For those who are interested, here is first part of this series.
As other writers will likely attest, sometimes when sitting down to put pen to paper — or more accurately, keyboard to word processor — as I am wont to do in newspaper columns and as I have time on this blog, the entirety of what I might want to say on a particular subject is rarely fully formed before I take down the first sentence. Indeed, more times than not, while I usually have a general idea of where I’m headed on the page, epiphanies often occur in the process of writing, which is how the idea of the anti-regressives came about. This was either one of the more clever things that I have conjured up in 10-plus years of writing or it’s half-baked.
I’ll let others be the judge of that, but now that I have, I think, identified yet another subset of a subset of liberals who are at least as counterproductive and dangerous as regressive leftists like Glenn Greenwald, PZ Myers, Reza Aslan, Dean Obeidallah and all the rest, I only did so briefly in the previous post, tacking it on near the end of a fairly long post on Atheism is Unstoppable’s insidious YouTube critique of Lawrence Krauss’ recent essay, “Thinking Rationally About Terror.” It was also getting rather late as I was trying to finish the previous post, and I realized that I needed to fine tune a couple points and clear up a previously confusing title. And yes, I do realize that in identifying “anti-regressivism,” I run the risk of simply getting bogged down in labels and terminology.
In any case, I felt like I needed to take a few moments to more fully expand what I meant by the anti-regressives and how they came about in liberal circles.
That said, the first thing to point out is that I do not, in the least, blame people like Bill Maher, Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins for feeding the fire, for lack of a better phrase, of the kind of sentiment expressed in the cauldron of intolerance ginned up in YouTube videos, comment sections and on Twitter. I suggested that, perhaps, the impetus behind that kind of rhetoric sprung out of harsh criticisms of Islam as an ideology, whereby disenchanted or angry readers may go well beyond anything Dawkins or Harris have actually said on the subject and begin making crazy assertions like, “any city on earth … will have acts of Muslim terrorism in it,” as did the maker of the AiU video.
I don’t think Harris and Co. have fed the fire directly, and I know they certainly did not mean to do it indirectly either. Harris is currently collaborating with multiple current Muslims and former Muslims in a courageous and necessary attempt to reform the religion, or help believers reform it, from the inside out. Rather, I think that by pulling the gloves off and by being honest, forceful and unremitting in their critiques of Islam as an ideology, Harris and Co. have left the door open for certain individuals on the left to move the conversation far afield out into some kind of strange mixture of liberalism and outright bigotry and xenophobia. Harris, Dawkins, Maher and others aren’t Islamophobes simply because they criticize the religion of millions of Muslims. If that were the case, we must also dismiss them as Christophobes and Judeophobes, and that’s positively absurd.
We have overused the word, “Islamophobe,” to such an extent that it barely carries any meaning anymore, so let me bring that word back down to reality. There is true anti-Muslim bigotry out there, and it doesn’t just come from the right. If regressives like Glenn Greenwald and Reza Aslan are apologists for Islam and are overtly tolerant of dangerous ideologies apparently just for the sake of political correctness, the anti-regressives, residing somewhere on the other side of the liberal dial, eschew political correctness altogether, and indeed, common decency, and take the opportunity to bury the better angels of their nature so that true intolerance can boil to the surface.
Take the following actual comments from people responding to AiU’s video, which was intended for fellow, self-proclaimed liberals:
KillerInstinct69 21 hours ago
I’m glad my state refused Syrian refugees. Conservatives are pretty much right when it comes to Islam in general…
InvokerLongQua 2 weeks ago
What a fucking shame.
You guys should browse r/atheism to see more of this filths ilk.
If it ain’t Christianity, religion apparently has a place in this world. (ISLAM of course).
Am I in a fucking bizzaro world? I am seriously just going to vote Trump this year. If nobody has the balls to call out the Muslim threat, then Trump is the only candidate I will vote for.
Adam Aston 3 weeks ago
perhaps he (Lawrence Krauss) should have taken a trip from Phoenix to Cologne Train station on New years Eve – I wonder what he’d think when he actually got to see some real life Muslims whilst 1000 of them were on thier robbing /molesting /raping spree of which they targeted only German women. (takes balls to rob a man you see). I used to highly respect Krauss but you can’t just criticise Islam and not it’s adherents. I would love to hear his opinions also if he came and lived where I do for a few months,lol . My Mrs can’t walk to the shop by herself at night for Pervy gangs of Muslim youth. …
The Dance Of Victory 3 weeks ago
(In response to the above comment) That sounds awful. Not sure where you live (assuming somewhere in the UK) but damn. I’d get the hell out of there. These Rapeugees all need rounding up and shot.
Adam Aston 3 weeks ago
Have to say I was doubtful when I watched him (Krauss) speak to Noam Chomsky on some YT vid. I thought he was gonna drop to his knees as suck him off right there on the stage. uggh shrivelled old regressive cock – what a vision.
MarketingDan 3 weeks ago
(testing new name – formerly 30 Day TYT Detox) Still his book A Universe From Nothing was brilliant – he should stick to what he’s good at. By throwing out his academic credentials like that on a subject he has no expertise in is very dishonest. He extends other scientist that respect – by admitting he has no expertise in other areas than his own. I Saw him in a conversion with Richard Dawkins a while back in Sydney – Great respect for the man, he’s achieved more than most ever will in his career at least. Sad day all the same.
This last one may not be questionable on the surface, but he seems to agree with most of AiU’s video, which most certainly is questionable.
A few more:
Callum Pearce (Britishgamer666) 3 weeks ago
+Ryan Floch Secular muslims? Oh, you mean the “HEY, LOOOK AT US! THE FEW MUSLIMS WHO SAY WE’RE MUSLIM AND ARE OKAY WITH OTHER RELIGIONS, BUT FUCK THE GAYS! ALSO, JEWS ARE BAD!” Those aren’t Muslims. Muslims have to follow the Quran to be Muslim. So that means killing non-believers, killing apostates, killing gays, converting, raping, forced marriage and children marriage. It’s happening in front of your eyes.+Proboscis the support for terrorism in the muslim world is around 10% according to any poll, so 100s millions will be correct, i don’t see how you being a fighter in the army gives you a better way to evaluate those numbers.
“they”, 100s of millions of muslims, are definitely “bad”, and not just because of the terrorism, that is a minor issue, what troubles me most is the support for sharia which exceeds 50% of muslims, that includes support for killing apostates, stoning adulterers etc…
if you are not against that then you are intellectually bankrupt.
pwnsauce319 3 weeks ago
If you want to be very picky, you’ll get Islamic based violence on a significant scale in any city with Muslims. Not all of it is terrorism obviously. Some is honor killings, spousal abuse, and other manifestations of Islam. Of course you’ll have violence anywhere Buddhists or Christians or any people live, but that violence isn’t inspired by religion. Most violence committed by Muslims is inspired by Islam.
Goshawk 3 weeks ago
+Lazarus You lost everyone with a semblance of intelligence when you said: “To be honest Chompsky (sic) has a point”. Saying we helped create ISIS is like saying we (UK,US and France) created Naziism. It’s pure, self hating, Chompskyist (sic) regressivism. Muslims have been on the warpath for decades. They’re doing their murderous stuff worldwide. They don’t need to be triggered by us. They’re at it in Africa(many countries), India, Lebanon, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines etc In fact, to find which states have Islamic terrorism just list the states that have substantial muslim populations. They’re at it everywhere. Go on – dig for the proof that we caused it all. It’s all our fault. Chomsky will have an explanation. You stupid, regressive twat.
Nevermind the people who seem confused about what “regressivism” means in the first place, these are folks who, in many cases, are familiar with the work of both Chomsky and Krauss and who either agreed with AiU’s assessment about Muslims or made an effort to reiterate some of his more outlandlish points. And in some of the more extreme cases, they even agreed that Donald Trump had some good ideas about how to deal with refugees seeking asylum in the United States.
I certainly don’t have time to sift through hundreds more posts tonight, but I dare say one could find similar sentiments, if not worse, over at Reddit. Again, I am and have been as tough on Islam, and the other monotheistic religions, as anyone, but the comments above show that people who are watching videos intended for left-wing viewers seem to have crossed over into what I am calling anti-regressivism, that is, using legit criticisms of Islam as an ideology — and using the unfiltered frontier that is the Internet — as a liberal license to run down Muslims or Muslim-majority communities, which is obviously a problematic overreach, counterproductive and childish.