On France, Richard Dawkins And Atos

The French President has stated what might be obvious to many people, but seems to go unsaid in Britain, that the victims in Toulouse last year were killed because they were Jews.

A similar point should have been made in the British media when killers deliberately sought out Mumbai’s Chabad House, however, given the peculiar nature of the British press, it wasn’t.

Tell MAMA takes on Richard Dawkins:

“Naturally, Dawkins, his supporters, and the broader movement of self-identified ‘liberal, nice, decent people’ may yet defend themselves as critics of Islam who do not adopt the violent extremist attitudes of EDL members. Many of them may well be decent people though it is important that they realise that their actions may feed into the rhetoric of hate organisations like the EDL.

Sometimes, the language and comments used may well be perceived by Muslims as being identical to groups like the EDL and whilst they are coming from different places, the impact and perceptions on Muslim individuals may be the same – whether from the liberal or political left or whether from the Far Right.

Any form of speech that lumps groups of individuals together and abuses them collectively is unacceptable in a tolerant, diverse, and equal society.

Furthermore, these ‘decent, nice and liberal people’ need to understand that some in society attack Islam to undermine and dehumanise Muslims. Some genuinely believe that by attacking Islam, they are having no impact on the perception of Muslims by others.

It is therefore not a simple issue and saying that hating and attacking Islam does not impact or affect Muslims in our communities is naive.”[My emphasis.]

Spot on.

Having scanned Richard Dawkins’ timeline on Twitter I can see the issues.

It is peppered with questionable argumentation, fields of straw men and a depressingly simplistic approach to the issue of racism. It would take a whole blog post to pick them apart, but his failure to understand that religious identities can be used as a way to attack ethnic minorities is surprising.

Even President Hollande got that point fairly quickly and he is not a professional academic.

Elsewhere, Atos’s callousness knows no bounds, as the Independent reports:

“A Thalidomide victim with a brain tumour who is blind in one eye and has trouble walking is battling against a decision by Atos that she is capable of “work related activity”.

Martine White, 50, is due to appear at a tribunal in which she will appeal against the decision which she fears could force her to take employment or face losing up to half of her benefits.

The mother of four from Burnley, Lancashire, is one of a number of victims of the morning sickness drug which left more than 500 people in Britain with severe birth defects who claim they are being unfairly treated by the Government’s controversial back-to-work assessors.

Mrs White, who has deformed arms and is facing spinal surgery which she fears could put her permanently in a wheelchair, was assessed by Atos and moved from incapacity benefit to the new employment and support allowance last year.

She was placed in the category which deemed she was capable of “work-related activity” which can require attending a “work-related interview” once a month and putting together a CV in order to continue receiving her benefits of £212.70 a fortnight.

Mrs White, whose late husband Michael was also affected by Thalidomide, has twice appealed against her assessment but has now been told to argue her case in front of a judge. “


2 thoughts on “On France, Richard Dawkins And Atos

  1. s4r4hbrown 18/03/2013 / 08:23

    It’s a very interesting question, the one raised by the Tell MAMA post. I was ambivalent about aspects of the piece – but I understand it has been revised and I haven’t checked the new version. I wasn’t quite sure whether you were making a connection between the antisemitic incidents and the Tell MAMA point, but I mentioned yesterday when this was being debated (rather fiercely!) on Twitter, that there is *some* parallel between the relationship between criticism of Israel and antisemitism, on the one hand, and, on the other, the relationship between criticism of Islam, or various phenomena rightly or wrongly associated with Islam, and anti-Muslim bigotry. There are many shades/points along the spectrum. I wouldn’t say the kind of things Dawkins says, but he’s a long way away from the kind of foul abuse Tell MAMA has to investigate daily. It’s reasonable to police one’s position on the spectrum, but if people start saying you are Islamophobic for thinking iERA isn’t great, or antisemitic because you don’t think this new proposed bill in Israel sounds like a welcome move – that’s going much too far.


    (Though the *way* one expresses an objection to a particular group or practice is also important, and can shift the effect and emphasis of one’s point.)

  2. Soupy One 18/03/2013 / 11:50

    It’s all about use of language, taking care and avoiding simplistic judgements.

    Perversely, anyone reading Richard Dawkins’ timeline on Twitter could gain the impression that his Twitter account has been hacked.

    It often conveys the impression of a semiliterate EDL supporter, with hyperbole, crude sentiment and an inability to express any idea with sophistication.

    I have no doubt that Professor Dawkins is an intelligent man, but his Twitter feed does not convey that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s