Eagleton, Amis and Dawkins

I’m saddened to see that Terry Eagleton faces the sack possibly because of his public argument with Martin Amis. Amis it appears made a rather nasty comment post 11th September:
“There’s a definite urge – don’t you have it? – to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.’ What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation – further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan.”

It was really quite stupid particularly considering the proportion of terrorists to non-terrorists is extremely large and the reality of racially or religiously motivated attacks on ordinary people increasing. When university professors justify state repression it gives it legitimacy. It also bolsters mob mentality, which is very dangerous in the current climate. Since 1999 the number of racist incidents has risen in Britain. In 1998/9 the figure stood at just over 22 000 by 1999/2000 it was over 47 000 and by 2005/6 the figure was over 60 000. The number of racially or religiously aggravated attacks rose by 12% from 2004/5 to 2005/6 according to Ministry of Justice figures.

Amis comment was irresponsible in the extreme. A society that tolerates prejudice has rejected cooperation. In the face of rising racism Eagleton’s rebuttal was necessary but possibly motivated by his own belief in Christianity. Prejudice and violence should not be tolerated but a fair and reasoned criticism of religious beliefs should be heralded as progressive – Eagleton fails to do this. His criticisms of Dawkins have not found their way into my favour. His claim that Dawkins has no right to comment on theology rankles – such elitism is reminiscent of times past and has no place in my world world. If you haven’t read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins go and get yourself a copy.

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