Richard Dawkins, the Koran and Mein Kampf

Yes you read that title right, based on the tweet Richard Dawkins sent out:

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You can have several views of this – and indeed any combination of the following: islamophobic use of simile, Godwin’s Law in action, free publicity this will generate, no empathy for how people will react to what he says.

Dawkins has straight away tried to deal with the first in a subsequent tweet:

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Godwin’s Law is that in an online argument given enough time a person will invoke Hitler/nazis on their opponent or on their idea. Also a rather cheap mud slinging shot in a debate.

Having read a pre-war edition of Mein Kampf and having an Uncle arrested at a war time press conference for holding his copy up when they quoted the book saying “which page please?” some reasons you may want to read to understand Hitler and the nazis. My Uncle was part of an anti-propaganda group determined truth should not be the first casualty of war. Read the original source material – how can I suggest that to creationists when Dawkins suggests not necessary for religion? Expect that one to be thrown back in evolution/intelligent design discussion.

Free publicity suggests Dawkins as the media savvy person that felt Krauss should have walked out of a gender allocated seating arrangement debate to generate maximum publicity. Being controversial will cause column inches to be written, with publicity for Dawkins’ issues, himself and works.

The last point of no empathy is for me the one that strikes home. Long time readers will know of Rabbi Boteach of whom Dawkins said “you shriek like Hitler”. It took much correspondence and comments before Richard readily acknowledged not a good move; let alone a hurtful comparison to make.

The simile tweet suggests Dawkins has not learnt from that experience. I have met Muslims that would readily have my back at a gay rights march (sic), stand up for secularism and let humanism override literal interpretation of the Koran. To my mind we need to embolden and support such thinkers in the Muslim community as well as safeguard apostates and human rights for those wanting to leave. This is a global issue.

I read an excellent blog defending Dawkins from the charge of Islamophobia. A lack of empathy regarding comparison is more the case given track record with Boteach.

In conclusion the historian would suggest reading original source material is a very good idea. The publicist that saying Koran and Mein Kampf in same sentence will generate a media frenzy. The Humanist that this is not helping us get on with the human rights issues we need to face down within Islam.

The secular activist in me is above all saying – good grief here we go again.

UPDATE Blog: Translation (why reading Mein Kampf may have made a difference)

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

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6 Comments

Filed under Dawkins, Richard Dawkins

6 responses to “Richard Dawkins, the Koran and Mein Kampf

  1. Elle

    Love the way you cherry-pick the tweets to support your argument and ignore the many many more which support Dawkins. You give solace to the people whose favoured method of argument is to take offense at the first opportunity.

    • Those were the first tweets in reply to Dawkins, as visible on my timeline when taking screenshot – not cherry picked. I have also included a link to a blog (which i describe as good) that argues Dawkins is not islamophobic.

      As to solace to those offended, well I know how angry I get when people compare secularism with Stalinism. So I cannot be true to myself when seeing those I support making an offensive simile in a similar vein.

  2. Elle

    If you think Dawkins was comparing Islam to Nazism then you’re just wrong. The statement was of the nature A is to B as C is to D. It makes no comparison between A (criticising Islam) and C (criticising Nazism) or B (reading the qur’an) and D (reading Mein Kampf).

    Some people need to get a grip of English.

    • I did not think he was, and my blog states he dealt with that in his follow up tweet, in his example of a simile, quite effectively. Not sure if you are arguing with me or a reader that does not understand this.

      However, the first tweet is the one that is going to be used around the world as a direct comparison, rather than the partial one he meant. So it will cause unnecessary offence. Just as you don’t compare a characteristic of a Rabbi with Hitler, you don’t refer to a holy book to Hitler’s political memoir unless you fully mean it or you are Richard Dawkins, not realising the shitstorm that will follow something you were using as an example.

      Hence my lack of empathy remark rather than saying he was going out of his way to offend.

      Maybe you should re-read the blog – because the feedback I am getting from the atheist community on twitter is they get my argument.

  3. Danny

    People who criticise men and women like Dawkins amaze me, you just know that if the s*** ever does hit the proverbial fan, they’ll be the first to feel like idiots, Dawkins makes a valid point with the Qur’an/Mein Kampf similie, ok i haven’t read the Qur’an, but i know many people who haven’t and they also haven’t blown up buildings, shot people because of their personal beliefs, and comitted any terrorist acts.. strange.. organised religion IS a cancer of this planet, it creates more hatred and alienation than anything else, how can that be a good thing? I don’t deny that there could be an original creator, i don’t have any proof otherwise so who am i to deny the possibility, but i do know that a ‘God’ does not exist in the sense that religions see it.. “Worship me so i can save you from what i’m going to do to you if you don’t worship me.” Can you see the paradox? That is essentially what religion’s believe and it would mean that we were created for the sole purpose of God’s own gratification.. that sounds like a being worthy of worship..

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