Richard Dawkins Is Still Terrible

by Shakesville Moderator Hallelujah_Hippo

[Content Note: Misogyny; racism.]

This time, he's taking the bold stance that the achievements of old white guys are talked about and lauded not because of bias, but because they are just the best at everything, all the time.

screen cap of a tweet authored by @Tormny_Pickeals reading: 'if i could condense all of mankinds worth to a dvd shot into space i would be sure to include only old white guys' and Richard Dawkins responding: ''Old white guys'? Who then would you choose as a better poet than Shakespeare, better scientist than Einstein . . . etc ?'

Later, Heina Dadabhoy tweeted at Dawkins: "Just so I'm sure I'm reading this right, are you intending to say that old white men are the best at everything?"

To which he replied: "No of course not. But do you know a better poet / composer / scientist than Shakespeare / Schubert / Einstein?"

There are about a million things wrong with this bullshit (feel free to tease all of them out in comments), but I'm going to focus on the ones that struck me first.

Leaving aside that I can think of lots of examples to counter his shitty rhetorical question, his premise completely ignores institutional barriers (such as lack of funding, active exclusion, and purposeful erasure) to women seeking education and practicing talents in a hell of a lot of countries for a hell of a long time, while simultaneously denying the existence of languages other than English in which non-white dudes are considered some of the greatest poets ever. For a start.

Additionally, given his specific choice of examples, Shakesville Mod Aphra_Behn (quoted with permission) said it by email better than I could:
The fictional Shakespeare's sister and her limited opportunities are of course central to this blog's history. And the real-life Mileva Marie Einstein, who gave up a fucking PhD in physics after becoming pregnant with Albert's child, is another fucking bookend to the story of limiting brilliant women.

Shakespeare's sister and Einstein's wife, asshole. Get a fucking clue.
The stories historians tell are not free of bias or agendas, and the people held up as superlative figures in their field and work are not chosen in a vacuum free of prejudice, agenda, and race- and gender-based assumptions (just to name two factors at play).

To keep pretending that old white dudes are the focus of praise to the exclusion of everyone else because they are inherently better than everyone else, is to keep pretending that other people have not been ignored, marginalized, and silenced in order to better support that very narrative.

And that is mendacious bullshit.

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