This windy polemic has to be one of the dumbest criticisms of “new atheism” that I have seen in a long time. The author likens the work of atheist writers in the wake of 9/11 to an atavistic endeavor with roots in “positivism.” (I’ve noticed that any time anyone tries to historicize atheism, they say profoundly stupid things. There is no need to contextualize the noises people make in the face of unreasonable and destructive ideas.)
The writer is presenting this syllogism:
1. Atheists like Sam Harris and Chris Hitchens rail against Islam.
2. President Bush and other Republican profiteers initiated a greed-driven war against Islamic nations.
3. Therefore, Hitchens and Harris are part of the Republican money-and-power machine.
I am not kidding. The author says it clearly:
The New Atheists did not bother with such nuance. Hitchens and Harris, in particular, wasted no time enlisting in Bush’s crusade, which made
their critique of religion selective. It may have targeted Christianity and occasionally Judaism, but hatred and fear of Islam was its animating force. Despite their disdain for public piety, the New Atheists provided little in their critique to disturb the architects and proselytizers of American empire: indeed, Hitchens and Harris asserted a fervent rationale for it. Since 9/11, both men have made careers of posing as heroic outsiders while serving the interests of the powerful.
I’m wondering just how far to the left someone has to be to view Sam Harris as a political conservative. Next on tap: the revelation that because I was an active-duty Army officer on a base in Texas, I’m actually a hyper-religious wingnut warmonger hiding behind a veil of New Positivist Neo-Decadarwinistic Naturalosophy.