Dear Quincy and Laura,
I am writing to express my disappointment in KPFA's cancellation of the Richard Dawkins event. I have followed Dawkins' career for years, and have never known him to say anything hateful or bigoted. In fact, many such as myself view Dawkins as a secular thought leader and champion of liberal Western values. While it is true that his honest critiques of the Abrahamic religions may offend some, surely those taking offense are grown adults capable of debate in the public square, right? As Richard's late friend Christopher Hitchens once said, "I've been told 'that's offensive' as if those two words constitute an argument or a comment. They don't."
Richard Dawkins, in his criticisms of Islam and all other religions, rightly makes it clear to attack ideas and not individuals. A growing point of confusion among the modern American Left is this idea that it is bigoted and racist to criticize a religion which is worshipped by people of color. The most common reason for this, in my calculation, is the American liberal's understandable desire to distance himself or herself from prejudice. But why, I ask you, is it wrong to question the doctrines and dogma inherent in the world's second largest religion? Why is it wrong to openly denounce Sharia Law, which in Afghanistan and Iraq is supported as official law by over 90% of the population. Why is it "offensive" to oppose female genital mutilation, domestic brutality toward women, throwing gays off rooftops, murdering of Christians and Jews, and laws which are antithetical to democracy and Enlightenment liberalism (none of which are uncommon)? It would seem that KPFA is more concerned with "hurt feelings" than with civil discourse and public debate, and this is a shame coming from a place (Berkeley) which is a former bastion of free speech.
I respectfully ask you to either publicly apologize to Richard Dawkins, or invite him back for the event (I know I'm not the only one writing this letter).
Matt Sanviti Fuller