Richard Dawkins, it seems, is human and like the rest of us, occasionally stumbles when he brings up a distantly-related (but controversial) topic in the course of making an argument about something else.

In this case, as Wilkins observes, Dawkins' stumble is to conflate the 'pro-Israel lobby' with being a Jew, secular or otherwise. Dawkins did this in an article which appeared in the Guardian, here. Of course, a careful reading shows of that same article gives the lie to the imputation of anti-semitism which has been hinted in certain corners. Dawkins made his unfortunate comment in the context of promoting the desirability of atheists (another despised minority, it is implied) lobbying the government.

Still, while my high regard for Dr. Dawkins as a scientist is unshaken, what Wilkins correctly diagnoses as a 'fallacy of composition' is pretty much the sort of argument Dawkins makes when he rails against those who identify the children of observant Christians as 'Christian children', an extension of his claim that religion is a form of child abuse. Which, frankly, is true in some cases and not true in others----much like the fact that some in the pro-Israel lobby are observant Jews, and others are neither observant or Jewish. If Dr. Dawkins had been as circumspect in his categories with the latter groups, he would not be the object of the very 'consciousness-raising' he commended in another context.

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