Monday, April 22, 2013

Epic Showdown: The Islamophobia Industry vs. the New Atheists

I've been wondering for years when this showdown would take place. In one corner, we have the "New Atheists," who maintain that the greatest threat to civilization is religion. In the other corner, we have the Islamophobia Industry, which maintains that the greatest threat to civilization is fear of Islam. Both camps heap abuse and insults on their opponents; both camps claim the moral high ground.

The Islamophobia Industry (CAIR, ISNA, news networks, most politicians, etc.) might have let the New Atheists (Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, etc.) proceed unchecked, if only the latter hadn't crossed a certain line. If the New Atheists had contented themselves with mocking all religions equally, the showdown may have been avoided. After all, one of the core tenets of the Islamophobia Industry is that Islam is no different from other religions (except, perhaps, in that it is to be exempt from all criticism). Hence, so long as the New Atheists were treating all religions as equally bad, Islam was under no particular scrutiny, and this was fine with Islam's defenders.

But the New Atheists dared to point out the obvious: All religions are not equal. Consider Bill Maher, who recently blasted Brian Levin, one of the Islamophobia Industry's champions:


Maher was simply continuing a long trend among the New Atheists, whose semi-official position now is that, while all religions are bad, Islam is worse. This, of course, is too much for the Islamophobia Industry to bear, and Salon's Nathan Lean has declared war:

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.”

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.”

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.”

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. (Continue Reading.)

Who will come out on top in this epic battle of critics and complainers? The Islamophobia Industry certainly has greater media resources at their disposal, with all major news networks thoroughly terrified of offending Muslims. The New Atheists, however, may gather support from unlikely allies, e.g. Christians, Jews, and others, who, although generally incensed at the abuse heaped on them by Dawkins & Co., at least respect the New Atheists for not lumping all ideologies together with Islam.

Too close to call as far as I can tell. Any thoughts?

22 comments:

hugh watt said...

I reckon Islam will come out the victor in this one. History shows that violence often wins the argument.

The NA's may present a strong case at first but ultimately be blown away by Islam.

The coward secular media. When they see the debate is becoming too heated they'll soon adapt a hands-off approach and pretend they have no leg to stand on.

I could not see any NA being bold enough to openly criticize Muhammad.

Fisher said...

Hard to tell. It's a toss up at this point. My hunch, though, is that the New Atheists have the initial advantage, but that the Muslims will eventually overtake them as they increase in demographic % and political clout. The New Atheists just aren't as politically savvy as they are.

GreekAsianPanda said...

I used to think most atheists were liberal defenders of Islam; that's the impression I got from liberal websites. The New Atheists are proving that impression wrong. They may not be entirely likable people, but at least they're consistent.

It's funny that Lean acknowledges the N.A.s' harsh criticism of Christianity yet only seems to have a problem when they go after Islam. Considering the anti-Islamophobes' greater lack if logical thought, the N.A.s might win out in the end.

Ugo Strange said...

I'm shocked to see Bill Maher saying something rational for once O_O WOW!

taomeano said...

Another one of those people burying his head in the sand. Why are these so called intellectuals afraid to call out Islam for what it really is. For anyone to think we are saying all muslims are terrorist is intellectual dishonesty of the first order. Dishonest Islamic apologists of the kind Bill Maher interviewed are the ones who are truly dangerous because they cover up the truth until it explodes in their face.

I will say it again, Islam is not a religion, it is a cult. And biblically speaking it is the Anti-Christ spirit prophesied in the bible. See 1 John 2:22.

May the LORD deliver muslims from this satanic cult and bring them to the light of the gospel of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ.

AhmedisAhead said...

My prediction: The NA's will have a considerable impact on the academic community (e.g. professors and college students), and on the talk show/entertainment industry which may help to sway the public's opinion of Islam.

However, I don't see much collaboration going on between the NA's and the religious community unless the NA's are able to keep their attention on Islam as opposed to bashing the entire faith community. Politics makes strange bedfellows. This interaction should be a big help toward generating meaningful dialogue regarding Islam. It seems that many have been longing to express what they feel is obvious about Islam but have been afraid to talk about. Just look at how the audience cheered for Bill when he made his comments.

Two things will be important for the NA's to be taken seriously.

1) Credibility: random tweets & sloppy research from people completely removed from the Islamic community doesn't do much for establishing credence with listeners. Real life examples and/or ex-Muslims may help bring what their discussing to life.

2) Tone: shock-factor garnering, kindergarten jokes / name calling, and intellectual snobbery may cause people to dismiss the arguments of the NA's entirely as "hate speech."

For example, IMO someone like Robert Spencer is easier to listen to discussing Islam than Pamela Geller, even though they talk about the same things. Why? The latter has often had a particularly sharp and even mean-spirited tone, to the extent that, even when she is speaking accurately, weakens her credibility and makes it easier to write off. Better to get noticed and stay noticed than to get noticed and then written off moments later.

Tom ta tum Tom said...

I think it's time for an "EPIC RAP BATTLE OF HISTORY!!"

Bill Maher Vs. Huma Abedin. No! Wait! Richard Dawkins Vs. Yusef Estes! Wait! Wait! I've got it: Ted Nugent Vs. Zakir Naik! Yes! YES! LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!

And we could have the Muslims show up (early) to do the final "blow-up". SURPRISE!!

Ticket sales will support "Answering Muslims" and "TIMTFFF", The International Muslim Train-Flying Fantasy Fund.

I can't wait.

KAFIR AND PROUD!!

apran said...

I am afraid the New Atheist doesn't have the guts and dedication to face Islam openly for a long time. They are coward people, so far they know they can attack other religions without facing physical consequences, but the muslims are different species. So, it will only a few NA people who will say the truth about Islam.
At the end, it will leave to the "Islamophobes" like us to fight Islam.

Selecta Mark said...

Very interesting video clip, I think the NA's argument will eventually, eventually, eventually seen to be true but by the time this realised. Many lives will have been lost, fear of Islam will continue to silence folks for a long, long time. However, Islam will been seen for what it is, a gutter Antichrist cult!

Traeh said...

Till now, criticism of Islam has very often been popularly pigeon-holed as little more than a conservative bias. We should therefore be exceedingly happy the NA are arguing that Islam is the worst. The NA are probably somewhat liberal or Left. And we desperately need allies on the Left to educate the rest of the Left. The Left very often won't listen to conservatives' or religious people's arguments about Islam, but will listen to Left arguments. If Islam-criticism were nothing more than partisan politics, it wouldn't be worth paying attention to. The NA can break us out of that partisan trap.

Derek Adams said...

Hi I've followed this topic on my blog for a while now, here are some thoughts.

What do/did Hitchens(RIP), Thunderf00t, TheAmazingAtheist, George Carson (RIP) and Billy Connolly all have in common? They equate all religions with the same amount of evil and certainly are not Anti-Islam enough

http://www.answeringabraham.com/2013/04/what-dodid-hitchensrip-thunderf00t.html

Derek Adams
www.AnsweringAbraham.com

Walter said...

If it came to it, Islam would win. Simply because they have some positive claims which they have tried to place in a semi-coherent framework.

The New Atheists are for the most part opposed to reason in the 19th century German sense. (See Dawkins for reference, highly emotionally driven) There's not a whole lot to what they have to say on the whole, and this works itself out in their interactions with other religions.

What do they have? Mockery. And? ... More mockery!

You can't build a large movement on nothing but cynical jokes. What is there to convince people of besides to indulge their lower appetites to make people feel poorly? Perhaps it's a movement for the internet age.

Additionally, Muslims tend to be pretty violent. The atheists believe that this life and these few days under the sun are all they get. There is no way that any honest person can expect the atheists to go to their grave for a spirit of mockery fighting against the mujahideen who believe they will go to Paradise for their exemplary deen.

Jason Nesrallah said...

I couldn't finish watching that clip because the guy Bill was speaking with looked like a total Jack Ass!

gabriella oak said...

Well put Traeh.

I don't necessarily think these particular New Atheists will smash down the door, but I believe they have a foot permanently wedged in the jamb. I'm convinced vast swathes of the left are merely going through the motions of espousing the ROP meme now.

Of course the diehard progressives will never abandon their narrative, but they will all be cowering behind Osama's skirts when that door comes crashing down. Then they'll regroup and deny the door ever existed in the first place.

goethechosemercy said...

Atheists, new or otherwise, are simply not capable of meaningful exchange with the religious because they do not acknowledge the continuum of the sacred and the profane.
So they're arguing from a position of severe weakness that they cannot change.
Atheists can go after the leaf and branch of Islam, they do attack the leaf and branch of every other theism.
They can do no better because they can do NOTHING ELSE.

Carl said...

"Who will come out on top in this epic battle of critics and complainers?"
The Atheists will come out on top. Being obviously right, and having evidence to back it up, is a big advantage.

"The Islamophobia Industry certainly has greater media resources at their disposal, with all major news networks thoroughly terrified of offending Muslims."
Yes, but the media are becoming more and more of a laughing stock, and it gets easier all the time for people to do their own research.

"The New Atheists, however, may gather support from unlikely allies, e.g. Christians, Jews, and others,"
It's not that unlikely. Christians, Jews, and others are also atheists about every god except their own. Atheists just go one step further and disbelieve in one more god.

"who, although generally incensed at the abuse heaped on them by Dawkins & Co.,"
Abuse that you richly deserve. It's not his fault your "morals" are appalling and your "science" is absurd.

"at least respect the New Atheists for not lumping all ideologies together with Islam."
As long as you give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and turn the other cheek, we can put up with you endorsing the endless, sadistic, and pointless torture of our loved ones in your imaginary underground cave system. Mohammed was a lot less patient and preferred to torture non-believers while they were still alive, and he couldn't coexist with secularism.

"Too close to call as far as I can tell. Any thoughts?"
There's been a radical shift in people's thinking over the last few years. Political correctness is losing it's grip. Have some faith. :-P

David Wood said...

Wow! Sounds like we got a comment from Sam Harris himself. Or was it Richard Dawkins. No, no, it was Daniel Dennett. Wait, it's Carl. Since I hear the exact same comments over and over again from the New Atheists, and have yet to see anything original, I just can't tell the difference between you!

hugh watt said...

Carl

I assume you're living in a part of the world where the jihadists are not in the ascendency as in the Arab world, etc?

Where are the secularists willing to put their lives on the line by standing up openly to the terrorists in Chechnya, Dagestan and where their blood may likely be shed? Where are the protest marches being led by Dawkins, Harris, et al in these hot-spots? In their nice comfortable homes posting on blogs or on twitter!

Occasionally they book a hall where they can openly mock whoever but so can the jihadists, only it's the bomber who gets through who's having the last laugh.

"Yes, but the media are becoming more and more of a laughing stock, and it gets easier all the time for people to do their own research."

The Western media? Try living in S Arabia or Egypt. You'll find the media there are doing quite a successful job of getting the message across.

Propaganda works best with a lot of force behind it. I've never heard of anyone being frightened into changing their worldview through mockery.

Carl said...

"Wow! Sounds like we got a comment from Sam Harris himself. Or was it Richard Dawkins. No, no, it was Daniel Dennett. Wait, it's Carl. Since I hear the exact same comments over and over again from the New Atheists, and have yet to see anything original, I just can't tell the difference between you!"
Thank you! That's quite a compliment, and I'm arrogant enough to accept it, despite having nowhere near their accomplishment. Actually, I've only read a bit of Dawkins out of the 3, and hadn't even heard of Daniel Dennett.

Anyway, I'm a big fan of yours, and my own research into Islam matches yours, so I hope to hear a few "You sound just like David Wood, I just can't tell the difference between you!" in my arguments with Muslims and their apologists.

"I assume you're living in a part of the world where the jihadists are not in the ascendency as in the Arab world, etc?"
Correct. And I was only referring to the West, as I assumed David was, when I predicted victory for the New Atheists over the Islamists. Globally that will be a lot harder due to issues that would require you to understand human evolution to comprehend.

"Where are the secularists willing to put their lives on the line by standing up openly to the terrorists in Chechnya, Dagestan and where their blood may likely be shed?"
There was a small obscure group of heavily armed militant secularists that did that, but you might not have heard of them. They were called "The Soviet Union". But then they tried to do the same in Afghanistan, and were defeated when the Christians joined forces with the Islamists.

"I've never heard of anyone being frightened into changing their worldview through mockery."
Wow. I forgot how much of a bubble Christians live in. There are a lot of things in the world you haven't heard of that are nonetheless constant occurances. Atheist dominance in the west didn't spread by the sword. Mockery does work.

hugh watt said...

Islam is after world dominance. Your research should have told you this. David is not thinking in terms of Western only Islamic dominance but world dominance. Look around this blog and you'll see that.

When secularists take to the streets or airwaves and start mocking Islam openly in Afghanistan, S Arabia, Chechnya, etc, I'll listen to what they have to say. When Dawkins and his ilk board a plane to one of those trouble spots and openly deride Islam on Al Jazeera as they do to Christian(ity) in the PC West I'll listen.

The Soviet Union were part of the New Atheists were they? When the U.S.S.R was formed it was standing toe-to-toe with jihadist Islam was it? Are Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, etc, willing to spill their blood for the cause of atheism?

The first thing I read when I go on a blog is the main header. Trying to make the former Soviet Union out to be NA's is a bit of a stretch I'd say.

"Atheist dominance in the west didn't spread by the sword. Mockery does work."

Propaganda rather.

Atheists are a minority in a religious majority world.

Tom ta tum Tom said...

@Hugh: Thanks for your post. You make me glad I was subscribed to this thread.

KAFIR AND PROUD!!

hugh watt said...

You're welcome, Tom.