(Update: This article was originally titled, “The Imbecilic Threat: The Incompetent Rise of C.J. Werleman”, which was a play on the title of his latest book. However, since this article was essentially the first part of a wider focus on the pernicious attacks on “New Atheism”, I decided to re-edit the title to reflect that.)
It took me an obscene amount of time to write this article. On several occasions, I would start writing and would get to approximately 600 words before scraping it and starting over. My original intent for this article was to focus on one of atheism’s most embarrassing representatives, C.J. Werleman, and his most recent masterpiece of literary garbage entitled, “The New Atheist Threat: The Dangerous Rise Of Secular Extremists”. Usually, I’d provide a link to where you can check out the book mentioned, but Werleman is not worth that small courtesy. Instead, I will provide a link to Stephen Knight’s in depth review of this piece of trash over at the Godless Spellchecker’s Blog.
However, as I attempted to write about him and his vacuous drivel, I found myself conflicted between my penchant for criticizing examples of unadulterated cretinism and whether or not I wanted to contribute to the publicity he’s already received, no matter how insignificant that addition may be. This uncertainty was further compounded when I witnessed the usual reaction coming from Werleman and the rest of his band of pretentious mental midgets regarding an interview that David Ruben conducted with Sam Harris. I began to have an internal debate about whether or not my focus should be expanded to encompass the broader onslaught being waged against what is commonly referred to as “New Atheism”.
That debate came to a screeching halt recently when I witnessed the response from Werleman’s squad of intellectual cripples to a joint lecture conducted by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz highlighting their collaborative work, “Islam and the Future of Tolerance“. Specifically, they decided to target Nawaz for their sleazy brand of strawman arguments and ad hominem attacks. This did more than enough to convince me that all of them should be held accountable for their deceptive and fallacious criticisms of not just “New Atheism”, but for people like Maajid Nawaz, who seek to open a dialogue in hopes of minimizing the ability for religious extremists and fundamentalists to hurt any more people.
“New Atheism” is a misnomer that has recently been adopted to describe what has previously been known as anti-theism: the direct opposition to organized religion. Anti-theism has been around for about as long as religion has, although it wasn’t always something that was frequently discussed in the public square due to the fact that, for centuries, publicly scrutinizing religion could easily be labeled blasphemy or heresy, which often resulted in the imprisonment or death of the accused. Because of this danger, such discussions were generally carried out privately among very small groups of like-minded individuals, away from the ears of religion’s most zealous persecutors.
Not long after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a portion of the atheist community decided that remaining quiet and submissive in the face of religion’s cherished position in society was no longer tenable. While we had grown accustom to religious fundamentalists persistently trying to enact legislation as a way of forcing everyone to live according to their antiquated fairy tales, the rising threat of Islamic Jihadists and their eagerness to engage in the mass extermination of human life, including their own, for their religious ideology became a wake up call for many of us who valued secularism and wanted to be free from religion’s oppressive influence.
This refusal to allow religion to go unchecked gave rise to intellectuals such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and the late, great Christopher Hitchens, collectively known as the Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse. They encouraged a public discourse regarding religion and its effect on both policy and people. No longer should religion be considered above reproach, they argued. Religion shouldn’t just be tolerated; it should be open to scrutiny and criticism, just like any other set of beliefs or ideas. By allowing religion to be protected from appraisal, we end up placating those who would channel these religious doctrines to inspire themselves or others into committing unspeakable violence and suffering against their fellow man.
And so, people like the Four Horseman and others decided to take religion on. They wrote books, gave lectures, and participated in public debates, all in an attempt to reinvigorate what was once common place during the Age of Enlightenment. Seemingly, C.J. Werleman saw this movement as an opportunity to make a name for himself. He wrote a few books in which he clearly saw himself as being on the same level as Harris or Hitchens, but he wasn’t even remotely close. While people like Dennett or Dawkins wrote books outlining why our scientific understanding of the natural world, coupled with our refined philosophical views, made these ancient religions nonsensical and obsolete, Werleman’s approach was to just provided a bunch of Bible passages and then say how horrible they were, in some manner or another.
Needless to say, his writings weren’t received with much fanfare. Many considered him to be a rank amateur, at best, who really didn’t show much ability to add anything substantive to the conversation or to create anything original. In fact, he seemed to have an affinity for simply reiterating the same arguments that others before him had already made. This would ultimately turn out to be more egregious than many had originally realized, as Werleman would be busted as a serial plagiarist back in 2014.
Shortly after an appearance he made on “The Young Turks“, where he compared Sam Harris to Sarah Palin, Stephen Knight over at the Godless Spellchecker blog, along with Dr. Peter Boghossian, highlighted Werleman’s literary thievery. This would led to a pathetic public meltdown by Werleman, in which he first attempted to dismiss the instances of plagiarism as simple editing errors, then decided to brush it off as being a non-issue by claiming it only happened in a minuscule fraction of his writing. As Knight and Boghossian exposed more and more examples of his plagiarism, Werleman finally chose to use the “everybody’s doin’ it” defense by hurling baseless accusations of plagiarism against Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. In the end, he finally issued a really weak-ass apology. This all culminated in AlterNet, for whom he had been an active contributor, deleting all of his articles from their site and severing ties with him. Salon briefly gave him the boot but they recently brought him back, which shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone familiar with that site. Rather than becoming the “5th” member of the Horseman, he’s now the clownish and racist dimwit you will find today.
Recently, Maajid Nawaz wrote an article in The Daily Beast highlighting just some of the racist and bigoted insults hurled his way from the likes of Nathan Lean, who called him a “lapdog” and Sam Harris’ “Muslim validator”, and Murtaza Hussain, who first called him a “well-coiffed talking monkey” but then revised it to “porch monkey” after being taken to task over it. Here is how C.J. Werleman responded to Nawaz over that article:
He calls Nawaz a “house Muslim”, a play on the pejorative term “house nigger”, which is used to describe a black person who sucks up to white people for benefits. The twisted irony here is that both Werleman and Lean frequently accuses Sam Harris, and other atheists who criticize the doctrine of Islam, of being a racist and a bigot. Husain works for Glenn Greenwald, another person with a history of trying to demonize Sam Harris by intentionally lying about what Harris has said.
They rant and rave against anyone who dares to speak out against Jihadists and Islamists by accusing these critics of racism and/or bigotry. However, when they are confronted with someone like Maajid Nawaz – a Muslim who happens to agree with a “New Atheists” like Sam Harris on the problems facing the Islamic world regarding fanaticism – they turn out to be the hateful racists and bigots that they accuse others of being. There are others, too, although an examination of them will have to wait for another time.
Werleman and his ilk are textbook cases of psychological projection.