Dawkins, Islam, Bigotry and Racism

It’s depressing to watch Richard Dawkins’ fanboys trying to defend his recent words about Islam on the grounds what he’s saying isn’t technically racism. Surely if the same words were to come out of the mouths of established bigots like Nick Griffin, Geert Wilders or Pamela Gellar they’d rightly be condemned as hate speech. It makes you wonder how many of them share his bigotry, or whether there’s some cognitive dissonance in play here.

When somebody singles out and demonises a religion that just happens, in the UK at least, to be practiced largely by non-white immigrant communities it’s splitting hairs to argue whether it’s racism or not. Whatever it is or isn’t, the one thing it is doing is furthering the agenda of the far right, and this is precisely the point many mainstream commentators I’ve read have been making.

It’s disappointing that so many people who are not by any stretch of the imagination fellow travellers of the far right fail to see this.

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12 Responses to Dawkins, Islam, Bigotry and Racism

  1. anon says:

    Education is a global concern—Many Asian countries, both Muslim-majority countries and Muslim minority countries have concerns about their education systems—however, Patronizing criticism is only entertainment—and therefore does not generate any constructive dialogue—it brings attention to Dawkins—but does nothing for real concerns or problems.

  2. Tim Hall says:

    He doesn’t seem to interested in constructive dialogue nowadays. Also get the feeling that he really doesn’t understand religion at all at a gut level. It’s not for him to tell people of faith how holy books should be interpreted in the modern world, for example.

  3. Michael says:

    Islam as a religion is practiced by people of many different races.

    Atheism, the mistaken (in my opinion) belief in the non-existance of God is a religion too.

    I have lost interest in Richard Dawkins, so I have no idea if his recent comments were racist or not, but religious intollerance gets people far more worked up than racial remarks anyway.

    Now what winds me up are the Secularists who want everyone to use the same religious insignia as the Atheists. They simply have not thought that one through.

  4. Tim Hall says:

    Quote from the Anglican priest Rachel Mann on Twitter: “What, the Atheist community is a thing?”.

    Not believing in God is a religious position, but on it’s own it doesn’t really qualify as a religion. Once you’re got things like “The Atheist Community”, or start capitalising the word “Atheism”, then….

  5. Michael says:

    Then what?

    One of my cousins married in a “Humanist” ceremony.
    I have also attended a funeral which was rather on the athets side of agnostic.
    I have even sung a piece of music which felt rather like the atheist version of a requiem mass (a most depressing piece).

    At what point do you cross the line between being a religious position and being a religion?

  6. Weety says:

    Oh dear. I don’t know where to start with this.
    Tim….is ‘not’ playing football a sport?
    Michael – secularists just want equality and no special privilege for religions. Seems fair to me.
    Atheism is a lack of belief in deities due to a lack of evidence. That doesn’t take faith.

  7. Weety says:

    Also…..if Dawkins criticises Islam, you are saying that is racist bigotry. So if he criticises Mormonism then what is that?
    I hardly think Dawkins is concerned about skin colour when criticising religions. All religions. You may be interested to know that the UK Council of Ex-Muslims endorse what he said and he is a regular contributor to their group etc.

  8. Tim Hall says:

    Are there big national gatherings that people attend for the sole purpose of not playing football?

  9. RJT says:

    I happen to be an atheist, but I completely agree that Richard Dawkins seems to have descended into somewhat of a troll. He is far too intelligent a person for that. His defence of evolution against anti-evolutionists in the Blind Watchmaker was powerful and articulate, but because it was based in the work and data of a research scientist, not the ability to pick convenient anecdotes and spin them to cause maximum offence.

    His sweeping statements and crass comments counting the number of Nobel prizes won by Muslims are simply not worthy of an intelligent person. If religion is the reason why Muslims have not won Nobel prizes, then why is it that so many Christians have inconveniently won the blasted things? Oh, because of the west? Because of greater liberalism and enlightenment of Europe? No, because both liberalism and the Englightenment were in large part brought about by devoutly religious people. They studied at universities that were founded to support religion and continued to promote it (often in sectarian terms) until recent times.

    I do believe that religion can be a destructive and harmful phenomenon. However, it is the humans who use religion for highly unspiritual ends that are the problem, not religion itself. It is humanity that is to blame, and I don’t believe for an instant that a godless world would have reduced the sum of human misery over the last few millenia by more than a fraction, if by anything at all. Religious wars, religious genocides and religious cultural and political imperialism are universally about much more than religion … they are about power, money, demographic pressures and the ‘battle for survival’ of one society against another. They’d have happened anyway. You’d think a Darwinist would understand that.

  10. Weety says:

    I believe Prof Dawkins was responding to a claim about Islam’s contribution to science. He merely quoted a fact. He goes into more detail beyond the twitter comment.

  11. Michael says:

    Weety, actually I do not have a problem with insisting on equal treatment for all regardless of religious belief.

    I do regard the active belief in the non-existance of God as a religion. This is the Humanist or Atheist position.

    A Secularist should be advocating that one’s religious belief doesn’t matter, not that one should not have a belief.

    The snag is anyone with a religious belief is going to clash with the Secularist position at some point. The question becomes where should the lines be drawn. There is no easy answer as so much of this is context dependant.

  12. RJT says:

    @Weety. Probably a mistake to reply, but here goes.

    The problem is not that Dawkins quoted a fact, it is that that fact was used, in isolation, to be deliberately provocative. Saying there are fewer Muslim winners of Nobel prizes than a Cambridge college is factually true. However the clear implication was that there are fewer BECAUSE they are Muslim, and because Islam has put a break on the ability of Muslims to achieve academic success. As a scientist, one could accept that as a hypothesis to be tested, but you cannot accept it (as Dawkins intended it to be interpreted) as an obvious ‘fact’.

    The reality is that there are a million factors that explain why Cambridge University has won a lot more nobel prizes than any group you care to mention, the main one being that it is an institution of scientific research, and winning them is rather its raison d’etre. It won them because it set out to win them.