Of the many explosive public debates that have raged in the post 9/11 West, perhaps none have been more controversial than the one over the cause of Islamic extremism. Though it would be inaccurate to simplify this debate as being separated into two clear “sides”, a broad distinction can roughly be made as follows. On one “side”, progressives like The Guardian columnist Joumanah El Matra claim that, “Muslim terrorism was never and […] still is not about furthering Islam.” Instead, they argue, Islamic extremism is the result of geopolitical grievances against the West and its allies, particularly their foreign policies. While there is no necessary connection between being a progressive (which I will take to mean being left of centre politically), there is an obvious overlap between those who might identify as progressive and those who hold the view of Islamic extremism outlined above.
On the other side of this debate are New Atheists like Sam Harris who argue very forcefully that Islamic doctrine is directly responsible for Muslim terrorism. A telling quote by Harris: “we are at war with Islam. This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims, but we are absolutely at war with the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran.”
Note the author speaks only of progressives and atheists, all of which he considers part of the broader left. Are there no “right wing” atheists or does he just wish they would just go away.
The following Vice News article hints at what is going on, the left appears concerned they can no longer claim the atheist sphere entirely as their own.
Too Many Atheists Are Veering Dangerously Toward the Alt-Right