The discourse in the zeitgeist

Maryam tells us about a new installment in the ongoing saga of…of…I don’t even know what to call it now, because it’s become so tangled and contradictory since Sam Harris’s worshipers joined the fray. Of bizarro-world reasons students come up with to claim she’s an Unapproved Person.

A student at Sheffield University messaged the University’s Atheists, Secularists and Humanists Society to suggest inviting Maryam to speak there. Here is the ASH president’s response:




Can you believe it?

“The discourse in the zeitgeist” – meaning the chatter on the bit of social media the writer is aware of, which hardly amounts to the discourse in the zeitgeist, if there even is such a thing. But it makes for an official-sounding “reason” for shunning someone, and that’s what counts.

But much more to the point is the writer’s squeamishness at a “hard anti-Islamist” approach. Should we be pro-Islamist instead? Or neutral? Does the writer realize that Islamism means sharia and all that that entails? Has the writer taken a look at Islamism in Saudi Arabia for example?

Then there’s the hopeless confusion about the conversation with Sam Harris – as if Sam Harris had been pro-Islamism and Maryam had been “divisively” against it.

And then – this is the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society – and it’s worried about relations with the Islamic Circle? But it’s an Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society. Can’t atheists have any place where they’re allowed to be atheist?

Then there’s the mention of “what happened at Goldsmiths” – as if that had been Maryam’s doing, when it was members of Isoc who disrupted her scheduled talk. The president of Sheffield ASH seems to want to give Sheffield Islamists a pre-emptive veto on inviting atheists to speak.

They had a conversation on Facebook.


“We really really don’t want her to feel undervalued or in some way unwelcome” – what do they mean “in some way unwelcome”? Obviously she is unwelcome – because Sheffield Islamists might go to her talk to disrupt it and try to bully her.

What a train-wreck.

7 Responses to “The discourse in the zeitgeist”