Atheist bashing at Al-Jazeera: Columbia professor claims that New Atheism is a resurrection of imperialism, white supremacy, Islamophobia, and so on

I don’t know if I should spend any more time going after pieces like this, but I’ll call it to your attention. This one, at Al-Jazeera USA, is particularly invidious. The author, Hamid Dabashi, is an Iranian-born Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and has been involved in several altercations and controversies. He states in the piece that he’s a Muslim.

Read by clicking on the screenshot:

The occasion for Dabashi’s splenetic eructations is the publication of a transcript of the “Four Horsemen Discussion” in book form, The Four Horsemen: The Conversation that Sparked an Atheist RevolutionI’ve read the book, but if you’ve seen the publicly available video, it doesn’t add much to it. (There are some introductions by the three living Horsepersons as well as a foreword by Stephen Fry, but they’re very short).

Here’s the two-hour video, which is good, and I suspect most of us have seen it.

Dabashi’s beef is that all four of these men are ignorant of Islam, are “Islamophobic”, are white supremacists and imperialists, and are in league with Christian conservatives in espousing a “toxic ideology”. Moreover, he implies, they bear some responsibility for the attack on the mosques in New Zealand, for the Easter terrorist attack in Sri Lanka, and for the deaths of Palestinians during “right of return” demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza border. In the end, though, his whole critique rests on these men’s criticism of Islam:

So who are these four “new atheist” crusaders (yes, they may deny it, but they are indeed very much the product of the white Western Christian crusader tradition)? They are all white older men, who have never embarked on studying Islam, do not speak Arabic – the language of the Qur’an – and certainly have no special insight into any Muslim community on earth. They are, literally, illiterate.

I guess you have to read Hebrew and Greek to criticize the Bible, too, as those are the languages of scripture. As for “white older men”, that’s both ageist and racist, and Sam was only 40 at the time of this conversation. As for needing “special” (as opposed to “general”, I guess) insight into Islam before you can criticize it, I’ll leave that for you to judge.

Across religions and cultures, there are decent and reasonable atheists, as there are equally decent and reasonable believers, who can and should openly engage in debate about religion and the belief in God without succumbing to hatred and convictions in one’s supremacy. Such open and honest conversations are indeed healthy for any community or nation and should be encouraged.

But what the so-called “four horsemen” have engaged in during their 2007 discussion and in their public appearances and writings, is not an open and honest debate. Instead, the entirety of their work is just a vicious attack on a 1.5-billion-strong, immensely diverse and dynamic community.

To those who have followed these men and their writings, these charges are palpably ridiculous. They have all separated criticism of Islam from criticism of Muslims, have decried not only the Christian Right but also Christianity (and other faiths), and are certainly not white supremacists. As for the terrorist attacks, it’s ridiculous to blame these men for what happened in New Zealand, and of course the attacks in Sri Lanka were carried out by Muslims.

What is happening here is that Dabashi is simply upset that these men are not “good atheists,” and by “not good” I think he means that they haven’t refrained from criticizing Islam. I’ll give a few quotes to support that. First, his criticisms of each Horseperson (quotes from Dabashi’s piece are indented):

Sam Harris

In his book, End of Faith, he dedicates a whole chapter to the “The Problem with Islam.” There, he explains that: “While Christianity has few living inquisitors today, Islam has many … In our opposition to the world view of Islam, we confront a civilization with an arrested history. It is as though a portal in time has opened, and fourteenth-century hordes are pouring into our world. Unfortunately, they are now armed with twenty-first-century weapons.” One is left breathless considering whether to address the unabashed racism, the astonishing ignorance, or the barefaced vulgarity of such utterances.

This isn’t of course racism: it’s criticism of a faith and its effects on extremist adherents. Note that Sam says “many living inquisitors,” which is true, but he doesn’t indict all Muslims, and has repeatedly separated extremist from moderate Muslims. He’s clearly speaking about terrorists.

Christopher Hitchens

Last but not least, Hitchens is equally creative with his spurious conclusions about Islam in God Is Not Great. Just one example would suffice: “Real horror of the porcine is manifest all over the Islamic world. One good instance would be the continued prohibition of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, one of the most charming and useful fables of modern times, of the reading of which Muslim schoolchildren are deprived.” 

I am a Muslim. I was born and raised in a Muslim country. I read Orwell’s Animal Farm in Persian in Iran when I was a teenager. The book was translated into Persian soon after its publication in English, and ever since has had numerous Persian translations and I, myself, have repeatedly included it in my courses.

This is the only indictment that can carry any weight, although its weight is that of a feather. Note that Dabashi was born in 1951, and thus was 28 when the 1979 Islamic Revolution occurred in Iran. That means he certainly read the book when the country was more liberal and the theocracy hadn’t started wholesale censorship. (He seems to have moved to the US before 1979). I doubt that Animal Farm is prescribed in Iran today (though I could be wrong); but as for Dabashi “including it in his courses,” well, his courses are at Columbia University. 

Richard Dawkins

The other rabid Islamophobe, Dawkins uses the infamous Jyllands-Posten cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, which sparked mass protests in a few Muslim countries, to portray in his book, The God Delusion, all Muslims as a gang of delusional psychopaths. In his opinion: “Danes just live in a country with a free press, something that people in many Islamic countries might have a hard time understanding.” With this one sentence, Dawkins tries (but fails) to erase the long and sustained history of Muslims’ struggle for freedom of expression and truthful journalism.

I deny that Richard argues in The God Delusion that “all Muslims are a gang of delusional psychopaths”.  As for ignoring the long history of Muslims’ struggle for freedom of expression, well, why did they have to struggle for freedom of expression if the religion wasn’t denying it? Certainly it does these days (which are the days that are relevant), as there is little freedom to criticize Islamic governments. In fact, you can be jailed or murdered for such criticism, as in Bangladesh. The Jyllands-Posten cartoons are but one example: Dabashi doesn’t mention The Satanic Verses or the Charlie Hebdo incidents; and there are many more. No, Islam indeed has a serious problem with dissent, at least in Islamic countries.

When I sent this article to Richard, he sent a response, which I quote with permission:

At least as far as The God Delusion is concerned, what is revealing in this ridiculous article is the grotesquely inflated obsession with Islam. To my regret, my ignorance of Islam and other religions led me to concentrate on attacking Christianity almost exclusively – so much for being a “Christian-enabler”. One of the most common criticisms I receive is precisely that I concentrate on attacking Christianity and ignore Islam (Christian hurt expressing itself in what has been called “Fatwa Envy”). My couple of sentences about the Danish cartoons is almost the only mention of Islam in the entire book. Perhaps it’s the only bit he read – maybe looked it up in the index.

Dan Dennett

In Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Dennett, too, engages in some sweeping and vastly inaccurate conclusions. For example, he makes the following mind-boggling observation: “It is worth recalling that the Arabic word Islam means ‘submission’. The idea that Muslims should put the proliferation of Islam ahead of their own interests is built right into the etymology of its name.” Yet, Islam means submission to the will of God, which is a central theological pillar in many religions and which has nothing to do with “proliferation of Islam”.

Oh, for crying out loud! This is a distinction without a difference. Islam is nothing if not a proselytizing faith, and, as many have pointed out, the distinction between religion and culture in many Muslim societies is nil. And yes, many Muslims, including terrorists and Islamists, do indeed put the proliferation of Islam ahead of their own interest; or rather, the proliferation of Islam is their chief interest.

In all of this, Dabashi picks on particulars, not addressing the general critiques of religion tendered by the Horsepersons, the criticisms that promoted the resurgence of atheism. These include the fact that there’s no evidence for religion’s fact claims or for a divine being, that the various religion conflict with each other in both claims about reality and, on the ground, militarily, and that all religions promote dogma and behavior that is divisive, oppressive, and inimical to the progress of liberal society. Instead, Dabishi just tars New Atheists with various slurs. Here are a few:

In other words, it is quite clear from the writings of the “four horsemen” that “new atheism” has little to do with atheism or any serious intellectual examination of the belief in God and everything to do with hatred and power.  

Indeed, “new atheism” is the ideological foregrounding of liberal imperialism whose fanatical secularism extends the racist logic of white supremacy. It purports to be areligious, but it is not. It is, in fact, the twin brother of the rabid Christian conservatism which currently feeds the Trump administration’s destructive policies at home and abroad – minus all the biblical references. 

And then he starts blaming New Atheism for the killings:

And just as religious white supremacy encourages individual and state-sponsored violence against those perceived as “inferior”, so does its “new atheist” version. Historically, the “liberal atheists” have always eagerly joined their “Christian conservative” brethren in the battle call in advance of any US aggression anywhere in the world. 

However, this is, not to say that such deadly fanaticism occurs only in the US (and by extension Europe). Militant Islamism and extremist Zionism have the same exact roots. If Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Osama bin Laden are the symbols of Muslim fanaticism, Meir Kahane, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ayelet Shaked, and Naftali Bennett are the prime examples of the Zionist equivalent, while the “four horsemen”, along with Steve Bannon, Mike Pompeo et al are the flag bearers of secular-Christian imperialism in full power.  

I’m not sure that all of those things are like the others.

And, finally, this:

In the raging battle between these hateful, toxic ideologies, they thrive and feed off of each other. Caught in the crossfire of this clash of ignorance and barbarity, are billions of human beings – Jews, Christians, Muslims and atheists – who pay the price with their lives. 

Thus, Robert Bowers, who killed 11 Jewish worshipers in the US, Brenton Tarrant who massacred 51 Muslims during Friday prayers in New Zealand, members of National Thowheed Jamath, who murdered 257 people during the Easter massacre in Sri Lanka and the Israeli soldiers who over the past year have slain more than 260 unarmed Palestinian during right of return protests at the Israel-Gaza fence are all kindred souls.

In today’s world, mass murder and religious and secular fanaticism go hand-in-hand.

Well, if you’re going to blame Dawkins et al. for this kind of stuff, we could blame Dabashi for every form of Islamist malfeasance perpetrated in this world, including the pervasive oppression of women, gays, apostates, the existence of corporal punishment and censorship, and so on. While Dabashi decries “Militant Islamism,” at the same time he decries reasonable criticism of Islam—the only thing that will ever stop Islamic violence and oppression (and that’s a long shot). Reasonable criticism of all religions is what is on offer by the Horsemen. As Dennett says at the beginning of the video:

“I came to realize it’s a no win situation; it’s a mug’s game. Religions have contrived to make it impossible to disagree with them, critically, without being rude. They simply play the hurt feelings card at every opportunity and you’re faced with the choice of well, are you going to be rude, or are you going to articulate this criticism and button your lip.”

Dabashi’s article is in fact one big Hurt Feelings Card. 


  1. Posted May 6, 2019 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Wasn’t it the case that Ayaan Hirsi Ali had been due to be at that “four horsemen” meeting, but couldn’t make it?

  2. Caldwell
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    With a little work on that picture, Dawkins could look like The Lord as He appeared to the Pythons d’ Monty.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 6, 2019 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      In that photo, for some bizarre reason, he looks to me like Clint Eastwood.

      I think my imagination is a bit too active.


  3. Ken Phelps
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Sounds pretty much like an Islamic analog of a Lee Strobel or Josh McDowell. It’s turtle crap all the way down.

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink


    • Posted May 6, 2019 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      But this is a professor at an elite, heavily left leaning University. I don’t see the likes of Strobel getting within a country mile of such a place. Undoubtedly, the fact that Dabashi is a member of benighted group is no doubt the difference.

      As Hitchens would have remarked, how well and long the termites have dined.

  4. Peter Taylor
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Just a minor correction: the Islamic Revolution was in 1978 (IIRC) so Dabashi would have been 28, hence even more likely to have read Animal Farm before any possible censorship.

    • Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      My subtraction mistake; I’ll correct it. But I thought it was 1979.

      • Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        I was there and it was indeed in 1979.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted May 6, 2019 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

          Just ask Jimmy Carter; Ted Koppel was keeping count of the “American held hostage” days every night.

      • Peter Taylor
        Posted May 7, 2019 at 4:01 am | Permalink

        Yes you’re right it was 1979.

  5. W.T. Effingham
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Dabashi makes it quite obvious he has Not Done His Homework. Within the first few paragraphs, he clarifies which audience he wants to appeal to. By lumping Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and Hitchens into a single basket, he tries to consolidate his. criticism in a way that (should) backfire. From my perspective (and IMHO), this type of baseless diatribe just reinforces and intensifies my admiration of The 4 Horsemen (plus,or course PCC{E},Victor Stegner, Michael,Shermer,Asimov,+ too many others to name😇). I’m aware Dabashi goes on to level his more specific criticism(s) on each Horseman, but for me it just adds to my angst I don’t have a few more hours each day to peruse more of “So-Called New Atheism’s” great works (like Faith vs. Fact).

  6. Linda Calhoun
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Oh, the irony.

    This dude clearly isn’t aware, or else doesn’t care, that in this country at least, white supremacy wears Christianity on its sleeve.


    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 6, 2019 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Yes, my thoughts as well. White Supremacists tend to dislike atheists whether those atheists are white or not.

  7. Historian
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    People such as Dabashi continually claim that atheists are ignorant of the details of their religion. Yet, they seem not to have taken the time to understand what atheism is: the belief that there is no evidence of gods. It should take no more than 30 seconds to master this concept. Many years of study are not required. On all other issues atheists differ widely in their views as evidenced by the many discussions on the site of non-religious topics such as politics.

    The faithists of all persuasions are in panic mode. They perceive the growing rejection of religion (if not actual adherence to atheism) as an attack on their core beliefs. This they cannot accept psychologically; hence, the need to strike back with silly arguments.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Very good. 30 seconds is probably about right for me but really, can’t remember when it was anything else. I always feel left out among all the “use to believers” out there but sometimes it happens early and very quickly apparently.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 6, 2019 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        Hey, buddy, you see the statement signed by 415 (and counting) former high-ranking Justice Department prosecutors — including more than a hundred with over 20 years of USDOJ experience, and including appointees of every Republican president going back to Dwight Eisenhower — saying that the evidence of obstruction of justice set out in the Mueller report is way more than sufficient to indict Donald Trump, but for the memo from the Office of Legal Counsel saying that a sitting president cannot be indicted?

        • darrelle
          Posted May 6, 2019 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

          Wow! This should be devastating to Trump. But the folks still supporting Trump are unlikely to be swayed by even this.

    • Posted May 6, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      I wondered about this – I have encountered a lot of people who think that I am, in fact, a theist, but simply not religious. There are some people like that – Homer Simpson – but …

      • Steve Pollard
        Posted May 6, 2019 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I’ve come across this too. And another common reaction is that we must be ‘rejecting’ god: that we must ‘hate’ god, usually because we don’t like being held accountable for our ‘sins’. Many of these people seem unable to get their heads around the fact that we sincerely consider that there is no god because there is no evidence for same.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 6, 2019 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

          I would hate God if I believed in him/her/it. Because of the fantastic and ingenious sadism exhibited by so many of ‘his’ creatures.

          I suppose as an atheist I should hate Evolution for the same reason, but that’s a bit like hating gravity. 😉


      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 6, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        Those people have false consensus bias and as a result they can’t conceive of anyone thinking differently than they do so they start to rationalize what must cause one to think that one thinks differently.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 6, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Plus, surveys have shown that atheists and agnostics tend to score higher than religious adherents on religious knowledge tests. See, e.g., here.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 6, 2019 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        Know thine enemy?

        Or, as W C Fields famously said, “looking for loopholes” ?


      • Robert Ladley
        Posted May 7, 2019 at 6:24 am | Permalink

        I took the test, I answered one question incorrectly, the right of a schoolteacher to read from the bible in a literature class, not too bad considering I am not either from the USA or resident (Canadian Nova Scotia).
        I am a non believer, so the poll results hold up.
        Good quiz though, thanks for the link.
        Robert Ladley

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 8, 2019 at 1:34 am | Permalink

          I got 14/15, though two of mine were ‘educated guesses’ and one – the one about the ‘First Great Awakening’ – was a total guess, so it should really be 13/15.

          I got the one about the Jewish Sabbath wrong.

          Most of the questions were obvious though.


      • Zetopan
        Posted May 10, 2019 at 4:28 am | Permalink

        15/15 here, but I did have to guess between two choices on one question (I was able to trivially eliminate the third choice). I would personally rate the question list as being quite superficial.

  8. Silvia Planchett
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Dabashi is to Al-Jazeera as Hannity is to Fox News.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I doubt that Animal Farm is prescribed in Iran today (though I could be wrong) …

    The Iranians outside looked from Ayatollah to Shah, and from Shah to Ayatollah, and from Ayatollah to Shah again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.

  10. Posted May 6, 2019 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    The piece is laughable. When something is not even wrong, it’s perhaps best ignored altogether. It doesn’t even work as poor polemic.

    One thing: to put Dawkins, an Englishman, on the cover and smear him with the US right wing that was elected TEN years later after he penned his book, and which is carried in no small part by a creationist, evangelical Christian Right, is such utterly absurd that the author could not have been serious. I’ve read more entertaining troll pieces, and recommend to ignore such authors who are wasting everyone’s time.

    • revelator60
      Posted May 6, 2019 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Indeed! It’s also worth pointing out that on twitter Dawkins has frequently attacked Trump (and Brexit) and that during the Bush years he opposed the Iraq War. Dawkins has nothing to do with the American right wing—he is one of its enemies.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 6, 2019 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        Dawkins’ biggest ‘crime’ is that he doesn’t agree with the touchy-feely po-mo left and he’s not politically correct about it. This leads to him being mistaken for right-wing, which he definitely isn’t.


    • Posted May 6, 2019 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      The complaints against Hitchens and Dennett were the funniest. You need a microscope to find the offense!

  11. Posted May 6, 2019 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I can see how, in a twisted way, one might think of any of the “new atheists” are Islamophobic or ignorant of Islam. But even on that very very very low bar, the idea that they are “white supremicists”? For one thing, there are white Muslims, after all …

    It is also interesting to hear an Iranian complain about language – some more bigoted Muslims complain that only Arab speakers “really get” the Koran, etc.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 6, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      It’s a fast and easy way to demonized someone.

    • A C Harper
      Posted May 7, 2019 at 3:55 am | Permalink

      Jumbling ‘white guys’, ‘supremacists’, ‘atheists’ together sounds like assuming individuals follow group characteristics. Isn’t that racist?

  12. Posted May 6, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink


    See all this mayhem, motivated by religion?!

    It’s your fault because you don’t believe in religion and you haven’t studied it. QED.

  13. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    What is so awful about articles like this is many readers (especially Those who are especially sensitive to criticisms of Islam) don’t fact check what the author is saying. So, they come away believing that there is a white supremacy movement spearheaded by “old white atheist men”. I find this so exhausting not least because I’m sick to death of a white supremacist being around every corner. I wonder if the author of this article is capitalizing on the notion that all white people are white supremacists and thereby leading to further deluding the seriousness of the existence of actual white supremacists AND heightening the demonization of atheists all at once.

    • EdwardM
      Posted May 6, 2019 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I believe it is just as you feared. It isn’t just atheists that are being demonized here; whites themselves, especially older white males, are the targets.

      They are the new niggers.

      • Robert Ladley
        Posted May 7, 2019 at 6:29 am | Permalink

        I think that I must be one of those. I sympathize with Dawkins.

  14. Roger
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    New Atheists are still a thing?

    • Roger
      Posted May 6, 2019 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      I guess the title, “The resurrection of ‘new atheism'” and the subtitle, “As white supremacy reigns supreme in the US, a new book seeks to bring back to the fore one of its ideological branches” makes my question look a bit silly doesn’t it haha.

    • David Evans
      Posted May 7, 2019 at 5:31 am | Permalink

      Well, there is New College, Oxford, founded in 1379.

      • dallos
        Posted May 7, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        New Testament.

    • Posted May 7, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Meet the new atheists; same as the old atheists. But we won’t get fooled again by unwarranted religious privilege.


      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted May 7, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        The new new atheists.

  15. W.Benson
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Large-scale Black slavery, based on racism, began in the Islamic, perhaps pre-Islamic Near East. It only became a European thing when the Portuguese began exploring the west coast of Africa in the mid 15th Century.

    • EdwardM
      Posted May 6, 2019 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Well, slavery began when humans began. The fact that Europeans came late to this specific source of slaves doesn’t absolve them.

  16. tr jackson
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    “…that the various religion conflict with each other…”

    Missing an “S” here.

  17. Desnes Diev
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    “Instead, the entirety of their work is just a vicious attack on a 1.5-billion-strong, immensely diverse and dynamic community”

    Did their work resulted in more victims than what happens now in Yemen? A war motivated in part by the persisting (and sometimes pretty vicious) Shia-Sunni “feud”.

    • Posted May 9, 2019 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Which, of course, various “Western” countries are supporting (like Canada and the US).

  18. DrBrydon
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think that this is really about New Atheism, or, to put it another way, I don’t think Dabashi is particularly worried about New Atheism. I think this is an attempt to de-legitimize another aspect of Western liberalism. To Diane’s point above, it’s hardly likely that most of his readers are going to be able to pop down to the corner, and pick up a copy of The God Delusion, so why get butt hurt about it? Clearly, the idea of atheist crusaders is a oxymoron. But adding that on top of all the other invective will help, like the charge of racism, to keep another aspect of pluralism in the “too hot to touch” category, and foreclose another possible avenue of growth.

    • Zetopan
      Posted May 10, 2019 at 4:45 am | Permalink

      “Clearly, the idea of atheist crusaders is a oxymoron”

      I can’t count the number of times that atheists have come knocking on my door offering to “save” me from religion!

      On the other hand I would require more than both hands and feet to count religionists who have wanted to “save” me from skepticism about their religion. And it’s *always* about their religion and their gawd(s) not some other religion(s) or other gawds(s). Gosh, what a coincidence!

      Religionists have to cast evolution as just another religion because in religion, the one with the most conviction always wins. They can’t win actual scientific arguments because they are outside of that domain. So they have to move the opposition into their domain to win by using their feeble minded arguments.

  19. Posted May 6, 2019 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I agree — the criticism of Hitchens is both valid, and feather weight. But I also worth mentioning. Unlike the rest of his arguments.

    And as soon as anyone starts talking about “1.6 billion Muslims” nonsense is about to follow. Usually, like this dude, a minute earlier they were usually accusing someone of over-generalising.

  20. Posted May 6, 2019 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    From an article by Hitchens: The Assassins of the Mind

    “…So there is now a hidden partner in our cultural and academic and publishing and broadcasting world: a shadowy figure that has, uninvited, drawn up a chair to the table. He never speaks. He doesn’t have to. But he is very well understood.”

  21. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    As Richard Dawkins pointed out, the
    ‘horsersemen’ are almost all of the time targeting Christianity (except possibly Sam Harris on occasion). To construe them as white imperialism and the twin brother of Christian conservatism is beyond ridiculous.
    Indeed an often heard criticism of say Dawkins and Dennet is that they limit their criticism too much to Christianity, and leave Islam out.
    Dabashi is deeply delusional, it seems.

  22. Harrison
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Be they Christian, Muslim, left-leaning, right-leaning…everyone seems to think atheists and secularists are secretly working for the Other Team regardless of how little sense it would make for them to be doing so.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 7, 2019 at 3:21 am | Permalink

      From the point of view of any organisation (religious or otherwise), atheists – who have a tendency to be sceptical and not believe stuff – are likely to be the enemy of that organisation’s beliefs. So that puts them in the same box as all the other enemies, even if many of the people in that box hate each other.


  23. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    A 2-hour video? Damn, that’s 2 hours of my evening (that will be) gone!

    Dawkins the Christan crusader? Oh yeah, The God Delusion is crammed full of the virtues of God/Jehovah. Dawkins even admits to liking hymns!

    (That was sarcasm, in case anyone hadn’t noticed). Dabashi seriously needs some contact with reality.

    I’d go on but I see Richard Dawkins has covered that already.


  24. Hugh Spencer
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    For some reason we always assume that the adoption of a particular faith, is a voluntary and conscious decision. It is not – your religion is part of the “welcome package” along with your culture and tribal affiliations when you are born. This applies everywhere. As an atheist – it is very hard to grasp this reality – it applies as much in Louisiana as it does in the Sudan. We have to stop thinking of religion as a choice – we in the West are lucky – we can become apostates without fear – (but once we did have the Inquisition)- people in other places aren’t so lucky. What always surprises me is the ferocity with which various religious adherents defend their (socially determined) belief systems – but, in reality – they are defending their culture and their tribe.

  25. Christopher
    Posted May 6, 2019 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    In defense of the Four Horsemen book, it has about 50 pages of new material in a book of about 130 pages total length. I’m not exactly sure what your beef is with this new book, you’ve gone after it several times. Fans of the Four will want this, even if they, like I, have already watched the dvd. I wish more talks were put into print like this. It may seem superfluous to you but I’m glad I purchased it. Guess it’s just a case of agree to disagree and leave it at that but why dissuade people from buying it?

  26. Posted May 6, 2019 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    As has been mentioned earlier, it takes no in depth study of any religion, regardless of the language it’s originally written in or however translated, to become atheist. All it takes is disbelief in a God or Gods. As has been pointed out by others here numerous times, atheists can come to that perspective early in life with little study, or later in life with little or much study. It does not require an in-depth study of all the religions of the world, past and present.

    As do many religionists, Dabashi seems to disregard the many, many changes that have come about in Islam since it’s origin. Prior to the 10th century, even less formally educated jurists could take part in ijtijad. (Wikipedia: Ijtihad, in Islamic law, the independent or original interpretation of problems not precisely covered by the Quran, Hadith (traditions concerning Muhammad’s life and utterances), and ijma.) Other religions such as Catholicism and Latter Day Saints have gone through periods of free thought, subsequently curtailed to “professionals” in the faith.

  27. Posted May 6, 2019 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    When Dawkins wrote the God Delusion, his main religious punching bag was in fact the Christian god. Did he not call the god of the OT the most odious figure in fiction?

    And for Harris, did he not write an entire book (Letter to a Christian Nation) directed at Christianity? Has he not had debate after debate with all manner of representatives of the Jewish and Christian faiths? Isn’t this the same guy who lambasted Christianity AT NOTRE DAME?

    When Dennett goes after sophisticated theology, aren’t his targets usually of the Christian variety? Are there any examples at all of him criticizing Islamic theologians?

    And didn’t Hitchens go after Mother Theresa, Jerry Fallwell, and numerous other Christian figures?

    The “Four Horseman” must be the most confused “White Supremacists” on the planet.

    It’s almost as if the good professor Dabashi has little to no knowledge of the people he is criticizing!

  28. KD
    Posted May 7, 2019 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Having recognized for some time that New Atheism is white supremacy, it dawned on me that Brussel Sprouts are also white supremacy, and this symbol of whiteness must be cleansed out of American cafeterias so I can once again feel safe eating in public spaces.

    A forerunner of Brussel Sprouts was cultivated by the Romans, and is part of family of vegetables in Europe common through the period of “discovery”, slavery, conquest, genocide, and colonization.

    • Zetopan
      Posted May 10, 2019 at 4:50 am | Permalink

      HEY!!! I LIKE Brussel Sprouts! A LOT!!

  29. Posted May 7, 2019 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    On the subject of pigs not being allowed to be represented in books published in (some) Muslim countries: last year I wrote a children’s book, for learners of English, published by Scholastic International, which was a simplified re-telling of Homer’s Odyssey. I was told by the editors at Scholastic that I would have to change the part where Odysseus’s men were changed into pigs by Circe as this would not be acceptable in certain Islamic countries where it would be sold. I had to alter it so that the men were changed into unspecified ‘beasts’.

    • Posted May 9, 2019 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      You’d think a Muslim would be even more horrified by a man becoming a pig and so the story would be even more effective …

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