The Rise of the Regressives.


If there is one thing we political bloggers can say is true of this year, it is that 2015 was the year the regressives took centre stage and let us all know that they’re here to confuse liberal principles, to distort, and to manipulate for some time to come.

Back in March Max Blumenthal wrote a largely discredited piece filled with distortions about the life of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Take for example this paragraph:

“In Heretic, a polemic recycling many of her past arguments against Islam, she calls for the emergence of a Muslim Martin Luther — the authoritarian 16th-century zealot who called for burning down the synagogues of Jews, whom he compared to a gangrenous disease.”

– We might here be tempted to play the illiberal ‘liberal’ game, and refer to Blumenthal as Lutheranophobic for his critique of Martin Luther. But putting aside the silly tactics that those seeking to silence critique of Islam play, you’ll perhaps note here the big manipulation in the paragraph. Hirsi Ali is not at all suggesting that Islam needs a Medieval authoritarian willing to burn down Jewish temples. Hamas already exists. Blumenthal purposely recast the point to focus on Luther’s character, when in fact, Hirsi Ali is actually suggesting that Islam needs a reformation, that opens it up far more to individual critique, that it is too dogmatic as it is, too unable to progress with the rest of the World. A critique that is either disliked, discouraged, or punished in much of the Islamic World, and dismissed as ‘Islamophobia’ in the Western World. The character of Martin Luther is irrelevant to that discussion.

A few months later, after his absurd article was dismissed for the distorted nonsense that it was, Blumenthal decided to try the same tactic again:

Blumenthal1
Of course, this is not what Ayaan did at all. She critical of the patriarchal symbolism, and the reality facing millions of people across the World because of that symbol. Blumenthal – like all illiberals, happily abandons those fighting to break down oppressive barriers, to carry on his angry grudge against something he and the regressives hate the most; a woman, a woman of colour, a woman of colour who happens to come from a very conservative Islamic background and is an outspoken critic. He cannot help himself. But it’s not even subtle manipulations, and so it’s easily discredited.

Back in June, Nathan Lean – now with Tell MAMA – criticised a book by Maajid Nawaz and Sam Harris, in exceptionally racist tones:

lean2
Whilst the rest of us see a collaboration between Nawaz and Harris as two people having a conversation and sharing thoughts, Lean sees the book as a white supremacist, and his non-white ‘validator‘. Note the set-up is that the white man, is the one leading, thus denying the brown-skinned Muslim man an independent thought. Why not argue that Sam Harris is the ‘validator‘ to Maajid Nawaz? This is the racism inherent to trying to silence criticism of one idea, by falsely linking criticism to ethnicity, and then desperately clinging to it when it’s quite clearly false. You end up boxing thoughts and ideas into very specific groups by skin tone, and then you have to try to justify it when it’s clear that it isn’t true. Which of course, makes your case even worse.

Speaking of those seeking to dismiss the thoughts of all those who aren’t white, CJ Werleman took to social media yesterday, to accuse a 7 year old Richard Dawkins of  loving”colonialism“:

Werleman1
To the average reader, Richard Dawkins is actually remembering how happy he was as a child. I was pretty happy as a child too, despite the war in the Falklands. To CJ Werleman, 7 year old Dawkins was actually a young white supremacist, expressing his delight at colonialism.

This bizarre attack from Werleman comes a few days after his usual racist bigotry, in which he strips anyone who isn’t white and doesn’t fit into his neat little white-supremacist narrative, of their ability to think for themselves. Of Canadian writer and physician Ali Rizvi – an incredibly intelligent man with a Masters Degree in BioChemistry – Werleman quite hideously wrote:

Werleman2
Take that in for a second. If you do not fit into CJ Werleman’s regressive narrative, if you are not white and you are critical of illiberal religious practices and ideas, Werleman will strip you of your individual faculties, your intellectual achievements, and dismiss you as a “white masked water carrier for empire“. It couldn’t be more racist if it tried.

Beyond racism and anger at a 7 year old, Werleman then jumped on an unsubstantiated allegation that Ex-Muslims of North America were encouraged not to criticise Sam Harris after he donated to them. EMNA completely deny the allegation, but Werleman treated it as if absolute fact. He responded:

Werleman3

Quite. Which is why it’s perhaps important to remember that CJ Werleman currently writes for ‘Middle East Eye’. According to Company Check, the sole director of M.E.E LTD is Jamal Bessasso. I might be incorrect here, but it would seem that Bessasso is the same Bessasso who is the former director of Samalink TV, which happens to be the  registered agent for Hamas’ Al Quds TV’s website. Feel free to search how many times Werleman is critical of Israel, and how many times he’s critical of Hamas. The imbalance might force you to agree with his statement that you lose ‘agency‘ when you work for an ‘agent‘. Werleman at this point, disagrees with himself:

Werleman4He has ‘no idea‘ that the named sole director might have links to Al Quds TV. So to summarise, Ali Rizvi loses his agency to whomever he writes for. Werleman – the white man in this – doesn’t. But it’s the ‘New Atheists‘ who are racists. Of course.

Werleman isn’t the only one. Glenn Greenwald has become so regressive in 2015, there is a striking new verb making its way into 2016:

Greenwald1

Greenwald wasted no time …… Greenwalding ….. Richard Dawkins in the past few days. You see, Richard Dawkins attended the Royal Society meeting launching a brand new Stephen Hawking Prize for Science Communication. At that meeting, Dawkins agreed to leave the conference, to answer questions on the prize, on condition that it wouldn’t be questions on religion. Immediately, a journalist from the New Statesman began questioning him on religion. Dawkins left the questioning after the journalist admitted to believing in flying horses. A journalist trying to question a scientist, at a science event, after agreeing to talk about science, hitting with questions on religion. I would have ended the questioning too. It wasn’t the purpose of the questioning or the conference. Of course, this was the perfect opportunity for Greenwald to completely invent what actually happened:

Greenwald2
A wonderful manipulation. The top tweet implies that Richard Dawkins has ‘announced‘ that all Muslim journalists are banned from interviewing him. Interestingly, Greenwald didn’t seem too concerned when Richard Dawkins did announce that he would no longer debate young earth creationists. I guess that’s just fine.

The bottom tweet implies that Richard Dawkins ‘terminated‘ an interview ‘on the grounds someone‘ was a Muslim. If that Muslim journalist was asking about the prize they were there to actually discuss, I’m quite certain that Richard Dawkins would not have refused to answer. Both times, Greenwald has knowingly distorted the facts for the sake of his own, massively manipulative narrative.

Ryan Kearney, lowered the intellectual tone of the New Republic by sharing Greenwald’s criticisms and ALMOST coming to the fact of the matter itself:

“I happen to share Dawkins’s opinion of religion generally, and of winged horses specifically. What’s truly pathetic, though, is his excuse for walking out on Ahmed. Dawkins has debatedcreationists, cardinals, and rabbis, but he refuses to be interviewed by a journalist who also happens to be a devout Muslim?

His reasoning, as has become increasingly true of late, doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. After all, Dawkins has submitted to such an interview before, in which the journalist likewise admits to believing that Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse.”

Leaving aside that Dawkins no longer debates creationists (something Kearney fails to mention), he didn’t ‘refuse‘ to be interviewed. He simply wasn’t there to discuss religion. I’m not open to discussing religion when I’m in a supermarket buying my weekly shop, it doesn’t mean I hate Muslims. The implication that Kearney tries to draw is bizarre, given that he then goes on to accept that Dawkins does debate Muslims, when he debated Mehdi Hasan. On a side note, Hasan once referred to Atheists as a “people of no intelligence“, called us “cattle” and that we live “like animals“. If Dawkins had said that of Muslims, I suspect Kearney and the regressives like him, would have exploded in rage.

If we could say that 2015 was the year we saw the rise of the regressives, one can only hope that as their clear distortions become highlighted more and more, 2016 will witness their fall into irrelevance, leaving the arguments for liberalism to come from the actual liberals.

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18 Responses to The Rise of the Regressives.

  1. tildeb says:

    I think these are early days for those Maajid Nawaz calls the ‘regressive Left’ and I predict this movement especially among younger people duped into exercising it – especially on campuses – under the guise of promoting safety, tolerance, and respect – will solidify into a dangerous yet significant minority that will continue to promote and support policies of liberal-approved fascism against their natural allies to make room and acceptance for the intolerable.

  2. Ajit Bains says:

    The guy to really blame for trying to make Dawkins look like a sentimental colonialist is John Gray. He wrote the article that CJ pictured in his tweet and obviously we can’t expect CJ to quote check.

    John Gray hates the new atheists because he is anti enlightenment and doesn’t believe in moral progress. He thinks that liberalism and humanism are religions. Steven Pinker (author of the monumental The Better Angels of our Nature) embarrassed Gray earlier in the year and I suspect this hatchet job is some sort of revenge.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/20/wars-john-gray-conflict-peace

  3. ALe says:

    Clever on Maxie for snarking about Martin Luther. Well, he’s right you know, Martin Luther was a pretty terrible dude. But let’s be honest here, Martin Luther as a model for reform is still a HUGE fucking improvement over the “prophet” Mohamed, who could also be described as an authoritarian and zealous hater of Jews, along with being a warmongering, slave-hoarding, raping pedophile and a few other adjectives that don’t describe Martin Luther.

  4. Ben says:

    You are simply repeating Dawkins’ version for which there’s no independent evidence, apparently taking his word as gospel while using this to accuse others of dishonesty? Petitio principii. Also, he came up with this AFTER Greenwald made his comments, which were fair enough based on the available information – that Dawkins broke up an interview with a Muslim because he believed in the flying horse story.

  5. […] For more on reformers and regressives, check out: Who’s Who in Islam Muslim Group Calls Out PC Culture for Being too Afraid to Take Down Islamic Extremism The Regressive Shuffle – Connor McKenna 2015 – Rise of the Regressive […]

  6. TheMan says:

    Ben, you’re hypothesis is that Dawkins is lying about the real reason he stopped the interview. You have no evidence of a lie. Neither does Greenwald. Greenwald’s original interpretation would only be fair IF you didn’t know Dawkins does not engage with literalists and creationists of any stripe. Greenwald is in fact relying on his followers to have low information on Dawkins to draw a conclusion: Dawkins is a racist. Sorry but no. Greenwald jumped the gun with little info AT BEST. Not the first time either, he had to reluctantly back track an accusation against Sam Harris because he took PZ Myers at his word that Sam Harris thinks people that “look like Seinfeld” should not be frisked at airports when in fact he said “Seinfeld the world famous comedian” should not be frisked. Again Greenwad was blinded by some weird bias against “New Atheist” and jumped to a conclusion based on low or faulty info. This is starting to become a pattern.

  7. TheMan says:

    “your” I mean, sorry.

  8. Garth says:

    I’m optimistic that this is the year when the regressives finally lose their argument once and for all. Why? Because they are so obviously wrong and or lying about religion, Islam, new atheists, etc. Their arguments can not possibly be taken seriously for very much longer. I believe that most liberals are too smart to be fooled by these idiots for very much longer. Liberals are good hearted people and good hearted people are easily manipulated by demagogues.

  9. Nicolai says:

    “Not all regressives..” 😉

  10. Stu says:

    Regressive lefties need a one-way ticket to the Islamic State. They are Islam’s useful idiots.

  11. […] Richard Dawkins was 7 years old when living in Kenya. As noted over on Futile Democracy: […]

  12. Gary says:

    @Ben

    We need independent evidence for people’s accounts of their own intentions and behaviour now?

    I’d love to take that seriously but I don’t have any independent evidence that you actually think it. So I’ll just assume it’s a pretext for something evil.

  13. erichyland says:

    I would also like to note that after Richard Dawkins posted his side of the story, I tweeted (https://twitter.com/EricHyland/status/681950541241430016) to Emad Ahmed (the journalist who interviewed Dawkins), asking him if he would refute Dawkins’ account. Emad proceeded to just block me. Things are not looking good for team greenwald.

  14. Lamia says:

    Very good article.

    Greenwald has a habit of jumping into arguments only partly (if at all) informed. Naturally he put himself forward as some sort of expert commentator on whether Charlie Hebdo was satirical or racist, and yet this is man who cannot understand, let alone speak, French.

    Greenwald is a seasoned bullshitter of limited knowledge who has just the parochial US-centric mindset he ascribes to his opponents. He is a Cliff’s Notes ‘expert’ – and he doesn’t even always read the Cliff’s Notes carefully.

  15. Perhaps it was my own recent arrival at a pragmatic pluralism that seemed to move the argument along? Personally, I mean. Initially my response to calls (and accusations) of islamophobia and the like was to rail against such guillotine’s and broaden my position to cover not just Islam but all religions.

    Yet throughout 2015 I’ve found myself pre-empting these stifling accusations by insisting upon the lefts support for Muslims. Muslims that we can put names to as both individuals and organisations. Reformist Muslims; gay Muslims; trans Muslims, feminist Muslims; Muslim bloggers; Muslim writers; Muslims journalists; refugee Muslims; ex-muslims; Muslims who decide to be apostates; Muslims against FGM; Muslims who demand education for girls; Muslims in the jails of tyrants, and Muslims whose lives and livelihoods are destroyed by the tyranny of ideas that bear no reason. It is these Muslims that demand our support and our respect. Not their apologists, abusers, oppressors and killers.

    I’m unsure as to why I have adopted this strategy? Is it because these very Muslims are becoming more apparent? Or is it the rise of the so called regressive left forcing me to adapt?

    Either way, I’m somewhat happier at the outcome of such discussions. Happier still, to continue my support and respect throughout 2016.

    Anvil.

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