ATHEISTS: Unlikely allies in the war against Islam

Screen-Shot-2013-03-10-at-9.54.18-PM1-300x175Why is it a surprise that atheists are vehemently anti-Islam now? Because the vast majority of atheists are also leftists, and leftists are among the most ardent Islamofascist apologists and sympathizers. Apparently, the far leftists at Salon are spitting mad as they expose this new category of “ISLAMOPHOBES!

Leftists have always been admirers of the well-known intellectual atheists – Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens – proudly showcasing their rants against Christianity at every opportunity. But now that these atheists have hopped on the growing anti-Islam bandwagon, the leftists are seething with venom and vitriol.

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SALON  The power of these New Atheists,’ as they are called, is in their ability to reach popular audiences and move their geeky discussions from lecture halls and libraries (Harris has a degree in philosophy from Stanford and a Ph.D in neuroscience from UCLA) to the sets of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” where hipsters and yuppies alike digest their sardonic sound bites, repeating them to their online networks in 140 characters or less.

Though Dawkins, Harris and company have been around for years, their presence on the public scene used to be more muted. An atheist then was something you simply were. It wasn’t a full-time career. But in 2001 a man named Mohammed Atta and his Middle Eastern comrades decided to fly jetliners into the Twin Towers and everything changed.

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Four days after the attacks, Dawkins could barely contain his intellectual triumphalism. “Those people [the terrorists] were not mindless and they were certainly not cowards,” he wrote in the Guardian. “On the contrary, they had sufficiently effective minds braced with an insane courage, and it would pay us mightily to understand where that courage came from. It came from religion. Religion is also, of course, the underlying source of the divisiveness in the Middle East, which motivated the use of this deadly weapon in the first place.”

 Haven’t read Koran so couldn’t quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam greatest force for evil today.

A few days later, on March 25, there was this:

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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”).

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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’ (What ‘race’ is Islam?) 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.”

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For Harris, the ankle-biter version of the Rottweiler Dawkins, suicide bombers and terrorists are not aberrations. They are the norm. They have not distorted their faith by interpreting it wrongly. They have lived out their faith by understanding it rightly. “The idea that Islam is a ‘peaceful religion hijacked by extremists’ is a fantasy, and is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge,” he writes in “Letter to a Christian Nation.”

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That may sound like the ‘psychobabble’ of Pamela Geller. But Harris’s crude departure from scholarly decorum is at least peppered with references to the Quran, a book he cites time and again, before suggesting it be “flushed down the toilet without fear of violent reprisal.”

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.

That’s topsy-turvy logic for a man who says he’s never read the Quran but seconds later hocks up gems like this from his Twitter account:

Islam is comforting? Tell that to a woman, dressed in a binbag, her testimony worth half a man’s and needing 4 male witnesses to prove rape

Then there was this:

Next gem from BBC Idiot Zoo: ‘Some women feel “protected” by the niqab.’

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Dawkins’ quest to “liberate” Muslim women and smack them with a big ol’ heaping dose of George W. Bush freedom caused him to go berzerk over news that a University College of London debate, hosted by an Islamic group, offered a separate seating option for conservative, practicing Muslims. Without researching the facts, Dawkins assumed that gendered seating was compulsory, not voluntary, and quickly fired off this about the “gender apartheid” of the supposedly suppressed Muslims:

At UC London debate between a Muslim and Lawrence Krauss, males & females had to sit separately. Krauss threatened to leave @LKrauss1

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And then this:

Sexual apartheid. Maybe these odious religious thugs will get their come-uppance? http://bit.ly/XiOB0h  http://bit.ly/10uWhcF

Where exactly Dawkins gets his information about Islam is unclear – perhaps Fox News? What is clear, though, is that his unique brand of secular fundamentalism cozies up next to that screeched out by bloggers on the pages of some of the Web’s most vicious anti-Muslim hate sites.

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In a recent comment he posted on his own Web site, Dawkins references a site called Islam Watch, placing him in eerily close proximity to the likes of one of the page’s founders, Ali Sina, an activist who describes himself as “probably the biggest anti-Islam person alive.” Sina is a board member for the hate group, Stop the Islamization of Nations, which was founded by anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer and which has designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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Dawkins is also on record praising the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, a man who says that he “hates Islam” and that Muslims who desire to remain in the Netherlands should “rip out half of the Koran.” Later, he blabbed that the Muslim holy book should be banned entirely.

The Dutch leader of the Party of Freedom, who faced trial in 2009 for hate speech (and was acquitted), produced a flick called “Fitna” the year beforeThe 17-minute film was chockablock with ‘racist’ (What race is Islam?) images such as Muhammad’s head attached to a ticking time bomb and juxtapositions of Muslims and Nazis. For Dawkins, it was pure bliss. “On the strength of ‘Fitna’ alone, I salute you as a man of courage who has the balls to stand up to a monstrous enemy,” he wrote.

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When it comes to ripping pages out of books, Dawkins is a pro. His rhetoric on Muslims comes nearly verbatim from the playbook of the British Nationalist Party and other far right groups in the UK. BNP leader Nick Griffin once told a group in West Yorkshire that Islam was a “wicked and vicious faith” and that Asian Muslims were turning Old Blighty into a multiracial purgatory.

For his part, Dawkins spins wild conspiracy theories claiming that ordinary terms like “communities” and “multiculturalism” are actually ominous code words for “Muslims” and “Islam,” respectively.

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The English Defence League, a soccer hooligan street gang that has a history of threatening Muslims with violence and assaulting police officers, has made identical claims, as have leaders of Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE), a ragtag coterie of neo-Nazis whose hate franchise spans two continents: Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), its American counterpart, is led by bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. In July of 2011, Dawkins re-published a lengthy diatribe by former SIOE leader Stephen Gash on his website.

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Dawkins has no monopoly on intellectual flimsiness, though. As does the teacher so does the student. And Harris is every bit the Dawkins student. In “The End of Faith,” Harris maintains that Israel — the untouchable, can-do-no-evil love of so many Islamophobes — upholds the human rights of Palestinians to a high standard.

The Israelis have shown a degree of restraint in their use of violence that the Nazis never contemplated and that, more to the point, no Muslim society would contemplate today. Ask yourself, what are the chances that the Palestinians would show the same restraint in killing Jews if the Jews were a powerless minority living under their occupation and disposed to acts of suicidal terrorism? It would be no more likely than Muhammad’s flying to heaven on a winged horse.

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How the New Atheists’ anti-Muslim hate advances their belief that God does not exist is not exactly clear. In this climate of increased anti-Muslim sentiment, it’s a convenient digression, though. They’ve shifted their base and instead of simply trying to convince people that God is a myth, they’ve embraced the monster increasingly popular narrative of the day. That’s not rational or enlightening or “free thinking” or even intelligent. That’s opportunism.

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If atheism writ large was a tough sell to skeptics, the “New Atheism,” Muslim-bashing atheism, must be like selling Bibles to believers. After all, those who are convinced that God exists, and would otherwise dismiss the Dawkins’ and Harris’s of the world as hell-bound kooks, are often some of the biggest Islamophobes. It’s symbiosis — and as a biologist, Dawkins should know a thing or two about that. Proving that a religion — any religion — is evil, though, is just as pointless and impossible an endeavor as trying to prove that God does or doesn’t exist. Neither has been accomplished yet. And neither will.

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