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Richard Dawkins’ anti-Islam/anti-Muslim propaganda exposed: The facts Original Guest Post by Jai Singh There is currently increasing journalistic scrutiny of the atheist British scientist Richard Dawkins and his ally Sam Harris’ statements about Islam and Muslims. In December 2012, the Guardian published an excellent article highlighting the acclaimed physicist Professor Peter Higgs’ accurate observations about Dawkins’ pattern of behaviour when it comes to religion in general; Professor Higgs (of “Higgs Boson particle” fame) has forcefully criticised Dawkins. More recently, superb articles by Nathan Lean in Salon (focusing on Dawkins), Murtaza Hussain for Al Jazeera (focusing on Dawkins, Harris etc) and Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian (mentions Dawkins but focuses predominantly on Harris; also see here) have received considerable publicity. Readers are strongly advised to familiarise themselves with the information in all of these articles. Before I address the issue of Richard Dawkins, it is worthwhile highlighting some key information about his ally Sam Harris. As mentioned in Glenn Greenwald’s extensively-researched Guardian article, Harris is on record as a) claiming that fascists are “the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe”, and b) stating “We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim”. Furthermore, bear in mind the following paragraph from a previous Guardian article about Harris: “…..But it tips over into something much more sinister in Harris’ latest book. He suggests that Islamic states may be politically unreformable because so many Muslims are “utterly deranged by their religious faith”. In another passage Harris goes even further, and reaches a disturbing conclusion that “some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them”.” Richard Dawkins’ “atheist anti-religion” agenda has noticeably become increasingly focused on Islam & Muslims; his online statements (recently including his Twitter account ) have now become so extreme that a great deal of them are essentially indistinguishable from the bigoted, ignorant nonsense pushed by the English Defence League leadership and the main US-based anti-Muslim propagandists such as Robert Spencer etc. In fact, as Nathan Lean’s Salon article mentioned, the following very revealing information recently surfaced: It turns out that Dawkins has publicly admitted that he hasn’t even read the Quran even though (in his own words) he “often says Islam is the greatest force for evil today”. Mainstream Islamic theology (including the associated impact on Muslim history) is not based solely on the Quran, of course, but Dawkins’ admission is indicative of a number of major problems on his part. So much for the credibility of Richard Dawkins’ “scientific method” in this particular subject. It goes without saying that this also raised questions about exactly which dubious second-hand sources Dawkins has been getting his information on Islam and Muslims from, if he hasn’t even taken the normal professional academic steps of reading the primary sacred text of the religion he has also described as “an unmitigated evil”. Not to mention the question of Dawkins’ real motivations for his current fixation with Islam and Muslims. Well, it appears that some answers are available. It certainly explains a great deal about Richard Dawkins’ behaviour. In the main part of this article beneath the “Summary” section below, I have listed 54 anti-Islam/anti-Muslim statements posted by Richard Dawkins on the discussion forum of one of his own websites. (The list of quotes also includes embedded URL links directly to the original statements on Dawkins’ website). Summary of Richard Dawkins’ actions 1. There is a direct connection to Robert Spencer’s inner circle. As confirmed by the URL link supplied by Richard Dawkins in quote #11, Dawkins has definitely been using that cabal’s anti-Muslim propaganda as a source of “information” for his own statements; Dawkins specifically links to the “Islam-Watch” website, which is a viciously anti-Muslim site in the same vein as JihadWatch and Gates of Vienna (both of which were the most heavily cited sources in the terrorist Anders Breivik’s manifesto). More pertinently, as confirmed by this affiliated webpage, the core founders & members of that website include the currently-unidentified individual who uses the online alias “Ali Sina”. This is the same fake “atheist Iranian ex-Muslim” who is a senior board member of “SIOA”/“SION”, an extremely anti-Muslim organisation whose leadership is formally allied with racist white supremacists & European neo-Nazis and has even organised joint public demonstrations with them. “Ali Sina” himself was also cited by Breivik in his manifesto. Note that the SIOA/SION leadership inner circle includes: a) AFDI and JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer, an ordained Catholic deacon who has been proven to have repeatedly made false statements about Islam & Muslims and has publicly admitted that his actions are heavily motivated by his (unilateral) agenda for the dominance of the Catholic Church; b) AFDI and Atlas Shrugs’ Pamela Geller, who is now on record as advocating what is effectively a “Final Solution” targeting British Muslims, including mass-murder; c) the English Defence League leadership; and d) David Yerushalmi, the head of an organisation whose mission statement explicitly declares that its members are “dedicated to the rejection of democracy” in the United States. Furthermore, Yerushalmi believes that American women shouldn’t even have the right to vote. Extensive details on “Ali Sina” are available here. Quite a few of the quotes in that article are horrifying. Bear in mind that this is the person whose website Richard Dawkins has publicly cited and promoted. “Ali Sina” is on record as making statements such as the following: “Muhammad was not a prophet of God. He was an instrument of Satan to divide mankind so we destroy each other. It is a demonic plot to end humanity.” “I don’t see Muslims as innocent people. They are all guilty as sin. It is not necessary to be part of al Qaida to be guilty. If you are a Muslim you agree with Muhammad and that is enough evidence against you.” “Muslims, under the influence of Islam lose their humanity. They become beasts. Once a person’s mind is overtaken by Islam, every trace of humanity disappears from him. Islam reduces good humans into beasts.” [Addressing all Muslims] “We will do everything to save you, to make you see your folly, and to make you understand that you are victims of a gigantic lie, so you leave this lie, stop hating mankind and plotting for its destruction and it [sic] domination. But if all efforts fail and you become a threat to our lives and the lives of our children, we must amputate you. This will happen, not because I say so, but I say so because this is human response. We humans are dictated by our survival instinct. If you threaten me and my survival depends on killing you, I must kill you.” “Muslims are part of humanity, but they are the diseased limb of mankind. We must strive to rescue them. We must do everything possible to restore their health. That is the mission of FFI [“Faith Freedom International”, “Ali Sina’s” primary website]. However, if a limb becomes gangrenous; if it is infected by necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease), that limb must be amputated.” [Addressing all Muslims] “But you are diseased. You are infected by a deadly cult that threatens our lives. Your humanity is destroyed. Like a limb infected by flesh eating disease, you are now a threat to the rest of mankind…..Islam is disease. What does moderate Muslim mean anyway? Does it mean you are moderately diseased?” “But there was another element in shaping his [Muhammad’s] character: The influence of Rabbis. Islam and Judaism have a lot in common. They have basically the same eschatology and very similar teachings…..These are all secondary influences of Judaism on Islam. The main common feature between these two faiths is their intolerance. This intolerance in Judaic texts gave the narcissist Muhammad the power to do as he pleased…..How could he get away with that? Why would people believed [sic] in his unproven and often irrational claims? The answer to this question is in Judaism. The Rabbis in Arabia had laid the psychological foundations for Islam among the tolerant pagans…..The reasons Arabs fell into his [Muhammad’s] trap was because of the groundwork laid by the Rabbis in Arabia.” “Muhammad copied his religion from what he learned from the Jews. The similarity between Islamic thinking and Judaic thinking is not a coincidence.” “By seeing these self-proclaimed moderate Muslims, I can understand the anger that Jesus felt against those hypocrites whom he called addressed, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” “In Christianity, it wasn’t the religion that needed to be reformed but the church. What Jesus preached was good.” “The image portrays the words of Jesus, “the truth will set you free.” That is my motto…..After listening to this rabbi, I somehow felt sympathy for Jesus. I can now see what kind of people he had to deal with.” 2. After Nathan Lean and Glenn Greenwald published the aforementioned Salon and Guardian articles, both “Ali Sina” and Robert Spencer rapidly wrote lengthy articles on their respective websites defending Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. It would therefore be constructive for Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris to publicly clarify if they welcome or reject “Ali Sina” & Robert Spencer’s support. It would also be constructive for Dawkins and Harris to publicly clarify the nature and extent of their involvement with “Ali Sina” & Robert Spencer. 3. Richard Dawkins’ anti-Islam/anti-Muslim narrative (including the stereotyped caricature and his own convoluted strawman arguments) is essentially identical to the hatred-inciting, theologically-, historically- & factually-distorted/falsified propaganda promoted by Far-Right groups such as the English Defence League and especially the owners of JihadWatch and Gates of Vienna. This is clearly not just a coincidence, considering Dawkins’ online sources of [mis]information. 4. Richard Dawkins is now on record as making a series of extremely derogatory statements in which he bizarrely refers to Islam (a religious belief system) as though it were a conscious, sentient entity (see #5, #32, #36, #49). The nature of those statements suggests that Dawkins is actually referring to Muslims. (Also see #7). 5. Richard Dawkins is now on record as repeatedly defending Sam Harris, including Harris’ claims about Muslims and Islam (see #42, #43). 6. Richard Dawkins is now on record as enthusiastically praising the Dutch Far-Right politician Geert Wilders (see #50). 7. Richard Dawkins is now on record as publicly claiming that “communities” has become code for “Muslims” (see #18) and that “multiculturalism” in Europe is code for “Islam” (see #19). 8. Richard Dawkins is now on record as repeatedly praising & defending Ayaan Hirsi Ali (see #20, #26, #50). Hirsi Ali has been proven to have fabricated aspects of her background/experiences (as confirmed by the BBC). Hirsi Ali is also on record as revealing the full scale of her horrific beliefs, including the fact that she sympathises with Anders Breivik and blames so-called “advocates of silence” for Breivik’s mass-murdering terrorist attack. 9. Richard Dawkins is now on record as repeatedly promoting the Far-Right conspiracy theory that British police avoid prosecuting Muslims due to fears of being labelled “racist” or “Islamophobic” (see #1, #24, #28, #45). Robert Spencer & Pamela Geller’s closest European allies, the English Defence League leadership, are amongst the most vocal advocates of this ridiculous conspiracy theory. 10. Richard Dawkins is now on record as explicitly describing himself as “a cultural Christian” (see #54). 11. Richard Dawkins is now on record as proposing what is basically an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” strategy, specifically in terms of Christians vs. Muslims (see here and here. Also see #16). This raises questions about exactly how much support Dawkins has secretly been giving to certain extremist anti-Muslim individuals/groups, or at least how much he is personally aware that these groups are explicitly recycling Dawkins’ own rhetoric when demonising Islam & Muslims. 12. Richard Dawkins is now on record as exhibiting very disturbing attitudes towards the British Muslim Member of Parliament Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and the British Muslim Independent journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, including repeatedly making highly offensive claims that they are “tokens” with zero qualifications for their respective jobs and are in positions of seniority/influence solely because they are “female, Muslim and brown/non-white” (See #25, #29, #30, #31, #35, #53). Dawkins clearly shares the EDL leadership’s noticeable hostility towards Baroness Warsi in particular; furthermore, note Dawkins’ sneering “open letter” to Baroness Warsi (see #29), and also note the fact that the EDL leadership recently published a similar “open letter” to Baroness Warsi on their main website, written by an unidentified anonymous author. 13. Richard Dawkins has published a lengthy diatribe by Robert Spencer/Pamela Geller/EDL ally/SIOE co-founder Stephen Gash. 14. Richard Dawkins has enthusiastically republished a large number of viciously anti-Muslim comments originally posted on the discussion thread of a Telegraph article written by Baroness Warsi. Dawkins claimed that the only reason he was reproducing these comments on his own website was “because the Telegraph is apparently censoring them”. 15. Despite the claims of Richard Dawkins’ defenders that he is an “equal opportunity offender” in terms of his criticisms of various organised religions, the aforementioned 54 quotes speak for themselves and Dawkins’ real pattern of behaviour is self-evident. Amongst other things, it raises the question of whether Dawkins was already perfectly aware that the anti-Islam/anti-Muslim propaganda he is basing his statements on originates in members of Robert Spencer’s extremist inner circle and their respective hate websites (which would have very nasty implications about Dawkins himself), or whether Dawkins has been astonishingly incompetent about researching his sources of “information”. 16. Further information on Richard Dawkins’ other activities targeting Islam & Muslims is available here, here, here, here, here, and here. Examples of statements by Richard Dawkins: #1: [Quoting: “No I don’t think it was racist to feel that way. If you saw a European mistreating his wife in public wouldn’t you feel the same? “] “Of course. In that case I might have called a policeman. If you see a Muslim beating his wife, there would be little point in calling a policeman because so many of the British police are terrified of being accused of racism or ‘Islamophobia’.” #2: “Religion poisons everything. But Islam has its own unmatched level of toxicity.” #3: “Religion poisons everything, but Islam is in a toxic league of its own.” #4: “…..But let’s keep things in proportion. Christianity may be pretty bad, but isn’t Islam in a league of its own when it comes to sheer vicious nastiness?” #5: [Quoting: “He blamed ‘radical stupid people who don't know what Islam is,’”] “They are certainly stupid, but they know exactly what Islam is. Islam is the religion that wins arguments by killing its opponents and crying ‘Islamophobia’ at anyone who objects.” #6: “This horrible film deserves to go viral. What a pathetic religion: how ignominious to need such aggressively crazed defenders.” #7: “Muslims seem to suffer from an active HUNGER to be offended. If there’s nothing obvious to be offended by, or ‘hurt’ by, they’ll go out looking for something. Are there any other similar examples we could think of, I wonder, not necessarily among religious groups?” #8: “Paula’s letter in today’s Independent (see above) will doubtless provoke lots of fatuous bleats of “Oh but Islam is a peaceful religion.”” #9: [Quoting: “But it has nothing to do with Islam.”] “Oh no? Then why do the perpetrators, and the mullahs and imams and ayatollahs and ‘scholars’, continually SAY it has everything to do with Islam? You may not think it has anything to do with Islam, but I prefer to listen to what the people responsible actually say. I would also love it if decent, ‘moderate’ Muslims would stand up and condemn the barbarisms that are carried out, or threatened, in their name.” #10: “What is there left to say about Sharia Law? Who will defend it? Who can find something, anything, good to say about Islam?” #11: [Quoting: “needed to respect other religions”] “That word ‘other’ worries me and so does ‘respect’. ‘Other’ than what? What is the default religion which makes the word ‘other’ appropriate? What is this ‘other’ religion, which is being invoked in this high-handed, peremptory way. It isn’t hard to guess the answer. Islam. Yet again, Islam, the religion of peace, the religion that imposes the death penalty for apostasy, the religion whose legal arm treats women officially as second class citizens, the religion that sentences women to multiple lashes for the crime of being raped, the religion whose ‘scholars’ have been known to encourage women to suckle male colleagues so that they can be deemed ‘family’ and hence allowed to work in the same room; the religion that the rest of us are called upon to ‘respect’ for fear of being thought racist or ‘Islamophobic’. Respect? RESPECT?” #12: “All three of the Abrahamic religions are deeply evil if they take their teachings seriously. Islam is the only one that does.” #13: “Yes, Christians are much much better. Their sacred texts may be just as bad, but they don’t act on them.” #14: “Quite the contrary. I think the problem [with Islam] is with the MAJORITY of Muslims, who either condone violence or fail to speak out against it. I am now praising the MINORITY who have finally decided to stand up for peace and nonviolence.” #15: [Quoting: “Actually I think linking to every video this bigot releases does look like an endorsement, even if it's unintentional. Why not link to some news items by some other right wing bigots the BNP or the EDL, they're always banging on about Islam so it should qualify.”] “I support Pat [Condell]’s stance on Islam. It is NOT based on racism like that of the BNP, and he is properly scathing about so-called ‘Islamophobia’.” #16: “After the last census, Christianity in Britain benefited, in terms of political influence, from the approximately 70% who ticked the Christian box, whether or not they were really believers. With the menacing rise of Islam, some might even be tempted to tick the Christian box, for fear of doing anything to boost the influence of the religion of “peace””. #17: [Quoting: “What sort of justice is this? My daughter has been beaten to death in the name of justice,” Mosammet's father, Dorbesh Khan, 60, told the BBC.] “What sort of justice? Islamic justice of course.” #18: “Just as ‘communities’ has become code for ‘Muslims’, ‘multiculturalism’ is code for a systematic policy of sucking up to their often loathsome ‘community leaders’: imams, mullahs, ‘clerics’, and the ill-named ‘scholars’.” #19: “Forgive me for not welcoming this judgment with unalloyed joy. If I thought the motive was secularist I would indeed welcome it. But are we sure it is not pandering to ‘multiculturalism’, which in Europe is code for Islam? And if you think Catholicism is evil . . .” #20: “I don’t think this is a matter for levity. Think of it as a foretaste of more serious things to come. They’ve already hounded Ayaan Hirsi Ali out of Holland and their confidence is growing with their population numbers, encouraged by the craven accommodationist mentality of nice, decent Europeans. This particular move to outlaw dogs will fail, but Muslim numbers will continue to grow unless we can somehow break the memetic link between generations: break the assumption that children automatically adopt the religion of their parents.” #21: “I said that Islam is evil. I did NOT say Muslims are evil. Indeed, most of the victims of Islam are Muslims. Especially female ones.” #22: “Whenever I read an article like this, I end up shaking my head in bafflement. Why would anyone want to CONVERT to Islam? I can see why, having been born into it, you might be reluctant to leave, perhaps when you reflect on the penalty for doing to. But for a woman (especially a woman) voluntarily to JOIN such a revolting and misogynistic institution when she doesn’t have to always suggests to me massive stupidity. And then I remember our own very intelligent Layla Nasreddin / Lisa Bauer and retreat again to sheer, head-shaking bafflement.” #23: “Apologists for Islam would carry more conviction if so-called ‘community’ leaders would ever go to the police and report the culprits. That would solve, at a stroke, the problem that has been exercising posters here. ‘Community’ leaders are best placed to know what is going on on their ‘communities’. Why don’t they report the perpetrators to the police and have them jailed?” #24: “Presumably we shall hear all the usual accommodationist bleats about “Nothing to do with Islam”, and “It’s cultural, not religious” and “Islam doesn’t approve the practice”. Whether or not Islam approves the practice depends – as with the death penalty for apostasy – on which ‘scholar’ you talk to. Islamic ‘scholar’? What a joke. What a sick, oxymoronic joke. Islamic ‘scholar’! It is of course true that not all Muslims mutilate their daughters, or approve it. But I conjecture that it is true that virtually all, if not literally all, the 24,000 girls referred to come from Muslim families. And all, or virtually all those who wield the razor blade (or the broken glass or whatever it is) are devout Muslims. And above all, the reason the police turn a blind eye to this disgusting practice is that they THINK it is sanctioned by Islam, or they think it is no business of anybody outside the ‘community’, and they are TERRIFIED of being called ‘Islamophobic’ or racist.” #25: “Apologies if this has already been said here, but “Baroness” Warsi has no sensible qualifications for high office whatever. She has never won an election and never distinguished herself in any of the ways that normally lead to a peerage. All she has achieved in life is to FAIL to be elected a Member of Parliament, twice (on one occasion ignominiously bucking the swing towards her party). She was, nevertheless, elevated to the peerage and rather promptly put in the Cabinet and the Privy Council. The only reasonable explanation for her rapid elevation is tokenism. She is female, Muslim, and non-white – a bundle of three tokens in one, and therefore a precious rarity in her party. You might have suspected her lack of proper qualifications from the fatuous things she says, of which her speech in Rome is a prime example.” #26: [Quoting: “Muslim extremists have called for Aan to be beheaded but fellow atheists have rallied round, and urged him to stand by his convictions despite the pressure.”] “For one sadly short moment I thought the ‘but’ was going to be followed by ‘moderate Muslims have rallied round . . .’ Once again, where are the decent, moderate Muslims? Why do they not stand up in outrage against their co-religionists? Maybe Ayaan Hirsi Ali is right and “moderate Muslim” is something close to an oxymoron. How can they not see that, if you need to kill to protect your faith, that is a powerful indication that you have lost the argument? It is impossible to exaggerate how deeply I despise them.” #27: “There are moves afoot to introduce sharia law into Britain, Canada and various other countries. I hope it is not too “islamophobic” of me to hope that the “interpretation” of sharia favoured by our local Muslim “scholars” will be different from the “interpretation” favoured by Iranian “scholars”. Oh but of course: “That’s not my kind of Islam.”” #28: [Quoting: “Richard, I really dislike disagreeing with you. However, female genital mutilation is not really based on Islam. My wife is from Indonesia and I have asked around and none of them know of anyone who does that in their country. From all that I have read and seen, it seems like it predates Islam and is mostly found in Africa and to a lesser extent the Middle East.”] “Even if you are right (and I am not necessarily conceding the point) that FGM itself is not based on Islam, I strongly suspect that the British police turning a blind eye to it is very strongly based on Islamophobophobia – the abject terror of being thought islamophobic.” #29: “Dear Lady Warsi Is it true that the Islamic penalty for apostasy is death? Please answer the question, yes or no. I have asked many leading Muslims, often in public, and have yet to receive a straight answer. The best answer I heard was from “Sir” Iqbal Sacranie, who said “Oh well, it is seldom enforced.” Will you please stand up in the House of Lords and publicly denounce the very idea that, however seldom enforced, a religion has the right to kill those who leave it? And will you stand up and agree that, since a phobia is an irrational fear, “Islamophobic” is not an appropriate description of anybody who objects to it. And will you stand up and issue a public apology, on behalf of your gentle, peaceful religion, to Salman Rushdie? And to Theo van Gogh? And to all the women and girls who have been genitally mutilated? And to . . . I’m sure you know the list better than I do. Richard Dawkins” #30: [Quoting: “Blimey Richard! This really has got up your nose, hasn't it? Your comments are usually a great deal more measured. It's not exactly uncommon for a Minister to “rise without trace”. I think we can all agree that our political system is “sub-optimal” to put it politely. Tokensim is one possibility (though if the Tories were really just after the muslim vote its interesting that they opted for a female muslim token).”] “I didn’t mean to suggest that the Tories were after the Muslim vote. I think they know that is a lost cause. I suspect that they were trying to live down their reputation as the nasty party, the party of racists, the party of sexists, the Church of England at prayer. More particularly, the ceaseless propaganda campaign against “Islamophobia” corrupts them just as it corrupts so many others. I suspect that the Tory leadership saw an opportunity to kill two, or possibly three, birds with one stone, by elevating this woman to the House of Lords and putting her in the Cabinet. I repeat, her [baroness Sayeeda Warsi’s] qualifications for such a meteoric rise, as the youngest member of the House of Lords, are tantamount to zero. As far as I can see, her only distinction is to have stood for election to the House of Commons and lost. That’s it. Apart, of course, from being female, Muslim, and brown. Like I said, killing three birds with one stone.” #31: “Baroness Warsi has never been elected to Parliament. What are her qualifications to be in the Cabinet? Does anyone seriously think she would be in the Cabinet, or in the House of Lords, if she was not a Muslim woman? Is her elevation to high office (a meteoric rise, for she is the youngest member of the House of Lords) any more than a deplorable example of tokenism?” #32: “I too heard Paul Foot speak at the Oxford Union, and he was a mesmerising orator, even as an undergraduate. Once again, Christopher Hitchens nails it. It is the nauseating presumption of Islam that marks it out for special contempt. I remain baffled at the number of otherwise decent people who can be seduced by such an unappealing religion. I suppose it must be childhood indoctrination, but it is still hard to credit. If you imagine setting up an experiment to see how far you could go with childhood indoctrination – a challenge to see just how nasty a belief system you could instil into a human mind if you catch it early enough – it is hard to imagine succeeding with a belief system half as nasty as Islam. And yet succeed they do.” #33: “Orthodox political opinion would have it that the great majority of Muslims are good people, and there is just a small minority of extremists who give the religion a bad name. Poll evidence has long made me sceptical. Now – it is perhaps a minor point, but could it be telling? – Salman Taseer is murdered by one of his own bodyguard. If ‘moderate’ Muslims are the great majority that we are asked to credit, wouldn’t you think it should have been easy enough to find enough ‘moderate’ Muslims, in the entire state of Pakistan, to form the bodyguard of a prominent politician? Are ‘moderate’ Muslims so thin on the ground?” #34: “It is almost a cliché that people of student age often experiment with a variety of belief systems, which they subsequently, and usually quite rapidly, give up. These young people have voluntarily adopted a belief system which has the unique distinction of prescribing execution as the official penalty for leaving it. I have enormous sympathy for those people unfortunate enough to be born into Islam. It is hard to muster much sympathy for those idiotic enough to convert to it.” #35: [Quoting: “Why do any media outlets keep repeatedly inviting her [Yasmin Alibhai-Brown] (excluding more capable, intelligent, qualified guests) as if she is some kind of authority or expert on anything at all?”] “Do you really need to ask that question? Media people are petrified of being thought racist, Islamophobic or sexist. The temptation to kill three birds with one stone must be irresistible.” #36: [Quoting: “I'm surprised nobody has acknowledged the elephant in the room -- namely, multicultural appeasement of Islam. The fact that (a) the paper was accepted, and (b) it took only five days to get accepted, suggests that there's something funny going on here. Could it be that the referee of the paper was a subscriber to the popular opinion in Britain that anything associated with Muslims short of murder in broad daylight is somehow praiseworthy and something to be encouraged?”] “Yes, I’m sorry to say that is all too plausible. Perhaps the Editor decided it would be “Islamophobic” to reject it.” #37: [Quoting: “I seem to remember a very bright young muslim lad”] You mean a bright young child of muslim parents. #38: “Oh, small as it is, this is the most heartening news I have heard for a long time. What can we do to help these excellent young Pakistanis, without endangering them? If, by any chance, any of them reads this web site, please get in touch to let us know how we might help. If anybody here has friends in Pakistan, or elsewhere afflicted by the ‘religion of peace’ (it isn’t even funny any more, is it?), or facebook friends, please encourage them to join and support these brave young people.” #39: [Quoting: “The obvious question is: who cares, are we saying when it was a catholic school it was ok and a Muslim school is worse.”] “Yes. It is worse. MUCH worse” #40: [Quoting: “I was even accused of having converted and married into another religion. But I wasn't worried as I'm a true Muslim," says the feisty young woman.”] If only she were a bit more feisty she would cease to be a Muslim altogether – except that would make her an apostate, for which the Religion of Peace demands stoning. Indeed, you’ll probably find she’d be sentenced to 99 lashes just for the crime of being feisty.” #41: [Quoting: “Disgusting and hideous as this practice is, I think the article makes it quite clear that it's not limited to any one religion or community. It's common to Christians, Muslims, Hindus, yezidis and many others.”] I just did a rough count (I may have missed one or two) of the named victims Robert Fisk mentioned. As follows: Muslim 52 Hindu 3 Sikh 1 Christian 0 But of course, Islam is the religion of peace. To suggest otherwise would be racist Islamophobia.” #42: “Whatever else you may say about Sam Harris’s article quoted above, and whether or not he is right about the NY Masjid, the following two paragraphs, about Islam more generally, seem to me well worth repeating. Richard”
Sam Harris, the New Atheists, and anti-Muslim animus Glenn Greenwald guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 3 April 2013 14.56 BST Sam Harris: "We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim" Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian (updated below - Update II - Update III [Thurs.]) Two columns have been published in the past week harshly criticizing the so-called "New Atheists" such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens: this one by Nathan Lean in Salon, and this one by Murtaza Hussain in Al Jazeera. The crux of those columns is that these advocates have increasingly embraced a toxic form of anti-Muslim bigotry masquerading as rational atheism. Yesterday, I posted a tweet to Hussain's article without comment except to highlight what I called a "very revealing quote" flagged by Hussain, one in which Harris opined that "the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists." Shortly after posting the tweet, I received an angry email from Harris, who claimed that Hussain's column was "garbage", and he eventually said the same thing about Lean's column in Salon. That then led to a somewhat lengthy email exchange with Harris in which I did not attempt to defend every claim in those columns from his attacks because I didn't make those claims: the authors of those columns can defend themselves perfectly well. If Harris had problems with what those columns claim, he should go take it up with them. I do, however, absolutely agree with the general argument made in both columns that the New Atheists have flirted with and at times vigorously embraced irrational anti-Muslim animus. I repeatedly offered to post Harris' email to me and then tweet it so that anyone inclined to do so could read his response to those columns and make up their own minds. Once he requested that I do so, I posted our exchange here. Harris himself then wrote about and posted our exchange on his blog, causing a couple dozen of his followers to send me emails. I also engaged in a discussion with a few Harris defenders on Facebook. What seemed to bother them most was the accusation in Hussain's column that there is "racism" in Harris' anti-Muslim advocacy. A few of Harris' defenders were rage-filled and incoherent, but the bulk of them were cogent and reasoned, so I concluded that a more developed substantive response to Harris was warranted. Given that I had never written about Sam Harris, I found it odd that I had become the symbol of Harris-bashing for some of his faithful followers. Tweeting a link to an Al Jazeera column about Harris and saying I find one of his quotes revealing does not make me responsible for every claim in that column. I tweet literally thousands of columns and articles for people to read. I'm responsible for what I say, not for every sentence in every article to which I link on Twitter. The space constraints of Twitter have made this precept a basic convention of the medium: tweeting a link to a column or article or re-tweeting it does not mean you endorse all of it (or even any of it). That said, what I did say in my emails with Harris - and what I unequivocally affirm again now - is not that Harris is a "racist", but rather that he and others like him spout and promote Islamophobia under the guise of rational atheism. I've long believed this to be true and am glad it is finally being dragged out into open debate. These specific atheism advocates have come to acquire significant influence, often for the good. But it is past time that the darker aspects of their worldview receive attention. Whether Islamophobia is a form of "racism" is a semantic issue in which I'm not interested for purposes of this discussion. The vast majority of Muslims are non-white; as a result, when a white westerner becomes fixated on attacking their religion and advocating violence and aggression against them, as Harris has done, I understand why some people (such as Hussain) see racism at play: that, for reasons I recently articulated, is a rational view to me. But "racism" is not my claim here about Harris. Irrational anti-Muslim animus is. Contrary to the assumptions under which some Harris defenders are laboring, the fact that someone is a scientist, an intellectual, and a convincing and valuable exponent of atheism by no means precludes irrational bigotry as a driving force in their worldview. In this case, Harris' own words, as demonstrated below, are his indictment. Let's first quickly dispense with some obvious strawmen. Of course one can legitimately criticize Islam without being bigoted or racist. That's self-evident, and nobody is contesting it. And of course there are some Muslim individuals who do heinous things in the name of their religion - just like there are extremists in all religions who do awful and violent things in the name of that religion, yet receive far less attention than the bad acts of Muslims (here are some very recent examples). Yes, "honor killings" and the suppression of women by some Muslims are heinous, just as the collaboration of US and Ugandan Christians to enact laws to execute homosexuals is heinous, and just as the religious-driven, violent occupation of Palestine, attacks on gays, and suppression of women by some israeli Jews in the name of Judaism is heinous. That some Muslims commit atrocities in the name of their religion (like some people of every religion do) is also too self-evident to merit debate, but it has nothing to do with the criticisms of Harris. Nonetheless, Harris defenders such as the neoconservative David Frum want to pretend that criticisms of Harris consist of nothing more than the claim that, as Frum put it this week, "it's OK to be an atheist, so long as you omit Islam from your list of the religions to which you object." That's a wildly dishonest summary of the criticisms of Harris as well as people like Dawkins and Hitchens; absolutely nobody is arguing anything like that. Any atheist is going to be critical of the world's major religions, including Islam, and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that. The key point is that Harris does far, far more than voice criticisms of Islam as part of a general critique of religion. He has repeatedly made clear that he thinks Islam is uniquely threatening: "While the other major world religions have been fertile sources of intolerance, it is clear that the doctrine of Islam poses unique problems for the emergence of a global civilization." He has insisted that there are unique dangers from Muslims possessing nuclear weapons, as opposed to nice western Christians (the only ones to ever use them) or those kind israeli Jews: "It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of devout Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence." In his 2005 "End of Faith", he claimed that "Islam, more than any other religion human beings have devised, has all the makings of a thoroughgoing cult of death." This is not a critique of religion generally; it is a relentless effort to depict Islam as the supreme threat. Based on that view, Harris, while depicting the Iraq war as a humanitarian endeavor, has proclaimed that "we are not at war with terrorism. We are at war with Islam." He has also decreed that "this is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims, but we are absolutely at war with millions more than have any direct affiliation with Al Qaeda." "We" - the civilized peoples of the west - are at war with "millions" of Muslims, he says. Indeed, he repeatedly posits a dichotomy between "civilized" people and Muslims: "All civilized nations must unite in condemnation of a theology that now threatens to destabilize much of the earth." This isn't "quote-mining", the term evidently favored by Harris and his defenders to dismiss the use of his own words to make this case. To the contrary, I've long ago read the full context of what he has written and did so again yesterday. All the links are provided here - as they were in Hussain and Lean's columns - so everyone can see it for themselves. Yes, he criticizes Christianity, but he reserves the most intense attacks and superlative condemnations for Islam, as well as unique policy prescriptions of aggression, violence and rights abridgments aimed only at Muslims. As the atheist scholar John L Perkins wrote about Harris' 2005 anti-religion book: "Harris is particularly scathing about Islam." When criticism of religion morphs into an undue focus on Islam - particularly at the same time the western world has been engaged in a decade-long splurge of violence, aggression and human rights abuses against Muslims, justified by a sustained demonization campaign - then I find these objections to the New Atheists completely warranted. That's true of Dawkins' proclamation that " often say Islam [is the] greatest force for evil today." It's true of Hitchens' various grotesque invocations of Islam to justify violence, including advocating cluster bombs because "if they're bearing a Koran over their heart, it'll go straight through that, too". And it's true of Harris' years-long argument that Islam poses unique threats beyond what Christianity, Judaism, and the other religions of the world pose. Most important of all - to me - is the fact that Harris has used his views about Islam to justify a wide range of vile policies aimed primarily if not exclusively at Muslims, from torture ("there are extreme circumstances in which I believe that practices like 'water-boarding' may not only be ethically justifiable, but ethically necessary"); to steadfast support for israel, which he considers morally superior to its Muslim adversaries ("In their analyses of US and israeli foreign policy, liberals can be relied on to overlook the most basic moral distinctions. For instance, they ignore the fact that Muslims intentionally murder noncombatants, while we and the israelis (as a rule) seek to avoid doing so. . . . there is no question that the israelis now hold the moral high ground in their conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah"); to anti-Muslim profiling ("We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it"); to state violence ("On questions of national security, I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right. This may seem like frank acquiescence to the charge that 'liberals are soft on terrorism.' It is, and they are"). Revealingly, Harris sided with the worst Muslim-hating elements in American society by opposing the building of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero, milking the Us v. Them militaristic framework to justify his position: "The erection of a Masjid upon the ashes of this atrocity will also be viewed by many millions of Muslims as a victory — and as a sign that the liberal values of the West are synonymous with decadence and cowardice." Harris made the case against that innocuous community center by claiming - yet again - that Islam is a unique threat: "At this point in human history, Islam simply is different from other faiths." In sum, he sprinkles intellectual atheism on top of the standard neocon, right-wing worldview of Muslims. As this superb review of Harris' writings on israel, the Middle East and US militarism put it, "any review of Sam Harris and his work is a review essentially of politics": because his atheism invariably serves - explicitly so - as the justifying ground for a wide array of policies that attack, kill and otherwise suppress Muslims. That's why his praise for European fascists as being the only ones saying "sensible" things about Islam is significant: not because it means he's a European fascist, but because it's unsurprising that the bile spewed at Muslims from that faction would be appealing to Harris because he shares those sentiments both in his rhetoric and his advocated policies, albeit with a more intellectualized expression. Beyond all that, I find extremely suspect the behavior of westerners like Harris (and Hitchens and Dawkins) who spend the bulk of their time condemning the sins of other, distant peoples rather than the bulk of their time working against the sins of their own country. That's particularly true of Americans, whose government has brought more violence, aggression, suffering, misery, and degradation to the world over the last decade than any other. Even if that weren't true - and it is - spending one's time as an American fixated on the sins of others is a morally dubious act, to put that generously, for reasons Noam Chomsky explained so perfectly: "My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. "So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one's actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century." I, too, have written before about the hordes of American commentators whose favorite past-time is to lounge around pointing fingers at other nations, other governments, other populations, other religions, while spending relatively little time on their own. The reason this is particularly suspect and shoddy behavior from American commentators is that there are enormous amounts of violence and extremism and suffering which their government has unleashed and continues to unleash on the world. Indeed, much of that US violence is grounded in if not expressly justified by religion, including the aggressive attack on Iraq and steadfast support for israeli aggression (to say nothing of the role Judaism plays in the decades-long oppression by the israelis of Palestinians and all sorts of attacks on neighboring Arab and Muslim countries). Given the legion human rights violations from their own government, I find that Americans and westerners who spend the bulk of their energy on the crimes of others are usually cynically exploiting human rights concerns in service of a much different agenda. Tellingly, Harris wrote in 2004 that "we are now mired in a religious war in Iraq and elsewhere." But by this, he did not mean that the US and the west have waged an aggressive attack based at least in part on religious convictions. He meant that only Them - those Muslims over there, whose country we invaded and destroyed - were engaged in a vicious and primitive religious war. As usual, so obsessed is he with the supposed sins of Muslims that he is blinded to the far worse sins from his own government and himself: the attack on Iraq and its accompanying expressions of torture, slaughter, and the most horrific abuses imaginable. Worse, even in its early stages, Harris casually dismissed the US attack on Iraq as a "red herring"; that war, he said, was simply one in which "civilized human beings [westerners] are now attempting, at considerable cost to themselves, to improve life for the Iraqi people." Western violence and aggression is noble, civilized, and elevated; Muslim violence (even when undertaken to defend against an invasion by the west) is primitive, vicious, brutal and savage. That is the blatant double standard of one who seeks not to uphold human rights but to exploit those concepts to demonize a targeted group. Indeed, continually depicting Muslims as the supreme evil - even when compared to the west's worst monsters - is par for Harris' course, as when he inveighed: Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Cheney, they will be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies." Just ponder that. To Harris, there are "tens of millions" of Muslims "far scarier" then the US political leader who aggressively invaded and destroyed a nation of 26 million people, constructed a worldwide regime of torture, oversaw a network of secret prisons beyond the reach of human rights groups, and generally imposed on the world his "Dark Side". That is the Harris worldview: obsessed with bad acts of foreign Muslims, almost entirely blind to - if not supportive of - the far worse acts of westerners like himself. Or consider this disgusting passage: "The outrage that Muslims feel over US and British foreign policy is primarily the product of theological concerns. Devout Muslims consider it a sacrilege for infidels to depose a Muslim tyrant and occupy Muslim lands — no matter how well intentioned the infidels or malevolent the tyrant. Because of what they believe about God and the afterlife and the divine provenance of the Koran, devout Muslims tend to reflexively side with other Muslims, no matter how sociopathic their behavior." Right: can you believe those primitive, irrational Muslims get angry when their countries are invaded, bombed and occupied and have dictators imposed on them rather than exuding gratitude toward the superior civilized people who do all that - all because of their weird, inscrutable religion that makes them dislike things such as foreign invasions, bombing campaigns and externally-imposed tyrants? And did you know that only Muslims - but not rational westerners like Harris - "reflexively side" with their own kind? This, from the same person who hails the Iraq war as something that should produce gratitude from the invaded population toward the "civilized human beings" - people like him - who invaded and destroyed their country. Theodore Sayeed noted the glaring irony pervading the bulk of Harris's political writing: "For a man who likes to badger Muslims about their 'reflexive solidarity' with Arab suffering, Harris seems keen to display his own tribal affections for the Jewish state. The virtue of israel and the wickedness of her enemies are recurring themes in his work." Indeed. And the same is true of the US and the West generally. Harris' self-loving mentality amounts to this: those primitive Muslims are so tribal for reflexively siding with their own kind, while I constantly tout the superiority of my own side and justify what We do against Them. How anyone can read any of these passages and object to claims that Harris' worldview is grounded in deep anti-Muslim animus is staggering. He is at least as tribal, jingoistic, and provincial as those he condemns for those human failings, as he constantly hails the nobility of his side while demeaning those Others. Perhaps the most repellent claim Harris made to me was that Islamophobia is fictitious and non-existent, "a term of propaganda designed to protect Islam from the forces of secularism by conflating all criticism of it with racism and xenophobia". How anyone can observe post-9/11 political discourse in the west and believe this is truly mystifying. The meaning of "Islamophobia" is every bit as clear as "anti-semitism" or "racism" or "sexism" and all sorts of familiar, related concepts. It signifies (1) irrational condemnations of all members of a group or the group itself based on the bad acts of specific individuals in that group; (2) a disproportionate fixation on that group for sins committed at least to an equal extent by many other groups, especially one's own; and/or (3) sweeping claims about the members of that group unjustified by their actual individual acts and beliefs. I believe all of those definitions fit Harris quite well, as evinced by this absurd and noxious overgeneralization from Harris: The only future devout Muslims can envisage — as Muslims — is one in which all infidels have been converted to Islam, politically subjugated, or killed." That is utter garbage: and dangerous garbage at that. It is no more justifiable than saying that the only future which religious Jews - as Jews - can envision is one in which non-Jews live in complete slavery and subjugation: a claim often made by anti-semites based on highly selective passages from the Talmud. It is the same tactic that says Christians - as Christians - can only envisage the extreme subjugation of women and violence against non-believers based not only on the conduct of some Christians but on selective passages from the Bible. Few would have difficultly understanding why such claims about Jews and Christians are intellectually bankrupt and menacing. Worse still, these claims from Harris about how Muslims think are simply factually false. An AFP report on a massive 2008 Gallup survey of the Muslim world simply destroyed most of Harris' ugly generalizations about the beliefs of Muslims: "A huge survey of the world's Muslims released Tuesday challenges Western notions that equate Islam with radicalism and violence. . . . It shows that the overwhelming majority of Muslims condemned the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001 and other subsequent terrorist attacks, the authors of the study said in Washington. . . . "About 93 percent of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are moderates and only seven percent are politically radical, according to the poll, based on more than 50,000 interviews. . . . "Meanwhile, radical Muslims gave political, not religious, reasons for condoning the attacks, the poll showed. . . . "But the poll, which gives ordinary Muslims a voice in the global debate that they have been drawn into by 9/11, showed that most Muslims -- including radicals -- admire the West for its democracy, freedoms and technological prowess. "What they do not want is to have Western ways forced on them, it said." Indeed, even a Pentagon-commissioned study back in 2004 - hardly a bastion of PC liberalism - obliterated Harris' self-justifying stereotype that anti-American sentiment among Muslims is religious and tribal rather than political and rational. That study concluded that "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies": specifically "American direct intervention in the Muslim world" — through the US's "one sided support in favor of israel"; support for Islamic tyrannies in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and, most of all, "the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan". As I noted before, a long-time British journalist friend of mine wrote to me shortly before I began writing at the Guardian to warn me of a particular strain plaguing the British liberal intellectual class; he wrote: "nothing delights British former lefties more than an opportunity to defend power while pretending it is a brave stance in defence of a left liberal principle." That - "defending power while pretending it is a brave stance in defence of a left liberal principle" - is precisely what describes the political work of Harris and friends. It fuels the sustained anti-Muslim demonization campaign of the west and justifies (often explicitly) the policies of violence, militarism, and suppression aimed at them. It's not as vulgar as the rantings of Pam Geller or as crude as the bloodthirsty theories of Alan Dershowitz, but it's coming from a similar place and advancing the same cause. I welcome, and value, aggressive critiques of faith and religion, including from Sam Harris and some of these others New Atheists whose views I'm criticizing here. But many terms can be used to accurately describe the practice of depicting Islam and Muslims as the supreme threat to all that is good in the world. "Rational", "intellectual" and "well-intentioned" are most definitely not among them. UPDATE Sam Harris in 2005: "I am one of the few people I know of who has argued in print that torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror." Sam Harris in 2012: "We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it." Sam Harris in 2005: "In our dealings with the Muslim world, we must acknowledge that Muslims have not found anything of substance to say against the actions of the September 11 hijackers, apart from the ubiquitous canard that they were really Jews." (Harris' own ugly canard would come as news to CAIR, the leading Muslim advocacy group, as well as most of the world's Muslims). By themselves, those statements - fully in context - negate 90% of the comments from Harris defenders. If you're going to defend him, do remember to defend these. One last point: I absolutely do not believe that Harris - or, for that matter, Hitchens - is representative of all or even most atheists in this regard. The vast majority of atheists I know find such sentiments repellent. They are representative only of themselves and those who share these views, not atheists generally. UPDATE II Several commenters and emailers object to the inclusion of Dawkins with Hitchens and (especially) Harris on this issue. Both the above-cited Salon and Al Jazeera columns (particularly the former) contain several quotes with links from Dawkins, including his recent decree that he "often" says that Islam is the "greatest force for evil today". Those statements seem clear and incriminating. Nonetheless, my focus here is on Harris, and I haven't conducted the type of comprehensive examination of Dawkins' writing as I have of Harris', so whether Dawkins belongs in this group to the same extent that Harris does is something that is worthy of further debate. One sentence was edited to reflect the debatability of Dawkins' inclusion. UPDATE III [Thurs.] As a follow-up to all of this, here are a few related items. First, here is Noam Chomsky in late 2011 - in the first two minutes of the video - explaining how Harris and Hitchens exploit atheism to justify US militarism and convert it into little more than another religion: And here is Chomsky in 2008 elaborating further on Harris and company