Dawkins and the False Dichotomy

On Sunday, Richard Dawkins tweeted the following:

Decent, nice, liberal people must stop being so terrified of being thought “Islamophobic” and stand up for decent, nice, liberal values.

Our friend Gretchen responded:

@RichardDawkins That’s sort of like saying that people should stop being terrified of being thought racist and stand up for anti-racism.

We hear variations on this fairly often, but it’s based on a false dichotomy. One can be opposed to both Islam (especially in its reactionary forms) and opposed to Islamophobia, which is real and does exist — especially in the United States. Reactionary Islam is a vile, barbaric belief system that is astonishingly repressive and dangerous, probably the most malevolent belief system on the planet at the moment (at least that has any real influence). But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t genuine Islamophobia that decent, nice, liberal and rational people should oppose.

We see it particularly on the American far right, where people like Pam Geller, Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney, David Yerushalmi and others refuse to make any distinctions at all between different types of Muslims. In their world, every Muslim is a violent jihadist and anyone who does not share their ideology and policy preferences — meaning official repression of any rights of Muslims — is a terrorist sympathizer. Not only are they wrong, they’re blatant liars, as with their fraudulent study claiming that Sharia law has invaded America and is being imposed by the courts when, in reality, every single case they cite is the exact opposite of that.

Any rational liberal should be opposed to both the imposition of Sharia law and to the vastly exaggerated fear and paranoia being advocated by the Islamophobes to justify repressive, unconstitutional policies like denying the right to build mosques or forbidding Muslim immigration into the country. Both of those things are violation of liberal values and both should be fought against with equal vigor.

157 comments on this post.
  1. timgueguen:

    Yeah, there’s rather a difference between saying “You really need to reconsider your beliefs about women, they’re harmful” and “The Muslims are going to outbreed us! Europe will be majority Muslim in 2 decades, and will become a caliphate! We need to expel all the Muslims, or we’re doomed too!!!!”

  2. Physicalist:

    Off topic, but I thought you should know: Animated ads causing headaches mean adblock goes on for FTB. Like to support you guys, but not at the cost of an epileptic seizure.

  3. bryanjohnson:

    Yeah, I totally agree. This is a charge I hear often over on the Friendly Atheist, that we atheists focus too much on Christianity and are really forgiving of Islam. One, I don’t think that’s the case – atheists disbelieve in every religion, it just so happens that Christianity is the powerful, dominant one here in the U.S. – but two, we can support the right of Muslims to build mosques and be accepted as legitimate members of the community because we support a secular society, not one in which there is no religion whatsoever (although a lot of us would like to see that as well).

    It’s not “anti-Islamophobia” that stops us from speaking out against Islam (and there are plenty of atheists who do, especially outside of the U.S.), it’s the fact that they have just as much a right to practice their religion of choice in this country as anyone else. Discrimination against anyone is still discrimination, and those with “decent, nice, liberal values” should always be against discrimination.

  4. lynxreign:

    Saw Dawkins in the headline and thought this was going to be about his recent rejection of biology. Ah well. Dawkins has used up any benefit of the doubt I gave him. He’s an idiot. A blatantly sexist, evidence-denying idiot.

  5. Jasper of Maine:

    Liberalism is essentially “live and let live”, but it’s not apathy. It’s not a position of letting everyone else do whatever they want regardless of who it hurts. The idea is that liberalism fights for “live and let live” for everyone.

    When something like Islam is pulling crap, violating that rule for other people, it’s not ill-liberal to fight against that, because we’re fighting for that rule.

    That’s the difference between being opposed to Islam just for the sake of being opposed to Islam, versus being opposed to the harm they might do.

  6. Alverant:

    I can’t tell if Gretchen is agreeing or disagreeing with Dawkins.

    On a related note, we also see this false dichotomy with anti-Semeitism. Anyone who gives criticism of Israel is automatically considered anti-Jewish no matter how justified the criticism is. There are still people who are anti-Jewish just out of hate, but saying that it’s wrong to bulldoze people’s houses and take their land doesn’t make one anti-Jewish. Criticism of the RCC is often dismissed in the same way.

  7. Gretchen:

    I can’t tell if Gretchen is agreeing or disagreeing with Dawkins.

    Disagreeing. Islamophobia is a form of bigotry. Supporting “decent, nice, liberal values” means opposing it along with all other forms.

  8. candiron:

    You dipshit. The “false dichotomy” is precisely the one that Dawkins is trying to get spineless libtards to stop mindlessly believing in. It is the libtards who villify anyone who criticizes even militant Islam for its human rights abuses.

    Recently in England a debate at a secular university was segregated by gender in order to kowtow to Islamic bigotry:

    http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com/2013/03/ucl-adopts-sharia-law-for-public-debate.html?utm_source=StandFirm&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=link

    Maybe Dawkins was concerned about that.

  9. Gretchen:

    Candiron, it sounds like you’re the dipshit. But that could’ve been predicted from the use of “libtard.”

  10. doublereed:

    It’s a question of whether you want to say “Not all Islamophobia is bad. You can hate Islam rationally,” or you want to say “Islamophobia is bad because Islamophobia only refers to irrational hatred. I have rational criticisms of Islam.” Generally, I’d say the latter is more precise, but harder to explain.

    Disputing definitions is really annoying, though.

  11. Maximus Decimus:

    I know that since ElevatorGate, there are people here on Ftb that hate Dawkins, but this hole post was really confusing to me.

    I reread Ed’s post three times, and could not see how he was not agreeing with what Dawkins stated, i.e., that you should stand for what you think is right and moral, instead of refrain for fear of being called a bigot. It is very similar to what Alverant stated in @6 regarding anti-semitism.

    Of course, once again, that does not mean that he was not on the wrong in ElevatorGate. On a related note, did he apologize for that? (did not follow it that closely).

  12. Buzz Saw:

    I’m not on board with doublereed’s choice of language, but I had similar thoughts. First, context matters. Dawkins is from England, not the United States. Ed makes a really good point when he says, “Any rational liberal should be opposed to both the imposition of Sharia law and to the vastly exaggerated fear and paranoia being advocated by the Islamophobes to justify repressive, unconstitutional policies.” My understanding of many liberals overseas, however, is that there is not opposition to the “imposition of Sharia law” because liberals are being, as Dawkins puts it, “decent [and] nice” toward the Muslims who would impose Sharia law rather than standing up for liberal values. My thought is that Dawkins wants liberals to behave as Ed suggests. Therefore, we’re really in agreement here, but what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.

    That’s how I read it. Also, this is not to say that this is how liberals over in England (or Europe in general) actually are; these are the rumors I have heard, so take them for what they are worth.

  13. Buzz Saw:

    @12 (myself)

    This is not to say that this is how liberals over in England (or Europe in general) actually are.

    Forgot to give credit to Gretchen for linking the story about the Krauss debate. I grant that it’s really confirmation bias to say this proves that liberals are not that way, but it certainly serves as evidence in their favor.

  14. gshelley:

    It’s only a false dichotomy if it isn’t true, ie if people aren’t restricting criticism of Islam for fear of being accused of Islamophobia, in a similar way that he could have used “criticism of Israel” and “antisemitism”

  15. candiron:

    So Wretchen, I’m the dipshit because you and Ed the Braying ass are inconsistent hypocrites, as well as cowards?

    You’re an idiot as well. Hopefully, when your capitulation results in your getting beaten by Islamic barbarians, you’ll come to your senses.

  16. Pierce R. Butler:

    Dawkins seems to have gotten himself stuck in false-dilemma territory lately regarding abortion issues as well.

  17. Alverant:

    @Gretchen, but doesn’t supporting “decent, nice, liberal values” means opposing fundamentalist Islam as well? One can be against fundamentalist islam because it is counter to “decent, nice, liberal values” and not be considered islamicphobic. That’s how I’m reading what Dawkins said. There are plenty of legit reasons to hate that religion. There are blogs on FtB that list them almost daily. But islamaphobia is the irrational hate of islam and Dawkins appears to be saying we shouldn’t be quiet out of fear.

    So the question IMHO boils down to “Can we have a legitimate reason to hate a religion without it crossing the line into bigotry?”

  18. candiron:

    And if Ed was such an imbecile that he *forgot his own article* and failed to realize that Dawkins was addressing the same false dichotomy, that reflects his fat headedness, not mine.

    It reflects on yours as well, since you did not even address the point I was making.

    Dipshittiness is more accurately measured by how often one blogs on this Democrat cock sucking aggregator, not on whether one is ignorant of one or other of your simple minded, one sided posts.

  19. Gretchen:

    Alverant,

    Gretchen, but doesn’t supporting “decent, nice, liberal values” means opposing fundamentalist Islam as well? One can be against fundamentalist islam because it is counter to “decent, nice, liberal values” and not be considered islamicphobic.

    Of course– that’s the point! Opposing Islamic extremism is not Islamophobic, and therefore people who support “nice, liberal values”– aka secularism– needn’t worry about being called Islamophobic because they’re not being Islamophobic.

    If you’re Islamophobic, you are not a secularist. You are an opponent of the equal right of people who happen to be Muslim to express themselves and practice their beliefs in the way that everyone else does. You think that disagreeing with their beliefs, and with the practices of some who share those beliefs, justifies vilifying anyone who shares them. There are actual Islamophobes all over the US, the UK, and the EU generally, and they are anything but liberal. They are, generally speaking, nationalist conservatives like (I hazard to guess) our friend Candiron here.

    That’s why it’s a false dichotomy to tell liberals that they should be willing to brave accusations of Islamophobia in order to be liberals. If you actually support the decent, nice, liberal value of secularism, you are anything but an Islamophobe, and anyone who would you call one doesn’t know what the word means.

    Oh, and it has nothing to do with hating Richard Dawkins. FFS.

  20. Taz:

    It’s only a false dichotomy if it’s a dichotomy in the first place. I see nothing in Dawkins’ tweet that indicates it has to be one or the other.

  21. D. C. Sessions:

    Not only are they wrong, they’re blatant liars

    and what’s more, do a great deal to undermine Islamic moderates and drive Muslims to the radical fringe.

  22. Gretchen:

    It’s a false dichotomy, Taz, because it sure sounds like Dawkins is saying Islamophobia is a liberal value. That your choices are to speak up for liberalism and be Islamophobic, or shut up and sit down. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

  23. gingerbaker:

    Oh, and it has nothing to do with hating Richard Dawkins. FFS.

    Oh, of course not, Gretchen. Why it seems obvious that you, and most commenters at Ftb, could never be accused of of taking anything but the most charitable interpretations of what Dawkins has to say.

    Right.

  24. doublereed:

    Again, I think this is disputing definitions, nothing more. I don’t think Gretchen or Dawkins disagree on substance here.

    This is a disagreement purely on the definition of Islamophobia.

  25. Johnny Vector:

    @Gretchen: Or, it could mean that your choice is to speak up for liberalism and be *called* Islamaphobic, or to shut up and sit down. Which is a lot less farther from the truth.

    All of which leads to my take-away from this whole thing: Don’t use twitter unless you have years of practice (and numerical analysis of feedback) writing micro-content. I seriously can’t tell whether Dawkins meant what Gretchen says in 22 or what I wrote above.

    At least it’s obvious that candiron is comprehension-challenged.

  26. Taz:

    Gretchen – I think you’re reading a lot into that tweet. I think Dawkins is saying that there are instances were people have contradicted liberal values in an effort not to appear Islamaphobic – that it’s a danger we must guard against. Your version is that Dawkins is saying you cannot be support liberal values and oppose Islamophobia at the same time. I’m not buying that.

  27. Synfandel:

    Would someone please give candiron a yellow card? The personally abusive language is getting a bit hard to overlook.

  28. Michael Heath:

    Richard Dawkins writes:

    Decent, nice, liberal people must stop being so terrified of being thought “Islamophobic” and stand up for decent, nice, liberal values.

    Alverant writes:

    I can’t tell if Gretchen is agreeing or disagreeing with Dawkins.

    Gretchen reponds to Alverant:

    Disagreeing. Islamophobia is a form of bigotry. Supporting “decent, nice, liberal values” means opposing it along with all other forms.

    Richard Dawkins isn’t promoting Islamophobia, where I’m cognizant you didn’t directly accuse of him such but raised the topic anyway. Instead I perceive Dawkins to be arguing that we should be equally vociferous in our criticisms of Islam that we are of Christianity when Muslims behave in illiberal ways.

    Now I don’t know if Mr. Dawkins’ criticism is credible because there’s a needed factual premise to grade his criticism. And that is; do liberals criticize Muslims behaving illiberal roughly equal to their exposure of Christians doing the same? If liberals are less prone to criticize Muslims acting illiberally, than Mr. Dawkins has a valid point. So Dawkins should have linked to a cite establishing this premise prior to criticizing liberals. He’s sloppy here, my biggest criticism of him in general. But no, what Ed quotes here does not justify attempts to overtly or covertly claim or insinuate that Dawkins promotes the adoption of Islamophobia rhetoric and positions, especially since by definition Islamophobia is illiberal.

    Consider heddle’s occasional accusation that I’m a bigot towards politically and/or theologically conservative Christians based on my repeated criticism of that group in this venue. He’s of course never quoted precisely what I write that is supposedly bigoted and made a compelling case. Instead I must assume his motivation for the accusation is two-fold. One appears derived from his frustration he has no defense for what I assert to be true about this group or sub-group yet has no desire to concede this fact about this tribe(s). Especially since surveys and other statistically significant data support my premises (dogmeat has also been stellar at putting the facts in front of heddle, which hasn’t changed his arguments). I think the second motivation is the hope that threatening me with being a bigot, regardless of their accuracy, will quell my criticisms against the group(s); particularly since heddle is very fond of ‘no true Scotsman’ arguments or arguments that the behavior of these groups are not pervasive enough to be an attribute of the group/sub-group in general. Of course exit polling and other surveys falsify this belief.

    I perceive Dawkins arguing we risk this type of defamation in order to consistently promote and defend liberal values. And that we do so to change people’s minds, at least about illiberalism motivated by religion where in Dawkins’ case, he’s also seeking to better leverage more arguments to turn the religious into nones. This is a valid proposal, the flaw in his argument is whether our propensity is too low, a premise he needs to confirm.

  29. marcus:

    I’m reading Dawkins as saying to not to let the fear of being accused of Islamaphobia stop one from speaking out against the excesses of fundamental Islamism. Which seems to be the same thing Ed is saying. (And I agree.)

  30. Michael Heath:

    Pierce Butler:

    Dawkins seems to have gotten himself stuck in false-dilemma territory lately regarding abortion issues as well.

    Please explain how Richard Dawkins has gotten himself stuck in a false-dilemma. I point out the flaw in his not validating a premise we need to consider his conclusion. But I can not perceive how this failure to cite puts him in a false-dilemma. Unless his sole premise is wrong; but I haven’t seen anybody falsify that premise, i.e., that liberals aren’t consistent in their criticism of illiberal Muslims and illiberal Muslim behavior.

  31. Ed Brayton:

    Wow, a lot of people are really missing the point here. I actually have no idea whether Dawkins is right or wrong here because I don’t know what he meant by it. One vague tweet like that doesn’t give much information to go on. It could be that he recognizes and advocates exactly the distinction I am making between legitimate criticism of Islam and Islamophobia. I merely used his tweet as a jumping off point to bring the subject up and talk about it. That’s why I mentioned variations on this statement rather than actually criticizing Dawkins directly. I’d actually like to talk to him about it and find out where he stands on it. And I cannot, for the life of me, understand why anyone would think this has anything to do with hating Dawkins or with ElevatorGate.

    And I’m always amused when my idiot troll shows up (under yet another nickname) to make an ass of himself by pretending that liberal secularists don’t criticize Islam, especially when the very situation he mentioned, the gender segregation at UCL, has been pretty much universally slammed in this community over the last week and Krauss universally applauded for standing up to it. But he’ll go on pretending that his bizarro world version of reality exists, the one where liberals never criticize Islam — facts be damned.

  32. gshelley:

    Of course– that’s the point! Opposing Islamic extremism is not Islamophobic, and therefore people who support “nice, liberal values”– aka secularism– needn’t worry about being called Islamophobic because they’re not being Islamophobic.

    So, what Dawkins said.

  33. baal:

    And this is why I hate Twitter. Short snippets (even when they could be clearer at that length) don’t have enough bandwidth to provide relevant context. As a result, the most likely meaning given to a tweet depends more on the listener. Given the wide variety of people listening, your pretty much guaranteed to upset someone.

    Worse, without a larger context, ill minded folks are able to quote mine you with apparent good faith.

    I’m not saying that’s what is happening here or over on Skepchic (though they seem to have an axe to grind) but that with those unintentional and intentional uses and misreadings of tweets, it’s somewhat not possible to have ‘fair’ criticism of a person based on the tweeting*. It’s a similar problem to Poes, you can’t tell legit criticism from misreadings from intentional false light.

    As Dawkin’s tweet is written (and just that text), I share Gretchen’s concern, Ed’s comments and Alavert’s analysis. OTOH cadiron (pbuh) is right that the context of the tweet is the UK where the authoritarian left (or something like that) seems to be bending over to an insane degree to accommodate some Muslims with otherwise objectionable views. In that context, the overall meaning of the tweet is an attack on those accommodationalists (a non-objectionable if somewhat trite point).

    OT – Cadiron is using harsh language to emphasis his understanding of the truth and I don’t doubt that it comes from his heart and tragic unique experiences with the world. Let’s not fault him for it or oppress his particular oeuvre.

    *maybe if you can if you amass a pile of that person’s tweets and can lay out enough of the relevant contexts for the person criticizing, the context of the target and the context of the relevant subject matter.

  34. heddle:

    Micahael Heath,

    he has no defense for what I assert

    But nobody has a defense for what you assert. You are Michael Friggin’ Heath. Your statements to the effect that the Christian god is the greatest evil ever devised by man are unassailable. You’ve never been known to be wrong.

    I think the second motivation is the hope that threatening me with being a bigot, regardless of their accuracy, will quell my criticisms against the group(s)

    Yes I live in moribund with fear that the great and powerful Heath will criticize Christianity.

    Get over yourself, Heath. You’re Christophobic. You might as well embrace it. I suggest “God Hates Christians” as your motto.

  35. Alverant:

    @Gretech #19
    On the internet being correct won’t stop people from saying you’re lying; being rational won’t stop people from accusing you of being irrational; and saying bad (but true) things about a group won’t stop others from saying you’re prejudiced against that group. It’s that fear of being called a liar or bigot or [fill in the blank]-aphobic that will keep people quiet. Not everyone has thick skin. Some of us do fear personal attacks and can’t just ignore the wrongful barbs thrown our way just for being correct and rational. I think Dawkins is telling us to not let that fear stop us.

  36. Michael Heath:

    Gretchen writes:

    therefore people who support “nice, liberal values”– aka secularism– needn’t worry about being called Islamophobic because they’re not being Islamophobic.

    Not true. People’s arguments are misrepresented all the time, where their valid critiques are frequently misconstrued into something far worse. Even this venue is not immune; e.g., I provided an example above of heddle’s accusation against me. We constantly see conservatives misrepresenting liberals as fascists, communists, etc. Tribalistic liberals are also prone to defame others.

    Gretchen writes:

    That’s why it’s a false dichotomy to tell liberals that they should be willing to brave accusations of Islamophobia in order to be liberals. If you actually support the decent, nice, liberal value of secularism, you are anything but an Islamophobe, and anyone who would you call one doesn’t know what the word means.

    Your premise is false, therefore your conclusion in this first sentence falls apart. There is no false dichotomy, just a misreading of what Dawkins actually wrote. That because Dawkins isn’t arguing we should be Islamophobes, but instead that we should to make our liberal case with equal propensity to the one we make against non-Mulsim illiberals. We can predict with high confidence if we did increase the volume of criticisms against illiberal Muslims, the rate of being accused of Islamophobia would increase, where we should risk that (according to Dawkins).

  37. firefly:

    Johnny Vector, #25

    @Gretchen: Or, it could mean that your choice is to speak up for liberalism and be *called* Islamaphobic, or to shut up and sit down. Which is a lot less farther from the truth.

    I read it the same way you do, Johnny. I used to live in England and the term ‘islamophobe’ gets thrown around there to silence any and all criticism of Islam. I think that is what Dawkins is responding to, that you can’t be afraid to speak out for fear of those false accusations.

    Taz, #26

    Your version is that Dawkins is saying you cannot be support liberal values and oppose Islamophobia at the same time. I’m not buying that.

    Me neither.

  38. Gretchen:

    Yes, I am guilty of not giving Richard Dawkins the benefit of the doubt, because the notion of people who are not just liberal but dedicatedly against Islamophobia being called Islamophobic is ridiculous to me, and seems to deny the reality of actual Islamophobia which is rampant. It makes as much sense, on first blush, as telling people to go on fighting racism in spite of the inevitability of being called racist for it– hence my reply tweet.

    Here’s my second blush.

    In my defense, this isn’t the first time Dawkins has tweeted cryptically. And it is certainly worth the discussion regardless.

  39. Michael Heath:

    Gretchen writes:

    it sure sounds like Dawkins is saying Islamophobia is a liberal value.

    Richard Dawkins wrote:

    Decent, nice, liberal people must stop being so terrified of being thought “Islamophobic” and stand up for decent, nice, liberal values.
    [emphasis Heath's]

    It doesn’t sound like that at all, especially when we read what Mr. Dawkins actually wrote that I emphasize in bold followed by the scare quotes around the word Islamophobic. Dawkins is referring to the perception of others in what I emphasize, not the behavior of liberals.

    And of course we can be confident increased liberal criticism of Muslim illiberality will be frequently misconstrued as Islamophobia; in fact that’s a popular approach at the U.N. to justify anti-blasphemy laws. False persecution poses are popular with religionists; so we should expect defamation if we’re more strident in our defense of liberalism against illiberalism by some Muslims.

    I think Dawkins point is also quite clearly made though again, it’s problematic since he needs to also confirm liberals don’t criticize illiberal Muslim behavior equal to other illiberal behavior to have moral standing for this criticism.

  40. Michael Heath:

    doublereed writes:

    Again, I think this is disputing definitions, nothing more. I don’t think Gretchen or Dawkins disagree on substance here.

    This is a disagreement purely on the definition of Islamophobia.

    I agree Gretchen and Dawkins agree on substance. But it’s clear Gretchen is misunderstanding what Dawkins wrote. That’s because one can’t get from his statement to his promoting Islamophobia, but instead his promotion of liberalism to the point others accuse us of such. Where that’s in a context where we know how religionists are prone to mispresent others’ criticism of them, both from a grass roots level and their leaders.

  41. Michael Heath:

    heddle actually uses by point to punch himself in the face with it, specifically:

    Heath. You’re Christophobic. You might as well embrace it. I suggest “God Hates Christians” as your motto.

    It’s not bigoted to criticize people because they celebrate the nature of a god they believe exists and will torture people for all eternity. You continue to illustrate your inability to parse the difference between bigotry and being critical of behavior or ideas.

    But especially, thanks so much for reinforcing and illustrating the very point I made earlier. Which is that consistent criticism against a group, even if valid, will get one/us wrongly accused of bigotry.

  42. Michael Heath:

    Gretchen writes:

    I am guilty of not giving Richard Dawkins the benefit of the doubt, because the notion of people who are not just liberal but dedicatedly against Islamophobia being called Islamophobic is ridiculous to me, and seems to deny the reality of actual Islamophobia which is rampant.

    What words we look to in this tweet to conclude Dawkins denies the reality of Islamophobia? Given he’s referring to how some others will react to our expressing liberal values in the face of Muslim illiberality, he seems to acknowledge the existence of Islamophobia while pointing out we’ll be falsely accused of being one. That doesn’t argue he’s a denialist, but instead cognizant that acting liberally will get one defamed.

  43. Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    @Jasper of Maine

    When something like Islam is pulling crap

    “Islam” isn’t pulling crap, because “Islam” isn’t any sort of agent, so it isn’t doing anything. It’s one of the main features of genuine Islamophobia that it treats Islam as if it were an agent.

    This issue was discussed on Butterflies and Wheels. Someone said:

    “For a London University to allow forced segregation by sex in 2013 is disgraceful.”

    Cries of ‘islamophobia’ in 3….2….

    I tried putting the search terms:

    UCL Krauss segregation Islamophobia

    into google, and checked the first two pages of links. No “cries of Islamophobia”. Every one of the links was someone making essentially the same claim as in the quote above, and in the Dawkins quote: that criticism of Islam is being silenced by, or for fear of, “cries of Islamophobia”. IIRC Dawkins, like Ophelia Benson, puts “Islamophobia” in scare-quotes as a way of denying its existence.

  44. Michael Heath:

    Nick Gotts writes:

    IIRC Dawkins, like Ophelia Benson, puts “Islamophobia” in scare-quotes as a way of denying its existence.

    Cite requested Richard Dawkins denies the existence of Islamophobia. “IIRC” won’t cut it given it’s critical to the validity of criticism against Dawkins.

  45. baal:

    @Nick Gotts (formerly KG)
    Not all use of “quotes” is “scare quotes.” Quotes are also used to denote that you’re talking about a word rather than using it (not this case). They are also used to denote words that aren’t really words (verbs being used as nouns and vice versa) or to denote neologisms or to denote non-standard usages. The intent or effect may or may not wind up silencing use of the “quoted words”. The assertion of “scare quotes” silences these regular and normal uses of “quotes” (bad) as well as marginalizing use of “scare quotes” (good).

  46. doublereed:

    So at the very least we can all agree that Dawkins is terrible at twitter?

  47. Gretchen:

    Heath, it suggested to me that Dawkins was saying what is regarded as Islamophobia is actually liberals just being good (sorry, “decent, nice”) liberals.

    In fact, when I see liberals being accused of Islamophobia it is generally because they are not acting very liberal– they are joining conservatives to advocate for burqa bans, or pushing to forbid Muslim private schools, not for advocating secularism with freedom of religious expression. It’s far more common, from what I’ve seen, for liberal secularists to effectively be accused of Islamophilia for opposing the religion (which is overlooked) while supporting the freedom to practice it (which is read as endorsement).

    Of course, there is the notable exception when conservatives come to the liberal side, and some of both may be Islamophobic– the Muhammad cartoons. By “coming to the liberal side,” I mean that the same people who would cry foul at any other kind of blasphemy suddenly become the fiercest advocates of free speech you could find when the jokes are aimed at Islam.

  48. Alverant:

    @Gretchen #38
    “In my defense, this isn’t the first time Dawkins has tweeted cryptically.”
    This is why I don’t follow anyone on twitter. It seems like twitter isn’t good for much more than telling the world, “Hooray I took a dump!” or “Lookit this video tinyurl” (which is sort of the same thing but I digress).

    (Just to be clear, that last part was meant to be funny. Your results may vary.)

  49. Alverant:

    #46
    Yes, along with half of the tweets out there.

  50. gshelley:

    This isn’t even cryptic. Without a strong bias against Dawkins, I don’t think there is any way to go from “Decent, nice, liberal people must stop being so terrified of being thought “Islamophobic” and stand up for decent, nice, liberal values.” to anything other than “Don’t worry that some people might accuse you of Islamophobia”. No other possible interpretation makes sense, either in the context of what Dawkins wrote in the tweet, or with the added knowledge of what he has previously said about religions.

    It’s perfectly reasonable to question whether such accusations actually happen, but to decide that this doesn’t happen, so Dawkins must have meant something other than what he wrote is irrational.

  51. Gretchen:

    to anything other than “Don’t worry that some people might accuse you of Islamophobia”.

    Except that there are some people who clearly should be worried about such accusations, because they are…you guessed it…Islamophobes.

  52. Raging Bee:

    One vague tweet like that doesn’t give much information to go on.

    Then why “go” at all, if you know you don’t have enough gas in the tank to “go” the distance?

    This is a pretty good reason not to write such extensive articles criticizing mere single tweets in the first place. If we have a speech or magazine article by Dawkins on the same subject, we should focus on that, since there’d be more to “go on” there.

    I suspect that one reason Dawkins’ vague tweet is causing so much reaction here, is that it kinda sounds like a bigot trying to get other bigots to stop worrying about being seen as bigots, and just say what’s on their minds and egg each other on rather than let those horrible PC thugs keep on shaming them into silence. Example: “We good Christians have important things to say about how evil homosexuality is, so we shouldn’t let ourselves be silenced by accusations of homophobia…” followed by statements of blatant homophobia with maybe some sciencey words to make it sound like rational criticism. That, at least is what I have heard in American political dialogue recently, so that’s the alarm bell that Dawkins’ tweet sets off. Is that really what Dawkins meant? Can’t say, so there’s not much point in parsing his words here…

  53. heddle:

    Michael Heath,

    You continue to illustrate your inability to parse the difference between bigotry and being critical of behavior or ideas.

    There are literally hundreds of commenters on here who are critical of Christianity. I don’t charge any of them with being a Christophobe except you–so I am in fact doing some level of parsing.

    But especially, thanks so much for reinforcing and illustrating the very point

    Yeah, yeah. You often respond with detractors with nothing more than “thanks for making my point.” No doubt that this response, too, is somehow making your point.

  54. Gretchen:

    Raging Bee said:

    I suspect that one reason Dawkins’ vague tweet is causing so much reaction here, is that it kinda sounds like a bigot trying to get other bigots to stop worrying about being seen as bigots, and just say what’s on their minds and egg each other on rather than let those horrible PC thugs keep on shaming them into silence. Example: “We good Christians have important things to say about how evil homosexuality is, so we shouldn’t let ourselves be silenced by accusations of homophobia…”

    Bingo.

    To which someone who holds being a good Christian as an ideal but/and/therefore opposes homophobia would say “But a good Christian is the opposite of a homophobe!”

  55. Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    Testing.

  56. Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    I’ve tried three times to post a response to Michael Heath@44, but for some reason, it’s not posting. I’ll try without the link: you’ll have to put http://musingsbysoggymog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/islamophobia-time-to-end-doublesspeak.html into your browser if you want to see the source.

    Michael Heath@44,

    A reasonable request. Here you are. I quote part of it:

    And “Islamophobic”, which brings me back to the title of this entry.

    I am sick. To goddamn. Death. Of this mealy-mouthed, snivelling, craven, manipulative, lying little gobshite of a word that’s wormed its way into our lexicon.

    Look up “phobia” in any decent dictionary. There are lots of variations on a theme, but you’ll notice there is a commonality; they all describe a “phobia” as irrational, illogical, disproportionate to the danger, unreasonable. My chest-constricting, panic-inducing, uncontrollable fear of injections is all of those things – it is a phobia. My fear and dislike of Islam is not irrational, or illogical, or unreasonable – and it certainly is not disproportionate to the danger it poses. Just ask the families of all the people it’s killed.

  57. Michael Heath:

    Nick Gotts asserts:

    IIRC Dawkins, like Ophelia Benson, puts “Islamophobia” in scare-quotes as a way of denying its existence.

    My earlier response:

    Cite requested Richard Dawkins denies the existence of Islamophobia. “IIRC” won’t cut it given it’s critical to the validity of criticism against Dawkins.

    Nick Gotts response:

    Michael Heath@44,

    A reasonable request. Here you are. I quote part of it:

    And “Islamophobic”, which brings me back to the title of this entry.

    I am sick. To goddamn. Death. Of this mealy-mouthed, snivelling, craven, manipulative, lying little gobshite of a word that’s wormed its way into our lexicon.

    Look up “phobia” in any decent dictionary. There are lots of variations on a theme, but you’ll notice there is a commonality; they all describe a “phobia” as irrational, illogical, disproportionate to the danger, unreasonable. My chest-constricting, panic-inducing, uncontrollable fear of injections is all of those things – it is a phobia. My fear and dislike of Islam is not irrational, or illogical, or unreasonable – and it certainly is not disproportionate to the danger it poses. Just ask the families of all the people it’s killed.

    This was not written by Richard Dawkins, but instead someone who goes by the name SoggyMog. Why would you cite someone else making this claim rather than Richard Dawkins? How does this justify your claim Dawkins thinks something equivalent to some other person on the Internet?

  58. Ichthyic:

    I actually have no idea whether Dawkins is right or wrong here because I don’t know what he meant by it. One vague tweet like that doesn’t give much information to go on.

    and hence, why I’ve always personally considered twitter less than a waste of time, instead outright damaging when dealing with things that require detailed communication.

    it’s little more than a war of soundbites.

  59. democommie:

    I don’t tweet (sometimes I poot, but that’s only after eating some of my awesome chili). I find tweets to be annoying. I used to write what might look like tweets, hell, maybe “haiku” is japanese for “tweet”. Anyhoo, I see a big difference between the two forms. Haiku are meant to require some level of serious thinking on the part of hte reader to elicit their meaning from 17 syllables. Tweets, otoh, seem designed for people who don’t like to write.

  60. Ichthyic:

    like Ophelia Benson, puts “Islamophobia” in scare-quotes as a way of denying its existence.

    doesn’t strike me as something Ophelia would say; denying that islamophobia actually exists there are many reasons to put scare quotes around words or phrases.

  61. Ichthyic:

    Yes I live in moribund with fear that the great and powerful Heath will criticize Christianity.

    actually, it’s rather obvious you DO live in fear of criticism of your religion, since 90% of the comments you make on this blog are inane reactions to criticism of it.

    run along.

    We’ll call you when someone has a physics question.

    maybe.

  62. Ichthyic:

    I’ve seen several references now claiming that somewhere Dawkins is “denying biology” or something similar.

    I can’t find a specific reference to anything like it in the media though.

    what is THAT all about?

  63. lynxreign:

    Check the link @16. Dawkins has been claiming fetuses feel pain and stating that that trumps the right of a woman to control of her own body (i.e. abortions) in his opinion, depsite the growing amount of evidence that fetuses never feel pain and that abortions happen before the embryo advances to fetus status. He was given numerous links on Twitter by women scientists and other women and some men, but ignored it all. In addition, he responded to the husband of one of the women who sent the information, but not the woman who sent it.
    Dawkins is not someone worth listening to. It wouldn’t surprise me if he came out as an MRA.

  64. marcantony:

    I’m an avid reader and big fan of Ed’s blog, but rarely ever, if ever, read the comments section. I don’t pay much attention to other FTB bloggers, primarily due to lack of time.

    I decided to read the comments on this one because I have come to notice that if I didn’t know who Richard Dawkins was, and just floated around FTB for a month, I would come away thinking he was somewhere in between Ray Comfort and Bryan Fisher.

    Obviously I am missing something. As far as I know, Dawkins is a bright, successful scientist, who has done a lot to advance atheism and humanism. No one’s perfect, but there seems to be a lot of angst directed at him around FTB that I don’t see anywhere else.

  65. marcantony:

    I see I’m not the only person curious about this – can someone fill us in?

  66. Raging Bee:

    Dawkins has been claiming fetuses feel pain and stating that that trumps the right of a woman to control of her own body (i.e. abortions)…

    So what gets trumped when a woman feels pain?

    Or, to put it a bit more bluntly…Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!

    It wouldn’t surprise me if he came out as an MRA.

    “If?” Where have you been these last two years?

  67. Ichthyic:

    Check the link @16.

    LOL

    really? that’s it? Dawkins reads Singer and then has to rationalize his agreement with singer by examining the arguments anti-choicers use wrt to fetuses feeling pain?

    and THAT gets people saying he’s rejected biology?

    again, as my response, see #58.

    to accuse Dawkins as being anti-biology because of that is just silly.

    Shall we accuse anyone who sides with Singer as being anti biology as well? I personally DON’T find Singer’s arguments convincing, but that has fuck all to do with anything regarding biological science.

  68. Raging Bee:

    marcantony: If you actually read the things being said about Dawkins — instead of just reacting to our tone — you’d have the answer to your question. What do you want us to do — repeat on this forum what’s already been said on this forum?

  69. lynxreign:

    @66 Raging Bee,

    Well, I meant explicitly. Of course, he may have done that as well…

  70. Ichthyic:

    I decided to read the comments on this one because I have come to notice that if I didn’t know who Richard Dawkins was, and just floated around FTB for a month, I would come away thinking he was somewhere in between Ray Comfort and Bryan Fisher.

    Yes, and I truly am sorry that is the impression you are getting, because it just ain’t so. anyone who actually has met the man, or really followed his career could tell you that, but unfortunately, most of us never thought he actually needed any defending, since he’s more than capable of defending himself.

    I think the problem, as I have said 3 times now, is Twitter.

  71. lynxreign:

    @67 Ichthyic

    Yes, Dawkins ignores the scientists who send him papers debunking his claim and ignores the science to go with what he “feels” is right. I don’t see how anyone could interpret that as him rejecting biology. He’s not “examining the arguments anti-choicers use” he’s embracing them.
    It isn’t a question of “siding with Singer” it is a question of ignoring evidence in scientific articles and studies to go with his gut.

    As for your response @58, you’re wrong. I’ve seen a lot of good discussions there. Dawkins just can’t be bothered to write well for the medium or is incapable of doing so. Then again, the way he writes there gives him tons of room to claim he’s being misread.

  72. lynxreign:

    @70 Ichthyic

    The problem isn’t Twitter, it is Dawkins inability to use it well. It is also his problems with women and his love of sweeping statements. He seems incapable of editing himself for clarity. He also either doesn’t check what he’s about to say for all its implications or simply doesn’t care. Was his response to Rebecca Watson also through Twitter? Between his “Do pigs feel more pain” tweet and his “Islamic barbarian” tweet, he really needs to step back and ask himself if he should be on Twitter at all.

  73. Raging Bee:

    My fear and dislike of Islam is not irrational, or illogical, or unreasonable – and it certainly is not disproportionate to the danger it poses. Just ask the families of all the people it’s killed.

    One telltale sign of Islamophobia is the tendency to refer to “Islam” as a collective, monolithic “it.” As if it was some sort of huge formless monster, instead of a bunch of people, doing bad things. “Islam” did not crash those planes in NYC or Arlington, VA; about fifteen PEOPLE did that, citing Islam as their justification. OTOH, “Islam” did not condemn that action; a bunch of people, many of them calling themselves Muslims, condemned it.

    I’m all in favor of honest, informed, sensible criticism of Islam and all other religious beliefs, and of the consequences of acting on said beliefs. But if I see you treating an ideology as a monolithic actor, I’ll probably start to discount your criticism. “It” doesn’t kill people, people kill people. There’s no “it” hacking off heads or strapping on bomb-vests.

  74. Gretchen:

    @64,

    Obviously I am missing something. As far as I know, Dawkins is a bright, successful scientist, who has done a lot to advance atheism and humanism. No one’s perfect, but there seems to be a lot of angst directed at him around FTB that I don’t see anywhere else.

    This should fill you in on that.

    He has done a lot– and continues to do a lot– to advance atheism and humanism. He is, so far as I’m concerned, brilliant and well-spoken, an excellent writer and a tireless advocate for understanding evolution. However, he is prone to completely sticking his foot in it– and then steadfastly refusing to acknowledge that he did so. There’s the above example, and then more recently when he decided it would be a good idea to compare religious indoctrination to child molestation and claimed that the former is worse. Some people found this, for understandable reasons….insensitive. And then there’s this fetal pain thing, which I didn’t really even know about.

    So yeah…there’s some stuff. Some people have written him off completely. I certainly haven’t.

  75. heddle:

    Ichthyic ,

    actually, it’s rather obvious you DO live in fear of criticism of your religion, since 90% of the comments you make on this blog are inane reactions to criticism of it.

    That is bizarre. The only thing that is obvious, once again, is that you are stupid (in addition to being a PZ bootlicker.) Christianity is more or less the only thing on this blog that I comment on because I am not at all interested in politics. That is at least a plausible alternative explanation as to why 90% (probably more) of my comments are related to Christianity–I simply don’t care to comment on other topics. And even then what you say is not true (not that you ever displayed a fondness for truth). A good deal of my comments are directed toward what I perceive are errors is representing Christian doctrine, which (this may be too subtle for you to grasp) is not the same as a criticism. So you are wrong of course. The thought that I would be afraid of something you might say is absurd on the face of it.

    run along

    Sorry, I don’t see your name on the masthead.

    We’ll call you when someone has a physics question.

    That wouldn’t be you–it takes a certain ability to even ask a sensible physics question. I suppose you could google for one–yes you probably have that limited ability. But you wouldn’t actually understand it, would you?

  76. Ichthyic:

    The problem isn’t Twitter, it is Dawkins inability to use it well.

    Dawkins not being able to use it well just compounds the problems with it.

  77. Ichthyic:

    That wouldn’t be you–it takes a certain ability to even ask a sensible physics question.

    and it takes a certain arrogance and childishness to assume someone doesn’t have that ability, and then lamely try to use your own assumption as an insult, like a 5 year old.

    again, run along.

    adults talking.

  78. Ichthyic:

    However, he is prone to completely sticking his foot in it– and then steadfastly refusing to acknowledge that he did so.

    indeed, and dear Muslima proved that.

    but the thing I am seeing is an increasing complete dismissal of him for dealing with particular critiques poorly.

    Some people have written him off completely. I certainly haven’t.

    exactly! This is why I’m criticizing those who have. It’s ridiculous, and no different that ‘pitters who have sworn off FTB because of some specific issue they have, then spend months and months rationalizing why they made that decision by doing little more than trash talking.

    gets wearisome.

  79. lynxreign:

    @76 I don’t see how. Not everyone is suited to every medium. Dawkins might also be bad at making comics of his arguments, singing his arguments, pantomiming his arguments or being too impatient for semaphore. None of those things would imply a problem with the medium, just that it isn’t the right one for him. Twitter works quite well for any number of people. Dawkins isn’t (likely) one of them. Then again, he might be using it exactly as he wants: to say things he knows will piss people off that he can then backtrack a bit from claiming he was misunderstood while still arguing for what he said the first time.

  80. abear:

    There has been a push in some western countries, Canada as well as some European countries, for the establishment of sharia courts for muslims in these countries. Because the consequences of this would be to take human rights away from some people there has been resistance to these efforts.
    People that have resisted sharia have been called islamophobes and bigots not just by islamic extremists but also by the left wing extremists that give liberals a bad name, i.e. George Galloway.
    Do you think girls should be subject to FGM? If no you are a racist.
    Think a woman’s testimony in court should be equal to that of a man? Culturally insensitive.
    There are bigots out there that unfairly broadbrush all muslims, but Dawkins isn’t one of them.

  81. heddle:

    and it takes a certain arrogance and childishness…

    Said the chowderhead who wrote:

    it’s rather obvious you DO live in fear of criticism of your religion

    without even considering the possibility that interest drives responses biased towards a particular topic. No, instead your ability doesn’t extend beyond using a variant of “scaredy cat!” like, well, a four year old.

    again, run along.

    Again, do you think you have any control over who comments here?

  82. Pierce R. Butler:

    Michael Heath @ # 30: Please explain how Richard Dawkins has gotten himself stuck in a false-dilemma.

    I used the word “dilemma” (rather than “dichotomy’) to emphasize the problem of apparently accepting two contradictory premises. Dawkins’s rather incoherent (in Twitspeak) comparison of pigs and fetuses displays a mishmash of definitions (“With respect to those meanings of “human” that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig”) that might be defensible if he could clarify his terms, but in context fails even worse than his seeming conflation (cited in the original post above) of criticism-of-Islam and Islamophobia.

  83. Ichthyic:

    without even considering the possibility that interest drives responses biased towards a particular topic

    can you translate that into 5 year old for me? it would fit better with the rest of your narrative.

  84. heddle:

    BTW Ichthyic is correct about one thing. To say that Dawkins has rejected biology is looney tunes.

  85. Ichthyic:

    Then again, he might be using it exactly as he wants: to say things he knows will piss people off that he can then backtrack a bit from claiming he was misunderstood while still arguing for what he said the first time.

    that doesn’t reek of over-analysis to you, even a little bit?

    too much reading between the lines IS the problem here.

    whatever, you do what you gotta do. I know the man, and won’t be easily tossing him on the rubbish bin myself.

  86. lynxreign:

    @84 Would you prefer I simply stated he’s rejected a basic tennant of science in preferring “gut feeling” over evidence and that he’s dead wrong about the biology without seeming to care? To me that’s rejecting science. I specified biology because that’s what he’s wrong about and because that’s what his specialty supposedly is. How long has it been since he’s actually done any research or formal teaching anyway?

  87. lynxreign:

    @85 Oh sure, I’m just trying to be as charitable as possible to his writing ability in that particular statement of possibility. I don’t know why he’s being an unmitigated asshole, I’m just suggesting possibilities, and these are the politer ones.
    How many chances are you going to give him? He’s been wrong and a douche-canoe any number of times in the last few years. Four are referenced in this thread alone. Two if you want to be charitable about his references to Islam and its followers.
    There comes a point where you’re defending someone out of reflex or because of your personal history and you end up bending over backwards so far your head is resting on your heels.
    Dawkins’ major flaw appears to be an inability to admit when he’s wrong. That’s a horrible trait in a scientist, one that can ruin you as a scientist. He’s got other flaws as well, but that first one keeps him from fixing the others.

  88. heddle:

    @84

    How long has it been since he’s actually done any research or formal teaching anyway?

    I don’t know, but surely a cessation of research or formal teaching is not a sufficient or necessary condition of rejecting science.

  89. lynxreign:

    @88 Nope, it isn’t. However, if you’re certain you’re always right and you stop researching and studying there tends to be a drift away from scientific rigor. If he’s stopped teaching or researching, it doesn’t mean he’s rejected science, but it does mean that things that would normally ground him are no longer present.

  90. ildi:

    One telltale sign of Islamophobia is the tendency to refer to “Islam” as a collective, monolithic “it.” As if it was some sort of huge formless monster, instead of a bunch of people, doing bad things.

    While it is true that I don’t know much about the different sects of Islam, I do know what aspects of the religion and those who abide by those aspects scare me, just as I know what aspects of Christianity, independent of which sects advocate for it, scare me. Does that make me a Christophobe? Give me heddle with his sanctimonious predestination minding his own business doing good deeds in his community church any day over Santorum and Dobson, who belong to vastly different Christian sects but have in common their desire to push their views on marriage and reproductive rights on the rest of the country.

  91. lancifer:

    Islamaphobia, if meant as a term that endorses limiting the rights of people who believe in Islam, is to be decried and shunned.

    But if it is meant literally as “fear of Islam” than I wholeheartedly endorse it, while reserving compassion and understanding for the people that labor under the delusional belief system bearing the name “Islam”.

    While Christianity certainly had its latent murderous phase, it seems to have mutated into a largely non-homicidal strain over the last half a century or so. It still has too much influence in our society and is fighting a rear guard action to maintain its favored status, but it is largely in decline and not aggressively attempting to enslave the rest of us, at least no through aggressive or violent means. While much of Islam has metastasized into a virulent blend of regressive hysteria and repressive totalitarianism that has turned the clock back to the dark ages and threatens to do so where ever it pops up.

    Saying that not all followers of Islam are “bad” is like saying that not all racial separatists are “bad”. While one can be a member of either group without violently violating the rights of others is certainly true, the core tenets of both systems are based on exclusionary beliefs about people outside the system. The notable exception being that outsiders can be brought into Islam, once they conform to its socially repressive and misogynistic principles and practices of course.

    Most posters here on Free Thoughts blogs have no problem expressing disdain and animosity towards members of racial separatist organizations while still claiming that followers of “moderate” Islam are reasonable members of society.

    I see them both as people that harbor dangerous delusions that they seek to spread further into our society at the peril of all people that hold “liberal” (and of course I mean “classical liberal” which has a great deal of overlap with what most people on this blog mean by “liberal”) ideals.

    Because if you seriously believe that if the majority of the people in our society adopted Islamic beliefs, of even the most “moderate” flavor, that we would still be free to express or non-Islamic ideas and go about living in ways that are anathema to even the most “moderate” Islamic principles you are as deluded as they are.

  92. laurentweppe:

    There’s something else about this false dichotomy: muslim extremists in western societies are perfectly aware that:

    1. They’ll never have the firepower to destroy the existing states and replace them with a theocracy
    2. The growing population of gentrified Muslims is for the most part a lost cause for them (sure, they’ll manage to find one Mohamed Merah here and there, but that’s the exception)

    Therefore they’re trying to take advantage of the very real (and very understandable) ressentment felt by some of the poorer Muslims toward the rest of society to make them as insular (and therefore as easy to control) as possible.

    The Islamophobes, on the other hand, want to disafranchise all Muslims, all non-Muslims with Muslim ancestors, and everyone who do not share their will to screw-up people of muslim descent.

    One group wants to become Masters of the Ghetto, the other group wants to reestablish the Limpieza de Sangre.

    *

    Islamophobia is bad because Islamophobia only refers to irrational hatred

    Islamophobia is an attempt to use Islam as a proxy for race: an Islamophobe fears that the children of the brown skinned janitor will prove to be smarter and more hardworking than his own kids, but, not willing to openly admit that he wants the economic competition to be rigged along ethnic lines, he pretends to believe in cultural determinism and claim that every Muslim is a potential mass-murderer.

    I have rational criticisms of Islam.

    A good way to recognize the Islamophobes is that they tend to pretend that they have “rationnaly” concluded that the most violent and hateful Muslims are the most authentic Muslims.

  93. lancifer:

    laurrentweppe,

    One can disaggregate Islam from the people that believe it. It is a despicable and irrational belief system even in its most “moderate” forms. Islam means “submission”. Any belief system based on submission of ones mind and will to a deity is dangerous, period.

    Because no deity is going to show up to dictate orders, but various clerics and Imams will be there to “interpret” the Qur’an and give instruction to the “submissive” faithful.

    (For those that think I’m playing favorite, I find Christianity to be dangerous, but somewhat less of an immediate danger.)

  94. laurentweppe:

    One can disaggregate Islam from the people that believe it

    Sounds a lot like “Love the sinner, hate the sin” and I’ve never believed in the good faith of people who make these claims.

  95. lancifer:

    Laurentweppe,

    Sounds a lot like “Love the sinner, hate the sin” and I’ve never believed in the good faith of people who make these claims.

    So do you say the same thing about people that hate the Klan? The Klan, while vile and dangerous, has been responsible for much less suffering and injustice than Islam.

  96. Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    Michael Heath@58,

    Apologies: a careless error on my part. I reached that site via another I can’t now find, from which I somehow gained the impression the link was to Dawkins. Here is Dawkins (really him this time, unless it’s an imposter posting on his site), saying the same thing.

    Comment 4 by Richard Dawkins

    Dear Lady Warsi

    Is it true that the Islamic penalty for apostasy is death? Please answer the question, yes or no. I have asked many leading Muslims, often in public, and have yet to receive a straight answer. The best answer I heard was from “Sir” Iqbal Sacranie, who said “Oh well, it is seldom enforced.”

    Will you please stand up in the House of Lords and publicly denounce the very idea that, however seldom enforced, a religion has the right to kill those who leave it? And will you stand up and agree that, since a phobia is an irrational fear, “Islamophobic” is not an appropriate description of anybody who objects to it. And will you stand up and issue a public apology, on behalf of your gentle, peaceful religion, to Salman Rushdie? And to Theo van Gogh? And to all the women and girls who have been genitally mutilated? And to . . . I’m sure you know the list better than I do.

  97. Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    *sigh*
    I shouldn’t post when knackered.
    58 -> 57 @96.

  98. Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    doesn’t strike me as something Ophelia would say; denying that islamophobia actually exists there are many reasons to put scare quotes around words or phrases. – Ichthyic@60

    Well, look here. Or here.
    Apart from those, try putting “Islamophobia” in as a search term on her blog, and reading what she says. Now Ophelia distinguishes between “Islamophobia” (it pretty much always gets the scare-quotes) and anti-Muslim bigotry, and often says she’s objecting to the word, which she says was coined in an attempt to suppress all criticism of Islam. But in practice, whatever its origin it is now used by people who have no intention of doing or going along with that (such as Ed), and it does refer to a real phenomenon which includes both bigotry against all Muslims as individuals, and an irrational, exaggerated fear of “Islam” as a kind of unified malevolent monster that threatens to destroy or subdue the world.

  99. Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    It is a despicable and irrational belief system even in its most “moderate” forms. – lancifer

    Certainly no more so than libertarianism.

  100. Michael Heath:

    Richard Dawkins writes:

    . . . since a phobia is an irrational fear, “Islamophobic” is not an appropriate description of anybody who objects to it.

    Typical Dawkins sloppiness. Since he readily concedes phobias exist and are demonstrated by those with an irrational fear, it’s reasonable to presume that Dawkins is aware of the fact that Islamophobics both exist and act out their Islamophobia.

    On the other hand, Dawkins also claims Islamophobia is, “not an appropriate description of anybody who objects to it.” From a pedantic perspective he’s contradicting himself unless he was to take the absurd position there are no irrational people out there whose fear of Muslims can be irrational.

    I thought the tweed Ed posted was clear and unambiguous. If we attributed that tweet to someone liberals all love, I doubt there’d be any criticism of it or claims of a false dichotomy. I think gshelley’s post @ 50 best describes the most reasonable conclusion:

    This isn’t even cryptic. Without a strong bias against Dawkins, I don’t think there is any way to go from “Decent, nice, liberal people must stop being so terrified of being thought “Islamophobic” and stand up for decent, nice, liberal values.” to anything other than “Don’t worry that some people might accuse you of Islamophobia”. No other possible interpretation makes sense, either in the context of what Dawkins wrote in the tweet, or with the added knowledge of what he has previously said about religions.

    It’s perfectly reasonable to question whether such accusations actually happen, but to decide that this doesn’t happen, so Dawkins must have meant something other than what he wrote is irrational.

    For those previously cognizant of the Dawkins’ quote Nick Gotts provides @ 96 or similar points he made – if any, and recall that quip while reading the subject tweet Dawkins made, I can now understand why those critics would not be so generous on the reason Dawkins used scare quotes around Islamophobic. gshelley’s seems the most probable explanation, but Gotts’ Dawkins quote is troublesome. It’d be interesting to consider more from Dawkins on this subject to properly parse out his recognition of phobias while simultaneously claiming “anybody” who objects to Islam is not Islamophobic.

  101. Raging Bee:

    Most posters here on Free Thoughts blogs have no problem expressing disdain and animosity towards members of racial separatist organizations while still claiming that followers of “moderate” Islam are reasonable members of society.

    Um, yeah, we express disdain for people who show themselves as racists by their words and actions, while acknowledging (not just “claiming”) that people exist who follow moderate forms of Islam — just as there are people who follow moderate forms of Christianity.

    Dude, are you trying to pretend there’s some sort of double-standard here, just by comparing apples to kumkwats? ‘Cause yer doin’ it rong.

    One can disaggregate Islam from the people that believe it.

    Really? Has anyone got cell-phone footage of “Islam” blowing anything up without any actual people being involved? What does “disaggregate” even mean here anyway? Can we “disaggregate” all those meat-puppets in Gitmo from Islam and then let them go, like the Federation de-assimilated Seven of Nine? You’ve been watching too many “pod-people”/”body-snatchers” movies. The people who scare you so are not zombies, and there’s no separate entity or technology or “overmind” controlling them. That big black cube in Mecca is not a Borg ship.

    It is a despicable and irrational belief system even in its most “moderate” forms.

    Do you even know what the “moderate forms” of that belief system are? I’m no Koran-scholar, but I have heard people quote bits of that book — and, more importantly, point to certain believers’ behavior — that were pretty decent and sensible, or at least innocuous.

    While Christianity certainly had its latent murderous phase, it seems to have mutated into a largely non-homicidal strain over the last half a century or so.

    It can mutate back (just listen to an anti-choice activist if you don’t believe that), just as Islam has recently been doing. What, you think Islam was always this violent from day one? “It” wasn’t. Once again, Lance, you prove you have no fucking idea what you’re talking about.

  102. Raging Bee:

    Sounds a lot like “Love the sinner, hate the sin” and I’ve never believed in the good faith of people who make these claims.

    It doesn’t help that whenever they try to beat up the sin, every blow they strike at it misses and hits the sinner instead. Sin-haters tend to have really shitty aim. Not sure why, they mean so well…

  103. Michael Heath:

    lancifer writes:

    [Islam] is a despicable and irrational belief system even in its most “moderate” forms.

    Nick Gotts:

    Certainly no more so than libertarianism.

    There’s nothing despicable or irrational about libertarianism in the abstract, with the exception of some extreme schools like Ayn Rand or the Austrians; both of whom deny reality and predominately reject what experts understand unless it’s politically convenient not to do so.

    It’s instead how libertarianism is predominately and irrationally applied by those who are influential where it becomes despicable; and even then you’ve got to contend with the fact those with such power and influence are hard to differentiate from standard-issue conservatives. That’d be in terms of how they think and what issues most animate them. So arguments, ‘that’s no true Scotsman’ have some weight though if we applied the Scotsmen test consistently the only libertarians left standing would have hardly any power or influence, the remaining rational ones have essentially become part of an increasingly pathetic circle jerk.

    Islam is despicable and irrational both in the abstract and as its applied; plus there seems to be little hope for reform. Libertarianism at least has a shot at reform given the core abstract arguments can withstand scrutiny and are worthy of consideration, e.g., considering mandatory insurance in some cases rather than intrusive liberty-denying laws.

  104. iangould:

    While I don;t intend to read the preceding 100 posts, I will note its around four times as many as there were on Ed’s entry about the US being directly involved in running secret torture units in Iraq.

    Because, you know, obviously atheists being accused of Islamophobia is a much more serious problem.

  105. iangould:

    So when Richard Dawkins describes himself as a cultural Christian and calls for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity where is this fine distinction between criticizing specific elements within Islam and denigrating all Muslims?

  106. Michael Heath:

    Raging Bee writes:

    Dude, are you trying to pretend there’s some sort of double-standard here, just by comparing apples to kumkwats? ‘Cause yer doin’ it rong.

    Not only is there a double standard on this venue, it’s been growing in popularity and it’s present in blog post thread. Here it’s taking the very plain meaning of what Dawkins actually wrote and assigning some other meaning which is disparaging to the author. The only people with a rational excuse that disparaging read is a legitimate interpretation are those who’ve seen the type of rhetoric out of Dawkins that Nick Gotts points to @ 96.

  107. Raging Bee:

    There’s nothing despicable or irrational about libertarianism in the abstract, with the exception of some extreme schools like Ayn Rand or the Austrians; both of whom deny reality and predominately reject what experts understand unless it’s politically convenient not to do so.

    In other words, there’s nothing wrong with the ideology, except for the people who follow and practice it. And there’s nothing at all wrong with communism either, except for the extremists like Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Ho, Castro, Ceaucescu, Kim I, Kim II, Kim III…

  108. laurentweppe:

    Ophelia [...] often says she’s objecting to the word, which she says was coined in an attempt to suppress all criticism of Islam.

    It actually happened the other way around: Many tend to ignore that the far-right animosity toward Muslims was originally manufactured because making Jews and the “Jewish Conspiracy” the justification for the instauration of a police state had become way too politically radioactive to be a viable platform, so they simply recycled their whole anti-semitic rhetoric and used it against Muslims instead of Jews. Islamophobia was first coined by people who wanted to describe this specific behavior.

    After That, the far-right activists who had started this anti-semitism 2.0 started to pretend that nonononononononono Of Course this wasn’t ethnic-based animosity, that they where sincerely afraid of the “ideological implications” of Islam an argument which they defended by faking erudition about Islam and the muslim world because who cares if one spew bullshit so long as it is said in a professoral tone and they adopted the term for themselve because it sounded smart, which is also why the antisemites adopted their own title (because it sounded smarter than “bigot who want to beat up a Jew and rape his sister for kicks“) and why the social darwinists adopted the term, as it made their Rich Kid Uber Alles pseudo-philosophy sound more “sciencey”.

    And then Dawkin and other people who should have known better because they were there when it all hapened jumped on the islaophobia bandwagon instead of keeping the term quarantined to know-nothings trying to sound smart

    ***

    That big black cube in Mecca is not a Borg ship.

    That would make an awesome pitch for a movie though (I mean, seriously, We’ve had Moais as alien artifacts since Easter Island was discovered, some variations would be most welcome)

    ***

    I will note its around four times as many as there were on Ed’s entry about the US being directly involved in running secret torture units in Iraq

    Well, if a non-negligible part of Ed’s commentariat was using the US torture program as the “proof” that the US nation deserves to be treated as a preternaturally perfidious entity, chances are that there would be more comments.

  109. Michael Heath:

    laurentweppe asserts Islamophobia is anti-semitism rev. 2 and then writes:

    And then Dawkin and other people who should have known better because they were there when it all hapened jumped on the islaophobia bandwagon instead of keeping the term quarantined to know-nothings trying to sound smart

    Please provide a cite(s) that validates Richard Dawkins is an Islamophobic/anti-semite. There is no compelling evidence of that in this thread, even the confusing quote Nick Gotts links to @ 96 and the subject tweet don’t go that far. Unless those statements are part of a larger pattern where the other parts requires us to read them in the very worst light; which is not clear when we read each statement on its own. The burden of proof should be on you because if you’re wrong, your defaming the man.

  110. Michael Heath:

    iangould writes:

    So when Richard Dawkins describes himself as a cultural Christian and calls for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity where is this fine distinction between criticizing specific elements within Islam and denigrating all Muslims?

    Can you please provide a cite of Richard Dawkins calling for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity?

  111. Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    @Michael Heath

    There’s nothing despicable or irrational about libertarianism in the abstract, with the exception of some extreme schools like Ayn Rand or the Austrians; both of whom deny reality and predominately reject what experts understand unless it’s politically convenient not to do so.

    If “libertarianism in the abstract” means anything, it’s the view that whatever the problem, “free markets” are the solution. That is irrational, because abundant evidence shows otherwise. It is also despicable, because it denies, or shrugs its shoulders over, the huge suffering that implementing policies based on it would cause.

    There’s nothing confusing about the quote I provided from Dawkins.

  112. matty1:

    I thought this was going to be a Harry Potter parody.

  113. Raging Bee:

    So when Richard Dawkins describes himself as a cultural Christian and calls for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity…

    Dawkins may be an asshole, but confusing him with Ann Coulter really doesn’t seem fair. Citation definitely needed here.

  114. laurentweppe:

    Please provide a cite(s) that validates Richard Dawkins is an Islamophobic/anti-semite

    Dawkins and others acted like they didn’t know What the term islamophobia described and where it came from. They played dumb, exactly like you are doing right now by acting like you misunderstood what I just wrote.

    ***

    Can you please provide a cite of Richard Dawkins calling for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity?

    There should be a rule where people demanding proof for something one single Google Search away are bludgeoned with a big fish and thrown in the river.

    Not only is he taking seriously an article which starts by a bald faced lie (“four-century-old stalemate in Africa“: Christianity jumped from 7% to over 40% of Africa’s population : how is that a fucking stalemate?), but then he starts advocating for the western world to become the willing accomplice of nigerian witch-hunters and ungandese gay-killers among other classy people while cowardly hiding behind false hypotheticals: “Oooooh, I’m not saying what I am saying, but since “they” won’t become atheists any time soon, it was worth raising the question, the ennemy of our ennemy could be our friend” wink-wink-wink-wink-wink. It’s as if he was assuming that people outside his readership are too dumb to recognize a coded message [/sarcasm].

    To be frank, I’m not certain that Dawkins who becomes soooooo polite and curteous and mellow and uncontentious when he is talking to an anglican archbishop is as sincere in his militant atheism as his fanclub thinks: there are times when I can’t help but wonder if his expressed animosity toward Islam or Catholicism are in fact mere insular ethnocentrism masquerading as staunch principles

  115. Gretchen:

    iangould said:

    While I don;t intend to read the preceding 100 posts, I will note its around four times as many as there were on Ed’s entry about the US being directly involved in running secret torture units in Iraq.

    Because, you know, obviously atheists being accused of Islamophobia is a much more serious problem

    How appropriate that someone should pull a Dear Muslima on a thread about Richard Dawkins.

    Nick Gotts said:

    If “libertarianism in the abstract” means anything, it’s the view that whatever the problem, “free markets” are the solution. That is irrational, because abundant evidence shows otherwise. It is also despicable, because it denies, or shrugs its shoulders over, the huge suffering that implementing policies based on it would cause.

    The alternative to free markets is government regulation or even government doing things itself. Now, sometimes people do need to be made to do things by the government, and sometimes the government does need to do things itself. However, the free market argument is that it’s better for people to do things voluntarily– that if people can and will do something on their own, using their own money and under their own volition, the government should not force them and should not do it for them, because this impinges unnecessarily on their autonomy, on their ability to pursue happiness as they see fit. You might say that this is hopelessly naive and indeed it is, but “despicable” it is not.

  116. Raging Bee:

    Here it’s taking the very plain meaning of what Dawkins actually wrote and assigning some other meaning which is disparaging to the author.

    As I explained @52 above, the meaning of this silly little tweet was NOT all that “plain” — at least not to an American like me who’s heard very similar wording used for far less noble ends. I, for one, am trying to give Dawkins the benefit of the (huge) doubt here, by a) admitting he can’t necessarily be expected to anticipate how his words would sound in current American public discourse; and b) admitting that a single tweet is not sufficient basis for any substantive criticism.

    Like I said before, is there a speech or a magazine article we can refer to? Anything more than a lame-assed soundbite?

  117. Michael Heath:

    iangould @ 105:

    So when Richard Dawkins describes himself as a cultural Christian and calls for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity where is this fine distinction between criticizing specific elements within Islam and denigrating all Muslims?

    My response @ 110:

    Can you please provide a cite of Richard Dawkins calling for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity?

    laurentweppe to me:

    There should be a rule where people demanding proof for something one single Google Search away are bludgeoned with a big fish and thrown in the river.

    Wow. The obligation to validate a provocative claim, especially an extraordinary claim which this certainly is, is on the asserter. That’s an attribute of those practicing intellectual honesty.

    Secondly, your cite could not have been found by me for one very simple reason, your cite is compelling evidence that iangould is wrong. It’s most likely convincing evidence he’s wrong if Dawkins has always been consistent on the point you link to here. That appears to be the case given this post is a mere two years old and Dawkins refers to that 2011 position being the same as what he’s previously concluded. Dawkins states and I quote your cite:

    Given that Islam is such an unmitigated evil, and looking at the map supplied by this Christian site, should we be supporting Christian missions in Africa? My answer is still no, but I thought it was worth raising the question.

    You then mutate what Dawkins stated into something different, actually the opposite of what he asserts. That’s a common affliction amongst zealous ideologues who make arguments to inflame the tribe, where truth is sacrificed at the altar of politics, even if it means defaming someone as you do Dawkins here. Bad form, but unfortunately an increasing phenomena in this venue, which I find troublesome.

  118. Raging Bee:

    …the free market argument is that it’s better for people to do things voluntarily– that if people can and will do something on their own, using their own money and under their own volition, the government should not force them and should not do it for them, because this impinges unnecessarily on their autonomy, on their ability to pursue happiness as they see fit. You might say that this is hopelessly naive and indeed it is, but “despicable” it is not.

    It’s despicable when all that airy-fairy childish abstraction about “volition” and “personal autonomy” is used as a substitute for honest discussion of real-world events. Just as it’s despicable when all those beautiful Psalms and beatitudes from the Bible are used to cover up what some Christian bigot or con-artist is really trying to do.

  119. Raging Bee:

    It’s as if he was assuming that people outside his readership are too dumb to recognize a coded message

    Either that, or he himself doesn’t recognize the coded message he’s passing on. Sometimes he really does sound like one of those extremely naive intellectuals who doesn’t question his own prejudices because he thinks he’s just too smart to have any. So if a bigot pushes the right buttons in the right order, he can get Dawkins to parrot his bigoted horseshit and think it’s totally “rational.”

    …there are times when I can’t help but wonder if his expressed animosity toward Islam or Catholicism are in fact mere insular ethnocentrism masquerading as staunch principles.

    That could well be. He still seems to have plenty of old-school male-chauvanism, so it’s reasonable to suspect he might still have other prejudices that he slowly internalized from the insular collegiate English culture he grew up in.

  120. iangould:

    So sorry. He just described Islam as “an unmitigated evil” and treated the idea of supporting conversion as a reasonable idea worthy of serious consideration.

    That’s so much better.

    Imagine, for one second, the reaction if he’d made the same remarks about Judaism.

  121. Raging Bee:

    PS: thanks for the cite. It’s pretty clear that Dawkins isn’t really advocating suporting evil Christians against evil Muslims in a nasty protracted proxy war on some other continent…he’s “just asking questions.” Now where have I heard that before?

  122. Gretchen:

    I was trying to get at the general notion, which I think everyone can agree on, that it’s better for things to be done voluntarily. That it’s wrong to force people to do things if you don’t have to. The disagreement comes in when, in the honest discussion of real-world events, people disagree about what people (generally people other than themselves) can permissibly be forced to do.

    An authoritarian is a person who thinks the government can legitimately force you to do anything it wants. An anarchist is a person who thinks it can legitimately force you to do nothing at all. A libertarian thinks government should only force you to do a few things, the fewer the better. Of course this ignores the fact the government is far from the only entity forcing anyone to do anything, and one of its jobs is to restrain some of those other entities by– you guessed it– force. Libertarians are often guilty of avoiding this fact, whether by their own ignorance or because they actively support one of those other entities. But that doesn’t mean that the opposition to government force is, on its face, a despicable thing. At worst it can be, as I said, hopelessly naive.

  123. Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    Gretchen,

    The alternative to free markets is government regulation or even government doing things itself.

    You have a very narrow view of the range of alternatives, or else an absurdly wide view of what libertarians have in mind when they talk about “free markets”. Trades unions, for example, are a constraint on free markets. Libertarians want to destroy them.

    However, the free market argument is that it’s better for people to do things voluntarily,/blockquote.

    No, it isn’t. It’s that coercion is just fine so long as it’s the threat of starvation rather than the police that coerces you.

    You might say that this is hopelessly naive and indeed it is, but “despicable” it is not.

    I told you why I consider it despicable. You quoted it, then ignored it.

    But that doesn’t mean that the opposition to government force is, on its face, a despicable thing.

    It is when it is based on systematic dishonesty and callousness, which in the case of libertarianism, it is.

  124. democommie:

    I’m not militant about my lack of belief. Just being an atheist is good enough for me. Most people, sensibly, leave me to it.

    As for Dawkin’s thinking/feelings about Islam; if this quote:

    “Given that Islam is such an unmitigated evil, and looking at the map supplied by this Christian site, should we be supporting Christian missions in Africa? My answer is still no, but I thought it was worth raising the question.”

    furnished by Michael Heath@117, is accurate (and I can think of no reason to assume otherwise), then it’s pretty clear from the first sentence that Mr. Dawkins IS an islamaphobe. I don’t see anything that says he’s kidding and if he’s not then, yeah, he’s got an unreasonable fear of a religion, one that encompasses hundreds to thousands of different flavors, just like christianity.

  125. Nick Gotts (formerly KG):

    Further to #123, “government regulation” often expands individual freedom. Traffic regulation expands the freedom of pedestrians and cyclists by placing limitations on auto drivers. Food purity regulations expand our freedom to stay healthy while not spending much of our time testing our own food for toxic substances. Laws against discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation expand the freedom of those thus protect. Laws mandating provision for people with disabilities expands their freedom. The contrast between “voluntary action” and “government regulation” is dishonest at its root.

  126. democommie:

    The “Free Market”, btw, is pretty much on record as having created LOTS of problems for which society at large gets stuck with the bill–Love Canal, asbestosis, mesothelioma, nuclear plant “events”, just off the top of my head–while they scurry off with the profits.

  127. Raging Bee:

    I was trying to get at the general notion, which I think everyone can agree on, that it’s better for things to be done voluntarily.

    A notion so vague and diffuse that a grade-school kid can spout it sincerely, but it has absolutely no use in actual policymaking discussion, and no direct effect on any specific decision. Just like the general notion that people should all be nice to each other and not start wars. Oh, and kittens are cute.

  128. Raging Bee:

    Oh, and…

    The alternative to free markets is government regulation or even government doing things itself…

    Excluded middle FAIL.

  129. candiron:

    :The alternative to free markets is government regulation or even government doing things itself. Now, sometimes people do need to be made to do things by the government, and sometimes the government does need to do things itself. However, the free market argument is that it’s better for people to do things voluntarily– that if people can and will do something on their own, using their own money and under their own volition, the government should not force them and should not do it for them, because this impinges unnecessarily on their autonomy, on their ability to pursue happiness as they see fit. You might say that this is hopelessly naive and indeed it is, but “despicable” it is not.”

    Gretchen, I’m a lazy, sloppy asshole. I just assume everyone in this blog collection was a marxist. I repent in sackcloth and ashes. Please accept my apologies.

  130. Raging Bee:

    Further to #125: expanded and well-defined basic rights for all (US Constitution); abolition of slavery in the US (Union army led by “Tyrant Lincoln”); abolition of Nazism (US, UK and USSR armies, supported by wartime command economies); democracy in Western Europe (Marshall Plan); Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts (US laws superceding states and private business); stable financial system (Federal Reserve, SEC, FDIC, and lots of other agencies libertarians hate); desegregation (Federal judicial activism); reproductive freedom (ditto)…any other tyrannical government intrusions I’ve missed?

  131. Raging Bee:

    If we’re going to base political-economic ideologies on “general notions,” lets not forget the general notion, which I think everyone can agree on, that people should share everything and not take anything more than they really need and leave anyone else to go without. That’s the general notion on which Communism is based, and since I’m sure everyone can agree on it, I guess that means we should make America a communist country, amirite?

  132. Raging Bee:

    Aaaand…Heath is crying about “defamation” again. So who gets to wear the mantle of THE DEFAMER this time? Or is it a pair of gauntlets? Does it/they do +3 damage to atheist leaders?

  133. lynxreign:

    @130, Raging Bee

    Oh, you’ve missed a ton
    FAA – keeps airlines safe
    FDA – food safety, holds industry responsible
    TVA – provided power to a large part of the south that never had it before
    EPA – keeps industry from just dumping pollutants anywhere
    CDC – helps keep plagues from breaking out
    Federal highway funding – keeps road infrastructure usable and stable across state lines
    Federal minimum wage (should be higher), social security (should be higher) – keeps millions out of poverty
    40 hour work week – No more 12 hour shifts 6 days a week

    and on and on

  134. Pieter B, FCD:

    lynxreign @133:

    Federal highway funding – keeps road infrastructure usable and stable across state lines

    I am old enough to remember that on few long road trips the nature and condition of well-known routes could change noticeably not just at state lines but sometimes at county lines, making the journeys more of An Adventure than originally intended.

  135. lancifer:

    Nick Gotts,

    Progressives are just moralistic authoritarians with a different set of actions they wish to impose through the use of force than conservatives.

    Libertarianism are opposed to coercion.

    Leftist revel in it.

  136. Michael Heath:

    lancifer writes:

    Progressives are just moralistic authoritarians with a different set of actions they wish to impose through the use of force than conservatives.

    Hetherington and Weiler’s “Authoritarian Disposition and Political Choice”; presented at presented at the Midwest Political Science Association’s Annual Meeting in 2005.:

    Though some studies argue that there is an identifiable authoritarian personality type on the left as well as the right (Shils 1954, Rokeach 1960), most of the literature identifies authoritarianism as a conservative or right-wing phenomenon, as is clear from Jost. et al.’s (2003) exhaustive review on conservatism as “motivated social cognition.” Altemeyer (1996), after extensive study of the issue, argues, in fact, that there is no left-wing authoritarian phenomenon to speak of in contemporary North America comparable to his focus of study – right-wing authoritarianism.3

    For our purposes, the most noteworthy feature of an authoritarian disposition is an aversion to difference and adherence to militarism and conventionalism, of which attitudes toward gays would be a clear manifestation. Regarding military strength, several scholars have drawn links between aspects of authoritarianism and a hawkish or militaristic attitude toward foreign policy and resolution of conflict (Lipset 1959; Eckhardt and Newcombe 1969; Altemeyer 1996; Perrin 2005). Regarding feelings about gays and lesbians, Altemeyer (1996) demonstrates that authoritarians judged law-breaking much less harshly when it involved gay-bashing or police brutality, suggesting sympathy for dealing harshly, even illegally, with perceived deviants. Similarly, authoritarians are more inclined to favor quarantines for AIDS patients, a likely proxy for attitudes toward gays generally (Peterson et al. 1993).

    [...]

    In fact, numerous scholars have posited a link between authoritarianism and a pre-occupation with traditionally-defined social hierarchies, including those pertaining to sex roles and anxiety about deviation from those roles (Adorno, et al., 1950, Conover 1983, Altemeyer 1996, Sidanius and Pratto 1999).

    Alternative lifestyles are dangerous not only because they are regarded as inherently wrong, but because they set a possible example for others to follow. In this sense, the social fabric is fragile, and deviation from accepted norms threatens to unravel it. This is significant, too, in helping to explain why these issues must come to be seen as urgent matters of public policy, and not merely left to personal choice. In the authoritarian mind, immorality infects society and undermines its moral purity.

    Placing high value on conformity, authoritarians tend to be staunch defenders of existing norms and mores. The rise of gay rights issues over the last decade certainly threatens one set of “traditional” values and the unity that accompanies it. In addition, authoritarians tend to prefer responses to threat that are more aggressive than those preferred by non-authoritarians. Hence issues involving the use of force versus diplomacy and the strength of the military more generally ought to increase the importance of authoritarianism as well. Fears about terrorism after September 11, 2001 and the best way to combat it, such as the decision to go to war in Iraq as an extension of the war on terror, play into this second dimension.

    [...]

    The results we presented in the previous section demonstrating that authoritarianism is at the root of preferences about gay rights and preferences about the use of force and the military suggest that authoritarianism should have become an increasingly important predictor of party identification over time.

    We test this hypothesis by estimating a model of party identification at several points over time. We focus on non-black respondents. African-Americans are, in fact, the most authoritarian racial group in the U.S. by far.14 Yet, for obvious historical reasons, they remain an overwhelmingly Democratic group (see also Bartels 2005).

    [...]

    In 1992, when gay rights occupied a very small part of the issue agenda and terrorism was not on it at all, the effect of authoritarianism was statistically significant, but its effect was relatively small. The presence of race, another issue that engages an authoritarian disposition (Sniderman and Tetlock 1993) and so called family values issues, probably account for the significant result. In 2000, the effect of authoritarianism had increased somewhat from .078 to .115.

    [...]

    In sum, we have shown thus far that authoritarianism is an important component in attitudes about issues new to the political agenda, such as gay rights, and issues about the use of force, which are increasingly important in a post-9/11 world. As these threat inducing considerations have become more central to politics and the parties have taken at least largely opposing positions on them, authoritarianism’s effect on partisanship has surged. Our models of partisanship suggests it was nearly three times as important in 2004 as it was in 1992 and nearly twice as important as it was in 2000.

    Authoritarianism and Change in Partisanship

    In addition to having a substantial impact on partisanship today, we believe that the increased importance of authoritarianism has been a boon to Republicans, specifically. The mean authoritarian disposition score in the 2004 sample was .552 among non-blacks, which is solidly to the more authoritarian side of the midpoint.

    Moreover, during the period when authoritarianism has become more important, Republican party identification has increased markedly. In 1992, for example, 36 percent of Americans identified themselves as either strong or weak Democrats while only 25 percent identified themselves as either strong or weak Republicans, an 11 point Democratic advantage. In 2004, however, only 32 percent called themselves Democrats while 29 percent called themselves Republicans, a three point Democratic edge.

    One hint of the potential importance of authoritarianism in explaining partisan change is that it is being fueled by the less well educated.

    [...]

    As the data in Table 4 show, Republican gains have come from people with a high school education or less.

    [...]

    Certain characteristics among the less well educated are likely at play. An authoritarian disposition is a particularly compelling possibility because those with low levels of education are significantly more authoritarian, a consistent finding dating back to the origins of survey research (e.g. Janowitz and Marvick 1953; Lane 1955).

    [...]
    Conclusion
    [...]
    Our results show a particularly strong relationship between authoritarian attitudes as operationalized in terms of child rearing preferences and both antipathy toward the gay rights agenda and favoring strong military solutions. The gay rights agenda challenges long-standing social norms, or, to use Lakoff’s terms, the monolithic authority of the father. The authoritarian preference for a strong aggressive military in the face of external threat is also very clear in the data.15

    [...]
    The increased importance of an authoritarian disposition on partisanship coincides with a period when people are more strongly tied to their partisanship than in previous decades. The test-retest correlation between partisanship as measured in 2002 and partisanship measured in 2004 is significantly higher than that taken from previous panel studies conducted by the NES. In the 1974-76 panel, this test-retest correlation was .72. In the 1990-92 panel, it had increased to .80. In the 2002-2004 panel, it has increased even further to .88. People have become less tractable in their political dispositions. We believe that the centrality of a core disposition like authoritarianism is an important part of the explanation.

  137. lynxreign:

    @135 That is likely the most ridiculous thing posted on this thread. You’ve swallowed a lot of someone’s talking points without anyh critical thinking at all.

  138. lancifer:

    Heath and Lynx,

    Yeah, I’m crazy to think that there exist leftist authoritarians. The PRC currently oppresses one fourth of the world’s population under the name of socialism and the Soviet Union (until its collapse) oppressed about another eighth.

    Progressive ideas are just socialism “light”.

  139. slc1:

    Re Sir Lancelot @ #138

    Sir Lancelot is as full of shit about the former Soviet Union and the current day PRC as he is about global climate change. The economic system in the former Soviet Union was not socialism/communism, it was state capitalism. The current system in China is a mixed state capitalism/private capitalism system where some enterprises are owned by the government and some are owned by private entrepreneurs or combinations of the two. He ought to inform himself as to what the Trotskyites think about the two systems (as a member of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party once told me, private capitalism or state capitalism, what’s the difference as far as the workers go?)..

  140. lancifer:

    I love it when leftists make excuses for or, as in slc1′s case, outright lie about the nature of the two biggest experiments in socialism.

    Funny how they can spot the “no true Scotsman” fallacy when Christians use it but fall back on it themselves instead of just admitting that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was, you know socialist.

    And even though the authoritarian Communist Party in China has embraced a rigidly controlled, centralized form of capitalism (run of course by Communist Party cronies) it is most certainly a socialist nightmare.

    So yeah, even though billions of people live, and have recently lived , under utlra-authoritarian leftist regimes it’s crazy to point out the link between leftists and authoritarianism.

  141. lynxreign:

    @138 That’s not what you said originally. You said “progressives are” not “some progressives are”.

    Secondly, it would behoove you to learn the difference between Socialism and Communism, they’re not the same thing by a long shot.

    It is funny how you think the name of a nation containing “socialist” makes it socialist. It wasn’t. Just as the National Socialist Party wasn’t socialist.

    This isn’t the “no true scotsman” fallacy. This is examining the bahaviors of the groups and observing what they themselves called their philosopies: Communist and Fascist respectively. All of these words have definitions much more rigid than “Christian”.

    The world isn’t dualistic. There are shades of both left and right. Unless you, as a member of the right, want to declare yourself a nazi, you might want to rethink your statements.

  142. slc1:

    Re Sir Lancelot @ #140

    Sir Lancelot exhibits his towering ignorance of the economic system in the former Soviet Union. Rather then posting his comments which only demonstrate that he doesn’t know his fuckken ass from a fuckken hole in the fuckken ground, I suggest that he read some books written by Trotskyites who know what they are talking about. The economic theory of Socialism/Communism is that the workers own the means of production. In neither the former Soviet Union or any other so-called Communist country did the workers own a fucking thing. Nor did the workers have the slightest say in how the various State owned enterprises were run.

    By the way, the Nazis also called themselves National Socialists; the economic system in Nazi Germany was private capitalism with heavy control by the state. Nothing to do with Karl Marx who, by the way, would have been appalled by the former Soviet Union.

  143. lancifer:

    lynx,

    Progressive is an amorphous feel good word for that means “…just what I choose it to mean …’” to quote Mr. Dumpty, a well known progressive. The only real difference between it and good old Marxism is that Progressives favor gradualism over revolution to reach their socialist goals.

    And funny that after making an argument that the world isn’t “dualistic” you pigeonhole libertarians as being on the “right”.

    As I and Gretchen have pointed out libertarianism respects the rights of individuals to be free of coercion in their relationships with each other and the government. That isn’t a left or right position.

    There is no socialism without coercion.

  144. lynxreign:

    @143 I’m saying that if the world is dualistic and you’re railing against the left, the only place for you to be is on the Right. Thanks for confirming for me that you’re an idiot. There’s no libertarianism without “coercion” either, at least not the way you’re defining “coercion”. There can be no society whatsoever without coercion the way you set it up. Go live in a cave by yourself, that’s your apparent libertarian paradise.

  145. lancifer:

    slc1,

    Anyone that reads this blog long enough knows your political idiosyncrasies. You don’t get to define away the USSR’s socialism because it doesn’t fit your narrow definition of the word socialism.

    It is always comical when true socialist believers trot (pun intended) out the “reasons” that none of the list of socialist regimes, the USSR, PRC, GDR, Socialist Republic of Vietnam etc. aren’t (weren’t) really socialist countries.

    You sound exactly like my fund-a-gelical Christian parents complaining that the Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Episcopalians, Quakers, Shakers, Amish, Menonites (you name it) aren’t really Christians

    The economic theory of Socialism/Communism is that the workers own the means of production. In neither the former Soviet Union or any other so-called Communist country did the workers own a fucking thing. Nor did the workers have the slightest say in how the various State owned enterprises were run. .

    And that’s the point blockhead. Once a socialist system is in place the state decides who gets what, does what and thinks what. Even if it were run by a true democracy the state would have unlimited powers to dictate to individuals. Because the system eschews individualism as reactionary selfishness.

    This is, at best, a tyranny of the majority.

    And tyranny is tyranny.

  146. lancifer:

    lynx, you moron, progressives “self-identify” as being on the “left”. it is just a short hand for political philosophies that share certain characteristics.

    Conservatives self-identify on the “right”, but have no more in common with libertarians than progressives have in common with libertarians.

    Here is a link to a simplistic, but at least more nuanced than your 2-dimensional thinking, that may illuminate the issue for you.

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/analysis2

  147. lynxreign:

    @146 You’re the one that thinks all the left is the same. You’re a child. You have nothing wothwhile to say.

  148. lancifer:

    lynx,

    There can be no society whatsoever without coercion the way you set it up. Go live in a cave by yourself, that’s your apparent libertarian paradise.

    Uh, no. That would be anarchism not libertarianism. Read again what Gretchen said.

    A libertarian thinks government should only force you to do a few things, the fewer the better.

    Get it yet? Libertarians acknowledge that some government is necessary and that some coercion to compel actions that have been democratically determined may also be necessary.

    But that the principle of individual liberty must be at the core of the system. Socialism has it the other way round, the “greater good” being the over arching goal.

    No system instituted by humans will be perfect, but I prefer one that is based on individual liberty that will err on the side of the individual over one that puts the “state” at the core and fails, (in every case so far tested) on the side of totalitarianism.

  149. lancifer:

    lynx,

    You’re the one that thinks all the left is the same. You’re a child. You have nothing wothwhile to say.

    Uh, again, no. I didn’t say that all leftists were progressives. But all progressives are leftist. Have you had a course in basic logic? It might be in order.

    There are actually leftist political philosophies that claim to be libertarian. So called Libertarian Socialism, advocated by Noam Chomsky, among others, is one.

    Unfortunately such an animal is a contradictory chimera. Once a system is put in place that seeks to advocate for the collective “people” it cannot be anything but totalitarian, for the individual is now irrelevant and the the “people” is a meaningless platitude used by the ruling elite to justify whatever actions they take.

  150. laurentweppe:

    @ allow me to call you Lance

    :When you’ve wrote 8 out of the last 15 comments, take it as a hint that nobody is listening or giving a fuck.

  151. lancifer:

    To be fair, the western European socialist democracies have not collapsed into totalitarianism, yet.

    Still, they are societies with far too little individual freedom for my tastes.

  152. lancifer:

    Yet, you commented.

  153. lancifer:

    @ let me call you Lauren,

    Nick Gotts started the whole discussion of libertarianism long before I stepped in.

    I was happily commenting on “Islamaphobia” (as you may recall) and watched from the sidelines as Gotts, Gretchen, Heath, Bee, etc. tossed the libertarian football around.

    And it seems the original topic has played itself out at any rate, unless you have something to add?

    Or did you just feel the need to take a cheap shot at me?

  154. slc1:

    Re Sir Lancelot @ #145

    Everybody who reads this blog knows that Sir Lancelot blathers on and on about subjects on which he is ignorant. One need only read the crap he writes about climate change to realize that. I suggest that Sir Lancelot stick to physics, where, presumably he knows something.

    Somehow, Sir Lancelot has come to the conclusion that I am a Socialist because I point out that the economic system in the former Soviet Union was not Communism but state capitalism. The fact is that I have no disagreement with him that Socialism is an unworkable system, at least for large enterprises. It can work on small enterprises, such as the Israeli Kibitzes or New England Town Meetings, but is unworkable for large enterprises, such as, for instance, General Motors. The reason is that large enterprises inevitably become bureaucratic with CEOs and boards of directors, etc. because somebody has to call the shots. In a large enterprise, one can’t conduct a plebiscite of the employees on every issue that comes along. The problem with a pure Socialist system is the same problem as with direct democracy. Of course, the former Soviet Union is a textbook example of why state capitalism doesn’t work either, mostly because of the lack of competition between enterprises and the inevitable appointment of incompetent political hacks to run those enterprises.

    That, however, doesn’t change the fact that Karl Marx would not have recognized the economic system in any of the so-called Communist countries as Socialism/Communism (by the way, the idea was that in a pure Communist system, the state would wither away, another unworkable idea which didn’t happen in any of the so-called Communist countries).

  155. Raging Bee:

    Libertarianism are opposed to coercion.

    Actually, it’s just one of many functions they prefer to leave to the private sector.

    The PRC currently oppresses one fourth of the world’s population under the name of socialism and the Soviet Union (until its collapse) oppressed about another eighth.

    And that’s relevant to America and the relatively democratic West…how?

    Once again, Lance barges in pretending he’s the smartest guy in the room, and once again has nothing to offer but old-fasioned McCarthyistic name-calling in response to actual facts and history. So much for that superior free-thinking libertarian rationality.

  156. Raging Bee:

    I suggest that Sir Lancelot stick to physics, where, presumably he knows something.

    Just like heddle? Hey, I have an idea — how about we put those two together in a room? It would be just like “Big Bang Theory,” only with more annoying behavior, more religious thinking, and less understanding of how real people function.

  157. Raging Bee:

    Nick Gotts started the whole discussion of libertarianism long before I stepped in.

    “He started it?” Yet another indication of the level of maturity at which most libertarians “function.”

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