Vulgar Anti-Zionism

Storify, Richard Dawkins Problem With Muslims

Just started using Storify as a quick and easy platform for relaying exchanges on Twitter. It is not too bad, when it works. Storify seems to have an issue on Chromium with “This webpage has a redirect loop”. Hope it is a teething problem. Nevertheless, these particular stories may enlighten readers:

Holocaust Denial at Anonymous

Richard Dawkins, Insensitivity And the English Defence League
anon2a
A few observations, as I found a great similarity in these variations of racism:

The highlighted Anonymous accounts and their allies would probably claim that they are merely “anti-Zionists”, which could be true but they also have a strong line in disseminating antisemitism.

Whilst I do not believe that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, it is not coincidental that rantings involving antisemitic themes are found in proximity to anti-Zionism. Nor is it mere chance that many strident “anti-Islamists” around the periphery of English Defence League are found to have a connection to the British Far Right or worse.

Equally, when looking at the background to Richard Dawkins’ foolish mistake of re-tweeting from one EDL sympathiser, there were parallels between fanatical “anti-Zionists” and maniac “anti-Islamists”.

Both of these creeds as exercised by these extremists are, almost, inoculated against spotting racism.

Whereas “anti-Islamists” of this order rarely perceive any racism towards Muslims, their compatriots within the sphere of anti-Zionism find it incredibly hard, next to impossible, to spot modern antisemitism.

My research found that “anti-Islamists” had a catalogue of standard arguments which bore a striking similarity to those found on the Far Right. Naturally, few of these themes stood up to any serious scrutiny and had the stench of refried racism from the 1970s.

Studying the crossover on Twitter (an imperfect but readily available sampling) not all obsessive “anti-Islamists” were from the Right of the political spectrum. However, it became very apparent that those not imbued with Hard or Far Right thinking could not spot an EDL sympathiser amongst them, if their life depended on it.

Which is very troubling.

Elsewhere, mainstream anti-Zionists have yet to address with any intellectual competency the question of periodic outburst of antisemitism amongst supposed “anti-Zionists”. Greta Berlin’s eruption of racism was hardly coincidental and only one example.

In short, neither of these political trends can adequately explain the presence and persistence of hardened racism in their midst.
Dawkins2a
Bringing us back neatly to Professor Richard Dawkins. Predictably he went from general antagonistic statements against Islam to swift digs at Muslims in general. A past supporter of Dawkins, Tom Chivers at the Torygraph takes him to task:

Treating all Muslims as featureless representatives of their religion (as Dawkins does when saying things like “Who the hell do these Muslims think they are? How has UCL come to this: cowardly capitulation to Muslims? Tried to segregate sexes in debate between @LKrauss1 and some Muslim or other”) is – well, it may not be directly racist, but it’s certainly not the sort of thing Martin Luther King would admire. The content of their character, and all that.

Because Dawkins has gone from criticising the religion itself to criticising Muslims, as a vast bloc. ” [My emphasis.]

The Guardian provides two reflective articles on Professor Dawkins’ unhealthy discharges:

Richard Dawkins criticised for Twitter comment about Muslims.

Richard Dawkins’ tweets on Islam are as rational as the rants of an extremist Muslim cleric.

Martin Robbins at the News Statesman argues:

” “Islam isn’t a race,” is the “I’m not racist, but. . .” of the Atheist movement, a tedious excuse for lazy thinking that is true enough to be banal while simultaneously wrong in any meaningful, real-world sense.

Yes, congratulations, you can read a dictionary. Well done.

But it’s possible for a statement to be both true and wrong. “Homeopathy worked for me” is one example (as is its inverse): it may genuinely make people feel better, emotionally or through the placebo effect; but it doesn’t work in any medical sense.”[My emphasis.]

Final thoughts, people need to decide seriously if they are against certain particular forms of racism and rather lazy or ambivalent on the rest?

Do you oppose racism towards Muslims? Do you apply the same standards when Jews are the target of racism? Etc

Are you universally opposed to racism or just selectively?

If the latter, then you are not really an antiracist/nonracist. Whatever else, that is not the company to keep.

Update 1: The Indy covers it too, Richard Dawkins Muslim jibe sparks Twitter backlash.

Nelson Jones makes some sharp points and I imagine this last one will fly over Professor Dawkins’ head:

“A final point. The United States may boast almost as many Nobel Prize winners as the rest of the world put together, but it is also home to millions of diehard creationists. What has Richard Dawkins to say about that?”

Update 2: Professor Dawkins has replied without the restrictions of Twitter and 140 characters. Yet predictably, Professor Dawkins’ arguments do not engage with any intelligent criticism of his previous stupidity:

“…

Twitter’s 140 character limit always presents a tough challenge, but I tried to rise to it. Nobel Prizes are a pretty widely quoted, if not ideal, barometer of excellence in science.

I thought about comparing the numbers of Nobel Prizes won by Jews (more than 120) and Muslims (ten if you count Peace Prizes, half that if you don’t). This astonishing discrepancy is rendered the more dramatic when you consider the small size of the world’s Jewish population. However, I decided against tweeting that comparison because it might seem unduly provocative (many Muslim “community leaders” are quite outspoken in their hatred of Jews) and I sought a more neutral comparison as more suitable to the potentially inflammable medium of Twitter.

It is a remarkable fact that one Cambridge college, Trinity, has 32 Nobel Prizes to its credit. That’s three times as many as the entire Muslim world even if you count Peace Prizes, six times as many if you don’t. I dramatised the poverty of Muslim scientific achievement, and the contrast with their achievements in earlier centuries, in the following brief tweet: “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.” [My emphasis.]

Why pick on Muslims? You could arbitrarily pick on plenty of categories of people that have achieved far less than Trinity College, Cambridge

Again, fair point. Somebody mentioned redheads (neither he nor I have figures on redheaded scientific achievement but we get the point). I myself tweeted that Trinity Cambridge has more Nobel Prizes than any single country in the world except the USA, Britain (tautologically), Germany and France. You could well think there was something gratuitous in my picking on Muslims, were it not for the ubiquity of the two positive boasts with which I began. Redheads (and the other hypothetical categories we might mention) don’t boast of their large populations and don’t boast of their prowess in science.”


Update 3: Glad I am not the only atheist cheesed off, Richard Dawkins’ Anti-Muslim Tweets Spark Furor, Even Among Atheist Supporters:

“Even some of his admirers were disgusted, as Tom Chivers published a blog on the Telegraph titled, “Please be quiet, Richard Dawkins, I’m begging as a fan.” He makes the point that Dawkins has strayed from providing critiques of religious beliefs and practices grounded in logic to blindly attacking faiths as monolithic groups, manipulating facts to further an agenda.

The Atlantic published “A Short History of Richard Dawkins vs. The Internet” that thoroughly chronicles Dawkins’ long history of anti-Islamic speaking and writing, as well as his admiration for Geert Wilders, the notoriously far-right and anti-Muslim Dutch politician.”

This is worth reading on its own, A Short History of Richard Dawkins vs. The Internet.

Worthwhile Remembering: The Antisemitic Discourse in Britain

This is the CST’s summary of the Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2011 and essential reading for antiracists:

  • “Explicit antisemitism against Jews is rare in British public life and within mainstream political and media discourse. Nevertheless, antisemitic themes alleging Jewish conspiracy, power and hostility to others can resonate within mainstream discourse about Israel and (especially) about so-called ‘Zionists’.
  • When explicit antisemitism does occur, it tends to do so within circles that are also racist or hateful towards other groups.
  • The internet and social media are providing new opportunities for the spread of antisemitic discourse. This includes mainstream companies, such as Amazon, selling blatant antisemitic propaganda, such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last.
  • Fears that economic troubles in 2011 would spark antisemitism in Britain proved largely unfounded.
  • 2011 was notable for the public reaction to antisemitic remarks made by fashion designer John Galliano. The case was not especially remarkable, but provided a focus for numerous articles in mainstream media that analysed and spoke strongly against contemporary antisemitism.
  • The trend to blame so-called ‘Zionism’ for anti-Muslim hatred intensified in 2011. This included allegations that Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik was inspired by ‘Zionism’.
  • The controversy surrounding the Home Secretary’s (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to deport Sheikh Raed Salah epitomised debates around antisemitism and overseas Islamist figures. This case also included false accusations that the UK Government had acted at Israel’s behest and was somehow under the control of Israel’s supporters in the UK. This falsehood encourages and reinforces antisemitic attitudes.
  • The Guardian reinforced its reputation as being the most subjective and contentious mainstream newspaper on issues of antisemitism in the context of Israel and Zionism. This, despite the paper also warning against antisemitism.
  • The publication and promotion of Gilad Atzmon’s book The Wandering Who? introduced a relatively new form of antisemitism into ‘anti-Zionist’ discourse.
  • Britain’s refusal to attend a United Nations anti-racism conference, due to prior instances of antisemitism there, was an especially important public statement.
  • In Scotland, the conviction of Paul Donnachie on criminal and racist charges showed that anti-Israel behaviour can be prosecuted under legislation relating to race, colour, nationality or ethnicity.
  • Fears and concerns about antisemitism, as expressed by mainstream Jewish communities and bodies, are routinely ignored, or even maliciously misrepresented, within supposedly ‘progressive’ circles, including some media, trade unions and churches. Few, if any, other minority representative groups are treated with such reflexive suspicion and ill-will.

The full report is available as a PDF.

A View Of Anti-Zionists, The CST’s Take

The CST does the admirable job of providing security, assistance and help to the Jewish community in Britain.

But not only that, its annual reports detail the rise (and occasional dip) in antisemitism.

Further, the CST blog describes in detail instances of racism towards Jews and is a required reading for anyone seriously opposed to antisemitism.

Boycott Israel: Zionists are “the most hateful people imaginable”, their latest entry looks at the inflammatory and disparaging language which is invariably found within boycott Israelis type groupings:

“The website of the London branch of the boycott Israel movement (the people who intend to disrupt next week’s Israeli performances of The Merchant of Venice), carries an article stating that Zionists are

the most hateful people imaginable

The boycott Israel article also describes Zionism as:

a murderous, parasitic doctrine

Dehumanisation and demonisation are the basic building blocks of racism and racist violence. Zionism is a political choice, so anti-Zionism is not exactly racism.

Still, most Jews are Zionists; and Zionism is inextricably linked with Jews, Judaism and Jewish history. To be a Zionist in a post-Holocaust world is, for many Jews, simply the most basic issue of survival.

In 2010, JPR’s survey showed that 72% of British Jews self-categorise as “Zionist”.

If Zionists are “the most hateful people imaginable” then surely Zionists, as well as Israel, ought to be boycotted? Hell, Zionists probably deserve a good kicking also. After all, who ever complained when neo-Nazi skinheads get assaulted?

So, if you dehumanise and demonise Zionists there will be an antisemitic outcome.

Nobody asks Jewish victims a survey about Zionism before hitting them over the head, or trying to burn down their synagogue, or trying to murder children at a Jewish Primary school. (Indeed, this is why the anti-Zionist leftists have nothing to say about any of this, not even when it comes down to dead children.)”

[My emphasis on last part.]

Such rabble-rousing language amongst anti-Zionists is all too common and has filtered into the mainstream, evidenced by the content of Comment Is Free or the thinking behind BBC’s HARDtalk, as another CST post demonstrated:

“Jewish conspiracy theory is fundamental to antisemitism. It relies on the notion of Jewish wealth and power, working against the rest of society. It is commonly expressed as Jews controlling politicians and the media.

This does not render discussion of Jewish political and media influence illegitimate. It does, however, require discussion of them to be sensitive and careful. If one is not discussing a Jewish conspiracy, then a responsible journalist should say so, explicitly. For example, Peter Oborne knew the antisemitic risks in his Channel 4 programme, ‘Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby’. He explicitly stated that he had found no conspiracy, nor anything resembling one. (Sadly, the risks were made clear when many of those covering the programme made no such distinctions.)

Unfortunately, BBC’s flagship HARDtalk programme took no such care in its recent interview with the controversial Norman Finkelstein. On the contrary, the interview proceeded as if American foreign policy is beholden to Israel and that this can only be explained by “the Jewish lobby”.

Complaints to the BBC solicited the answer you would expect: this is HARDtalk, so we have to reflect the views of our guest, Norman Finkelstein, and we then robustly challenge those views.”

LoonWatch, How Not To Combat anti-Muslim bigotry

I have been asked for my view of LoonWatch and feel it might help to air these issues.

I think the issue of anti-Muslim bigotry is a real problems in Western societies. In Britain and Ireland, it is often a mutated form of racism which previously targeted Asians. Now it is used against those from North Africa, the Middle East, their descendants or those seen to have different customs.

Not sure if that descriptions does it full justice, but I imagine my more astute readers will see what I am getting at.

On Twitter

In the past I use to followed LoonWatch on Twitter.

Good Material

Anyway, I wanted to keep up with the extent of racism and bigotry towards Muslims and LoonWatch certainly covers it with vigour.

On their web site, LoonWatch, they publish some commendable articles and posts on anti-Muslim bigotry.

This one on Sweden’s Jews, Muslims Face Web Hate Rise: Study is a good example. As is this Dean Obeidallah: Sacha Cohen’s Movie a Minstrel Show.

Also, they have excellent material on cooperation between Jews and Muslims.

However

Less so their defence of Gunter Grass.

I could put that down to a matter of opinion and give them a pass, but I find their attitude towards anti-Jewish racism a bit unsatisfactory.

I could, without much trouble, find examples of their posts which have questionable language for antiracists to use. Often their comments boxes contain sneering and snide comments, either directly or indirectly aimed at Jews, Israelis or “Zionists”

Conspiracy Theories

I am sure that some of the smarter authors at LoonWatch would recognise that conspiracy theories are integral too many of the Far Rights’ attacks on Muslims. Further, that conspiracy theories are the key to a hardened forms of anti-Jewish racism, such as the Protocols, etc etc

Then to publish a piece which indulges in conspiracy theories and broadbrush demonisation of “Zionists” shows a clear lack of introspection and insight into the issues surrounding racism. Readers with access the Internet will be able to confirm that “Zionist” is a common Far Right euphemism for Jew.

Sensitivities

So there is a need for sensitivity in this area, and I find Loonwatch wanting in that respect.

Having said that, I think there is a dire need for web sites to combat anti-Muslim bigotry, but such sites need to be aware of certain sensitivities, not to cross certain lines, not to invoke, even by stealth, conspiracy theories.

Nevertheless, I did enjoyed their cover of the awful Pam Geller and terrible Robert Spencer.

In short, there is a need for insight and that is what I find lacking at LoonWatch.

I wish them well in their work to combat anti-Muslim bigotry. I just wish they would think a bit more, reflect on what they are getting at, and not generalise as much. If they wish to combat racism they should avoid such practices, as that is what racists and bigots tend to do.

Perhaps they might want to tidy up their comments boxes too?