A defense of Dawkins by Andrew Sullivan

July 29, 2017 • 10:30 am

by Greg Mayer

Jerry has written a number of times about Richard Dawkins’s deplatforming by radio station KPFA, and others (here, here, here, here) have come to Dawkins’s defense as well. In his weekly diary in New York magazine, Andrew Sullivan has also come to Dawkins’s defense. This might surprise some, since Sullivan is a fan of religion and a devout Catholic. But Sullivan is also a staunch secularist, who coined the term “Christianism“, in analogy with “Islamism”, to decry the theocratic aspirations of right wing Christians. Sullivan would doubtless contest some of Dawkins’ criticisms of religion in general and Christianity in particular, but he accepts that much evil has been done in the name of religion: “History is replete with horrors of all religions when abused by fanatics.”

He goes on in his diary to quote in full Dawkins’ remarks on the evil of Islam, including “It’s terribly important to modify that because of course that doesn’t mean all Muslims are evil, very far from it. Individual Muslims suffer more from Islam than anyone else.” Sullivan mocks KPFA, dryly remarking “KPFA couldn’t read that far?”

Having highlighted the ecumenism of Dawkins’ critiques of religion, he finishes by explaining why a “progressive” radio station would take offense at Dawkins:

I fear that the truth is Islam has become an untouchable shibboleth for some on the left. What they lacerate in other religions, they refuse to mention in Islam. Sexism, homophobia, the death penalty for apostasy … all of this is to be rationalized if the alternative is Islamophobia. Why, one wonders? Is it because Muslims are a small minority? But the same could be said for Jews. My best guess is simply that, for the far left, anything that is predominantly “of color” is preferable to anything, like Judaism and Christianity, that can usually be described as “white.” That’s how “intersectionality” can be used to defend what would otherwise be indefensible. The preoccupation with race on the far left is now so deep, in other words, it’s becoming simply an inversion of that on the far right.

For an earlier post on Sullivan’s view of “intersectionality”, see here.