Richard Dawkins, ‘Islamophobia’ and the atheist movement

by Martin Robbins (Guardian)

Sam Harris is about as consistent as Glenn Greenwald is concise, which made their exchange of multi-thousand word cowpats last month particularly grueling reading. That’s a shame, because Harris dropped a retrospective clanger that very few people picked up on. It came in a recent volley against Greenwald, in which Harris attempted to deconstruct the idea of Islamophobia (my emphasis):

“[Islamophobia] is, Greenwald tells us in his three points, an ‘irrational’ and ‘disproportionate’ and ‘unjustified’ focus on Muslims. But the only way that Muslims can reasonably be said to exist as a group is in terms of their adherence to the doctrine of Islam. There is no race of Muslims. They are not united by any physical traits or a diaspora. […] The only thing that defines the class of All Muslims – and the only thing that could make this group the possible target of anyone’s “irrational” fear, “disproportionate” focus, or “unjustified” criticism – is their adherence to a set of beliefs and the behaviors that these beliefs inspire.”

“So ‘Islamophobia’ must be – it really can only be—an irrational, disproportionate, and unjustified fear of certain people, regardless of their ethnicity or any other accidental trait, because of what they believe and to the degree to which they believe it.”

“They are not united by any physical traits or a diaspora,” says Harris. Which is absolutely fine, except this is same Sam Harris who wrote In Defense of Profiling barely a year ago, an article in which he suggested: “We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.”

In a later update to that post, in response to an avalanche of criticism, he elaborated further: “To say that ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, dress, traveling companions, behavior in the terminal, and other outward appearances offer no indication of a person’s beliefs or terrorist potential is either quite crazy or totally dishonest.”


Categories: ATHEISM, Europe

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