Richard Dawkins Responds to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
The famous atheist explains his correspondence with Boteach, references to Hitler, and why they should 'all calm down.'
". . .for no reason, Dawkins attacked me on his website and denied that he and I had ever debated
I remembered many other Oxford debates in which Rabbi Boteach was the chairman, and I am sorry that the one debate in which he was a protagonist seems to have made no impression at all upon my memory (it was twelve years ago). My (apparently) unforgivable lapse was exacerbated by the fact that Shmuley himself stated, in the Jerusalem Post (April 13th 2008) that the debate occurred in St Catherine's College, Oxford, when in fact it was in Oxford's Law Library: a trivial lapse of memory on his part which abetted mine, but it is in any case ludicrous to describe any lapse of memory, on either side, as an 'attack.' I eventually found a recording of this Oxford debate on Youtube. Unfortunately somebody has now taken it down. Why? Maybe Shmuley could post it again, so we can all enjoy his oratorical style. Which brings me to his main cry-baby complaint – that I compared his style of speaking to Hitler’s. I have alreadyresponded
to this as follows:
I did not say you think like Hitler, or hold the same opinions as Hitler, or do terrible things to people like Hitler. Obviously and most emphatically you don't. I said you shriek like Hitler. That is the only point of resemblance, and it is true. You shriek and yell and rant like Hitler. Not all the time, of course. You also tell very good jokes, and tell them brilliantly. You deservedly get lots of laughs, as a good comedian should. But throughout your speeches you periodically rise to climaxes of shrieking rant, and that is just like Hitler. Incidentally, Dinesh D'Souza yells and shrieks in just the same way. I suppose it impresses some people, although it is hard to believe.
Anybody who has something sensible or worthwhile to say should be able to say it calmly and soberly, relying on the words themselves to convey his meaning, without resorting to yelling. Hitler had nothing but nonsense to say. He spoke nonsense about race, nonsense about history, nonsense about Jews. If one speaks nonsense in a calm and sober voice nobody listens, so Hitler yelled his nonsense at the top of his voice and, unfortunately, people listened -- stupid, ignorant people. You have sensible things to say about sex and love, and you have no need to yell when you are talking sense. Unfortunately, when you turn to the subject of evolution, you don't know what you are talking about, so you yell and shriek to make up for it. Maybe yelling and shrieking works with an ignorant audience. It apparently worked for Hitler, but that is not a happy precedent. You should know better. Go and read some books about evolution, learn something about biology, and you'll then find that you can talk about it in a calm and civilized voice. You'll find that you won't need to yell and shriek like a madman, and you'll be all the more persuasive for it.