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The Blasphemy Police


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In 2010, the bestselling atheist Richard Dawkins, in the “On Faith” section of the Washington Post, called the pope “a leering old villain in a frock” perfectly suited to “the evil corrupt organization” and “child-raping institution” that is the Catholic Church. Nobody seemed to mind very much.

Three years later, in a throwaway Tweet, Professor Dawkins observed that “all the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.” This time round, the old provocateur managed to get a rise out of folks. Almost every London paper ran at least one story on the “controversy.” The Independent’s Owen Jones fumed, “How dare you dress your bigotry up as atheism. You are now beyond an embarrassment.” The best-selling author Caitlin Moran sneered, “It’s time someone turned Richard Dawkins off and then on again. Something’s gone weird.” The Daily Telegraph’s Tom Chivers beseeched him, “Please be quiet, Richard Dawkins, I’m begging.”


Contents
September 2, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 16

Articles
Features
  • Conservatives got Eisenhower wrong the first time around.
  • The frontier and its absence have both shaped the American imagination.
  • Economic growth won’t guarantee it.
Books, Arts & Manners
  • John Farrell reviews Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, by Stephen C. Meyer.
  • David Pryce-Jones reviews Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Scott Anderson.
  • Sarah Ruden reviews The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari, by Paul Theroux.
  • Randy Boyagoda reviews The Dark Road, by Ma Jian.
  • Ross Douthat reviews Elysium.
Sections
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .