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August 15th 2017 print

Peter Smith

Richard Dawkins’ Pussyfooting

That a leading light of the Left criticises Islam is a rare development, yet it is sophistry pure and simple to distinguish between Islam and an evil offspring called 'Islamism'. Minus a mainstream body of Islamic thought which disavows the creed's vile aspects, it's a cop-out

dawkinsRichard Dawkins (left), feted by left-wing scientifically-minded atheists, was recently banned from appearing on a Californian radio station for having made hurtful remarks about Islam. In itself this is all a bit passé. Liberal radio station in liberal California bans critic of Islam. However, Dawkins’ response was revealing.

This is from his open letter to the Berkley radio station KPFA:

If you had consulted me or if you had done even rudimentary fact-checking you would have concluded that I have never used abusive speech against Islam. I have called IslamISM “vile” but surely you, of all people, understand that Islamism is not the same as Islam. I have criticised the ridiculous pseudoscientific claims made by Islamic apologists (“the sun sets in a marsh” etc.), and the opposition of Islamic “scholars” to evolution and other scientific truths.

I have criticised the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticised the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief. Far from attacking Muslims, I understand – as perhaps you do not – that Muslims themselves are the prime victims of the oppressive cruelties of Islamism, especially Muslim women…I am known as a frequent critic of Christianity and have never been de-platformed for that.

Why do you give Islam a free pass? Why is it fine to criticise Christianity but not Islam?[i]

By the way, we know the answer to this question. It is because they might kill you or bomb your radio station or, at the very least, whine you to death with insufferable, endless claims of “Islamophobia”. But look at what Dawkins is saying: Islam gets a pass when it comes to being the target of his invective. Islamism is the real evil. It was not always thus.

“I think Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today. I have said so, loudly and often,” tweeted Dawkins in 2013, according to the Daily Mail (10 August). So, which is it, Islamism or Islam, that should have us quaking in our boots? Which Dawkins do we believe? Surely an atheist warrior of such impeccable credentials is not bowing to religious pressure?

In any event, he got it right first time. It is pure sophistry to distinguish between Islam and an evil offspring called Islamism, unless you can point to a mainstream body of Islamic thought and scripture which disavows the vile aspects of Islam. But time and time again serious Islamic scholars embrace the whole kit and caboodle. After all, which of Allah’s words and Muhammed’s words and actions can be discarded?

Islamic apologists distinguish between Islam and Islamism to give Islam a pass. It makes no sense. For example, exactly how do you square the widespread application of apostacy laws thought the Islamic world and intolerance of other religions with Islam being on some kind of higher plane than Islamism. On the other hand, perhaps it makes convenient sense to those wanting to cosy up to Islam.

Interviewed about his banning on Fox News, Dawkins was asked why the left appears to side with Islam. He wasn’t sure but thought that it might be because some of those on the left, whom he described as ‘regressive’, associated Islam with a race and therefore in their eyes criticism of Islam was racist. This is rich.

We are meant to believe not only in a distinction between Islam and Islamism but also between progressive and regressive leftists. And, to boot, that so-called regressive leftists are such idiots that they don’t know the difference between religion and race. These are all Dawkins’ delusions. There is one Islam and only one modern left. Both despise Western values and traditions. This, and the pursuit of power, glues them together in a tawdry alliance.

Where this leaves people like Dawkins I don’t know. He’s likely to find more of his media leftist mates deserting him unless he reserves his anti-God stance for Christianity and, say, Hinduism. He can try to thread the needle all he likes between Islam and Islamism. It won’t wash.


[i] https://richarddawkins.net/2017/07/letter-to-kpfa/

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [16]

  1. Ian MacDougall says:

    Its not so important IMHO to discriminate between Islam and Islamism. The distinction more appropriate is between Islam and Muslims.
    The latter are the poor benighted sods who have been born and raised under the supervision of the clerics of this vile doctrine, without ever having had any say in it; though there are certain Koranically sanctioned consequences for seeking some way out of it.
    See Why I am Not a Muslim by Ibn Warraq, who as an apostate keen to avoid being bombed, beheaded or otherwise butchered by certain enthusiastic of the followers of The Prophet (pbuh), writes under a pseudonym.

    • PT says:

      Ian, I get it. A Muslim is a person, who may be misled or brainwashed. Islam is this ideology. But I don’t respect Dawkins. He uses Islamic terrorists to attack Christianity (but not Islam) as its all “religion”, but subscribes to this PC “Islamophobia” bs. Apparently the old 70 year old granny going to the local CofE, and the very PC Pope are a terrible threat, but raving fanatics on the verge of becoming terrorists are victims of prejudice. Pathetic! Even more dice he admitted he won’t criticise Islam as he doesn’t want his head cut off. His campaign is pointless!

  2. Jody says:

    I think the most alarming aspect of this article is the systematic banning of dissenting opinion from American media, no matter whomever of importance is offering the opinion. That’s a bridge too far and it represents the slippery slope to authoritarianism. The Left obviously admires its erstwhile heroic practitioners of repression in the single-idea state.

  3. Bill Martin says:

    Islam, Islamic, Islamism, Muslim – are the most essential words of the sophistic dictionary. They all refer to the same evil creed, observed from different points of view. The only “innocent” Muslims are the ones who have publicly repudiated the vile “religion”, best exemplified by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Those who continue to worship Muhammad – the most repugnant monster who ever lived – and his bogus “scriptures” are all guilty to varying degrees, at least by omission. As for Dawkins, when one is so utterly beguiled by one’s own absolutely perfect intellect, any and all contorted reasoning remains perfectly acceptable.

    • ianl says:

      Sorry Bill, but Dawkins’ rational atheism is more honest than irrational religions. The agnostic position is that some entity or other may, or may not, have/does existed but this is unknowable. I agree.

      BTW, Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist by profession. Google would summarily sack him, instantaneously, to make the deja vu point all over. As, I think, would a number of contributors here.

      • Bill Martin says:

        While Dawkins’ atheism may well be rational, his obfuscation re. Islam and Islamism is certainly not. Such is the license he seems to grant to himself on account of his “infallible” intellect.

      • Jimbob says:

        Ian

        What do you mean by “rational”?

        From what I can understand, the most widely accepted argument for atheism is; “there is no observable evidence for the existence of God, therefore there is no God”. That to me seems totally “irrational” because it summarily excludes other possible alternative explanations for an atheistic state of mind such as;

        “I have yet to experience any evidence for the existence of God” or

        “I refuse to accept any evidence for the existence of God”

        If one is pre-conditioned with a dislike or even hatred of God (bias), then no amount of evidence will sway one’s opinion. In such a case it is not “rationality” that is required for conviction that some Divine being exists but “humility”…..a bit like that ancient saying, “the reverence for God is the beginning of wisdom….”.

        “Rationality” and “compelling evidence” (whatever such terms mean – they can be twisted by any one skilled in sophistry) have little to do with the truth or otherwise of a very simple proposition such as ‘Jesus rose from the dead’. Many people look at the available evidence for the truth of this proposition and the available evidence is either compelling enough to some of them so they accept it or not compelling enough so that others of them reject it. Levels of intelligence, capacity for rationality, education levels and so on and so forth have not that much to do with it. The truth or otherwise of the proposition is readily accepted by some of those with the highest possible human intelligence as well as those not so endowed, just as it is rejected by some smart people as well.

        So what I can’t understand is why you would think that “rational atheism” is somehow more honest than “irrational religion”? To be “honest” to ones beliefs is simply no more than holding them consistently in good faith. Religious people do that as well as atheists.

        • ianl says:

          Equating the unknowable – some entity or other, maybe exists, maybe not, maybe did but not now, or maybe not – with dogmatic and detailed views on how such a deity views homo sapiens (just another evolved species) and wishes said species to behave, such equation is irrational. Some call this religion but it is more accurately known as superstition.

          This irrationality is based on two prime characteristics of evolved consciousness: a) fear of the randomness in death, injury, disease, severe trauma, loss of mate or offspring and so on, with such fear obvious and for a considerable portion of the population in need of constant reassurance and succour; b) the evolutionary-selected trait of guilt (proved invaluable as a method of inducing relative social cohesion). These two elements together form the core of all organised religions. Most people tend to reject the guilt element (“I don’t feel guilty”) but it is very real – shamans, priests, tambarans (purveyors of black spirit magic), Jesuits, social engineers, environmental activists (aka Gore), politicians, all instinctively know the controlling power of imputed guilt (although unjustified). Since belief in some deity or other will not remove either of these elements, ergo – irrationality.

          Please note – I am *not* defending atheism, merely commenting that agnosticism is rational, religious belief is not. So no straw men, please.

        • pgang says:

          Well said. The fallacious argument of ianl below amounts to ignoring the evidence of history and pretending that there is nothing upon which to make a rational decision regarding God (who even refers to himself as ‘logic’). Note also the automatic assumption of evolution as fact – the greatest leap of blind faith into cognitive dissonance humankind has ever undertaken.

          Observations of nature offer nothing but contradiction to evolution (if you actually look and discern the evidence, rather than pretending you’ve looked). Yet the resurrection has clear historical support in the way it has positively affected humanity; in the way it provides a testable and consistent model of reality that has withstood all attempts at distortion; and in that it was witnessed in real time by hundreds of real people whose testimony amounts to the greatest body of evidence to support any historical event. Sure, resurrection is not part of our personal experience (yet), but that’s kind of the point. However it was most certainly a personal, rational experience for those hundreds of witnesses.

          So what is more rational? To leap into a blind faith in a concept that explains nothing and for which the evidence all points in the opposite direction? Or to accept the weight of evidence from eye witness records and socio/political history?

      • PT says:

        Ian, it isn’t. He won’t attack Islam. If he cites Islamic terrorists, it’s to demonise Christianity. He won’t criticise Islam. In fact he attacks the liberal Protestants, who accept science. There will always be people looking for meaning to life. Do you want them to look to liberal Christianity, which accepts science etc, or fundamentalists, and way worse, Islam? He won’t back those Islamic apostates banned to please the multicult crowd. His “excuse” that the “other” will follow by example is exposed by his lack of support for them. He is a “believer” in reality. In all this progressivist BS. None of which is rational.

  4. pgang says:

    Dawkins has no business to be talking about evil. No such thing in his naturalistic fantasy world.

    • PT says:

      I think Athiests can be moral, as moral as anyone. That’s why I get angry when opponents of abortion are written off as “religious nutter’s”!!! An atheist, and indeed a feminist, can oppose abortion as a wrong! Would either back abortion if the parents did it because they didn’t like the sex of the foetus?

      • pgang says:

        Sure, as long as they’re willing to admit that they’re borrowing from an essentialist worldview to explain the world, which directly contradicts their existential nature-worship. Cognitive dissonance.

        Evil is an further leap into essentialism because it is entirely about supernatural disorder.

  5. Alex Sagin says:

    Unitated in Hate by J Glazov. Highly recommended