A constant theme that runs through the thought processes of the regressives – as I’ve noted several times – is racism. Their often excitable attempts to claim ‘New Atheists’ as white supremacists with colonial ambitions, is swiftly dealt with by pointing to numerous non-white, non-western atheists who seem to fit the neat little ‘New Atheist’ box. When those non-white, non-western atheists are mentioned, the humble thing to do would be to back down and re-evaluate your narrative. The regressive response has been to engage in unbelievable irony.
They tend to describe those non-white atheists or liberal Muslims using exceptionally racist language. Whether it be Nathan Lean referring to Maajid Nawaz as a ‘lapdog‘ for Sam Harris, or CJ Werleman referring to Ali Rizvi as ‘brown faced white mask water carrier for empire’, it is a desperate attempt to salvage a failed narrative – failed, because those critical of Islamic doctrines are from across the World, failed because liberal, secular principles and values are not ‘Western‘ nor have they been framed by white people only – and in the meantime it strips non-white folks of their individual faculties of reason. It tells us that anyone with darker skin, who does not share CJ Werleman’s ‘white supremacist’ narrative, is simply a pawn used by far more intelligent white folks who have manipulated the poor ‘brown faces’ into doing their bidding. Ironic, because it is this that happens to be deeply white supremacist in principle, and deeply colonial. Ideas are given a skin tone, and incredibly intelligent people, with their own memories, stories, thoughts, ideas, are simply reduced to the shade of their skin.
I’ve said all of that before (see my article on the racist bigotry inherent in CJ’s rhetoric, and my article on Nathan Lean’s dismissal of Maajid Nawaz on account of the apparent supremacy of Sam Harris’ skin tone) and tried to highlight the inherent racism to the regressive left’s failed narrative, but today a regressive on Twitter highlighted my point perfectly during a predictable rant over my previous article in which I criticised his hero, CJ Werleman, and so I figure it is always worth pointing out the hideous bigotry to their arguments.
For a bit of clarity before we go into the inherent racism that permeates his – and the regressive left in general’s – arguments, here is who we’re dealing with:
– After referring to me as an ‘apologist for empire’, I responded. A quick side note, the regressives over the past year have succeeded in misrepresenting and distorting the points raised by others. Glenn Greenwald did this over the past week with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris faces it daily, and you’ll never fail to see one of them refer to Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a huge fan of Anders Breivik. Regular readers of Stephen Knight’s The Godless Spellchecker blog, will already be aware of him, after GSpellchecker masterfully responded to previous distortions from Spooner. So it wont surprise you to see that when I responded by saying I value liberal, secular, principles ‘Johnny Spooner’ seems to have heard ‘I really love drone strikes on children’. This is who we’re dealing with.
I wanted to know what he considered to be oppressive, and whether the language CJ Werleman had used to describe Ayaan Hirsi Ali – “brown faced white mask” – was acceptable or oppressive, in its clear attempts to strip her of her own opinions and thoughts:
I would hope that for anyone considering themselves a liberal, racist language is racist language regardless of whether or not we agree with their views. With Ayaan, I disagree with her on occasions, and agree with her on others. At no point do I consider racial abuse and stripping her of her agency to be acceptable. Whether someone resides on the left, the right, or in the centre, racist language is unacceptable. For the regressive left, racist language is to be judged on a ‘case by case’ basis, which appears to mean, if an African woman does not agree with the regressive left perspective, they open themselves up to racist abuse, it’s their own fault. I think here, Spooner has unwittingly given us an insight into the mind of a regressive.
So you see, having been abused by an oppressive system in her native land, Ali now faces it from those who should not be compromising their support for her right to her own views even if those views are not identical to your own.
And then, having already displayed his racial prejudices, he decides that it’s not racist at all:
I’m not sure where anyone has ever suggested that it is ‘racist‘ to question the motives of anyone who sides with oppressors. I don’t find it ‘racist‘ for Jeremy Corbyn to side with Hamas every so often. I find it hideous, but not racist. But the phrase “brown face white masked” is language heaped in racism, and if you cannot criticise Ayaan’s arguments, without attacking her for the colour of her skin, you are not simply ‘criticising‘ her motives, you are a bigot.
And then he backtracked.
I suspect he may have become uncomfortable with his own argument, and rightly so. We have gone from defending the idea that African intellectuals who do not fit the regressive narrative are merely “white masked water carriers for empire” – a white supremacist empire, if you (like Spooner) are hooked on CJ’s bizarre narrative – to the much less racially charged, colourless term “conservative policy“. The goal posts have shifted all of a sudden. But here lies more stripping of agency. It automatically assumes ‘conservative policy’ to be a white thing. As if we should be surprised that ‘brown people’ might be conservatives too, coming to the conclusions they come to, all by themselves. What a wonder!
Spooner’s narrative – like CJ’s – is simple. First it was necessary to paint this new enemy – ‘New Atheists’ – as white supremacist, imperialist, Western colonialists simply for their often outspoken criticisms of Islamic dogma and the practical implications of that dogma. When it then becomes clear that critics of that kind are not all so simply boxed in as bigoted white men, and when in fact it includes liberal Muslims as well as atheists, well now they have a problem. They suddenly need to keep the absurd narrative alive, whilst also dealing with those who don’t fit it…. and thus racism is the only answer.
True liberals do not judge an argument by the skin tone, the sexuality, the gender, the belief of the one making the argument. We would consider it an absurdity to judge an argument based on the eye colour, or length of hair, or density of freckles on the arms of the one making the point, the same is true for any other human trait that does not correspond at all to the argument being made. We judge it on its merits, we encourage open debate on the topic, we support the right of all to come to their own conclusions, to inquire, to express, and to cultivate an individual perspective on the World free from the judging chains of racism, of sexism, of homophobia, or bigotry. These are values we expect to be granted to all, and we do not compromise on that, we do not let ideas off the hook regardless of where they come from, if those ideas are the complete opposite to our values. We do not sacrifice those values at the alter of cultural or religious relativism.
I’ve said it a million times before, because I am convinced that the narrative of the regressive left abandons those principles of liberalism and that it requires the embracing of racism, like humanity requires oxygen, in order to survive.