With Ayaan Hirsi Ali in an uproar over her unvitation from Brandeis University, and Richard Dawkins beginning his American tour, what better time to invite them to work together to promote pluralism and tolerance? And just for kicks, my invite includes Sam Harris — who is likewise no stranger to demonizing Islam.
The ongoing debate stems from these new atheists’ audacious claim that they have educated opinions about Islam. Evidence demonstrates otherwise.
In 2011 I wrote a Washington Post op-ed titled, “Do Critics Actually Read the Koran?” — appropriately enough questioning whether critics actually take the time to read the Qur’an before launching their assault.
Last year Richard Dawkins answered my question, tweeting, “Haven’t read Koran so couldn’t quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam greatest force for evil today.”
Responding to Dawkins’ tweet, I wrote, “[The] shred of dignity [Dawkins] had was lost when he admitted to demonizing Islam w/o ever reading Quran.”
Rather than admit to his double standard, Dawkins dug himself a deeper hole and responded to me directly, “I have never read Mein Kampf, yet am happy to condemn nazism. How about you?”
For a man who claims to hate straw man arguments, Dawkins is very good at making them.
I know several atheists — many whom I consider trusted friends. But if I were to condemn an entire ideology based on the acts of minority extremists, then you could describe me with many words, but educated would not be among them.
Likewise, Ali is on record in calling for the destruction of Islam. Not “radical” Islam mind you — but Islam as a whole. I’m unsure how she expects to appeal to Muslims as one who wants peace herself when she doesn’t believe peaceful Islam exists, believes Islam in all forms must be destroyed, and is surprised that terrorist Anders Breivik praised her extremist views. Considering that she openly admits to lying about her persecution, it is difficult to comprehend her actual motives, making her un-vitation from Brandeis the obviously correct decision.
Harris is no better, since he incessantly promotes at least two equally baseless arguments about Islam.
First, Harris claims that European liberals hide behind multiculturalism to avoid condemning Islamic extremism, thus, “The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.”
Whether or not Harris is directly “endorsing” fascists is a different issue that others have addressed elsewhere. The fact is, the claim that fascists have “[spoken] most sensibly” about the (alleged) Islamic threat is simply not true. Implicit in this claim is Harris’ censorship of over a century of vociferous condemnations of extremism from one of the World’s and Europe’s oldest, largest, and most organized Muslim organizations — the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.