I must admit I am absolutely puzzled by the unabashed support for Islam among the politically left leaning figures in the US, personified perhaps by none more flagrantly than the notorious Noam Chomsky (well, with a few notable examples, such as Bill Maher). The reason I am so surprised is that Islam, by its very definition (“submission”), stands tall against everything liberal: gay rights, equality for women, freedom of expression, you name it. My guess is that they see Muslims as a persecuted minority, and themselves as defenders of victims of persecution. Which, by way, lasts only as long as they do not become a large minority, with houses of worship (automatically) bankrolled by the Saudis: look at what is happening today in the UK.
Anyways, the left leaning outlets have finally discovered the perfect bogeyman, in whose name they can protect Islam from scrutiny and accountability: Richard Dawkins. And since he opened his mouth on Islam, they can’t get enough of pounding him. Such is the power of political correctness.
Let’s look at a couple of recent examples.
On Islam and Science, Dawkins is told by Salon, he needs to shut up because he is a know-nothing:
In my own religious tradition, Islam, there is a vibrant history of religion and science not just co-existing but informing one another intimately. Astrophysicists, chemists, biologists, alchemists, surgeons, psychologists, geographers, logicians, mathematicians– amongst so many others – would often function as theologians, saints, spiritual masters, jurists and poets as much as they would as scientists. Indeed, a quick survey of some of the most well known Muslim intellectuals of the past 1,400 years illustrates their masterful polymathy, their ability to reach across fields of expertise without blinking at any supposed “dissonance.”
Yes, that is the truth-but not the whole truth, and the author should know better. Even Dawkins, as he excoriated the Islamic world for its scientific backwardness, admitted that there was such a thing as Islamic golden age of science-only it ended, not because of a plague or foreign invasion, but due to dominance of fundamentalist ideologies in the Islamic world itself. A shift that is yet to be renounced, or even recognized; the scholarly work on this subject is (shamefully) done mostly by Western historians. It is not a subject that Muslim are ready to discuss openly, as evidenced by the article itself. But she is only starting.
I would like to also believe, however, that the conversation on belief and disbelief can move beyond the Dawkinsean vitriol that disguises bigotry as a self-righteous claim to the sanctity of science; a claim that makes science the proudly held property of the Euro-American civilization and experience.
Hoisted into popular culture by the Holy Trinity of Dawkins-Hitchens-Harris, New Atheism mirrors the very religious zealotry it claims is at the root of so much moral, political and social decay. In particular, these authors and their posse of followers have – as Nathan Lean characterized it in this publication back in March of last year – taken a particular penchant for “flirting with Islamophobia.” Instead of engaging with Islamic theology, New Atheists – the most prominent figurehead being Richard Dawkins – are more interested in ridiculing Muslims and Islam by employing the use of the same tired, racist talking points and images that situate Muslims in need of ‘enlightenment’ – or, salvation.
Well I, for one, won’t “flirt” with “Islamophobia”-I openly embrace it, as I see it as defending the truth in the face of political correctness. And the paragraph closes, as it happens, with the same tired, bigoted language that is used by the Islamic world to justify flagrant abuses of religious minority rights, which extends to minority scientists, and they never own up to as one of the reasons for their underachieving status. And the litany of nastiness against Dawkins et al, as it happens, is the usual veneer for shrugging off responsibility for a retrogression that has many causes-but almost all of them are to some extent tied to religious doctrine.
Now, let’s shift gears (or not) and see how naughty Alernet thinks Dawkins is, for being unkind to Islam:
Despite claims by David Silverman, president of the 501(c4) political lobby group American Atheists, atheism does not earn an atheist the title of freethinker. With very few exceptions, movement atheists are not. They’re parrots. Don’t believe me? Ask an atheist to opine on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and he or she will invariably wax lyrical about religious motivated violence, Islamic extremism and suicide bombers. In other words, expect a recital from atheist luminaries Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens.
Wow, really? Well Hitchens may no longer be with us, but his video recordings still are, and as I remember, when “eulogizing” Jerry Falwell, he had some not-so-pleasant words for Israeli settlers, accusing them of stealing the land of Palestinians:
But here, it begins to sound really entertaining.
No doubt, Harris (neuroscience) and Dawkins (evolutionary biology) are leaders in their respective fields. What they’re not is experts on terrorism and the Middle East. So movement atheism needs to stop pretending like they are, because the words of Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens serve only to make movement atheists sound like neo-conservatives, Zionists and the Christian Right, which ultimately makes seeking peace even harder to attain.
Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, found that almost without exception, suicide bombers are members of communities that feel humiliated by an occupying force. In fact, of all suicide bombing campaigns, 95 percent were carried out with the objective of driving out an occupying power. This was true in Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Chechnya, Kashmir, as well as Israel and the Palestinian territories. That 17 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis seems to underscore Pape’s findings.
U.S. military bases in the Holy Land and our unwillingness to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian crisis in an even-handed manner has fueled most (all) of the Islamic world’s hatred toward the West.
The author may want to ask himself, are either one of the elements he is talking about without a religious undertone? For example, there are US forces are around the world (likely an unwise policy) but, their presence in Saudi Arabia, where, unlike he’d have you believe, they are not an occupying force is maddening some Islamists to the point of suicide bombing because-filthy infidels shouldn’t be anywhere near Islamic holy sites, he seems to admit? Let’s ask, for example, while Japan suffered mass civilian casualties during WWII as a result of nuclear bombardment by US, why hasn’t the presence of US forces on Okinawa become such a flash point? It is due to Islamic ideology, isn’t it?
He then goes on to describe the hardships of Gaza Palestinians (with no mention whatsoever, that some responsibility for this may lie at the doorstep of their Hamas rulers, Islamists who have openly vowed to destroy Israel, and are getting cut loose by the Islamist regime of Iran only now because they are not toeing the line like they are expected).
Well, now, wrongheaded as US foreign policy might be, does the author wonder how it leads to the US gets struck by Muslims from regions where we have had no involvement, say, Chechnya? Could it be because Islam, is, well, unimaginably tribalistic and divisive, with oft -repeated quotes from the prophet such as “Muslims are but one body (“Ummah”)” by jihadis to shore up the statement that “if you attack one Muslim, you have attacked us all”, or Koranic proclamations like, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves” (48:29)?
I have written on this topic previously: I don’t endorse US foreign policy in all its instances. Yet, as documented by (yet again, the late Hitchens), the Nixon administrations policies were, quite literally, disastrous everywhere; whether it was Vietnam, Cambodia, East Timor or Chile, that administration would turn gold into dirt. And yet, none of that ever lead to a 9/11 or Boston Marathon style attack against the US. Could it be because…those with grievances were not the followers of Islamic ideology?
My suggestion to leftist websites would be to try to learn a bit about the subject before, laughably, accusing Dawkins et al of ignorance. For starters, they may want to check what New Atheists have actually said (like, Dawkins “Early Muslims kept the greek hellenistic science ali alive, while the west was in the dark age,and was ground breaking in some things” or Hitchens “Jerry Fawell encouraged settlers to steal the land of others”) rather what they think was said.