Posts Tagged ‘Maine’

Richard Dawkins Stripped of Atheist Award for Questioning the Trans Ideology

May 5, 2021

This story was over a number of right-wing and gender critical websites last week, and it’s interesting as it shows the comparative power of the trans rights lobby against both organised religion and one of atheism’s fiercest polemicists. Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist and anti-theist activist, was stripped of his Humanist of the Year Award because he’d posted a comment on Twitter comparing trans people to Rachel Dolezal.

Dolezal had been kicked out of the White chapter of NAACP – the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People – because she’d declared she considered herself ‘transracial’. Although White, she identified as Black. This obviously left many people very offended, and so she was expelled. Dawkins followed this with the comment ‘Now we have men identifying as women and women identifying as men. Discuss.’ As commenters like Graham Linehan and Sargon’s and his fellow Lotus Eaters said, it’s a very mild criticism, couched as an invitation for discussion. And indeed Dawkins tried to excuse it as just that – an invitation to discuss the issue. But it was enough to bring down on him the wrath of the trans rights activists and their supporters in the various atheist and sceptic groups. American Atheists accused him of minimising the persecution of marginalised groups, and the British Humanist Society stripped him of his Humanist of the Year Award, which he’d been given in 1996. Dawkins then made an apology, saying that he had no wish to minimise the suffering of trans people, and did not want to ally himself with ‘Republican bigots’.

This is the man, who has a deep, bitter hatred of organised religion and its supporters. Dawkins is the author of the God Delusion, which was published with the explicit aim of destroying people’s belief in the Almighty and converting them to atheism. He was the leader of the ‘New Atheists’, who were notorious for their bitter invective. Dawkins has described raising a child as a member of a particular religion as ‘child abuse’ and called religious people ‘faithheads’. He has also been accused of islamophobia because of comments he has made about that religion’s traditional attitude towards women and the practice among many Muslims of Female Genital Mutilation. HIs attitude towards religion is so bitter and intolerant, that it has actually alienated many more traditional, tolerant atheists. See for example Kim Sterelny’s foreword for his book, Darwin Wars, about the feud between Dawkins and the late Stephen Jay Gould over their differing interpretations of Darwinian evolution. But Dawkins has carried on undaunted with the same bitter polemic. But when faced with attacks for simply questioning trans ideology, he automatically caved in.

This shows the comparative power of organised religion compared to the trans rights lobby, at least within the sphere of progressive politics. Critics of the ideology have described how the trans lobby has captured a plethora of organisations, including the gay rights organisation Stonewall, various, mostly left-wing political parties and have advised organisations like the police and feminist organisations. The only political parties resisting them are those of the conservative right, which explains why Dawkins didn’t want to be seen supporting the Republicans. The problem is, however, that there is a feminist dimension to Republican opposition to trans rights, and that Dawkins asked a perfectly reasonable question.

Sargon of Gasbag and the Lotus Eaters made a video about this last week, pointing out that the academic magazine Hypatia had published an article defending trans-racialism. Hypatia describes itself as a journal of feminist philosophy. It had asked why it should be acceptable for people of one sex to identify as members of the other, but not people of one race to identify as members of a different ethnic group. Historically, there have been other Whites, whose admiration of Black America and its culture has led them to try to live as much as possible as Blacks. Years ago in the 1940s, I believe, one man went so far as to paint himself with melanin in order to live as a Black man. He then published a book about his experiences with the deliberate intention of challenging racism and bringing Whites and Blacks together. The Hypatia article stated that the arguments for transgenderism and trans-racialism are exactly the same, and there is no logical reason why one should be acceptable and the other not.

One of the objections to the transgender movement is the feminist concern that it will disadvantage natural, born women in sports. On average, men are stronger and more powerful than women. Hence there is the entirely justifiable fear that if biological men and boys are allowed to compete in female sports it will put biological females at a disadvantage. Natural women are at risk of being pushed out of their own sports. This has implications for university careers, as it means that sports scholarships to universities will go to transwomen rather than natural women. Hence Republican politicians in Maine and New Hampshire have put forward a bill banning biological men competing as women in women’s sports as a deliberate defence of the latter.

These are issues that at the very least need to be discussed calmly and logically, without accusations of bigotry and persecution. In my opinion, those attacking the trans ideology are right and are actually on the side of traditional feminism, and no amount of abuse will change this.

For all his deeply unpleasant intolerance towards religion, Dawkins was perfectly right in wanting it discussed.

Here’s the Lotus Eater’s video on the issue.

Here’s Black American feminist Karen Davies on the bill in Maine to protect women’s sports.

The Young Turks on Trump’s Supporters Pledge of Allegiance

March 8, 2016

In this piece from The Young Turks, John Iadarola, Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss Trump making his supporters swear an oath with their raised right hands, to vote for him. For Uygur, this is a step too far, and Trump may well, in his mixed metaphor, ‘have jumped the shark in the dirty pool’.

John Iadarola begins by describing this weird ceremony, and the unease it has provoked amongst the journalists and media observers, who witnessed it. The clip includes footage of Trump getting the crowd to swear the oath to vote for him, ‘Come whatever’. He admits that he was inclined to dismiss the concerns as exaggerated, until you saw what it looked like from behind the crowd. Abe Foxman, the former director of the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish organisation which tackles anti-Semitism, and which has also spoken out against anti-Muslim sentiment in the US, pointedly described how disgusted he was as a holocaust survivor at seeing a supposedly mainstream politician, not a member of the far right or Neo-Nazi organisations, going through this ritual with its overtones of the Nazi salute.

Ana Kasparian, on the other hand, thought this was rather too harsh, and while it was strange, it didn’t have the Neo-Nazi connotations that the others considered it had. Trump’s organisation have also posted pictures of other political rallies where the crowd had also raised their right hands. The Turks joked that Sanders’ supporters did so, though in their case it wasn’t because they were swearing allegiance, but because they were also recording the event.

Uygur came to a compromise conclusion. He thought it may have started off as a kind of joke, and may not have originally had the Fascist connotations. But After the denunciation by Foxman and others, he was certainly now aware how it looked. And he had gone on to do the same at a rally in Concord, South Carolina. Uygur believed that the crowd was largely unaware how it looked, because to call Republican supporters ‘low information’ was an understatement. But Trump knew, and was deliberate using the gesture’s Nazi overtones to garner more media attention. It was like his flirtation with the far right in general. He courts it, to get voters from that direction, and then pulls back and denounces it. Then does it again. And it was disturbing to see this ritual at Orlando, with one of the people in the crowd wearing a suit decorated to resemble a wall and the slogan ‘Mexico will pay’. Trump was, Uygur said, dipping his toe in the dirty pool.

But he also felt that this time, Trump had gone too far, and ‘jumped the shark’. People were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the gesture, so much so that even Republicans were becoming concerned in case others thought that they were racist for supporting him. And there is indication that it is harming Trump. He was expected to win Maine. He didn’t. He lost. He managed to gain two other states, but won them with a much lower majority than was expected. Republicans were increasingly giving their vote to Ted Cruz instead.

Now I hope this is true, although in some areas there’s little difference between them. Both are right-wing Republicans with a very strong suspicion of Islam. And while Donald Trump has made noises about banning Muslims from the US, Cruz has actually been putting bills through Congress to cut down on Islamic immigration. So in some ways there isn’t much to choose between the two. But of the two, Cruz is probably the saner, safer alternative. He comes across at least as a little more restrained and rational than Trump, who has been denounced by Kyle Kulinski at Secular Talk as a ‘savage’ and a ‘demogogue’. I doubt very much that Trump would turn America into a full-blown Fascist state, but he’d certainly make it much more authoritarian and xenophobic. He should not be let anywhere near power, not least because of the precedent his antics are setting for the next right-wing demagogue.