Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Nathan Lean: Islamopologist-in-chief

Nathan Lean has form.  He's been a consistent critic of critics of Islam, but does so in a particularly nasty and incoherent way.  A few years back Jerry Coyne's took him on in his Why Evolution is True blog.
Lean's latest piece in Salon cops a lot of flak in the comments, interestingly for a left-of-center blog.
I found Lean's piece gag-worthy.
Amongst many egregious statements, one of the worst is this one:
The values they [Ayann Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani] claim to champion — gender equality, nonviolence, rationality, and self-critique — are virtuous for sure, and ones that, in their view, any reasonable human being should welcome. The problem, though, is that they elevate themselves above the rest of the Muslim community and, looking down upon it from their throne of high morality, delineate the acceptable parameters of practicing religion. It is against their world and its paradigms that all followers of Islam must measure themselves. [the bolding is mine].
What does he mean claim to champion? Of course the do champion these values. That's all they do.  His snide use of "claim" is pure, unwarranted ad-hominem.  And what of the addition of "in their view"?  Does he imply that in his view, they are not values that any reasonable human being should welcome? Or, perhaps, that others, progressives maybe, would not welcome such values?
And then the "elevate themselves above the rest of the Muslim community".  How do they do that, Nathan?  They are simply presenting a case against misogynist, homophobic values and calling for values of free speech, gender equality and the rights of minorities and non-Muslims.  I fail to see how that's elevating themselves in any way, other than in Lean's tortured mind.
It's worth noting that Lean is employed by Islamopologist Reza Aslan's Aslan Media, and a graduate of Georgetown University's Middle East centre, which is funded by Saudi money.
The comments are well worth reading: most being a take-down of Lean's "propaganda".  And that's pretty much a one-word summary of what it is.  Islam(ist) propaganda.
As one commenter said: "Shame on you, Nathan Lean!"

PS: it's worth listening to above-mentioned Jerry Coyne in conversation with Sam Harris.  Along the way a bit, they talk of the very Ayaan Hirsi-Ali, one of the targets of Lean's ire.  Coyne and Harris bemoan the fact that this courageous, coherent speaker for more tolerance, Hirsi-Ali should be the target of vitriol from the left and the likes of Nathan Lean.