Defenders of Islam and enemies of free expression have been using a convenient ad hominem fallacy to muzzle New Atheists’ criticisms of Islam. See, if you speak a word against Islam, you are in the same category as the bad guys who do so. As an example, Nathan Lean, the author of a book titled “the Islamophobia Industry” and a prominent leftist anti-Atheist, has graced us with these words of wisdom:
[T]hose who are convinced that God exists, and would otherwise dismiss the Dawkins’ and Harris’s of the world as hell-bound kooks, are often some of the biggest Islamophobes. It’s symbiosis — and as a biologist, Dawkins should know a thing or two about that.
Of course, Lean is far from the only atheophobe trying to blame Dawkins through “guilt by association” (or symbiosis, if you prefer). Alternet columnist CJ Werleman writes in a piece titled “How Hatred of Islam Creates Strange Bedfellows of Christians and Atheists”:
[M]ention the Middle East peace talks, and voila, you have atheists singing from the same song sheet as the Christian Right.
In the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, American Atheists president Silverman tweeted, “Dear Peaceful Muslims: Sorry, but yet, that IS your Islam and your Prophet’s followers.” Silverman included the hashtag #IslamIsBarbaric. If you were told neo-con firebrand Ann Coulter had posted this careless tweet, you would have believed it.
No doubt, Harris (neuroscience) and Dawkins (evolutionary biology) are leaders in their respective fields. What they’re not is experts on terrorism and the Middle East. So movement atheism needs to stop pretending like they are, because the words of Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens serve only to make movement atheists sound like neo-conservatives, Zionists and the Christian Right, which ultimately makes seeking peace even harder to attain.
The hilarious bit on the evil “Zionists” and misquoting Hitchens on the subject not withstanding, the point is very clear: guilt by association. You must shut up, because you sound too much like the Christian Right and the Neo-Cons.
Won’t you believe it, even a lowly blogger like me has not been immune from this form of attack! Hear is a quote from a (now banned) troll:
Even my own co-blogger Arizona Atheist, who disapproves of my supportive opinion of the US drone strikes policy, used these words to chastise me for my stance:
Sure, it is “government propaganda” shaping my views on dangers of Islamic extremism and how to confront it, not my own background as an apostate ex-Muslim with the dubious advantage of getting to know Islamic extremism for decades up close and personal! But hey, how dare I say they need to be responded to in kind, I will sound like Neo-Cons. Precisely as Werleman suggests.
Dear Lane, Werleman et al: I have a suggestion for you: grow up. If you think others can’t see through your bad logic, you are kidding only yourselves. And if Islam cannot be defended without bad logic, then you are actually proving its critics right-whether they are atheists or otherwise.