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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Richard Dawkins site's thread on Islamophobia, etc

A longish thread over here if you're interested. Quite a diversity of views being expressed, including a couple of comments by Richard.

6 comments:

Paddy said...

Where, as is sadly typical for that website, your eminently reasonable (and reasoned) words are being misconstrued and condemned by most commenters. Because God forbid anyone should write an article about Islam that recognises the nuances of reality.

Reading that thread reminded me of why I so rarely go there these days.

Russell Blackford said...

It's a bit of a mixed bag, isn't it?

Paddy said...

Indeed!

Thomas Paine said...

What I find most bothersome is the repeated misunderstanding of your opening line:

Let's accept - as I think we should - that some dislike of Islam, or impatience with Muslims and their spiritual leaders, has a quasi-racist character, grounded in parochialism and xenophobia, and perhaps a dislike of Arabs in particular.

What I think you are saying (and please correct me if I am mistaken) is that: within the whole set of dislike of Muslims, there must exist some sub-set of dislike that is based on quasi-racism. In other words, our rational-based criticisms of Islam are not the only ones out there. We have to acknowledge that fact as we proceed forward.

Rationally yours,
Thomas Paine

Russell Blackford said...

Sure - no offence to you, TP, but I don't know what else it could mean. I say it pretty plainly.

Thomas Paine said...

I always think it is helpful to try understanding what meaning is being received from our words, in opposite of what was intended. To that end, I am going to engage in the dangerous game of trying to guess what people thought you were saying.

They read "some" to mean that each individual criticism has some portion (even a small one) of racism. They think you are saying that it is not possible to remove completely racism from dislike of Islam.

Basically a case of ambiguous modifier. If I say 100 pints of beer are 1% contaminated, do I mean: (a) 1 beer is completely contaminated while 99 beers are pure, or (b) every single beer is very slightly (1%) contaminated?

The difference between these two understandings could conceivable engender radically different reactions. Perhaps this, in part, explains the vitriol on that thread.

Rationally yours,
Thomas Paine