As part of his effort to be crowned the Grand Poobah of Atheism, PZ Myers continues his trashing of other prominent atheists he apparently sees as rivals for the job.
Constructive criticism is certainly a good thing but there is line, which Myers illuminates by continually crossing over it, where criticism becomes trashing. As if attempting to prove the case for the narcissism of small differences, PZ Myers inevitably ends his analyses of luminaries such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris with charges of “bigotry” or “racism”.
Myers posts an article titled, Atheists should not condemn any culture, where he chides Richard Dawkins for tweeting about the “clock boy”. Referring to comments made by both Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins where they object to protecting the tenets of Islam by using the “it’s their culture” excuse, Myers concludes that “this is definitely bigotry”.
And what about his denunciation of Sam Harris for assuming Muslims are more likely to sympathise with jihadists. On his blog, Myer’s quotes a statement from a correspondent which contains a poor defence of Sam Harris argument. But then Myer’s sulfurifically condemns Sam Harris for the argument of the correspondent!
We don’t. QED, my correspondent and Sam Harris are full of paranoid, racist shit
Well, I couldn’t resist pointing out, in the comments, how it all seems to be conveniently aligned with prosecuting grudges. Not to mention infantile.
A mild storm of profanities and accusations of racism ensued, culminating with Myers banning me from the site. But not before giving himself the last say.
And with that bit of frothing, spittle flecked lying from Mr Hugh Harris, and all the rest of the batshit stupidity from him, he’s run his course and is out of here
Banned! Oh well. So much for the staunch defender of free speech.
But it’s not completely trivial. A Guardian article by Jeffrey Sparrow gleefully quoted Myers comment without realising it wasn’t based on anything Sam Harris actually said.
My favourite of his recent interventions includes the line: “Sam Harris [is] full of paranoid, racist shit.
I find this hysterical. Does anyone check this stuff? That Sparrow’s article garnered over 2000 comments (mostly negative), gives one the sad impression that trashing pays.
But I think the best refutation is provided by PZ Myers himself some years ago. (Ironically it was in response to earlier atheist hating article by the same Jeffrey Sparrow)
To the evil duo of Harris and Hitchens, he [Sparrow] now adds Richard Dawkins, because he said “Islam is the greatest man-made force for evil in the world today”…which doesn’t sound racist or fascist. He’s targeting an ideology, not a people; if you asked him, he might even go on to say that Christianity is the second greatest force for evil. If we can’t even criticize ideological craziness without getting slapped with the accusation that we’re racist, we’re in trouble. Next thing you know, someone will pull up my denunciations of crazy American politicians Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann and declare that I’m clearly anti-woman and that I hate white people.
But this is 2015, and when it comes to Sam Harris, the views of Myers seem to have recalibrated themselves to the other side of the dial. In his podcast with Douglas Murray, Sam Harris observes that some percentage of Muslims are jihadists. Myers responds:
No, guy, making the assumption that being Muslim, the group most lethally targeted by ISIS, makes one more likely to sympathize with fanatical jihadists, is most definitely bigotry.
Hmmm. I’m not even sure this point is arguable, never mind bigotry, and I’m cautious of claims requiring modifiers like “most definitely”.
Is assuming a Republican is more likely to sympathise with Donald Trump, bigotry?
What about assuming a Christian is more likely to sympathize with Christian fundamentalists: bigotry?
Or, assuming that a woman is more likely to have a baby?
But what about this? Assuming that any person who criticizes Islam is a bigot – is this bigotry?
Not all discrimination is unfair. We’re pattern seeking mammals, evolutionists point out. To demand we disavoy the obvious means adopting pretence as a virtue, and equates common sense with Orwellian thought crimes. And it results in the stifling of intellectual debate by harassment and no-platforming and, in the case of Maryam Namazie, even death threats.
Given jihadists belong exclusively and by definition to the Islamic religion, is it really so unreasonable to observe that in a group of Muslims we are more likely to find some who sympathize with jihadists? As opposed to Christians or Atheists?
Of course not. It’s just a fact. And it’s no insult to Muslims to make the observation. It is how this information is processed which makes the difference. If we assume ALL Muslims are terrorists, or seek to discriminate unfairly against Muslims, then we can start talking about bigotry. But, yelling “bigotry” for assuming a connection between Muslims and jihadism is akin to denying that jihadism exists within the Islamic tradition. Even though we know it exists, we must somehow assume it doesn’t.
We cannot be demanded not to assume what any person of common sense would assume. And we should not be prevented from discussing known facts and using common sense. But PZ Myers demands ideological blindness: closing your eyes and blocking your ears and yelling “WAAAAAAA!!!”
Hypocrisy is a handy accomplice for pursuing vendettas.