I found this blog post by Stephen Fry fascinating and well done. I’m going to reproduce some sections of it here, but do read the whole thing:
There was a right old Twitter barney last week. It started with me defending Richard Dawkins –– always a difficult thing to do since he seems to be everyone’s least favourite atheist. Even atheists often express the wish that he’d “tone it down a bit”.
The usual hail of insults at Richard (and some at me) came down from the holier side of the twittersphere, followed by the inevitable “Ah, but Dawkins and you and your type never dare attack Islam, do you?”…
Anyway, I made the fundamental mistake of tweeting (just to show I wasn’t the coward they assumed I was) that of course I was against those Muslims who slaughtered, bombed and treated women in such charming ways.
Now the entire seesaw tilted and I was bombarded with tweets saying mostly stuff like”:-
“Disappointed that you are an Islamophobe, Stephen. Thought better of you.”
Sometimes it’s just a reflex tweet from someone who hasn’t put any thought into it, on other occasions the tweet claims that my saying a single word against any kind of Muslim is Islamophobia of the kind that feeds the vilely racist bigots of the EDL and BNP.
The squeezed liberal finds himself in the position that he cannot criticise Islamofascism because it’s somehow “racist” (although Islam encompasses many many races) or because it encourages acts of violence against innocent law-abiding honourable Muslims, which I would never for a second endorse. It is a topsy-turvy smothering of debate and an Orwellian denial of free-speech to declare that speaking out against violence will cause violence. I’m all for insult, as it happens, as long as it’s funny. But I have no time for assault. Only a few letters’ difference, but the two are a world away…
Ah, but do I believe that all Muslims want to see my civilisation destroyed? That they are all bombers in the making? Of course I don’t.
The fact that I need to go through this absurd liberal court of inquisition in which I have to repeat these mantras is what, as Peter Griffin would say, really grinds my gears:
“I promise I do not think all Muslims are fanatics.”
“I go out of my way to smile at them when sitting opposite them on the tube.”
“I think it is terrible the way a whole community is distrusted because a fanatical few.”
This is the game we see played so often. Western New Atheists, largely facing a Christian-dominated culture, criticize that which is most prominent to them, to their lives. In defense and as a sort of sneaky red herring, some Christians will demand equal criticism be leveled at Islam. Or, at the least, the New Atheists will be taunted as cowardly for not saying something impolite about Mohammed. Of course, the moment we say anything, we’re verbally attacked for saying being “racist” (even though, as Fry points out, Islam is not a race) or Islamophobic. It’s all just a cute shell game: “You think violent, seemingly routine
riots protests are a bad thing?” Why, yes. “Look everyone! A racist!”
It’s all quite tiresome.
At any rate, I do highly recommend giving that blog post a few minutes of your time. Stephen Fry’s talent is impressively strong; I wish I had become familiar with his work earlier in life.