Speechless 8 October 2007 by Henry Gee, posted in Uncategorized It takes quite a lot to shut me up. But then I saw this which quotes from this. Say no more. 7 Responses to “Speechless” se 71 8 October 2007 7:37pm | Permalink I have no idea what you are getting at. Why speechless? Maxine Clarke 8 October 2007 8:04pm | Permalink Dawkins says there are more atheists than “religious Jews”. I don’t agree or disagree, I just wonder where he got his figures? And yes, Henry, unlike you to be speechless! Henry Gee 10 October 2007 8:32am | Permalink I shall try to explain my speechlessness, and why, like Daniel Finkelstein in The Times quoted above, I find Dawkins’ words frightening. I am aware that I shall have to choose my words with care, so please bear with me. On the face of it, Dawkins wishes the atheist lobby had the success of what he sees as the Jewish lobby. That’s fine – but only superficially. However, the term ‘Jewish lobby’ is deeply loaded, and has been used by anti-Semites to raise the age-old canard that the world is controlled by a global Jewish conspiracy, an accusation used by many regimes, ancient and modern, for discrimination against the Jews. It might well be that Dawkins did not intend for this comparison to be made (or that his words were quoted out of context) – but to have made the comparison at all shows peculiar political insensitivity (that Dawkins shows no religious sensitivity is well-known, and something he indeed regards as admirable). However, Dawkins’ antipathy to Israel is well-known (this YouTube clip is especially telling, though any Google search for the terms ‘Dawkins’ and ‘Israel’ will offer plenty of other examples) – he has been prominent among academics in advocating boycotts of Israel. Of course, and again, on the face of it, criticism of Israel is not the same thing as criticism of Jews – however, many people certainly use the first as cover for the second (see this site for exhaustive documentation of this phenonmenon). What then? Given that Dawkins has an immense public profile; that his legions of admirers tend to express themselves in the language of fundamentalist zealots, regarding The God Delusion as a kind of call to arms, responding to its self-pitying defiance while glossing over its many illogicalities and failures of scholarship; you can bet that someone, somewhere, will take Dawkins’ comments about the Jewish lobby, however innocently made, and put an altogether more sinister construction on them. I predict that within a short time – within the next decade – scientists who profess religious views will find it hard to get their work published or get tenure, and might even be hounded out of their jobs. And given that history shows how fanatical movements tend to take out their frustrations on Jews first … well, you get the picture. That’s why I am speechless. And why I am frightened. Henry Gee 15 October 2007 2:38pm | Permalink See this update from which it ic clear that Dawkins is guilty – at best – of extraordinarily sloppy thinking, which is a serious indictment in itself, given that Dawkins is the somewhat self-elected poster boy for science and rational thought. Paul Wicks 19 October 2007 2:49pm | Permalink I think he was just trying to tick off one more box in his list of “people I must offend before I die”. I like him. Henry Gee 19 October 2007 9:31pm | Permalink No, Paul. I just think he was being stupid and injudicious in his choice of words. Kristen L 29 October 2007 4:56pm | Permalink RE: Jewish lobby: He was not right in using the term “Jewish lobby” because of it’s religious implications. However, there is a very large and powerful Isreali Lobby at work in the US Government. Just check out AIPAC as an example of the clout they hold with the government. To be fair to Dawkins, AIPAC did start off as a semi-religious movement, even calling themselves the Zionist Council. Dawkins is very harsh and blunt in his speech. I kind of agree with the post that led me here in that there may be a touch of Aspergers. However, in this case, he’s not ENTIRELY wrong. × Comments are closed.