Monday, September 21, 2015

The Ugly Neighbors: From #IStandWithAnn to Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins

I am not worried about racists and anti-Semites who sport Nazi avatars on Twitter. It's the smart and respected bigots like Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins - these are the ones who really bother me.

It just so happens that it's been an ugly ten days of racial/religious hatred in my feed. Started with this article about Russian Islamophobia. Then Ann Coulter tweeted "fucking Jews", I made a comment about it, and suddenly I experienced direct anti-Semitic vitriol for the first time in 25 years.
To be honest, the scum in #IStandWithAnn simply made me reflect on the fact that since leaving the USSR in 1989, no one has called me a kike. The vile hashtag led me to ask if there is an example of a liberal analog to Coulter - someone with over half a million Twitter followers, many of whom can erupt in a parade of racism and xenophobia (still looking, by the way).

But today, Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins took the hatred prize. Richard Dawkins asked if Ahmed actually wanted to get arrested and then attacked the 14-year-old for not truly "inventing" the clock. Meanwhile, Bill Maher essentially said that the reaction to Ahmed is reasonable because Muslims blow shit up.

Maher ended the segment saying that adults should have told Ahmed, "maybe one of the reasons why it happened to you is that in our religion we’re responsible for 9/11, the Madrid bombing, the London bombing, the Bali discotheque bombings, the Kenya mall bombings.” (see at 7:23 below)

My question to Maher - if my daughter is called a kike, do I have to tell her the following?
Maybe one of the reasons why it happened to you is that many Wall Street bankers responsible for the financial crisis are Jewish, and Bernie Madoff is a Jew, and in general, there are and were many Jews who are terrible people.

Ann Coulter is a fringe clown with a xenophobic hateful base. I don't care much about them. But many people that I respect listen to Dawkins and Maher. I see these people pausing and starting to question Ahmed, not realizing that the seeds of doubt are planted by smart bigots who can carefully craft their words so that the hate is almost masked. It's part of the "we listen to Nobel prize winners even when they are spewing nonsense" and I think the Nobel/Dawkins/Maher bigots do way more damage.

P.S. For those wondering, no, Richard Dawkins didn't just lose his mind. His mind is fine; it's just that he is a bigoted jerk. Examples here and here and below.

In fact, there is a special chart giving guidance for when to ignore Dawkins: