-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
To go along with blasphemy and hate-speech criminalization, there’s a new line of attack on atheists that has recently gained some popularity. Critics of atheism are trying to associate atheistic arguments against Islam with Islamophobia. In a recent article in Salon, Nathan Lean has written what is basically one long ad-hominem fallacy focusing on Richard Dawkins. Lean’s attempt to link Dawkins with the Islamophobia of the far-right is totally lacking in substance.
Lean claims that Dawkins is “on record praising the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.” We have previously discussed Wilders’ trial as a threat to free speech, here, and his travel ban from England for his anti-Islam movie “Fitna,” here. Dawkins wrote:
To repeat, Wilders may have said and done other things of which I am unaware, which deserve condemnation, but I can see nothing reprehensible in his making of Fitna, and certainly nothing for which he should go on trial.
Dawkins characterizes Wilders’ trial as “pandering to the ludicrous convention that religious opinion must not be ‘offended’.” Russell Blackford wholeheartedly agrees with Dawkins when Dawkins wrote: “In Fitna, taken on its own, I have found no cause to put Wilders on trial or even to censure him in any substantial way.” Lean conflates Dawkins’ praise of Wilders’ film with praise for Wilders’ other views, while offering no supporting evidence. The support of free speech rights, especially for those with whom we disagree, is a cornerstone of liberty. Lean’s article is devoid of any reference to the right of free speech.
Lean quotes Dawkins’ Twitter account:
Islam is comforting? Tell that to a woman, dressed in a bin bag [trash bag], her testimony worth half a man’s and needing 4 male witnesses to prove rape.
Lean makes no attempt to deny the validity of the content, he only notes that Dawkins, by his own admission, hasn’t read the Quran. Lean offers no explanation as to why reading the Quran is a prerequisite for criticizing the words, deeds, and beliefs of its adherents.
Lean notes Dawkins’ criticism of the gender segregated seating at a University College of London debate. Lean seems to find nothing wrong with the “separate seating option for conservative, practicing Muslims.” I’m a “conservative, practicing” civil-libertarian and a Muslim’s Female-segregation is not to be accommodated. Lean goes on to cite a similar situation when “Barclays Center in New York recently offered gender-separate seating options for Orthodox Jews.” Lean is fallaciously directing attention away from Muslims’ Female-segregation by pointing out someone else’s Female-segregation. Lean’s article is devoid of any reference to equal rights for women.
Powerful philosophical arguments, such as the imaginary nature of God and the impossibility of omniscience/omnipotence, are just as valid with respect to Islam as Christianity. The arguments for creationism are just as vacuous when they come from Muslims.
Lean’s substance-free diatribe only highlights the intellectual flimsiness that supports religion.