A nice article in New Matilda, In Defence of the New Atheism, offers an appropriately moderate antidote to the invective of Jeffrey Sparrow, whose Guardian piece offering himself as a saviour for atheism from the evil new atheists, only tars the feather of new atheists with his own brush.
Only someone who hasn’t read Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell) or Sam Harris (Waking Up, Free Will, The Moral Landscape) or the many other works of new atheists (particular AC Grayling) or who has chosen to ignore them, could manage to “observe” that new atheism is solely concerned with telling theists they’re idiots on insulting Muslims, and then proceed almost in parody to insist new atheists are “jerks”, “racists” representing the “dickishness” of “white” “privileged know-it-alls”.
As the apparent spokesperson for the anarcho-syndicalist Left, the Left-that-Left-the-Building, Sparrow takes offence to the mockery of Noam Chomsky by Sam Harris:
“Given a choice between Noam Chomsky and Ben Carson, in terms of the totality of their understanding of what’s happening now in the world, I’d vote for Ben Carson every time
Ben Carson is a dangerously deluded religious imbecile, Ben Carson does not…the fact that he is a candidate for president is a scandal…but at the very least he can be counted on to sort of get this one right. He understands that jihadists are the enemy”
I suspect Sam Harris deliberately places this land mine to stir up controversy, so radicals such as Sparrow can write his publicity for him. Harris hasn’t forgotten the response he received some years ago when he claimed, “The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists”.
Sparrow’s wrath is based on Harris dual claims that jihadists are the enemy, and that he’d vote for a religious imbecile before Noam Chomsky. The “correct” response to this is taken from blog by fellow new atheist PZ Myers:
My favourite of his recent interventions includes the line: “Sam Harris [is] full of paranoid, racist shit.”
If the lauding of cheap abuse is not bad enough, the quote from PZ Myers is not actually based on anything Sam Harris actually said, but in response to a comment made by a contributor. One would’ve thought that sort of detail would benefit from checking, especially given the immoderate tone of the rest of Sparrow’s jeremiad.
Sparrow sees his atheism as merely a tenet of his leftism given he regards new atheism “an intellectual step backward from a left that had recognised atheism as necessary but scarcely sufficient”.
I guess if you see your atheism as just a subset of your tribal commitment to the left, as just a tenet of Marxism or Communism or Anarcho-Syndicalism, then it’s clear why any criticism of religions such as Islam, are subsumed behind a tribal anti-western alignment and affiliation to the plight of the oppressed and the victims of capitalist aggression.
Thus New Atheism probably seems quite incomprehensible to demagogues like Sparrow.