Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The New Atheists and Islamophobia

There have been several good recent articles about prominent atheist writers and anti-Muslim bigotry.  First there was 5 Atheists who ruin it for everyone else.  Then this article from Salon talking mostly about Dawkins.  Finaly this interesting piece in Al Jazeera which contrasts Sam Harris's anti-Islamic bigotry with racism of the past that was couched in scientific jargon.

Glenn Greenwald had re-tweeted the two latter articles, and this prompted an somewhat angry and in my view childish reaction from Harris, which can be read here.  Greenwald has now written a more detailed reply here.

I spend some time in atheist communities, particularly meetup groups.  My experience is that there are a lot of great people there, sensitive to the plight of the downtrodden/victims of US violence.  Unfortunately it's also true that there is an unexpectedly (at least for me) large segment that does really get behind US militarism in predominantly Muslim countries.  I guess I found myself surprised because atheists are a hated minority, so I just assumed atheists generally would be sensitive to other oppressed minority groups.  Like I say, a lot of them are, but surprisingly so many aren't.

Many are very hostile to Palestinians.  That's kind of amazing to me.  Palestinians are living under an incredibly oppressive occupation.  Americans just have no idea how miserable a blockade is.  The idea that the main purpose of this blockade is to enhance Israel's security is a joke.  A top Israeli spokesmen told us that the real purpose is to "put Palestinians on a diet."  That's why you block things like pasta and fruit juice.  You block shoes and plastic toys.  That has nothing to do with security.  I guess I expect atheists to be sensitive to such things, but instead all they can talk about is the relatively insignificant and feeble attempts some Palestinians make to react violently.  It's like pea shooters against tanks.  Sometimes, though rarely, the pea shooters get through.  The right wing evangelicals suddenly take notice and are outraged.  Who joins them in that outrage?  A lot of atheists unfortunately.


Paul said...

Hey Jon -

Don't know if you look at older posts but in case you do -

what do you think of the following

This a post from many years ago but notheless interesting.

Jon said...

Yeah, interesting. Apparently Greenwald started as kind of an apathetic person that generally trusted his government and kind of bought off on a lot of the rhetoric and propaganda. Probably his trajectory was similar to mine. Trusting. So what you see here kind of reflects that. Logically it's true that we're not wrong just because the rest of the world has a problem with us. Greenwald is probably here trying to reconcile his starting point (we're kind of in the right) with the foreign hostility, and this is how he does it.

Frankly, I'm embarrassed about some of the things I've written on my own blog, but I leave them up. I kind of like having the history. It is interesting to me to see it now.