Author Topic: Salon article accuses prominent "new atheists" of islamophobia  (Read 912 times)

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Offline Willie

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From the article:
Until 9/11, Islam didn’t figure in the New Atheists’ attacks in a prominent way. As a phenomenon with its roots in Europe, atheism has traditionally been the archenemy of Christianity, though Jews and Judaism have also slipped into the mix. But emboldened by their newfound fervor in the wake of the terrorist attacks, the New Atheists joined a growing chorus of Muslim-haters, mixing their abhorrence of religion in general with a specific distaste for Islam (In 2009, Hitchens published a book called “God Is Not Great,” a direct smack at Muslims who commonly recite the Arabic refrain Allah Akbar, meaning “God is great”). Conversations about the practical impossibility of God’s existence and the science-based irrationality of an afterlife slid seamlessly into xenophobia over Muslim immigration or the practice of veiling. The New Atheists became the new Islamophobes, their invectives against Muslims resembling the rowdy, uneducated ramblings of backwoods racists rather than appraisals based on intellect, rationality and reason. “Islam, more than any other religion human beings have devised, has all the makings of a thoroughgoing cult of death,” writes Harris, whose nonprofit foundation Project Reason ironically aims to “erode the influence of bigotry in our world.”

I guess we can't win either way. If we don't criticize Islam, or, as is more commonly the case, the accuser is unaware of atheist criticism of religions other than Christianity, we're accused of being anti-Christian rather than truly atheist. If we do criticize Islam, then we're "islamophobic". What those two opposing views have in common is a conflation of rational criticism with bigotry. This can happen even among those who are otherwise rational and perceptive. This mental blind-spot is a defense mechanism for hanging on to a dearly held, but rationally or even morally indefensible ideology.

Offline Quesi

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Re: Salon article accuses prominent "new atheists" of islamophobia
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2013, 05:29:57 PM »
Interesting.  It is a scathing article about Dawkins, and I don't know his work well enough to speak to the accuracy of many of the accusations contained in the article.  The Chomsky quote surprises me, and I'd be very interested in seeing it in context.   

But I do agree with the premise that there is a special disdain for Islam within a subset of the atheist community.  Judaism, Christianity and Islam are really very similar, and all draw on the same stories.  Christianity has the resurrection, and Islam has the prophet Mohamed, but otherwise, they are pretty much the same.  There are loony fundamentalist Christians and Muslims and Jews who scare the shit out of me.  But most practitioners of those three religions are more concerned about their families and their communities and their jobs and their homes than they are about ensuring that no one worships idols or fails to keep the Sabbath holy. 

And sometimes it seems to me that the attacks on Islam are more attacks on cultural practices than religious practices or beliefs.  Even those attacks that come from the secular community.  And that concerns me. 

But most of the mainstream criticisms of Islam seem to be criticisms of the old testament stuff that most of us here relentlessly point out to Christians.  You know, stoning disobedient kids to death, marrying your rapist and whatnot.  I get really angry when I hear Islam attacked (often by Christians) for containing these absurdities in their scriptures.   I hold atheists to a higher set of standards. 

Offline Traveler

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Re: Salon article accuses prominent "new atheists" of islamophobia
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2013, 07:03:02 PM »
For me, it comes down to the effect a religion has on others. As far as I understand, Muslim and Christianity are the only two major religions that teach their adherents that they must try to convert everyone else. So the extremists in those two belief systems tend to be more intrusive on the rest of us, up to and including death for unbelievers.

I've not heard of extremist killer Jews or pagans or Buddhists.
If we ever travel thousands of light years to a planet inhabited by intelligent life, let's just make patterns in their crops and leave.