils down to a shift in terminology: from the popular misconception about the word 'agnostic' (the assumption that it means 'uncertain' to the precise use of the word 'atheist,' referring specifically to a 'weak'/'agnostic' -- or as Dawkins put it, 'de facto' -- atheism premised on the lack of any evidence behind any god claims thus far. I don't know whether it can be known whether or not there are gods (hence agnosticism, a lack of claim to knowledge), but I don't see any substance behind any explicit god claim I've heard (hence atheism, a lack of belief); further, I don't see any meaning, even conceptually, to the term 'god,' so I lean toward ignosticism or theological noncognitivism as well. That's my story, but is there a broader trend that could be called "new?"
Self-professed atheism has only been recorded for as long as apostasy could no longer be a capital offense; it's thus difficult to say how long an explicit non-belief in a culture's de facto deities can reach back into history, and it's difficult to use said history to argue against dilute forms of apologetics that suggest mankind is hardwired to believe in something (anything) if only for some rhetorical purpose, because we do see 'belief' spanning the millennia. One could argue that the transition from the polytheism to monotheism/henotheism, old to new testaments, Christianity into deism during the enlightenment, and to the nominal religion practiced by most in the first world today, represents a trend away from elaborate mythological explanations and earnest piety relied on in the past: but this is, admittedly, not outright atheism. So the claim that humanity doesn't need to believe at all, or that not all of it does, is one with necessarily shallow roots, that will be tested over the coming decades as explicit atheism is 'practiced' in our culture.
But the charge of "New Atheism," as it has thus been used, is nothing so insightful; its benign language masks its implications. "New" is almost never a good prefix for a philosophical category; I don't think I need to go into the most common association for "neo-." That alone can bring to mind bigotry, ideological fanaticism, militant radicalism, political instability and upheaval, and antisocial mayhem; and thus these are some of the possible hidden charges against atheists; which some of the more ballsy believers express directly. Another hidden meaning to "new" is that something is trendy, glib, conformist -- most of all, temporary. If atheists are silly teenage trend-chasers, what is there to do but pat them on the head and walk away? If this charge is so for some unidentified demographic, what does it have to do with me? Should my credibility suffer because an unidentified person is unable to defend a belief we nominally share? This is a straw-man used to poison the well and avoid real discussion.