On Saturday, Salon posted an article by Nathan Lean that took to task famous atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens for attacking Islam. Lean insinuates these atheists have a streak of Islamophobia. But the real facts show the article is yet another hit piece against atheists. Atheists see all religion as irrational and mostly results in bad treatment of people (“evil”). It is disappointing when religious apologists cherry pick the good parts while ignoring the overall bad parts of religion especially in publishing an attack against those who have no religion.
It appears, however, that some of those believers are stupider than others. At least according to a recent series of tweets by Dawkins, who served up a hostile helping of snark this week aimed at followers of the Muslim faith. It’s a group that has come to occupy a special place in his line of fire — and in the minds of a growing club of no-God naysayers who have fast rebranded atheism into a popular, cerebral and more bellicose version of its former self.
Dawkins, in a recent rant on Twitter, admitted that he had not ever read the Quran, but was sufficiently expert in the topic to denounce Islam as the main culprit of all the world’s evil: “Haven’t read Koran so couldn’t quote chapter and verse like I can for Bible. But [I] often say Islam [is the] greatest force for evil today.” How’s that for a scientific dose of proof that God does not exist?
A few days later, on March 25, there was this: “Of course you can have an opinion about Islam without having read the Qur’an. You don’t have to read “Mein Kampf” to have an opinion about Nazism.”
It’s an extraordinary feat for an Oxford scholar to admit that he hasn’t done the research to substantiate his belief, but what’s more extraordinary is that he continues to believe the unsupported claim. That backwards equation — insisting on a conclusion before even launching an initial investigation — defines the New Atheists’ approach to Islam. It’s a pompousness that only someone who believes they have proven, scientifically, the nonexistence of God can possess.
Islamophobia is prejudice against, hatred towards, or irrational fear of Muslims. It is used most frequently by the right wing here in the US and else where to discriminate against people of the Muslim faith. Criticizing Islam is NOT irrational and NOT Islamophobia. In the case of the famous atheists, their view points are based on the evidence of terrorism and other acts committed in the name of the religion like putting to death people who dissent against Islam.
Dawkins and the others have never called for discrimination against Muslims just as they haven’t called for discrimination against any other people who practice a religion. Atheists want to keep religion out of government. We want nothing to do with any religion. All of it is irrational and people who don’t agree are stupid.
Only apologists cherry pick the good parts while ignoring the overall bad parts of religion like the Lean article aims to do. Attacking Dawkins, Harris et al isn’t any more rational. One indication it was a hit piece is because Lean used the derogatory term “New Atheists”. I have never read an article that was positive about atheism when the author uses the “New Atheism” term. It also puts the article on the same shaky ground as claiming criticizing Islam and its adherents is always Islamophobia.
Don’t mistake frank and rational dissent against Islam for real Islamophobia. They are not the same.