• An open letter about why I’m on the Dawkins/Harris side

    Dear Indelible Stamp.

    I don’t know whether you’ll see this, and if you do read it, you probably will not be convinced.  So, now that we understand each other, can I ask you to read this through to the end?

    I think your piece is important, because it illustrates something important – a deep division in the ranks of the atheist movement that can be honestly discussed.  We see this division differently.  You see it as the divide between those of us who view Dawkins, Harris etc. as infallible, and want to turn a blind eye to patriarchy and sexism in the movement.  I see it it another way.  I see it as – well, you’ll see.

    Let’s look over the last month or so.  During that time we have seen the systematic ‘grooming’ for rape and exploitation of fourteen hundred girls in Rotherham.  We have also seen jihadis swarm from all over the West to help held chained women to open slave markets in the newborn Caliphate.  Some twenty five thousand Yazidi girls have been taken for this slavery to date.

    And what is your side of the divide upset about?  Why, that Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have occasionally said mean things.  Sam Harris in a botched joke, Richard Dawkins on twitter.

    I’m not even going to bother defending those comment.  Let me just draw your attention to the way this is being argued.  The argument is:

    “Sam Harris/Richard Dawkins said something sexist. Therefore, he is a sexist person, terrible, irredeemable and we are better of without him!”

    Okay.  So, someone once says something bad and he is irredeemably evil.  Got it.  But have you asked yourself what this standard would mean applied to your colleagues?

    Let’s take Taslima Nazrin:

    Is Sam Harris sad because Jews population is much less than Muslim population? I am sure he knows the reasons why Muslims are more in number than Jews. If they are more, does not mean they are powerful. You have money and weapons, you are much more powerful than them.

    It doesn’t matter that there are only a handful of Jews in the world, they are immensely powerful and rich and control things – wait a second, isn’t that antisemitism?  What are you doing sharing a platform with an antisemite?

    Or what about Maryam Namazie?  She’s an avowed Communist, a defender of a totalitarian movement that killed more people than any other one in history, excluding perhaps Islam, one that enslaved a third of mankind.

    So, if you are going to apply this standard of yours, it doesn’t look like there will be that much of a movement left.

    But, you might say, sexism is just so much worse than antisemitism or totalitarianism.  Sexism has historically produced way worse crimes than antisemitism or totalitarianism.

    Okay, let’s say you just care about sexism.  I’m sorry to break this to you, but I’m afraid you will not find your friends that… consistentHere’s Myers defending Bill Clinton.

    What exactly is Mr Super White Knight doing defending a man who kept a government staff on hand to defame and bully women he had used and discarded, against whom there were no less than three credible rape accusations, of three women who described the exact same modus operandi despite not knowing each other?  Odd, don’t you think?

    You see, that’s the real division here.  It’s between those who want atheism and skepticism to be the chastened, modest handmaiden to every third rate, shopworn bromide of US left liberalism… and those of us who actually want to get shit done.

    Your colleague carelessly admits this:

    So most atheists being mainly American, think that the big issue today is the reduction of women’s rights.  And indeed to the MAJORITY of my readers, the big issue is the loss of abortion rights in parts of the USA

    Notice, please, that this is phrased in the most chauvinist and isolationist way.  “It’s not in the the US so it does not matter”.  Well, I’m not in the US.  I’m in Europe where we clash with the jihad daily, and my friends and comrades are spread throughout the developing world, and face it on the front line.  Sorry, I care way more about the jihadists from Somalia attacking Kenya than I will ever give a damn about these excitable twitter types.  Or to phrase it bluntly: You turn your back on me and mine?  Very well, I turn my back on you.

    Which brings me back to Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sabatina James, Nonie Darwish, Ann Marie Waters etc. – the ones on my side of this great divide.  My response to your criticism is – please get real.  Perfect consistency is a fool’s errand.  Every great struggle of emancipation has had questionable involvement – Qadaffi and Castro were fast friends of Mandela and I do not think that this discredits the anti-Apartheid struggle.  Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are on the frontlines, actually making inroads and achieving things.  All your colleagues seem to do in response is whine about ‘orientalist stereotypes‘.

    This is why I chose Namazie and Nasrin as my examples above.  It’s not that I have a beef against them – I respect them, and would defend Namazie if she were under attack, and I’d be disgraced otherwise.

    Let me in fact broaden this: the biggest rolling back of Islamic Imperialism in civil society I can think of, was Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant destroying the idiotic ‘Section 13’ in Canada in response to the challenge by the Supreme Islamic Council of Canada.  Yes, yes, yes, they are right wing haters and whatever.  Still, it is thanks only to them that if you can complain and not be in legal trouble if, say, are upset about segregated prayer in Canadian public schools, and more upset about having menstruating girls segregated out as being unclean.

    So, there’s your divide and there’s your choice:  You can either get real, join with those of us who are trying to actual change things, or you can nurture your feeling of perfect, and impotent, purity.

    Just do me one favor: if you choose the latter, stay the hell out of our way.



    The Prussian




    Category: atheismIslamJihadSkepticismWomen's Rights

    Article by: The Prussian

    3 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

    • Kira Des

      Very well written. I could say so much about this issue.. but let this be sufficient for now. I am sick of the ‘progressive’ double standards.

    • Jack Rawlinson

      I don’t always agree with you politically, but on this I’m in total accord. Nice piece.

    • Clare45

      Very well put. I am on your side of the “great divide”.

    • kinem

      Excusing misbehavior on the grounds that the people involved also do useful work is what the Catholic Church does with its priests. Atheists and skeptics should do better. In particular, Michael Shermer should not be welcome at conferences given the now high probability that he’s a rapist and the certainty that he’s often behaved in inappropriate ways.

      The way I see it, SJWs (or SJ piranhas might be a better term) are kind of like ISIS. They go way too far, but the Sunnis in Iraq (and women and minorities in other places) _do_ have real grievances that need to be addressed. This _should have_ been done anyway, but now it _must_ be done to stop the extremists and drain their support.

      What we should aim for is a kind of social optimization. Justice is not a realistic goal and it is too suggestive of everybody being the same.

      • Shatterface

        Excusing misbehavior on the grounds that the people involved also do useful work is what the Catholic Church does with its priests.

        Don’t you get the difference between badly chosen words and paedophilia?

        Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you?

      • ThePrussian

        In the first case, we are not talking about mass child rape. In the second case, as I have gone over time and time again, there isn’t even the shadow of a case against Shermer. In the third, and most important, case… may I then assume that you were opposed to the war against fascism, the cold war, the struggle against apartheid, the Civil Rights movement etc.?

        • kinem

          Prussian, we are talking about rape by Shermer, even though not child rape. That it probably happened has been documented elsewhere, as you should know. I admit I haven’t read your take on the recent developments, perhaps because I rarely read your posts as they usually suck, or perhaps because you haven’t followed recent developments. One of your posts on the subject is in the popular list above, but it’s from last year.

          I am curious though about your ‘third case’. By what ‘logic’ do you come to the conclusion that I would have been opposed to the things you listed?

          • ThePrussian

            None – none – of those causes were fought by perfect angels, but instead by men who fell far, far shorter of your standards than Dawkins and Harris do.

            • kinem

              Were those men given carte blanche to do whatever lesser wrongs they wanted as long as they fight the good fight? Should they have been? Those on the other side of all those fights believed that that was exactly what was going on on their side – lesser wrongs were OK so they can build communism, etc. Sins of the priest are forgiven as long as he makes converts. It’s the sort of thing we need to overcome.

            • ThePrussian

              Hmmmm…. Hmmm… Go try and make the argument that the civil rights movement would have been better off without Dr King because he was a plagiarist, an adulterer, and allied with communists. Go on, just _try_

    • kraut2

      “a defender of a totalitarian movement”

      Sorry prussian – the communist movement itself was crushed in China and Russia.
      The marxist theory was being tried to implement in countries coming from feudalism.
      Marx idea always was that communism is necessary to establish a economic and political democracy at the point where the capitalist economy and the political rule becomes “deckungsgleich”, where capitalist economy is the rule of the land, and bourgeois democracy ceases to exist, an example of this happening in the US at this time, the US additionally to its internal problems being in the throws of defending an empire that becomes more costly by the day, in the process sowing anarchy and chaos.

      • Shatterface

        Marx believed in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

        He was an authoritarian himself and The Communist Manifesto advocates State control of the media and transportation, hence the freedom to speak or assemble.

        He was also an anti-Semite, a misogynist and a homophobe.

    • Graham Martin-Royle

      ” So most Atheists being mainly American ”

      What a ridiculous statement. I’m afraid that far too many people in the atheist camp not only have this attitude, that only the USA counts, they also forget the vast multitude of people who don’t have English as a first language and therefore don’t frequent the same sites. Anyone who thinks in this way really needs to get out more.

      • Shatterface

        Ophelia Benson accused Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland or ‘xenophobia’ last week for criticising the US dominance of organised atheism.

        The pursuit of victimhood has reached the point where Uncle Sam is apparently being ‘bullied’ by the Irish.

    • NoCrossNoCrescent

      Indeed those demanding Dawkins and Harris be reprimanded for their gaffes and disowned by atheists, regardless of their fabulous job exposing the ugly way religions (Islam in particular) treat women, may be well served to remember most historical figures we owe much to today would have failed such purity tests. Jefferson and Madison, without whom the first amendment wouldn’t exist, both had slaves; even Ulysses Grant, the man who defeated slavery, himself had used slavery at one point in his life. And while for some, “gotcha” moments against Dawkins or Harris maybe their high point in fighting for gender equality, I’d rather talk about the (all but forgotten) abducted Nigerian girls, or the black market of Syrian girls ran by devout Saudi Muslims.

      • ThePrussian

        Could not agree more!

      • kinem

        It looks to me like you guys are just as tribal as the SJWs, and like them willing to ignore wrongdoing on ‘your side’ in the name of progress. If so, you should realize that it tends to lead to abuses.

        • Shatterface

          Get a fucking sense of perspective.

          A few badly phrased comments from Dawkins or Harris, parsed in the most wilfully dishonest way possible by Myers, Benson and their Twitter baboons should not be taking up half the blogosphere.

        • NoCrossNoCrescent

          Lol, my “side”! If you had a clue how many times I have had open disagreements with other SIN bloggers, even with Prussian! I don’t go with labels, I speak my mind. It is coincidental to me if anyone happens to like it or not.

          • kinem

            Way to miss the point, NCNC. You see Dawkins and Harris as being on your side, and this is about defending them.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              Nope, sorry. It is not about “taking sides”. It is about the fact that the shitstorm raised about their (wise or unwise) words is downright frivolous and hyped up by those who, as it turns out, don’t care all so much about the plight of women beyond their own immediate neighborhood. I somehow doubt they would be so hung up in Dawkins’ “misogyny” if the had female relatives in the middle east.

            • kinem

              You might want to read the title of the blog post.

              The problems with what Dawkins and Harris are said, especially given the context of defending the actual rapist Shermer, are by no means frivolous. The claim that talking about it distracts from the more important fight against abuses abroad is laughable.

              It is true enough that the issue has been seized on by those who wish to use it to advance their own agendas, but that’s no excuse for ignoring it. Saying ‘the usual enemy is attacking my friends about this so I’ll defend them on this matter … even though my friends did the wrong thing’ is tribalism and leads to defending abuses.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              Look, I did not write the title, OK? Those would not necessarily be my words. As for ‘saying the usual enemy blah blah blah’…those are not mine, either. Yes, the firestorm is frivolous, and no, I don’t care who is stoking it. You are just repeating a straw man fallacy. Did you ever yourself if I am so much about taking sides, then why am I in agreement here with Prussian (albeit not necessarily his choice of words for the post title) with whom I have sharply disagreed in the past? Or should I give you some links to see the back and forth between me and him?

            • ThePrussian

              I, on the other hand, did write title and I’m sticking with it. I’d be interested to see if kinem bothers to reply to my point below, or if he just dodges it.

            • kinem

              OK, maybe you are not the victim of motivated reasoning – which can distort the beliefs of just about anyone – in the way I thought. But if not, you would have to just be stupid to think that holding Dawkins and Harris responsible for what they say would detract from the fight against Islamic extremism. I was giving you the benefit of the doubt.

            • ThePrussian

              “motivated reasoning” huh? If you read nothing else on this site, read my post “How to argue LIKE STALIN”

              People like you want to throw Harris & Dawkins under the bus. Well, sorry, but I’m not – not least because people like you typically have nothing to say about the crap pulled by, e.g., Myers etc.

    • This I don’t understand: Why are you addressing trolls like they’re rational people? You know better than that…

    • alfanerd

      Sam Harris: “”some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them”

      Hmm, that seems like a dangerous proposition doesnt it?

      Sam Harris is a fanatical idiot.
      Myers and his brand of atheists are fanatical idiots too.
      Many muslims, christians, jews, hindus, whatever, are also fanatical idiots.

      Somehow, somewhere, prominent atheists became the fanatical dogmatic violent retards they claim religious people to be.

      It seems to me the problem is not whether somebody believes in god or not, but whether somebody is a fanatical idiot willing to kill for his beliefs or lack thereof.

      • NoCrossNoCrescent

        Except if you don’t tout believe in god then you can’t justify your idiocy in the name of the creator of the universe. Quite a difference don’t you think?
        As for the Harris quote. Source please?

        • alfanerd

          Unfortunately, men have shown themselves capable of justifying their idiocy in the name of whatever is fashionable at the time. Sam Harris seems quite capable of justifying his idiocy in the name of no God at all. The Cheka was quite capable of justifying the killing of millions to achieve an atheist utopia.

          There are plenty of perfectly peaceful and tolerant religious people, as well as peaceful and tolerant atheists. The problem is not with atheism or religion, but with fanaticism in atheism or religion. The notion that atheists are somehow free from the problems of fanatics is completely falsified by the historical record.

          As for the source, that comes from pages 52 and 53 of The End of Faith. Here is a link where Sam Harris tries to explain away his call to murder. The pathetic attempt to what’s that word again, oh yes, JUSTIFY murder because he says there is a link between beliefs and behavior is a fine example that, yes, even atheists manage to justify their idiocies, even if its not in the name of the creator of the universe.

          Obviously, I want al-Zawahiri dead too (is he now? I forget). Not because he’s religious, but because he’s a threat. If atheists became as threatening as al-Qaeda, like they did in the early days of the USSR, I would want them killed too. Harris’ error is not to want al-Zawahiri dead, it’s to lay the blame at religion instead of fanaticism.

          At the end of the day, it doesnt matter whether the axe is held by a christian, a muslim, or a perfectly reasonable, totally non-supersititious, atheist.

          • ThePrussian

            A simple experiment my friend. Please make a video of yourself, face clearly visible, burning a copy of the Koran and of The End of Faith. Upload it to youtube. Let us know how it goes.

            And as to the Sam Harris quote: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/on-the-mechanics-of-defamation

            • alfanerd

              I could also post myself burning a copy of the Bible. I would probably get awards from NY artsy-types for my “courageous transgression”.

              Or I could post myself burning copies of the Torah, after which I’d get arrested for anti-semitic hate crimes and sent to sensitivity training.

              Or I could post myself burning copies of whatever scriptures Hindus have, is it the R’g Vedah? Im not sure if that’s holy. But I would hardly get noticed.

              Anyways, the whole Koran-burning thing has been done and it turns out the greater threat is from secular authorities throwing up trumped up charges.

              My point remains: the problem is not religion but fanaticism. Islam happens to be followed by a large number of fanatics. In other times and places, atheists fanatically murdered people – not for burning a holy book but for merely owning one. It’s just too easy to point to atheists behaving badly.

              Atheists are not immune to being fanatical murderers. Any belief systems can be used to justify atrocities. There’s nothing wrong with being atheist, that’s more or less where I lean myself, but it is laughably false to suggest that atheists cannot become fanatical and dangerous themselves. Sam Harris’s call to murder people who hold dangerous beliefs is a case in point.

            • ThePrussian

              Then follow up on your bluff.

            • alfanerd

              I havent bluffed about anything. Burning a copy of the Koran is obviously dangerous. Somehow that doesnt generalize across all religions.

              Congratulations on your repudiation of the “we tolerate the rape of white girls by muslims” brand of atheism. You are a moral giant of our times (sadly, with the likes of PZ Myers about, there is less sarcasm in that than there should be).

              Harris was playing the motte and bailey with that quote:
              -motte: look at the context! I phrased it awkwardly. I obviously didnt mean it. I meant that we should be able to kill al-qaeda…
              -bailey: we militant atheists get to judge which beliefs get you killed

              It is not controversial at all to suggest that members of al-qaeda should be killed. It is not because of their beliefs that they should be killed, it is because of the threat they pose. Phrasing it the way he did, in a book attacking religious belief generally, was deliberate and was meant to convey more than “we should kill al-qaeda”.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              Maybe this guy should not have been killed either? He didn’t guillotine anyone, he just wrote articles on why more and more needed to be guillotined.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              So would you say that National Socialism was also wrongly blamed for the Holocaust? There were millions of Nazis and Nazi sympathizers in Germany. Most didn’t kill anyone.

            • alfanerd

              No, not at all.

              What Im claiming is that whether one is atheist or religious, one is not immune to fanaticism. The historical record bears that out.

              Religions have been the fuel of many wars and the inspiration for plenty of fanatical nutcases. And so has a militant form of atheism. Sorry that the world is not so black and white that religion=bad and atheism=good.

              If somebody poses a threat, they should be dispatched. If they merely hold beliefs without posing a threat, they should not.

              People will invariably hold opposing beliefs. It’s the capacity to deal with those peacefully which is the mark of civilization. What is the point of atheism if you have to kill every religious person to achieve peace? You’d become a bigger monster than religion ever was.

              ISIS and al-Qaeda pose threats. They should be dealt with with overwhelming force. The parking attendant down the block who reads his koran in his little booth does not pose the same threat. He might be in a sleeper cell for all we know, or he might merely think that Im an infidel who will be tormented for all eternity in the afterlife, but until he poses a threat, to kill him based on his koran-reading makes us the fanatical murderer.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              Yeah, please keep repeating your straw man claims. Let me know when you find the Harris quote about the parking attendant.

            • alfanerd

              Harris wants people killed for beliefs. The context is a book called “The End of Faith”. The parking attendant may have beliefs which are deemed dangerous, who knows?

              Im sure you would be as blasé if someone wrote that “certain atheist beliefs merit a death sentence” in a book called “The End of Atheism”

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              Precisely, how do you know? You don’t. But in the case of Anwar Al Awlaki we did know, and he deserved the end he met.

          • NoCrossNoCrescent

            Harris has been horribly misquoted.

            But of course the blame should be placed on religion-that is Zawahiri’s religion, a particular reading of Islam. He is a fanatic, no doubt, but how did you decide the two are mutually exclusive? What you are proposing is a non sequitur.
            Now, since Harris is such a terrible person, mind telling me, was it a terrible miscarriage of justice on the part of the Nuremberg tribunal to kill Julius Streicher? He hadn’t killed anyone, he was “merely”a propagandist for an ideology that had left millions dead.

            • alfanerd

              That quote is taken verbatim from his book.

              Religion and fanaticism are plainly not mutually exclusive. My point is that atheism and fanaticism are also not mutually exclusive.

              Im not familiar with Streicher. Should we murder anybody who is a communist also? Communism has the biggest death toll of all.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              “The quote” is a misrepresentation in that you are applying your own interpretation to it. Harris has never said “everyone who believes in Islam”. He says ” certain ideas”. And there is plenty of precedent for that in international law. Again, look up Streicher.

            • alfanerd

              Yeah im applying my own interpretation to it. The phrase is some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them. Not distributing, propagandizing, not acting on, no for believing. In a book called The End of Faith.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              Fine. Then tell me how you concluded by “certain propositions” he meant “Islam” generically, rather than something like “all Jews should be mowed down”, a la Streicher.

            • alfanerd

              Harris was the one who was vague about ghe kind of beliefs that, in his view, should get you killed. Odd that.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              Yeah, even more odd that it didn’t stop you from making your own interpretation to demonize him.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              Incidentally if they don’t propagandize them (or in cases that have a legal precedent, incite violence) how the heck do you know they hold those views to begin with?

            • alfanerd

              Attending certain meetings, reading certain books, keeping certain company, not being sufficiently deferential to communists…

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              And does Harris advocate any of this? Does he ever suggest trying to discover people’s private views McCarthy style? If he doesn’t I don’t see how what he says can be taken to mean going by anything rather than their own words.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              But then-you decided that he must have meant to start an inquisition to find out what they believe, without them ever having been public about it. You take plenty of liberties, don’t you?

            • alfanerd

              Yeah, some guy says people should be killed for their beliefs, and Im the asshole for not resolving all the ambiguities he left in his favor. Thanks for the lolz.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              Well but when does try to resolve the ambiguities you simply accuse him of “a lame attempt” to get away with itit (like you already have).

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              And also to say “atheism and fanaticism are not mutually exclusive” is a straw man fallacy. No one claimed otherwise. On the other hand-did Stalin ever claimed not believing in God was the reason he was killing people? Al Zawahiri has repeatedly explained his motives and they are based on what you and I may consider fanatical religion, but from his own perspective, his religion period.

            • alfanerd

              Stalin certainly saw religion as an obstacle to achieving communist utopia. He persecuted the religious because they were religious.

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              Excuse me, it was a clear question that you ducked. Did he name lack of belief as his motive-once? I didn’t think so, because he killed countless communists too.

      • NoCrossNoCrescent

        The white supremacist website storm front calls Julius Streicher a “martyr”, because ” he was killed for his ideas. Do you agree with them?

        • alfanerd

          I dont know Streicher, but Im still going to go with “no, I suspect I would not agree with Stormfront”.

          • NoCrossNoCrescent

            Do us both a little favor and read up, OK? Because if you categorically disagree with Harris on some ideas being dangerous enough to warrant death-I’d love to hear on what basis you disagree with Storm front.

            • alfanerd

              Harris said people should be killed for believing ideas. In a book called “The End of Faith”.

              Did Streicher merely believe ideas or did he propagandize?

            • NoCrossNoCrescent

              Have you been reading what I wrote? If someone doesn’t freaking propagandize his views you have no way of knowing them. Unless you are now accusing Harris of trying to start an inquisition to discover people’s private beliefs, you cannot conclude what Harris wants is anything other than what has plenty of precedents, ie, cracking down on incitement of violence.

      • NoCrossNoCrescent

        As far as I can tell, even if Harris came out tomorrow and said explicitly all he meant was Julius Streicher and Jean Paul Marat, you’d still accuse him of a lame attempt to get away with hate speech. But I am the one seeing the world in black and white! Lol.

      • NoCrossNoCrescent
    • MikeNov

      Isn’t this how that South Park episode got started?

    • B-Lar

      “Okay. So, someone once says something bad and he is irredeemably evil. Got it.”

      If this is your premise, that SJW’s actually think this, then you are an even less intellectually sophisticated moron than I had previously given you credit for.

      • ThePrussian

        Deep thinking, to be sure. I thought we had finally seen the back of you

        • B-Lar

          I don’t know what would give you that impression. I like it here!

          Your blog is the cherry on the cake that I have no desire to eat but cannot bear to throw away. Please do take that as a compliment even if you suspect that it is not intended as such… Your work motivates me greatly.

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    • Hobbes Brundige

      When it comes to harris haters i think it telling that they call him islamaphobe but not christianaphobe. He uses the same logic to call out both religions yet his detractors are only concerned with his views on muslim beliefs. If their problems were with his logic or how he “generalizes” religious people they would be equally as scrutinous of all his problems with all religions. But they arent. So when he says not all christians hate gay people but the main group that is stopping pro gay rights legislation in the us is almost solely christian therefore it is a christian problem harris haters dont come to christians defense. This is because they agree with him on this point. But when he uses the same logic on muslims he is an islamaphobe. They dont hate his logic or disagree unless it is used toward a group they like.