As an atheist, I find most of the religions practiced today to be equally absurd. The idea of a Galilean Jew walking on water or coming back from the dead is just as ridiculous to me as the idea of an Arabian warlord flying on a winged horse or cutting the Moon in half. I analyze them all with the same level of skepticism and demand from all of them the same standard of evidence to support their claims.
Additionally, I will publicly criticize them when it is warranted. When Christians insist that gays shouldn’t be permitted the same access to marriage as straights because the Bible says homosexuality is wrong, I will not only point out their hypocrisy – by highlighting all of the other things that the Bible also says is wrong that they chose to ignore, like eating shrimp or bacon – but I will also ask them to provide a rational justification as to why anyone should even consider what the Bible has to say about any subject when it comes to the rule of law.
When Scientologists advocate that people who suffer from serious mental illnesses should be kept in solitary confinement, with the only human contact coming in the form of “auditing”until the illness is cured – a practice they refer to as introspection rundown – rather than receiving the appropriate medical treatment, I will eagerly refute their pseudoscience with real science and I will also underscore the fact that they subscribe to a religion claims that we are really a race of immortal aliens called Thetans and we were all trapped inside of human bodies by the tyrannical ruler of the Galactic Confederacy known as Xenu, and that this all comes from the mind of a science fiction author.
Anytime any theist has publicly advocated for someone’s rights to be violated or for them to be harmed in some measurable way based upon their religious ideology, I have been more than happy to take them to task for it by mercilessly ridiculing the beliefs that use to validate their actions. This is what it means to be a “New Atheist”. It means that you are no longer willing to keep quiet while theists try to impose their religious dogma onto others. It also means that you reject the laughable assertion that religion should somehow be exempt from public scrutiny or ridicule simply because some people find it meaningful and they’ll be offended if you do so.
For awhile now, leftists have been happy to support “New Atheists” as we’ve taken on the doctrines of Christianity, particularly here in the United States. Our ability to highlight the nonsensical aspects of these primitive fables has helped, in part, to not only reveal the grotesque duplicity of almost all Christian fundamentalists interested in channeling these archaic writings for inspiration regarding modern legislative efforts but also to reinvigorate the desire for a healthy wall of separation between church and state.
They will applaud when we cause Evangelicals to falter when we ask them to rationalize why they are so willing to protest a gay couple trying to obtain a marriage license but they are not so willing to protest Red Lobster for selling shellfish, or Bob Evans for selling sausage, or tattoo parlors and psychic hotlines – all of which the Bible forbids.
However, there is one religion that a sizable portion of the left has decided should be completely be off limits to any amount of criticism, ridicule, or mockery. They have chosen to construct this unwavering blanket of support around this religion and seek to protect it by ferociously targeting anyone who dares to speak ill about this religion’s tenets and traditions.
I am, of course, talking about Islam.
I spend most of my time being critical of Christianity, as one would expect seeing as how I live in a country in which 70-80% of the population identifies as Christian. I have spoken quite disparagingly about the barbarous axioms found within the Holy Bible. While this has certainly upset a lot of Christians who witnessed it, as well as some apathetic atheists, at no time has anyone ever accused me of being a racist or a bigot. Obviously, my scorn can also be applied to Judaism, considering that the section of the Holy Bible known as the Old Testament makes up a very large portion of the Tanakh. In spite of this, I’ve never been accused of being antisemitic, either.
Yet, this is not the case when I turn my criticisms towards Islam. If I chose to chide Islamic scripture and how it inspires the global phenomenon of Jihadist terrorism, then some leftists will immediately embark on a campaign of damage control on behalf of Islam. They will insist that Jihadists are not motivated by their religion’s tenets. Instead, they will insist that the real cause must be economical, or political, or any other excuse imaginable, but it most certainly cannot be religion. Whenever I point to the passages contained within the Qu’ran and/or the Hadith that have been used by Jihadists to validate their actions, or whenever I explain how the idea that is primarily economic or political reasons doesn’t hold water, then it is only a matter of time before I will either be accused of being a racist, even though Islam is not a race, or an Islamophobe.
And I am certainly not alone. Many who fall under the term “New Atheism” have also reported being subjected to this unique tactic of shutting down any and all conversations regarding a critical analysis of Islam by labeling those who do so as being intolerant peddlers of hate speech and/or of instigating violence towards Muslims, even to the point of accusing us of calling for a global genocide against all Muslims everywhere. But this tactic can stretch well beyond conversational obstructionism and manifest itself into shameless character assassination.
And nowhere has this been exemplified more than with Sam Harris.
In part one of this series, I outlined how the notorious mental midget known as C.J. Werleman is obsessed with slandering and defaming Sam Harris, and all “New Atheists” over our critique of Islam. The irony surrounding Werleman is that he once tried to make a name for himself as a “New Atheist” by going after the Christian Right here in the U.S., although he wasn’t particularly good at it. He typical just relied on the ad hominem, rather than reasoned logic or contemplative arguments. Basically, he’s the polar opposite of Sam Harris.
But he is certainly not the only one. Two of the more prominent prevaricators of Sam Harris, and “New Atheism” in general, are Reza Aslan and Glenn Greenwald.
Reza Aslan is essentially the Muslim version of popular Christian apologist William Lane Craig. Like Craig, Aslan attempts to redefine atheism as a belief system, rather than the lack of a belief system. This is a common ploy used in apologetics and its motives are simple. By mischaracterizing atheism as a belief, they can then portray the atheist and the theist as being on equal footing in attempt to shift the burden of proof on to the atheist by falsely declaring, “You claim God doesn’t exist. Can you prove your claim?” This isn’t to say that there aren’t some atheists out there who do make this claim but they are certainly nowhere near the majority. In fact, my experience has been that most who do are simply misspeaking and will readily admit that when asked to elaborate.
In his Book, “The End of Faith“, Harris talks about the effect that beliefs have on emotions and also about how beliefs influence behaviors. In this context, he also discusses the potential for someone to hold such an irrational and dangerous belief that it may be looked upon as justifiable to kill them, if they could not be captured or restrained in some manner, before they can put that belief into action – such as the belief that flying an airplane, filled with civilians, into a skyscraper, also filled with civilians, will appease their god and that this god will also reward them in the afterlife for doing so.
Anyone who actually reads this passage in Harris’ book, and isn’t intellectually incompetent, would fully understand that Harris is not advocating that we exterminate the entire Muslim population on Earth. That certainly didn’t stop Reza Aslan from quote mining Harris to deliberately make it appear that way.
This steaming nugget of bullshit is even more outrageous when you take into consideration his own views towards ISIL, which he outlined in an interview he gave The New York Magazine:
“The way you confront an organization like that is twofold. No. 1, you kill their militants. There is no room for discussion or negotiation when it comes to an ISIS or an Al Qaeda militant. They don’t want anything concrete. And if you want nothing that’s measurable or concrete, there is nothing to talk about. You must be destroyed.”
So, he supports killing certain people if they hold dangerous beliefs and cannot be reasoned with, but then he falsely accuses Sam Harris of supporting genocide because Harris proposed a thought experiment, which Aslan agrees with. I think this underscores the maliciousness in Aslan’s tactics. And, as you can see, Aslan’s tweet was retweeted by Glenn Greenwald who, like Aslan, has repeatedly engaged in willful dishonesty in order to denigrate both Harris and “New Atheists”, in general.
But he’ll have to wait for part 2.