I’d describe #PseudoLiberals as liberals that have something of the Post Modern Relativism about them. They are individuals that form a loose collective that think they are being particularly good lefty liberals by giving unbounded respect to those playing the offence game in the face of criticism – common with regard to the offended religious.
Their genuine concern for the oppressed and persecuted fogs their view of the very oppressive and persecutory practices of some the people they seek to support or the belief systems that they hold to, and will even blame valid criticisms of the minorities’ beliefs and label the critics as persecutors.
Nothing should prevent reasonable people objecting to any immoral practices that any group engage in, and there should not be a problem with criticising their ideas – especially when those ideas are going to govern their actions towards others.
From honour killings and FGM, to illegal attempts to implement Sharia law, and even to many of the tenets of Islam that are essentially terror tactics: apostasy, blasphemy, heresy, takfir, stoning adulterers, there is much that a western democratic liberal has reason to object to in Islamic belief and practice – no matter what the race, skin colour, origins or religion of both parties to the dispute, believer in the dogma or critic of it, might be.
For the record, because one just has to spell it out, repeatedly …
NOT ALL MUSLIMS! MOST MUSLIMS ARE GOOD, EVEN IF THEIR RELIGION CONTAINS BAD IDEAS.
and, even though I will argue with them on philosophy, science and religion, THIS IS MY TYPE OF MUSLIM!
But take this, from the Quran, 24:2
The [unmarried] woman or [unmarried] man found guilty of sexual intercourse – lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment.
If this is acceptable to you, as a Muslim, or even if you want to come up with some stupid theological scholarly (LOL!) reason for why it might be acceptable in some context (there’s always that slippery context), then you are an anti-humanist I have strong issues with. If your holy book is so inerrant that this cannot be seen as an error, then we have issues. If you are a Muslim that manages to disown this and all the other hateful crap, then I marvel at your cognitive contortions, but we’re OK, at least from my perspective. Still think your religion is daft.
While #PseudoLiberals generally agree with the criticisms levelled against the practices mentioned above, and the many atrocities carried out in the name of Islam, they are often reluctant to express that publicly, and they make a lot of noise when someone does – shooting the messenger, albeit metaphorically, which isn’t always the case with disgruntled Islamists, sadly, and that’s sort of the point, isn’t it.
A lot of the hand waving seems to be linked to the western guilt of the #PseudoLiberals – quite valid in itself often enough, but there’s an all too easy move they make from one unconnected thing to another. So, no, New Atheists are not promoting or excusing western state sponsored terrorism, as one #PseudoLiberal implied, just because that’s not the area of expertise or main interest of New Atheists. The clue is in the name, New Atheism focuses on theism and a-theism, and politics in that context. As I said above, many of the New Atheists are humanists, and in other contexts will also criticise or agree with the #PseudoLiberal criticism of our western governments’ state policies and practices. But that this isn’t central to their work doesn’t mean they are denying such criticism.
#PseudoLiberals aren’t immune to their own pride contributing to the false representations of New Atheists. The way this often goes is that the #PseudoLiberal will jump on some bandwagon of criticism of New Atheists, and when shown to be mistaken they are more likely to keep digging that hole rather than weigh up the arguments fairly. It’s unbelievable how often they’ll misrepresent, be corrected, and then go on to misrepresent with the same factually incorrect material. Contrast this with both Dawkins and Harris, who often correct or explain, and are quite humble in saying, well, yes, I could have said that better, or I retract that. Rare from #PseudoLiberals.
In the case of New Atheist criticism of Islam, the #PseudoLiberals have heard the duplicitous cries of Muslims being offended and they work themselves up into such a frenzy that they would rather propagate lies about New Atheist critics of religion than actually take the trouble to face the many dilemmas that arise from good people believing truly awful things. They are able, often in a single statement, to condemn the violence of the religious, claim it’s nothing to do with religion, and blame New Atheist for that violence by the explicit use of misrepresentation.
Being offended is the heads up public victimhood side of the manipulative coin, with the terror tactics of apostasy, blasphemy, heresy and Takfir emblazoned on the tails side. The #PseudoLiberals are cheats playing with a double headed coin.
#PseudoLiberals engage in the limp logic that manages to accuse New Atheists of beliefs they don’t actually hold, while denouncing the violent actions of Muslims, and yet excusing the horrendous beliefs inherent in religion, particularly in Islam, under the banner of tolerance and respect.
Some Examples of the Problem
These are the arguments made against New Atheists follwoing events like #CharleiHebdo and #ChapelHillShooting.
New Atheists Criticise Islam
#PseudoLiberals assert that New Atheists hate all Muslims. And despite the explicit explanation of why this is not so the #PseudoLiberals continue to spread this lie.
Lone Atheist Hicks Kills Muslims
Hicks had been in some dispute with the victims, over what seems a trivial (compared to death) matter of parking, and it has also been reported by a resident of his condominium that he has expressed “equal opportunity” anger, but the full story hasn’t come out yet. Although there’s a macho element to his Facebook page, and a single (as far as I know) picture of a gun, his page is mostly full of the humanist arguments against religion generally – and it’s hardly what could be called hatred, and in fact is full of quotes expressing very liberal and humanist views. The only intolerance that’s obvious is the intolerance of intolerant religions.
The reason for the shooting remains a mystery for now as the police investigation continues. And desipite his wife saying that in her opinion it really wasn’t a hate crime of religion or race, that hasn’t stopped the #PseudoLiberals making their own uniformed minds up.
#PseudoLiberals have decided that the very humanistic aspects of New Atheism, and Harris and Dawkins in particular, are not sufficient reason to believe they are anything but pedallers of hatred and the direct or indirect cause of this act by Hicks. New Atheists incited this violence.
The New Atheists very clearly criticise Islam, but are explicitly not racist or persecuting of Muslims, and not even claiming all Muslims follow all tenets of the Islam as criticised. But none of that matters to #PseudoLiberals .
Some Muslims Kill Lots of People, Citing Islam
Some Muslims kill people for criticising Islam in terms that upset them. Some critics of Islam draw cartoons, and some Muslims kill them for it, or attempt to kill them for it, or claim they should be killed for it. Some Muslims kill other Muslims for not being the right type of Muslim.
#PseudoLiberals are sure to condemn the killing. But here’s where the logic gets scarily bizarre, because according to #PseudoLiberals:
- The culprits are not true Muslims and were not doing it in the name of Islam.
- Much of this killing is the fault of New Atheists like Dawkins and Harris. Why? Because they excessively criticise a beloved prophet which offends the Muslims; and worse, these New Atheists blame all Muslims for the killing, and in fact the New Atheists claim all Muslims are terrorists.
Lies, but no matter, the #PseudoLiberals have made up their minds.
Now it seems to me that (1) and (2) just don’t sit right. If the killers are not true Muslims and didn’t do it in the name of Islam, then in what way are critics of Islam responsible for those killings? How have they even contributed to it?
Imagine these scenarios.
Glenn Greenwald makes a career living off the revelations of Snowden on the spying activities of the NSA. Fair enough; it’s to our benefit that he does that, right?
But then some guy reads Greenwald, and agrees with him on how bad the NSA is. He’s a #Greenwaldian. But this guy then learns some spying techniques and uses them against innocent citizens. And then people that don’t like Greenwald claim it’s Greenwald’s fault for inciting the spying of the #Greenwaldian. Would that wash?
And then some NSA agents kill some liberals that have also published some of the Snowden material, by presenting it in cartoon form. And people that don’t like Greenwald claim 1) The killing was nothing to do with the NSA, and 2) It was Greenwald’s fault for revealing the NSA antics in the first place. Would that wash?
Who would make such dumb fucking arguments? Here’s a list of some of the #Greenwaldian characters.
The man himself. Just follow him and he’ll cough up phlegm soon enough. Here’s an example where he’s more interested in having a dig at Harris than looking at what Harris and Maajid Nawaz are trying to do. Nawaz is an inconvenience in the #Greenwaldian narrative.
Greenwald has so convinced that himself that Harris is a racist that Greenwald thinks Harris can be friends with ‘brown people’, like Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali only for self serving purposes. Opportunist Greenwald judges others by his own standards, or at least by his own biased expectations.
Simply denies anyone actually believes any of the literal religious stuff anyway, and blames New Atheists, and Harris in particular, for stirring up nonsense about religiously motivated violence. In denying religion does much motivating it makes you wonder what Aslan thinks it’s good for. Does it not motivate people to do good? Not sure how you can have one without the other if the religious texts contain both incitement to do good and to do violence. But that’s the logic of #PseudoLiberals for you.
Never slow to hop on TV and smugly and authoritatively denounce Sam Harris with a bunch of repeated misrepresentations. Comes across as a nice guy, but he’s pretty sly.
In the case of #CharlieHebdo, he did condemn the killings, and made a wider point about the problems within Islamist groups, informed by Wahhabism. And that’s exactly the kind of criticism New Atheists make, but then he says this:
“What really I think puts an obstacle in the way is opinions like Ayaan [Hirsi Ali]‘s and so many others in the political and the media mainstream who continue to say that 1.7 billion people are responsible for the actions of these extremists.”
Which is the fucking problem. Who the fuck in the New Atheists has said 1.7 billion Muslims are responsible for these actions? Where he continues to fail is not accepting that it’s these extremists that are following the texts, having accused Harris elsewhere of reading the Quran literally.
Well, yes, Harris is listens to extremists say they are following the texts, looks at the texts and says, yes, I can see how they get that, so the text is the source of their understanding of Islam – the text is Islam because that’s how the texts define Islam.
It’s all well and good Aslan saying most Muslims don’t follow the text, when even many ‘moderates’ agree with it in principle, because it’s inerrant. There’s a double speak that goes on in Islam and its interface with the western world, and Aslan contributes to it.
Too few Muslims are facing up to this duplicity, but thankfully some are, and for the record, here’s a couple of groups that are:
On the whole I’d say Aslan’s self serving mixed messages are part of the problem.
Some have called out Reza Aslan’s duplicity.
Not in the same league as Greenwald and Aslan, but takes the opportunity to have a pop at Harris when he can.
Here he uses an interview with Michael Shermer, on Shermer’s book, to demonise Harris and New Atheists for offending people. And in the same interview says there are times when straight talking is needed. What you find with these #PseudoLiberals is that they are good on criticism of New Atheists while still holding to much of the atheist criticism of religion, but they don’t offer any solution that goes beyond shutting up so as not to offend.
Didn’t expect to have this critic of religion on the list? But on Chapel Hill:
“But on the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine what would drive someone to murder three people over something so stupid, unless the murderer for some reason did not see his victims as full humans deserving of the right to life.”
Well, people do kill each other over really silly things. You live in the USA, Rebecca. Do you not watch the news? Is his general attitude to his neighbours not a clue that it could well have been over a stupid parking lot? Personal space boundaries have been known to be a point of dispute that incites violence.
“And if you have paid any attention to the current state of capital-A-Atheism, you would have to see the growing problem with the continued dehumanization of Muslims, women, and other marginalized groups by community leaders like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Lawrence Krauss, the organizations that support them with awards and speaking engagements, and the mass of young and angry atheists on sites like Reddit.”
This is just fucking bullshit. The real story here is #ElevatorGate payback, with some #GamerGate thrown in.
Basically FtB and Skepchick and others don’t like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, and anyone who might complain about the excessive abuse they get – so now Michael Nugent is a target at FtB (when they aren’t pretending to ignore him – count the ‘Not Listening’ posts. Lawrence Krauss has upset them in the past, and being a buddy of Dawkins that puts him in the same pile. Jerry Coyne is sometimes a target, but the Coyne/Myers non-exchanges often have a biology/evolution twist. It’s a long story.
“That’s how the “men’s rights movement” led to …”
Oh, yeah, there’s that too.
“Knowing what we know about the end result of dehumanization combined with violent rhetoric, maybe it’s time that atheists as a group decide to retire this cartoon, which may have been true once but hasn’t been relevant at least since Dawkins started Tweeting about why women who don’t abort fetuses with Downs Syndrome are immoral:”
This is disgraceful opportunism from Rebecca Watson.
The cartoon is still true, because of course what Dawkins was saying was nothing to do with New Atheist criticism of Islam, and much less to do with Chapel Hill.
Dawkins was not saying women who don’t abort foetuses with Downs Syndrome are immoral. His point on Downs Syndrome was that the decision to abort is a difficult one, and that we shouldn’t be judgemental about anyone choosing to abort a Downs Syndrome foetus, and that one can even argue there’s some moral argument for not putting the mother or the child through the inevitable tough life ahead. Pointing out a morally positive reason one might want to abort is not declaring that people that don’t abort are immoral, but rather pointing out the moral dilemma that has no easy solution because there are arguments either way.
The crazy thing, and the reason you can tell it’s an old vendetta at work here, is that Watson is pro-choice too. If you’re pro-choice the woman doesn’t even need an additional justification for aborting a foetus. Dawkins was simply making a case that would help those struggling with the choice of aborting in some cases. It’s a bit like when Krauss questioned the moral objection to incest – Yuk! Some topics are beyond the pale for #PseudoLiberals.
The hypocrisy here is unbelievable. So quick to denounce Dawkins for tweets that can be maliciously interpreted, when they have done the malicious interpretation. And then Watson has a whole post in which to be clear, and the only clear reading of her post is that it has nothing to do with Chapel Hill or atheism.
Chapel Hill? An opportunity not to be missed.
Cal Colgan is a #Greenwaldian that thinks along the same lines.
““New Atheist” idiots are turning nonbelief into the very violent fanaticism they oppose. We atheists shd condemn this [link]”.
Colgan is a researcher for Media Matters, according to his Twitter bio. And Media Matters is about …
“to systematically monitor a cross section of print, broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet media outlets for conservative misinformation – news or commentary that is not accurate, reliable, or credible and that forwards the conservative agenda.”
Guess it must have been Cal’s day off doing research challenging misinformation, unreliability, inaccuracy. Great job Cal.
You can see more of that conversation here.
An old time Muslim #Greenwaldian. A democratic liberal secular Muslim that raises many good social issues, but in his defence of his Islam isn’t above coming out with the same old incorrect stuff about New Atheist.
Here’s a post based on his Facebook page, where he wrote along side a link to a piece on the Chapel Hill shooting:
“Will we now see lots of pieces calling for ‘reform’ of New Atheism and a search for ‘moderate’ New Atheists? #justasking”. As if there is any doctrine to reform – unlike Islam.
I didn’t expect this. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention to Cenk because I’ve focused on the TYT general political issues.
I saw Cenk engaged in a studio shake down of Sam Harris, with some of the usual crew and some other guy I can’t recall. Then I saw him let Reza Aslan have an easy time telling his lies. And, in a return interview with Harris, Cenk really grilled Harris.
My complaint isn’t about the grilling of Harris. Cenk sorta did his job that day, though by then it was obvious the interview was loaded with Cenk’s preconceptions about Harris, confirmed for him, I’m sure, in the Aslan interview. But he let Aslan take him on a stroll through the anti-Harris park with barely a quizzical glance.
Cenk made the point somewhere, about his uncle being a Muslim and how he’s just an ordinary nice guy, and I thought, yeah, emotion is in control there. Of course you love your Muslim family, and yeah, they are living a ‘normal’ life of not engaging in the crazy shit that’s in the Quran and the Hadith – but that doesn’t get Islam, which is the Quran and Hadith, off the hook; and it’s the Quran and Hadith that Harris is criticising, not your deal old uncle and all the other ordinary people that happen to have been indoctrinated into Islam. Cenk, you numbskull, you criticise conservatism politics, but you know damned well not all conservatives are total dicks. Don’t you think Harris understands this distinction between Islam and most Muslims?
Apparently you don’t:
Another point Cenk made was he hadn’t read much of Harris; and yet he could tell us what he thought Harris thought and said, based then on what some other people had to say about Harris – hearsay passes for research then on TYT?
Harris is not the Muslim hating bigot Aslan (and Greenwald) make out – far from it, it’s his humanism that sparks his criticism of Islam because Islam contains the dogma so easily turned to hate and violence. But Cenk bought into the Aslan message.
Not someone I’d class as a liberal, though he’s into human rights. Deserves an honorary mention for the headline:
I don’t know. Hicks is one, so will two do it for you Rabah? No doubt you’ll wait in hope for the next martyrs. If not two, then how about as many as this: Islamic Terrorist Attacks. Let me know when we evil New Atheists are close.