Richard Dawkins stirred up some debate recently when he tweeted:
Some perceived an insult and accused him of unscientific, prejudiced thought. Others rose to his defence and the same old merry-go-round trundled on awhile until another luminary, Simon Cowell, took over the headlines.
After the debate died away Dawkins tried to put the whole thing in a more genial context, as a well-meaning observation probing for some hitch in a religion which might otherwise have been awarded more recognition, and failing to make this point properly only due to the 140 character limitation of twitter. Which might be one good reason not to attempt to portray a global religion in a single tweet!
Of course, the problem is not so much the possible misinterpretation in one message, but the unmistakeable intent of many which preceded it:
So this is the backdrop to his comment on Islam. But others went even further, tangentially comparing Islam to the Nazis and insulting the entire culture, and having no trouble making the message clearly understood in 140 characters.
Defensiveness from within Islam might not be down to insecurity as Jan Markovic suggests, but because of the West’s requirement for Islam to be a stooge, a dumb scapegoat deserving condemnation, wars and invasions – under the mask of democracy – to take over their gas and oil, their lithium mines, and their heroin production. Notice that Saudi Arabia – the physical and spiritual point of origin for 9/11’s incredible villains – never comes in for attacks, or even the mildest rebuke despite continual human rights violations, widespread slavery, public beheadings, and treatment of women as an underclass.
But perhaps this is also because any critical study of 9/11 shows Islam had nothing whatsoever to do with it. (Eight of the “hijackers” turned up alive and well the next day, and one more was reported by his father to have gone into hiding, while at least two were hard drinking, whoring, violent CIA assets constantly under the eye of the FBI’s John O’Neil – sacked for demanding their mysteriously charmed lives within America be investigated). Resistance using whatever material could be found was a predictable result of being invaded; we, on the other hand, used monstrous weapons including DU and WP on civilians, backed by massive armoured might.
A decade on, and birth defects in Fallujah are still running at 20% due to our chemical and depleted uranium weapons (with a half life of 4.4 billion years); a country which held the world’s second heart transplant is now an utter disaster. As for us, suicides among the US military now outnumber all deaths from those combat arenas and are climbing monthly.
How strange then that even leading intellectuals follow a red flag waved by the media, like some enraged bull, snorting and charging after Islam as if it were the great enemy of progress. We brought Hell to a nation which can trace its Islamic roots back almost to Mohammed’s day, a country whose only crime was having a bungling assassin named Hussein at the helm – a man originally installed by the CIA, and armed by us – at a time when America needed a more pliable thug. The CIA’s retirement plan usually includes a long rope.
Even if one were to drink the highly flavoured government kool-aid to the very last drop and ignore steadily mounting demands to find the real culprits, defining a religion on the actions of 10 youths is like condemning all of North America on the basis of the Ku Klux Klan, or defining science using only Hiroshima, Chernobyl and White Phosphorous. We know people are imperfect – we get it, we make allowances – and eventually turn to the bigger picture when framing our opinions.
Belief in spite of facts is the problem. But whatever anyone believes about 9/11, Islam needs to remain a tramp in our eyes, so we can remain unapologetic about our wars, black prisons, kidnap, torture, imprisonment without trial, deaths in custody, and theft of a country’s assets. As one Iraqi taxi driver, after living through a decade of occupation, explained to me: “everything in Iraq, now belong to America.”
Dawkins conveniently helps the shameful caravan along, something intellectuals with an international voice ought to be careful about. Empathy and compassion are not masks to be put on when convenient; perhaps “thinkers” should read up about 9/11. They will find Islam as a whole remarkably tolerant about being framed for the crime of the century, and enduring twelve years of abuse and PNAC barbarism.
If a religious context or upbringing is not a bar to progress, as evidenced by Nobel recipients who openly proclaim themselves Jewish, then perhaps, after slandering Islam’s image in the eyes of the world, we might be sensitive about adding insult to injury?
After all, the enemy is not belief, intolerance is. Human nature is essentially hopeful, and it gravitates eventually to higher ideas. Religion is also subject to the force of evolution, but carrying as it does the development of billions, it develops to its own schedule, and provides yearning minds with something a lot more powerful than witty barbs.