I suppose there’s a good case to be made for ignoring the Guardian’s Official Clickbait Troll, Andrew Brown. After all, his views are completely predictable, and his commenters usually give him the good hiding he deserves. But occasionally he goes so far beyond the pale that even Professor Ceiling Cat must give him a few scratches. And so it is with Brown’s latest piece at the Guardian. “Why I don’t believe people who say they loathe Islam but not Muslims.”
Headed by a photograph of Sam Harris, Brown’s thesis is simple: if you hate an ideology or a belief, you must perforce hate the person who holds it. This is, of course, his way of accusing the New Atheists of lying: we’re really all religion- and Muslim-haters. Or, as he says:
Some people who claim that Islam is profoundly evil will also say that they bear Muslims no ill will but I don’t think they are telling the truth. It is really difficult and indeed psychologically unnatural to claim that you hate an ideology without hating the people in whose lives it is expressed. Religions, nations, and even races are all shared imaginative constructs (although nations and races have other characteristics as well) and if you really want to extirpate them, you must extirpate the people who imagine them as well.
This is completely insane. I have several friends who are religious (in fact, some of my closest friends), and they know I am an atheist. I find their religious beliefs insupportable, and I’m sure they know that. But they are lovely people, and I don’t consider a liberal form of belief to be something that should dissolve a friendship that has so many greater benefits. Likewise, not all Muslims embrace the extreme, misogynistic, and hateful forms of the faith, and I know at least one Muslim whom I see as a friend, and many others whom I do not hate.
Yes, it’s true that if someone holds really hateful views, like extreme prejudice against gays and blacks, it would be hard not to dislike them, but there are many beliefs I find distasteful that aren’t cause for personal hatred. After all, don’t most of our friends hold at least one view that we dislike, even intensely? Religion, to me, is a pretty big deal, but there are plenty of liberal religionists whom I don’t hate, but nevertheless would attack their beliefs on my site (not necessarily in their faces!) with everything I have.
Brown also believes that there is no difference between hating someone for their beliefs or their race.
It is a trope among people who loathe and fear Islam that their fear and loathing has nothing in common with racism because Islam is not a race, the implication being that hating Muslims is rational and wise whereas hating black people is deeply irrational and stupid.
Here he conflates again “loathing and fearing Islam” and “hating Muslims”. Those aren’t the same thing—depending on the Muslim. If someone thinks that someone else should be beheaded for apostasy or being a Christian, or stoned for adultery, then yes, I despise those views and almost certainly their advocate.s But not all Muslims are like that. It really depends on now much of their personality is composed of the stuff I don’t like, and of what kind of stuff that I don’t like.
That is not the same as hating black people, for that truly is irrational: the only thing that unites them (besides being marginalized in white societies) is the color of their skin. Skin color is not a cause of malfeasance. Religious belief often is a cause of malfeasance. You cannot change your skin color, even if someone tells you that you should be white. You can change your religious belief (granted, it’s determined by the laws of physics whether you do that or not), but if you continue to hold onto bad beliefs after being corrected, you can then be publicly excoriated for beliefs that are harmful for society. Skin color is not harmful to society, and society has nothing to gain (and much to lose) by excoriating someone for being black.
As Michael Stipe said, “Oh no, I’ve said too much.” Brown doesn’t really deserve our attention, as I don’t think he has much influence. But his dullness helps us sharpen our own minds. Let me finish with Brown’s own ending, in which he profoundly misquotes (and misunderstands) what Sam Harris said, something Harris has explained already on his own site, and which Brown might have read before spouting these inanities.
But if we allow that the crimes of Stalin, or of Mao, were comparable to those of the transatlantic slave trade in ambition if not in duration, they are not excused in the slightest by saying that the most terrible atheist dictators were not very racist at all.
Stalin and Mao would have enthusiastically endorsed Sam Harris when he wrote that “there are some beliefs so terrible that we are justified in killing people just for holding them”, just as they would have endorsed his defence of torturing prisoners.
In the end, the position of people who claim that hatred of Islam is somehow superior to hatred of black people is pretty much like Alan Partridge boasting that at least he’s not David Brent.
But what, in the end, is Brown’s message? That we should lay off criticizing any beliefs because that’s the same as criticizing the believer? (Has Brown suddenly turned Muslim?) In fact, I don’t know what Brown’s message is, except this: “I’ve found hypocrisy in the New Atheists.” And that’s about as profound as the man ever gets.
99 thoughts on “Andrew Brown: If you hate the belief, you hate the believer”
I hate racism. That means I hate racist people.I want to extirpate racism. That means I want to exterminate racist people.
You can exterminate the racism without killing the holder of those opinions. It’s hard, but it can be done. It’s probably easier to kill the person but not erase the racism, though when was “it’s easier” ever an adequate excuse for killing someone?
I believe Saikat was being facetious to demonstrate the arsity of Andrew Brown.
That’s the problem – one of the problems – with sarcasm.
If we’re quoting Michael Stipe, how about “It’s the end of the world as we know it…”
I think Brown is trying to tell us that he hates atheists.
Or, in your case… Bengo!
That is the BEST comment I have EVER seen on any blog, ever. You’re totally right — he is guilty of what he’s accusing free thinkers of doing! I wish I could thumb up your comment. Love it.
Let alone on a website! 😉
Or that he loves jihadists.
The fact that he’s getting payed to say he hates atheists doesn’t hurt either ($$$).
Brown’s message is atheists are just big meanies.
And now I have an REM ear worm.
What happened to “hate the sin not the sinner”. I thought most Christians were into that idea.
Christians can do that, but atheists are incapable of like behavior, being somehow inferior to the religious.
I think that rebuttal deserves a +1.
I’ll 2nd that +1.
Oddly enough, sin is generally something you do rather than something you believe. So “hate the sin, but love the sinner” instructs us to love people who behave badly.
But Islam did not invent the concepts of heresy and apostasy. The idea that unbelievers and wrong believers were to be shunned or treated as enemies was already old when Islam was new.
Profession of faith is a tribal shibboleth, a non-physical circumcision, that identifies you as a friend or enemy. I suspect that’s really why faith persists.
I think “hate the sin” can and is interpreted not only as hating an actual instance of a certain kind of act, but as hating the category of a certain kind of act, in the abstract.
In this wise it remains an apt analogy.
Although, after a little reflection I suppose it’s also important to note that while the analogy holds in the way i described, there’s still an important difference between “hating the sin” and “hating the religion”, which is that anti-theism is rational and homophobia, eg, is irrational. There are good reasons for the former, none for the latter. Which refutes Brown from another angle: well-deserved criticism is not bigotry.
Methinks Andrew Brown is a shit-disturber.
They like the sound bite ; they’re often much less into actually following their religious prescriptions.
So when Catholics say that they “love the sinner, but hate the sin” when demonizing homosexuals they are actually just bigoted, raging, scumbag homophobes ?
“…they are just bigoted, raging, scumbag homophobes?”
Yeah, kinda. Presumably those Catholics don’t personally feel antipathy toward homosexuals, but they do support laws and policies which discriminate against homosexuals, and that’s exactly why homophobia is bad in the first place. Even if they (arguably) don’t have a homophobic motive, they still have a homophobic intent (e.g., to oppose marriage equality). So “Hate the sin, love the sinner” fails as a defense to a charge of religious homophobia.
Does that mean the corresponding argument (“hate the religion, not the religious”) fails as a defense to a charge of Islamophobia? That depends. Does Sam Harris, for example, support laws or policies which discriminate against Muslims? I would say no (though many would say yes, and I think it’s an arguable point). So the thing that makes Islamophobia bad in the first place (support for anti-Muslim discrimination) does not apply to Sam’s criticisms of Islam. But it does apply to anyone who wants to ban all immigration from Muslim countries, for example.
It’s important that we continue to make the argument that criticism of Islam is not the same as Islamophobia, but when we do so, we should take pains to identify real Islamophobia in order to highlight the difference. Many critics of Islam really are Islamophobes, so those of us who are not should try to teach others how to tell us apart.
What a prejudicial, ignorant thing to say about people, not just atheists. Brown’s empathy level is near-non-existent. Does he not talk to people on a daily basis? If he does, how does he think of them? I wonder what he thinks of the girl who serves him his cappuccino at Starbucks.
Oh, it’s pretty easy to guess what he thinks.
The real question is why, after thereby committing the sin of adultery according to Jesus’s red-letter text (Matthew 5:28), he doesn’t immediately pluck out his eyes to save himself from eternal damnation (Matthew 5:29).
Maybe he just hates himself, too, or he’s an epic masochist.
I don’t really understand the islamaphobia accusation. If I say your religion is false because there is no evidence to support it, I’m being racist? Weird.
And, of course, there’s a picture of Sam Harris above the article and a caption telling us how he’s like Stalin and Mao.
This really got me too:
Wow. Does the author really think that the only way to eliminate the influence of religion (and nationalism and racism) is to kill the associated people? Or, is he saying that non-believers think that? Yikes.
I don’t think he thinks that, but he wants people to believe that Sam Harris thinks that. I thought Sam was saying Islam motivated Islamist extremists, and that killing extremists is valid; if Sam’s conclusion is that all Muslims must die I guess I missed that part.
Interesting that he throws in as a snarky aside an actual person – GW Bush – whose orders resulted in the actual killing of actual people including non-combatants. The only intelligent thing I ever heard from Bush was his emphatic distinction of Muslims vs. extremists and terrorists, and he made that point many times in speeches. The Iraq war was a disaster launched on false pretenses, but maintaining it was not a war on Islam was smart politics and, I think, true.
Everybody makes some distinction between ideas and the people who hold them; not doing so is the thing that’s “psychologically unnatural.”
There was a BBC satire-news programme during the reign of Bush II (Second of that Line) in America that gave the true reason for the Second Iraq War. They did it in a song in the “Rick Rogers” and “Singing Cowboy” school and titled “He was Mean to Mah Pappy!”
So, actually, I do agree that for Bush II, it wasn’t really a war on Islam. Bush II wasn’t, of course, the only actor involved, just the figurehead. There to attract flack and take the bullets that should be aimed at the real puppet-masters.
That’s the Old Testament Solution.
Does he go on to explain what the hell he means by “imaginative construct”, and how the parenthetical in that quote does not invalidate his comparison? What does he mean by “other characteristics”, if not to point out that nationality and race are features of persons that are more than just in their head?
Regardless, he admits that religion lacks those “other characteristics”. Does he really think that genocide is the only way to rid the world of a false idea? What does Brown think the good of writing essays is, if not to change people’s minds?
Not only is Brown’s thinking dull, his inability to trust his own emotional regulation results in his living and breathing the Slippery Slope Fallacy. He then resembles a tiny lizard puffing out smoke, because he lives in fear of being a destroying, fire-breathing dragon. Anyone capable of doing what he can’t becomes suspect as a threat to social cohesion.
Is this supposed to be a new level of low-brow thinking? Our feelings toward things and our feelings toward other people are … feelings. Every human knows their own feelings. It seems automatically wrong to say ‘no, what you think you feel is not really how you feel. You instead are feeling this [insert new feeling here].
I will not click on the site. Let dumb ideas starve for attention, I say.
Almost my entire family and friends are theists of one religion or another. Most atheists are in that position. Becoming an atheist didn’t make me suddenly start hating them. In fact just as it made no difference in my feelings towards them, it never even occurred to me that they would feel any differently towards me when I became an atheist. And it didn’t.
I am, of course, lucky in that I live in a country where it is prejudice itself that is vilified. We’re also so small that everyone getting on most of the time is a practical necessity. We have our fair share of nut jobs of course, but because of the way the country is, even the media mostly ignores them unless and until they cause trouble.
Andrew Brown is clearly just trying to find a way to vilify New Atheists. As usual, it’s another logic fail. He needs to take a look at himself and recognise that perhaps it’s his own prejudices that are the problem.
Exactly. My wife is a fundamentalist christian. My best friend is a muslim. My best friend in my office is Greek orthodox. Best friend of the family is jewish. Ad infinitum. This is what we refer to as “disproof by counterexample.”
I try not to hate anyone. But I might be willing to make an exception for Andrew Brown. Or am I supposed to “hate the clownishness, but love the clown”?
Blockquote fail. The first paragraph is Heather’s; the rest mine.
Blockquote now fixed. GCM
I too am surrounded by theists though I have a few atheists around me that keep me sane.
My relatives are starting with the “keep Christ is Christmas” posts on Facebook already so I guess the war on Xmas has begun. It’s so hard to not write anything smart assed. Yesterday, a cousin posted about “god’s plan” and how “everything happens for a reason” and I couldn’t stop myself from adding the comment: ” everything happens for a reason; sometimes that reason is you are stupid and make bad decisions”.
And remember, last year you and I and a number of others commented “Axial tilt: it’s the reason for the season!”
The thing about Andrew Brown is, he probably does think this way himself: he does hate people whose beliefs he hates (eg Harris and Dawkins). And he imagines that everyone else is just like him. Good job we’re not.
I’m sure that that one sentence will stand as the most frequently distorted one Sam ever writes.
It drives me nuts that Reza Asian said the exact same thing – that some people’s beliefs are so extreme your can’t negotiate with them, so they have to be killed. Why does he get such a pass from Brown and his ilk?
“If you hate the belief, you hate the believer”
Given that we don’t have free will, it’s hard to hate anyone for their actions.
Well, we should all feel that we’ve been done brown.
Mr. Coyne, I just forwarded this piece to a friend who sent me this: “One interesting thing to consider is that in the catholic religion, you are supposed to hate the sin but love the sinner. So the author being criticized would have to say that catholics are lying when they say that is possible.” Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2014 19:36:17 +0000 To: email@example.com
Great, now I’m supposed to hate my mother because she’s a republican.
I hate Ebola.
By which I obviously mean I hate people with Ebola .
And since most of the victims of Enola have been black, I hate black people by extension.
Actually, the majority of victims of Ebola may be gorillas and chimpanzees (who are also susceptible to it). That state of affairs isn’t likely to continue much longer, but the virus has been carrying out intermediate-scale hecatombs of the non-human apes for decades. Not much reported, but the death tolls may well be in the tens of thousands.
“In the end, the position of people who claim that hatred of Islam is somehow superior to hatred of black people is pretty much like Alan Partridge boasting that at least he’s not David Brent.”
What “hatred of Islam” is Brown talking about? Hasn’t he understood anything of what Sam Harris has been saying? We are not against all Muslims, but the many extremists, jihadists, radicals, islamists (call them what you want) among their ranks that pose a serious threat to the world peace.
Pakistani Christian Couple Burned Alive in Kiln for Torching Quran
“A mob of several dozen attacked the building where they were, ” said Gill, whose organization’s full name is the Legal Evangelical Association Development. “They broke their legs so they couldn’t run and then threw them in the fire. Only some bones and hair were found at the site.”
Six Christians burned alive in Pakistan riots
“Six Christians were burned alive in Pakistan yesterday when hundreds of Muslims attacked and looted their homes, sparked by rumours that pages from the Qur’an had been desecrated.”
Man accused of Koran desecration burnt alive by Pakistani mob
13 Christians Burned Alive by Muslims in Central African Republic
Fifty Christians Burned Alive in Pastor’s Home in Nigeria
Muslims Throw Gasoline on Christians in Cairo Egypt and Burn Them Alive
Has Brown never known Yankees and Red Sox fans who get along with each other? Democrats married to Republicans?
Maybe a better question is: does he bother to critically assess his own ideas for even just a few minutes before committing them to paper? Clearly he didn’t here. All sorts of people hate all sorts of ideas without hating the people who hold them. (What makes anti-gay bigotry not like this is not the impossibility of ‘love the sinner hate the sin – many of us with family members who are petty criminals try to do that – but rather that we think in the anti-gay case, such words are an insincere cover for hating gay people).
Christopher Hitchens was so right in this video interview when he said that: There are Muslims who are prepared to use violence at the drop of a hat; if a cartoon is published in Denmark, if the pope makes an off-the-cuff remark about the crusades. But yet, you can’t criticize them for being violent, lest you be accused of blasphemy.
It now turns out that when you criticize Islamists for being violent you can also be accused of “hatred of Islam”!
Indeed. We should now expect to hear this very accusation from the Muslim Council of Britain, NUS diversity officers etc.
If I hate slavery, does that mean I hate slaves???
Doesn’t really match. The analogy should be hating slave-owners because you hate slavery.
I hate The Guardian.
I’m not making a satirical point, I just hate The Guardian.
Skimming reader comments is pretty cathartic, though. 🙂
Sounds to me like an unconscious projection of the fact that he both hates atheism and atheists!!
(Makes me appreciate Krita Tippett.)
When someone is this stupid, I have to wonder how they got a job as a journalist, and then I remember that people are mostly stupid. This is evidenced by the fact that the Republicans just won a majority despite their anti-rights, anti-poor & middle class, anti-women etc stances.
Brown obviously plays to an audience built on much of the stupidity he is so anxious to display, and to enrage those who aren’t easily taken by the vapid and specious arguments he makes in his articles.
Brown is thinking about language like a 4-year-old. Or at least he hopes his readers do.
Mom: “I hate these vapid political ads!”
4-yo: “Mommy, we don’t say ‘hate’!”
He’s hoping readers will simply have an emotional revulsion to the words “loathe” and “hate”, and that that’s all he’ll need to get people on his side. I’m betting he’ll be fairly successful.
Of course, he ignores that grown-ups can legitimately use those words without intending any bigotry. What’s more, I don’t even think those are the words most anti-theists would pick first to describe why they in fact are “anti” theism.
I won’t read Andrew Brown’s piece, since he is the clearest example one can find that the Guardian is willing to troll its reader to gain clicks, i.e., the man is pure click-bait.
But in the category of confession:
I don’t hate believers like young earth creationists as I might hate believers interpret their religion as a compelling reason to throw acid in girl’s faces or murder or enslave people. Nevertheless, I must admit that it is difficult for me to respect a young earth creationist and my disrespect for them does to some extent spill over into my more general opinion of them. How does a person become an adult in a developed country, hold an adult’s job, make an adequate income, have access to books or other modern media anytime in the past 100 years and cling to such childish tripe? How does one respect someone who is such an intellectual coward?
How deep do my views on this go? Well, two days ago I went to the polls to cast futile votes for Wendy Davis, several other Democratic candidates, and a few Green party candidates. But then I regretted not having taken the time to look at the views of the local school board candidates and so I didn’t vote on those races. My minimum standard for evaluating a school board candidate is whether they are a creationist. Short of running against an ax-murderer, that’s enough for me to vote for their opponent (assuming they’re not creationists too.)
So, while I wouldn’t say I hate creationists, it is difficult for me to say I have much respect for them.
Thats a rather unusual post from Brown in that there are no digs at Dawkins. He normally manages to fit one into any article. I suspect if he did the beeb weather forecast one night it would be “heavy rain due to god cursing Dawkins”.
That would not be a rational position to take. There is abundant evidence from the physical sciences (e.g. the sediment deposits of river valleys), from the historical sciences (look at the long history of British complaints about the weather, going back to Roman soldiers bitching in letters home to Syria, begging Mummy (sorry, “Mater”) to send them some warm socks and underwear), and even in the writing of monks who are not immune to whinging about the weather themselves.
God has been punishing Britain for Dawkins for a lot longer than Dawkins has been alive.
Therefore, god indulges in pre-emptive punishment.
Either that, or the Brits are just really thick and haven’t gotten the message yet. Or are just masochists.
The Scots are definitely masochists. Haggis? Bagpipes? Kilts — in the highlands, no less? Need I write more?
The “modern” kilt was an invention of the London “aristocracy” of clan chiefs who betrayed their clansmen to the banks, then sold them down the river in the “Clearances”, leading to the diaspora of Scots around the world. At least the Jews can blame their diaspora on foreigners and infidels – Romans and Christians, with some assistance from the Muslims. But the Scots did it to themselves.
What is now recognised as a “kilt” also goes by the name of the “French skirt” (why, when it came from London? Shrug.), which is a term of contempt. A Highlander in the ’45 rebellion would have been wearing trews (baggy trousers) and/ or a “plead mhor” (“big pleat”) kilt, which contains enough fabric to make loincloth, sleeping bag, raincloak and rucksac, all in one length of cloth. Different kettle of mackerel completely.
Haggis – great chieftain o’the pudding race. Obviously you’ve never had a good one.
Bagpipes are a weapon. Can’t you tell?
Midges get everywhere. Everywhere. Even if you’re wearing trousers. Everywhere. Even if you’re wearing a wetsuit. Everywhere. Immunity by repeated exposure is the only solution, and many people die or commit suicide (or worse, go south of the border! Horrors!) before achieving immunity.
There is a place in Nova Scotia where they teach you how to out on a kilt and it is of the type you describe.
I wanted to learn Gaelic as a kid and could have in Nova Scotia but they also made you make kilts and that turned me right off of going there.
I’ve never tried the plaid mhor as outdoor kit, but I’m told it does work well. A certain degree of hardiness is expected, but in this day and age, that shouldn’t be difficult to find – just find the people who put on a jersey instead of turning up the central heating.
Now, where did I put that bag of rocking horse turds? Oh, they’re buried in the mound of honest politicians.
Around 5:26 you see the kilt being put together.
Definitely one way of doing it.
“Definitely one way of doing it”.
Do I see the makings of a new documentary?
I’d explain what “I see a new version of the Generation Game” means, but I have a keyboard to sharpen for performing sepukku with.
Why do you think so many Brits emigrated to North America and Australasia?
I mean, some of them were so desperate they even emigrated to Canada!
The Clearances were a murderous time. Literally. For very many it was fleeing from, not going to. If they didn’t take the boat, then they were likely to die of starvation and/ or hypothermia in the coming winter. It wasn’t as if the walls and roofs of their homes hadn’t been torn down before the remains were burned with all their property.
I choose the word “murderous” carefully.
I remember one book describing the highland lairds as “the world’s worst ruling class”. They kept the highlanders poor and backward long after everyone else, then when they decided that sheep were more economically valuable they behaved as you say above.
Some of them went to America first then got juicy land deals from Britain to move to, what was to become Canada, after the American Revolution broke out.
Aiden – 🙂 🙂
Oops, sorry Aidan.
I was at a Glasgow Linux User Group meeting X years ago where there were 4 people whose names were derived from the Gaelic for “fire” or “firey one”. No two of us spelled our names the same way.
OTOH, when sharing a locker room with a bunch of Geordies, all of the Aidans there spelled their name my way.
Did not know that history. Thanks!
Funny you should mention midges. This has been a particularly nasty mosquito season here in Arizona, a place where we almost never have any. Step outside at dusk wearing shorts (or, worse, barefoot) for just a few minutes, and you’ll pick up several bites at the least. Even with pants, boots, and long sleeves, you’re still liable to get a number of bites on your hands.
How y’all put up with it year-round is beyond me….
It’s not year round. Well, not in most parts of this green and pleasant land. Most of the little illegitimati die off each winter, and only start breeding again around March. Numbers build up to major torment levels just in time for the school holiday season from late July to September. Then the frosts start to kill the illegitimati off again.
That said, on a warm day in mid-January, you can still get midged. But it’s just a few bpm, not the thousands that you can get in high season.
Some people can’t stand it. They leave. I’m lucky – the bastards crawl on me, but don’t often bite.
Past couple nights I’ve been waking up with bites I didn’t have when I went to bed.
I really wish I had put in a bat house already….
Bilius: Hail, Mark Antony! Mark Antony: Hail – snow, rain, thunder, lighting – the lot!
Up Pompeii, Whoops Baghdad, or Life of Brian.
Or all of the above. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing again.
Brown’s next essay should be “Is it possible to hate New Atheism without hating New Atheists?”
In his case the answer would be no.
I hold the same views of Islam as Sam Harris and not only do I not hate all muslims I don’t even hate the extremist muslims who behead people, and I doubt that Sam Harris does either. That would be irrational according to Sam’s own views on free will. Extremist be-headers are also victims of Islam and the culture they were brought up in combined with whatever genes they were unlucky enough to be born with that may cause them to have violent tendencies. This is Sam Harris’ belief. All hate is technically irrational by his free will arguments. His book on free will could have easily been called “The End Of Hate.”
There is something very unscrupulous about someone trying to force the position of hatred upon someone else when they are denying that they hate. Any haters I have encountered are all too willing to admit their hatred so it is not rational to assume hatred in a person who denies it.
I don’t “hate” Islam or Catholicism or Baptistism. So it doesn’t compute anyhow. Many of the doctrines I dislike, find laffable, or am disgusted by — so to that extent, if simpletons like Brown must, then I dislike the beliefs of that person to the extent it motivates him/her or if, as is the major problem, he is imposing those disgusting doctrines on me, mine, my community, my country, or any other innocent person. BTW, I find most “Tea Party” doctrines silly, laffable, or disgusting, but I don’t hate Sarah Palin or Sen. Cruz. Mostly, I am amazed that such curious, idiotic creatures exist in this world.
Good on you, Jerry.
Wow, I never realized that during brainstorming sessions at work that when we disagree on an idea, we actually hate the person who proposed it. I guess this spells the end of team happy hours.
I think Andrew Brown just illustrated that he cannot see people as complex beings with many elements.
I mean I can’t stand conservative ideology. I think the idea that something is traditional is no defence for it, that purity is a negative value and that generally sticking with the devil you know means being stuck with a devil.
The conservative defense of ‘the way things are’ to my mind is like a crack addict claiming that it isn’t an addiction that needs to be broken, its their culture that needs to be treasured.
The thing is, conservatives aren’t only conservatives. They have other ideas and beliefs, so to hate them as people misses all of that.
The same thing goes for Islam. I despise the misogyny, hate and general servitude that religion engenders.
But Muslims aren’t just Muslims, they are people.
Now those other views may render them more hate-able, but to hate them based on just one thing simply misses the humanity involved.
Most of the victims of Islam are moslems, so you could also argue that if you condemn Islam then you are supporting moslems.
Christians love to tell the world to “hate the sin, not the sinner” and everybody, probably Andrew Brown as well, shake their heads in agreement.
Pleading special case for Islam I say.
I too know lovely religious people – they exit ‘believe’ it or not! – my parents were among them. But I do not pretend that they are right or give special deference on thoe grounds that they have absurd, fanciful beliefs.
I had better not let my devote pentacostal wife read Brown’s essay! (Wife well aware that I intensely dislike almost all religion)
I admire this high resolution article by Jerry Coyne, it shows his eye for detail and demonstrates how to make comments that are specific, to the point, accurate.
I wonder if there is a comparison with image resolution? There is a good illustration on Wikipedia:
I wonder if early human language was like ZX-81 resolution?
It is so easy to make generalized, exaggerated, conflated comments like, “I hate you” which most often means, “I hate the thing you did just there” or “I am furious at being told to do that”
If a super intelligent brain surgeon who has an IQ of 160 is driving a car and breaks the highway code at some point, due to being distracted by solving some three dimensional trigonometric equation then does it make sense for the person who is at risk of injury to shout,”You idiot” ? It would be more accurate to say,”That was idiotic behaviour” but maybe more helpful to say,”Don’t get distracted from driving, concentrate, watch out, keep your mind on the task in hand”
I think it is interesting to look at the changes that the Coran has made to the Babble stories, however I hate the idea of hell that is proposed in the Coran. I think it is hateful to propose that hell is real. It makes me angry when I hear people make such proposals but then I focus on what I have read that says it is wildly unlikely that there is any afterlife let alone one of suffering. So then I can laugh at the stories of religion and pity those who are blinded by it. Their religion is only one aspect of them. I like some of the Islamic melodies & architecture etc.
If I love one aspect or point of a film it doesn’t mean I love it all equally, just as if I loathe one scene it doesn’t mean I have to reject the whole thing. However it is maybe just part of life that our first comments about something give a vague impression to what we witnessed; “loved it, great, abysmal” and only later do we fill in details once we are more focused on it.
(It can sometimes be funny to deliberately exaggerate but can also be done destructively)
It is just to easy to make distorted, over the top comments in the heat of the moment. Later we hope the other person will ignore it as nonsense. The,”I’m annoyed that you forgot to put the bin out” becomes,”You always do that. You’re hopeless” but could have been,”Please try harder” Does it matter?
I think that Brown is being incredibly divisive and is espousing (and holding) the exact opposite of “tolerance.” How can one person be tolerant of another without there being something to be tolerant of in the first place? This kinda requires a notable disagreement to begin with. And now we’re not even supposed to be able to differentiate between a person’s ideology and the person himself? Which decade is he harkening back to?