Islamophobe Isn’t a Bigot — Just Asking Questions!

Ahmed MohamedEarlier this week, I was reading Belle Waring’s hilarious take down of Richard Dawkins and the other Islamophobes about the whole Ahmed Mohamed clock incident, When a Policeman Asks You for a Correct Philosophy of Time, You Give It. I was going to post it as a quote. But then I came upon something she mentioned[1] from someone in the Dawkins crowd. And it is really telling because I’ve heard this kind of argumentation for my entire life. It is designed to sound open-minded, but as I will discuss, it is just the opposite. In fact, Fox News uses this same exact propaganda tool all the time:

Because, is it possible, that maybe, just maybe, this was actually a hoax bomb? A silly prank that was taken the wrong way? That the media then ran with, and everyone else got carried away? Maybe there wasn’t even any racial or religious bias on the parts of the teachers and police.

I don’t know any of these things. But I’m intellectually mature enough to admit I don’t know, and to also be OK with that. I don’t feel a need to take the first exit to conclusionville. But I do like to find facts where I can, and prefer to let them lead me to conclusions, rather than a knee jerk judgement based on a headline or sound bite.

Got that? He just doesn’t know. He’s not saying that anything nefarious was going on. He’s just asking questions. It just so happens that this is exactly what the slightly more educated Birthers say, “I don’t know where Obama was born; I’m just asking questions.” Similarly, James Inhofe doesn’t know that global warming is a hoax. He too is just asking questions. This is even true of Holocaust deniers. Obviously, none of this is true of the Little Brains. But anyone with the slightest intellectual sophistication grabs onto the “just asking questions” rhetoric.

Here’s what you need to know about this: there are literally an infinite number of questions that can be asked. The questions that you ask say a great deal about you. So this guy is just asking questions, because he can’t trust the news. If it had been news about a tsunami or a vote in Congress, well, then it wouldn’t occur to him to ask questions or even remember that he can’t trust the news. It’s sad. The guy is a classic example of what I call a subgenius: someone smart, but not incredibly smart, and not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.

The main purpose of his article is to try to show — in a very very Alex Jones kind of way — that Mohamed did not build the clock. Mostly, his point is that it uses old electronics parts. As I noted when I first discussed it: I have done the same thing. I had an electronics lab filled with equipment. I assume Mohamed had old bits of electronics that could be scavenged. Not that it matters. Arguing with this guy would be exactly like arguing with 9/11 Truthers.

This spectacle is hilarious in a certain way. There are people who are classic Islamophobes: people who fear, hate, and distrust Muslims. But like all bigots, they don’t see themselves as bigots. So they come up with elaborate ways to justify their bigotry. But most of all, they are just open-minded. They are just asking questions.

[1] The site is currently down, but it is: clock | Tech Voice – Artvoice. Whether this is because of bad luck, a DDoS attack, or simply because there are lots of people like Richard Dawkins who just can’t get enough of this kind of thing, I can’t say. Here’s a copy: Google cache.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

11 thoughts on “Islamophobe Isn’t a Bigot — Just Asking Questions!

  1. Oh I have some questions for Questions Guy: why do you assume the kid is the one lying automatically when police have a clear record (and with court permission too!) of lying? Or are you always such a smeghead?

    I want to bring smeghead back as an insult.

    • All this morning the conservative media have been going crazy over the “story” that his sister was suspended 3 years ago (for 3 days) for making a bomb threat. It hasn’t made it into the mainstream, and I assume that suspension was as valid as this one. Regardless, the conservative media are really doing themselves proud by being all over this. It’s so clear that they want to make this all about “Muslims baaad!”

      Red Dwarf?!

      • I grew up watching it and had the biggest crush on Lister when I was a lass. I loved it way more than Doctor Who which I thought was just kind of pathetic. My mom’s PBS station had a lot of British sitcom imports that she liked so it was tradition in my mom’s house to watch them on Saturday nights with a bowl of chocolates and a gallon of milk with her and my sister. Many a night we watched Are You Being Served?, Red Dwarf and after a while, Chef!

        • I lived in a house with a couple of Brits when I was in grad school, and that’s where I got introduced to it. I don’t know Chef! — I’ll have to see if I can find that. Served was an odd little show. I would normally think that I would hate it, but it really was well done — funny as hell. Of course, that’s one thing about the BBC shows: they don’t make that many. It is a lot easier to produce six great shows a year than the 23 they do here. My all time favorite is probably Fawlty Towers — which I own two different versions of. I’m also a big fan of Black Books. And for completely different reasons, I love Ballykissangel — at least the first three series.

          • I need to watch Black Books but I never did get much into Ballykissangel. Watched a few episodes but was like “seen it!” I thought Bluestone 42 was okay, it made me laugh and it was like the British version of MASH without the preaching.

            • If you like Dylan Moran, you must watch Black Books. Being raised kind of Catholic may have something to do with my love of Ballykissangel. Also that it was an Irish Northern Exposure, but not nearly as annoying. I’ve never heard of Bluestone 42. Too many things in the world!

  2. I’m no longer willing to read the bigot Waring. But I’m disappointed to see such a massive failure of common sense from Richard Dawkins. I’ve never been a fanboi but I thought better of him than this. There really is no reasonable way to agree with this boy’s arrest.

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