Well at least Amol Rajan gets it.
Proof, if proof were needed, that “militant secularism” isn’t having such a great time of it in modern Britain has been in plentiful supply over the past week, during which there has been a sustained and vicious assault in our media on one of our most distinguished academics. Professor Richard Dawkins (FRS, FRSL) presumably personifies militant secularism, and has been made to suffer for it.
Or if not suffer, at least be the object of a lot of mud-throwing. (Being the object of something is the core meaning of “suffer,” but that meaning is intransative; you can’t just “suffer” in that sense without a direct object.)
In the Daily Mail last week, A N Wilson launched a nasty attack on him, comparing him, among other things, to a “spotty adolescent”. The lead interview in The Sunday Times was one long personal attack on his character, rather than an examination of his ideas. My distinguished colleague Mary Ann Sieghart, who at least has met him, described Dawkins yesterday as “puffed-up, self-regarding, vain, prickly and militant”. Rod Liddle wrote a blog for The Spectator with the ludicrous title “Dawkins exposed”.
Damn, I’m not even caught up. I haven’t seen the Wilson or the Liddle.
Dawkins has done a number of valuable and important things, Rajan goes on.
These are achievements and contributions to the cause of civilisation that none of his critics can boast. Their assault illustrates the extent to which defenders of religion still dominate our press, the brutal retaliation exacted on clever opponents of faith and the incorrigible stupidity of Sayeeda Warsi’s claim about “militant secularism” last week.
Why yes, yes it does. Thank you for noticing.