Book Review: ‘The New Atheist Threat’ By CJ Werleman
“Like all cults, New Atheists believe that “the best human beings, as defined by them as ‘rational’ and ‘enlightened’ should become powerful enough to dictate to the rest of the planet a new way of being…they not only espouse white supremacy but they also speak in a language that is every bit as crude and racist as fascist, neo-Nazi, movements“- CJ Werleman, The New Atheist Threat 1
I suppose I’ll start this latest (and hopefully last) blog post on CJ Werleman in the same spirit with which I approached the others: by rattling off an ever-expanding list of curiosities. The greatest hits compilation includes; misrepresentation, serial plagiarism, probable sockpuppetry, outright lies, a suspicious Twitter follower count, false accusations and the latest entry: a history of anti-Muslim bigotry and racism. And unfortunately, some new entries to follow below.
Werleman’s rabid anti-‘new atheist’ vitriol finally culminated in the release of his latest self-published book ‘The New Atheist Threat: The Dangerous Rise Of Secular Extremists’. It would be more fitting were it titled ‘Quotes From People Who Hate Sam Harris’ – as without quotations from others, I’d wager that only a quarter of this book is actually Werleman’s own original writing. If I ever get the time, I’ll complete a word count with and without quotations/extracts. The fact is, if you’re familiar with the output of Reza Aslan, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, Karen Armstrong, Nathan Lean, Max Blumenthal and Robert Pape, then you have read this book already, which is nothing more than a love letter to them. “Why pay for this?” I hear you ask. Well, I didn’t. Special thanks to Kindle Lending Library.
A few weeks before ‘The New Atheist Threat’s’ publish date, I chanced the following prediction:
Now, of course it’s never a wise move to judge a book before you’ve actually read it, but given I’m familiar with Werleman’s other published output on ‘new atheism’, I suspected the gamble would be low risk. Well, how did I do?
Blah Blah Soviet Union
Including the reference section, the word ‘Soviet’ appears in this book a total of 32 times. It’s laughable when you consider ISIS are currently rampaging through the middle-east, raping and dismembering, all the while having no trouble recruiting swathes of people from The West – CJ Werleman has to reach back in time to the Soviet era to pin an example of godless genocidal behaviour on ‘new atheists’ – and worse! – he has the gall to finger them as the current ‘threat’.
‘the last 100 years produced the mass slaughters of World War 1 & 2, colonialism, Communism, imperialism, and the wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq – all of which had nothing to do with religion. Nor do any of today’s biggest problems have anything to do with religion’.
‘This 21st century era religious eradication ideology is hardly a new way of thinking, given it’s the same ideology that drove the anti-religious genocides of the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Albania, and North Korea over the course of the last 100 years. And it’s the ideology that indeed drives the New Atheist movement in America today’.
His ‘thesis’ seems to be that the ‘new atheists’ are one parking dispute away from emulating the anti-religious genocides of the 20th Century. But as we know, although these regimes were godless, they were themselves quasi-religious in nature.
There’s nothing about being an atheist, nor being an ‘anti-theist’ (which is what Werleman appears to mean by the term ‘new atheist’) that rationally leads to genocidal intent or action. His ‘argument’ is a staple of the fundamentalist Christian right and you’ve heard it a million times before. You Commie.
Blah Blah Chris Hedges
Werleman’s book reads like an ode to Chris Hedges, heaping gushing praise upon him like some anti-atheist prophet – referencing him, or his work a total of 73 times. Which is amusing given he chastises ‘new atheists’ for worshipping at the altar of Dawkins and Harris – singling out their books as the ‘New Atheist’ doctrines. Werleman says:
‘The Pulitzer Prize winning Hedges is not only an expert on Middle East conflict, but he’s also a master of the written and spoken word’.
The bulk of Werleman’s book is literally a collection of Chris Hedges quotes. Werleman is happy to provide us with a seemingly never ending hell of Hedges straw men, such as:
“New Atheists believe evil is embodied in lesser breeds, in lesser human beings, and, therefore, must be eradicated,”
Now, I speak to a lot of atheists. New, old, whatever etc. I’ve never known any to consider religious people ‘lesser breeds’ or call for their ‘eradication’. You certainly won’t find such sentiment in the works that Werleman holds up as examples of the worst embodiments of new atheism, namely Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Although, if dehumanising those you disagree with is your thing, look no further:
Blah Blah Stephen Hicks
Craig Stephen Hicks was a self-professed atheist who gunned down three innocent Muslims in Chapel Hill in February 2015. This was widely reported as escalating from a parking dispute. Immediately following these horrific murders, Werleman could barely contain his excitement long enough for the bodies to go cold before exploiting the atrocity to lash out at the more successful atheist authors he holds grudges against:
It’s unintentionally humorous that he draws a direct line of causation between reading texts (the books of Dawkins and Harris) and violent actions, yet completely discounts that possibility when it comes to the more enthusiastic followers of Islamic scripture. Of course, there is nothing in the works of Dawkins or Harris that encourage or suggest that their readers should harm people. Unlike, say The Qur’an or Bible.
Werleman admits this in ‘The New Atheist Threat’ when he says:
‘While I’m yet to hear a prominent New Atheism openly call for the outright destruction of those who hold religious beliefs, many have come perilously and intentionally close’
Anyhow, he begins his latest book with a dedication to the Chapel Hill victims with the following titbit:
‘Their respective lives cut short – execution style – by an avowed New Atheist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, February 2015′.
The dedication would be touching were it not so grossly opportunistic. It’s clear that Werleman views Hicks’s abhorrent crime as a direct consequence of his ‘new atheist’ worldview. Now, is it beyond the realm of possibility that someone with rabid anti-religious convictions may also wish to harm people of faith? Of course not. In fact, I would accept that explanation in Hicks’s case, were the facts suggestive of it. But the simple truth is this: they are not. As I understand that not every crime committed by a Muslim must be due to their Islamic faith, Werleman is unable to grasp that not every crime committed by a nonbeliever is due to their atheism (new, old, middle-aged, whatever). Werleman categorically pins this terrible crime on Hicks’s atheistic worldview. Werleman notes of Hicks:
‘He lists Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion as one of his favorite books, and has littered his timeline with dozens of antagonistic, anti-religious meme infopics’
Werleman also highlights this Facebook posting from Hicks as his jumping off point:
“When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me. If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I.”
Hicks was actually paraphrasing YouTuber Pat Condell here. And just as the paraphrase fails to highlight anything sinister, so does the original quote in full. As we will see, misquotation and an inability to Google plague Werleman’s output.
Werleman also claims:
‘Prior to the murders, Hick’s former wife had cut communication with him, branding him as someone who is very hateful towards religious people’
Hick’s former wife said no such thing. I can only imagine Werleman means Hicks’s estranged Daughter, Sarah Hurley. Who also said no such thing. Werleman appears to have achieved a misquote and false attribution all in one go based on this quote from Hicks’s Daughter (emphasis mine):
“I shut him out of my life permanently for not only disrespecting the religious beliefs of others, but bashing them on social media. It was obvious he had a lot of hate in his heart”
The ‘very hateful towards religious people’ claim appears to have been plucked from thin air. It seems his daughter was unhappy with Hicks’s anti-religious postings on social media, not for hatred of actual people. She even confirmed that Hicks agreed to ‘respect her beliefs’ – despite their differences.
Incidentally, Hicks’ former wife, Cynthia Hurley did say Hicks’s favourite movie was ‘Falling Down’ starring Michael Douglas, whose character goes on a gun rampage. “He watched it incessantly. He thought it was hilarious. He had no compassion at all” she said.
This and the opinions of the victims’ family is seemingly the sum total of data Werleman needs to conclude that Hicks carried out his abhorrent deeds solely because he is a ‘new atheist’. But what do we actually know about Hicks and his views from his online activity?
Werleman makes this objectively false claim about Craig Hicks’s Facebook page:
‘Hicks’s entire page is a shrine to New Atheism’
Unlike Werleman, Chairperson of Atheist Ireland, Michael Nugent has actually bothered to do the research on Hicks’s online activity. Here and here Nugent combs the online postings of Hicks with almost detective–like diligence. Nugent’s findings include the following:
- Hicks promoted religious freedom – saying the first amendment takes precedence over any ‘feelings’ Americans might have. He said: “Not that I care for religion, as I most definitely do not, but banning it would be taking away a persons rights and I oppose that.”
- Hicks supported the rights of Muslims to build the controversial ground zero Mosque
- Hicks claimed to know several dozen Muslims, stating ‘they are not what most people think’ and that he actually ‘prefers them to Christians’.
- Hicks was of the opinion that extremists in the Islamic faith were not common.
- Hicks said: “I don’t see how anyone who calls themselves American can claim that a Mosque shouldn’t be TWO BLOCKS AWAY from what is known as ground zero”
- Nugent Notes: ‘He [Hicks] repeatedly expresses his belief that all human beings are equal regardless of race, sexuality, religion or other criteria, and he actively opposes racism’.
- Hicks shared quotes from Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Ulysses Grant, Epicurus, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Isaac Asimov, Susan B Antony, Albert Einstein, Voltaire, Barbara Walker, Rousseau, Daniel Radcliffe and Aldous Huxley – individuals which escaped Werleman’s finger pointing, of course.
- Hicks said “I don’t believe in Christianity at all, but I would never vandalize anything of theirs. Course neither would a Muslim, makes a person wonder which is more of a peaceful religion I believe!” Nugent notes: ‘The next day he posted a link to a news story about a suspicious fire that damaged construction equipment at the site of a future mosque in Tennessee. (2010)’
Although Hicks did post tame anti-religious memes and sentiments, at no point does he target Muslims with his rhetoric. In fact, he is notably favourable towards them.
However, Nugent does find significant reasons to bolster the official ‘parking dispute’ combined with gun love narrative when he notes:
‘He also posted on several online forums about his opposition to people breaking traffic laws, linked to a video of a trooper dealing with a motorist with an anger management problem, and liked eight different Facebook pages on the subject of being angry at people who drive in passing lanes.’
‘On Facebook he liked different eight pages on the subject of driving in passing lanes.
- It’s called a PASSING LANE for a reason, get the F*ck out of my way!!!!
- If people in the right lane are passing you, GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY!
- People who understand that the LEFT LANE IS FOR PASSING.
- If you’re not passing traffic, GET THE #%@* OUT OF THE LEFT LANE!!!!
- Get out of the left lane unless you are passing!!!
- I CAN’T STAND PEOPLE THAT DRIVE SLOW IN THE PASSING LANE
- People who drive slow in the passing lane piss me off
- I’m tailgating you because you are driving slow in the PASSING lane, dbag’.
‘Also on his Facebook page, he is strongly pro-American, frequently posting links to American flags and symbols, and his version of Americanism includes support for gun ownership and for strict separation of church and state. He has posted images of his wife shooting a gun on a firing range, and of his own gun in its holster, and has criticised people who blame murders on gun ownership’.
‘Also on his Facebook page, he has liked a link to the North Carolina Code, General Statutes § 20-174, prohibiting crossing at other than crosswalks and walking along highways. He has liked a Community Page called “If you’re not passing traffic, GET THE #%@* OUT OF THE LEFT LANE!!!!” In January he wrote that he had called the police when he saw a couple having sex in their vehicle in his parking lot‘.
Nugent notes his keen interest in guns:
- He posted a picture of his wife shooting a gun at a firing range. And he shared a link to a news story about two convenience store clerks who were not to face criminal charges after being involved in the fatal shooting of a would-be robber. Hicks quoted from the article: “In Union County we have a no return policy on armed robbery,” and he added: “I like this guy!!” (2010)
- He wrote: “I guess after the horrible tragedy early this week in Arizona, all Glock pistols will officially be labeled ‘assault weapons.’ While I never cared for Glocks personally, it stinks that anyone would blame a firearm rather than the operator of such firearm for such a terrible act. I think I’ll start blaming McDonalds for my weight problem, Christianity for the Ku Klux Klan, and Islam for terrorism.” (2011)
- He shared a story about an Arizona politician who was being criticised because she had taken out a gun and aimed it at a reporter’s chest during an interview. He commented: “While I’m very much pro-gun, I’m equally for firearm safety. People will now put blame on firearms in general rather than ignorant people like this.” (2011)
- In January 2015 he posted a photo of his gun, writing: “Yes, that is 1 pound 5.1 ounces for my loaded 38 revolver, its holster, and five extra rounds in a speedloader.” This was his first gun-related post since 2011.
‘What is remarkable about his Facebook posts is that, alongside his atheism, religion and science posts, he consistently promotes social justice issues. He does not express dislike, never mind hatred, for people on the basis of their religious beliefs. He does differ from many (but not all) people who also promote social justice issues in his support for gun ownership.
He consistently promotes religious freedom including explicitly the rights of Muslims, marriage equality for LGBT people, women’s rights including reproductive rights, human rights and equality, animal welfare, and progressive politics generally, as well as his posts about his pride in America, support for gun ownership and personal posts’.
As reported here:
A woman who lives near the scene described Hicks as short-tempered.
“Anytime that I saw him or saw interaction with him or friends or anyone in the parking lot or myself, he was angry,” Samantha Maness said of Hicks. “He was very angry, anytime I saw him.”
Samantha Maness was also reported as saying:
“I have seen and heard him be very unfriendly to a lot of people in this community,” Samantha Maness, another resident of the Finley Forest development, told the Times. She said that Hicks displayed an “equal opportunity anger” and that he made “everyone feel uncomfortable and unsafe.”
This backs the official reports of Hicks’s unhealthy fixation with perceived car related offences and guns. Hicks appears to be a classic example of the all too common inability to regulate one’s temper combined with easy access to – and a love for – lethal weaponry. There are many, many more examples contained within Nugent’s findings which highlight his fixation with guns. Could Hicks have gunned down those poor Muslims because they were Muslim? Absolutely. Is anything he posted online pertaining to his atheism (new, old geriatric, whatever) suggestive of that scenario? Absolutely not.
Werleman is shamelessly exploiting an atrocity to further his bitter agenda. As I’ve previously documented, CJ Werleman has a track record of misrepresenting and exploiting topical events to further his narrative. He once took an instance of a violent crime carried out by a Muslim, and reported it as an act of violence against Muslims. When this error was pointed out to him, rather than issue a correction or note, he opted to simply delete that section from his article – an article that had been online with the erroneous claim for over a month. An article he had used to whip up hysteria about rising anti-Muslim hate crime. This is not journalism. Most recently, he used the example of an assault from 2012 as an example of ‘Islamophobia’:
It wasn’t an ‘Islamophobic’ attack as I explain here. Unlike CJ, I don’t delude myself into thinking I’m a Journalist, however I do at least bother to check my information before making inflammatory claims that are likely to stoke tensions.
CJ Werleman has been relentlessly critical of (and abusive towards) Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ayaan is clearly a frustrating inconvenience to his narrative. A black, female refugee who has experienced the worst Islam has to offer and spends her days critiquing the devastating effects of Islam where human rights are concerned. Unfortunately for Werleman, she’s smarter than him and won’t shut up. She flies in the face of Werleman’s ‘racism of poor expectations’ narrative. So how best to deal with her? Lies and racism of course.
In his book, Werleman tells us more than once that Ayaan Hirsi Ali ‘expressed sympathy for Islamophobic mass murderer Anders Breivik’. This is categorically untrue. Seemingly more appreciative of context than Werleman is, Dan Arel takes the liberty of wiping this particular toilet seat in his article ‘Sorry faux-liberals but Ayaan Hirsi Ali did not defend the terrorist attack by Anders Breivik’.
Ayaan also clearly states:
“Well, on the topic of Breivik, it goes without saying that I was horrified by his actions. He is one of the worst mass murderers in history, and there’s no question about that”
‘No question’ seems fairly unsympathetic to me.
Incredibly, Werleman appears to blame new atheists (specifically Hirsi Ali) for inspiring Breivik’s attacks, completely omitting the fact Breivik described himself as a ‘militant-Christian’ and said he would ‘pray to god’ whilst carrying out the attacks.
Hirsi Ali fled Somalia to escape an arranged marriage. A victim of violence and female genital mutilation, she embellished details on her asylum application to ensure her ‘husband’ wouldn’t be able to find her (he still did). She has been more than open about this. You can read about it here. Werleman calls Ayaan Hirsi Ali a ‘fraud’ in his book. On what information does he base this? A documentary crew tracked down Ayaan’s family in Somalia and asked them whether claims of an arranged marriage were true. They answered ‘no’. End of investigation then. Fraud.
Blah Harris Nuclear Strike
Werleman is utterly obsessed with Sam Harris. Harris’s name is mentioned a total of 228 times in this book, a number not far off the total page count. This animosity seems owed in no small part to Harris publicly rebutting Werleman’s libel, resulting in the amplification of Werleman’s plagiarism, and in turn – further public humiliation.
Without doubt, Harris is one of the most misrepresented people in our solar system. Thanks to people like Reza Aslan, Glenn Greenwald, Chris Hedges and now CJ Werleman, there is now an entire version of Harris’s career online that isn’t even his. I refer to this straw man version as ‘Sham Harris’. In order to truly understand what Harris thinks on the particular topics he covers, I suggest reading his thoughts direct from the source, in context. In fact, due to the malicious distortions of his views such as those contained throughout this book, Harris has already addressed said distortions at length here. Werleman accuses Harris (and quotes from others doing the same) of harbouring nuclear, genocidal intent towards Muslims, or depending on his accusers’ mood, ‘Arabs’. In the writing they are referring to (Harris’s only writing on pre-emptive nuclear war), Harris says a nuclear first strike on an ‘Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons’ (not simply ‘Muslims’ or ‘Arabs) would be ‘an unthinkable crime’ and such a reality would be ‘a horrible absurdity’.
There is no doubt given the number of times people have attempted to correct CJ on these distortions that he is reprinting them out of malice, not ignorance.
You can read Harris’s actual views on pre-emptive nuclear war here.
A recurring theme in this book is Werleman misrepresenting criticism of Islam to mean criticism of all Muslims. He says:
‘There’s a tendency of many New Atheists, like Bill Maher and Sam Harris, to paint all or a majority of Muslims as having a proclivity for violence, anger, and anti-modernism‘.
‘They reduce all 1.6 billion Muslims to the brutality of ISIS‘.
Sam Harris has noted this lack of comprehension previously:
‘I don’t know how many times one must deny that one is referring to an entire group, or cite specific poll results to justify the percentages one is talking about, but no amount of clarification appears sufficient to forestall charges of bigotry and lack of “nuance.”
Werleman also accuses Harris of calling the Iraq War a ‘humanitarian mission’. Harris didn’t support the Iraq war. Amusingly, Werleman criticises Harris for suggesting we should profile Muslims (implying it indicates moral decay), then goes on elsewhere to approvingly quote Arun Kundani who says:
…it is perfectly possible for cultural markers to be associated with Muslimness (forms of dress, rituals, languages, etc)
Sounds remarkably like profiling to me.
Werleman also spends a large portion of his book denigrating Sam Harris et al. for not being scholars in the fields of theology and the middle east, which is a strange route to take given CJ’s own stated credentials appear to amount to nothing more than repeating ‘I witnessed the aftermath of a terrorist attack once’. A story he changes, depending on who you ask apparently. Werleman also says:
‘That ISIS leader al-Baghdadi and Sam Harris interpret the Quran in the same fundamentalist way says a lot‘.
Except, al-Baghdadi does have qualifications in Theology, a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Baghdad no less – but I suspect qualifications would suddenly lack importance in this particular instance for Werleman.
The hypocrisy continues when Werleman claims this out of context Harris quote may influence anti-Muslim violence:
‘Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them‘
Once again, with all things Harris, I urge you to read what Harris actually said, not what Werleman would have you believe he meant. Yet, Werleman in his sycophancy has nothing but praise for Reza Aslan who recently said of ISIS:
‘The way you confront an organization like that is twofold. No. 1, you kill their militants. There is no room for discussion or negotiation when it comes to an ISIS or an Al Qaeda militant. They don’t want anything concrete. And if you want nothing that’s measurable or concrete, there is nothing to talk about. You must be destroyed‘.
As Harris notes:
‘That’s an even more hawkish note than I struck above. At least I gave a passing thought to capturing the bad guys. I also used phrases like “may be justified in killing them” (which, admittedly, lacks the clarity and passion of “You must be destroyed”). But let’s not split hairs: It seems that Aslan and I share the same “horrid” view of the ethics of self-defense. I await his sophisticated explanation of why it is justified‘.
Werleman also cites the work of Robert Pape when it comes to the issue of Islamic terrorism. Pape’s work has been discredited for a number of reasons. However, Harris did offer to debate Pape on this topic. Pape agreed, then for reasons unknown, completely disappeared.
And The Rest
Suspicious (and entirely coincidental) Amazon Reviews
Werleman takes a swing at the Amazon review system (whilst of course issuing the mandatory Hedges praise) when he moans:
‘Hedges’ I Don’t Believe in Atheists is a brilliantly written expose of the respective geo-political ignorance of both Dawkins and Harris, but is awarded only 2.8 stars (out of 5) by Amazon.com reviewers. Amazon permits customers to post reviews of books they have not purchased, which is an obvious flaw in their rating system – that can be used to both evangelize or denounce any particular book without the reviewer ever actually having read it‘.
It seems that he doesn’t like the injustice of people manipulating the Amazon user rating system. Which is interesting.
I’m sure this is a complete coincidence of course, but Amazon user ‘The Happy Atheist’ has left a handful of book reviews (and only book reviews) including a 5 star review of Werleman’s ‘Koran Curious’ stating:
Werleman does a fine job of piecing it all together, and like his previous works, he does it in a very entertaining way.
‘The Happy Atheist’ also leaves a 5 star review for a book called ‘Jesus Potter Harry Christ’ by Derek Murphy calling it a ‘masterpiece’. Interestingly enough, Derek Murphy also supplied this blurb for CJ Werleman’s Koran Curious:
“CJ Werleman has crafted an absorbing biography of the man behind Islam and the development of the Koran. Although there are hundreds of plain-speech retellings of the political, interpersonal and spiritual developments of Jesus, few have dared to tread into the same territory regarding the prophet Muhammad.” – Derek Murphy, author of Jesus Potter Harry Christ. –Derek Murphy ‘Jesus Potter Harry Christ’
A five-star review is also left by ‘The Happy Atheist’ for a book called ‘Fighting Back The Right’ by David Niose. By a complete utter coincidence CJ Werleman also supplied a blurb for that book:
Fighting Back the Right is a searing and provocative indictment of the right-wing’s war on America’s secular values. Timely and powerful, it’s a refreshing jolt of cerebral clarity. Niose outlines a blueprint for restoring rational, progressive public policy. (CJ Werleman, author of Crucifying America: The Unholy Alliance Between the Christian Right and Wall Street)
Entirely by coincidence I’m sure, author of ‘Fighting Back The Right’, David Niose supplies this blurb for Werleman’s book ‘Crucifying America’
“With the passion and urgency the subject deserves, Crucifying America is an unabashed wake-up call to a nation that has allowed religious conservatives to hijack public policy.” -David Niose, author of Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans
The ‘Happy Atheist’ also gives a 5 star review to a book called ‘The Christ Conundrum’ by Andrew Carruth. By absolute certain coincidence CJ Werleman also supplied the following blurb for that book:
“The book gives a very thorough argument, it’s an intriguing exploration of the life and times of Jesus” – CJ Werleman, author of ‘God Hates You, Hate Him Back.’
‘With this book, CJ has rightfully earned the title of atheism’s preeminent blue collar intellectual. No one has successfully brought down a religious faith as comprehensively and meticulously as he‘. –Tim Hawken ‘Hellbound’
Out of the 11 reviews left by ‘The Happy Atheist’, only one is negative. A two star review is left for Peter Boghossian’s excellent ‘A Manual For Creating Atheists’. On an entirely coincidental note, Boghossian was instrumental in exposing Werleman’s plagiarism and is described by Werleman as sounding almost ‘Psychopathic’ in ‘The New Atheist Threat’. Another coincidence.
But most interesting (and coincidental) of all, ‘The Happy Atheist’ has a public Amazon Wish List, which you can find on their profile page. When clicked, you are directed to a wish list belonging to someone called C Werleman. Coincidence explosion.
I’d tell Werleman to ditch his publisher, but since they are one and the same…in fact, I stand by my first suggestion. I noticed a fair few spelling and formatting errors with his previous books, and this one may be even worse. From rogue punctuation to missing spaces. An entire paragraph is repeated in the Kindle version at one point. Not to mention misspelling people’s actual names. He refers to Reza Aslan as ‘Alan’ at one point. And who the hell is Ali Rivki? Jaclyn ‘Glynn’ is a new one to me. Hermant Metha anyone?
The God Delusion
Werleman, whilst explaining his path to new atheism says ‘The first book I read was The God Delusion by Dawkins’ citing its contents as a source of this ‘new atheist’ threat. Well, he either didn’t read it, or has forgotten what’s contained within:
New Atheists freely take the Quran out of context where a verse commands, “kill the unbelievers.”
Perhaps that’s true, but my answer to such charges would be: It’s not a problem when atheists do that though, is it? Fortunately, atheists don’t consider Islamic scripture to be the literal word of a perfect creator. Unfortunately, a significant number of Muslims do. They prove it to us daily. And that is a problem.
Plagiarism and Christopher Hitchens
Back in October 2014, I exposed CJ Werleman for serial plagiarism on this very blog. Given he’s never fully taken responsibility for this, I was surprised to see him mention it at all in the book. I was less surprised then, to read that he paints himself as the victim in this scenario and outright lies about the extent of his plagiarism. First, citing the dreadful book ‘Unhitched’ he takes the late Christopher Hitchens to task for plagiarism, and bemoans that new atheists didn’t attack Hitchens for it, yet attacked him. Nick Cohen addresses the accusations levelled at Hitchens here.
Werleman states, in reference to plagiarism:
‘I too have been guilty of committing a similar error, albeit unintentionally’
‘a campaign to discredit and destroy my reputation was organized by a number of celebrity New Atheists. During their “opposition research,” they discovered that a half-dozen of my nearly 100 opinion editorials and blogs contained incidences of unattributed sources’
He is repeating the same lies I’ve originally refuted here. It’s pathological at this point. Werleman continues to downplay his plagiarism as a ‘half-dozen’ instances, wilfully ignoring an additional 14 instances that were discovered. He also tries to explain away his copy and paste frenzy by claiming he simply forgot to enclose quotations. These would not actually be ‘quotations’ then, but rather misquotation, as every other word appears to have been altered. One need not ponder too long to formulate an explanation as to why this may have been done. Also, it only serves to quote paragraphs in your piece if you actually mention who it is you’re quoting. CJ did neither in several articles, further suggesting these were not quotes, but paragraphs intended to be considered CJ Werleman’s own writing. Whether he accepts this was genuine plagiarism or not is irrelevant, Alternet and Salon did and gave him the boot, the former removing his articles altogether, the latter issuing an apology and adding notes to the offending pieces. However, given Salon has no journalistic standards whatsoever I wasn’t surprised to read this in ‘The New Atheist Threat’:
‘More recently, Salon has offered me a second chance – of which I am deeply grateful’
Werleman was dubbed ‘Ctrl+CJ Werleman’ after this debacle. Incidentally, much of ‘The New Atheist Threat’ is a copy and paste job of previously published articles. Fortunately, those articles were published by Werleman this time. I assume.
Werleman also attributes this quotation to Christopher Hitchens:
“Islamophobia – a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.”
Perfectly fine sentiments, with one problem however. Christopher Hitchens never said it. Others have made this mistake online too. Yet were I to be publishing it in a book, I’d at least bother to check my sources. This isn’t the first time Werleman has wrongly attributed a quote to Hitchens either.
Plugging Of Previous Books
CJ Werleman has instructed people on a number of occasions not to purchase the older books he wrote whilst he subscribed to the ‘new atheist’ worldview. These books conspicuously remain available to purchase, and advertised via his official website however, and are even plugged at the start of this latest book. He obviously doesn’t feel too $trongly about thi$ then.
Threats of Violence on Twitter
CJ Werleman makes note of a threatening tweet he received on Twitter as an example of ‘new atheist’ hostility towards his opinions:
“Someone kill CJ Werleman. Silence that cunt.”
I’m unable to locate the tweet in question, so it must have been deleted. Threats and abuse of course are completely unacceptable. However, I’d remind him that people who criticise Islam are actually killed. Critics of ‘New Atheism’? Not so much. There’s a reason someone like Ayaan Hirsi Ali requires armed protection and he doesn’t. However, I do think wishing serious harm on anyone via social media is disgusting behaviour. I hope CJ would agree:
Understanding Of The Word Atheism
Given Werleman considers himself an atheist author, he seems to lack a basic understanding of what the word atheism actually means. In this book, he says things such as:
‘Wholly and solely atheism means non-religious belief’.
That might be news to agnostics or atheistic religious practices such as Buddhism.
He also says:
‘atheism, on its own, is a non-positive assertion.
My atheism, for instance, means I believe there are no gods‘.
Really? He *believes* there ‘are no’ something? Does he also require belief to reject notions of goblins, fairies etc?
Ergo, Ipso Facto
Werleman uses this flourish four times (if you include one instance of ‘Irgo, Ipso Facto’). I’ve no idea why. It would make David Brent cringe.
New Atheists Are Just As Bad As Religious Fundamentalists
Werleman writes (probably):
‘The emergence of Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris as household names has allowed atheism to be entirely hijacked by anti-theists. The media refers to the aforementioned as both atheists and voices of liberal reason. They are neither. They are anti-theists who are as equally hostile to any piece of new information that contradicts their worldview as the religious fundamentalists they scorn’.
‘Equally’ hostile? I’m yet to hear of any of the living aforementioned authors (or their readers) storming the magazine houses of their critics and gunning down staff before declaring “we have avenged the prophet Hitchens!” Non. Sense
while [New Atheists] they’re critical of all religion (maybe with the exception of Judaism, as one tends to lose employment pretty quickly whenever one says anything that could be remotely misconstrued as anti-Semitic)
If Israel were genuinely interested in its security, it would end the occupation, which would bring about an immediate end to violence against Israel.
Let me state again: there is no evidence whatsoever that Palestinians have used Palestinians as human shields. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Werleman quotes from Nathan Lean almost as much as Hedges. Lean is quoted in the book as saying ‘New Atheist’ opinions on Muslims are ‘uneducated ramblings of backwoods racists rather than appraisals based on intellect’. Which is interesting given Lean’s attitude and comments towards Muslim and anti-Extremist Maajid Nawaz are utterly disgraceful – referring to him as a ‘lapdog’ and Harris’s ‘Muslim Validator’. The idea being that a brown-skinned Muslim critical of Islamism can’t possibly be thinking for themselves, but must be a puppet of the evil (and smarter) white man.
Tell MAMA (a monitor of anti-Muslim hate) have appointed Nathan Lean to their advisory board. Patron of said organisation, Mohammed Amin had this to say:
I find the language used to refer to Maajid Nawaz completely inappropriate…I believe Nathan owes Maajid an apology
He’s still yet to receive one.
Iraqi Civilian Death Toll
Iraq war, which not only led to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi civilians,
Whilst any number of civilian deaths are tragic, the BBC notes of these figures (which Werleman doesn’t):
The toll includes not only violent deaths from the invasion and subsequent insurgency, but avoidable fatalities linked to infrastructure collapse
These figures also include sectarian violence, chronic illnesses, cancer and heart-attacks. Also reported on the BBC concerning the research:
The researchers warn that their estimates are associated with “substantial uncertainties”. Their estimated death toll was extrapolated from a small representative sample of households, and respondents were asked to recall events that occurred up to 10 years earlier. They also had to rely on outdated census data from 1987 for their population figures.
Martin Luther King
While attempting to make an argument for the good deeds carried out in the name of religion, Werleman says:
..despite the fact MLK had many times declared he was inspired by the New Testament’s social gospel, Dawkins and Harris contend he was inspired, instead, by secular humanistic ideals.
No, they did not. They said his commitment to non-violence was inspired by Gandhi:
Dawkins: “Although Martin Luther King was a Christian, he derived his philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience directly from Gandhi, who was not.2”
Harris: “While King undoubtedly considered himself a devout Christian, he acquired his commitment to non-violence primarily from the writings of Mohandas K. Gandhi.3”
‘In Dawkins’ mind, terrorism starts and stops with Islam. Case closed‘.
That’s an untrue accusation of course, but even more odd when you consider Werleman Tweeted this out as recently as Oct 2014:
The above article that Werleman links to in his tweet quotes Dawkins as saying:
“Religion itself is not responsible for this… It’s also this feeling of political involvement. It’s a feeling that it’s ‘us against them.’ And I think that quite a large number of young Muslims feel kind of beleaguered against the rest of the world. And so religion in some sense might be just an excuse, but I do think that a dominant part of the motivation for these young men has to be religion.”
Perhaps Werleman had forgotten about this.
Osama bin Laden
Werleman frames Osama bin Laden’s concerns as solely pertaining to foreign policy. Read bin Laden’s ‘Letter To America‘. It is awash with religious justifications, and motivations even going so far as quoting specific Qur’anic verses.
French ISIS Recruits
Werleman points to things such as the veil ban in France, and overt secularism as the cause of scores opting to join the murderous death cult ISIS, asking: ‘Is it any wonder French Muslims have become such easy targets for ISIS recruiters?’ – as though a desire to rape, torture and pillage is the only logical response to staunch religious restrictions. Perhaps he’d like to explain how ISIS seemingly have no problem poaching recruits from other Western nations who do not ban the Veil.
Werleman, referencing a note by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, claims the actions of the Boston Bombers were entirely motivated by The USAs involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq saying:
…the Tsarnaev brothers had declared they were motivated by the “killings of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan
Perhaps then, Werleman could explain what could possibly motivate two Muslim-American citizens of Kyrgyzstan origin to declare solidarity with Muslims in these unvisited, far-removed lands? Werleman accuses atheists of simply fixating on one or two comments about religion, whilst ignoring the rest when it comes to extremists. This is outstanding hypocrisy given the contents of (surviving brother) Tsarnaev’s note. The note was scrawled on the inside of a boat that was subsequently riddled with bullets during police attempts to ‘apprehend’ Tsaernaev. Here is Tsarnaev’s note in full. The ‘[Hole]’ sections represent missing text due to bullet holes. I’ve highlighted Tsaernaev’s religious sentiments in red, and the parts CJ fixates on in green:
‘I’m jealous of my brother who ha [hole] ceived the reward of jannutul Firdaus (inshallah )
before me. I do not mourn because his soul is
very much alive. God has a plan for each person.
Mine was to hide in his boat and shed some
light on our actions I ask Allah to make me a
shahied (iA) to allow me to return to him and
be among all the righteous people in the highest levels
He who Allah guides no one can misguide
A [hole] bar!
I bear witness that there is no God but Allah
and that Muhammad is his
messenger [hole] r actions came
with [hole] a [hole] ssage and that
is [hole] ha Illalah. The U.S.
Government is killing our innocent
civilians but most of you already
know that. As a M[hole] I can’t
stand to see such evil go unpunished,
we Muslims are one body, you hurt
one you hurt us all, well at least that’s
how Muhammad (pbuh) wanted it to be [hole] ever,
the ummah is beginning to rise/awa [hole]
has awoken the mujahideen, know you are
fighting men who look into the barrel of your
gun and see heaven, now how can you compete
with that. We are promised victory and we
will surely get it. Now I don’t like killing
innocent people it is forbidden in Islam
but due to said [hole] it is allowed.
All credit goes to [hole].’
Investigators also concluded the brothers were motivated by their extremist Islamic beliefs.
Werleman informs us that:
‘Today, Muslim-Americans must endure harassment from both law enforcement officials and the general public. According to FBI statistics, anti-Muslim violence has soared since 2010’.
As though atheists (new, old, fetal, whatever) deny this fact, or are unaware of it. It’s perfectly possible to notice, and oppose prejudice and hate directed at Muslims, and to notice and oppose such behaviour in the name of Islam.
I’ll leave you with this from Werleman, where he seemingly contradicts the entire point of his own book:
‘It takes no high degree of enquiry to know bad stuff happens in Muslim countries. Female genital mutilation, honor killings, punitive gang rapes, and the discrimination against homosexuals and apostates should trouble anyone with even a smidgen of humanistic sensibility. Equally, it’s right to call out the many civil liberty violations carried out in Islam’s name by thugs, gangsters, extremists and opportunists in some Muslim majority countries. Duh!‘
I imagine this will be the last thing I write about Werleman. This book seems to be the conclusive finale of any lingering credibility. His audience must almost exclusively consist of Islamists, anti-Semites and liberal regressives. That will never end well for him. I can only suggest starving him of attention from now on. I’m going to take Jerry Coyne’s lead and pledge to make a charitable donation if I mention or interact with him again in future. Feel free to remind me of it should I fall off the Werleman Wagon. I can only imagine the passage of time will (should) cause him to look back in deep shame as he recalls saving the big fight for ‘New Atheists’ – at a time when Islamist fascism was at its most murderous, human-rights violating worst.
Given the disdain for ‘New Atheists’ and specifically, ‘New Atheist Bloggers’ throughout this new book, I wonder whether Werleman will accept some responsibility the next time a ‘New Atheist’ blogger is hacked to death in Bangladesh? Of course he won’t. And neither should he. He only would were he to apply the same standards of instigating hate and violence to his own words, as he does to others
UPDATE 14 September 2015 – Threat Of Legal Action From CJ Werleman
On the day this blog post was released (12 Sep), CJ Werleman contacted me by email to demand the removal of three items ‘within 48 hours’. The items are: one reference to ‘probable sock puppetry’, one reference to ‘a suspicious Twitter follower count’ and the section titled ‘Suspicious (and entirely coincidental) Amazon Reviews’. Werleman states that failure to comply with these demands would result in ‘immediate legal action’ for ‘defamation’. I replied to say this blog post would remain unchanged.
- Due to CJ Werleman’s inability to cite and quote properly, it has come to my attention that at least part of this quote is actually Werleman quoting Chris Hedges. He fails to indicate this in his book ↩
- The God Delusion, page 307, Richard Dawkins ↩
- Letter To A Christian Nation, page 12, Sam Harris ↩