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KPFA's “Deplatformed" Author and Biologist Richard Dawkins Speaking In Corte Madera
by repost
Friday Jul 28th, 2017 1:53 PM
KPFA manager Quincy McCoy has unilaterally "deplatformed" author and biologist Richard Dawkins from a book reading saying he was harshly critical of Islam that was "abusive and hurtful". The attacks on Dawkins by the KPFA management have backfired with many people questioning the so called "free speech" station's commitment to that principle.
At the same time, the station has invited capitalist pro-war politicians like US Senator Al Franken who has voted billions for US wars abroad and also for financial and military support for the apartheid state of Israel. Apparently KPFA management has no problems hosting supporters of US imperialism who was called and advertised on KPFA as "The giant of the Senate" but has to "deplatform" someone who criticizes Islamism and religion.
KPFA's “Deplatformed" Author and Biologist Richard Dawkins Speaking In Corte Madera
Controversial atheist author Richard Dawkins to speak at Book Passage; is Corte Madera new home of free speech?

Fiona Hanson/Associated Press archivesControversial author Richard Dawkins will appear in the Bay Area after all. Days after being disinvited to speak in Berkeley, due to his statements criticizing Islam, he will come to Book Passage in Corte Madera on Aug. 9
By ANGELA HILL | ahill [at] | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: July 28, 2017 at 9:58 am | UPDATED: July 28, 2017 at 12:42 pm
A Corte Madera bookstore has stepped up to host an event with evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins just days after Berkeley public radio station KPFA abruptly canceled a similar event, citing Dawkins’ criticisms of Islam.

“As an independent bookseller, we are in strong support of independent thinking,” Karen West, events director for Corte Madera’s Books Passage, said in a statement. “We would never censor one of the greatest thinkers of our time!”

Book Passage will hold a book signing and discussion of Dawkins’ latest work, “Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.” The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 9 — the same date as the original Berkeley event had been planned.

Dawkins, 76, known as an ardent critic of many religions, was scheduled to speak that night at a ticketed fundraiser for Berkeley’s KPFA listener-supported, progressive radio station. Then on July 20, organizers sent out an email to ticket holders, citing “Dawkins’ abusive speech against Muslims,” and saying in part, “We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt — in his tweets and other comments on Islam — so many people.”

According to The New York Times, KPFA was responding to some objections to Dawkins’ past comments, such as a tweet in 2013 in which he called Islam “the greatest force for evil in the world today.”

Receiving swift criticism for the cancellation that seemed to fly in the face of free speech — especially in Berkeley — KPFA followed up with a tweet the next day, posting, “KPFA exercises its free speech right not to participate with anyone who uses hateful language against a community already under attack.”

KPFA was contacted for this report, but did not immediately respond.

Dawkins told the New York Times last weekend that he only learned about the cancellation after a ticket holder forwarded the KPFA email to him. He then launched his own online offensive, demanding an apology from KPFA. And when Book Passage eagerly agreed to host Dawkins, he tweeted about the event, saying, “Were you a victim of @KPFA’s sanctimonious hypocrisy? Ticket returned? SORRY. Short notice substitute event here.”

“For decades, Richard Dawkins has been a brilliant scientific communicator, consistently illuminating the wonders of nature and attacking faulty logic,” the Book Passage statement reads. “’Science in the Soul’ brings together forty-two essays, polemics, and paeans — all written with Dawkins’s characteristic erudition, remorseless wit, and unjaded awe of the natural world.”

In recent months, Berkeley, where the Free Speech Movement was born in the 1960s, has been embroiled in accusations of censorship. UC Berkeley received heavy criticism for cancelling a speech by right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopolous in February after a violent protest about his appearance erupted on campus. Then in April, the university was also accused of censorship after cancelling a speech by conservative author Ann Coulter, citing security concerns.

Bill Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, says the feedback they’ve had about the Dawkins event has so far been positive and he expects a crowd of several hundred in attendance.

“We had no idea he’d been scheduled in Berkeley,” Petrocelli said. “It wasn’t until that event was canceled and the publisher contacted us to find a new venue that we heard about it, and we were happy to do it.”

Petrocelli said Dawkins has spoken at Book Passage previously. “He’s a very articulate and personable speaker,” he said. “He’s provocative, no question. He has a point of view about things, but he’s a learned, well-respected scientist.”

Though Petrocelli doesn’t anticipate protesters, standard crowd-control staffing will be in place.

Tickets to the Book Passage event are $32, and include a signed copy of the book; (415) 927-0960,
‘Beholden to AIPAC’ — progressive senators Warren, Murphy, Brown sign letter seeking to limit Obama’s actions
US Politics Philip Weiss on September 21, 2016 49 Comments
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Eliz. Warren at Tufts last September, (c) Pat Westwater-Jong

The news that many progressive US senators as well as vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine signed on to an Israel lobby letter designed to limit President Obama’s actions against the Israeli occupation, now nearly 50 years old, has been widely reported, but the plain facts need to be stated.

Yesterday the Israel lobby group AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, flexed its muscle against President Obama and on the side of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu by posting a letter signed by 88 senators warning President Obama not to back any international measures that would pressure Israel to withdraw from occupied territories.

We urge you to… make it clear that you will veto any one sided UNSC [UN Security Council] resolution that may be offered in the coming months.

The brave senators who did not sign this letter include Democrats Patrick Leahy of VT, Bernie Sanders, Tom Carper of Delaware, and Dick Durbin of Illinois, along with Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky. The letter was circulated by NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and got many progressive signatures: Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, Ron Wyden, Tammy Baldwin, Chris Murphy, Barbara Mikulski, Barbara Boxer, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Richard Blumenthal, Ed Markey, Jack Reed, right along with John McCain, Mike Lee, Lindsey Graham and John Barrasso.

AIPAC issued a press release announcing the letter and highlighting this passage: “Even well-intentioned initiatives at the United Nations risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiating table and make the compromises necessary for peace… we must continue to insist that neither we nor any other outsider substitute for the parties to the conflict.”

The letter is entirely consistent with the Democratic Party platform pushed through by Hillary Clinton in July, which removed references to occupation and settlements; Cornel West said then that the party was “beholden to AIPAC.”

Haaretz’s Barak Ravid‘s interpretation:

Fearing post-election UN peace push by Obama, 88 Democratic and Republican senators tell president even well intentioned initiatives could make it more difficult to resolve conflict.

Jason Ditz at

The letter was penned by the lobby at the behest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose office is concerned that years of acrimony between him and Obama might lead Obama to not veto a French resolution on the peace process if it comes between the November election and the day he leaves office.

There is that French initiative:

In the absence of any US led initiative, France has since made a push for a multi-lateral regional summit and has spoken of a resolution before the United Nations Security Council to set the contours of a new peace process.

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are to meet today in New York. The president is expected to launch some sort of initiative re the occupation in the last months of his presidency. His speech yesterday to the UN General Assemblyoffered just one line on the conflict:

And surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.

Obama aide Ben Rhodes told a press briefing yesterday, “I wouldn’t rule out the President taking any particular step on the issue,” but he dampened expectations, with pointed reference to settlements:

In terms of our own plans going forward, we don’t have plans for the President to pursue a new initiative at this point. We do want to raise our concerns directly with the Israeli government, and the President said in his speech today that he does not believe that, ultimately, it’s in the interests of Israel to continue an occupation and to continue settlement activities.

At Tablet, Yair Rosenberg reports that Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Ben Sasse all did not sign the letter because it didn’t go far enough in support of Israel (and against the two-state solution, in Cruz’s case). All three are being drawn right by Sheldon Adelson’s financial contributions to Republicans. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is another firebreather who did not sign the letter.

The collapse of so many progressive Democrats can also be laid at the feet of campaign finance.

Emily’s List founder Stephanie Schriock explained the influence of AIPAC on progressive congressional candidates at a J Street event in June:

[W]here [are] you are going to go to raise the money that you needed to raise to win a race. And you went to labor, you went to the choice community, and you went to the Jewish community. But before you went to the Jewish community, you had a conversation with the lead AIPAC person in your state and they made it clear that you needed a paper on Israel. And so you called all of your friends who already had a paper on Israel – that was designed by AIPAC – and we made that your paper.

JJ Goldberg of the Forward said at that same public session that of the 14 biggest donors to Democrats, only one is not Jewish. “That’s gigantic in the terms of American politics.” He also said:

You ask a Democratic fundraiser, where do you get the money from? “Well from trial lawyers, from toys, from generic drugs, from Hollywood. From Jews.” Those are all essentially Jewish industries… When you are raising money, you need to find rich people who are not right wing, and there are not– pardon me for saying this, there are not many rich goyim who are not right wing. Forgive me for saying that….

Elizabeth Warren ran away from questions about the Gaza slaughter of 2014. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy has led the noble effort to cut off aid to Saudi Arabia because of atrocities committed in Yemen. But he refuses to say a word against Israeli atrocities in occupied territory. Chris Murphy and Rand Paul joined in this effort at the Center for the National Interest two days ago. There was no mention of Israeli war crimes there either. Though Rand Paul did not sign the AIPAC letter.