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Aug 29 2013

I Get Mail – Pat Condell

You have mentioned over and over again about Pat Condell.

I quite like his videos, I don’t understand why you don’t like him. If you could elaborate more it would be useful.

In order to explain what’s wrong with Pat Condell we must have a look at Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is an irrational fear of Islam and the notion that all Muslims are “out to get our wimmin in Burkhas and cut small bits of our penises off or large bits of our bodies”.

It is fuelled by the increasing fanatic voice of Islam and is poisoned in the west by certain aspects of Islamic Communities and by some major problems within Islam as a faith. But the problem with Islamophobia is that it is a poorly defined term that is used against every critic of Islam no matter how valid or invalid.

Me suggesting that “Islam has a problem with the treatment of women because it actively excludes them via the Hijab and Burkha under the excuse of not being a slut. This has led to an entire ethos of denigration of women which results in everything from FGM to Honour Killing and a lack of agency for the Muslim Woman”. Or “Islam’s unwillingness to be flexible means that it thinks the greatest achievement of Muslims is warfare and strength rather than the scientific achievements of the Islamic Golden age and even when it does recognise those achievements, it forgets that those achievements came about as a rejection of Islamic dogma as the sole truth rather than divinely revealed.” These are treated the same as “Muslims are trying to have as many kids as possible to outnumber us and bring in Sharia Law!”.

One’s a pretty sensible argument, the other is just racist. And yes, I know people will say “you can’t be racist against a religion”, but the fact of the matter is that “Muslim” evokes a specific stereotype as vicious as the hook nosed Jew counting his money while wearing a yamulka and the majority of people who  fit into that stereotype look a specific way and the identification of “Muslims” is less of an art and more of randomly yelling obscenities about Pakis.

Pat Condell unfortunately has spiralled into the “racist” side of the argument. His stance on Israel was the initial indicator. It was the sort of blind support that ignored real and pressing “problems” with the behaviour of Israel’s Government and Armed Forces and a total lack of understanding of why Palestinians were angry (If you lost your house, lived in a tent in your garden and people from the house repeatedly hosed you down and cut out your water supply  if you complained too much then you would be mad too) or why they want a right to return.

Pat didn’t get that. Pat didn’t understand the difference between Israel and Palestine and how refugee camps work vs. the national aid that Israel received. It was distasteful.

Then there were things like the No mosque at Ground Zero’ video which was nothing but right wing Christian Conservative fears. As we all know the “Mosque” was a community centre with a prayer room and wasn’t at Ground Zero but near it. I assume Pat would ban all Muslims from working in tall buildings next?

With Pat Condell there is no measured approach. It’s just pointless unconstructive anger against Muslims. There is no distinction at times. It’s a constant stream of anger without empathy. To Pat, all Muslims are in on  a massive conspiracy to overthrow the UK and there is no distinction.

The Ground Zero video sounds like Muslims had a vote and unanimously voted to commit an act of terrorism rather than it being the actions of absolute fanatics. Okay if we are to halt religious activities in places where they committed violence that we would probably have to tear down most religious buildings out there. And bear in mind this wasn’t even a real Mosque but the fear that Muslims may be praying somewhere near Ground Zero. At what distance does it become acceptable to call upon Allah? Is it 1 Km or 1.1 Km? Are Muslims going to work in the new building there? Will these Muslims be banned from praying? Will the building’s feelings get hurt? Or is it just an excuse to hurl mindless hate at people?

I grew up reading the Koran and I do have Muslim friends. Over time I have started reading a fair few ex-Muslim blogs and am a big fan of Taslima’s work (Sorry Maryam! You come second!) and even like some rather cool people like Heina Dadabhoy. I also grew up reading the Koran myself (my friends read it so I would keep them company too). I also know that there are real problems we must fight. We must stand against Sharia Courts (In reality? Sharia Arbitration) as the process is horribly unfair and biased even if it is perfectly legal. There is nothing illegal with you purposefully signing into a “bad deal” but these Sharia courts wreathe themselves in the rule that not using them makes you a “bad” Muslim. If I held up a contract that said that if we break the contract you must give me a Grand and you willingly signed it then it’s “your fault” for signing it. Islam encourages Sharia and so in order to be a “Good Muslim” you have to accept the unfair deal and in order to justify it, you pretend it’s fair.

I don’t like the enforced circumcision of Islam and Judaism, I don’t like the formation of state funded religious schools and that includes Islamic ones particularly considering they create an atmosphere of exclusivity and divide society. I don’t like both Halal and Kosher butchery and see no reason as to why these practices can be improved to be more humane.

Islam is in it’s current form a socially divisive exclusive religion that encourages it’s adherents to not be part of society. It is harmful to the individual by encouraging and priding itself on ignorance of anything outside Islam, it is harmful to women in particular and this is without the whole “It’s a religious belief in a non-existent god”.

I have no problem with respecting Muslims who don’t fit into this paradigm and who try and fit in. I have no problems with the Muslims who see the actions of Muslims who try and force Sharia law and society as a whole to change JUST for them as abhorrent. I have no problem with Muslims who think that Islamic ethics are not suitable for a modern world. I have no problems with Muslims who try and leave their faith and with Muslims who respect those who decide to leave.

But I will criticise Islam from a real viewpoint rather than the viewpoint of a fantasy notion about what Islam is about.

Okay so he likes Israel and fell for the Ground Zero Mosque? What else you got Avi?

Well. The EDL talking points are worrying me certainly mainly because the EDL defines Muslims as “brown people”. And that while the organisation may claim to not be racist it’s actions certainly are.

I know a bunch of people will come out with “But the EDL are not racist” but their actions and histories of their most vocal supporters ring alarm bells. The EDL’s sister organisations include known football hooligans including one who was involved in a stabbing of other fans.

Demonstrations have had EDL members chant “We Hate Pakis” and Asian shop owners including Hindu ones have been attacked by them. And violence aimed at non-white members “caught” in EDL marches is quite common. In many unfortunate cases of “Vigilantism”, EDL supporters have often wasted police resources.

Pat Condell claimed that the EDL have a ‘healthy regard for human rights, democracy and the rule of law’. He read their website… He said that “there is not a hint of racism or facism” either. No True EDLsman punches Pakis right?

No… That’s not what I am seeing from the actions of the EDL, what I see is a band of racists pretending to be not and doing so badly. Their words may say “We aren’t racist” but their actions is “Punch Brown People”.

I was in the UK when Lee Rigby was killed. For those who are unaware, to Islamic Fundamentalists approached Mr. Rigby stabbed and beheaded him. Oh I argued against idiots. Everything from “It’s unsafe because of Muslims” (I have been mugged by more white kids in stupid shell suits with bad posture and a taste for Burberry than I have been attacked by Islamic Fundies) and “it would have not happened if he had a gun!” (Maybe not, but I am unaware of situations where a gun stops surprise attacks). The problem here goes back to the Problem that Islam has in dealing with fundies and with criticism rather than something inherently wrong with all Muslims.

I know Islam has a problem with arseholes but to hold all Muslims as guilty for the actions of the arseholes is like holding all white people guilty for the actions of the EDL. Many Muslims condemned the attack and many began to reach out and demonstrate that they are just normal people and think the actions of fundies is just as abhorrent. Islam is growing up, but it will suffer these growing pains as it sheds it’s old image and forgets that it was once cool to like the Jihadi.

But this is about Pat Condell. You think the EDL thing is the only problem?

A few years back he supported Geert Wilders. Dutch politician Geert Wildersin case you didn’t know, campaigned to have the Qur’an banned from the Netherlands. In addition he wants ‘all immigration from Muslim countries halted, Muslim immigrants paid to leave and all Muslim “criminals” stripped of Dutch citizenship and deported “back where they came from”.

These are the same arguments the much more openly Neo-Nazi BNP are fond of making. Geert is a “proper racist”.

One of his personal goals was to lobby for a “Muslim Tax” where women would be taxed on wearing headscarves IF they were Muslim. Christian and Jewish women who wore a scarf for religious purposes? No problem! A €1,000 a year for a license to wear one.

Pat Condell was a few years ago nominated for the National Secular Society as Secularist of the Year. If you ever wonder why we are complaining about a lack of diversity than riddle me this, what kind of Secularist or Atheist or Freethinker or Skeptic would stand up and say that Pat Condell is a good representative as Secularist of the Year? What sort of person thinks representation of the EDL and Geert Wilders helps defend freedom and argue against religion.

Oh that’s right! The Richard Dawkins Foundation… *head desk*

And more recently was his willingness to go stand with the UKIP who are like the Tea Party but “British and Nicer”. The UKIP is not outright racist but they do have some bizarre Libertarian notions that would make the UK’s position in Europe a lot worse. These include leaving the European Convention of Human Rights and scrapping the Human Rights Acts (Ironically this is one of the strongest forces for the protection of Muslims from Islam and prevention of the Sharia Courts). The privatisation of the NHS, because “America’s Healthcare System is Perfect!” (okay that’s not religious). It also supports the removal of OFSTED which is a government body responsible for the creation of basic teaching standards in the UK and which is responsible for the separation of religion from sex education, science and prevention of discriminatory teaching and religious indoctrination even with religious schools who have to meet it’s standards. The main reason for this is to also validate home schooling as a real alternative which only causes a fall in the scientific and mathematical education of children and is frequently used to stop children from being exposed to wicked homosexuals and filthy evolution. When combined with the deregulation of British Education this is a direct attempt to encourage ignorance as knowledge.

More? The UKIP are anti-gay marriage because it hurts the feelings of religious people to share marriage with the GLBT and the UKIP’s deregulation of medicine allows for the legitimisation of “holistic” medicine (AKA Homeopathy, Reiki and Faith Healing nonsense) as real alternatives to scientific evidence based medicine.

Pat unfortunately is a symptom of what’s wrong within Skepticism and Atheism. Not enough diversity allows people to say things that are anti-diversity without realising who or what it harms. This man has been given a massive audience and is lauded and loved by atheists across the world for his hard hitting take no prisoners attitude but no one really thought about what he was saying.

Why? Because Pat is guilty of the same thing that Muslims are guilty of. Ignorance. He never stopped to read or learn about those he condemned. And I am sorry to say that while jumping on the same wagon, you too didn’t realise how hurtful that kind of attitude is to atheists who aren’t white and who are targets of people like Geert and the EDL.

And this was compounded by the level of recognition that Pat got. The National Secular Society is a big thing and Richard Dawkins too.

And then think of what sort of message it sent to us.

And so this is why I am not a fan of Pat Condell.

22 comments

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  1. 1
    Ace of Sevens

    Thanks, Avicenna. This is one one the better overviews on what’s wrong with Condell that I’ve seen.

  2. 2
    dezn_98

    I don’t even need to read this to know that Condell is an islamaphobic piece of trash that no one should listen too.. I have watched his videos and I am disgusted by them. Anyone who knows anything about Muslims, the middle east, or Islam, would know that Condells caricature objections are not rationally based but actually based on cartoon racist stereotypes of Muslims that America and the west are so fond of propagating. Screw Condell, and anyone who wants to come in and ignorantly defend his “racism.”

    I also want to say that I like to use the word Orientalism for Condell and Islamaphobes. Edward Said is THE man to go to about this stuff and his book Orientalism is a must read for anyone.. is describes how incredibly bigoted American and Europeans ideologies are when they talk about places like the middle east and India and asia. Read that book, and you will find yourself remarkably capable of spotting the rampant and disgusting islamaphobia that is propagates by Dawkings, Thunderf00t, Condell, and Sam Harris. You will not be able to look at the world the same again.

    What those guys are doing is textbook orientalism. (I think it is better terminology than racism..)

  3. 3
    dezn_98

    I forgot to edit in that.,.. I am actually reading it though. Also, I like the blog.

  4. 4
    yazikus

    Avicenna, blog architecture be damned, I’m going to be stopping in much more frequently. I’m really enjoying your posts. Also, the UKIP sounds terrible.

  5. 5
    Pen

    Wow, I never even heard of Pat Condell. Now I’m left wondering why anyone would like him. Sounds like a summary of all that is least desirable in British culture at this date.

  6. 6
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Ahh, a good friend of mine told me that “she’s afraid of muslims”
    I said wait, that’s pretty racist, there’s over a billion of them and only a fringe number is terrorists.
    Oh, she never said all muslims (I guess you have to prove that you’re harmless)
    I said I’m more afraid of people who use their cellphones while driving and she called it nonsense. Because when you’re dead it really matters how you died…

  7. 7
    Jesse W (not logged in)

    Probable typo, in the sentence: “I don’t like both Halal and Kosher butchery and see no reason as to why these practices can be improved to be more humane.” ; “practices can be” should probably be “practices can’t be”.

    Minor typo: ” unaware, to Islamic Fundamentalists approached ” probably should be ” unaware, two Islamic Fundamentalists approached” (to -> two).

    (I hope you don’t mind the copyediting; if you do, just mention it and I won’t send in any more)

    The essay is a *great* summary of issues with Mr. Condell, and it is depressing and frustrating that he is getting lauded for such behavior.

  8. 8
    Anthony K

    Wow, I never even heard of Pat Condell. Now I’m left wondering why anyone would like him.

    Well, he’s an atheist. The bar was pretty low for achieving fame as an atheist in atheist circles for a while there.

  9. 9
    tiberiusbeauregard

    You either don’t know what polarisation is, or you can’t cope with it.
    In either case, please pull your heads out of your behinds.

  10. 10
    Avicenna

    Really? You clearly don’t understand what the EDL are and think I should tolerate racist wankers. I suggest you take your own advice. The man supports out and out goose stepping, heil hitlering white supremacists and thugs.

    And he was nearly awarded a major award and still has videos endorsed by arguably the most famous atheist out there.

    So. No. It’s not “polarisation” it’s that we got stupid and gave fame to a racist and then excused our bad decision.

  11. 11
    Ani J. Sharmin

    Me suggesting that “Islam has a problem with the treatment of women because it actively excludes them via the Hijab and Burkha under the excuse of not being a slut. This has led to an entire ethos of denigration of women which results in everything from FGM to Honour Killing and a lack of agency for the Muslim Woman”. Or “Islam’s unwillingness to be flexible means that it thinks the greatest achievement of Muslims is warfare and strength rather than the scientific achievements of the Islamic Golden age and even when it does recognise those achievements, it forgets that those achievements came about as a rejection of Islamic dogma as the sole truth rather than divinely revealed.” These are treated the same as “Muslims are trying to have as many kids as possible to outnumber us and bring in Sharia Law!”.
    One’s a pretty sensible argument, the other is just racist. And yes, I know people will say “you can’t be racist against a religion”, but the fact of the matter is that “Muslim” evokes a specific stereotype as vicious as the hook nosed Jew counting his money while wearing a yamulka and the majority of people who fit into that stereotype look a specific way and the identification of “Muslims” is less of an art and more of randomly yelling obscenities about Pakis.

    Thank you. Times infinity. Seriously, these are two points I try to make all the time, and you’ve just explained it so perfectly. I confess I used to like Pat Condell’s videos, but the more I watched, the more I realized that his views were just bigotry and I became horrified. There are people within atheism who seem to think that saying any and all negative things about Islam (whether true or not) is most important, and who accuse anyone who doesn’t agree to discriminate against Muslims of not being brave enough to criticize Islam.

  12. 12
    Mike Haubrich

    I had never heard of the “English Defense League” until just now. I think a main reason is that after the third watch of a Condell video, I realized that he was not the sort of speaker to represent my views as an atheist. I have discovered that people who cry “Political Correctness” overmuch are seeking cover for their racism, sexism or whatever sort of bigotry they hold dear.

    Speaking of diversity of atheists, I am certainly happy to have your blog to read, Avicennna.

  13. 13
    see_the_galaxy

    A very sharp and clear discussion. I would say that the early videos that Pat made had wonderful energy and wit, before he began his spiral toward bigotry and humorlessness and UKIP and whatnot.

  14. 14
    Ace of Sevens

    I starting having problems with pat way before he went off about how Muslims are wrecking Britain with their funny names and funny food. He was claiming way back that no religious leaders really believe their own bullshit. He seemed to not understand religious psychology at all.

  15. 15
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    I agree with see_the_galaxy at 13. He went off the deep end properly which was a bit sad as his earlier videos were actually pretty good.

    As for UKIP and the EDL. Yeah, UKIP are more then a bit weird and the EDL seem to consist of re-branded football hooligans.

  16. 16
    lostintime

    Yeah I’m not a fan of Pat Condell either. His rhetorical technique on youtube is to literally rant into the camera, but just it comes across as being bitter, like a drunk uncle with a megaphone. His support for far-right groups like UKIP is also very questionable. If I’m not mistaken, Lord Monkton the supercrank is their climate change advisor! Secular groups should be promoting reason and actively distancing themselves from people like this rather than giving them awards.

  17. 17
    yahweh

    I don’t particularly agree with Pat Condell although I find him quite funny. He definitely gives the impression of a man with darker and uglier opinions unexpressed.

    Counting all Muslims as the same would clearly be wrong (unfair and untrue).

    Maybe it would be better to think of Muslims as Schrödinger’s Extremist?

  18. 18
    leni

    I saw and liked some of his videos from years ago. Maybe 8 or 10 years ago? Not sure. It was boilerplate atheist stuff, nothing crazy, but I enjoyed his rants.

    Then I didn’t see anything from him for a few years. Then when I did it was in reference to the “Ground zero mosque” and I decided he was an idiot.

    This predated the sexism wars, I think, but I know where he’d come down on that: squarely on the side of status quo with a side of asshole.

    Embarrassing. (That I ever liked him, I mean.)

  19. 19
    belzerbru

    Don’t be, a friend of mine liked him till the Ground zero video too.. For many Americans it might be hard to know where he’s coming from if it’s about local politics..

  20. 20
    leni

    Not sure why that it would make it hard for me to understand where he’s coming from. I know where the local assholes are coming from, why should the imported ones be any more mysterious?

  21. 21
    Dan Bye

    In an ideal world Condell wouldn’t even get nominated for secularist of the year, but it should be emphasised that he never “nearly” won.

    Dan

  22. 22
    Norine

    What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness
    of valuable know-how on the topic of unpredicted feelings.

  1. 23
    Hook, Line and Rapture | Geoff Coupe's Blog

    […] Posted on January 8, 2008 by Geoff Coupe The ever-dependable Pat Condell aiming some barbs at a well-deserved target. Update: August 2013. I’ve long stopped watching Condell’s videos. It seems to me he has crossed the line into prejudiced argument. Avicenna puts his finger on it. […]

  2. 24
    What’s Good About Religion? | Geoff Coupe's Blog

    […] Posted on October 26, 2007 by Geoff Coupe I do like Pat Condell’s riffs on religion… I just wish I shared his optimism. Update: August 2013. I’ve long stopped watching Condell’s videos. It seems to me he has crossed the line into prejudiced argument. Avicenna puts his finger on it. […]

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