Richard Dawkins is at it again and still – he is still at it, and he has produced another specific instance of it. The “it” in question is his determined, condescending, angry, vindictive attack on feminism. (Why “vindictive”? Because to all appearances it started with Dear Muslima, and he’s made it very obvious that he’s deeply pissed off at all of us who pushed back against Dear Muslima.)
We saw him at it just a few days ago, in a pair of tweets he sent on Sunday, perhaps while still at the CFI Reason for Change conference. Maybe he sent them Sunday morning while listening to Stephen Law’s talk – I know he was there because he was the first to ask a question at the end. I was there too. If only I’d known I could have flung myself at him and knocked the phone or tablet from his hands, thus saving him from yet another self-exposure as a raging anti-feminist bully. (Yes, bully. He’s using his fame and star status to do what he can to repress feminism and incite his fans to do even more of that. I know he knows that because I fucking told him so.)
Those tweets again:
Richard Dawkins @RichardDawkins Jun 14
“A moment to savour”? Really? Please, Guardian, could we just lighten up on the witch-hunts? #ReinstateTimHunt. –
Richard Dawkins @RichardDawkins Jun 14
@SquashedLumps I didn’t like Tim Hunt’s joke. But I loathe and detest mob rule and witch hunts and politically correct feeding frenzies.
Now he’s sent the content of the tweets to The Times. Yes really: he sent a letter to The Times complaining of a “baying witch hunt.” He actually did that.
Let me pause before quoting the whole letter to point out what he’s doing here. He’s blowing a deeply disgusting dog whistle by using the word “witch” in this context. It’s interesting, in an emetic way, that he can’t seem to stop himself using the word “witch” whenever he gets in a rage at feminist women. Remember “I promise you I’m not exaggerating” last summer? And now again. He’s invoking both the inquisitorial mindset that triggers witch hunts, and the link between women and perceived witches. It’s a filthy business, and he needs to stop.
Now his letter to the Times:
Sir, Along with many others, I didn’t like Sir Tim Hunt’s joke, but “disproportionate” would be a huge underestimate of the baying witch-hunt that it unleashed among our academic thought police: nothing less than a feeding frenzy of mob-rule self-righteousness. A writer in The Guardian even described it as “a moment to savour.” To “savour” a moment of human misery — to “savour” the hounding of one of our most distinguished scientists — goes beyond schadenfreude and spills over into cruelty.
Professor Richard Dawkins, FRS
To repeat what I’ve said before:
This wasn’t some private “joke” at a dinner table. This was something Hunt said in a talk at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea. It was something he said in his official capacity as a Top scientist. It was patronizing and dismissive of women.
This is not some small gaffe. It’s not for other Top male white scientists to blow it off, because male white scientists have never had to face that particular kind of patronizing dismissal from people who are of the “superior” sex and/or race to them. Dawkins doesn’t know anything about the way patronizing dismissal impedes people of “inferior” race and/or sex, because that kind of patronizing dismissal has never impeded him. That’s very pleasant for him, and he’s made excellent use of it as an educator until recently, but it still means he should not weigh in to call us witches or witch-hunters when we fight back. He should stop.
Last Friday evening I watched him receive a lifetime achievement award at the CFI Reason for Change conference. I didn’t enjoy it much, because he has made so much of his achievement lately be about bullying feminist women. I think it’s very sad that he’s so determined to add that to his CV and thus to put a big ugly blot on it. I also think it’s shameful of him.
When he made his remarks on receiving the award, he made some tiresome quip about the Judean People’s Front versus the People’s Front of Judea haw haw because he’s never made that joke before, sigh. But he also said he was very sorry about the divisions among us. He said it quickly and without elaborating and then moved on, but he said it.
But he clearly didn’t mean a word of it.
I’m disgusted. I know that’s obvious, but I want to spell it out anyway. I think his campaign against feminism is disgusting and contemptible and I think he should stop.