Atheists and Islamophobes
I WAS very pleased to read Scott Johnson's hard-hitting critique of Bill Maher's movie Religulous ("Turning ordinary people into punch lines"). Maher's film is the latest in what is becoming a long line of neo-atheist literature and documentaries.
"Militant atheism" really broke onto the scene in 2006 when several books were published attacking religion: Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation, and Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell. These were followed in 2007 by Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Pay special attention to the title of Hitchens' book, because it speaks volumes about this latest wave of "militant atheism." These books, while professing to renounce all religion to bring the wealth of logic and science to society, have arisen in the last few years to target Islam, with the end result of shilling for capitalist wars.
To be fair, these authors cover their backs by using ink and film to criticize Christianity and Judaism. However, it does not take a lot of scrutiny of these authors to see that Muslims are the true target. Hitchens, for example, has written numerous articles defending the "war on terror" and the curtailing of civil liberties for Arabs and Muslims, but has made no comment about the Evangelical Christian views of George Bush.
According to Hitchens we should renounce religion because it can lead to irrationality and violence. However, when it comes to attacking Islam, Hitchens has no problem supporting a devoutly religious Christian president from the U.S., or a Jewish apartheid state like Israel.
But it's not just Hitchens. Richard Dawkins also espouses the belief of condemning religion, but condemning Islam more. In 2006 Dawkins wrote and directed a documentary for Channel 4 in the UK entitled The Root of All Evil?, which argued that humanity would be better off without religion. Many of the ads had pictures of the New York skyline before September 11, 2001, that focused on the Twin Towers with text that read, "Imagine a world without religion."
Along with the attack on Islam, these militant atheists put forward overly simplistic, crude and ultimately wrong ways of analyzing the world. In the introduction to Dawkins' book The God Delusion, he argues that if you imagine a world without religion, you can see a world without 9/11, suicide bombers, conflict in Northern Ireland and the Israeli-Palestinian war.
Such a notion is utterly ridiculous. Maybe if Dawkins spent time imagining a world without the CIA, British colonialism and American imperialism, he would have a better solution for creating a better world.
Instead, what Dawkins, Hitchens, Maher and the other militant atheist cretins conclude is that without God, our enlightened free-market capitalist system would provide a world utopia where reason guides all of humanity. That conveniently glosses over our chaotic and oppressive capitalist system, which causes pain and suffering that many religions try to address.
As socialists, we should march with everyone who wants to fight oppression and create a more equal and humane society, no matter what God they worship, or don't worship.
Alessandro Tinonga, San Leandro, Calif.