In Berkeley, Criticism of Religion Is Admired—Unless the Religion Is Islam

July 28 2017

The Berkeley, CA community radio station KPFA recently canceled an upcoming talk by Richard Dawkins, the geneticist-turned-advocate-of-atheism, explaining that while it “emphatically supports serious free speech,” it “does not endorse hurtful speech.” In this case the “hurtful speech” was Dawkins’ criticisms of Islam, which are of a piece with his observations about religion in general. Tom Wilson writes:

Given Richard Dawkins’ [contempt for] religious belief in general, you would have thought the event organizers might have anticipated that this arch-secularist wouldn’t have anything very complimentary to say about Islam, either. Yet there is something rather troubling in KPFA’s statement on its discovery of Dawkins’s “hurtful speech,” [which it] explained as follows: “We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt—in his tweets and other comments on Islam—so many people.”

This leaves a question. If Dawkins’s incriminating tweets on Islam eventually came to the organizers’ attention, what about all of his other pronouncements on religion? As in the many writings and speeches that deal with insulting all the other religions. Is KPFA yet to stumble upon Dawkins’s international best-seller The God Delusion? Imagine their sense of horror when they learn of all those hurt Jewish and Christian feelings. After all, Dawkins has had some pretty fiery things to say about the “God of the Old Testament.”

Unless, of course, the organizers already knew all about Dawkins’s past comments on the other religions, but it only became a problem for them when they found out that Dawkins had been saying similar things about Islam. Had Dawkins been silent on Islam and only derided Christianity and Judaism, would he then have still been welcome at the Berkeley event? It rather sounds like it. . . .

Canceling an event with an internationally renowned atheist on the grounds that he has offended the feelings of religious people is, of course, absurd.

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More about: Atheism, Islam, Political correctness, Religion & Holidays, Richard Dawkins

No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict