Some day someone will try and make sense of why, currently, the person of Richard Dawkins attracts so much vitriol. It's not just the religious right either, which you'd expect: it's almost worse from the liberal left. And, in my experience at any rate, it's not just online. Mention Dawkins in any social setting and inevitably the majority, to almost near unanimity, will be tripping over themselves to express their hatred of the man. Very likely someone will explain to you, with the air of voicing an opinion of startling originality, that militant atheism is just as bad as militant religion, or that really - don't you see? - atheism is itself like a religion. I've learnt to avoid the subject.
Well, Nick Cohen's made a start. This is an excellent piece:
Dawkins is the sluggish pundit’s dream. It does not matter which paper you work for. Editors of all political persuasions and none will take an attack on Darwin’s representative on earth. With the predictability of the speaking clock, Owen Jones, the Peter Hitchens of the left, thinks the same as Craig Brown, Private Eye’s high Tory satirist. Tom Chivers, the Telegraph’s science blogger, says the same as Andrew Brown, the Guardian’s religious affairs correspondent. The BBC refuses to run contrary views. It assures the nation that ‘militant’ atheism is as fanatical as militant religion — despite the fact that no admirer of The God Delusion has ever planted a bomb, or called for the murder of homosexuals, Jews and apostates.
Sharp operators could sell the same piece a dozen times without changing a word. Read the papers, and you will suspect that is exactly what sharp operators have done.
Cultural conservatives have always hated Dawkins for challenging traditional Christian beliefs. The liberal-left is fine with knocking Christianity, but it hates Dawkins for being intellectually consistent and tweeting — yes, that’s right, tweeting — against Islam too...
One day there will be a reckoning. One day, thousands who have suffered genital mutilation, religious threats and forced marriages will turn to the intellectual and political establishments of our day and ask why they did not protect them. The pathetic and discreditable reply can only be: ‘We were too busy fighting Richard Dawkins to offer you any support at all.’