American “Humanists” cancel Richard Dawkins over their Gender Delusion

This morning I woke to the news that the organisation laughingly known as the American Humanist Association (AHA) has withdrawn the ‘Humanist of the Year Award’ given to Richard Dawkins in…wait for it…1996!

Here’s the backstory: Ten days ago, Richard Dawkins tweeted this.

In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black. Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as. Discuss.

I wasn’t irked by this comment as some were – including many on our side of the biggest cultural conflict of our time. We expect high-profile scientists to stand up for science against an ideology based on post-modernist pseudoscientific claptrap but we expect them to do so sooner rather than later. We have been disgusted by those – such as Alice Roberts, current President of Humanists UK – who’ve sold out and we’ve been dismayed by the silence of others, including Dawkins. Some responded irately on the belatedness of his intervention while others saw the framing of his comment as cowardly fence-sitting.

Others still – and I count myself amongst them – were just relieved that what he did say was neutral and made no concessions to the gender crackpots. To be fair, many genderists took the comment at face value and attempted serious responses to the question, providing a wealth of evidence of their lack of ability to think clearly, while others demonstrated how desperate they are to shut everyone they disagree with up. A large number, inevitably, had nothing to offer but abuse.

As I am very familiar with how the gender zealots think and behave, I wasn’t surprised to see that some eight hours and over two thousand responses later, Richard Dawkins felt the need to provide this explanation.

I do not intend to disparage trans people. I see that my academic “Discuss” question has been misconstrued as such and I deplore this. It was also not my intent to ally in any way with Republican bigots in US now exploiting this issue.

He was immediately reproached for “apologising” for his earlier comment. Personally, I didn’t read it as an apology but as a matter-of-fact clarification for those who – like the AHA – are so deeply immersed in the murky pond waters of gender fanaticism that they read into Dawkins’ first tweet sentiments that simply weren’t there.

According to the AHA’s “Statement Withdrawing Honor from Richard Dawkins”

Richard Dawkins has over the past several years accumulated a history of making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalized groups, an approach antithetical to humanist values.

As they give no examples, it is impossible to know which “statements” they have in mind, much less attempt to counter the AHA allegations about them. Perhaps he is indeed guilty as charged but in the absence of details or evidence, we are left with the one tweet, which in the AHA’s view:

…implies that the identities of transgender individuals are fraudulent, while also simultaneously attacking Black identity as one that can be assumed when convenient.

It is hard to imagine a more jaundiced reading.

The words “fraudulent” and “attacking Black identity” emit a strong whiff of hysteria, which alone justifies the widespread ridicule of the AHA’s statement on social media this morning.

In fact, people do sometimes pretend to be of a different ethnicity – to be part of an ethnic minority – when it is convenient to do so. An article I read last year about what is called “racial fraud” was a revelation to me. Adopting a Black identity may not be entirely the same as adopting a transgender identity but nor is it as different as the AHA seems to think and, notably, their statement offers no explanation as to why these are different phenomena and why only the adoption of a different gender identity should be taken seriously.

Elsewhere on this site, I have pointed out that, “identifying as something isn’t enough to make you that something”. This is so patently obvious that it shouldn’t need further elaboration. The same can’t be said of the view implicit in the AHA statement that gender identity trumps biology in determining what someone is.

I also argued that race and gender are comparable in the sense that “both are widely considered to be social constructs, both give rise to prejudices and, most importantly for the purposes of the argument, both are taken as ‘identities’.”

I expressed what was then an “instinctive belief” that what I called the “Dolezal conundrum” is insurmountable for gender ideologues and nothing I have seen or heard in the years since has disabused me of that notion.

What I find most risible about the AHA statement is the mention of “humanist values”, which links not to a list of humanist values but to a page of quoted definitions of humanism from various groups and individuals. At the top of the page is one from the AHA:

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good.
– American Humanist Association

At the bottom of the page is a disclaimer:

Note: These definitions of Humanism are provided for the education and interest of readers. The AHA does not necessarily agree with or advocate any one except the definition (printed first above) officially approved by the AHA Board of Directors.

I would love to see what labyrinthine explanation the AHA might come up with in defence of their allegation that anything Dawkins has said is “antithetical” to the very limited values specified in their short sentence defining humanism.

In contrast, I can point to some humanist principles that the AHA statement fails abysmally to meet.

Where is the evidence of any commitment to rational enquiry and the scientific method, any attempt to discuss in a spirit of free inquiry and use reason and evidence in support of arguments and of the moral principle of treating others as you would wish to be treated aka the Golden Rule? These are the values that attracted me to humanism in the first place. They have evidently been abandoned by both the AHA and Humanists UK – an organisation that Richard Dawkins once presided over and of which he remains a patron.

I’ll update this post in the event of Humanists UK making any kind of statement about this extraordinary behaviour by their American counterparts over one of their patrons. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of the many apt comments I’ve seen so far and the unwittingly ironic response.


“Repent therefore and turn back that your sins may be blotted out.” Acts 3:19




Published 20.04.21

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