Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Racism" as a Convenient Gag

The original Guardian post by Nasrine Malik was bad enough but when Alternet chose to re-post it they made it slightly dumber and more bigoted. And, yes, Malik's "Message to Richard Dawkins: 'Islam is not a race' is a cop out" is very prejudiced. Despite her attempt to project her own biases onto Dawkins and other atheists the fault lies at her own feet.

From the very first paragraph she rather lamely tries to conflate criticisms of Islam with racism.
"Of late, a new variation of the old chestnut 'I'm not racist but …' has emerged. It goes: 'I've got nothing against Muslims, it's Islam I hate'. Otherwise known as the 'Islam is not a race' argument."
Right away she makes a number of common mistakes prevalent among theists. Even if she cannot distinguish the individual believers from the the religion they follow does not mean that Dawkins and the rest of us can't see the difference.

She quickly follows this up with a definition of racism that does not support her main premise. Malik makes a feeble attempt at rationalizing how this definition should be reinterpreted. There are a variety of problem with her line of thinking but I will focus on one very telling one. Her standards of reasoning are so low that by accepting her preferred interpretation of "racism" there can be no legitimate criticism of Islam so long as there is even the slightest bit of ethnic diversity among individual Muslims. In effect, she is arguing for an "old chestnut" of her own. It goes: Religion must be respected and revered by all simply for being religion. Bullshit!

The HuffPo title for the re-post, "Why the New Atheists Need to Stop Slamming Islam", is worse than Malik's own title yet it is slightly more honest. It comes closer to what seems to be the real purpose for its writing. They want to be able to tell atheists to shut-up while holding the moral high ground. None of the lame excuses for claiming that criticizing Islam is racist actually apply to atheists alone. Just the opposite is the case. Even if you can find non-atheist critics that Malik's caricature of racism applies (sadly there are quite a few) it still has nothing to with with atheists. Virtually all the arguments/criticism Dawkins has made can still be made if every Muslim on the planet magically turned into white upper middle class men (like Dawkins). I can't think of a single criticism made by myself or other atheists that use race let alone rely on it. So, where's this "racism" she wants to smear us with?

Makes me wonder if a prominent black atheist came to Malik's attention would she make the same argument? Maybe she should seek out an interview with someone like Jamila Bey. It seems to me that in this instance it Malik who has the preoblem with prejudice and bigotry.

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