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2 seat interview: Bill Maher and Pres. Jimmy Carter- Founder, The Carter Center, Author, "A Call To Action" ; Panel left to right: W. Kamau Bell - Comedian,; Neera Tanden - President, Center for American Progress; Rick Lazio - Fmr. CongressIn his Nobel lecture on Dec. 11, 1950, British logician and philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.” Noble motives, he added, deserve our inquiry, for they’re often but façades.

The revival in recent months of public appraisals of Islam has thrown this type of charade into sharp relief. The Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas, organized by the brassy anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, was billed as an honorable exercise of free speech. When police killed two would-be Muslim ambushers, though, even her fellow right-of-center travelers questioned her intentions. With few exceptions, the mainstream media did too. Geller’s obsessive bellicosity toward Islam made her First Amendment shtick appear rather one-dimensional.

On the whole, flamethrowers like Geller bear negligible influence. They crawl out of the bowels of the Internet, set things on fire, and then ebb back into nonexistence. They’re not so much movers and shakers as they are nuisances whose rhetoric about Muslims, while popular among dwellers of their dark online world, raises the eyebrows of others who find its content and delivery fantastically jarring.

More worrisome when it comes to Islam are those whose brand of prejudice is of a milder variety. A popular cadre of feminists is one such group. Their personal stories of trauma to triumph, and their overtures of liberalism and reform have captivated Western audiences over the past decade. Yet dampened as it is beneath the acoustic theme songs of public radio programs or the applause lines of late-night talk show audiences, their message is virtually identical to that of their more strident colleagues: Islam is a uniquely problematic religion and Muslims worldwide must embrace the ideals of the West to drag it out of its deep and dreadful slumber.

In recent weeks and months they’ve reemerged, harnessing violent flashpoints from groups like ISIS as an occasion to lament once more the everlasting failure of Muslims to measure up to American and European values.

Read more at Salon.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Keane/Mohanned Faisal

Credit: Reuters/Chris Keane/Mohanned Faisal

Richard Dawkins is at it again. And by “it,” I mean simple-minded anti-Muslim Twitter trolling. On Thursday, the professor and provocateur raised eyebrows when he wrote that, “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

You could almost hear the 72-year-old biologist exhale a sigh of pity as he fired off the Tweet. Oh, those poor Muslims. How great they once were!  Now, well, not so much. “A simple statement of fact is not bigotry,” he added.

Yes, the truth is that Muslims have received fewer Nobel Prizes than the sophisticated academic specialists at Trinity. But who in the hell cares apart from people like Dawkins who hope either to embarrass or discredit the faith group by pointing out such arbitrary things? Continue Reading…

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning/Facebook/Shannon Stapleton

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning/Facebook/Shannon Stapleton

Richard Dawkins, the preppy septuagenarian and professional atheist whose work in the field of evolutionary biology informs his godless worldview, has always been a prickly fellow. The British scientist and former Oxford University professor has expended considerable ink and precious breath rationalizing away the possibility of cosmic forces and explaining in scientific terms why those who believe in a divine creator are, well, stupid. Continue Reading…