HuffPo: Of free speech, Islamophobia and new atheism

Islam has an atheism problem. They simply cannot accept that anyone might be an atheist and still be within the bounds of respectable discourse. Excerpt:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an extreme anti-Islam critic, well known for her bigoted views and dishonest generalizations of the Muslim faith. When she was invited to speak at Yale’s Buckley program recently, some student groups — including the Yale Humanist Community — issued a statement criticizing the invitation. In their statement, the group of atheists, humanists and agnostics wrote: “Although we acknowledge the value of her story, we do not endorse her blanket statements on all Muslims and Islam… We believe Ayaan Hirsi Ali represents a sadly common voice in the atheist community that attacks and provokes, rather than contributes to constructive criticism or dialogue.”

While the Yale Humanist Community was using their basic right to free speech to protest a decision they disagreed with, many new atheists descended on the group’s Facebook page with ad hominems of all sorts. Some of the gentler labels used for the group were “horribly shameful,” “enemies of free speech,” “insult to humanism,” “pro censorship” etc.

Why was the free speech of a student group being attacked so vehemently, I wondered. And to answer myself, I carried out a social media experiment to see if the new atheists’ onslaught was based on principle or just prejudice.

I posed a simple question to new atheists on a social media page: “Suppose you were the Dean at Harvard, would you invite a homophobe or a racist to speak on homosexuality or race relations respectively?”

Note how he attacks Hirsi Ali for saying things all atheists say about religion. She is a ‘bigot,’ ‘extreme anti-Islam critic’ and so on.

Then he says atheists attack and provoke. Yes, they do — suck it up and get used to it. That is how life goes in the West. Quit whining.

I do not know much about the Yale Humanist Community, but I would hazard a guess it contains a large compliment of people who will attack Christianity and Judaism full bore, but are too politically correct to touch precious delicate flower Islam.

As to the argument about racists being invited to speak about racism — Hirsi Ali was not invited to discuss Islam per se.  The comparison is not legitimate.   And furthermore, is being an atheist and critic of all religion the same as being a racist?  That is a ridiculous suggestion.