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May 05 2012

More discussion of profiling, pro and con

I have to return to Same Harris’ defense of profiling, because he’s added an addendum, and although it tells us more about why Harris is focused on this issue, it doesn’t actually address my objections, and thinking about it, it does expose some deep differences between me and Harris.

The problem is this assertion:

We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.

Let me change that around a bit, not just to make a point for me, but also to try and move the debate away from race.

We should profile Republicans, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Republican, and we should be honest about it.

If you step back and look at the world today, the major source of death and strife and terrorism isn’t Islam, it’s America — the country with hands down the largest arsenal and the will to use it. A few cunning Islamic terrorists did manage to murder several thousand Americans in a stunning attack, it is true; but in retaliation, we killed a hundred thousand or more Iraqis (a nation not involved in that attack!) and have wrecked two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, and threaten to wreak similar havoc on a third, Iran. We have drones flying over Afghanistan right now, ready to blow up any small group of people seen gathering in public. You cannot call those drones anything but state-sponsored terrorism.

Of all the people lined up behind the security barrier at the airport, it’s those American voters who are currently the most dangerous. The only reasonable objection to my claim that we should profile Republicans is that everyone who voted for the Democrat Obama is also culpable.

I will agree with Harris, though, that frisking little old Republican ladies at the checkpoint is ridiculous, because suicidal terrorism isn’t their game — that’s the desperate tactic of the otherwise powerless, and as he points out, it’s almost entirely perpetrated by Muslims.

Many readers found this blog post stunning for its lack of sensitivity. The article has been called “racist,” “dreadful,” “sickening,” “appalling,” “frighteningly ignorant,” etc. by (former) fans who profess to have loved everything I’ve written until this moment. I find this reaction difficult to understand. Of course, anyone who imagines that there is no link between Islam and suicidal terrorism might object to what I’ve written here, but I say far more offensive things about Islam in The End of Faith and in many of my essays and lectures.

In any case, it is simply a fact that, in the year 2012, suicidal terrorism is overwhelmingly a Muslim phenomenon. If you grant this, it follows that applying equal scrutiny to Mennonites would be a dangerous waste of time.

This is true. Republicans would never make the self-sacrifice of smuggling explosives on a plane to kill themselves and the other passengers — it’s not their thing. So if we’re focused on just stopping this one strategy of disrupting our economy and politics, I agree that after the fact we’re likely to discover that the perpetrator was a Muslim. It’s also true that some vocal Muslims are likely to express credible death threats against individuals — like Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Salman Rushdie — using Islam as a justification, and those people certainly have good cause to fear Islam.

But that does not make “Muslim” a useful criterion for preventing terror attacks. The majority of Muslims are just as harmless as the elderly woman featured in Harris’ article (probably more harmless: they aren’t voting Republican). When you single out the 30 year old traveling Pakistani engineer with a family and a career for specially invasive inspection, you are committing just as much of an outrage as when you pull out the 70 year old white grandma.

When I speak of profiling “Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim,” I am not narrowly focused on people with dark skin. In fact, I included myself in the description of the type of person I think should be profiled (twice). To say that ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, dress, traveling companions, behavior in the terminal, and other outward appearances offer no indication of a person’s beliefs or terrorist potential is either quite crazy or totally dishonest. It is the charm of political correctness that it blends these sins against reasonableness so seamlessly. We are paying a very high price for this obscurantism—and the price could grow much higher in an instant. We have limited resources, and every moment spent searching a woman like the one pictured above, or the children seen in the linked videos, is a moment in which someone or something else goes unobserved.

This logic simply doesn’t work. It’s not political correctness: it’s basic numeracy. Since terrorists are extremely rare in airports, you could also argue that the whole strategy of randomly frisking individuals is a waste of limited resources: since the probability of any of those people, either Muslim or non-Muslim, being a terrorist is so ridiculously low, each search is a waste of time that could allow the real problem people to go unobserved. The numbers just don’t work. I agree with Harris that special screening for white-haired old ladies is absurd, but it’s also absurd for brown-skinned young men with an accent.

Another reason it’s ridiculous: we keep fighting the last terrorist. They aren’t going to keep doing the same thing, over and over; 9/11 was a one-shot event, airlines have made other changes in their protocols that will prevent that. Yet TSA keeps following one step behind. Some guy smuggles explosives aboard in the soles of his shoes, so now we have to take off our shoes for inspection before boarding; it doesn’t matter that the shoe bomb didn’t work. I thoroughly sympathize with frustration at the mindless, pointless security theater we go through all the time. I don’t think it helps us at all, though, to turn it into an opportunity to selectively punish people who “look Muslim”. That’s theater that adds a fresh new layer of pointless othering and tribalism to the pointless pretense of security.

“Political correctness” is a phrase too often used to justify racism and oppression; you can’t just defuse criticisms of poor policies of discrimination by claiming political correctness. It’s really about recognizing the fact that religious affiliation is not a good indicator of a propensity for violence.

Step into any mosque, church, or synagogue, and what you’ll find is a congregation of people who are typically more concerned with getting along with their neighbors than in blowing stuff up. Sure, you’ll find a scattering of people who want do destroy Great Satan America, or shoot abortion doctors, or overthrow ZOG, but they’re a minority, and they also tend to segregate themselves off to more reactionary cells in more radical religious groups. I think it’s a huge mistake for atheists to repeat this claim that religion makes you fly planes into buildings; it’s simply not true, and the overwhelming majority of religious people who gather on holy days to pray are looking at us like we’re insane and deluded for suggesting it. That isn’t “political correctness”, that’s truth, and that’s what the people of reason should be focused on. Not damning the whole for the crimes of a few. Not equating Muslim with terrorist.

I really think the atheist movement ought to be focusing instead on one general truth: almost all of the people in that mosque, church, or synagogue believe in stupid ideas. They aren’t evil, they’re wrong, and their credulous beliefs make them more gullible and susceptible to exploitation. I’m not in the least bit interested in punishing the religious for their beliefs in any way; they’re victims of bad tradition and poor education, and if you want to end religious terrorism the best strategy isn’t to make bodies bounce in the rubble or isolate and suppress, but to educate, educate, educate. Open up economic opportunities, increase the security of people’s lives (not just privileged wealthy white people’s lives, but everyone’s), and teach people how to think and learn.

At the end of his addendum, Harris offers to open up his blog to an expert on airline security to discuss the topic. The good news is that he’s willing to learn: he’s now promising to publish something from Bruce Schneier, which I find very encouraging.

367 comments

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  1. 1
    gman

    Harris really needs to get schooled in conditional probability.

    Even if it is true that most terrorists are Moslems (ignoring the KKK, militia types, etc.) it doesn’t follow that most Moslems are terrorists. Probably 99.99% of Moslems have nothing to do with terrorism.

  2. 2
    Alex M Doubts Your Commitment to Sparkle Motion

    “Another reason it’s ridiculous: we keep fighting the last terrorist. They aren’t going to keep doing the same thing, over and over; 9/11 was a one-shot event, airlines have made other changes in their protocols that will prevent that. Yet TSA keeps following one step behind. Some guy smuggles explosives aboard in the soles of his shoes, so now we have to take off our shoes for inspection before boarding; it doesn’t matter that the shoe bomb didn’t work.”

    YES! Thank you so much for this.

    You know what day I’m most likely to want to fly on if I coincidentally have a reason to? September 11th? Seriously, what are both the odds that another attack would ever happen on the SAME day, and what terrorist would be *that f’n stupid* to try and do it on the same day? Although, that does make me wonder if TSA has a habit of ramping up security on that day, JUST because they constantly seem to chase the ghost of the last terrorist. They did it once on 9/11; therefore all 11th days of September are suspect thenceforward? That basically makes as much sense as shoe inspection and all the rest.

    As for profiling and violence associated with religion, I think there are religious and non-religious people — I’d wager in my own state, even — who would have the psychotic disconnect enough to open fire in a crowd, or set off a bomb somewhere based upon some homicidal delusion he harbors. What I believe the difference between that person and a “Muslim terrorist” is, the Muslim terrorist more often than not has LESS to lose by doing so. I don’t think their devotion of their imagined gods are any more severe than many of the devout Jesus-bots who live in my country; I just think that they stand to sacrifice, in practical terms, a WHOLE lot more than the average Muslim. I think America became as bloodthirsty in the wake of 9/11 as it did because it, for once, actually got a bigger taste of what it’s like to have your sense of safety and security COMPLETELY thrown out of the window. That’s pretty much a daily reality for people in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

    If you’re just as likely to die sitting around on your ass, why wouldn’t you at least try to die taking out those you feel are mostly responsible for your constant fear and unease?

  3. 3
    Antares42

    As someone who is at least tangentially involved in medical research and biomarker discovery, two words: Sensitivity and specificity.

    Sam and you are discussing the two different aspects of markers and screening, and you’re apparently talking past each other.

    If something is correlated with the outcome you want to predict, it can be used to increase the sensitivity of a screening. That’s a fact. If “being Muslim” makes it ever-so-slightly more likely to be a terrorist, then including that into a screening test would improve it.

    That being said, I do think that Sam Harris is still wrong, and that is because of the other thing: Specificity. As you rightly point out, terrorists are extremely rare and our tests produce ridiculous amounts of false positives. The no-fly-lists attest to that. In such a scenario, screening becomes useless, because the side-effects far outweigh the benefits.

    And that doesn’t even mention (as you did) that every policy change would also see would-be terrorists changing their tactics. So the only approach is treating people the same such as not to produce an imbalance that can be exploited.

    So to sum up, Sam is technically correct about sensitivity, but by ignoring specificity (and in particular the rarity of the “condition” we screen for) his argument falls flat.

  4. 4
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    I agree with Harris that special screening for white-haired old ladies is absurd, but it’s also absurd for brown-skinned young men with an accent.

    This!

    Screening people who “look Muslim” does nothing to increase our security– it might make a bigot like Harris feel better about flying, but he’s a shitbag that no one should be listening to.

    Also, treating innocent people like they’re criminals leads to more problems, not less. For fuck’s sake we know this from experience.

    They aren’t evil, they’re wrong, and their credulous beliefs make them more gullible and susceptible to exploitation. I’m not in the least bit interested in punishing the religious for their beliefs in any way…

    I believe ‘Tis Himself has said something along the lines of “I don’t care about little old ladies going to church on Sunday and minding their own business.” I wholeheartedly agree.

  5. 5
    Alex M Doubts Your Commitment to Sparkle Motion

    @Antares

    And I think that, by keeping things generally as they were pre-9/11, it has the happy added affect of rendering the terrorist attacks more or less pointless, aside from the few they managed to kill in the moment. It’s the lasting effects of terrorism they count on; denying them that would have certainly been a win for the States.

  6. 6
    Adam Lee

    So I guess Sam Harris overlooked this, but it seems like an obvious follow-up question to me: If we plan to profile Muslims, how exactly do we know which airline passengers are Muslims?

    I mean, really, what is he proposing? Do we just ask? (“Now tell us, and be honest: Are you Muslim? And no lying!”) Do we have the police snoop on mosques and compile membership lists? Do we require all Muslims to register with the government? I’d really like to hear his proposal for how to implement this plan.

  7. 7
    georgewiman

    I think it’s a huge mistake for atheists to repeat this claim that religion makes you fly planes into buildings; it’s simply not true, and the overwhelming majority of religious people who gather on holy days to pray are looking at us like we’re insane and deluded for suggesting it.

    Thank you for this, too, and for the general truths that followed. I am very uncomfortable with that claim and feel it represents us poorly. Asymmetrical warfare is not a feature of Islam; it is a feature of powerlessness. Our campaign to disempower the third world is responsible.

    In any case, no one will be taking over any aircraft with token weapons like box knives anymore; that will simply not happen. We can stop taking away nail files and Swiss Army knives.

  8. 8
    simonsays

    Don’t forget the ongoing drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan which have been expanded under Obama.

    Source: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/30/world/la-fg-brennan-drones-20120501

    And of course the elephant in the room which is the extreme unconditional support for Israel for the past few decades-also with broad bi-partisan support.

  9. 9
    Neil Rickert

    We should profile Republicans

    Finally, profiling begins to make sense.
    </sarcasm>

  10. 10
    DLC

    not going to repeat myself. What I said the last time this came up still goes. We need some level of security but definitely not the currently practiced nuthouse. I could expound on this for the length of an article, but I’m not going to try to put it all in this comments box. Most of the people here realize what needs to be done, anyway. Maybe I’ll write something and stick it on my own blog. If I ever create one.

  11. 11
    Antares42

    @Alex #5: Yes, precisely.

    @gman #1: “it doesn’t follow that most Moslems are terrorists.” That’s a straw man, Harris didn’t say that. His conclusion is still wrong, but let’s keep the discussion honest.

  12. 12
    Thomas Lawson

    When I flew out of Washington (state) last month I got the Israeli Chit-Chat screening. That, to me, is quite a good screening. The Homeland Security Agent doesn’t even have to touch you. One agent looks at your documents and the other agent just chats you up. If they’ve got the right person doing it, it’s actually quite a pleasant experience to just talk to someone like you’re standing at a bus stop. At one point we even had a good laugh! Imagine that…

  13. 13
    John Small Berries

    At the end of his addendum, Harris offers to open up his blog to an expert on airline security to discuss the topic. The good news is that he’s willing to learn:

    The bad news is, he’s saying, “I’m simply going to ignore the opinions of anyone who isn’t an airline security expert, even though I expect other people to treat my non-airline-security-expert opinion seriously.”

    If he is adamant that only the opinions of an airline security expert are worth listening to, then he should take down his post – or present his airline security credentials to demonstrate that anyone should bother considering his opinion.

  14. 14
    barbyau

    To say that ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, dress, traveling companions, behavior in the terminal, and other outward appearances offer no indication of a person’s beliefs or terrorist potential is either quite crazy or totally dishonest.

    So he posits both that we should profile Muslims and that absolutely anyone can be a Muslim. So where’s the profiling? Won’t random sampling do if ANYONE can be Muslim?

    The stupid, it hurts.

  15. 15
    barbyau

    Wrong quote above, but if he thinks he should be profiled than pretty much anyone should.

  16. 16
    mattandrews

    At the end of his addendum, Harris offers to open up his blog to an expert on airline security to discuss the topic. The good news is that he’s willing to learn: he’s now promising to publish something from Bruce Schneier, which I find very encouraging.

    Yeah, good luck with that. My experience has been that people who promote bigoted views and then piss an moan about political correctness don’t change said views, regardless of evidence.

  17. 17
    marksletten

    So let’s do something positive: let’s end the TSA.

    http://www.chooseliberty.org/tsa_sign.aspx?pid=0501n

    Of course, you’ll have to eschew your distaste with the fact the referenced bill is sponsored by a Republican…

  18. 18
    dianne

    I wonder if Harris would continue to support profiling if someone decided he seemed Islamic or otherwise suspicious and started harassing him every time he flies somewhere.

  19. 19
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    If you step back and look at the world today, the major source of death and strife and terrorism isn’t Islam, it’s America

    No. Just no.

    The United States ain’t perfect. Nowhere is.

    But when did a group of Americans hijack a plane and think flying it into a skyscraper was a good idea?

    When did a bunch of Americans think that disgareeing with their philosphy / ideology / religion and writing a book or drawing a cartoon or holding a beauty pagent or naming a fucking teddy bear after a fucking kid who was named after a fucking “prophet” who was a fucking desert bandit war criminal, murderer, rapist and pedophile was a thing worthy of beheading and death eh?

    The USA ha sits flaws but the US ideology, what Americans believ in, shits all over the crazy, foule dup crap tahtis Islam anyday.

    And followers of the American way for all their various imperfections & flaws – behave a fuck of a lot betetr than followers of Islam. They really fucking do.

  20. 20
    stevenbollinger

    Why did anybody ever think Harris was bright or worth listening to to begin with? There are over a billion Muslims on the planet. They look all kindsa different ways. If we profile “Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim,” we’re going to be profiling everybody. Tell you what, why don’t we start by frisking Harris twice a day for a year or so, following him around all the time, and smacking him hard every time he gets near a computer keyboard or Blackberry or other mobile device?

    Seriously, though, if anybody can explain to me why anybody ever took Harris seriously, that’d be amazing. From what I know of him, this latest facepalm is just par for the course.

  21. 21
    Eristae

    Each year, 45,000 people die due to a lack of healthcare. Around 3000 people died from 9/11. We would need to have 15 attacks that rivaled 9/11 every year to even the numbers out. Yet it is the “War on Terror” that we throw money at without without ceasing.

    A woman whose husband died in the Twin Towers is no more a widow than a woman whose husband who died from treatable cancer. It it not fair to put the first woman on a pedestal and spit on the second woman for not being able to get healthcare. It is not fair to spend trillions of dollars to stop terrorism but fight spending anything on healthcare.

    I know that there is this illusion that you can make yourself safe from not having healthcare, but that’s not true. Even if you have great healthcare now though your job, you’re just one illness away from losing both your job and your insurance. The only exceptions to this are the independently wealthy, who can afford to buy healthcare even if they lose their jobs. But as Santorum’s Daugherty with Trisomy 18 proves, even that can’t get you healthcare all the time (although she is fortunate enough that her parents are wealthy enough to treat her with their own money rather than with insurance.)

  22. 22
    stevenbollinger

    Long as I’m here: if someone could tell me why I can’t just log in once for all the FTB blogs, that’d be super too.

  23. 23
    Alex M Doubts Your Commitment to Sparkle Motion

    Ha, yeah, if anyone thinks that the circa 3,000 people who died during 9/11 (for as horrible as it was) is the most shocking statistic of wrongful death the world over, then you seriously need to check your nationalistic privilege.

  24. 24
    Jadehawk

    The article has been called “racist,” “dreadful,” “sickening,” “appalling,” “frighteningly ignorant,” etc. by (former) fans who profess to have loved everything I’ve written until this moment. I find this reaction difficult to understand. Of course, anyone who imagines that there is no link between Islam and suicidal terrorism might object to what I’ve written here, but I say far more offensive things about Islam in The End of Faith and in many of my essays and lectures.

    well, he’s right, here. People who became fans after he wrote about nuking Islamic countries, but de-fan-ed after he wrote about racially profiling Muslims are confused little fuckers.

  25. 25
    amateurscientician

    I think two issues have been confused here. The first is when, if ever, profiling is acceptable. The second is whether it is actually useful, specifically in the case of Muslims.

    I think most people would agree that some degree of profiling is okay when looking for a specific individual. But, when it comes to singling out a group with specific traits simply because they are statistically more likely to be criminals, it’s a different situation. For the sake of argument, imagine that we knew for for sure profiling Muslims would reduce terrorist attacks. Would it be justified? I contend that it would not be. At its core, ethnic profiling is holding someone responsible, even if it’s just to a miniscule degree, for the actions committed by those who look like them. I want to live in a society that values ones character over all other attributes, I accept the consequences of that.

    There probably are forms of profiling that would help reduce the chances of terrorist attack. It’s true, there never will be an old, white lady with a bomb strapped to her chest. But, we all know living in a free society does not mean living in the most secure society. Freedom has its consequences, but most of us have decided it is worth it. If my insistence on not hassling people because they “look Muslim” gets my ass blown up one of these days, so be it.

  26. 26
    jeffkonen

    Thank you PZ Myers for this sensible article. I 100% agree with you.

  27. 27
    shoshidge

    I’m with StevoR
    America didn’t ‘wreck’ Iraq or Afganistan, they were pretty well wrecked before the Americans got there.
    I may not like how either of the wars turned out, but the intention was never to wreck either country but to help build them, an effort which has been systematically thwarted by the insurgencies who have been the ones actually responsible for the majority of deaths in either country particularly among civilians.
    If you want to blame America and its allies for being naive and hubristic throughout these debacles, I’ll agree with you heartily, but calling America the major source of death, strife and terrorism in the world is just bizarre.

  28. 28
    Jadehawk

    oh look. StevoR is being stupid again.

    dude, Americans cause more death and destruction per capita than Muslims do*, both because of America’s warmongering and because of the cost of the American lifestyle (this counts resource wars as well as deaths by Global Warming and pollution. If we add the 45000/year deaths-by-lack-of-insurance, it gets even worse). The American ideology of Imperialist, Individualist Capitalism kills a lot more people than Islam does, it just does it indirectly and out of our sight, rather than literally exploding in our midst.

    You’re being the person who freaks out about plane-crashes but is convinced cars are totally safe.

    - – - – - – - -
    *yeah, I know there’s an overlap. But it’s true even if we count American Muslims in both categories

  29. 29
    Jadehawk

    but the intention was never to wreck either country but to help build them

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    dude. both were started by the president who scoffed openly at “nationbuilding”. and that’s not even touching on the whole “intent is not magic” issue.

  30. 30
    Pteryxx

    (meta)

    stevenbollinger: One login should work for all of FTB. You might need to set your browser to allow cookies and/or permit FTB scripts to run.

  31. 31
    Ivo

    Agree with everything, but for this:

    I think it’s a huge mistake for atheists to repeat this claim that religion makes you fly planes into buildings; it’s simply not true, and the overwhelming majority of religious people who gather on holy days to pray are looking at us like we’re insane and deluded for suggesting it.

    Of course the majority or religious believers would react this way. (Although some polls of a few muslim countries shortly after 9/11, cited by Sam Harris in The end of faith, showed that up to 40% of the population approved of the attacks! If this is accurate, it cannot just be brushed aside.)

    But it is also true that religion faith (of a certain extreme kind) is currently a necessary condition for committing certain atrocities, such as suicide attacks that deliberately target innocent bystanders. Christopher Hitchens famously embodied the general principle in a challenge, to come up with a heinously immoral act that could only be committed in the absence of faith – remarking that of course if we are looking for heinously immoral acts that could only be committed because of one’s faith, several would immediately spring to mind.

    So in this sense “this claim that religion makes you fly planes into buildings” is quite correct: strong genuine religious faith is a necessary prerequisite for this, although of course it is far from sufficient, and although the vast majority of the faithful would never slide down this destructive path. It serves nobody to play down this fact only because your average innocuous religious person would “look at us like we’re insane and deluded for suggesting it”. On the contrary, we should make sure that the majority of religious people, no matter how tame, learn of the intrinsic dangers of faith, and of the moral cover that they unwittingly give their quite rare, but real, more extreme correligionaries.

    (The FSM help me — I can’t believe I’m practically accusing PZ of accomodationism!)

  32. 32
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    I may not like how either of the wars turned out, but the intention was never to wreck either country but to help build them

    I think it’s you here who’s being overly naive.

    The intent of those wars is and has always been to put somebody in place, whatever his ethics and practices, who could be reliably controlled, and could insure some form of stability, for the best economic interests of the US of A. That they torture, wrongly imprison, or commit genocide on their own citizens is only incidental.

    The spice oil must flow.

  33. 33
    eigenperson

    At the end of his addendum, Harris offers to open up his blog to an expert on airline security to discuss the topic. The good news is that he’s willing to learn: he’s now promising to publish something from Bruce Schneier, which I find very encouraging.

    Hey, this blogging thing sounds like a pretty good racket. Apparently you get free personal tutorials by leading experts in your own living room, with the only cost being that you have to say something stupid in order to convince them you need teaching.

  34. 34
    generallerong

    Maybe I shouldn’t have stopped at Wonkette first before coming here, but the first question that came to mind was:

    “And just how would one profile Republicans?”

    Smug expression?
    Careful makeup on old blond hags?
    Business suit?
    American flag pin?
    Cross pendant?
    Over 50?

    Or do you just blink and go with your overall intuition that this is someone whose face ought to be punched/slapped?

  35. 35
    Thursday's Child

    Harris: “In any case, it is simply a fact that, in the year 2012, suicidal terrorism is overwhelmingly a Muslim phenomenon. If you grant this, it follows that applying equal scrutiny to Mennonites would be a dangerous waste of time.”

    Until it isn’t.

    There are ‘true believer’ nuts in every bag. Who knows how often the system of broad spectrum screening discourages crazy cowards from carrying out violent fantasies for their particular cause, religious or otherwise.

  36. 36
    generallerong

    Oh yeah, I left out the most important tip-off:

    White.

  37. 37
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    To pre-empt the inevitable :

    Yes, extreme Christianty is shit.

    Extreme Islam is shittier.

    I urge y’all to read Taslima Nasrin & other FTB bloggers who criticise that very nasty homophobic, misogynist reliogio-political ideology.

  38. 38
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @28. Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe :

    Question you might want to consider –

    What do you think your life would be like now if you were living in some Jihadistani Muslim hellhole of a nation?

    You’re a proud feminist. I’m on your side in that.

    I think women deserve to be treated as equals and like decent huamn beings.

    Muslims, y’know, don’t.

    Muslims hang gays, stone women and treat them as very much fifth clas citizens. Heck Saudi Arabia doesn’t even let them drive.

    Do you really, really want to defend an ideolgy that would treat youand allotherwomen like crap?

    Islamists would slit my throat and chop my head off on camera just because I am who I am.

    Thing is they’d do that to so very many others including most probably you.

    “Islamophobia” ain’t no such fucking thing!

  39. 39
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    Yes, extreme Christianty is shit.

    Extreme Islam is shittier.

    All of ‘em are.

    None of them can pretend to have won the shit contest.

    Islam only happens to be, at this moment, the religion of the poorest and more desperate.

    Proverty and despair makes religious fanatism grow. It can happen just as easily with xianity or hinduism or even buddhism as it has happened with islam.

    And neither extreme xianity or hinduism or buddhism are any the less intolerant and misogynistic than islam.

  40. 40
    Scientismist

    Antares42: In such a scenario, screening becomes useless, because the side-effects far outweigh the benefits.

    Dr. Darkheart: Also, treating innocent people like they’re criminals leads to more problems, not less. For fuck’s sake we know this from experience.

    georgewiman: I am very uncomfortable with that claim [religion causes terrorism] and feel it represents us poorly.

    DLC: We need some level of security but definitely not the currently practiced nuthouse.

    John Small Berries: “..ignore the opinions of anyone who isn’t an airline security expert..”

    A lot of the folks here have pretty much said it, I think; but the issue needs to be stated a bit more more clearly. Here’s my attempt: We all know that the purpose of the current nuthouse airline security is not to catch potential terrorists. It is to impress the public that something is being done. It is rightly called “security theater”. The whole thing is side effects. It is public education. It says “look, we are doing something;” and Harris wants to add “look, we are doing something to the Muslims.”

    Harris can’t be so innumerate that he doesn’t understand that targeting “Muslim appearance” has a near-zero probability of catching any additional terrorists. It might help some innumerate Americans feel safer, but the biggest effect would be to mandate a national educational system that teaches the flying public that “Muslims are dangerous people.”

    Bottom line: Is a possible marginal improvement to the (already questionable) illusion of security worth the social damage of systematic ethnic profiling, division, and government-approved slander?

    Or, as Ivo suggests, is it a necessary piece of theater to “make sure that the majority of religious people, no matter how tame, learn of the intrinsic dangers of faith”?

  41. 41
    Nick Gotts

    Some guy smuggles explosives aboard in the soles of his shoes, so now we have to take off our shoes for inspection before boarding; it doesn’t matter that the shoe bomb didn’t work. – PZ

    That’s as stupid as anything Harris has said, though of course it’s not offensive. The shoe bomb didn’t work because the fuse got damp. It’s a perfectly viable way of blowing a plane up.

    I may not like how either of the wars turned out, but the intention was never to wreck either country but to help build them – shoshidge

    Fuckwit. I really want to puke when I come across this sort of “We may have made mistakes…” crapola. In both cases, the intended message to those on the business end of the invasion was “You don’t fuck with Uncle Sam.” – and for that message to get across, the more death and destruction the better. Secondarily, if there’s an economy worth exploiting, as in Iraq, the aim is to subordinate it to American big business interests – particularly the arms industry, as that ensures that the armed forces of the victim state will get hooked on American weaponry, and their generals will in turn ensure that the government of the state will not get too uppity.

  42. 42
    plutoanimus

    “Suicidal terrorism isn’t their game — that’s the desperate tactic of the otherwise powerless, and… it’s almost entirely perpetrated by Muslims.”

    The 9/11 mass murderers were educated and middle clas — hardly powerless.

  43. 43
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Oh & the Taliban posioned girls for merely wanting to get an education an going to school.

    See :

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/taslima/2012/04/18/religion-is-like-a-rapists-penis-it-attacks-women/

    Muslims throw acid in women’s faces – women that have just been married against their will to older men and raped.

    For fucks’ suck!

    How the hell can any decent human being even for a second defend or rationalise or excuse the evil fucked up stinking excrement that is Islam?!?

    Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe, you and I both know that you really should know better than that, right? Please?

  44. 44
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    SteveOR,
    I mentioned it last time and I’ll mention it again: the last bombing to occur in the US was not perpetrated by a radical Muslim. Oh and the place that was bombed was a Planned Parenthood clinic. Christians loooooove us so much more than those filthy Mooooslims, huh? Asshole.

    Seriously, fuck off. If you know anything about the current political climate in the US, you know that conservative Christians hate us every bit as much as radical Muslims do.

  45. 45
    dougittner

    Since Islam is a religion nobody can look like a Muslim any more than someone can look a Catholic. So perhaps Sam would like all Muslims to sport a shiny yellow crescent moon on their clothing for easier identification.

    For someone who charges a $40,000 speaking fee you’d think he’d have something more brilliant to say than some radio shock jock.

  46. 46
    jamesevans

    If you step back and look at the world today, the major source of death and strife and terrorism isn’t Islam, it’s America — the country with hands down the largest arsenal and the will to use it. A few cunning Islamic terrorists did manage to murder several thousand Americans in a stunning attack, it is true; but in retaliation, we killed a hundred thousand or more Iraqis

    I agree that Harris is wrong on the profiling thing, so that and Iraq (because it was an obvious imperialist blunder that helped no one but Bechtel/Cheney and pals) aside for the moment, how would you have had us respond vis-à-vis Afghanistan after Sept. 11, PZ?

  47. 47
    Ivo

    @Scientismist:

    Or, as Ivo suggests, is it a necessary piece of theater to “make sure that the majority of religious people, no matter how tame, learn of the intrinsic dangers of faith”?

    I was definitely not suggesting anything of the kind. If fact, I agreed with PZ on all points about security screening and profiling, and only objected to his calling a huge mistake for atheists to repeat the “simply not true” claim that religion flies planes into building. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

  48. 48
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel :

    the last bombing to occur in the US was not perpetrated by a radical Muslim. Oh and the place that was bombed was a Planned Parenthood clinic. Christians loooooove us so much more than those filthy Mooooslims, huh?

    Yeha, but do they let you out of the house without a male jailor?

    Do they let you get an education?

    Do they let you vote and drive?

    Yes, I know the Christian extremists are fucking awful. I’m an Aussie but I’m not that blind to what’s going on with some of the horrific fucking Chistian misoygny. I’m not at all supporting that.

    But compared to how Islam treats women and how it would like to impose itself on us all?

    Well, I ask you the same question as I asked Jadehawk :

    What do you think your life would be lik e if youlive dina jihadistani hell-hole?

    Taliban Afghanistan or Iran or Saudi Arabia or Somalia.

    Do you really, truly, think the US ideology and system and behaviour is worse than those nations?!?

  49. 49
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    Muslims throw acid in women’s faces – women that have just been married against their will to older men and raped.

    Yes, and Hindu fanatics will burn or otherwise assasinate a bride if her family fails to give a big enough dowry. Xians fanatics systematically beat up their children, sometimes to the point of death, for the glory of their god in your own country. Your point ?

    How the hell can any decent human being even for a second defend or rationalise or excuse the evil fucked up stinking excrement that is Islam?!?

    You think we’re defending or rationalizing any of this ?

    They’re all equally shitty. Why should we single out muslim moderates over xian or hindus moderates ?

  50. 50
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Seriously, Steve? If conservative Christians could get away with that shit, they would do it. Why the hell do you think they’re attacking reproductive rights and equal pay? To roll back our rights slowly, ‘cos anything else would lead tor rioting in the streets. You’re lying to yourself and everyone else if you try to deny it.

    For fuck’s sake, you’re a bigotted idiot.

    Oh you’re an Aussie? Then shut the fuck up about this– you obviously have no fucking clue what you’re talking about.

  51. 51
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Kemist:

    They’re all equally shitty. Why should we single out muslim moderates over xian or hindus moderates ?

    Thank you. It’s almost as if Steve missed the entire point of this post.

  52. 52
    georgewiman

    “Muslims do this and Muslims do that…”

    Yes some of them do, in countries where Islam has free reign to do whatever it wants. Similar to Europe when Christianity had free reign there to do whatever it wanted.

    There’s no case to be made that Christianity is somehow better than Islam – neither vindicated itself very well when they had the whole house to themselves. The answer in both cases is secular law. If Christianity in America is better than Islam in Iran, it’s because of secular law.

  53. 53
    pixelp3

    The US didn’t kill a 100,000 people in Iraq. Most of those people died at the hands of terrorists. The US and coalition forces are responsible for around ~12,000 deaths

  54. 54
    timgueguen

    Given some of the stuff that’s been going on in certain American states it’s not hard to imagine some of them starting to resemble conservative Muslim states if things don’t change. Muslim majority countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are starting to look like they’ll have more modern values than certain parts of the US.

    If I were going to be dumb enough indiscriminately profile people because a handful were terrorists it would be Sikhs. After all it was Sikh extremists whose terrorism killed the biggest number of Canadians. The biggest Muslim terror plot against Canada? Was planned by a bunch of wannabes who probably would have blown themselves up trying to build a bomb if they hadn’t been arrested first.

    Christian terrorists haven’t gone for suicide bombing, yet, because of Christian attitudes towards suicide. But give them the right conditions and they’d do it. And don’t forget about that guy who crashed his plane into the IRS building a year or two back. A sign of things to come?

  55. 55
    Anthony K

    It’s almost as if Steve missed the entire point of this post.

    I think so.

    But even moreso, I think StevoR has no clue about the history of American foreign involvement in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

    At this point, calling one or the other ‘worse’ is like Lady Macbeth trying to decide which of her hands is a few spots bloodier because one had was farther from the blade (one of the key features of American foreign involvement is paying others’ to commit egregious crimes against humanity in their stead, and often doing so to remove democratically elected socialist governments in favour of dictators ameniable to American persuasion.)

  56. 56
    Anthony K

    but the intention was never to wreck either country but to help build them

    That would be a big departure from the general tendency throughout the 20th century.

  57. 57
    Nick Gotts

    Muslims throw acid in women’s faces – StevoR

    Yes, and atheists run brutal dictatorships that kill millions of their citizens.

    Just fuck off, you boneheaded, bigoted scumbag.

  58. 58
    vancouveratheist

    Not saying I agree with Harris, but I’m not sure I buy Myer’s argument either. True, what the world needs is education education education, but I have to get on an airplane today. It seems the logical extension of Myer’s argument is that we shouldn’t screen anyone, nor their luggage. The overwhelming majority of travellers aren’t terrorists, right?

    Would you get on an airplane if the luggage hadn’t been screened?

  59. 59
    Nick Gotts

    The US didn’t kill a 100,000 people in Iraq. – pixelp3

    You’re right: by the best estimates, it was several times that. Most of them died because the invasion fucked up the previously rather effective health, water and electricity systems, and forced an estimate four million people to leave their homes.

  60. 60
    robro

    Harris looks like he “could conceivably be Muslim.” Therefore he should go through rigorous screening before boarding any form of transportation. In fact, he even looks like he could conceivably be a terrorist so we should just go ahead and send him to Gitmo.

  61. 61
    Anthony K

    It seems the logical extension of Myer’s argument is that we shouldn’t screen anyone, nor their luggage. The overwhelming majority of travellers aren’t terrorists, right?

    Would you get on an airplane if the luggage hadn’t been screened?

    Truly random screenings would prevent terrorists from taking advantage of profiling by recruiting bombers who don’t fit the profile.

  62. 62
    Anthony K

    Harris looks like he “could conceivably be Muslim.” Therefore he should go through rigorous screening before boarding any form of transportation.

    Harris admitted that he, or anyone who looks like him or Ben Stiller should be screened.

    Because it’s not about dark-skin, he says. Just Semitic-looking people.

  63. 63
    Anthony K

    What’s idiotic about this O”MG! Muslims are teh evil!” paranoia is that it’s exactly like the Red Scare of the Cold War, which became an easy, convenient justification for all kinds of horrors.

    I mean, the Sandanistas got into power, started instituting mass literacy, health care, and gender equality programs. Clearly, Teh communism!, so the CIA sold weapons to Iran to fund the murderous Contra rebels against them.

    But why am I talking about the past? It never happened. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

  64. 64
    Rutee Katreya

    But when did a group of Americans hijack a plane and think flying it into a skyscraper was a good idea?

    We don’t need to fly a plane into a skyscraper to kill civilians when we can throw 10s of thousands of troops, with armor and air support, at them. Which is exactly what we’ve been doing. Going strictly by death tolls of civilians, Merika ‘wins’ the dubious prize of being the most dangerous. But only Meriken deaths warrant an international day of mourning and carte blanche to do whatever the fuck we want, it seems.

    The US didn’t kill a 100,000 people in Iraq. Most of those people died at the hands of terrorists.

    Even if 90% of them died at the hands of the terrorists (Which is fucking laughable; your ideas are bad, and you should feel bad) we’d still have paid back 9/11 5 times and could stop fucking killing them.

  65. 65
    Nick Gotts

    Because it’s not about dark-skin, he says. Just Semitic-looking people. – Brownian

    Srsly? Those involved in the 7/7 bombings in London were three of Pakistani origin and one of Afro-Caribbean parentage. Those involved in the Madrid bombings were of Moroccan background. Those carrying out the Bali bombings appear to have been Indonesian Malays. David Hicks was a white (and non-Jewish) Australian. Talking of which, I’m actually very suspicious of StevoR: after all, what better cover for a jihadi terrorist than to pretend to be an anti-Muslim bigot?

  66. 66
    Porco Dio

    With the Gazilliobytes of information the NSA is collecting every second you’d have to ask yourself why aunt Maud and uncle Stanly can’t be excluded from invasive TSA inspection?

  67. 67
    scottportman

    Let me weigh in here… as I am currently writing in Iraq and am surrounded by Muslims, as it were. First, a shout out to PZ. I agree with him entirely, and he’s right on multiple counts: it’s unproductive to always be fighting the last terrorist; it’s foolish and wrong to be “profiling” all Muslims as if they are on average any different from all Christians, Hindus or whatever; and I agree 100% that atheists are as stupid as tea-baggers if they jump on this knee-jerk Muslim freak-out bandwagon especially for any sort of reason of identity or nationality. Finally, the only way we advance freedom of thought is by challenging beliefs while not hating on entire groups of people. I am not OK with an ever expanding security state, or screening Muslims for no other reason than their identity or ethnicity, or generally treating classes of people like assholes. I am an American, a liberal, and have nearly limitless contempt for Republicans. So blanket policies that target entire religious or ethnic groups run counter to some basic (secular) values. SteveB’s comments make little sense to me, and I am arguably at far greater actual risk of terrorism right now than he is or probably will ever be.

    That said, I don’t want to let Islam off the hook, either. Popular Islam as commonly practiced in most of the Middle East is as misogynistic as the more fundamentalist versions of Christianity. Islam has embedded with it a tendency toward literalism which is as bad as anything that fundamentalist Christians come up with. The historical fact that Islam was both a system of governance and a religion over a vast area makes it more difficult for people here to separate religion from public policy, with persistent bad effects on human rights. We have much better in the West; there’s prejudice against unbelievers, certainly. But my choice to “come out” as an atheist in the US is not really particularly risky. Here, it’s not a wise move.

    But getting back to PZ’s point… humans are humans, and they think for themselves. There are atheists, even in Iraq. Maybe more importantly, there are plenty of people here who try their best to live decent, kind lives, self-identify as Muslims, but don’t obsess about cutting foreskins or throats, and don’t think anyone’s going to hell because they have a beer or don’t pray or don’t fast for Ramadan. Hell is an obscene idea, and Darwin once said that one of the reasons he drifted away from religion was because he regarded hell as an evil notion. Well, there’s people here, too, who are not going to buy into religious cruelty. It’s really not possible for me to see Muslims in a qualitatively different light than perhaps Americans in parts of the US or in times in the past, when religious belief was simply part of life for >90% of people. What we should be focusing on is empowering the scientists, teachers, and assorted reasonable people in the Middle East, letting them study in the US, and not hating on them for being “Muslim” or treating them like they are other than human. PZ’s example of not gratuitously f’king with a 30 year old Pakistani engineer and his a family is spot on. It’s not excessive accommodation of religion or “political correctness” to treat a fellow human with a little respect. Anyway, I don’t get why we, as a nation, have become so afraid and so incapable of rational risk assessment. We need to calm the f@ck down and carry on. Just two days ago, I was waiting in a government office here, watching a Dubai channel National Geographic special on evolution. In Arabic. Now it was over the head of most people who were likely to see it, but let’s give folks a little credit. Iraqis are certainly no stupider than Americans, on average. Let’s remember that science and free inquiry and education have great power here too, and that we should try for a little more interaction with folks in the Middle East that doesn’t involve killing them. Criticism of Islam is fine; hating on Muslims is not.

  68. 68
    pentatomid

    Muslims throw acid in women’s faces – women that have just been married against their will to older men and raped.

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Seriously? Because yeah, religiously motivated violence against women and children (including murder and sexual abuse) totally never happen in christian cults, right? Oh,all good American christians are Ned fucking Flanders, right? But the big bad Mooslims are all, like, evil and they’re all totally raping people and flinging acid at each other. Do you seriously think that? Have you not been paying attention to what’s been going on on this planet?
    You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about.

  69. 69
    Anthony K

    Empathy, thy name is Trayvon Martin shooting gallery target
    May 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm Jason Thibeault

    I wonder if this is a cynical ploy to steal money from those racist scumbags who also happen to be gun enthusiasts, or if this was designed by one of those racist scumbag gun enthusiasts.

    Oh, I suppose there’s another explanation — the makers had heatstroke.

    Found via CopyRanter.

    Sharing:
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    Posted in Asshats, Guns, Privilege Tags: gun nuts, guns, privilege, racism, Trayvon Martin
    « The uniform groupthink of The Freethought Borg
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    6 Responses to “Empathy, thy name is Trayvon Martin shooting gallery target”

    VeritasKnight says:
    May 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm ADT

    While I see the potential to make lots of money from racist gunowners from this, the idea of making it has my stomach do the same exact twirl it does when I consider that I *could* be a faith healer and make lots of money, but that I would hate myself.
    Akira MacKenzie says:
    May 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm ADT

    Speaking as an American gun owner who used to enjoy going down to the range for an afternoon of shooting until I realized just what reactionary thugs my fellow shooters had become post 9-11 and after November 2008, I find this both disgusting and embarrassing.

    From sane shooters everywhere, I offer my most humble apologies.
    evilDoug says:
    May 5, 2012 at 1:43 pm ADT

    Given the Skittles in the pocket, I suspect this is could be a “fuck you, scumball” to the stand-your-ground lot. But Poe’s Law does have a huge range of unwritten corollaries. A lot of the assholes who pack guns are too fucking stupid to understand they are being ridiculed.

    About 30 years ago a gay friend of mine had a t-shirt with a small target printed on the left chest. I don’t remember the details, but it was produced in response to the shooting of a gay man (To, SF, NY ??? – just can’t remember).
    Jason Thibeault says:
    May 5, 2012 at 2:47 pm ADT

    As subversive memes goes, I don’t know that this would have much effect if it were, say, put up around a local neighborhood to raise awareness. I can only hope something like that was in mind when it was designed, but even then it’s a rorschach for how people will see it.
    Brownian says:
    May 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm ADT
    KG, it’s hard to mistake this paragraph:

    Granted, I haven’t had to endure the experience of being continually profiled. No doubt it would be frustrating. But if someone who looked vaguely like Ben Stiller were wanted for crimes against humanity, I would understand if I turned a few heads at the airport. However, if I were forced to wait in line behind a sham search of everyone else, I would surely resent this additional theft of my time.

    No, it’s not about dark-skin. Thanks for clearing that up, Sam.

    (Also, I have to wonder at this hypothetical Ben Stiller-lookalike whose less pissed off about being specially screened than he is about being screened after Granny McBleachy was sham-screened too. Anybody here get pulled over while driving as a minority? Does it piss you off even more when they pull over white people too, since they’re clearly not any sort of problem, and wish they would just hurry up and get to hassling you?)

  70. 70
    Anthony K

    Oh, fuck, I’m having tab problems. It’s the Muslim Scare, I tells ya, the Muslim scare!

    (My comment begins at “KG, it’s hard to mistake this paragraph.”

  71. 71
    Anthony K

    Well put, scottportman.

  72. 72
    jackrawlinson

    Oh, no “gumbying” of Harris’s quotes this time? How nice of you to recognise the possibility that a person’s views might be somewhat more nuanced than you originally assumed. Now if some of your rabidly right-on commenters ever manage to do the same, that’d be nice. My breath, however, is not held.

  73. 73
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    To say that ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, dress, traveling companions, behavior in the terminal, and other outward appearances offer no indication of a person’s beliefs or terrorist potential is either quite crazy or totally dishonest.

    So, every person with semitic features is a muslim.
    Unless they are jews.
    Fortunately they kill all the atheists so it can’t be one of them.
    All men are Hindus and all women are Wiccans. Or something like that, because that really tells you something about them.
    Nationality, yeah, that’s really a perfect indicator, at least when they’re from the Vatican.
    Travelling companions: Person with family = good, person travelling alone = potential terrorist, group of singles travelling: sure terrorists. Unless they’re business people or a group of friends going on a holiday.
    Behaviour in the terminal: Hey, there’s actually something that could help you identify evildoers. Only I doubt that this will mean that people will be objective. Actually, when people with weapons stare at me, I become pretty nervous, too.
    Outward appearance: Yes, there are certain items that indicate a certain faith. Doesn’t tell you shit about what they want to do on the plane.
    Now, who’s “crazy” (thanx for dissing mentally ill people her, Sam Harris!) or dishonest?

  74. 74
    absolute

    Makes me sad to read about Iraq/Afghanistan and how Americans wrecked it. Hitchens would make you ashamed for saying that. Not even you get it that inaction was deeply immoral at that point.

    Why don’t you explain how you’d leave tens if not hundreds of thousands of people to untold suffering because you don’t like to get your hands dirty? What’s moral about that?

    The mission was messed up, yes, but the goal was pure and the planting of democracy succeeded in the end. Can’t you concede at least that?

  75. 75
    Anthony K

    Sounds good, jack. Thanks for stopping by with that vague criticism of style. Why, imagine the problems we could obliquely allude to if we were all a little more like something.

  76. 76
    Rutee Katreya

    Oh, no “gumbying” of Harris’s quotes this time? How nice of you to recognise the possibility that a person’s views might be somewhat more nuanced than you originally assumed

    Oh no, we’re not treating yet another racist idiot’s ranting that propogates racist jackassery with the proper nuance. Whatever shall we do? I am so horrified that I perhaps do not treat racist jackassery with the respect it deserves.

  77. 77
    Anthony K

    The mission was messed up, yes, but the goal was pure and the planting of democracy succeeded in the end.

    The goal was pure? Are you kidding me?

    Leaving aside the history of foreign meddling by the US, the goal was to rid Saddamn Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction, weapons for which there was no evidence. The entire premise of the war was a ruse.

  78. 78
    Rutee Katreya

    Hitchens would make you ashamed for saying that

    The approval of a racist, sexist, imperialist white dude means little to me.

    Why don’t you explain how you’d leave tens if not hundreds of thousands of people to untold suffering because you don’t like to get your hands dirty? What’s moral about that?

    Did you fight in afghanistan, iraq, darfur, tibet, the Gaza Strip, the Congo, Granada, Rwanda, Somalia, Iran, Syria….

    Because if you haven’t set foot in *any* of those, it starts to ring false that you think we just don’t want to get our hands dirty. But I will explain to you why that is ethical;

    BECAUSE IT’S NOT YOUR FUCKING COUNTRY, YOU IMPERIALIST FUCKING BASTARD. If you act to pillage resources (As in Iran), we can safely write off supposed humanitarian benefits as only being incidental (Assuming they exist, a dangerous assumption in Afghanistan). If you don’t act without an explicit request from at LEAST a substantial undercurrent of the people in the country you plan to ‘liberate’, you’re just another oppressor from the point of view of the ‘liberated’.

    The mission was messed up, yes, but the goal was pure

    Reptilian urges of vengeance are not ‘pure’ in any meaningful sense of the word.

    and the planting of democracy succeeded in the end.

    WHAAAAAAAAAAAT!? You realize that to the extent one can claim afghanistan is being held together, it is solely by US military power, yes? And that Iraq isn’t particularly stable?

    Can’t you at least concede that?

    I’m not a Democrat; I’m not in the business of conceding blatant falsehood.

  79. 79
    jamesevans

    Everyone has probably seen it already, and it’s an excellent, informative watch in all respects beyond the discussion here:

    The Four Horsemen: Hours 1 and 2 – Discussions with Richard Dawkins
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DKhc1pcDFM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaeJf-Yia3A

    However, the discussion in the second vid becomes more germane to this thread’s “treat all faiths right now as equally dangerous…Christianity is every bit as dangerous to you right now as Islam, etc.” opinion expressed by many. In particular…

    11:15-12:35 of second vid

    18:55-24:00 (especial attention paid to 22:35, when Hitchens points out why he believes Islam’s unique reach for ownership of the final word is most threatening) of second vid

    45:00-end (at 54:00, Hitchens starts a reality-changing statement about the exact moment Western civilization went wrong–a little unrelated, admittedly) of second vid

  80. 80
    Rey Fox

    The mission was messed up, yes, but the goal was pure and the planting of democracy succeeded in the end.

    Oh dear, has the historical revisionism started already?

  81. 81
    markmckee

    I stumbled upon a fascinating Israeli technique:

    http://www.shockingtweets.com/israeli-tsa-does-it-right-5252.html

    Humor aside, the Israeli TSA approach to airport security is a combination of approaches. And the main tenet of what they do is to not tell you what they do. And to be always changing it.

  82. 82
    Anthony K

    Oh dear, has the historical revisionism started already?

    Did it ever stop?

    “treat all faiths right now as equally dangerous…Christianity is every bit as dangerous to you right now as Islam, etc.”

    Look, we know that Christianity isn’t as dangerous as Islam, but due to a lack of power thanks to secularisation, not because of any inherent nature of the belief itself (cf. the attempts by conservative Christians to instate theocratic policies.)

    Ironically, by taking the stance that the Muslim Threat is so terrible that defending against it supersedes the protection of fundamental human rights (such as equality under the law, regardless of ethnicity), you erode those protections that keeps Christianity and Islam in check over here.

    FFS, doesn’t anybody remember these conversations when the Worst Thing Ever™ you had to lock up the women and children over was communism?

  83. 83
    feralboy12

    The mission was messed up, yes, but the goal was pure and the planting of democracy succeeded in the end.

    Leaving aside for the moment the fact that forcibly exporting our form of government to other countries is what we used to castigate the commies for, one should not confuse the stated goals of a government with the actual underlying motivations.
    And even if our goals were pure,intent is not magic, the ends don’t always justify the means, and messing up missions is common enough that it has its own acronym.
    Americans need to stop thinking of themselves as inherently good and pure of heart; nationality does not automatically confer virtue.

  84. 84
    Stray Cat

    One of the best criticisms of profiling I’ve ever read, PZ. Loved it. Especially the part about political correctness. That stupid, dismissive term gets bust out with reckless abandon so often I could puke.

  85. 85
    Anthony K

    Leaving aside for the moment the fact that forcibly exporting our form of government to other countries is what we used to castigate the commies for

    Yeah, but the Soviets were bad.

  86. 86
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Rey,
    Dude, the historical revision started before the war did.

  87. 87
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    Profiling would work just wonderfully IF
    a) you had a plausible idea of what you needed to detect
    b) you had a reliable and practical way of detecting it
    c) you had an at least reasonably effective and trustable process to make use of it.
    So far as I can tell it’s a bit difficult to detect ‘evil intent of an imminent nature’ outside of the actual waving a gun around level. Brown skin really isn’t a very good indicator.
    And besides, has nobody really considered the possibility that those dreadful terrorists might adopt a … disguise? How tricky would it be for a male with a bushy beard, shaggy hair, darkish skin and so on to doff the giveaway Patented Muslim Terrorist Robe Outfit and put on togs that make him look like say a Mennonite farmer? Those guys tend to the beard, shaggy hair, tanned skin from the outdoor work etc. Or, goodness me, perhaps a shave and some makeup?
    And really, no little old lady would ever carry a bomb? See ‘disguises’ above as well as consider that little old ladies can be just as determined, politically active, brutal and just plain nuts as any other kind of human. Younger women appear to have been willing to perpetrate suicide attacks as well.
    Profiling for a ‘muslimish’ looking male is going to work how?

  88. 88
    fynn

    Terrific post.

    But when did a group of Americans hijack a plane and think flying it into a skyscraper was a good idea?

    Because it’s so much more moral to kill people by indiscriminately bombing their city or shooting them at checkpoints or sending unmanned drones at them. That’s an acceptable form of mass murder.

    America didn’t ‘wreck’ Iraq or Afganistan, they were pretty well wrecked before the Americans got there.

    Afghanistan was largely wrecked due to its past use as a bloody playground for the American government to fight its proxy war with Russia. The devastation of so much of the globe at the hands of Western imperialist interests in the past is not a good argument to go and DO THE SAME AGAIN.

    Iraq was less wrecked than you seem to think – although the deaths of half a million children from US sanctions didn’t exactly help. Now, of course, it’s a basketcase.

    the intention was never to wreck either country but to help build them, an effort which has been systematically thwarted by the insurgencies who have been the ones actually responsible for the majority of deaths in either country particularly among civilians.

    Leaving aside a discussion of the actual, non-fantasy aims (oil and strategic control of the region, particularly with regard to China), it should be fairly fucking obvious that mass bombings, armed ground forces, destruction of infrastructure, brutalising of prisoners and interference in the political process is not a good way to “build” a country. Even if they had the right to try, which they don’t. White Man’s Burden, alive and well in the 21st century. And by “insurgencies”, I assume you mean those Iraqis who had the radical idea that they had the right to defend their country against an invading foreign army – a right that you yourself would presumably claim without question. Even if they were responsible for more “civilian deaths” than US forces, the fact remains that without the invasion, there’d have been no need for a resistance. The US was and is the principal cause of violence.

    Apologies to everyone else because I know all of this has been said already. But it was either comment or headdesk myself into unconsciousness.

  89. 89
    Gregory Greenwood

    Many readers found this blog post stunning for its lack of sensitivity. The article has been called “racist,” “dreadful,” “sickening,” “appalling,” “frighteningly ignorant,” etc. by (former) fans who profess to have loved everything I’ve written until this moment. I find this reaction difficult to understand. Of course, anyone who imagines that there is no link between Islam and suicidal terrorism might object to what I’ve written here

    Because suicide attack tactics are exclusively muslim in orgin – just look at those purely muslim Japenese suicide pilots from World War 2, those exlusively muslim Tamil Tiger suicide bombers, and the tactic of the forlorn hope, a suicide attack in almost all cases due to the horrendous casualty rates, that was, of course, only ever employed by muslims.

    And that concludes today’s episode of Revisonist History with Sam Harris

  90. 90
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    The mission was messed up, yes, but the goal was pure and the planting of democracy succeeded in the end. Can’t you concede at least that?

    Nope.

    Take off your blinders.

    The goal of the whole shebang can be summarized with that simple sentence:

    The spice oil must flow.

    History shows that the US is not above destroying democracy if there’s any money to be done doing it. It collaborates with one of the single worst offender in terms of women’s (and general human) rights, namely Saudi Arabia. It sides with Pakistan against India, arguably the greatest democracy in the world right now.

    I’m not even sure of its intentions towards my own country in the event of a conflict regarding Arctic oil. I wouldn’t be surprized in the least were we suddenly declared a “terrorist” nation at some point.

    If the US’ goal are pure, they’re pure capitalism all right.

  91. 91
    fynn

    Oh, and StevoR:

    I’m an Aussie

    You’re an embarrassment.

    Oh you’re an Aussie? Then shut the fuck up about this– you obviously have no fucking clue what you’re talking about.

    Please don’t lump us all in with him. There are plenty of us who do know and understand what happens in the world beyond our own borders (although we seem to have more than our fair share of ignorant, racist arsefaces). And the belligerence of the American government concerns every last person on the planet, not just those in the immediate firing line.

  92. 92
    Nick Gotts

    The mission was messed up, yes, but the goal was pure and the planting of democracy succeeded in the end. – absolute

    Stone me, the morons are out in force on this one. Look, you dim bulb, as has already been pointed out, the supposed “goal” was a bare-faced lie: there were no WMDs, nor any connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. As for “the planting of democracy succeeded in the end”, you really have to have had your head firmly planted up your fundament to have missed the fact that the Iraqi Vice-President has recently fled to avoid arrest on a charge of terrorism. Whether he’s guilty or innocent, you have to be a complete fuckwit to think that indicates a flourishing democracy. The Iraqi government is dominated by Shi’ite sectarians, it’s the only Arab regime that is supporting the blood-soaked regime in Syria, and women can no longer travel alone or without a niqab in most of the country – which for all his crimes, they could under Saddam.

  93. 93
    Nick Gotts

    Many readers found this blog post stunning for its lack of sensitivity. The article has been called “racist,” “dreadful,” “sickening,” “appalling,” “frighteningly ignorant,” etc. by (former) fans who profess to have loved everything I’ve written until this moment. I find this reaction difficult to understand. – Sam Harris

    That’s because you’r a sickening, appalling, dreadful, frighteningly ignorant racist, Harris.

  94. 94
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Fynn,
    It was more of a reaction to an Aussie telling me (an American) that conservative American Christians aren’t that bad.

    My apologies– my wording on that was god awful. Aussies are as diverse in thought as everyone else and I’ve got no excuse for making it sound like I think all of you are like SteveoR.

    Canadians on the other hand…

  95. 95
    Anthony K

    Canadians on the other hand…

    I think I speak on behalf of everyone one of us, from centre to goalie, poutine maker to igloo stacker, when I say I’m sorry, but that’s offensive, eh?

  96. 96
    chigau (違う)

    Canadians on the other hand…

    Eh?!?

  97. 97
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Seriously guys, you’re responsible for Nickleback. I think you owe us all an apology.

    :-*

  98. 98
    fynn

    It was more of a reaction to an Aussie telling me (an American) that conservative American Christians aren’t that bad.

    Ah, fair enough. I didn’t pick up on that. Yeah, that’s pretty obnoxious.

  99. 99
    johnmorgan

    #67 Scottportman
    “Criticism of Islam is fine; hating on Muslims is not”

    That’s all very fine. Unfortunately, the certainty for an overwhelmingly large number of Muslims is that the former is identical with the latter

  100. 100
    Cipher

    Careful makeup on old blond hags?

    I know this is all the way back at 34, but I just wanted to point out that this is not okay. “Hags” is not an appropriate way to refer to older women. It is sexist appearance-shaming.

  101. 101
    chigau (違う)

    You’re worried about Nickleback?
    Shit, we gave the world Justin Bieber!

  102. 102
    dianne

    Taliban Afghanistan or Iran or Saudi Arabia or Somalia.

    That would be the Taliban that evolved from the US funded Mujahadeen, liberators of Afghanistan from the evil Soviet invaders? Or Saudi Arabia, America’s close friend, ally, and poodle? Iran…I’ll give you Iran. Because, after all, the US backed Shah was such a perfect example of a benevolent leader that surely only completely degenerate and evil people would ever seek to rebel against him, right?

  103. 103
    NuMad

    We have limited resources, and every moment spent searching a woman like the one pictured above[...]

    Pictured above. Good thing there’s a picture, or else Harris would have to have been explicit in order to invite the reader to consider race as the main factor of her null terrorist potential.

    Or should I say “null muslim potential?” I don’t think Harris is making the distinction at all.

    When I speak of profiling “Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim,” I am not narrowly focused on people with dark skin. In fact, I included myself in the description of the type of person I think should be profiled (twice). To say that ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, dress, traveling companions, behavior in the terminal, and other outward appearances offer no indication of a person’s beliefs or terrorist potential is either quite crazy or totally dishonest.

    So, it’s not “narrowly” about skin tone (whatever the fuck that means,) but “ethnicity” is at the top of the list. Hey, maybe the other factors he lists are as weighty!

    Gender: what happened to “he or she?”

    Age: Harris can totally tell that you’re harmless, you infirm-looking shadow of a human being old person, you. Who has ever heard of passionately religious old people, anyway?

    Dress: look for the ones wearing an explosive vest, presumably.

    Behavior at the terminal: is he talking about passengers who pull out the prayer mat while in line? Or about passengers who look nervous about the bomb in their bag? Because I’m not sure the latter counts as controversial “profiling,” exactly.

    But hey, it could just be that “profiling anyone who looks like they could conceivably be muslim” is an indefensible statement with no practical value whatsoever, and that the “addendum” is just bullshit revision and justification after the fact.

    He went from “I know them when I see them (and you do too)” to “something something, mystery data crunching profiling science (and you’re not expert so I’m not hearing you.)”

  104. 104
    SallyStrange

    Oh SteveOr, you deluded douchenozzle, it wasn’t that long ago that someone told you to read up on PNAC (the Project for a New American Century, remember), but you didn’t do it, did you? Because you’re a bad bad boy who hates educating himself and prefers to wallow in his ignorance and bigotry.

    Go away, you’re stinking up the place.

  105. 105
    jamesevans

    Look, we know that Christianity isn’t as dangerous as Islam,

    If only it were true that “we” (meaning all participants here) recognized this, Brownian. It would prevent the discussion spiraling off into wildly unhelpful tangents. However, there are people here who VEHEMENTLY DENY this. It would be greatly appreciated if you spent some energy addressing and correcting them. I mean, like, boat-loads of appreciation.

    Ironically, by taking the stance that the Muslim Threat is so terrible that defending against it supersedes the protection of fundamental human rights

    I haven’t argued this. In fact, I disagree with Sam on resorting to the type of profiling he is suggesting, and tried to make it EXPRESSLY CLEAR IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that I think he is wrong.

    Be that as it may, it won’t help any conversation about religions to pretend that Islam has had an Enlightenment, been beaten into secular submission, etc., and has reached the attenuated state Christianity has in the West. Saying Christianity still has the same deadly bite that Islam has right now BELITTLES centuries of intense secular struggle.

  106. 106
    petejohn

    Another reason it’s ridiculous: we keep fighting the last terrorist.

    Very good point and something that I’ve been thinking ever since my first post-9/11 flight and all the wild protocols that had been put in place. There were protocols in place before 9/11 and the Al-Qaeda folks worked around them. Make new protocols and a sufficiently prepared wannabe-terrorist gets around those two. It’s like a ridiculous game of whack-a-mole, where one pops up, you whack it, and a different one appears in a different place. No one would disagree with reasonable security measures in the airport, but whacking the take off your shoes and no liquid moles aren’t really reasonable, and pulling brown-skinned individuals with non-European sounding names sure as shit isn’t reasonable.

    I really think the atheist movement ought to be focusing instead on one general truth: almost all of the people in that mosque, church, or synagogue believe in stupid ideas. They aren’t evil, they’re wrong, and their credulous beliefs make them more gullible and susceptible to exploitation.

    Also a very good point. It’s just a shame that across the world it’s been decided that we’re supposed to let these people wallow in their wrong. It’s considered offensive to correct someones religious opinions, but not offensive to correct their views on whether or not 2+3=5. Believing that Yhwh did what the Bible says Yhwh did is just as wrong as believing that 2+3=29. That needs to change.

  107. 107
    dianne

    Debating whether Christianity or Islam is more dangerous strikes me as like debating whether a nuclear war is more dangerous than an asteroid strike: One or the other may be more likely at any given moment, but neither is ever going to be truly safe.

  108. 108
    Ichthyic

    If only it were true that “we” (meaning all participants here) recognized this, Brownian.

    ..because it entirely depends on history and circumstance.

    nothing more.

    sorry, but to state flatly that one theistic religion is inherently less dangerous than another is to ignore the entire history and impact of each.

    I’ve seen news reports of christians burn mosques and newspaper buildings in India, and that’s recent. Shall we go look at xianity historically and compare?

    you don’t want to go off on tangents? don’t state things that are easily challenged.

  109. 109
    Nick Gotts

    Saying Christianity still has the same deadly bite that Islam has right now BELITTLES centuries of intense secular struggle. – jamesevans

    You really have to be pretty fucking stupid to say this after watching the recent US Republican primaries. And the justification that “God told me to” given by Bush for invading Iraq. And the gradual uncovering of the world’s largest pedophile ring. and looking a little further back, the Catholic Church’s enthusiastic support for European fascism in the 1930s, and the poisonous religiously-generated anti-semitism that led to the Nazi holocaust within living memory.

  110. 110
    dianne

    While we’re at it,how about the latest fashion among IDF soldiers?

  111. 111
    Anthony K

    If only it were true that “we” (meaning all participants here) recognized this, Brownian. It would prevent the discussion spiraling off into wildly unhelpful tangents. However, there are people here who VEHEMENTLY DENY this. It would be greatly appreciated if you spent some energy addressing and correcting them. I mean, like, boat-loads of appreciation.

    It would probably be just as helpful if, when quoting me, you included the entirety of my sentence, because the part where I noted that it’s due to secular laws preventing theocracy that Christianity isn’t as dangerous as Islam rather than anything inherent in the respective faiths, is the salient part of that comment.

    And blame the bigots who use discussions such as these to shoehorn in their bigotry for the thread derails. We wouldn’t counter their bigotted claims if they weren’t making them.

    Saying Christianity still has the same deadly bite that Islam has right now BELITTLES centuries of intense secular struggle.

    Again, that dog is not defanged. At best, it’s fenced in.

    And belittling? Does acknowledging that the US (and Canada) are still inherently racist cultures belittle the intense struggle for civic rights for minorities?

    Or that Western interference has assisted in the destabilisation of regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere, making secular lawmaking by stable governments not led by religious fanatics who rally populations by promising to bring the fight to the aggressors (sound familiar?) unlikely?

    As johnmorgan notes,

    Unfortunately, the certainty for an overwhelmingly large number of Muslims is that the former [criticism of Islam] is identical with the latter [hating on Muslims is not].

    This is a tendency that is indeed shared among faiths.

  112. 112
    Anthony K

    Addendum:

    Again, that dog is not defanged. At best, it’s fenced in and gnawing furiously at its tether.

  113. 113
    Ichthyic

    It would probably be just as helpful if, when quoting me, you included the entirety of my sentence, because the part where I noted that it’s due to secular laws preventing theocracy that Christianity isn’t as dangerous as Islam rather than anything inherent in the respective faiths, is the salient part of that comment.

    ah, that explains it. I figured as much, and probably should have scrolled back to find the original comment.

    I chose instead to ignore the probable quotemine and just focus on the implication.

    so much for James’ desperate attempt to avoid tangents.

    :)

  114. 114
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    Saying Christianity still has the same deadly bite that Islam has right now BELITTLES centuries of intense secular struggle.

    I don’t think anyone denies that.

    But thinking it cannot get back that deadly, deadly bite, especially with the present discourse of the rabid ones in the US, is to be dangerously blind.

    I don’t know how it is for other people, but for me the time when the catholic clergy controlled everything from the way people voted to their sex habits and when women were neither allowed to go to college nor allowed to have property or even considered as full adults can still be remembered by living people.

    The Enlightement was a bit late here.

    We haven’t forgotten xianity’s bite.

  115. 115
    Amphiox

    Saying Christianity still has the same deadly bite that Islam has right now BELITTLES centuries of intense secular struggle.

    I would dispute this.

    Centuries of intense secular struggle have muzzled that bite, contained it, and sometimes armoured potential victims against it.

    The bite itself has not change one bit.

  116. 116
    dianne

    Centuries of intense secular struggle have muzzled that bite, contained it, and sometimes armoured potential victims against it.

    And not very well at that. One needs only to look at Libby Anne’s blog or consider the various anti-abortion laws sprouting up like kudzu throughout the US and Europe to know how dangerous Christianity still is.

  117. 117
    David Marjanović

    I think it’s a huge mistake for atheists to repeat this claim that religion makes you fly planes into buildings; it’s simply not true

    It usually gets cited out of its full context, which is:

    Science flies you to the moon.
    [Where, if anywhere, does religion fly you?]
    Religion flies you into buildings.

    Even in this narrow context with its oddly specific unstated question, a context that is much better expressed as “Science. It works, bitches.“, it’s not quite correct. A religion in the usual sense isn’t necessary for committing a kamikaze act. (I mean, you can have kamikaze without kami.) Convince people that there are cases worth killing and dying for, and they’ll do both. As I never tire to point out, the PKK, a Stalinist organization, has had suicide bombers.

    Now to catch up. Good to see Jadehawk back.

  118. 118
    madscientist

    Jeezus. Sam Harris should have read my post on the other thread. There *is* no “muslim look” and even Hillary Clinton looks every bit muslim to me as Osama Bin Laden, and that’s really no joke. And that’s not even getting on to the topic of terrorism and the fact that it is not the exclusive domain of muslims. That large truck bomb diffused in Ireland a week or so ago was not put there by any muslim.

  119. 119
    consciousness razor

    Saying Christianity still has the same deadly bite that Islam has right now BELITTLES centuries of intense secular struggle.

    Sure, there were centuries of intense secular struggle, but right now there’s a vast power imbalance that’s more deadly than a thousand 9/11s. Neither is inherently worse, but which religion poses the bigger risk when you take that into account? Could Islam draft the world’s largest economy and military to its nefarious ends? How far into the future would we have to go before that would even be a remote possibility?

  120. 120
    Ichthyic

    in the first sentence of PZ’s post:

    Same Harris

    hmm, typo, or Freudian slip?

  121. 121
    Ichthyic

    I may not like how either of the wars turned out, but the intention was never to wreck either country but to help build them

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    -Samuel Johnson (maybe)

    how many fucking people have died as a result of those “good intentions”, there, fuckwit?

    sorry, but to rationalize this nationalistic expedition as anything other than purely selfish in nature is to be beyond naive, and bordering on intractably stupid.

  122. 122
    absolute

    Saddam Hussein regime was to be terminated long before you learnt how to be wise guys on the interwebz.

    Even if there were no WMD, ghastly biological weapons were commonly used in the area.
    Hate Bush if he lied, don’t hate the people Iraqi citizens owe their life to.
    Even if the US took the oil or went there for it, which it didn’t (how’s your financial crisis going on?), there would still be enough reasons to intervene in Iraq, in accordance international law.

    So what’s your argument for death-enabling passiveness again? Let’s see which side you’re on.

  123. 123
    Jadehawk

    What do you think your life would be like now if you were living in some Jihadistani Muslim hellhole of a nation?

    I’ll take this attempt at goalpost shifting as a concession as to the relative deadliness of Americans vs. Muslims

    Muslims, y’know, don’t.

    yep. all of them. they are the fucking borg.

    Do you really, really want to defend an ideolgy that would treat youand allotherwomen like crap?

    correcting the idiocies you’re spouting isn’t defending islam. but i do take that strawman as another sign that you cannot actually refute my point.

    Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe, you and I both know that you really should know better than that, right? Please?

    *rolleyes*

  124. 124
    lotharloo

    I have never been so disappointed by a post by PZ. There are so many lapses of logic that it is obvious that PZ is driven by his ideology.

    Let me change that around a bit, not just to make a point for me, but also to try and move the debate away from race.

    We should profile Republicans, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Republican, and we should be honest about it.

    I’m not a fan of those “let’s change that a bit” type of arguments. Even if their execution doesn’t make them a strawman fallacy, there is still a chance that “changing it a little bit” can completely miss point, as it is the case here. This is not about voting records, or foreign policy. This is about security and changing it a bit to make it about foreign policy is missing the point.

    If you step back and look at the world today, the major source of death and strife and terrorism isn’t Islam, it’s America —

    I thought it was Israel. No, wait, it was religion that causes all those Shiite vs Sunni, or Jewish vs Muslim conflicts. No wait, it was America’s imperialist interventions that without them the world would have lived in perfect peace and harmony with no dictators.

    We have drones flying over Afghanistan right now, ready to blow up any small group of people seen gathering in public. You cannot call those drones anything but state-sponsored terrorism.

    Right, because America’s use of precision devices designed to minimize civilian casualties is exactly the same as Al Quaida’s indiscriminate suicide bombing tactics of blowing up huge fucking mosques in the hopes of killing as many random people as possible. And actually, why not call every single act of war terrorism. Surely, that would really help to move the debate forward.

    Of all the people lined up behind the security barrier at the airport, it’s those American voters who are currently the most dangerous. The only reasonable objection to my claim that we should profile Republicans is that everyone who voted for the Democrat Obama is also culpable.

    You are absolutely right PZ. That’s the *only* reasonable objection. /facepalm.

    The majority of Muslims are just as harmless as the elderly woman featured in Harris’ article (probably more harmless: they aren’t voting Republican).

    That’s a huge fucking load of bullshit. The majority of Muslims support some of the violent and barbaric parts of Sharia Laws (e.g., the “eye for an eye” types of punishment). That makes them more fucking harmful than Republicans by any reasonable measure. Last I checked no Republican has (yet) proposed a bill to blind criminals with acid. The fact that many muslim countries host such barbaric laws that are backed by a significant part of their population should tell you that this argument is bullshit.

    When you single out the 30 year old traveling Pakistani engineer with a family and a career for specially invasive inspection, you are committing just as much of an outrage as when you pull out the 70 year old white grandma.

    Except that when you are looking at the said Pakistani you cannot know that he is holding a degree while when you look at the 70 years old lady, well, you know that she is pretty old. I guess that’s only a minor difference to you.

    Since terrorists are extremely rare in airports, you could also argue that the whole strategy of randomly frisking individuals is a waste of limited resources

    And nowhere I can see Sam Harris supporting the screening system. Afterall he says, “The current system appears so inane that one hopes it really is a sham, concealing more-ingenious intrusions into our privacy”.

    Sure, you’ll find a scattering of people who want do destroy Great Satan America, or shoot abortion doctors, or overthrow ZOG, but they’re a minority,

    And yet another misleading and poor statement. You know, there is a big difference between a 30% minority and a 0.001% minority. As far as I know, the “not very nice Muslim” minority is at least around 30% in many counties. You cannot hand wave a “minority” like that. And the hypocrisy is that, that’s more than the fraction of the batshit crazy teabaggers but I don’t see PZ ever offer that kind of benefit of the doubt to them.

  125. 125
    Jadehawk

    The mission was messed up, yes, but the goal was pure and the planting of democracy succeeded in the end

    in the entire history of humankind there has never been and probably never will be, such a thing as a war fought for “pure” reasons, unless by “pure” you simply mean unmixed; I can buy that somewhere, sometime, a war might have been fought for one and only one reason.

    further, planting democracy was neither the reason for any of the current US wars, nor has it been successfully implemented anywhere by said wars.

  126. 126
    Amphiox

    don’t hate the people Iraqi citizens owe their life to

    And who might those people be?

    How many Iraqi citizens have lost their lives as a direct consequence of the US invasion? Considerably more than the worst Saddam ever did in the same amount of time.

    Is Iraq better off now than it was under Saddam?

    Is Iraq better off now that it would have been if some other means had been chosen to work to an end to the Saddam regime rather than an invasion?

    there would still be enough reasons to intervene in Iraq, in accordance international law

    Perhaps there might have been, but the US never tried to make that case. An international coalition, legitimized by a United Nations mandate, and restricted to going in, removing Saddam, and then leaving and allowing the Iraqi people to rebuild their own country in the way they chose, would, perhaps, have resulted in a reasonable outcome.

    The most harm the US did in its Iraq adventure was in not leaving immediately after “winning” the shooting war.

    Even if the US took the oil or went there for it, which it didn’t

    Oh, it most certainly did. Or at least significant factions within the US that pushed for the war did. They were just incompetent in going about it, and so failed to get the oil in the end.

  127. 127
    Amphiox

    No wait, it was America’s imperialist interventions that without them the world would have lived in perfect peace and harmony with no dictators.

    No, no, no. It was the British Empire!

    Everything, absolutely everything, that is wrong with the world today, from India/Pakistan to Africa to the Middle East, all of it traces its roots back to the British Empire and their incompetent, ill-fated attempts to remake the world back in their era of dominance.

    The Americans are only guilty of inheriting that mess and not succeeding in fixing any of it.

    Yep. Blame the Brits.

  128. 128
    lotharloo

    No, no, no. It was the British Empire!

    Oh right. I forgot about them, I guess because they constantly get their asses kicked in soccer.

  129. 129
    Amphiox

    The war in Afghanistan might have been justifiable as retaliation for 9/11 and the harboring of Al Qaeda by the Taliban government.

    But that only justifies the US going into Afghanistan, toppling the Taliban, trapping bin Laden at Tora Bora, killing him, and then immediately leaving.

    The rebuilding process should have been left to the Afghan people, with monetary aid from the US (straight funds to do with as they pleased, no strings attached). The US had no business interfering in that process in any way whatsoever.

    If the new government turned out hostile to America, then too bad, that is the Afghan people’s right – if it acted directly against America, then America would have the right to retaliate in an appropriate fashion.

    The idea of “nation building” through war is just code for erecting a puppet government that will further one’s own interests in the region. And no one ever has justification or mandate to do that.

  130. 130
    Jadehawk

    The rebuilding process should have been left to the Afghan people, with monetary aid from the US (straight funds to do with as they pleased, no strings attached).

    which incidentally would have prevented Afghanistan from becoming a Taliban-infested hellhole in the first place had it been done after the Soviets were kicked out of Afghanistan with US money.

  131. 131
    Louis

    Amphiox,

    No, no, no. It was the British Empire!

    Bullshit! It was the Greek Empire.

    Bloody Greeks. I didn’t even get the hot chilli sauce on my kebab tonight.

    Louis

  132. 132
    lotharloo

    It was the Greek Empire.

    Greeks had an empire?

  133. 133
    David Marjanović

    StevoR, Islam isn’t a monolith any more than Christianity is. There are harmless Christians, and there are Dominionists who believe they must take over the world, that God commands them to; there are harmless Muslims, and there are Salafists…

    Breivik wanted to found a sort of “al-Qaida for Christians”. Those are his own words from his currently ongoing trial.

    The 9/11 mass murderers were educated and middle clas — hardly powerless.

    They felt powerless in ideological ways. They were powerless to get rid of their US-backed dictatures or of the US support for Israel.

    It’s very easy to feel helpless when you aren’t, even when you’re outright privileged. Pay attention next time there’s a misogyny thread.

    how would you have had us respond vis-à-vis Afghanistan after Sept. 11, PZ?

    I can’t speak for him, but I immediately said the US should send in the CIA* to kidnap bin Laden and put him to court on charges of mass murder in more than 2700 cases.

    * Or pay the Mossad to do it, if you think the Central Ignorance Agency isn’t up to the job. The Mossad may or may not deserve its reputation, but at least they’ve done that kind of thing before.

    Talking of which, I’m actually very suspicious of StevoR: after all, what better cover for a jihadi terrorist than to pretend to be an anti-Muslim bigot?

    Ah, the ancient Shiite concept of taqiya… StevoR could be an agent provocateur, too. :-)

    With the Gazilliobytes of information the NSA is collecting every second you’d have to ask yourself why aunt Maud and uncle Stanly can’t be excluded from invasive TSA inspection?

    Because nobody reads the vast majority of that shit. Ever. There probably aren’t enough people in the fucking world to read it all. The data are being collected just in case.

    The mission was messed up, yes, but the goal was pure and the planting of democracy succeeded in the end. Can’t you concede at least that?

    The disadvantage of being an atheist is that it doesn’t sound serious when I say “the road to hell is paved with pure goals”. (Or indeed thrice-retconned goals, migratory goalposts and accomplished missions.)

    So, just this: body count.

    Sounds good, jack. Thanks for stopping by with that vague criticism of style. Why, imagine the problems we could obliquely allude to if we were all a little more like something.

    Thread won.

    Reptilian urges of vengeance

    Show me just one vengeful reptile. I’ll accept birds at this point.

    Dude, the historical revision started before the war did.

    QFT!

    Younger women appear to have been willing to perpetrate suicide attacks as well.

    Oh yes. Most of the PKK suicide bombers were women.

    That would be the Taliban that evolved from the US funded Mujahadeen, liberators of Afghanistan from the evil Soviet invaders?

    “DEDICATED TO THE BRAVE PEOPLE OF AFGHANISTAN”
    – Rambo III.

    (And do remember that all of Rambo III pretends to have a plot. It’s not like Rambo IV, where that’s limited to the first half, and the second half is just *TFRRRRRRRR TFRRRRRRRRRRR TFRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR TFRRRRRRRRRRR TFRRRRRRRRR*.)

    Or Saudi Arabia, America’s close friend, ally, and poodle?

    Aaaaaaaah, the Tyranny of the Twenty Thousand Princes.

    Even if there were no WMD, ghastly biological weapons were commonly used in the area.

    Before 1991. Afterwards, Saddam actually complied with the UN inspections.

    Even if the US took the oil or went there for it, which it didn’t (how’s your financial crisis going on?),

    Biggest non-sequitur I’ve seen in weeks. Do you believe evil schemes somehow cannot be fouled up? “Evil always wins because Good is too stupid” like in Last Action Hero?

    there would still be enough reasons to intervene in Iraq, in accordance international law.

    Show me.

    And keep in mind that no such reason was cited by the Busheviki. To them, it was WMD, laughable allegations of ties to al-Qaida, and bringing democracy to their country.

    The invasion of Iraq delayed the Arab Spring by several years, during which the dictators were able to convincingly denounce all democratic opposition as American agents.

    This is not about voting records, or foreign policy. This is about security

    I can’t see the contradiction.

    without them the world would have lived in perfect peace and harmony with no dictators

    What are you burning this strawman in? Pure oxygen? Fluorine? I ask because it’s burning very bright indeed.

    precision devices designed to minimize civilian casualties

    They may be designed to do that. It just doesn’t fucking work. Intent is still not magic.

    And actually, why not call every single act of war terrorism. Surely, that would really help to move the debate forward.

    Terrorism = the use of fear (Latin: terror) as a tactic.

    The majority of Muslims support some of the violent and barbaric parts of Sharia Laws (e.g., the “eye for an eye” types of punishment).

    1) Show me.
    2) What people support in the abstract is one thing. Republicans have the power to implement shit.

    Last I checked no Republican has (yet) proposed a bill to blind criminals with acid.

    *snort* Republicans have proposed pretty much all other madness we could imagine, and then some!

    the “not very nice Muslim” minority is at least around 30% in many counties

    Show me.

    Perhaps there might have been, but the US never tried to make that case. An international coalition, legitimized by a United Nations mandate, and restricted to going in, removing Saddam, and then leaving and allowing the Iraqi people to rebuild their own country in the way they chose, would, perhaps, have resulted in a reasonable outcome.

    Seconded, though that would have been difficult, too.

  134. 134
    David Marjanović

    The war in Afghanistan might have been justifiable as retaliation for 9/11 and the harboring of Al Qaeda by the Taliban government.

    But that only justifies the US going into Afghanistan, toppling the Taliban, trapping bin Laden at Tora Bora, killing him, and then immediately leaving.

    Killing him? Why?

    Justifiable retaliation would have been to kill him more than 2700 times, so don’t give me that.

    The rebuilding process should have been left to the Afghan people

    Pssssst… there is no Afghan people (BRAVE or otherwise). There may be an Afghan nation, but there’s never been an Afghan people. There’s a Pashto people, a Balochi people, a Dari people, a Hazara people, an Uzbek people, a Turkmen people, and so on.

    which incidentally would have prevented Afghanistan from becoming a Taliban-infested hellhole in the first place had it been done after the Soviets were kicked out of Afghanistan with US money.

    It definitely would have helped.

    Greeks had an empire?

    That’s what some people call Alexander the Great’s personal empire. Still known as Iskander/Eskandar, the dude definitely left a mark in that whole region!

  135. 135
    David Marjanović

    But I hope he would now retract his objection about Deepak Chopra … as he himself now joins the ranks of The Deepak Chopra Types..

    Man, are you stupid.

    This is independent of whether you’re trying to make a joke; if it’s a joke, it’s a remarkably stupid joke – and you know it.

  136. 136
    John Morales

    [OT - but relevant to the topic drift]

    Just the other day I read this piece: Hope after loss: returning to Afghanistan

    I asked people why they thought the US and its allies were in their country. I was met by a range of responses. To extend the paradox, not one of the responses was that the forces were there to provide safety from the Taliban and to liberate the people – which we are so often reassured of by Western leaders.

  137. 137
    Anthony K

    I asked people why they thought the US and its allies were in their country. I was met by a range of responses. To extend the paradox, not one of the responses was that the forces were there to provide safety from the Taliban and to liberate the people – which we are so often reassured of by Western leaders.

    What? The ingrates. They should talk to absolute. Absolute knows who the Iraqi citizens owe their lives to.

  138. 138
    dianne

    Last I checked no Republican has (yet) proposed a bill to blind criminals with acid.

    No, just execute them for crimes they may or may not have committed when they were 15 and lock them up for life for having 20 grams of marijuana on them. Much more humane and enlightened.

  139. 139
    dianne

    You know, there is a big difference between a 30% minority and a 0.001% minority.

    You think only 0.001% of US-Americans are in favor of shooting doctors who perform abortions? Oh, babe, how out of touch can you possibly be?

  140. 140
    David Marjanović

    You think only 0.001% of US-Americans are in favor of shooting doctors who perform abortions?

    *calculates*

    That would be just 3,000 people scattered from sea to shining sea. That’s laughable.

  141. 141
    Rutee Katreya

    Show me just one vengeful reptile. I’ll accept birds at this point.

    Oh that makes me quite cross. It’s a turn of phrase, referring to our lesser instincts :|

    Is this going to be like dealing with anti-feminists and republicans, where we leap to the defense of fungi, pond scum and the like because it’s still not as bad as the humans in question? Because that one’s fun.

    (I’m not actually cross).

    Hate Bush if he lied, don’t hate the people Iraqi citizens owe their life to.

    …the ones primarily responsible for the deaths of Iraqi citizens over the last 10 years can’t be hated?

    I mean, that’s putting aside the other inconvenient fact, that a substantial portion of our ground and air forces are in fact motivated by a desire to show who’s god is the strongerest. They’re not exactly all pure saints, you know (NOr are they all crusader wannabes, certainly)

    So what’s your argument for death-enabling passiveness again? Let’s see which side you’re on.

    BECAUSE IT’S NOT YOUR FUCKING COUNTRY, YOU IMPERIALIST FUCKING BASTARD. If you act to pillage resources (As in Iran), we can safely write off supposed humanitarian benefits as only being incidental (Assuming they exist, a dangerous assumption in Afghanistan). If you don’t act without an explicit request from at LEAST a substantial undercurrent of the people in the country you plan to ‘liberate’, you’re just another oppressor from the point of view of the ‘liberated’.

    Yo.

  142. 142
    David Marjanović

    …No, it would be just 300. That’s not even funny anymore.

    OK, it is, because of a certain movie, but…

    “Enough of this… comicbook violence!!!”
    – Meet The Spartans

  143. 143
    nevsayeed

    I’m a former Muslim and I love you Myers. What a great takedown of the neocon stupidity of Harris. He is drive only by concern for white victims of terrorism to the detriment of the brown people exterminated daily by the War on Terror which he enthusiastically supports. I was turned off him years ago when he backed Israel’s carpet bombing of Lebanon in 2006 which slaughtered many civilians and his support for the attack on Afghanistan which began at the height of the winter famine against the wishes of aid organisations and Afghan feminist groups like RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghnaistan) because they knew the human toll of aerial bombing.

    He’s basically the Glenn Beck of atheism pushing fear of Muslims to justify American imperialism. Well done PZ.

  144. 144
    David Marjanović

    Oh that makes me quite cross. It’s a turn of phrase, referring to our lesser instincts :|

    It refers to this hypothesis which was based on a thorough lack of knowledge. “Even” amphioxus have a limbic system. Pet peeve of mine.

  145. 145
    nevsayeed

    I meant to say that “he is driven only by concern for white victims of terrorism.”

  146. 146
    John Morales

    [datum]

    Read this on the news yesterday: Drone strike kills 10 Pakistani militants

    A US drone attack targeting a militant compound has killed at least 10 insurgents in a troubled Pakistani tribal district along the Afghan border, security officials said.
    [...]
    According to an AFP tally, 45 US missile strikes were reported in Pakistan’s tribal belt in 2009, the year Mr Obama took office, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2011.

    The New America Foundation think-tank in Washington says drone strikes have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in Pakistan in the past eight years.

    Contrast this story: Three special forces soldiers have been wounded, two seriously, by a bomb in Afghanistan.

    Three special forces soldiers have been wounded, two seriously, by a bomb in Afghanistan.

    The Defence Force says the soldiers were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near them during a mission in the northern Helmand province two days ago.
    [...]
    Defence reports the mission uncovered narcotics and drug manufacturing equipment, as well as a cache of weapons and IED materials.

    Since Australia first entered the conflict 33 Australian soldiers have been killed while serving in Afghanistan.

    (Asymmetric warfare, indeed)

  147. 147
    dianne

    I can’t speak for him, but I immediately said the US should send in the CIA* to kidnap bin Laden and put him to court on charges of mass murder in more than 2700 cases.

    Since bin Laden wasn’t in Afghanistan, but rather in US allied Pakistan, you didn’t actually answer the question of how Dubya should have responded to Afghanistan after a bunch of Saudi fanatics ran planes into buildings on 9/11, acting (apparently) on the direction of a Saudi hanging out in Pakistan.

    For my part, as someone who witnessed both the WTC attacks and treated some of the survivors, I would want the response to be anything that did not involve my country bombing other people. I felt especially strongly about this on 9/11/01. I’d just seen the effects of bombing a building or two and it didn’t impress me as a force for good. I wasn’t at all happy with the idea that my taxes would partly fund similar attacks in Afghanistan.

  148. 148
    dianne

    Oh, and before anyone goes into how the US attacks were DIFFERENT because we didn’t use suicide bombers, let me ask you: Why is a person who bombs others who have no chance of hurting him or fighting back somehow considered more moral than one who is at least willing to lose his or her own life to make an attack? The American bombers drop their bombs confident that the Afghani or Iraqi or whoever can’t touch them and expect a medal for “courage” for doing so.

  149. 149
    rsf2012

    The problem with Harris’ suggestion (implicit bigotry aside) is that it’s provably less secure.

    There was a 2002 MIT paper showing that any profiling system used to select passengers for additional screening is less secure than systems that employ random searches…

    Carnival Booth: An Algorithm for Defeating the Computer-Assisted Passenger Screening System.

    It’s worth reading; the math’s all there. A smart terrorist group can test the profiling system prior to an attack, and thereby determine the profiling criteria. Using this information, they can then select the member(s) of their team least likely to be subject to extra scrutiny. The paper details the number of trials needed, the resulting probability decrease, etc.

    The only rational objections to the paper’s conclusions are that either the terrorists aren’t smart enough to figure this out, patient enough to try it, or that they couldn’t recruit someone outside the profile.

    Historically, all three of those objections have been proven false.

    So Harris can side with the math, or he can side with his prejudices.

  150. 150
    jnorris

    Without reading Mr Harris’ essay or the 149 comments first, does anyone know exactly what Mr Harris believes a Muslim looks like? Exactly how do I tell if a Muslim of Chinese ancestry in a suit is in fact a terrorist?

  151. 151
    Ichthyic

    Hate Bush if he lied, don’t hate the people Iraqi citizens owe their life to.

    which one of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed during the US expedition into Iraq should be thanking those soldiers?

    man, you fuckers will believe anything, if you think this was all for the good of Iraqis, and that it saved more lives than would have been lost otherwise.

  152. 152
    Ichthyic

    I wasn’t at all happy with the idea that my taxes would partly fund similar attacks in Afghanistan.

    to put it mildly.

    I, in fact, was so unhappy about it I fucked right the hell off outta there.

    Haven’t regretted it since.

    I wonder what would happen, though, if all americans really decided their government was a failure, and simply withheld their taxes?

    I mean, isn’t this really what the tea-party SHOULD be doing, given the nym they chose for themselves?

    *shrug*

  153. 153
    Ichthyic

    Greeks had an empire?

    you’re kidding, right?

  154. 154
    davros

    They aren’t evil, they’re wrong, and their credulous beliefs make them more gullible and susceptible to exploitation.

    They may not all be evil but many are. Their church or mosque may explicitly promote misogeny, homophobic bigotry, the indoctrination of children, the preying on the weak, etc. Or it may give a free pass to evil acts like being culpable in the AIDS epidemic, the molestation of children or female genital mutilation. I think supporting an evil organisation counts as evil.

    Back on topic – airline screening does potentially have some benefit beyond security theatre. It makes a terrorist attack on a flying airplane just a bit more difficult and complex. This actually does prevent a lot of attacks by incompetent wannabe terrorists (which we tend not to hear about). Neither profiling nor the current regime of intrusive screening is required to achieve this.

  155. 155
    Ichthyic

    This is not about voting records, or foreign policy. This is about security and changing it a bit to make it about foreign policy is missing the point.

    nice strawman, dude.

    didn’t even need to read the rest of your screed to know that you being “dissapointed” amounts to little more than a hill of narcissism.

  156. 156
    Amphiox

    Greeks had an empire?

    There was still guy called Alexander, you see….

    Bullshit! It was the Greek Empire.

    Well, if you want to go right to the root of it, you’ll have to blame the Persians. Alexander, after all, at the end of the day, didn’t really build an empire, he took an empire, already built, from the Persians.

    The Persians built the empire, and then were foolish enough to lose it to the Greeks.

    So everything you can blame the Greek Empire for, you really have to blame the Persians….

  157. 157
    piranhaintheguppytank

    Another indicator you might be a terrorist:

    If you believe in global warming.

  158. 158
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Why do you link to Phil when PZ blogged about this right here?

  159. 159
    Rick

    This topic certainly is a can of worms.
    It seems to me that both PZ and Harris are wrong. First, as has been pointed out, identifying a Muslim (an abstract cognitive construct) is ridiculous. Second, the suggeston by PZ that “I think it’s a huge mistake for atheists to repeat this claim that religion makes you fly planes into buildings; it’s simply not true…”

    I completely agree with PZ that the numbers don’t add up. Of course, the ratio of terrorists to all other believers of faith is minute. However, this completely ignores a simple truth. Religion IS the basis for the much of the terrorism worldwide, and it was the basis for flying planes in to buildings. Let me quote Victor Stenger from his book the New Atheism, where he quotes Mark Juergensmeyer (Terror in the Mind of God),

    “Religion is crucial for these acts, since it gives moral justifications for killing and provides images of cosmic war that allow acticvists to believe they are waging spiritual scenarios. This does not mean religion causes violence, nor does it mean that religious violence cannot, in some cases, be justified buy other means. But it does mean that religion often provides the mores and symbols that make possible bloodshed – even catastrophic acts of terrorism.”

    How can PZ so easily dismiss the historical evidence of faith based killings. Stenger spends some time reviewing the atrocities of Christains, Muslims, and Hindus. All justified in some way by “faith”.

    So maybe we should be profiling anyone who may be religious. I need not say it, but that would be as ridiculous as Harris’s suggestion. I may agree that education is a solution, its a solution that will take many years to be effective. In the meantime religious based terror will continue.

    Lastly, PZ declares “I’m not in the least bit interested in punishing the religious for their beliefs in any way.” Punishment is certainly not warranted, but they sure as hell should be hell accountable to denounce those among them that would be, or have been willing to commit violence. As Dawkins and others have argued, they are responsible in that their support of the absurd beliefs provides the seed bed for dangerous rationalization of supremely violent behavior. That is believers fault, poor uneducated folk or not.

  160. 160
    chrisdevries

    Wow, this discussion has been an interesting read. I have a few points to make on issues that have been raised that are tangential to the actual arguments Harris made in his original post (some of which I agree with, some I think are fundamentally flawed, and some are complete bullshit). There are many people who aren’t seeing the nuances of this most important cultural conflict; a few however (like scottportman #67) are bang on the money.

    Invading Iraq was a foolish, poorly thought-out idea and was motivated by anything but concern for the Iraqi people or a desire to stop the proliferation of WMDs. Nonetheless, to say the invasion wrecked the country is a specious claim. Saddam held on to power with an iron fist and may have temporarily reduced tensions within the diverse sects of the Muslim community there through intimidation and violence, but the place was a powderkeg. Furthermore, to say that the (slightly more ethical, not that that’s saying much) invasion of Afghanistan wrecked THAT country is profoundly idiotic. Afghanistan has been in one form of chaos or another since the British Empire was in charge. In fact, even before imperialist assholes started exercising their world-conquering ambitions there, Afghanistan was a way messed-up place.

    ruteekatreya (#78) would have us live and let live in a world with countries in which Islamism is the religious and political philosophy of the majority. I don’t know if delusional Muslims would be as intent on spreading their version of their faith to the rest of the world had their countries NOT been key squares on a global Monopoly board, contested by several different empires over the past 200 years; frankly, this is irrelevant to me. I have no objection to meddling in other peoples’ countries if the meddling works to reduce fundamentalism and improve quality of life. That I am not convinced the NATO troops are succeeding in this mission is irrelevant to my conviction that meddling can be the right choice.

    The reality we face is that as of 2011, between 5 and 68% of Muslims (depending on what country is polled) see suicide bombing as sometimes or often justified (1). These numbers go up and down over the years, but even if you take the smallest number, 5%, that is still 50 million people globally who think deliberately targetting civilians with explosive devices is sometimes a good thing. Americans, with their drones, fast air, surface-to-surface missiles and artillery may kill a lot of people who are not militants, but they ARE NOT TARGETTING THEM DELIBERATELY. Unfortunately, due to their own impure motives and inability to look introspectively and critically at their own culture of violence and oppression, America can not claim the moral high ground either.

    The reality we face is that there are thousands of people in Afghanistan and the tribal regions of Pakistan who are currently fighting for their right to force women to stay in the house, not get an education (to ensure that they will always be dependant on their menfolk), veil themselves in public (when they get permission from their husband to leave the house with a male relative escort), and even to marry their rapist due to the supposed sexual impurity of a rape victim (making her unmarketable as a bride and a huge black mark on the so-called “honor” of the family), all under penalty of death and/or severe mutilation. The fact that many American Christians also engage in the oppression of women and dream of such oppression as Islamist countries can impose does not negate the horror of the Taliban.

    The reality we face is that regardless of the violent recent history of the Middle East and Southwest Asia, there are people training in dozens of camps across the aforementioned area to become suicide bombers. Many end up in Pakistan, attacking mosques of rival sects. Some go to Israel or the Palestinian territory. Some attack their fellow Muslims in towns near American bases in Afghanistan. And some aspire to make their irreversable mark on the citizens of the USA, UK, or other “Western” country. The fact that there are ALSO WESTERN TERRORIST GROUPS does not erase the danger from Muslim suicide bombers.

    In other words, I agree with PZ that this is but one form of violence and oppression in a sectarian world, and that Republicans pose a severe danger to their country and others. Cleaning up our own house is a definite must. As I mentioned above, certainly there are Christians in the USA who, if they had their way would implement laws that are so similar to laws in the Sharia-based legal systems of theocratic countries that if the religion and god in whose name they are written and enforced were blacked-out, you couldn’t tell the difference between them. IN FACT, oppressive laws such as this are on the books already in many states, and other such laws are in the process of getting approved. Just because some of the more archaic religion-inspired laws in the USA have been overturned in the name of civil rights doesn’t mean Americans don’t have to be vigilant in defending their hard-won freedoms. This is not a post about comparing two evils to see which is lesser, and which is greater.

    The truth is obvious to me. Religion DOES make people fly planes into buildings. It both inspires those who wish to kill their own civilians and themselves in blazing fires of glory and serves as a post-hoc rationalisation for the morality of such killing (i.e. true members of the faith are with Allah now, in Paradise). Religion DOES make people fear women’s sexuality, homosexuality, and is most certainly used as a tool of oppression and subjugation throughout the world (not just the Middle East). Sam Harris gets this concept where so many fail to see the truth, and he rightly focuses much of his time criticising Islam which is scarier than Christianity (only because Islam is the majority religion in countries where the word “secular” is anathema to the culture and America, for all its faults, originated as a secular country in principle, with Supreme Court rulings that have kept it pretty fucking secular in comparison to Islamic theocracies). Thus Americans need to defend their system while Pakistanis, Afghanis, Saudis, Iranians, Iraqis, Algerians, Syrians, etc…..need a new system entirely. Big difference. PZ and I may disagree on some points in this debate but his conclusion is entirely correct: the answer is education.

    Ingrained cultural ideas are incredibly hard to change, but allowing secular education to take place is the way to create such change. With secular education comes innovation in thinking (i.e. new ideas and the opening of formerly closed-off minds); with innovation in thinking, both empathy and understanding of those you used to hate and fear, and ideas for societal frameworks that allow for diversity of opinion and political stability, will follow. And as the Northern European example shows, tolerance and stability lead to secularisation. Secular education (in its broadest form) can give young Muslims the courage to question what their religion says (and I mean “secular” in the traditional definition, not the David Barton definition). Heck, just looking at the rates of religious conservatism in cities (with working education systems serving diverse cultural groups) versus rural areas (where education is hit-and-miss and where people are only exposed to those who think the same way as them) shows how effective secular education is in combating extremism. This is a trend in many Western and Middle-Eastern countries, not just an American phenomenon. Religious beliefs may be factually wrong, but in the absence of extremism and the presence of a secular democracy, religion CAN live on. If every religious person is a non-literalist who accepts and works to maintain secularism in hir country, the gnu atheists would not need to write so many strident books.

    Certainly, there is no question that the current War on Terror (TM) is failing. But we need to do something that will lead to a younger generation being exposed to new ideas in an environment where it is acceptable to question dogma. And we need to ensure that we don’t neglect doing the same thing on the home front to ensure the defense of our own secularism.

    1)http://www.pewglobal.org/database/?indicator=19&survey=13&response=Often/sometimes%20justified&mode=chart

  161. 161
    MattP (must mock his crappy brain)

    Being a ‘southern born yankee’ still stuck in the south, it is the ‘too poor to paint, too proud to whitewash’/’the war of northern aggression was not about slavery’/’this is ‘merka, speak anglish’/’jesus saves, turn or burn’/’you’ll have to pry my gun from my cold dead hands’ folks of whom I am always wary and most concerned about in just about any situation. These are the people who build personal arsenals the Taliban would envy, and rant and rave about latinos/blacks/arabs/muslims/atheists/gays/feminists destroying the country while ignoring that it is mostly crusty, old, christian, white men in the state and national legislatures doing the actual damage. My dad’s (gun-totin’ ex-deputy) friend actually said that if he were afflicted with a fatal disease he “would kill that fucker George Soros.” I did not get the impression this was meant as a joke, and the two then went on to angrily complaining about Warren Buffet wanting to pay more taxes (as if it would actually affect them).

    tl;dr terrorists come in all shapes, sizes, colors, educational and economic backgrounds, and political ideologies. Racial/religious profiling is chock full of fail. See: Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, Anders Breivik, post-1980/1990′s IRA, Ku Klux Klan, American Neo-Nazis, etc.

  162. 162
    rorschach

    Sam Harris has given an excellent example of what happens to a brain when prejudice and phobia take over rational thinking.

    This is painfully obvious, since there is no other explanation for why an otherwise intelligent man would come out with such blithering nonsense.

    Does Harris really believe there is such a thing as a Muslim race ? That we have a way of determining that someone is Muslim? We can’t even do that genetically, the whole concept makes no sense whatsoever. There are plenty of fairskinned people around who consider themself Muslims, including women. The whole idea is just breathtakingly stupid, and that’s ignoring the obvious fact that profiling one particular phenotype would make it easier for wannabe terrorists to not get caught.

    I do disagree with PZ’s critique of the “religion flies plane into buildings” quote. Religion provides the incentive, the motivation, the justification, and the reward for such an undertaking, while at the same time preventing rational thought to come up with reasons why this should not be undertaken. I don’t think it matters much that other forms of “religion”, like say totalitarianism, may also occasionally produce a suicide bomber.

  163. 163
    jamesevans

    Shall we go look at xianity historically and compare?

    you don’t want to go off on tangents? don’t state things that are easily challenged.

    Did everyone who comments on this site decide to take sleeping pills today or something?

    The ridiculous tangent argument, Ichthyic, is whether or not Islam is more dangerous than Christianity right now–TODAY–not through the ages.

    You really have to be pretty fucking stupid to say this after watching the recent US Republican primaries.

    We’re back to whenever it was that Romney ordered Mormons to radicalize and fly planes into buildings again, is it, KG? Kinda figures someone who calls other people stupid more often than Cher changes wardrobe is the biggest dipshit any Web forum has ever had the misfortune to suffer. And, no, I don’t care about the other points in your paragraph, because either they were addressed already in this or the original Sam/profiling thread (i.e.: Bush, God, and Iraq), or just ridiculous (i.e.: fiddly priests are as dangerous as jihadis).

    The Republican primaries…the ones that rejected some of the most rabid Christian candidates like Santorum and Bachmann, mind…somehow help prove Christianity is as dangerous to the globe right now as Islam. We’re not even talking general elections. Just the primaries.

    For FUCK’S SAKE what inexcusable ignorance.

    Sam is right. You can’t even have a meaningful discussion about Islam with fellow atheists for all the impenetrable bleating liberal noise.

    And I’m a fucking dyed-in-the-wool liberal, who wouldn’t vote Republican to save my life.

    You have GOT to be fucking kidding me.

  164. 164
    jamesevans

    …the part where I noted that it’s due to secular laws preventing theocracy that Christianity isn’t as dangerous as Islam rather than anything inherent in the respective faiths, is the salient part of that comment.

    Despite my point elsewhere about Islam’s unique reach for ownership of the final word, the last paragraph of my comment pretty much restated exactly that.

    Again, that dog is not defanged. At best, it’s fenced in.

    Much higher barricade than the rabbit fence around Islam.

    Does acknowledging that the US (and Canada) are still inherently racist cultures belittle the intense struggle for civic rights for minorities?

    Wrong degrees within the question. If Canada still had slaves, and we said a slave-free America with lingering race issues was as backward as our neighbors to the north, then, yes, that would belittle the progress our country made.

  165. 165
    SallyStrange

    This “unique claim” that Islam has, James–is that textual? Forgive my ignorance, but doesn’t Christianity also make the claim of being God’s final word?

    Is the problem the dogs or the fences?

  166. 166
    rorschach

    Sam is right. You can’t even have a meaningful discussion about Islam with fellow atheists for all the impenetrable bleating liberal noise.

    You know, it would help the discussion mightily if a high-profile atheist like Harris would abstain from making ridiculous suggestions like profiling Muslim-looking folks at airports.

  167. 167
    Anri

    jamesevans,

    Many of the right-wing policies being promoted in the US today do (abortion restrictions, health-care denial) or will (climate policy, education policy) kill or destroy the lives of millions. Much of this is rooted in, and certainly cemented by Christianity.

    You don’t need to be a suicide bomber to slaughter people in the name of your god.

    Christianity is at least as dangerous as Islam because Christianity is taking a very good run at destroying the pillars of democratic, liberal, scientific, educated civilizations in major, industrial, nuclear-armed countries. Islam has no hope of destroying (for example) the US educational system. Christianity might just succeed in doing so.

  168. 168
    Anthony K

    The ridiculous tangent argument, Ichthyic, is whether or not Islam is more dangerous than Christianity right now–TODAY–not through the ages.

    Policies TODAY influence political realities TOMORROW.

    The definition of shortsighted reactionary thinking is only concerning yourself with the state of affairs TODAY or YESTERDAY.

    You can’t even have a meaningful discussion about Islam with fellow atheists for all the impenetrable bleating liberal noise.

    Then leave. Have yourself a discussion with nonliberals who won’t ruin your day by disagreeing with your assertions.

  169. 169
    Ichthyic

    The ridiculous tangent argument, Ichthyic, is whether or not Islam is more dangerous than Christianity right now–TODAY–not through the ages.

    and you’ve been given your answers, but obviously failed to hear them.

    which “religion” has more deaths laid at it’s feet? Go back 10, 20, a hundred years.

    your choice.

    I await your number crunching.

    Moreover, as others pointed out, there is this little issue of INFLUENCE, not just whether or not you sent out a suicide bomber last fucking week.

    Millions of Africans will die because the pope said “no condoms for YOU!”

    Do you truly think I can’t lay those deaths at the doorstep of xianity?

    see, you live in a little insular bubble, where you lived with xian religious privilege for SO LONG, you can’t even SEE what harm it does around the world any more.

    you’re part of the fucking problem.

  170. 170
    demonhype

    It’s like you’ve got Leatherface 1 out somewhere killing teenagers with his chainsaw and Leatherface 2 restrained in a corner with a chainsaw within reach, and you’re seriously suggesting that because Leatherface 2 is not AS dangerous at the moment as Leatherface 1, that means Leatherface 2 is harmless and not a concern. Never mind that 2 killed just as many people or more before he got tied up and if those chains every rust or break or become undermined in any way he will be every bit as dangerous as he was before–actually more-so, since now he may remember how you managed to restrain him the first place and will be wary against that–no, the fact that he’s chained up makes him completely harmless and not something to worry about or do anything about, not even to the extent of maintaining those chains and ensuring that they remain strong enough to contain his murderous violence, because to do that would be tantamount to saying that Leatherface 1 is not important. Even though Leatherface 1 is killing people miles away and Leatherface 2 is sitting right in front of you, seething in hatred and rage, and you can see those chains beginning to come loose, it would be wrong to notice that and do something about it, and doubly wrong to suggest that this Leatherface is every bit as dangerous as the other one. No, a dangerous monster who is tied up and is putting every bit of its strength and effort into freeing itself is every bit as inherently harmless as a dangerous monster who has been lobotomized and pumped full of sedatives and is now sitting in the corner of a room muttering pleasantly about oysters or something.

    That “rabbit fence” around Christianity is under constant attack by what amounts to the Christian Taliban, the kind of people who think that all that horribleness the Muslims engage in would be great if only you could remove the Allah/Mohammed and replace it with Jesus–and no other change. They fucking admire the tactics and techniques the Muslims use, and their only complain is that it is being used for the “wrong” god rather than the “right” one. Remember “Jesus Camp” where that evil woman was actually describing violent Jihadism as a good thing in a general sense, if only it could be harnessed for the “right” religion? These people exist and have a frightening amount of power right now. And over the last few decades they have been undermining that secular rabbit fence and those secular chains, taking advantage of things like apathy and the golden mean fallacy and even distractions such as “but the Mooslims are so much worse” (among other things) in order to implement their own Taliban right here in the US, only under the Bible rather than the Koran.

    If anyone is really, seriously suggesting that Christianity is not currently as dangerous as Islam, that person has the mother of all blinders on. They have not been civilized, they have not been lobotomized or something, they are every bit as dangerous as they ever were and are not taking that “rabbit fence” lying down–they are doing everything they can to undermine and topple it and re-establish the kind of Christian tyranny from the old days, and they are using everything they can too–including ignorant, deluded useful idiots who will give them all sorts of passes just so long as they can point to someone doing something worse. “Sure, these guys flog ‘sluts’ in the public square, but the Mooslims execute them, would you really prefer to live in a place where they are executed, no?, then shut up and stop suggesting things aren’t good and right with our Glorious Christian regime.” (And the very next month a resolution passes to execute ‘sluts’”, along with a whole new set of apologetics as to why this regime is still so much better than that one and therefore perfect and unassailable.)

    @88: You reminded me of this dim bulb I used to work with, whose son was “going to be a HERO soldier of the US OF A, defending his COUNTRY against EVIL, donchaknow!!!!” at the start of the war….then a few months later she’s lamenting the horrors those horrible darkies are putting her spechul little snowflayk through. What horrors, you might ask? Well, they were shooting back, rather than wetting their pants, then falling to their knees and submissively presenting their hindquarters to their Western betters who were so graciously and benevolently invading their country. Yes, when her son invades another country he’s a hero, but when the people he’s invading have the audacity to fight back it’s an atrocity and war crime and they should pay for endangering her poor little boy! Yes, indeed, a man has the right to defend his home and his country and is a hero for doing so–unless the invader is the USA, at which point home/country defense becomes a war crime.

    It still pisses me off! Seriously, even if our country was the hero here and even if we were doing the right thing, what the fuck did she or her kid think war entailed? Even if you’re the hero you’re living in an entitled little bubble if you really think you’re not going to meet resistance! You take a swing at someone, even if you’re the embodiment of Purest Good and he’s the embodiment of Purest Evil, you’ve got to be an idiot to actually expect that he won’t take a swing back at you. To piss and moan because you went to war and the people you were trying to kill actually fought back is the height of jingoistic, xenophobic, entitled petulance! (And that’s not the only time I ever heard that “those monsters are shooting at us!” argument for “why the war is good and those guys deserve to die”.)

    I still to this day wonder what the hell she expected these people to do, how she expected them to react to a hostile foreign force invading their country? And what the hell she thought “war” was, because to be so horrifically surprised when her kid writes home that he had a few bullets whiz past his head suggests she was totally thinking of something else. “War…yeah, that’s that thing with the cheese and the ranch dressing, right?”

  171. 171
    Ichthyic

    We’re back to whenever it was that Romney ordered Mormons to radicalize and fly planes into buildings again, is it, KG?

    we’re back to you thinking that the only negative influence religion has had is to cause people to fly planes into buildings.

    seems rather limited, don’t you think?

    well, that’s rhetorical, since it’s pretty clear you haven’t actually really thought about the issue before.

    the question is:

    will you now?

  172. 172
    Ichthyic

    We’re not even talking general elections. Just the primaries.

    the primary overriding factor in primaries is money spent.

    the second is pushing hotbutton issues.

    Santorum surely did that, and if you think he was unpopular for doing so, you’re dumb as bricks.

  173. 173
    Anthony K

    we’re back to you thinking that the only negative influence religion has had is to cause people to fly planes into buildings.

    It’s a very libertarian tendency to discount any form of coercion that’s not immediately violent.

    Economic comes to mind.

  174. 174
    Ichthyic

    For FUCK’S SAKE what inexcusable ignorance.

    project much?

  175. 175
    Ichthyic

    It’s a very libertarian tendency to discount any form of coercion that’s not immediately violent.
    Economic comes to mind.

    yup.

    they’ll happily shoot themselves in the foot, so long as they won’t feel the pain until the next day.

    and more than happily shoot their neighbors in the head, any time, without even thinking twice about it.

  176. 176
    Ichthyic

    …that last post was an economic metaphor, btw, just so James doesn’t get, you know, confused.

  177. 177
    Ichthyic

    Here’s one for James:

    say, for argument’s sake, James lives in one of the southern States that is trying to make abortion entirely illegal.

    or, maybe one of the midwest states that has made it defacto unobtainable by eliminating all access to abortion doctors.

    Let’s say James has a sister, who is down on her luck, doesn’t have a lot of cash, but ends up pregnant.

    with no access to local abortion providers, and not enough cash to go out of state… what is she to do, James?

    If she goes to a back-alley abortionist, who would you blame for that?

    the liberals?

    if you can’t see how xianity is destroying the fucking world, it’s simply because you’ve lived under its privilege for so long, you have blinded yourself to it.

    xianity needs to be addresses for its negative social values in the US, MUCH MORE than Islam does.

    there are 400 million people in the US (last I noticed; probably more now?). Is this an insignificant number of people for you to be concerned about religion having an adverse effect on?

    like I said, if that’s your conclusion, you’re nothing more than part of the fucking problem.

  178. 178
    Nick Gotts

    Even if there were no WMD, ghastly biological weapons were commonly used in the area.
    Hate Bush if he lied, don’t hate the people Iraqi citizens owe their life to.
    Even if the US took the oil or went there for it, which it didn’t (how’s your financial crisis going on?), there would still be enough reasons to intervene in Iraq, in accordance international law. – absolute

    That’s a remarkable amount of fuckwitted ignorance/lies you’ve managed to compress into a few short sentences absolute! Well done!

    Biological weapons have not been used anywhere, AFAIK, since the Japanese Imperial Army used them in China in the 1940s. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons both against the Iranians and against Iraqi Kurds, but in both cases, this was in the 1980s, when Donald Rumsfeld was happy to shake his hand.

    The American invasion of Iraq is variously estimated to have cost between 100,000 and over 1 million Iraqi deaths. I was wrong earlier when I said most could be attributed to the breakdown of health, water and electricity systems, although this must have meant many casualties of violence died who would otherwise have survived. Saddam Hussein was a vile tyrant and mass murderer, but most of his victims died in the 1980s and 1990s. A re-targeting of sanctions, which were adversely affecting civilians more than the regime, was the only moral course of action in 2003.

    The USA has made repeated attempts to get an oil law passed which would open up most Iraqi oil reserves to effective control by foreign companies. The law has been stymied in the Iraqi Parliament, due to public opposition, and disputes between the central government and the government of the Kurdistan region.
    Exxon Mobil has signed what the central government regards as an illegal agreement with the Kurdistan authorities.

    There was most certainly not a justification to invade Iraq under international law. This is the opinion of almost all international lawyers. Under international law, war can be justified only in self-defence (Iraq was not attacking the USA or the other invading states), or when authorised by a UNSC resolution (the Security Council explicitly refused to pass such a resolution).

  179. 179
    Nick Gotts

    He’s [Sam Harris] basically the Glenn Beck of atheism – nevsayeed

    QFFT!

  180. 180
    Nick Gotts

    Since bin Laden wasn’t in Afghanistan, but rather in US allied Pakistan – dianne

    No, AFAIK he was in Afghanistan at the time of 9/11 and when the American bombings started.

  181. 181
    Nick Gotts

    We’re back to whenever it was that Romney ordered Mormons to radicalize and fly planes into buildings again, is it, KG? Kinda figures someone who calls other people stupid more often than Cher changes wardrobe is the biggest dipshit any Web forum has ever had the misfortune to suffer. And, no, I don’t care about the other points in your paragraph, because either they were addressed already in this or the original Sam/profiling thread (i.e.: Bush, God, and Iraq), or just ridiculous (i.e.: fiddly priests are as dangerous as jihadis).- jamesevans

    Thanks for confirming what a complete fuckwit you are, James. Look you braindead dolt, every one of the Republican candidates would appoint enough “conservatives” to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade, and thus kill many thousands of women. Their welfare cuts, justified in terms of their religious ideology, would kill hundreds of thousands of children. Just because a religious ideologue prefers to kill people legally and indirectly rather than by flying planes into buildings, does not make their victims any less dead. Many on the religious right also positively look forward to nuclear war in the Middle East, as a harbinger of the Second Coming. All the Republican candidates other than Paul are gung-ho for an attack on Iran, risking the entire region going up in flames, and a far worse global financial crash than in 2008 as Iran blocks the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz. That could kill millions within weeks, because the movement of food to retailers depends on the constant roll-over of debt by food businesses among others.

    Oh, and another category of Christian killings I forgot to mention: the millions of excess deaths from AIDS due to the Catholic Church’s condemnation of and lies about condoms.

    Finally, thanks for confirming that you are a complete moral vacuum by refering to child rapists as “fiddly priests”. No-one has calculated, to my knowledge, how many of their victims have been driven to suicide, alcoholism or other deadly addictions, or to victimising children in their turn, but I haven’t the slightest doubt it comfortably exceeds the victims of jihadi terrorism.

  182. 182
    Nick Gotts

    Oh yes, I see Anri@168 has mentioned perhaps the biggest danger of all from the religious right: the ideological denial of reality on climate change. This has economic roots, of course, but the religious right ideology fuses anti-science and laissez-fare economics into Christianity, and all the Republican candidates, including Romney, joined in denouncing climate science.

  183. 183
    Ichthyic

    James is quite the irritating git, eh?

  184. 184
    rorschach

    James is quite the irritating git, eh?

    More importantly, he is wrong…

  185. 185
    scooterskutre

    Sam Harris’ ignorance of Middle Eastern politics and religion has always been a public embarrassment because he pretends to know what he’s talking about, which is intellectual fraud. Or THINKs he knows what he’s talking about, which is academic fraud.

    Very recently he was on Joe Rogan’s podcast for two hours. After about 45 minutes of Joe’s typical stoner rambling they got down to discussing the Middle East.

    If you want to stare into the abyss of Harris’ jingoistic naivete of global politics, this is a ‘must listen’.

    When Joe Rogan is the only adult in the room…?1!!1!

    Sam Harris is living proof that ethnocentric bias and nationalism will make you just as myopic as religion. Sam Harris is brilliant, and a complete dumbass at the same time.

    Sound familiar?

  186. 186
    David Marjanović

    Since bin Laden wasn’t in Afghanistan, but rather in US allied Pakistan, you didn’t actually answer the question of how Dubya should have responded to Afghanistan after a bunch of Saudi fanatics ran planes into buildings on 9/11, acting (apparently) on the direction of a Saudi hanging out in Pakistan.

    At that time, everyone thought he was in Afghanistan, and probably he really was there and moved (can’t really say “fled”) to Pakistan later. The Taliban never said he wasn’t there, they said he was their guest.

    Greeks had an empire?

    you’re kidding, right?

    I don’t think he is. I’ve never encountered the term “Greek empire” except in a very few places on the Internet, all of them in English, probably all of them American. Alexander and the gang were Macedonians; many Greeks considered them barbarians; Alexander’s father had conquered Greece militarily. Yes, the empire spread Greek language and (to a lesser extent) culture all over the place, but it wasn’t Greek in any other respect.

    In German it’s always called the empire of Alexander the Great, because that’s what it was, falling apart as soon as he was dead.

  187. 187
    absolute

    So it’s ok to let societies be destroyed, because they’re in a different country. As Eddie Izzard put it, “they’re killing their own people, and we’re sort of fine with that”.

  188. 188
    pentatomid

    Pffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff…

  189. 189
    pramod

    I couldn’t spot a comments section on Harris article, so I’m posting a question to him and those who agree with him over here.

    As a person who is not muslim, not even arab but looks a bit like what americans imagine arabs look like, what am I supposed to do avoid being harassed every time I fly? Am I expected to just suck it up and deal with it as an unfortunate consequence of the skin color I was born with? If not and there is some way for me to make myself look “non-threatening”, what’s to stop the real terrorists from doing the exact same thing?

  190. 190
    Rutee Katreya

    So it’s ok to let societies be destroyed, because they’re in a different country.

    If they don’t actually want you in their country, then yes, actually, that is the correct choice of action, because your intervention isn’t fucking wanted. The correct course for military intervention is similar to what ended up happening in Libya (Which AFAICT we did for oil and PR reasons); you don’t lead forces, you serve in a support role for the rebels. Air strikes, or recon, but not the bulk of the ground forces, and even THEN, only at the explicit request of a legitimate revolt. It puts the bulk of the power, both in the short and the long term, in the hands of the people who live there. Yes, political favors will be owed, and we know that’s why it was done in Libya (Notice the lack of similar for, oh, I don’t know, any of the other nations with a substantial revolt against unjust rulers), but at least it puts the people who live there in a state of reasonable power.

    You are not the fucking world police, world judge, or otherwise world authority, granted the power to od whatever the fuck you want.. Offer humanitarian aid wherever you can that it is needed, but limit military action to a supporting role wherever possible in these circumstances.

  191. 191
    dianne

    The American invasion of Iraq is variously estimated to have cost between 100,000 and over 1 million Iraqi deaths.

    Having read the original Roberts paper and the follow up, I can say with some certainty that 1 million is an underestimate. The Roberts paper estimated no increase in non-violent deaths. Given the destruction of the infrastructure, this is extremely unlikely. Therefore, all estimates are likely low.

    Also remember that these are estimates not of total deaths, but of excess deaths, above and beyond what would have been expected had Hussein stayed in power (based on his performance in the recent past, not on the years of his worst crimes–a time when he was supported by the US.)

  192. 192
    Anri

    So it’s ok to let societies be destroyed, because they’re in a different country. As Eddie Izzard put it, “they’re killing their own people, and we’re sort of fine with that”.

    Quick question:

    Another country, with a larger military (if there is such a thing – I don’t know where you live, after all), decides that you are destroying your society. Maybe it’s because you let women vote, or because you let gays get married, or maybe because you’re pouring so much waste into the environment you’re poisoning everything around you.
    Should they invade?
    Should they kill you, and your family, in the name of this invasion?

    If (let’s say) Germany decides that the US health care system (such as it is) is an egregious violation of basic human rights for the oppressed underclass, would you be cool with them mounting a liberation-based military operation?

  193. 193
    dianne

    No, AFAIK he was in Afghanistan at the time of 9/11 and when the American bombings started.

    What’s the evidence for that? You may be right, but I don’t know of any evidence that he was there that’s stronger than “the Taliban seem like the sort of people who would support bin Laden”.

  194. 194
    jamesevans

    Thanks for confirming what a complete fuckwit you are, James. Look you braindead dolt, every one of the Republican candidates would appoint enough “conservatives” to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade, and thus kill many thousands of women.

    When it happens, KG, you mentally crippled toad, come back to us and you may have a point. Till then, quit conveniently predicting the future to favor your asinine argument.

    The possibility that Roe v. Wade MIGHT get overturned after DECADES OF SECULAR WINS IN COURT AND PRECEDENCE TO CONTRARY, if MAYBE the GOP wins the general elections is your big knock-down, drag-’em-out argument that Christianity is as dangerous as Islam right now?!

    Are you done? Or do you have more crap you’d like to smear on this thread? All your other points can have “Christianity” removed and “Islam” inserted, and still stand, so they are a wash and, like most of your comments, unhelpful to the discussion. Because, you know, it’s only the Pope and the Holy See, not the ignorant influence of Islam as well, causing grief, death, AIDs, sickness, and misery in Africa. Thanks for ANOTHER pointless tangent.

    Way to go, Toadstradamus.

    we’re back to you thinking that the only negative influence religion has had is to cause people to fly planes into buildings.

    Islam is the most dangerous religion today, Ichthyic, not the only dangerous religion, you scary genius. For FUCK’S SAKE AGAIN, what inexcusable ignorance. I mean, cash in your atheist/skeptic member badge, you’re so embarrassingly lost on a pathetically simple line of reasoning. Go argue for creationists, and dig deeper pits of ignorant despair for them, not us. But I’m the one projecting and who needs help understanding the hidden nuances here, right?

    James is quite the irritating git, eh?

    The thread a bit over your head much, Ichthyic? You can’t even comprehend it, but you feel you have the right to comment on those who do. Even KG, for all the nonsensical vomit, can follow the discussion.

    Oh, and keep your oh so scary counterarguments to ONE comment, please and thank you, rather than trolling the discussion in twitathon Gish Gallop fashion. Even irritating gits have the good sense to understand the debate before they squirt their mental diarrhea all over it. Which, I guess, makes you the git’s feebleminded, squeaking familiar.

    Bang-up job babbling incoherently, Ms. South Carolina.

  195. 195
    absolute

    What about a situation, where the society is so oppressed that they cannot speak? North Korea, Iran, former Iraq (although we did have brave secular groups there).

    It’s funny how the only example you can bring up is absurd. Now you will say, who decides what’s absurd. OK if you want to compare terror and physical as well as emotional destruction of a society to letting women vote as a reason for intervention, then you must think very little of enlightenment and secular humanism anyway, in which case arguing is futile.

  196. 196
    jamesevans

    It’s like you’ve got Leatherface 1 out somewhere killing teenagers with his chainsaw and Leatherface 2 restrained in a corner with a chainsaw within reach, and you’re seriously suggesting that because Leatherface 2 is not AS dangerous at the moment as Leatherface 1, that means Leatherface 2 is harmless and not a concern.

    I assume you were addressing me, demonhype. Apologies if not.

    Anyway, this is NOT the point I am making at all. No offense, but not even close.

    Islam is the most dangerous religion today, not the only dangerous religion with all the rest shackled in “harmless and not a concern” status. Also, just because for whatever reason the merry-go-round fans here likes to spin ceaselessly over this point as well, I am also NOT trying to argue that Islam historically has always been the nastiest one.

    Islam is today’s most dangerous religion, with, yes, all the rest still posing a threat, but not one that rises to the same level, thankfully due to centuries of secular struggle bludgeoning them into submission.

    May that be the last time the discussion requires review and retrograde motion.

  197. 197
    kianmead

    At the threat of universal condemnation, I want to make a few points.

    This is really a debate about how rational people are. Their are lots of muslims, just like lots of hindus, christians and [insert religion], who are good decent people because they have partially rationed there way to secular morality. They just have not jumped the gap of pascals wager.

    But their are others, who through anger, the prime destroyer of rationality, who use the religion to justify their behavior.

    Then their are the irrational, prompted by anger and religious indoctrination which are the threat.

    The problem is, islam has been very good with the Saudi oil monies support of exporting the religious indoctrination of the most irrational form of islam, wahhabism. Even here in the UK – the large number of after school madrases is shocking. The west does very well in making muslims angry, and the Saudi’s, aware that the oil is running out, is trying to indoctrinate all muslims in a flagrant future power grab.

    The problem here is, no one is recognizing the dangers in all sides arguments. PZ is right, education is the key – which is why their is a struggle within islam, between those who are educating in madrases and those who have partially rationed away their religion.

    Who is winning is the question. But this is a country by country struggle, depending on the present rulers power and proclivity.

    For example, Saudi Arabia scores highly on the power of the government and desire for mind control. And to my mind, is the most dangerous enemy of secular democracy.

    Iran does not have so much power in government as characterized by the western media – but does have the desire for mind control – it is just not going well for them – especially with their economic woes.

    And someone like the UAE, have chosen the education path, hoping to gain more tourist dollars.

    But the big point is this. Secular western education has massively blunted the power of christianity. In islam, that education has not been available, and is being fought against. That is the danger of islam, it wants to create anger to drive of reason (which the west freely supplies*), and indoctrinate.

    Who ever cannot see that, really is blind.

    * This does not include the problem of Israel. Does anyone want to defend the idea that we should let Israel fall? Do you really think that the religious nutters in islam will not still use the very existence of Israel even if a two state solution is reached, to generate anger?

    PS ANGER HINDERS RATIONAL BEHAVIOR. Just felt I needed to emphasize that point.

  198. 198
    jamesevans

    You know, it would help the discussion mightily if a high-profile atheist like Harris would abstain from making ridiculous suggestions like profiling Muslim-looking folks at airports.

    Agreed, rorschach. He fucked up, and we’re all going to suffer an unfortunate hit from it, no doubt.

    James is quite the irritating git, eh?

    More importantly, he is wrong…

    About what exactly…?

  199. 199
    Ze Madmax

    jamesevans @ #194

    The possibility that Roe v. Wade MIGHT get overturned after DECADES OF SECULAR WINS IN COURT AND PRECEDENCE TO CONTRARY, if MAYBE the GOP wins the general elections is your big knock-down, drag-’em-out argument that Christianity is as dangerous as Islam right now?!

    And by “decades of secular wins” you mean the constant stream of cases that have been eroding Roe v. Wade protections since it was decided?

    Newsflash: Islam has people desperate enough to blow themselves for their cause, because they are in a disadvantaged position. Christianity is in a much more powerful and comfortable position, hence the lack of desperate tactics.

  200. 200
    kianmead

    Oh, and PPPS

    Fear leads to anger, anger to hate, and hate leads to the dark side.

    Which is why I was interested in the possible brain changes between republicans utilizing emotional instinct with their enlarged fear centres (sorry cannot spell mingaler or what ever), verses democrats using rationality.

    Just need to find out is it in response to environmental factors or genetic. Because using gut checks is going to frequently led to irrational thinking – and using religious “education” is always going to try to promote gut checks.

    The whole future of islam can be scientifically studied and predicted with that nugget of information. Unfortunately, I have a “gut feeling” it is environmental, which is the worst possible outcome.

    I.E. you can train a lot of people to be irrational.

  201. 201
    jamesevans

    Many of the right-wing policies being promoted in the US today do (abortion restrictions, health-care denial) or will (climate policy, education policy) kill or destroy the lives of millions. Much of this is rooted in, and certainly cemented by Christianity.

    It ain’t like the oil-rich Islamic royalty or Imams are all out there heralding helpful responses to climate change, or singing the praises of peer-reviewed science in general. Like Christians, you’ll find them on both sides of any scientific debate.

    Your point is another unhelpful wash, Anri.

  202. 202
    jamesevans

    And by “decades of secular wins” you mean the constant stream of cases that have been eroding Roe v. Wade protections since it was decided?

    No, Ze Madmax, I mean when Roe v. Wade is no longer the the law of the land, you may have a point.

    MAYBE.

    Because the sticky bit for you will be that even with a fully-overturned RvW on your side, you still will have to prove there is now more assault on female reproductive rights by Christians than Muslims.

    Good luck with that.

    Of course backward states and despicable congress-people will go after RvW, set up trigger laws, etc., and it will be under assault in perpetuity. Welcome to America. What the…?!

    AGAIN, Islam is the most dangerous today, not the only.

    Thanks for stepping up to the plate, whiffing, and making us review the score, and spiral off unnecessarily into a wasteful wash of an argument that dead ends unhelpfully once again at both Islam and Christianity alike.

  203. 203
    jamesevans

    Newsflash: Islam has people desperate enough to blow themselves for their cause, because they are in a disadvantaged position. Christianity is in a much more powerful and comfortable position, hence the lack of desperate tactics.

    Newsflash: anyone who wants to contradict themselves, and argue my point for me that Islam is more dangerous, and then think that apologizing for some tangentially-debatable reason why it’s more dangerous is some kinda game-winner here is welcome to this puzzling debate tactic.

    There’s only so much hopeless garbage you can clean up, so I will be ignoring ye ole apologetic lead fired into ye ole foot from now on.

  204. 204
    Jadehawk

    I give up. the spam filter won’t let me post the links to articles about the massive investments in renewables in Arab countries. anyway, the Saudis and the Emirates are investing billions in solar, because unlike the Repubs, they’re not in fucking denial about peak oil and AGW.

    Newsflash: anyone who wants to contradict themselves, and argue my point for me that Islam is more dangerous,

    you only think it’s a contradiction because you’re too fucking dense to grasp that suicide bombings by the relatively powerless kill fewer people than “respectable” people with power. they just do it more directly and spectacularly. so dim bulbs like you notice that more.

  205. 205
    Jadehawk

    I mean when Roe v. Wade is no longer the the law of the land, you may have a point.

    because of course the part that matters is that it’s on the books, not that it actually means women can have abortions

  206. 206
    MattP (must mock his crappy brain)
    Newsflash: Islam has people desperate enough to blow themselves for their cause, because they are in a disadvantaged position. Christianity is in a much more powerful and comfortable position, hence the lack of desperate tactics.

    Newsflash: anyone who wants to contradict themselves, and argue my point for me that Islam is more dangerous, and then think that apologizing for some tangentially-debatable reason why it’s more dangerous is some kinda game-winner here is welcome to this puzzling debate tactic.

    There’s only so much hopeless garbage you can clean up, so I will be ignoring ye ole apologetic lead fired into ye ole foot from now on.

    The point of Ze Madmax’s post as I see it is that Christians don’t need to blow themselves up to fuck other people over. They have lawyers, politicians, lobbyists, etc. to do it with our own legal system. How many people are actually affected by a hijacked airliner versus an entire state requiring a trans-vaginal sonogram before allowing an abortion? Or allowing doctors and nurses to refuse to perform an emergency abortion to save the mother from immediate mortal harm?

  207. 207
    David Marjanović

    fear centres (sorry cannot spell mingaler or what ever),

    …Oh. Amygdala. (Means “almond” in Greek.)

    verses

    Versus. (“Against” in Latin.)

  208. 208
    Anri

    It ain’t like the oil-rich Islamic royalty or Imams are all out there heralding helpful responses to climate change, or singing the praises of peer-reviewed science in general. Like Christians, you’ll find them on both sides of any scientific debate.

    Your point is another unhelpful wash, Anri.

    Hey, that’s a good point – after all, the number of Muslim Republican lawmakers in my country is more-or-less equivalent to the number of Christian Republican lawmakers, and they therefore have equal power to cause harm.

    Wait a sec…

    I just said something really fantastically stupid somewhere up there, jamesevans.
    Care to help me find it?

  209. 209
    Rutee Katreya

    The possibility that Roe v. Wade MIGHT get overturned after DECADES OF SECULAR WINS IN COURT AND PRECEDENCE TO CONTRARY, if MAYBE the GOP wins the general elections is your big knock-down, drag-’em-out argument that Christianity is as dangerous as Islam right now?!

    Dude, like 4 justices, right now, would unreservedly vote against women, and laugh maniacally as they did so. Do you pay any attention whatsoever? Because feminists aren’t laughing about the possibility for Roe v. Wade being overturned, and there’s kind of a reason for that.

    No, Ze Madmax, I mean when Roe v. Wade is no longer the the law of the land, you may have a point. MAYBE.

    Oh. I see. You aren’t actually going to consider the problems of anything other than straight white dudes. Fuck off, honky.

  210. 210
    relativelyquarky

    Harris, PZ & Dillahunty are all right…on some level.

    On the macroscopic level, I agree with PZ 100% (I think Harris does too). The US has a horrible history of state and corporate sponsored terrorism. In addition, our airport screening is not only fiscally irresponsible but ineffective and completely reactionary.

    I agree with Harris on the microscopic level that in order to successfully screen for persons of interest, one must take into account profiles/traits/habits associated with said persons. (I’ll come back to this)

    To combat Dillahunty’s example, there isn’t just one type/group of terrorist (you can’t say that Anders Brievek didn’t fit a muslim stereotype and he was a terrorist) …..there are right wing terrorists and muslim terrorists, etc and each has a certain profile in their own respect – given, there will be false positives no doubt and there will be random acts of violence that may not be predictable. If you extrapolate further into Dillahunty now (though he didn’t make this point), in order to best screen for the disease, you would look for ‘symptoms’ of that disease (we don’t screen every single adult for lung cancer for a reason) which I think is what Harris is speaking of.

    How absurd is it for security to screen an elderly black man at a MLK event that the FBI has evidence for that a white supremacist group is planning to terrorize, all for the sake of equality? If I’m going to that event and I (or Dillahunty) don’t get screened (as a white male with a shaved head) due to randomization, I would be angered that they didn’t take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of everyone there at the sake of my offense.

  211. 211
    Kristjan Wager

    On the macroscopic level, I agree with PZ 100% (I think Harris does too). The US has a horrible history of state and corporate sponsored terrorism. In addition, our airport screening is not only fiscally irresponsible but ineffective and completely reactionary.

    I, on the other hand, don’t think Harris agree. For him, the US history is a feature, not a bug.

    We are, after all, talking about someone defending both the use of torture and pre-emptive nuclear attacks.

  212. 212
    jamesevans

    Hey, that’s a good point – after all, the number of Muslim Republican lawmakers in my country is more-or-less equivalent to the number of Christian Republican lawmakers, and they therefore have equal power to cause harm.

    Wait a sec…

    I just said something really fantastically stupid somewhere up there, jamesevans.
    Care to help me find it?

    Sure, Anri. Not that anyone should care what your country is, but, see, we’re talking about global not regional danger. At least you’re right, it was fantastically stupid.

  213. 213
    Cipher

    How absurd is it for security to screen an elderly black man at a MLK event that the FBI has evidence for that a white supremacist group is planning to terrorize, all for the sake of equality?

    Which part of this scenario is meant to have bearing on real life?

  214. 214
    Kristjan Wager

    Going back to the discussion, I think there are actually two different conversations going on. One is the overall danger of one religion versus another, the other is about profiling people going onboard planes, based upon the (perceived) risk of them committing terrorism.

    I am going to focus on the second part, because I think that this is one that people have skipped over. It is true that 9/11 and other major terrorist events were caused by islamic terrorists, but in the US, the UK and Spain, the vast majority of terrorism has been done by Christians. IRA were Christian. ETA were Christian. Oklahoma City was done by a Christian. The continuing attacks on abortion providers are done by Christians.

    Uptread several people said that religion was required to fly planes into buildings. Am I the only one who remembers that someone flew a plane into an IRS building? The apparent motive there was a hatred to the IRS – not a religious motive at all.

  215. 215
    Kristjan Wager

    Sure, Anri. Not that anyone should care what your country is, but, see, we’re talking about global not regional danger. At least you’re right, it was fantastically stupid.

    If we are talking global, there is no doubt that PZ’s point about the dangers of US politics is correct, and that it is a much greater danger, to the average citizen, than islam.

    Islam is oppresive and inhumane, but US politics kills. On a daily basis.

  216. 216
    Ing

    Harris, PZ & Dillahunty are all right…on some level.

    On the macroscopic level, I agree with PZ 100% (I think Harris does too). The US has a horrible history of state and corporate sponsored terrorism. In addition, our airport screening is not only fiscally irresponsible but ineffective and completely reactionary.

    I agree with Harris on the microscopic level that in order to successfully screen for persons of interest, one must take into account profiles/traits/habits associated with said persons. (I’ll come back to this)

    Harris is right in a way that is indistinguishable from him being wrong.

    No one is against behavioral profiling: the problem is that RACIAL profiling or superficial profiling is both indicative of bigotry, stupidity, and fear and NOT FUCKING EFFECTIVE

  217. 217
    jamesevans

    because of course the part that matters is that it’s on the books, not that it actually means women can have abortions

    Again, a condition of FULLY-OVERTURNED RvW WITH ALL NATIONAL ARBORTION CLINICS SHUT DOWN FOR ALL ABORTIONS AND NOT JUST PARTIAL-BIRTH can be hand-delivered to you on a silver platter, as in KG’s fantasy future, and out best/most all it gets you is an unhelpful stalemate in this Christianity vs. Islam business.

    But you will ignore that statement again, and we’ll engage in more repeating and backtracking.

  218. 218
    jamesevans

    Oh. I see. You aren’t actually going to consider the problems of anything other than straight white dudes. Fuck off, honky.

    Well, I’m definitely not considering opinions from anyone who thinks Sept. 11 was a noble, justified act.

    Fuck off, wack job.

  219. 219
    David Marjanović

    Am I the only one who remembers that someone flew a plane into an IRS building?

    No. It has been brought up in this very thread, even. But some people don’t read before they write…

  220. 220
    Kristjan Wager

    No. It has been brought up in this very thread, even. But some people don’t read before they write…

    Interesting. I thought I had read all comments, but there are a few people I have killfilled, so it must be one of those who mentioned it.

    Sorry about being redundant.

  221. 221
    Ing

    Also fuck Hitchens. The next time someone points to his historical illiteracy and moronicness as a defense of imperialism someone needs to remind them that Hitchen’s is not their fucking god.

    Ironically, it was his post mortum praise that turned me off of HItchens. Everyone praised the guy for sticking to his guns and debating his side with great passion. Which since one of them actually told an anecdote on how he was given a stumper in the debate (has this EVEr worked in history) he said no…paused…and continued on ignoring that. It’s exactly the sort of bullshit thinking we should criticize not praise.

    On a simplistic level Hitchen’s was not a friend; he was a rhetorician not a rationalist. He argued his views through the force of his personality and talent, not their facts. When he was right we gleefully accepted his help and then apparently never realized that none of that rationality existed when he was wrong.

  222. 222
    Ing

    Well, I’m definitely not considering opinions from anyone who thinks Sept. 11 was a noble, justified act.

    Fuck off, wack job.

    Oh fuck you too.

  223. 223
    Kristjan Wager

    Ah, no – I see it was timgueguen who mentioned it, but somehow I overlooked it.

  224. 224
    Jadehawk

    Again, a condition of FULLY-OVERTURNED RvW WITH ALL NATIONAL ARBORTION CLINICS SHUT DOWN FOR ALL ABORTIONS AND NOT JUST PARTIAL-BIRTH can be hand-delivered to you on a silver platter, as in KG’s fantasy future, and out best/most all it gets you is an unhelpful stalemate in this Christianity vs. Islam business.

    since this is already the case in a number of christian countries, I’ll take this comment as an accidental concession (in an argument I wasn’t making, but if you prefer to talk about christianity vs. islam…)

  225. 225
    David Marjanović

    Harris is right in a way that is indistinguishable from him being wrong.

    You’re awesome.

    FULLY-OVERTURNED RvW WITH ALL NATIONAL ARBORTION CLINICS SHUT DOWN FOR ALL ABORTIONS AND NOT JUST PARTIAL-BIRTH

    Dude, there are already entire states that have one abortion clinic each. IIRC, South Dakota is one.

    Well, I’m definitely not considering opinions from anyone who thinks Sept. 11 was a noble, justified act.

    For the third time: Nobody here thinks that. Go back and read, this time for understanding.

  226. 226
    Ze Madmax

    jamesevans @ #212:

    Sure, Anri. Not that anyone should care what your country is, but, see, we’re talking about global not regional danger.

    So if I’m reading this right, your issue is that Islam is more dangerous that Christianity on a global scale because of Islamic terrorism’s ability to strike anywhere in the world, as opposed to Christianity, which can be dangerous, but only regionally.

    Pray tell, how is that any more dangerous than a (nominally secular, culturally Christian) nation that is able to project military power (up and including nuclear weapons) anywhere in the world and has demonstrated in the past a tendency to nose in where it is not wanted, waving as justification ideas of liberty and democracy?

    Because the only difference I see is that with Islamic terrorism, it may be more difficult to see it coming (military drone victims would probably disagree).

    You can make the case that the recent American forays into the Middle East were not motivated by religion. But when the Commander in Chief calls the mission a “crusade,” I think it’s pretty obvious that the zeitgeist reflects a significant influence of Christianity.

  227. 227
    Jadehawk

    Well, I’m definitely not considering opinions from anyone who thinks Sept. 11 was a noble, justified act.

    ROTFLMAO

    biggest. strawman. ever.

  228. 228
    Ing

    Well, I’m definitely not considering opinions from anyone who thinks invading Iraq was a noble, justified act.

    Hey works just as well!

  229. 229
    johnmarley

    Maybe this was covered in the comments (I haven’t read the whole thread), but you seem to have skipped another problem with Harris’ argument

    We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.

    Let me change that around a bit, not just to make a point for me, but also to try and move the debate away from race.

    We should profile Republicans, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Republican, and we should be honest about it.

    Your replacement illustrates it perfectly. “anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be ___”. Unless that blank is an obvious physical characteristic, the statement includes literally everyone. What possible non-stereotypical meaning could Harris’ statement have? Does Harris think terrorists are all wearing t-shirts with jihadic slogans? There was that guy stopped because he has some arabic writing on his t-shirt Oh, wait, not only was he not a terrorist, but the TSA people were satisfied with just covering the offending t-shirt. It’s like something too silly for Monty Python. It makes less sense than two guys hitting each other with fish.

  230. 230
    David Marjanović

    South Dakota? I should have mentioned Nicaragua, where women simply die in the streets.

    But some people don’t read before they write…

    Er, sorry. I meant those who keep claiming only religion can fly people into buildings.

  231. 231
    David Marjanović

    Oh, wait, not only was he not a terrorist, but the TSA people were satisfied with just covering the offending t-shirt. It’s like something too silly for Monty Python. It makes less sense than two guys hitting each other with fish.

    Seconded.

  232. 232
    Jadehawk

    IIRC, South Dakota is one.

    also Arkansas, North Dakota, Mississippi(and that one’s in danger of being shut down), and Wyoming.

    ask me how i know that

    *sigh*

  233. 233
    jamesevans

    you only think it’s a contradiction because you’re too fucking dense to grasp that suicide bombings by the relatively powerless kill fewer people than “respectable” people with power. they just do it more directly and spectacularly. so dim bulbs like you notice that more.

    Forgetting for a moment that the victims of suicide bombings are COMPLETELY powerless in most cases, you blathering idiot, but which “‘respectable’ people with power,” and which occasions of doing “it more directly and spectacularly” would you’d like to name here exactly?

  234. 234
    dianne

    Well, I’m definitely not considering opinions from anyone who thinks Sept. 11 was a noble, justified act.

    Supporters of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (including, presumably, you) appear to admire the deeds of the 9/11 terrorists. At least, they are imitating them, which suggests a fair amount of respect for the acts. I’m sure you’ll argue that the American bombings are different because they aren’t suicide bombings, but I see no practical difference from the point of view of the ones in the buildings that are hit.

    I didn’t consider the acts noble or justified and don’t consider the acts of other bombers justified either. Not even the ones from my country.

  235. 235
    jamesevans

    So if I’m reading this right, your issue is that Islam is more dangerous that Christianity on a global scale because of Islamic terrorism’s ability to strike anywhere in the world, as opposed to Christianity, which can be dangerous, but only regionally.

    Nope, try again.

  236. 236
    Jadehawk

    Forgetting for a moment that the victims of suicide bombings are COMPLETELY powerless in most cases

    very pretty non sequitur. where did you find it?

    I forgive you the reading-comprehension fail on the rest of that sentence, since I didn’t make it sufficiently clear that “they” referred to suicide bombers.

  237. 237
    Jadehawk

    in fact, that entire paragraph was a grammatical clusterfuck. let’s try again:

    suicide bombings by relatively powerless individuals kill fewer people than things done by “respectable” people with power. the suicide bombers just do it more directly and spectacularly, so dim bulbs like you notice that more.

    so, now that that’s corrected, you can at least misconstrue what I say on purpose, instead of accidentally. won’t that be much better?

  238. 238
    jamesevans
    Well, I’m definitely not considering opinions from anyone who thinks Sept. 11 was a noble, justified act.

    ROTFLMAO

    biggest. strawman. ever.

    Rrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhht.

    And that islamic fundamentalism is itself part of the backlash against western interference in the region for cold war reasons. I mean really, if you are willing to excuse the US of its war crimes because they’re a response to 9/11, why aren’t you willing to excuse 9/11 when it’s ultimately a response to Meriken colonialism?

    I’m sure you’re eager to join ruteekatreya excusing Sept. 11. I mean you defend suicide bombers in general.

    Dumbest.

    Commentor.

    Ever.

  239. 239
    jamesevans

    Supporters of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (including, presumably, you)

    Nope, try again.

  240. 240
    jamesevans

    Oh fuck you too.

    Right back at ya, dumbass. ;)

  241. 241
    dianne

    So, James, do you support bombing of civilians or don’t you? Your remarks in general suggest that you do, but your last comment seems to imply otherwise. Which is it?

  242. 242
    jamesevans

    in fact, that entire paragraph was a grammatical clusterfuck. let’s try again:

    suicide bombings by relatively powerless individuals kill fewer people than things done by “respectable” people with power. the suicide bombers just do it more directly and spectacularly, so dim bulbs like you notice that more.

    so, now that that’s corrected, you can at least misconstrue what I say on purpose, instead of accidentally. won’t that be much better?

    Learn to English.

    Now, again, those “‘respectable’ people with power” are who exactly?

  243. 243
    Jadehawk

    I’m sure you’re eager to join ruteekatreya excusing Sept. 11. I mean you defend suicide bombers in general.

    I am not defending suicide bombers, you illiterate fuckweasel. for that matter, neither was rutee in the part you quote.

    or maybe it’s not illiteracy; maybe it’s morton’s demon and/or projection

  244. 244
    jamesevans

    So, James, do you support bombing of civilians or don’t you?

    Of course not.

    Your remarks in general suggest that you do

    Huh?

  245. 245
    Cipher

    Rrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhht.

    You completely made that shit up. I saw what you’re pretending it came from in the other thread, and it’s been pointed out to you twice that that is not what Rutee said. I’m a little embarrassed for you, if you think that pathetic retorts like the above make your argument for you.

  246. 246
    jamesevans

    I am not defending suicide bombers, you illiterate fuckweasel. for that matter, neither was rutee in the part you quote.

    Reading and writing issues for this sssssslllllllllllooooooooowwwwwww learner.

  247. 247
    Cipher

    Moreover, you didn’t address the argument rutee made in the other thread either, nor did you address the point she made here. You simply strawmanned her other argument, then used it to ad hom this one.

  248. 248
    Jadehawk

    Learn to English.

    says the illiterate one.

    but I’ll make you a deal: once you speak three other languages fluently, I’ll bother to proofread more closely. i might even start to capitalize.

  249. 249
    jamesevans

    You completely made that shit up. I saw what you’re pretending it came from in the other thread, and it’s been pointed out to you twice that that is not what Rutee said.

    Completely made that shit up? WTF? It’s right there for all to read in the other thread if they’re interested in puking.

  250. 250
    Jadehawk

    Reading and writing issues for this sssssslllllllllllooooooooowwwwwww learner.

    oh, you run out of stupid-ass arguments, and have only personal attacks left? alrighty then.

    dude, I have probably a better command of English than you do, so lay off this silliness. you’re making yourself look quite quite pathetic.

  251. 251
    Cipher

    Completely made that shit up? WTF? It’s right there for all to read in the other thread if they’re interested in puking.

    Your assertions are very endearing. Quote, link, and post number, or it didn’t happen.

  252. 252
    Jadehawk

    It’s right there for all to read

    we have. that’s how we know you’re making shit up, because rutee does not do what you claim she does.

    it could be that you’re lying.

    it could be that you can’t read.

    it could be that you’re so delusional you’re projecting this stuff into what she did write.

    doesn’t matter; in any case, you’re quite wrong, and precisely because it’s all there to read, it’s obvious to everyone that you are wrong.

  253. 253
    Cipher

    dude, I have probably a better command of English than you do, so lay off this silliness. you’re making yourself look quite quite pathetic.

    Yeah, it’s pretty embarrassing to watch him flail like this.

  254. 254
    jamesevans

    Moreover, you didn’t address the argument rutee made in the other thread either, nor did you address the point she made here. You simply strawmanned her other argument, then used it to ad hom this one.

    It’s there for everyone to judge whether it’s wonderfully poignant or wretched. Personally not interested in people who defend Bin Laden’s actions as some kinda justified response to colonialism, because there is no other way to interpret those words. The conversation is over with that person. Have a nice day.

  255. 255
    Cipher

    Personally not interested in people who defend Bin Laden’s actions as some kinda justified response to colonialism, because there is no other way to interpret those words

    Which words? Come on, if they’re so damn unambiguous, go ahead and quote them for us.

  256. 256
    Jadehawk

    Personally not interested in people who defend Bin Laden’s actions as some kinda justified response to colonialism, because there is no other way to interpret those words.

    lol. he thinks “if you are willing to excuse the US of its war crimes because they’re a response to 9/11, why aren’t you willing to excuse 9/11 when it’s ultimately a response to Meriken colonialism” is a claim that it’s a justified response to colonialism.

    and he wants to claim my English sucks.

    awesome.

  257. 257
    jamesevans

    Your assertions are very endearing. Quote, link, and post number, or it didn’t happen.

    For the slow ones who have charged in to make fools of themselves w/o reading both threads:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/04/30/no-racial-profiling-please/#comments

    #338

    You’ve got the quote.

    Last time I hold anyone’s hand.

    PAY ATTENTION.

  258. 258
    phoenicianromans

    There is a very easy way to solve TSA profiling and searching – simply require them to hand over a crisp new $100 note to any person searched who is not a terrorist, drug dealer, or whatever – to come out of their operating budget.

    IMMEDIATELY you will see them paying attention to public inconvenience, conditional probability and the like. The problem is that now their incentive is to justify their existence by searching as many people and being as visible as possible – regardless of effects or external costs to others.

  259. 259
    jamesevans

    lol. he thinks “if you are willing to excuse the US of its war crimes because they’re a response to 9/11, why aren’t you willing to excuse 9/11 when it’s ultimately a response to Meriken colonialism”

    Your English does need work. You skipped this part.

    And that islamic fundamentalism is itself part of the backlash against western interference in the region for cold war reasons.

  260. 260
    Jadehawk

    the following is the paragraph right after the one quoted by james in #238:

    Protip: I neither excuse Meriken for ‘responding’ to 9/11, nor Al Qaeda for ‘responding’ to Colonialism, because “HE DID IT FIRST” is a shitty basis for deciding ethics. I am applying your own logic in a way you had yet to consider, not making the argument that Al Qaeda should be excused.

    this is hilarious.

  261. 261
    Anthony K

    Personally not interested in people who defend Bin Laden’s actions as some kinda justified response to colonialism, because there is no other way to interpret those words

    You mean these words?

    I mean really, if you are willing to excuse the US of its war crimes because they’re a response to 9/11, why aren’t you willing to excuse 9/11 when it’s ultimately a response to Meriken colonialism?

    Protip: I neither excuse Meriken for ‘responding’ to 9/11, nor Al Qaeda for ‘responding’ to Colonialism, because “HE DID IT FIRST” is a shitty basis for deciding ethics. I am applying your own logic in a way you had yet to consider, not making the argument that Al Qaeda should be excused.

    Actually, there is another way to interpret these words. As written.

  262. 262
    Jadehawk

    Your English does need work. You skipped this part.

    my english needs work? you’re the one projecting “justifiable” into sentences and paragraphs where it is simply not present, not even as an implication. it’s not present in the line you’re quoting now, either, so re-quoting it isn’t helping your argument any.

    or are you claiming it’s not a backlash? because that would be amazingly historically and politically clueless of you.

  263. 263
    Anthony K

    Your English does need work. You skipped this part.

    And that islamic fundamentalism is itself part of the backlash against western interference in the region for cold war reasons.

    Jesus Christ, does this asshole think saying “Y had reasons for X” and “Y was justified in doing X” are the same thing?

    You’re right, jamesevans. There’s no point in continuing this conversation.

  264. 264
    Cipher

    For the slow ones who have charged in to make fools of themselves w/o reading both threads:

    I read the thread, you mind-blowingly stupid asshole, that’s why I’m aware that what rutee said is not the same as the pathetic strawman you’ve constructed. As you’ve had pointed out to you several times – speaking of hand-holding – she in fact said the opposite of what you are claiming she did.

  265. 265
    phoenicianromans

    StevoR: “Muslims throw acid in women’s faces – women that have just been married against their will to older men and raped.”

    And Americans drop bombs on children. More children than those women with acid thrown in their faces.

    “But that’s different, because we’re the Good Guys.”
    “But that’s different, because it’s just incidental damage”
    “But that’s different, because Muslims are savages doing it for superstitious reasons.”
    “But that’s different, because I personally have never done it, and I don’t like to think about people doing it in my name.”

  266. 266
    jamesevans

    You mean these words?

    Conveniently excluding these:

    And that islamic fundamentalism is itself part of the backlash against western interference in the region for cold war reasons.

    You don’t get to contradict yourself and then choose which contradictory statement you like best afterward. It doesn’t work that way. According to ruteekatreya, people like Bin Laden are responding justifiably to western interference.

    I am applying your own logic

    Uh, no. Don’t think so. Never ever ever ever suggested Bin Laden could use colonial aggression as a justification. While we’re at it, never said I excused America for its war crimes.

    But buzz on.

  267. 267
    Jadehawk

    Conveniently excluding these

    lol. two people point out to him how that’s still not rutee excusing or justifying anything, and yet he tries again, as if repeating it will make it more true.

    Never ever ever ever suggested Bin Laden could use colonial aggression as a justification.

    so you don’t know what it means to apply someones “logic” to something? oh please tell me one more time how horrible my English is! :-D

    While we’re at it, never said I excused America for its war crimes.

    you were shifting blame: “Even the deaths in Iraq could not have happened without 9/11.”

  268. 268
    jamesevans

    I read the thread, you mind-blowingly stupid asshole, that’s why I’m aware that what rutee said is not the same as the pathetic strawman you’ve constructed.

    Nope. You’re just too much of a deplorable fuckwit to recognize blaming Western meddling when Islamic fundamentalism is really to blame for Sept. 11.

    You’re right, jamesevans. There’s no point in continuing this conversation.

    See ya.

  269. 269
    Anthony K

    Conveniently excluding these:

    Yeah? You feel I’m playing fast and loose with quotes? You’re the guy who tried to quotemine me, asshole.

    So let’s put it all together, you lying little fuckstain.

    You wrote (remember, shitbag, these are the things you’re claiming rutee wrote):

    Well, I’m definitely not considering opinions from anyone who thinks Sept. 11 was a noble, justified act

    Noble. Justified. These are the words you’re putting into rutee’s mouth, as it were.

    What rutee actually wrote:

    And that islamic fundamentalism is itself part of the backlash against western interference in the region for cold war reasons. I mean really, if you are willing to excuse the US of its war crimes because they’re a response to 9/11, why aren’t you willing to excuse 9/11 when it’s ultimately a response to Meriken colonialism?

    Protip: I neither excuse Meriken for ‘responding’ to 9/11, nor Al Qaeda for ‘responding’ to Colonialism, because “HE DID IT FIRST” is a shitty basis for deciding ethics. I am applying your own logic in a way you had yet to consider, not making the argument that Al Qaeda should be excused.

    Do you see the words noble or justified in there, you fucking lying piece of shit?

    As I noted above, saying “X had reasons for doing Y” is not the same as saying “X was justified in doing Y”. If you don’t understand how, and it’s a good bet you don’t, you half-literate sack of fuck, try negating them: the non-equivalency of “X had no reasons for doing Y” and “X was not justified in doing Y” is more apparent. And if you still don’t understand, note that it is not logically inconsistent for both statements to be true. And after that, if you still want to claim they’re equivalent, well, it’s obvious that you’re incapable of honest argumentation, reading for comprehension, or both.

    But I’m not here to argue with you. I’m just popping in to note how fucking apparent your dishonesty is. Get bent.

  270. 270
    Anthony K

    And if you still don’t understand, note that it is not logically inconsistent for both statements to be true the first statement to be true and the second false.

    FIFM.

  271. 271
    jamesevans
    While we’re at it, never said I excused America for its war crimes.

    you were shifting blame: “Even the deaths in Iraq could not have happened without 9/11.”

    Conflating deaths in Iraq with war crimes. Good job.

    Now tell me that means I supported the Iraq invasion.

    You guys are entertaining. I’ll give you that.

  272. 272
    Jadehawk

    . You’re just too much of a deplorable fuckwit to recognize blaming Western meddling when Islamic fundamentalism is really to blame for Sept. 11.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    you really think that’s what she said, don’t you. awesome. truly, beautifully awesome.

    no, you dumbfuck. what she was doing is applying the blame-shifting you used in the line “Even the deaths in Iraq could not have happened without 9/11” to 9/11 in order to demonstrate 1)that blame-shifting (what she refers to as “they did it first” ethics) is a ridiculous ethical argument, and 2)that you’re a hypocrite willing to shift blame from Americans to Muslims, but not from Muslims to Americans

  273. 273
    Ichthyic

    Conflating deaths in Iraq with war crimes. Good job.

    uh, there were several specific instances that would really have been valid examples of war crimes (abu Grahib comes to mind for starters), not to mention the fact that the invasion of Iraq was never sanctioned by any international body.

    funny how insular you are, that you can’t see how the rest of the world views it.

  274. 274
    Jadehawk

    Conflating deaths in Iraq with war crimes. Good job.

    I’m curious: just what precisely are you projecting into me simply quoting you, and why?

  275. 275
    Ichthyic

    The thread a bit over your head much, Ichthyic?

    project much, asswipe?

  276. 276
    Ichthyic

    Islam is the most dangerous religion today

    nope, you’re still not gettin it.

    what’s more, you haven’t actually EVER, in ANY of the many times you have posted this thought, supported it with any real-world data.

    I asked you to, several times.

    patiently waited for you to provide the numbers to support your case.

    nothing.

    you won’t, because you know somewhere in that little nut inside the shell you built around your brain, you’re wrong.

  277. 277
    Jadehawk

    oh, nvm, i caught what he’s reading into my quote: rutee used “war crimes” when he was “only” talking about Iraqi deaths, and because I’m trying to explain rutee’s argument to him, he thinks I’m the one making that conflation.

    *shrug*

    considering that the Iraq war was illegal, and that plenty of individual war crimes were committed during that illegal war, I’d say that conflation was a minor problem, if a problem at all, in rutee’s argument.

  278. 278
    Ichthyic

    you know, for a “tangent” that James advised us he really DID NOT want to go off on… he sure has spent a lot of time trying to convince us of how important this tangent really is.

    interesting.

  279. 279
    Ichthyic

    I can’t see any reason to further pursue this, given James isn’t really listening anyway, but I will add this:

    Islam is the most dangerous religion… in places where it has privileged status already.

    Christianity is the most dangerous religion in exactly the same fashion.

    it’s where religion already has generations of privilege behind it that it becomes the most dangerous justification for egregious behavior.

    so, James, surely you can see that in the US, it’s Christianity that really needs to be attacked, because it has privilege here, and HAS resulted in death and lower quality of life for everyone that religion has touched, both within and outside of the US.

    likewise, you can clearly see where Islam has caused the degradation of society within those areas where it has become the privileged religion.

    in the end, it’s not even the religion itself that needs to be attacked, but the authoritarian personalities within each given society that have taken its privilege for granted, and used it to self-justify egregious behavior.

    it matters fuckall what religion you’re talking about; what needs to be done is to change the message trusted authorities are sending to these extreme authoritarian personalities.

    get an Imam who spouts fire and vengeance to start talking cooperation and peace, and they will start to adopt the new message.

    It’s obvious this will work, because this is what was done, in the opposite direction, during the Islamic Revolution.

    likewise, the same exact thing needs to be done with religious authority figures withing xianity. Instead of Pat Robertson saying gays should be wiped from the face of the earth, he should be forced to start talking about community and understanding and harmony (fuck, you KNOW the bible can support ANY message). The authoritarian personalities will listen, and slowly but surely, sanity will return.

    it just takes will for those who WANT power, not to abuse hotbutton issues in order to manipulate authoritarian personalities.

    Even McCain warned about how the GoP was over-manipulating these authoritarians during the 2000 primaries. His compatriots chastised him for saying it. There are those who see where the strategy has begun to backfire on them, but I still see nobody in politics with the spine to reverse the message.

    unless that is done, it won’t MATTER which fucking religion you are talking about, because it’s the empowered, privileged, authoritarians who will end up destroying any progressive value in our societies, both east and west, and will justify their behavior with whatever religion is at hand.

  280. 280
    anat

    To Thomas Lawson (#12):

    During my family’s last trip to Israel we raised some security people’s suspicions because although we are Israelis we rarely go there (twice in a decade). And on our return trip we got questioned at length because we were unapologetic about not being part of a religious community. They started asking us which holidays we celebrate at home (WTF?). But then another security person showed up and decided we were OK, rushed us through without having our luggage examined.

  281. 281
    jamesevans

    you haven’t actually EVER, in ANY of the many times you have posted this thought, supported it with any real-world data.

    I asked you to, several times.

    If instead you want to be MY wet-nosed, data-fetching mutt, and go get some data FOR ME that proves Christianity is every bit as dangerous as Islam right now, knock yourself out. Shocking, but you missed the part where I’m no longer holding hands/leashes. The argument is right there, spelled out simply over 2 threads with all the defense/references/concurring contributors that is required, if your brain isn’t out to lunch, Ichthyic.

    I can’t see any reason to further pursue this, given James isn’t really listening anyway

    Says the contributor who couldn’t be bothered to understand the thread from the start, and has been running a gimpy race to catch up ever since.

    I have a suggestion. You could go get, like, a dozen more bozos to help you stumble over one another in brilliant Keystone Kop fashion again, renewing the world’s most mutilated Web scramble/rescue/desperate attempt to find a hole in the comment dike, while completely ignoring the larger discussion. You know, the part that matters most (I know, not to you Keystone Kops…don’t bother offering the info).

    All of this endless go-round and distraction, because Islam being the most dangerous religion right now doesn’t sit well with us, and reality makes us all squishy and squeamish in our apologetic little innards.

    Good grief.

  282. 282
    Ichthyic

    If instead you want to be MY wet-nosed, data-fetching mutt, and go get some data FOR ME that proves Christianity is every bit as dangerous as Islam right now, knock yourself out.

    doesn’t work that way, chum.

    you started this shit, not us.

    It’s quite clear you believe what you WANT to believe, not what the reality is.

    The argument is right there, spelled out simply over 2 threads with all the defense/references/concurring contributors that is required, if your brain isn’t out to lunch, Ichthyic.

    oh the argument you made is there, and clear enough, but entirely unsupported, which was my point.

    if you’re comfortable with that, all I can do is say you’re living a lie, and leave it at that.

    I feel sorry for you, that you actually think you have any ability to critically analyze what is happening in the world.

  283. 283
    Ichthyic

    All of this endless go-round and distraction, because Islam being the most dangerous religion right now doesn’t sit well with us, and reality makes us all squishy and squeamish in our apologetic little innards.

    so much projection, so much denial.

  284. 284
    Ing

    Comment by jamesevans blocked. [unkill]​[show comment]

    Out of curiosity can anyone point to a dangerous part of Islamic DOCTRINE that is not also shared with Christianity? Main author==Paul versus Main author == Mohammed, what’s the difference?

    If anything it seems people criticize the Koran being clearer and better written

  285. 285
    Ichthyic

    Out of curiosity can anyone point to a dangerous part of Islamic DOCTRINE that is not also shared with Christianity?

    IIRC, there are more references to burning people with fire in the Qu’Ran than there are in the bible.

    something like 12 more?

    *shrug*

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/cruelty/long.html

    of course that entirely explains 9/11, what with the jets and burning fuel and all.

    ;)

  286. 286
    Ing

    @Ichyic

    Like I said, the Koran is riffed because it is less opaque.

  287. 287
    Ing

    Or for that matter the Books of Mormon?

    Their history and religion is incredibly violent, and one of them is running for president. AND they have a prophecy and doctrine that they will take over the government of the USA.

    And one of them is running for president…of the USA.

  288. 288
    Ichthyic

    of course, it’s typically riffed by people who have actually never read any of it as well.

    Not saying it isn’t rightly riffed by those who have, just like the bible is terribly easily riffed by anyone who has read the thing, but I wonder just how high the correlation is between those vociferously knocking Islam, and those who’ve never even bothered to read the Qur’an.

    I’d guess it’s pretty high.

    meh, not important though. all the abrahamic religious texts are utter crap anyway.

  289. 289
    Ichthyic

    Or for that matter the Books of Mormon?

    good point.

    Is crap based on crap more or less crap?

  290. 290
    Ichthyic

    getting back to:

    All of this endless go-round and distraction

    oh, sorry James.

    did you ever actually say whether or not you were for or against profiling in general?

    why, yes you did:

    I agree that Harris is wrong on the profiling thing

    did anyone disagree?

    not that I saw.

    glad to see we resolved your issue before all this endless “distraction” took place.

  291. 291
    Rutee Katreya

    Wow, James Evans is really going to keep fucking that chicken, isn’t he? I don’t even get to be the first to say he’s either illiterate, a liar, or delusional. Ah well.

    Out of curiosity can anyone point to a dangerous part of Islamic DOCTRINE that is not also shared with Christianity?

    Hm, the murder of apostates? I’m specifically referring to those who leave the religion when I say this. I don’t remember that in the new testament. I really don’t think there’s a lot, though.

  292. 292
    Rutee Katreya

    What I like best about the twit is that not only does the initial paragraph not excuse the attacks on 9/11, but then I put another paragraph in as a disclaimer, because he was pretty clearly not the sharpest tool in the shed…

  293. 293
    Ing

    Hm, the murder of apostates? I’m specifically referring to those who leave the religion when I say this. I don’t remember that in the new testament. I really don’t think there’s a lot, though.

    Still in the Bible though. And debateably the “Remove anything that might tempt you to sin, cut off your hand blah blah blah” passage.

  294. 294
    jamesevans

    oh the argument you made is there, and clear enough, but entirely unsupported, which was my point.

    Let’s see, the confused, embarrassing, yet shameless nonsense from the self-contradictory Keystone Kops Goon Squad versus…

    “Islam is the greatest man-made force for evil in the world today.”
    Richard Dawkins

    “Religion is an evil mind-rot with varying degrees of infection, but I think the worst of them all has to be Islam. What a nasty little superstition it is.”
    PZ Myers

    “Islam, more than any other religion human beings have devised, has all the makings of a thoroughgoing cult of death.”
    Sam Harris

    “There are other ideologies with which to expunge the last vapors of reasonableness from a society’s discourse, but Islam is undoubtedly one of the best we’ve got.”
    Sam Harris

    “Islam states [totalitarianism] in the most alarming way in that it comes as the third of the monotheisms, and says nothing further is required…We don’t claim to be exclusive, but we do claim to be final. There’s no need for any further work on this point. In our world, the worst thing anyone can say is ‘no further inquiry is needed.’ You’ve already got all you need to know. All else is commentary. That is the most sinister and dangerous thing. And that is a claim that Islam makes that others don’t make in quite the same way…We have the final word. That’s deadly. And I think our existence is incompatible with that preaching.”
    Christopher Hitchens

    “It’s exact equivalent of the evil nonsense taught by Hedges and friends of his, who say the suicide bombers in Palestine are driven to it by despair. Have you read the manifestos of these suicide bombers? Have you seen the videos they make? Have you seen the manifestos they put out? The propaganda that they generate? These are not people in despair. These are people in a state of religious exultation. Who are promised everything. Who are in a state of hope. Who are in a state of adoration for their evil mullahs. And for their filthy religion. It’s this that makes them think they have the right to kill others while taking their own lives. If despair among Palestinians was enough to create psychopathic criminal behavior, there’s been enough despair for a long time, and enough misery to go around. It is to excuse the vicious, filthy forces of Islamic jihad to offer any other explanation but that it is their own evil preaching, their own vile religion, their own racism, their own apocalyptic ideology that makes them think they have the right to kill everyone in this room, and go to paradise as a reward. I won’t listen, nor should you, to anyone who euphemizes or excuses this evil wicked thing.”
    Christopher Hitchens

    And on and on and on. But go ahead. Tell us all why THEY are wrong, too, and we should all start looking to you chicken-fucking, knuckle-dragging, illiterate goons instead for guidance.

    A.

    Bunch.

    Of.

    Sad.

    Sad.

    Bleating.

    Bozos.

  295. 295
    Kristjan Wager

    Comment by jamesevans blocked.

    Quotemining and distorting what other people says will get you killfiled.

  296. 296
    chigau (違う)

    jamesevans

    A.

    Bunch.

    Of.

    Sad.

    Sad.

    Bleating.

    Bozos.

    And, why are you here?

    <blockquote>

    blockquote

  297. 297
    Ichthyic

    And on and on and on.

    are any of those arguments based on numbers?

    no.

    what you got there, boy, is nothing more that an argument from authority.

    here’s a clue:

    nobody cares WHO you fucking quote, because we’re not convinced you know fuckall about what they’re talking about.

  298. 298
    Ichthyic

    Have you read the manifestos of these suicide bombers?

    well, I read Timothy McVeigh’s manifesto.

    I read the manifesto of the person who shot George Tiller, and that of Operation Rescue.

    have you read any of those?

  299. 299
    Ichthyic

    knuckle-dragging,

    projecting again.

    I vote for tossing your ass, simply because you’re an intractable dolt who refuses to listen to anyone but yourself.

    Flounce or die, fuckwit.

  300. 300
    cognitivedissonance

    Unbelievable. Four years after Obama took office — more than doubling Bush’s total of drone strikes in his first year alone, escalating the war in Afghanistan, and waging war in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya et al, to the ecstatic cheers of his millions of supporters — people like Myers are still acting as though U.S. warmaking is somehow a Republican phenomenon.

    You wonder what it would take for reality to sink in.

  301. 301
    Ze Madmax

    cognitivedissonance @ #300:

    From the main article:

    Of all the people lined up behind the security barrier at the airport, it’s those American voters who are currently the most dangerous. The only reasonable objection to my claim that we should profile Republicans is that everyone who voted for the Democrat Obama is also culpable.

    .

    Of course, we often see what we want to see… don’t want none of that dissonant cognition thing, after all.

  302. 302
    Ichthyic

    Tell us all why THEY are wrong, too,

    actually, since you quoted Hitch, WE HAVE.

    in fact MANY HAVE.

    did you ever bother to read any of the criticisms of Hitch’s position regarding the war? or muslims? or anything?

    ..or did you just quote them because like a good little authoritarian, you think they make your argument for you?

    man, what a waste of space you are.

  303. 303
    Anri

    Sure, Anri. Not that anyone should care what your country is, but, see, we’re talking about global not regional danger. At least you’re right, it was fantastically stupid.

    Ah, good point.
    I forgot that climate change, and the world’s largest military being in the control of people so god-soaked and poorly educated, they’d consider Rick Santorum as a serious contender for high office (and may yet elect Mitt Romney) to be strictly regional threats.

    If you believe that to be a regional problem, it might be worth considering that Salman Rushdie is still alive, Osama Bin Laden isn’t.

    No Middle Eastern Islamist leader has the ability to bring about Armageddon, no matter how much they desire it. The US President has that power. If he truly thinks the world should end… it will end.
    That’s a regional threat, if your region is, yanno, Earth.

  304. 304
    jamesevans

    And, why are you here?

    Why am I here at the site in general, chigau? Or these Sam/profiling threads specifically?

  305. 305
    chigau (違う)

    Yes.

  306. 306
    jamesevans
    Tell us all why THEY are wrong, too,

    actually, since you quoted Hitch, WE HAVE.

    in fact MANY HAVE.

    Even if you have a point here (which you do not), that’s only one. The other three? Wanna use your scary intellect for all of us enjoying this discussion, and explain why the other three are oh so terribly confused as well?

    did you ever bother to read any of the criticisms of Hitch’s position regarding the war? or muslims? or anything?

    Not that a blockhead like you would have noticed, but my posts thus far make it clear, for one, I disagree with Hitch on Iraq. See, unlike you, the classic one-dimensional forum TWIT and waste of Internet packets, I can recognize the value of what else Hitch has to say, despite my disagreements with him on this or that other issue.

    Anyway, is there anything Hitch has stated that is germane to this discussion that you’d care to reference/deconstruct? Because, his ruminations on other topics notwithstanding, both of his quotes above NAIL the issues here.

    Not that you would have noticed, or anything crazy like that.

    And, again, the reasons the other non-Hitch quotes above are wrong, please and thank you.

  307. 307
    jamesevans

    Yes.

    Yes to which question, chigau?

  308. 308
    jamesevans

    No Middle Eastern Islamist leader has the ability to bring about Armageddon, no matter how much they desire it. The US President has that power.

    And thanks to centuries of secular effort, the PotUS will not be crying out in religious vespers, and then pressing the big red button anytime soon. You can snuggle up in your blankets with your teddy bear, and rest easy tonight, Anri. It’ll all be OK. I promise.

    But, should I be wrong, and yet another screwball fantasy future comes true (how the fuck that’s gonna happen, who the fuck knows), you have every right to come dance on my grave here and squeal with delight that you were right and I was horribly mistaken.

    Happy?

    Nuclear armageddon is coming soon to a planet near you apparently…

    Man, am I humbled before the genius of THAT point, or what? Should have thought of that gotchya zinger, huh? Phew, what an embarrassing hole in my argument.

  309. 309
    Ing

    Did you miss me saying that my opinion of Hitchen’s decreased greatly after his death due to what people praised him for? It seemed to be a collective cognitive dissonance/bias where they praised him for qualities they revile in the other side.

  310. 310
    jamesevans

    Comment by jamesevans blocked.

    Quotemining and distorting what other people says will get you killfiled.

    See ya.

    Anyone else? Be my guest, and don’t let reality hit you on the ass on the way out.

  311. 311
    simonsays

    @kianmead #197:

    * This does not include the problem of Israel. Does anyone want to defend the idea that we should let Israel fall?

    Who specifically is advocating this?

    Do you really think that the religious nutters in islam will not still use the very existence of Israel even if a two state solution is reached, to generate anger?

    Perhaps, but this will be significantly reduced when there is a proper Palestinian state along with formal trade and diplomatic relations between Israel and the rest of the Middle East.

  312. 312
    Ing

    See ya.

    Anyone else? Be my guest, and don’t let reality hit you on the ass on the way out.

    Christ, what an asshole. Forgot this was your blog sorry

    This does not include the problem of Israel. Does anyone want to defend the idea that we should let Israel fall?

    I want Israel to be stable, which is why I disagree with decisions which IMHO needlessly damages their national security.

    I think the Lebanese would point out they have far more to fear from Israel than vice versa.

  313. 313
    jamesevans

    Christ, what an asshole. Forgot this was your blog sorry

    Yeah, I bullied Kristjan right out of the discussion/blog somehow magically without even addressing him this whole time.

    He didn’t decide on his own to take his marbles and stomp off, or anything.

    Nice fairy tale, dipshit.

  314. 314
    Anthony K

    Nice fairy tale, dipshit.

    Hey, fuckbrain: you can play Tough Guy™ all you want, but it’s not masking the fact that you’ve been caught quotemining and distorting positions. And despite your claims to the contrary, you sure are interested in this keeping this spiralling, wildly unhelpful tangent going.

    So really, shut the fuck up about fairy tales, you ethically-challenged, lying bag of shit.

  315. 315
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Nice fairy tale, dipshit.

    What fairy tale? Then one where you are unarrogantly and calmly discussing reality, or the one where this is your blog and you can be gratuitiouly insulting without incurring the wrath of the banhammer of the real owner?

  316. 316
    Anri

    And thanks to centuries of secular effort, the PotUS will not be crying out in religious vespers, and then pressing the big red button anytime soon. You can snuggle up in your blankets with your teddy bear, and rest easy tonight, Anri. It’ll all be OK. I promise.

    But, should I be wrong, and yet another screwball fantasy future comes true (how the fuck that’s gonna happen, who the fuck knows), you have every right to come dance on my grave here and squeal with delight that you were right and I was horribly mistaken.

    Happy?

    Nuclear armageddon is coming soon to a planet near you apparently…

    Man, am I humbled before the genius of THAT point, or what? Should have thought of that gotchya zinger, huh? Phew, what an embarrassing hole in my argument.

    You got me, again, jamesevans, in refuting my point by saying…

    ..wait a sec, now that I read what you wrote, it doesn’t refute what I said at all.

    In fact, it almost looks as if you took my recognition that Apocalyptic Doctrine + Global Nuclear Arsenal = Bad and tried to claim I was saying we were going to get killed.
    But that would be either dishonest or really, really stupid, and as you’re clearly my better in both intelligence and integrity, I must be mistaken. I’d ask the rest of the forum-goers for assistance, but sadly it seems that you are, in the immortal words of Cobra Commander “…surrounded by idiots!”

    Now, if someone wanted to successfully argue against my position, they would not be likely to demonstrate that secular opposition to overt Christianity is what has helped keep such a scenario from coming to pass.

    And of course your, um, argument only addresses the most melodramatic and far-fetched of ways in which Christianity is dangerous. The other things I mentioned…
    …ah, why bother with those. They’re much less fun to mock.

  317. 317
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Generallerong:

    Careful makeup on old blond hags?

    Fuck you, you sexist asshole.

    StevoR, please, do go on lecturing women about how we don’t understand what’s best for us. I guess since xtian terrorism doesn’t target you personally, it doesn’t matter, eh?

    As Audley said: Asshole.

    Pixelp3: Turn off Faux Nooz and Limbaugh, dipshit.

    Shorter VancouverAtheist: “I didn’t read the post, so I didn’t get the point that screening doesn’t work, but anyway my convenience trumps other people’s rights, at least the rights of people who don’t look like me.”

    Scott Portman:

    But my choice to “come out” as an atheist in the US is not really particularly risky.

    You must come from a liberal urban area. There are American atheists who have been threatened and harassed in their communities for coming out as such.

    Rawlinson, I’m utterly surprised to see that you’re as derisive of anti-racist rhetoric as you are of anti-misogynist rhetoric. This is my shocked face: :-|

    Absolute:

    Hitchens would make you ashamed for saying that.

    Uh, we don’t regard Hitchens as infallible around here. As for the goal being “pure” and the “success” of “the planting of democracy”…. seriously, fuck off, you cretinously naive, utterly uninformed, well-named dupe.

    So it’s ok to let societies be destroyed, because they’re in a different country. As Eddie Izzard put it, “they’re killing their own people, and we’re sort of fine with that”.

    For fuck’s sake, did you even read the responses addressed to you? By which I mean, tried to absorb them, followed argument-verifying links when necessary? Rather than just treated them as so much noise to howl back against, like Alan Colmes on Faux Nooz?

    And speaking of drooling lackwits! James Evans, whose mendacity in quoting others has already been adequately dealt with: Xtianity hasn’t had an enlightenment. The West did, and xtianity was dragged along kicking and screaming. There are xtians who want to overturn the Enlightenment. Ever hear of Opus Dei? You know, a cult of Catholics much beloved of the current boss in the Vatican? Or do you not find them as much of a threat because it’s not your reproductive organs they seek to control?

    The possibility that Roe v. Wade MIGHT get overturned…

    Roe v. Wade doesn’t matter if women can’t get any fucking access to abortion. Same goes for Griswold v. Connecticut vis-à-vis contraception. You really are a privileged fuckwit, aren’t you?

    And I’m a fucking dyed-in-the-wool liberal

    LOLOLOLOLOL.

    Again, a condition of FULLY-OVERTURNED RvW WITH ALL NATIONAL ARBORTION CLINICS SHUT DOWN FOR ALL ABORTIONS AND NOT JUST PARTIAL-BIRTH can be hand-delivered to you on a silver platter, as in KG’s fantasy future, and out best/most all it gets you is an unhelpful stalemate in this Christianity vs. Islam business.

    Shift dem goalposts some more, Jimmy!

    Last time I hold anyone’s hand.

    Backing up your argument with a link isn’t “holding anyone’s hand.” It’s backing up your argument.

    If instead you want to be MY wet-nosed, data-fetching mutt, and go get some data FOR ME that proves Christianity is every bit as dangerous as Islam right now, knock yourself out.

    You made the positive assertion, fuckwit. YOU back it up.

    BTW, don’t use words like “crippled” and “gimpy” here. In fact, don’t use them anywhere.

    Brownian:

    you half-literate sack of fuck

    Petejohn:

    It’s just a shame that across the world it’s been decided that we’re supposed to let these people wallow in their wrong.

    What do you propose to do? Imprison theists? Cut off their voting rights?

    Chrisdevries:

    I have no objection to meddling in other peoples’ countries if the meddling works to reduce fundamentalism and improve quality of life.

    Awsum. Could the UN please send troops into the U.S. to get rid of most of the Republican Party?

    Demonhype, I take my hat off to you. Amazing comment.

    Ze Madmax:

    Islam has people desperate enough to blow themselves for their cause…

    I think you accidentally a preposition there. :D

  318. 318
    jamesevans

    Hey, fuckbrain: you can play Tough Guy™ all you want

    Hey, clueless cretin, it is the rarest of rarities that I start the name-calling (you’d have to be a total rightwing nightmare in desperate need of a dope slap right from the get-go), and I certainly didn’t here. I treat everyone with respect until some other ignorant fool starts flinging insults my way, and then I am more than happy to return the favor.

    Yeah, I started the Tough Guy™ routine here. Brilliant. Could your head possibly be shoved any farther up your ass, Brownian? And, anyway, didn’t you bow out of this discussion yesterday? If so, good to see you back so soon!

    but it’s not masking the fact that you’ve been caught quotemining and distorting positions.

    LOL. Oh noes! I’ve been caught by the quotemining police! Better run for it!

    Intellectual laziness of the highest order, but I guess there ain’t much else left to you here. The quotes are apropos, and not distorted in the least, but you are welcome to flail about with this childish tantrum as much as you like. Knock yourself out.

    WWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!! Some rather influential atheists have acknowledged how deplorable Islam is! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! WWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!

    I hope I’m not the only one here stepping back from the inane nitpicking going on in these threads and scratching his or her head at how bizarre it is that the larger postulate–Islam is the most dangerous religion today–has become such a tough pill for some to swallow. How absurd is all the demented thrashing about in the face of that simple idea?

    Who knew Islam had so many atheists at its beck and call to defend it? Remarkable.

  319. 319
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    When you’ve been caught lying like a rug, bluster, project, and continue to argue by assertion.

  320. 320
    jamesevans

    Backing up your argument with a link isn’t “holding anyone’s hand.” It’s backing up your argument.

    It’s been done already. A little less time spent being an ignorant fuckwit. A little more time spent not missing what’s already happened in the discussion, hmmm?

    Thanks for initiating more review for the lazy.

    You made the positive assertion, fuckwit. YOU back it up.

    No, you witless ass, I did not make this positive assertion. Many have before I reiterated it here, or the posted quotes above wouldn’t exist.

    Yeah, Dawkins was waiting for me to make the point before making it himself. Where are the rocks that you people crawl out from under again?

    Funny how the assertion that started all of this–Sam allegedly being “completely irrational about Islam”–gets no challenge by the Goon Squad, and no demands for data/links/references/etc.

    The Clown Car is getting a little overcrowded, I see, and the oxygen levels are dropping precipitously.

    BTW, don’t use words like “crippled” and “gimpy” here. In fact, don’t use them anywhere.

    I’ll take it under consideration.

    Now go fuck yourself.

  321. 321
    Ing

    Hitchens would make you ashamed for saying that.

    Hitchens wasn’t infallible or even all that reasonable all the time. The fact that not nearly enough people were willing to remind him that his talent with writing and wit didn’t infer him less fallibility when he was alive was a great disservice to him. That people seemingly are still not willing to say it is a great disservice to his fans.

    IMO, Hitchens saw the fact that he could convince many people via charisma as proof of the rightness of his views. He was so used to convincing people through rhetoric that he failed to see that he can still argue well and be dead wrong. Especially on Iraq and the Mideast he was not only wrong, but was thinking wrong because he seemed stubbornly hostile to the idea that he could be wrong and was rudely dismissive to people who wanted to correct him. He made up his mind and set his considerable talents to arguing for it, but it was a one way street because few people could out talk him.

  322. 322
    Ing

    Funny how the assertion that started all of this–Sam allegedly being “completely irrational about Islam”–gets no challenge by the Goon Squad, and no demands for data/links/references/etc.

    Are you shitting me? First post on that dealt with the facts.

  323. 323
    Rutee Katreya

    I have no objection to meddling in other peoples’ countries if the meddling works to reduce fundamentalism and improve quality of life.

    Big surprise from a white dude in the imperial superpower of the era. It’s not your country that’s going to be meddled with, after all.

    Fuck you, you imperialist asshat. You do realize pretty much every single time Meriken get interventionist, it fucks the country completely, right? Shit, your attitude is a slightly updated version of what permitted the installation of the shah, the deposition of countless (legitimately!) elected leaders in South America and the Caribbean, and piles of other shit. You just replaced “Communist” with “Fundamentalist”. If you want to play world police, play Civilization, don’t fucking take it out on the world.

  324. 324
    Ing

    I have no objection to meddling in other peoples’ countries if the meddling works to reduce fundamentalism and improve quality of life.

    So you’d favor an invasion from Norway? How long have you had treasonous thoughts?

  325. 325
    jamesevans

    Are you shitting me? First post on that dealt with the facts.

    Whose first post to whom, Ing?

  326. 326
    Ing

    Did you miss the first post on this that had a security expert disagree with him? in the main body?

  327. 327
    ARKopah

    Sam has a new reply on his blog:
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/on-knowing-your-enemy29

  328. 328
    Nick Gotts

    But, should I be wrong, and yet another screwball fantasy future comes true (how the fuck that’s gonna happen, who the fuck knows), you have every right to come dance on my grave here and squeal with delight that you were right and I was horribly mistaken.

    Happy? – jamesevans

    You revolting piece of shit. You think anyone you’re arguing with here would boast about being right when hundreds of millions of people are dying in agony? We’ll leave that sort of thing to scumbags like you.

    Reagan’s fuckwitted rhetoric about the “Evil Empire” nearly got us all killed twice. Google “Able Archer” and “Stanislav Petrov” for the details. And Reagan was the epitome of rationality compared with most of the Republican candidates this year. Have you really never read anything on the apocalyptic fantasies about Israel and Armageddon that are common currency on the religious right?

  329. 329
    jamesevans

    Did you miss the first post on this that had a security expert disagree with him? in the main body?

    Sheesh, I sure did miss the part where a security expert took otrame to task for using Sam’s blunder on profiling to declare that Sam is therefore also “completely irrational about Muslims.”

    I was damn near 100% certain that only I called out otrame and others who felt the same on that grossly inaccurate statement, hence the exasperation that otrame’s point hasn’t been accused of lacking data/links/three references listed in reverse chronological order/etc. to back it. But, wow, he got told by a security expert, and I missed it? otrame must have been crushed, the poor little wayward contributor.

    Ing, I think you probably wanna take a deep breath, settle down, and afford some time to go back and acquaint yourself with the actual discussion that has unfolded here.

    And chances are pretty damn good, you are not the only one who could benefit from knowing what’s really been the genesis of this “Islam is the most dangerous religion today” sidebar.

  330. 330
    Ing

    Sam has talked about nuking muslims, he is irrational.

    And chances are pretty damn good, you are not the only one who could benefit from knowing what’s really been the genesis of this “Islam is the most dangerous religion today” sidebar.

    9/11. DUH.

    Seriously, just go fuck yourself. You’re tedious and hateful.

  331. 331
    Anthony K

    Hey, clueless cretin, it is the rarest of rarities that I start the name-calling (you’d have to be a total rightwing nightmare in desperate need of a dope slap right from the get-go), and I certainly didn’t here. I treat everyone with respect until some other ignorant fool starts flinging insults my way, and then I am more than happy to return the favor.

    That’s what you’ve got? Tu quoque?

    Go back to linking to Hitchens. You’re incapable of anything resembling honesty.

    Yeah, I started the Tough Guy™ routine here. Brilliant. Could your head possibly be shoved any farther up your ass, Brownian?

    More lying. I never claimed you started anything.

    And, anyway, didn’t you bow out of this discussion yesterday? If so, good to see you back so soon!

    As I noted yesterday, I’m more than happy to point out what a lying, duplicitous piece of shit you are. You’re not honest enough or literate enough, for anything resembling a real discussion. So, pretty much what I said in 269, fuckhole: “But I’m not here to argue with you. I’m just popping in to note how fucking apparent your dishonesty is. Get bent.” Get an adult to read it to you and explain what the big words mean.

    LOL. Oh noes! I’ve been caught by the quotemining police! Better run for it!

    If honesty means that little to you, then you’re pretty much copping to being an asshole with whom discussion is meaningless.

    The quotes are apropos, and not distorted in the least,

    Right. Several people, including the author of the quote, have noted your dishonest distortion.

    You’re garbage, James Evans. As a human being, you’re a piece of fucking garbage.

  332. 332
    jamesevans

    You revolting piece of shit.

    It’s getting old, KG.

    You think anyone you’re arguing with here would boast about being right when hundreds of millions of people are dying in agony? We’ll leave that sort of thing to scumbags like you.

    Oh, Sanctimony, Sanctimony! Wherefore art thou, Sanctimony?

  333. 333
    Anthony K

    You think anyone you’re arguing with here would boast about being right when hundreds of millions of people are dying in agony?

    Eh, I’d have no problem pissing on James Evans if he were on fire, but only to slow down the rate of burn.

  334. 334
    Ing

    Christ what an asshole.

  335. 335
    Anthony K

    It’s getting old, KG.

    Sorry, are you getting bored? Go bite a fucking curb, you little weasel. I’ll help.

    You can lie about it after all you want.

  336. 336
    Ing

    @Brownian

    But why can’t you acknowledge that the religion of brown people is scarier than the religion of white people!?

  337. 337
    jamesevans

    Sam has talked about nuking muslims, he is irrational.

    Take you harebrained Hedges interpretation of Sam’s words, and go fuck yourself with it, you confused nut case.

    9/11. DUH.

    Child.

    Hurt a little when it finally dawned on you just exactly how lost you’ve been in this discussion, hmmm?

  338. 338
    Ing

    Your worship of Harris and Hitchens is pathetic. I wish those ‘great men’ had taught rationalism better so fleas like you would think for yourselves.

  339. 339
    Anthony K

    Take you harebrained Hedges interpretation of Sam’s words, and go fuck yourself with it, you confused nut case.

    LOL. “I’m not misinterpreting peoples words, you are.”

    What a fucking moron. Some people should be arrested just for the pieces of shit they birthed but failed to strangle with the afterbirth and leave in a dumpster.

  340. 340
    jamesevans

    That’s what you’ve got? Tu quoque?

    When you offer something that deserves more, you’ll get it.

    Yeah, I started the Tough Guy™ routine here. Brilliant. Could your head possibly be shoved any farther up your ass, Brownian?

    More lying. I never claimed you started anything.

    Forgive me, you just conveniently ignored everyone else doing it, and acted like I was the only one. Gosh, I apologize unreservedly.

    Right. Several people, including the author of the quote, have noted your dishonest distortion.

    Ummm, huh?

    You’re garbage, James Evans. As a human being, you’re a piece of fucking garbage.

    Being a piece of garbage sure beats being a whole mound of it, dumbass.

    I sense another great Brownian declaration of how worthless he’s managed to make continuing the discussion.

  341. 341
    jamesevans

    But why can’t you acknowledge that the religion of brown people is scarier than the religion of white people!?

    Yeah, that’s what Dawkins/Hitchens/Myers/Harris/et al are doing when they rightly call out Islam, being racist. PZ tried to clear up that rancid puke here, if your tiny mind can remember.

    Richard Dawkins [has] said “Islam is the greatest man-made force for evil in the world today”…which doesn’t sound racist or fascist. He’s targeting an ideology, not a people; if you asked him, he might even go on to say that Christianity is the second greatest force for evil. If we can’t even criticize ideological craziness without getting slapped with the accusation that we’re racist, we’re in trouble.

    You really are a spineless slimebag, Ing.

    Your worship of Harris and Hitchens is pathetic. I wish those ‘great men’ had taught rationalism better so fleas like you would think for yourselves.

    Your own hero, Hedges, is so devoid of rational thought, you’d be better off kneeling down before Oprah.

  342. 342
    Ichthyic

    OK, bored now.

    all in favor of tossing Evans off the cliff?

  343. 343
    Anri

    How absurd is all the demented thrashing about in the face of that simple idea?

    Um, because we think it’s wrong.
    And because we can argue in favor of another position.
    And because, when employed, it tends to result in discrimination against a minority group.
    And we think that’s bad.
    And also, because it tends to distract us from the much more powerful, pervasive, successful religion doing terribly destructive things in the name of goodness and light.
    And we think that’s bad, too.

    For the record, I doubt you could get a fungelical elected President in the US currently. VP, sure. Senator/Congressman – been there, done that. State/Local – oh, yes, very much. School board – my, my, my.
    There’s this, too:
    Supreme Court Judge? Yes.
    General/Admiral/etc? Once again, yes. Or even just the captain of a submarine, if it came down to it.

  344. 344
    feralboy12

    Take you harebrained Hedges interpretation of Sam’s words, and go fuck yourself with it, you confused nut case.

    This from the guy who characterizes disagreement with his assertion that Islam is the most dangerous religion in the world as support for the highjackers of 9/11?

    I have no objection to meddling in other peoples’ countries if the meddling works to reduce fundamentalism and improve quality of life.

    So when a good Christian nation overthrows governments, installs dictators, and bombs civilians, it’s “meddling.” I suppose taking it upon ourselves to define “quality of life” for others is some sort of courtesy detail. Hey, we’re just fiddling about, right? It’s those nasty brown people over there that commit actual atrocities. Nice double standard, fucknose.
    And if some of us, looking at the historical evidence, believe that such “meddling” is actually counter productive, and quite probably increases fundamentalism and lowers quality of life over the long term, obviously we favor flying airplanes into skyscrapers.

    Hurt a little when it finally dawned on you just exactly how lost you’ve been in this discussion, hmmm?

    This won’t be a discussion until you stop putting your words in the mouths of others, and stop using harmless-sounding euphemisms
    like “meddling” to characterize violent interference with the affairs of others.
    Jerk.

  345. 345
    jamesevans

    What a fucking moron. Some people should be arrested just for the pieces of shit they birthed but failed to strangle with the afterbirth and leave in a dumpster.

    Thankfully civilized societies INSTEAD arrest angry, savage piles of festering garbage like you, Brownian, when their twisted fantasies of successfully throwing babies in dumpsters become more than just froth-mouthed forum ravings.

  346. 346
    jamesevans

    How absurd is all the demented thrashing about in the face of that simple idea?

    Um, because we think it’s wrong.
    And because we can argue in favor of another position.

    Not.

    Very.

    Effectively.

    ***Sigh***

  347. 347
    jamesevans

    This from the guy who characterizes disagreement with his assertion that Islam is the most dangerous religion in the world as support for the highjackers of 9/11?

    What in the name of all confused deductions…?

    But I’m the one putting words in people’s mouth and distorting their meanings/quotes/etc.

  348. 348
    feralboy12

    Thankfully civilized societies INSTEAD arrest angry, savage piles of festering garbage like you, Brownian, when their twisted fantasies of successfully throwing babies in dumpsters become more than just froth-mouthed forum ravings.

    Hey, Brownian is only suggesting a little “meddling” in order to reduce fundamentalism and improve quality of life.
    What, you think he should ask first? When did you get so touchy-feely?

  349. 349
    Anri

    Not.

    Very.

    Effectively.

    ***Sigh***

    Others disagree.

    Fortunately, they’re all wrong.

    We can tell, because they disagree with you. Which is, I think we can all agree, the essential litmus test of rationality.

    As the old saying goes, what’s a leader without any followers?
    Just a guy takin’ a walk.

  350. 350
    feralboy12

    What in the name of all confused deductions…?

    But I’m the one putting words in people’s mouth and distorting their meanings/quotes/etc.

    That would be this bit here:

    Well, I’m definitely not considering opinions from anyone who thinks Sept. 11 was a noble, justified act

    Or perhaps that was some other jamesevans commenting and I’m merely confusing two identical ‘nyms.

  351. 351
    jamesevans

    That would be this bit here:

    Well, I’m definitely not considering opinions from anyone who thinks Sept. 11 was a noble, justified act

    Which didn’t come from anyone disagreeing with Dawkins/Hitchens/Harris/Myers/et al’s assertion that Islam is the worst of the worst that I am reiterating here.

    Was there anything else you required clarity on, feralboy12?

  352. 352
    jamesevans

    Others disagree.

    Fortunately, they’re all wrong.

    We can tell, because they disagree with you. Which is, I think we can all agree, the essential litmus test of rationality.

    Well, it might work out favorably for you, I suppose, if there weren’t some rather more lucid minds than mine who argue the same point, and it were only me stating the case.

  353. 353
    Rutee Katreya

    Jamesevans, you do realize everyone read what I wrote in the very next paragraph after what you claim is me excusing 9/11, right?

    Protip: I neither excuse Meriken for ‘responding’ to 9/11, nor Al Qaeda for ‘responding’ to Colonialism, because “HE DID IT FIRST” is a shitty basis for deciding ethics. I am applying your own logic in a way you had yet to consider, not making the argument that Al Qaeda should be excused.

    You were arguing that we have to let Merika off the hook for the deaths in Iraq and afghanistan, because they were the result of 9/11. 9/11 is the result of meriken colonialism; based on your argument, we have to shift 9/11 to meriken. Those of us who do not have grossly stupid ways of deciding ethics do not shift responsibility for either.

  354. 354
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @SallyStrange – 5 May 2012 at 4:09 pm :

    Oh SteveOr, you deluded douchenozzle, ..

    Wrong nym. S-t-e-v-o-R is how I spell mine.

    As for ‘deluded’ I think that applies to you more than me. Perhaps its just that we disagree and see things from different perspectives in different ways.

    Can we maybe not insult people just because we disageree with them? Y’know just for a change?

    .. it wasn’t that long ago that someone told you to read up on PNAC (the Project for a New American Century, remember), but you didn’t do it, did you? Because you’re a bad bad boy who hates educating himself and prefers to wallow in his ignorance and bigotry.

    No, I never actually saw that comment. Can you tell me what thread and when? So many comments and threads, so little time. Its pretty much impossible to keep up with everything and not miss some things occassionally

    Go away, you’re stinking up the place.

    Funny, I thought this was PZ’s blog not yours. Oh wait it *is* PZ blog not yours!

    Also scent doesn’t travel over a computer and do shower and wear deodourant just so’z you know.

  355. 355
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Durnnuit. Typos. That’s

    *I* do shower and wear deodourant just so’z you know.

    @342. Ichthyic says:

    OK, bored now. all in favor of tossing Evans off the cliff?

    Against.

    Presuming you are referring to jamesevans, I think he has made some pretty good points and argued well here.

    I also don’t think this blog is a democracy and know PZ has little respect for online polling!

  356. 356
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ruteekatreya says:

    You do realize pretty much every single time Meriken get interventionist, it fucks the country completely,

    Funny I thought Germany and Japan were doing pretty flippin well since World War II and their subsequent US occupation?

    Also ‘Merikan’ – where the hells that – never heard of it.

    If you can’t spell ‘American’ maybe you ain’t the best person to be talking international politics?

  357. 357
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    ^ Quote was from 323. ruteekatreya btw. Durnnit.

  358. 358
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @317. Ms. Daisy Cutter, Gynofascist in a Spiffy Hugo Boss Uniform :

    StevoR, please, do go on lecturing women about how we don’t understand what’s best for us.

    Where the blazes do you get that impression from?!? That has no resemblence to anything I’ve said that I can recall. I don’t mean to lecture you & believe it or not, I have a lot of respect for you and *am* listening to you. Despite the insults thrown at me.

    As I see it – & I’m pretty sure this is all 100% right – Islam is a religio-political ideology that believes in :

    1.) “Honour” killings of women

    2.) Female Genital Mutilation

    3.) Arranged marriages including of young girls to old men following the example of Islam’s founding “prophet” who married a nine year old child when he was a fifty plus old tyrant for pitys sake!

    4.) Wife beating is okay even recommended – its in the Koran – provided you use a small enough stick, go ahead beat your wife!

    5.) .. Actually make that “wives” plural because Muslims are allowed up to four wives and Mohammad himself had a lot more because y’know “prophet” and all that. Plus the biggest swordpower and most cruel tribal cheiftain priviledges. (Women of course were restricted to a single husand or maybe just a quarter of one.)

    Then there’s the stuff I mentioned earlier about throwing acid in women’s faces and poisoning the wells of schoolgirls for their heinous “crime’ of wanting an education and so on.

    Have you read Taslima Nasrin’s blog here? Do you know her story?

    How can anyone, any woman, any feminist, for a nanosecond overlook and not oppose with all the ferociousness of life and death what Islam is and how it views over half of Humanity?!?

    Tell me please because I cannot grok it at all.

    Ah hell, maybe I’m too tired, too drunk or whatever (both as usual probbaly so) but I really for the life of me cannot understand why the feminist movement isn’t foremost in calling for the nuking of the Arab world, for Islam to be killed with fire as it so richly deserves!

    I guess since xtian terrorism doesn’t target you personally, it doesn’t matter, eh?

    Not true & nothing like what I think or have ever said.

    Christian terrorism is horrendous and appalling and wrong.

    Christian terroism is also very much less common and very much more condemned by its own side than Islamic terrorism ever is.

    Founders~wise, Jesus wasn’t a terrorist. Mohammad kinda was.

    @311. simonsays :

    @kianmead #197:

    * This does not include the problem of Israel. Does anyone want to defend the idea that we should let Israel fall?
    Who specifically is advocating this?

    “Do you really think that the religious nutters in islam will not still use the very existence of Israel even if a two state solution is reached, to generate anger?”

    Perhaps, but this will be significantly reduced when there is a proper Palestinian state along with formal trade and diplomatic relations between Israel and the rest of the Middle East.

    The Palestinians have rejected the idea of a state of their own repeatedly even when they’ve been offered about 95% of their demands. They aren’t interested in peace. Never have been. Its about wiping the Jewish nation off the map. Driving the Israelis into the sea and slaughtering them down to the last baby.

    The Arab side here wants genocide. Won’t be satisfied with anything less. Its shown that time and again from 1948 to now.

    Please can everyone here stop excusing and ignoring that clear reality hey? (Whole other issue anyhow, but since its been raised.)

    @ So many others, I’ll get around to y’all, maybe? Later. For now, sorry, no offense but I’m stuffed. Too late at night, too drunk and likely to say stuff I’ll regret tomorra.

  359. 359
    reinisivanovs

    “Some people should be arrested just for the pieces of shit they birthed but failed to strangle with the afterbirth and leave in a dumpster.”

    “Eh, I’d have no problem pissing on James Evans if he were on fire, but only to slow down the rate of burn.”

    I never comment, but what the fuck! Go fuck yourself, Brownian. You drag everyone down. You wouldn’t be justified saying this to anyone at all.

  360. 360
    Ing

    I never comment, but what the fuck! Go fuck yourself, Brownian. You drag everyone down. You wouldn’t be justified saying this to anyone at all.

    I’m fine being dragged down by Brownian.

  361. 361
    jamesevans

    You were arguing that we have to let Merika off the hook for the deaths in Iraq

    No, ruteekatreya, I wasn’t. Two threads, and however many of your failed attempts at making this stick later, this statement is still wrong. It takes two to tango was my only point, and NEITHER party is let off the hook in the maniacal dance that follows.

    9/11 is the result of meriken colonialism

    This is your demented, deplorable rationale, and yours alone. I’d say you are welcome to it, but it is indicative of a sickened and sickening thought process in need of some serious emergency psychological care. I suggest, for your own sake in future discussions, if you care about the impression you are making, you stop bringing it up. And certainly stop attributing it to the other side of the argument, when it comes from nowhere else but your troubled mind.

    There is nothing in either one of your oft-quoted/debated paragraphs that in any way, shape, or form represents logic I brought to the table here. Nothing.

    9/11 was the result of Bin Laden’s religious fanaticism and psychopathy.

    PERIOD.

  362. 362
    Ing

    Steve are you done posting to yourself?

  363. 363
    Anri

    Well, it might work out favorably for you, I suppose, if there weren’t some rather more lucid minds than mine who argue the same point, and it were only me stating the case.

    “Being a genuis is no excuse for being dead wrong.”
    - Carl Sagan.

    Harris, Hitchens, and PZ are far brighter than me, but they aren’t right all of the time. In fact, I haven’t met anyone who’s right all of the time.

    I think I’m arguing reasonably well because you appear to keep shying away from the arguments I’m making. I still haven’t seen anything to dispute the fact that political forces that closely identify with Christianity are doing far more damage, mostly long-term and non-violent, to the world in general than all of the fanatical followers of Islam could hope to achieve in their wildest blood-soaked dreams.
    Christianity acts as the primary glue holding the bizzare coalition of conservative interests together, and the primary cover under which they operate. That makes it dangerous.

  364. 364
    jamesevans

    “Being a genuis is no excuse for being dead wrong.”
    - Carl Sagan.

    Harris, Hitchens, and PZ are far brighter than me, but they aren’t right all of the time.

    Assuming Sagan would consider these Gnu Atheist notables geniuses (which isn’t a crazy assumption on your part, I guess), when those geniuses all reach the same conclusion, the odds are pretty good that this is not an instance where you can just shrug, say, “Meh, nobody’s right all the time,” and ignore what they’re trying to tell you.

    I think I’m arguing reasonably well because you appear to keep shying away from the arguments I’m making.

    So far, the majority of the arguments you’ve presented either miss the point of the discussion entirely (i.e.: the lack of Muslim lawmakers in your country), make some point about Christian transgressions regarding human rights and/or the environment of which Islam is equally or more culpable, bring up Santorum who is no longer even a threat to the general elections, let alone the world at large (unless I’m wrong and he’s so pissed off, he has indeed declared jihad on the rest of us for his primary losses), and portray a dystopian science fiction style future holocaust caused by a mad, scripture-raving PotUS unleashed on the world courtesy of some Christian-Taliban eschatological conspiracy.

    I’m afraid I haven’t shied away from the arguments you’ve made, Anri. They are just way wildly off base, and/or try to present something unlikely and illusory (i.e.: nuclear armageddon) as evidence of greater danger than what has actually occurred in recent decades.

    I don’t know how to put it any simpler. But maybe Carl does…

    “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion…”
    Carl Sagan

  365. 365
    shaftesbury

    Skipping over all the intervening comments, I respond to PZ’s post itself, and say, bravo! Well said, PZ. This part of Harris’s thought (along with his big ‘brave’ thumbs up for torture) really makes me ask, “This is supposed to be what reason gets you?” This is the same crap that we could get from Bush, or for that matter, Obama. Making the extra step of funneling it through an atheist doesn’t make it any better. ‘Free’ thinking should not result in just the same old subservient crap, but rather something better — and more free.

  366. 366
    Rutee Katreya

    Funny I thought Germany and Japan were doing pretty flippin well since World War II and their subsequent US occupation?

    We’re talking about Germany and Japan? The nations that declared war on the US? You realize it’s not a military intervention to fight a war that was declared on you, right?

    Jesus fuck, you are an asshole, you know that? Even if they were an exception, do you now how much of an asshole you are to look at an *entire continent* with an almost 200 year history of military and diplomatic interventions that have repeatedly fucked that continent, countless small nations besides, and say “NUH UH US MILITARY INTERVENTION IS FINE, LOOK AT TWO COUNTRIES THAT DID OKAY”. Even if they were valid examples (They’re not), it’d make you a fuckwit.

    No, ruteekatreya, I wasn’t

    Yeah, dude. You were. It’s right there. We all saw it. You put the blame for the deaths in Iraq on Al Qaeda, because it was in response

    It takes two to tango was my only point, and NEITHER party is let off the hook in the maniacal dance that follows.

    …which, again, only seems to apply when you could use it to foist things off on muslims. I mean, you are obviously lying and trying to cover your ass again, but even if you weren’t, this would just change the manner of your racism.

    This is your demented, deplorable rationale, and yours alone.

    Do you know why the USA is considered the Great Satan by bin Laden’s wahhabist sect, perchance? Do you know what that means? What their specific goal was? Jesus, it’s like talking to a 4 year old who thinks villains do horrible things to earn the right to twirl a mustache. Jesus fuck, learn something about the world at large.

    nd certainly stop attributing it to the other side of the argument,

    …Dude, it’s a good thing I don’t try to convince my opponent in a debate, you are rock stupid to a level I’ve not seen in a very, very long time.

  367. 367
    jamesevans

    which, again, only seems to apply when you could use it to foist things off on muslims. I mean, you are obviously lying and trying to cover your ass again

    Yeah, couldn’t possibly be that you’ve had your angry, thoughtless head firmly planted in your ass this whole time, or anything, right? Naaaahhhh, unthinkable.

    You, too, can now take a deep breath, maybe light a candle, make some tea, and go back and patiently acquaint yourself with the ACTUAL DEBATE, and stop making ruinous guesses or trying to read between the lines, a skill which you lack in the woeful extreme.

    Do you know why the USA is considered the Great Satan by bin Laden’s wahhabist sect, perchance? Do you know what that means? What their specific goal was? Jesus, it’s like talking to a 4 year old who thinks villains do horrible things to earn the right to twirl a mustache. Jesus fuck, learn something about the world at large.

    Let’s see, the wailing little toddler with the wet diaper wants to lead us down Tangent Lane again, this time it seems because there’s something profoundly meaningful—and yet that was missed!—in wearisome Wahhabi carryings on about America and their alleged resurrection of Khomeini’s crappy “Great Satan” line (if Wahhabis would ever actually co-opt a Shi’a leader’s Persian catch phrase for real, mind, and it wasn’t just some ham-fisted misinterpretation to make things more palatable for dopey fans of Jay Leno monologues like ruteekatreya).

    Hmmm, let me think about this… Did anybody besides ruteekatreya miss the real reason behind Sept. 11, and therefore require this superfluous exercise? Was anyone wildly waving his or her hand hoping to get assigned an extra-credit project to further elaborate on this subject for the class? Or has the whole matter been settled for everyone except one really sad contributor who just can’t get over it?

    Would YET ANOTHER FUCKING WORTHLESS DERAILMENT AND DIGRESSION FOR THE GOOD OF NO ONE AND NOTHING BEYOND ONE FIXATED PARTICIPANT’S UNENDING QUEST TO RESCUE A WOUNDED EGO benefit the larger debate one fucking bit?

    You are ponderous, ruteekatreya. Give it a rest. We’ve all moved on.

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