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Head and heart, atheists

Talk about sucking all the motivation out of me…I was all primed to write today about this Islamophobia nonsense that is still going around. It seems to be the latest bogus argument against atheism: why, atheists are just all bigots who hate Muslims, the complainers say, instead of actually addressing the fact that religion a) lacks a truthful foundation, b) lacks any method for investigating the accuracy of its claims, and c) uses that lack of evidence to excuse the most odious social behaviors. While there certainly are islamophobic individuals, to claim that this is the primary motivation for New Atheism is simply ridiculous and contrary to everything the major proponents (I refuse to call them “leaders”) of this movement have written.

And then Sam Harris wrote his response to the controversy.

I just give up. And not in a good way, mind…I think he shot himself in the foot again. He has made a set of arguments that completely ignore what the critics have been saying and don’t rebut much of anything at all.

First off, beginning by accusing all of your critics of being bigoted poopyheads for calling you a bigoted poopyhead…not a good move.

A general point about the mechanics of defamation: It is impossible to effectively defend oneself against unethical critics. If nothing else, the law of entropy is on their side, because it will always be easier to make a mess than to clean it up. It is, for instance, easier to call a person a “racist,” a “bigot,” a “misogynist,” etc. than it is for one’s target to prove that he isn’t any of these things. In fact, the very act of defending himself against such accusations quickly becomes debasing. Whether or not the original charges can be made to stick, the victim immediately seems thin-skinned and overly concerned about his reputation. And, rebutted or not, the original charges will be repeated in blogs and comment threads, and many readers will assume that where there’s smoke, there must be fire.

If calling Sam Harris a “racist” is a low blow and unfair and difficult to disprove, what about calling people “unethical”? I don’t think Glenn Greenwald is unethical at all; I think he has been a consistent and ethical proponent of liberal and progressive values throughout his career. He has not shown the kind of frothing derangement at confronting atheists that Chris Hedges has shown, for instance. Greenwald objects to things Harris has written, and explains why. Harris does seem thin-skinned. He has said a few things that many others disagree with, me included, and to get upset at principled disagreement on those matters reeks a bit of objecting to any criticism at all.

I don’t think Harris is islamophobic, but I disagree on other things, and for disagreeing with him on racial profiling and agreeing that the atheist movement is not perfect, I got labeled “odious”, “unscrupulous”, a “troll”, and responsible for distorting his views and damaging his reputation. The mechanics of defamation can work both ways, Dr Harris, and you seem to be very capable of it yourself, while simultaneously placing your affronted dignity on a pedestal and being outraged that anyone would question it. Defending your views would look less thin-skinned if you weren’t constantly prefacing your defense with that exasperated sigh that it is so unfair and demeaning that you have to do so.

It’s just more footshooting. And then, for further target practice on distal digits, the third paragraph is a beautifully written, lucid distillation of exactly what annoys many people about Harris. He’s got a real talent for this.

Such defamation is made all the easier if one writes and speaks on extremely controversial topics and with a philosopher’s penchant for describing the corner cases—the ticking time bomb, the perfect weapon, the magic wand, the mind-reading machine, etc.—in search of conceptual clarity. It literally becomes child’s play to find quotations that make the author look morally suspect, even depraved.

Aaargh. That’s the whole problem. Look, Spock is a caricature, not a paragon; retreating behind the fog of philosophical abstraction is precisely the kind of behavior that has given atheists a bad name. When talking about profiling people to improve airport security, forget about the fact that it is targeting human beings for special indignities. When talking about the possibility that torture might work sometimes, forget about the reality of human beings causing and receiving dehumanizing agony. When considering the possibility that Muslim fanatics might get nuclear weapons, argue that we might just be justified in vaporizing millions of human beings to prevent that possibility.

There’s a place for playing philosophical games when thinking about trolleys and vats and logic puzzles, but when it comes down to real world thinking, reducing hugely complex problems to simplified abstractions does not provide clarity at all, only confusion and false conclusions. Right now, this country is facing the consequences (well, a good portion of the country is trying to ignore the consequences) of this kind of robotic pseudophilosophical argument. We had people making rationalizations for all-out warfare against a country that we claimed to be a clear and present danger on the basis of having weapons of mass destruction, that we argued was ruled by a brutal dictator who should be prevented from doing more harm, and on the basis of those widely promoted “corner cases”, we murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians, shattered a country’s infrastructure and opened it up to corporate exploitation, and drained our finances dry pouring more and more cash and blood into a brutal war.

You do not get to make these cold calculations while leaving out the human element — the fact that we atheists, as a people supposedly dedicated to reality and truth and respect for the potential of the human mind, can so callously dismiss personal experience and the lives of the people at the heart of these hypothetic scenarios and thought experiments is precisely the reason their author is so easily made to look “morally suspect, even depraved.”

Harris does a good job of bringing up the fuller context of some of the quotes that he feels have been excerpted to misinterpret him, but he seems incapable of recognizing that what he considers a justification merely compounds the problem. Somehow, the moral calculus only goes one way. We are allowed to contemplate (in a rarefied philosophical way, of course) bombing or torturing or isolating people who have a slim chance of contributing to harm to us, but somehow we never consider that perhaps the people on the other side are making the very same calculation, considering that they are amply justified in bombing or torturing or isolating those privileged Westerners, because we might harm them.

And sadly, they have better empirical evidence of real threat.

Now I’m not excusing terrorist actions. Quite the opposite: I reject them unambiguously and fault them for failing to appreciate the humanity of their opponents. And if I do that, I cannot fail to similarly reject such actions taken to protect my side. No excuse can justify nuking or torturing my people, so no excuse can justify nuking or torturing anyone else…especially considering that the United States has more blood on its hands than any other nation.

This is not the time to invent elaborate philosophical justifications for abhorrent actions — it is time to unhesitatingly reject them, to express our grief and shame and horror at these options. It is not enough to bloodlessly pretend it’s a philospher’s penchant. We need to consider the human cost, and weight that most heavily.

Harris’s ability to distance himself from everything and view people’s personal pain dispassionately, as he does in all of his responses, is what’s hurting him, and he doesn’t even seem to be able to recognize it. Even when I share his respect for philosophy and science, I cringe at his inability to express a proper appreciation of the humanity of his subjects. I don’t think he’s a robot, but when he dries up and goes all academic and philosophical, he gives an awfully good impression of one, and I think he makes a lot of his arguments from that arid ground of the abstract, rather than the heart of his humanity. I’d pass along a suggestion from another philosopher who was able to see the importance of the individual:

We have to touch people.

Comments

  1. says

    Argh, it hurts to see Mummy and Daddy fight. Right now on Twitter Richard Dawkins is congratulating Sam Harris for his “luminously clear and convincing rebuttal http://bit.ly/10AN43q of the many malicious (or stupid) slanders against him.”

    I appreciate that as atheists and free thinkers we make our own decisions on morally complex issues etc. etc. but it’s still a cause of cognitive dissonance or something when multiple people that one admires for element x of their work (on which they agree) fighting over element y of their work.

    Anyway, that aside I completely agree that one cannot divorce the human side of things from the theoretical when discussing things like this, and that indeed too much abstraction can be as bad for clarity as clear bias.

  2. screechymonkey says

    It’s also a bit of a cop-out when he defends his “let’s profile all ‘Muslim-looking’ people at the airport” position by insisting that Bruce Schneier “only” argued that it would be completely impractical to do the kind of detailed, individualized risk-assessment necessary to make such a policy effective. Aside from the fact that it’s rather a whitewashed account of their debate, it’s hairsplitting at best to say that you weren’t being racist, heaven forfend, you were only advocating using racial characteristics as an inappropriate and ineffective shortcut to screen for negative characteristics!

  3. Pteryxx says

    Right now on Twitter Richard Dawkins is congratulating Sam Harris for his “luminously clear and convincing rebuttal (…)

    *hurk*

    Please, would the rest of you moderate-name atheists have some books go big-time so the horses’ behinds don’t get all the attention…

  4. GodotIsWaiting4U says

    People like to use consequentialist ethical reasoning (the kind that leads to justifying torture and bombs and all that, the kind that’s based on “needs of the many vs needs of the few” raw arithmetic to make the ends justify the means) to seem like they’re “serious” and “making the tough choices”. They forget that consequentialism isn’t all there is.

    Deontological ethical reasoning is imperfect, but better. From the Greek “deon”, meaning “duty”, deontological reasoning is about determine what is good and respecting it out of moral duty. It leads to its own issues, but it keeps you the hell out of atrocities and war crimes.

    SOME philosophers play those games. Not all.

  5. says

    Look, Spock is a caricature, not a paragon; retreating behind the fog of philosophical abstraction is precisely the kind of behavior that has given atheists a bad name.

    Oh my. Won’t be long before all the Vulcan wannabes and dictionary atheists descend.
     
    :waves to Chas:

  6. jamessweet says

    Let me boil the “ticking time bomb” scenario down very simply:

    If we assume an alternate reality where using torture is reliable method of obtaining the location of the proverbial “ticking time bomb”, then in that rarified reality there are some interesting philosophical/ethical questions. I personally don’t have a strong opinion either way. There are inherent reason to eschew torture, even if it were a highly effective tool, and I have a difficult time balancing the immediacy of an imaginary-ticking-time-bomb-that-can-actually-be-avoided-by-using-torture vs. the long term reasons for avoiding torture. The most ethical solution to this entirely imaginary scenario is not immediately obvious, and philosophers (and stoned college students) may have some interesting debates on the topic.

    But this is as irrelevant to public policy as is the raging debate over whether unicorn meat would be classified as kosher or not. Torture only kinda-sorta works some of the time, and is notoriously unreliable, so back in the real world, it’s an easy call: The abstract ethical reasons and the long term practical reasons for avoiding torture win in a heartbeat. Wham bam, done.

    I actually don’t necessarily object to people debating the fictional scenario, as long as it’s entirely clear that it’s fictional and has no bearing on public policy.

  7. Rob Grigjanis says

    He has not shown the kind of frothing derangement at confronting atheists that Chris Hedges has shown, for instance. Greenwald objects to things Harris has written, and explains why.

    Frothing derangement? Any examples? From what I’ve read, Hedges’ target is the Islamophobia of Harris and Hitchens, much like Greenwald.

    This is the second post where you seem to be confusing the term “atheist” with “Harris, Hitchens and Dawkins”.

  8. imkindaokay says

    bombing various peoples in the manner that “we’re” doing it cannot be justified by consequentialist ethics by any means

  9. Brian E says

    @godotiswaiting. It’s consequentialism that fuels PZ’s argument that you have to consider humanity and not apply abstract rules. The Catholic Church has abstract rules, natural law, and applies them to the detriment of millions. Deontology seems worse that asking Harris to just consider the consequences of his abstract thought experiments. And as a drive-by Godwin, we decided in Nuremburg that following rules, whether God’s or man’s doesn’t make an action right because consequences matter.

  10. says

    Having just written an article indirectly defending of Harris’ arguments (insofar as I do think they get misrepresented pretty often), I share in the exasperation when he comes off so harshly. It can be off-putting to those who would otherwise stand with him. I may not agree with the man on all topics, but his views matter and I hope the emphasis for his fellow secularists will be on making sure he is presented fairly to the public. After that, his arguments are fair game and will stand or fall on their own merits.

  11. otrame says

    I saw that bit of Dr. Bronowski back when it first aired )&mumble*&%* years ago.

    It made me shiver then. It makes me shiver now. It is still the most artful way ever of saying how important it is to maintain a philosophical uncertainty.

  12. mythbri says

    Two excerpts from Glen Greenwald’s piece that I particularly agree with (and the whole thing is definitely worth reading):

    The fact that someone is a scientist, an intellectual, and a convincing and valuable exponent of atheism by no means precludes irrational bigotry as a driving force in their worldview

    and

    Beyond all that, I find extremely suspect the behavior of westerners like Harris (and Hitchens and Dawkins) who spend the bulk of their time condemning the sins of other, distant peoples rather than the bulk of their time working against the sins of their own country. That’s particularly true of Americans, whose government has brought more violence, aggression, suffering, misery, and degradation to the world over the last decade than any other.

    ….

    @Skimble #1

    Argh, it hurts to see Mummy and Daddy fight.

    None of these jokers (including PZ the poopyhead) are my parents, biologically, academically or intellectually.

  13. roro80 says

    rebutted or not, the original charges will be repeated in blogs and comment threads, and many readers will assume that where there’s smoke, there must be fire

    Oh, how many times have I seen this sort of argument in reference to other axes of oppression? The big thing it misses is this: rebutted or not, the Islamophobic/racist/mysogynist/etc viewpoint that you’ve laid out the argument for will also get repeated, over and over in blogs and comment threads and by policy makers, and will be used to make the lives of marginalized people much worse. The harm done to you by a (possible) false accusation of racism is much less than the harm you do to people of color by perpetuating racist narratives.

    A few of the subjects I explore in my work have inspired an unusual amount of controversy. Some of this results from real differences of opinion or honest confusion, but much of it is due to the fact that certain of my detractors deliberately misrepresent my views. The purpose of this article is to address the most consequential of these distortions.

    Harris misses one very, very important possible reason for the controversy his work sometimes inspires. It’s a big, glaring ommission. Namely: perhaps some of the controversy surrounding Harris’ work is that he is, in fact, making racist proposals on policy. Part of being rigorous is not eliminating possibly hypotheses because they mean you’re less than perfect. (Note to Harris: we are all less than perfect.)

  14. says

    I don’t think Harris is islamophobic

    I do. His positions on many issues concerning Muslims and Islam are not derived via the use of reason; they’re based in irrational xenophobia against Muslims, AKA islamphobia.

    And occasionally, the less assholish atheists produce faint hints of such irrationality, too. For example, claiming that we need intersectional voices in atheism because white straight cis dudes can’t speak universally for atheism, and then turning around and refusing to listen to complaints about white feminism because apparently white western feminists can speak universally and therefore we shouldn’t have feminism splinter into ethnic or religious factions…?

    Another example would be this comment from Ophelia, in response to the “Muslim Women Against Femen” thing:

    Right, there’s nothing more “awesome” than a woman shrouded in black from head to toe. It’s as “awesome” as a Jew in striped prison clothes or a slave clanking chains.

    Now, in the context of Saudi women, or Tunisian women, this is a tolerable but not very intersectional comparison (comparing different oppressions is not a good idea, and comparing extremely deadly and traumatic ones to pretty much anything that isn’t a form of mass murder is deeply problematic); in the context of responding to the WMAF thing, where many participants don’t live where they’re legally forced to wear hijab, the comparison is completely wrong (more appropriate-ish would be a comparison to the penguin outfits of nuns, or the prairie dresses of assorted Christian fundie churches, or the clothing of female orthodox jews in the US).

    And as a side note here, women in France protesting for the right of women to show their breast in public is intersectionally deeply interesting: France is full of nudist beaches, and even the non-nudist ones are full of bare boobs; OTOH, veiling has been banned. I’m maybe a tad skeptical about “freedom” that only allows you to wear as little as you want, but not as much as you want (just as skeptical as I am of the opposite, which is what I see from the wholesale rejection of the Free Amina protests by WMAF)

  15. w00dview says

    Pity to hear Hedge’s view on atheism. I really enjoyed his writing in American Fascists. Would recommend to anyone if they are unfamiliar with the destructive ideology of the religious right.

  16. says

    They forget that consequentialism isn’t all there is.

    somewhat more relevantly, they forget that unintended consequences are consequences, too; and that for a consequentialist argument to not be pure mental masturbation, it actually has to produce the consequences it claims, out here in the real world. That’s why a lot of the supposedly consequentialist pro-torture arguments are pure crap: they make up the consequences they want to see, and wholly ignore the consequences torture actually has.

  17. says

    Right now on Twitter Richard Dawkins is congratulating Sam Harris for his “luminously clear and convincing rebuttal (…)

    *hurk*

    Please, would the rest of you moderate-name atheists have some books go big-time so the horses’ behinds don’t get all the attention…

    seconded

    and if I felt ambitious and popular enough, I’d totally set up a kickstarter for an “Intersectional Atheism” book for that year that I’m going to have between finishing undergrad and starting graduate school

  18. roro80 says

    I’m maybe a tad skeptical about “freedom” that only allows you to wear as little as you want, but not as much as you want

    Jadehawk @18 — just quoted because it’s so important, and it’s a subltety that is so often missed.

  19. says

    deontological reasoning is about determine what is good

    and how do you do that, if not via consequentialism? because if you just go by gut-feelings, tradition, or authority, then you’re going to end up with the sort of ethics the fundies tend to come up with.

  20. Rob Grigjanis says

    PZ @8: I hadn’t seen that essay. It is over the top, but I still wouldn’t put it in the same league of awfulness as Harris’ weasel words about nuclear first strike, or his pathetic attempt to defend them. His babbling about this, and “the ethics of torture” reminds me of Steven Landsburg’s nonsense, with dead/maimed Muslims added.

  21. says

    It leads to its own issues, but it keeps you the hell out of atrocities and war crimes.

    like fuck it does. what the hell do you think holy wars are?

  22. says

    ObTrekkerNitPick: The Science Office in the original Star Trek series spelled his name “S-P-A-A-K,” not “Spock.” Benjamin Spock was a famous baby doctor in the 1950s and ’60s. Please learn the difference between the two.

  23. says

    I don’t disagree with Harris’ arguments per se (though I confess to having skimmed), but think quite a few of them would be better left unsaid.
    I’m not sure if it’s a lack of empathy, a preoccupation with being “right”, or a sort of literal-mindedness that renders him incapable of entering real world consequences of what he says into the equation.
    Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, fairly and squarely, and prefacing the whole thing with the remark that you know you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
    *headdesk*
    I’m sorry because I have watched some of his talks / debates and found them thoughtful and interesting…

  24. says

    Beyond all that, I find extremely suspect the behavior of westerners like Harris (and Hitchens and Dawkins) who spend the bulk of their time condemning the sins of other, distant peoples rather than the bulk of their time working against the sins of their own country. That’s particularly true of Americans, whose government has brought more violence, aggression, suffering, misery, and degradation to the world over the last decade than any other.

    QFFT

  25. ChasCPeterson says

    The Science Office in the original Star Trek series spelled his name “S-P-A-A-K,” not “Spock.”

    wut

  26. screechymonkey says

    We have to touch people.

    But only after getting forms signed in triplicate, right?

  27. ChasCPeterson says

    But only after getting forms signed in triplicate, right?

    not in the bar.

  28. okstop says

    @brendanelson (#28):

    Not according to the people who wrote the show (and the original series “writer’s bible”) – http://leethomson.myzen.co.uk/Star_Trek/1_Original_Series/Star_Trek_TOS_Writer's_Guide.pdf.

    @OP:

    I am continually frustrated by people – such as, I don’t know, many of my students – who completely miss the point that the hypothetical situations in ethics are meant to serve the same purpose as lab experiments in hard science: they help us get clarity on certain mechanics and principles, but when “real life” situations start to veer away from the experimental results, WE DON’T PLUG OUR EARS AND INSIST THAT REAL LIFE IS BROKEN AND WRONG, DAMNIT! It’s astonishing how many people miss the lesson of the trolley problem – it’s not that you’re supposed to pull the lever, for god’s sake, it’s that even in the simplest, most stripped down case, the choice still isn’t completely clear. The fact that most forms of utilitarianism can advocate pulling the lever with a clear conscience is PROBLEMATIC, PEOPLE. That doesn’t make utilitarianism a bad way to go, but it does suggest that the utilitarian picture is incomplete, missing some element of the human empathy and compassion that fills out our sense of what it means to BE moral in the first place.

    Jeebus.

  29. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Godot is waiting for you

    deontological reasoning is

    an oxymoron

    Aside from the fact that it’s rather a whitewashed account of their debate, it’s hairsplitting at best to say that you weren’t being racist, heaven forfend, you were only advocating using racial characteristics as an inappropriate and ineffective shortcut to screen for negative characteristics!

    I’m not guilty of racism. I’m guilty of **attempted** racism, which carries a penalty for the felony severity category one lower than completed racism.

  30. imkindaokay says

    The fact that most forms of utilitarianism can advocate pulling the lever with a clear conscience is PROBLEMATIC, PEOPLE.

    i don’t believe a clear conscience would be had at all
    in either situation you’re going to be feeling a bit guilty
    just one’s better than the other

  31. David Marjanović says

    Deontological ethical reasoning is imperfect, but better. From the Greek “deon”, meaning “duty”, deontological reasoning is about determine what is good and respecting it out of moral duty.

    *facepalm* How do you find out what your “duty” is, and how do you decide when to stop holding the course toward the cliff?

    Now, in the context of Saudi women, or Tunisian women

    …Are you confusing Tunisia with some other place? In TV news two weeks ago, I saw plenty of bareheaded women on a street in Tunisia, the place where the Arab Spring started.

    and if I felt ambitious and popular enough

    *pours ambition into USB port*

    If you don’t feel popular enough yet, that book will make you popular enough.

    ObTrekkerNitPick: The Science Office in the original Star Trek series spelled his name “S-P-A-A-K,” not “Spock.”

    …WTF? In addition to comment 35, the subtitles on the DVDs spell him Spock, and in German and French – where a and o are never pronounced the same way – he’s pronounced with o in the dubbed versions, a fact that must stem from the written version.

  32. says

    Best explanation for Spaak is that the commenter was making fun of the way Nero yells out Spock’s name in the recent reboot star trek open bracket two thousand nine close bracket.

  33. deoridhe says

    One of the big issues I’ve long had with skeptical movements, atheist movements, and people who claim to value science above everything else is what seems to me to be a gross misunderstanding of the idea of “objectivity”.

    There seems to be this persistent idea that if one just divorces oneself from all outside influences, emotions, and denies one’s inherent subjectivity, one can then claim one is “objective” and thus be free and clear of any attempts at critique because clearly those people aren’t objective enough to understand ones clearly scientifically based, objectively reasoned, no subjectivity to see here point of view.

    I find simply the idea that an individual has any hope of being uncritiquably objective deeply problematic; we all have a point of view and life experiences which presuppose us to notice some things, not notice others, and have loads of human experiences never happen to us. This is even being established in how the brain processes information, with new data on how observations are streamlined below the level of consciousness by different parts of our brains (like the “seeing faces” part of the occipital lobe, which makes Jesus show up on toast).

    Objectivity as originally conceived of (so far as I know) and in it’s best form is a collaborative activity between people, which is optimized when the people are very different and bring different perspectives to the table but all are willing to discuss their opinions and perceptions to find the commonalities as well as the interesting areas of difference. In order for that to work, though, those involved must axiomicly accept both that they can be wrong and that two seemingly contrary things can be true based on different circumstances.

  34. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Deontological ethical reasoning is imperfect, but better. From the Greek “deon”, meaning “duty”, deontological reasoning is about determine what is good and respecting it out of moral duty. It leads to its own issues, but it keeps you the hell out of atrocities and war crimes.

    Hey, it sure worked for Catholicism and Islam…

  35. okstop says

    @imkindaokay (#38):

    But, see, that’s exactly the point. The general intuition is that both options are bad, but one is just, you know, LESS bad. However, under pretty much any definition of utilitarianism, pulling the lever comes out as actually “good,” because whether you’re talking about hedonic utilitarianism, or perfectionistic, or whatever, it’s all relativized to the situation. That is, for any given situation (x), there’s an act that maximally promotes whatever it is that version of utilitarianism is concerned with (welfare, eudamonia, happiness, what have you). So in the trolley problem, if you input “pulling the lever” into your moral calculus, you get a read-out of “good.” But that clearly doesn’t capture our intuitions adequately, which are screaming at us that in no way is this “good,” merely “less awful.”

    That might seem like hair-splitting, but it is, like all laboratory experiments, hair-splitting with a purpose – it’s supposed to show us that even our best versions of utilitarianism are still incomplete in some way. They fail to adequately express the language of “least bad” alternatives and misleadingly inform us that in any situation, there is some action available that is genuinely morally good. Of course, any attempt to detach the moral consideration from the local situation runs into metaphysical and epistemic problems – if there is a larger moral context that transcends consideration of any given scenario, on what are those moral claims based, and how do we come to know them?

    In other words, the trolley problem is supposed to show us that we aren’t done yet. We still have work to do to articulate a workable, plausible, comprehensive framework for moral judgment… if indeed such a task is achievable (some, notably Dancy, don’t think it is). It is not, contrary to the opinion of certain students I’ve had, supposed to give us a blank check to consider whatever compromises we make with integrity to be “good,” so long as we keep picking the lesser evil.

  36. says

    I don’t think Harris is islamophobic

    REALLY? He’s consistently racist and uses Islam as his cover and you’re REALLY having trouble with this?

    Harris’s ability to distance himself from everything and view people’s personal pain dispassionately

    That’s not what happens. That’s why he’ll support racist-ass bullshit that is empirically counterproductive.

    I’m maybe a tad skeptical about “freedom” that only allows you to wear as little as you want, but not as much as you want

    Liberal Patriarchy isn’t really much better than conservative patriarchy, in practice.

  37. imkindaokay says

    (off topic, again)

    So in the trolley problem, if you input “pulling the lever” into your moral calculus, you get a read-out of “good.”

    that’s absurd. obviously the good thing would be nobody having to needlessly die…
    but this is not for this thread

    (back on topic)

    i thought the article by greenwald was fucking good

  38. says

    Objectivity as originally conceived of (so far as I know) and in it’s best form is a collaborative activity between people, which is optimized when the people are very different and bring different perspectives to the table but all are willing to discuss their opinions and perceptions to find the commonalities as well as the interesting areas of difference. In order for that to work, though, those involved must axiomicly accept both that they can be wrong and that two seemingly contrary things can be true based on different circumstances.

    This.
    And I’d add that two seemingly near identical things can have vastly different effects due to different circumstances.

  39. chrisdevries says

    People accusing anti-theists like Dawkins, Hitch and Harris of “Islamophobia” are deliberately misinterpreting what they’re saying to score a populist win against the nasty, illiberal New Atheists. One need only take a look at their accumulated writings on religion to realize that the target of their criticism is ALL religion. Islam is only a special case because of the inappropriate violent response millions of its followers have to any insult, real or perceived, against their religion or its prophet, and because of the rhetoric, backed up with plenty of violence, that Islamists use in advancing their cause. ALL progressive, liberal-minded people should be able and willing to point out the unique situation we face, here in the 21st century, that causes polemicists to tip-toe around Islam for fear of being hunted down by zealots. And while technically, we are all arguing against religion in the abstract, most of us atheists and anti-theists really should be taking steps to defy Islamist regimes wherever we can; lots of fundamentalists are “redeemable” in Islam and other religions, but the Islamist ideology needs to be destroyed and I do support limited military intervention in places where Islamists are holding a country hostage (speaking of which, France is my hero-of-2013 country for attempting to rid Mali of its Islamist insurgents…no they didn’t solve the problem long-term, but sometimes short-term solutions that actually help a suppressed population are preferable to glacially-slow soft power).

    On the torture front, I maintain that even if torture resulted in lives saved (and there’s no evidence it does), I would rather be killed in a terrorist attack that could have been prevented by torture than live in a country that employs torture. Our culture is supposed to be better than radical Islamism; we cannot be better and occasionally make exceptions to our rules on human rights. Those rights are worth dying for. But I should point out that Sam Harris never said he supported torture: he just said that a society that is OK with collateral damage in war should be willing to selectively employ torture (again, assuming torture can be successful at saving lives). This whole issue is moot because torture doesn’t work anyway.

    Sam Harris speaks intelligently on many issues; occasionally he is blind to his own ignorance. But so am I, sometimes. And so are most people at some point in their life. He needs to learn to better apply his ideas to the real world we live in and see that what works in the abstract, hypothetical sense is frequently not at all practical.

    For example, on airport security, he argues that people who look Muslim should be singled out for additional checks. And if there were a reliable way to identify every Muslim, regardless of their race or behavior, this might help to prevent airplane terrorism and to deter Muslim terrorists from such acts of terror. But there’s not. It may or may not be justifiable to single out Muslims for extra scrutiny – this is debatable – but the whole point is moot because reliably identifying a Muslim is impossible.

    Heck, I could say “let’s detain, strip-search, and carefully inspect the luggage of all Islamists passing through all airports”…this is even more specific and invasive than Sam’s idea and you would certainly find a higher percentage of dangerous people amongst Islamists than Muslims. But it is obviously impossible to tell an Islamist from a regular, secular-minded Muslim, or even a non-Muslim. If you based your testing on race, as is inevitable in these situations, you’d have a huge amount of false-negatives (legitimately pissing off millions of non-white people) and the really dangerous ones, the Caucasian Chechen separatists on a suicide mission, they’d never be caught. Dumb, dumb dumb. But he can’t or won’t see that he’s being an idiot.

    Oh well. He’s right about most things I care about and I can criticise what I don’t like about him while still admiring his contribution to atheism and neuroscience. Kind of like how I feel about Mr. White, Male Privilege himself, Richard Dawkins. This is why we shouldn’t have leaders: people are fallible. We need to unite around ideas.

  40. says

    If you don’t feel popular enough yet, that book will make you popular enough.

    not how kickstarter works. On kickstarter, you first have to be popular, and then your project can snowball and make you more popular; but if you’re not already well-known, your kickstarter will only succeed if it has broad appeal and some luck; and “intersectional atheism” does unfortunately not qualify as “broad appeal”

  41. says

    People accusing anti-theists like Dawkins, Hitch and Harris of “Islamophobia” are deliberately misinterpreting what they’re saying to score a populist win against the nasty, illiberal New Atheists.

    broad brush is broad and hilariously misapplied, given where you’re posting this.

  42. nooneinparticular says

    P.Z., I agree that Harris may be a bit thin-skinned here, but I also think he is correct that at least some of his critics are being unethical. For example, Chris Hedge flat out lies about Harris when he says

    “Harris, echoing the blood lust of Hitchens, calls, in his book The End of Faith, for a nuclear first strike against the Islamic world.”

    It is abundantly clear to anyone who reads what Harris actually wrote that he did no such thing. Lies are, ISTM, the very essence of unethical.

    John Gorenfeld’s article on Alternet so egregiously misrepresented some of Harris’ positions there is no way it could NOT be called unethical. Anyone who claims that in The End of Faith Harris was recommending that “the alternative to Jesus … is a menu of messiahs” either hasn’t read it or is lying. Either way, unethical.

    He is right also that he was unfairly treated by those (some at this blog) who mischaracterized his positions about airport screening and the subsequent “debate” with Bruce Schneier. He is correct, for example, that

    “Schneier conceded that the most secure system would use a combination of profiling and randomness “

    and that Schneier’s conclusions boiled down to “TSA’s efforts are insufficiently funded and poorly conducted security theater”. Which was ALSO Harris’ point – if the photo of the TSA agent frisking the elderly lady isn’t “security theater”, I’ll eat my hat. Schneier himself was in no way unethical and at the end of the “debate” there was no winner as both essentially agreed to several points; profiling has a role in airport security, though they disagreed on its overall effectiveness, that the principle source of terrorist activity comes, though not exclusively, from radical Islamists and that most of what the American TSA does is mere theater. But for merely suggest profiling, something the Israelis opening and successfully employ (along with random searches and active law enforcement/intelligence efforts –all of which both Harris and Schneier recommended) and which Schneier stipulated, Harris was pilloried as a racist. Maybe not unethical to call him that -and I did not see it that way- but I can also see why HE might.

    But is Greenwald being unethical in his critique of Harris’ alleged Islamophobia? I suppose that depends on what you find unethical. To me misrepresenting someone’s stated positions, even while making valid points of your own, amounts to unethical behavior, but I will concede that YMMV. In this piece today he, IMO, unpacks Greenwald’s characterizations of Harris’ position and, again IMO, showed me that Greenwald did indeed act unethically at, least insofar as he conflated Harris’s attack on ideas with an attack on people.

    Overall in Harris comes out of this looking better in his piece today, not worse. I still just don’t get his position on torture, though he has a point that we (Americans as a whole) seem to be far too sanguine about indiscriminately bombing people. And he totally lost me on the paranormal hooey, but that may be just because I, personally, think it IS hooey and no amount of further study will help.

  43. says

    most of us atheists and anti-theists really should be taking steps to defy Islamist regimes wherever we can

    “defy”? that only works if they actually have some sort of power over you. Disagreeing from a distance is not “defying”. How pompous.

  44. says

    It is abundantly clear to anyone who reads what Harris actually wrote that he did no such thing.

    actually, that’s exactly what he’s saying, which is clear to everyone who isn’t a fanboi and therefore isn’t blinded by the “plausible deniability” phrasing.

  45. mythbri says

    Quotes from Sam Harris, easily found through the Glen Greenwald piece I linked to in #20, with context accessible with a single mouse-click:

    Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Dick Cheney, they will be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies.

    I am one of the few people I know of who has argued in print that torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror.

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

  46. says

    People accusing anti-theists like Dawkins, Hitch and Harris of “Islamophobia” are deliberately misinterpreting what they’re saying to score a populist win against the nasty, illiberal New Atheists.

    Oh, yay, they technically say ‘all religions are a problem’. Guess that’s a pass.

    Islam is only a special case because of the inappropriate violent response millions of its followers have to any insult, real or perceived

    Translation: I’m a lazy fuck who knows nothing about power differentials.

  47. says

    As many of us said repeatedly in that long thread about racial profiling, we agree that TSA does its job poorly and engages in security theater. What you won’t find us saying is that the way to improve it is to add racial profiling to its battery of bad procedures.

    Also, I’m not too impressed with people who cite Israel as such an exemplar of ethical behavior that copying their procedures must make one exempt from racist attitudes.

  48. David Marjanović says

    context:

    Oh, that. Thanks. Good to read Adel Almi’s honest words *snort*.

    not how kickstarter works.

    Ah, that’s what you mean. Take Pharyngula, your Facebook friends, and your blog together – despite the large overlaps you’ll get a pretty high number of supporters.

    Quotes from Sam Harris

    Oh, snap.

  49. Eristae says

    This has peeved me for a while, and other people have probably said it, but I’ll say it anyway:

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

    I think Sam Harris looks like he could conceivably be Muslim. In fact, every person I’ve ever looked at looks like they could conceivably be a Muslim. Every one, including those who look like they may conceivably be some other faith. After all, if someone came out and said, “The Pope is a secret Muslim,” we might say, “I don’t believe you,” but we wouldn’t say “That’s inconceivable!” Why? Because it is conceivable that the Pope is a Muslim. So, Sam Harris seems to be having issue with the word “inconceivable.”

    Unless, of course, when Sam Harris says “anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim” he really means “a brown person.”

  50. says

    shorter Eristae:
    “inconceivable!”
    “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means”

    ;-)

  51. says

    No, Sam Harris has also plainly said that as a man with semitic features he thinks it would be fair if he were also subjected to more scrutiny than some little old lady.

  52. mythbri says

    @PZ

    That doesn’t make it okay, as you said in the posts that you wrote addressing Sam’s argument.

    But I think that the only reason Harris is cool with himself being profiled is because he knows he’s not one of “Them”, and can safely count on his white privilege to protect him from the worst consequences of racial profiling.

  53. says

    No, Sam Harris has also plainly said that as a man with semitic features he thinks it would be fair if he were also subjected to more scrutiny than some little old lady.

    He thinks the little old lady should have absolutely 0 scrutiny, so this isn’t a sacrifice on his part.

  54. Eristae says

    @Jadehawk/59

    Pretty much. :-D

    Inigo Montoya FTW!

    @PZ/60
    I’m with Mythbri. And it pains me unendurably that he thinks that being a white man with “semitic*” features means that he’s placing himself into the same category as those he’s trying to toss under the bus.

    Really, does Harris think that someone’s going to mistake him for a Muslim when he’s walking down the street? Because if he’s trying to make that argument, he’s either stupid or being disingenuous. If Harris is going to be mistaken for anything, it’s a Christian, the privileged religion in our country, despite the fact Christians are also prone to running around and killing people. If we want to look a group that gets mistaken for Muslims and are no more Muslims than he is, we need only look to the Sikhs. If he ran around wearing clothing similar to that of the Sikhs, he might have an argument. But Harris isn’t anyone’s stereotypical idea of a Muslim, and he knows that very well.

    *Looking “semetic” means looking “Muslim?” WTF?

  55. yubal says

    On the racial profiling topic. A quote from Volker Pispers

    “Oh. Those Islamic terrorist shaved their beards? I’m sorry. Now we can’t find them anymore. ”

    Seriously. If you install racial profiling you tell terrorists exactly what to do to dodge you security grid. Use blonde bkue eyed ukrainian female converts.

  56. Eristae says

    On the racial profiling topic. A quote from Volker Pispers

    “Oh. Those Islamic terrorist shaved their beards? I’m sorry. Now we can’t find them anymore”

    Oh! That made me giggle.

  57. nooneinparticular says

    PZ Myers wrote;

    As many of us said repeatedly in that long thread about racial profiling, we agree that TSA does its job poorly and engages in security theater. What you won’t find us saying is that the way to improve it is to add racial profiling to its battery of bad procedures.

    That is true. Many did hold that position. Harris did not back off and defended his point that profiling as part of a broader effort might be more efficacious.

    But I was referring to how he viewed the arguments of his detractors here and elsewhere in that dispute. As I said, I don’t think those accusations of racism amount to “unethical” behavior because I think there is case, however feeble, to be made. He does have thin skin in this regard but I can see his point; he was reviled in highly nasty, and in many cases unfounded, ways (not just here). And here your own comment, PZ, holds a germ of the problem (from Harris’ perspective, as I see it). You call it “racial” profiling. Harris does not see that is racial, as he points out in his piece today on Islamaphobia.

    There is no race of Muslims. They are not united by any physical traits or a diaspora. Unlike Judaism, Islam is a vast, missionary faith. The only thing that defines the class of All Muslims—and the only thing that could make this group the possible target of anyone’s “irrational” fear, “disproportionate” focus, or “unjustified” criticism—is their adherence to a set of beliefs and the behaviors that these beliefs inspire.

    The way I read him, when people accuse him of advocating racial profiling I think he gets triggered because he sees it as an accusation of racism.

    Also, I’m not too impressed with people who cite Israel as such an exemplar of ethical behavior that copying their procedures must make one exempt from racist attitudes.

    No idea where you think this happens. I have not seen any evidence that Harris (or Scheier for that matter) suggests any such thing.

  58. mythbri says

    Islam is a vast, missionary faith. The only thing that defines the class of All Muslims—and the only thing that could make this group the possible target of anyone’s “irrational” fear, “disproportionate” focus, or “unjustified” criticism—is their adherence to a set of beliefs and the behaviors that these beliefs inspire.

    Which makes them SUPER EASY TO PROFILE, AMIRITE?!

    I can spot a Catholic at 20 meters. I can recognize a Mormon at 50. I can sense the presence of Presbyterians. I can deduce an Anglican just by looking. I can identify Evangelical Christians with both eyes behind my back.

    HIRE ME, TSA.

  59. Xaivius says

    On one hand, I get my hackles raised when someone criticizes my dislike of religion as “{xReligion}phobia.” On the other, Harris is unfortunately being a shining fucking example of this. He’s an old, racist white man that refuses to admit he’s an old, racist white man. And since he’s apparently willing to compromise every liberal, progressive thought he’s ever had to keep a fictional brown boogeyman off the same flight as him, he can piss right off.

    This also makes me question myself and my own beliefs, an uncomfortable but necessary exercise. I have the opportunity to check this, fortunately, working at a university lab where we have a large, diverse population, albeit one generally more prone to “university” values. I check to see if I’m as wary of the muslim woman in lab speaking about the hajj as the christian man discussing his trip to Rome to see the new pope. Largely, I find that both are equally disconcerting. I try to judge on actions and my knowledge of a persons’ past actions. I find that most of the people I watch myself around are actually 3 older white men (two local, one from Scotland). One is horrifically racist, and firmly believes he’s a superior being. The second is a die-hard conservative republican, who’s known for stating that all forms of social welfare “should be the responsibility of the church.” And the third is possibly the most arrogant, misogynistic person I’ve ever met.

    [/rant]

    So, on a related note: Does disliking the concept of community Shar’ia/”Purity” laws, forced hijab/Headcovering, and condoning violence against “blasphemy” make one an islamophobe? What if you have the same opinion of ANY tradition that condones such things? I honestly question this, in myself. I’d like to think my stance is less “fear” and more “utter contempt,” and that I levy that against anyone taking such a position.

    help?

  60. says

    Does disliking the concept of community Shar’ia/”Purity” laws, forced hijab/Headcovering, and condoning violence against “blasphemy” make one an islamophobe? What if you have the same opinion of ANY tradition that condones such things?

    well, think of it this way: how often in the recent past have you commented on these things happening in conservative Muslim communities? And how often have you commented on exactly the same problems with e.g. Orthodox Jewish communities?

    If the numbers come out more or less the same, you’re probably fine. But unfortunately, for most people, that’s not the case. Orthodox Jews only ever seem to get talked about when they harass bicyclists in NYC. Or actively throw stones at women.

  61. chrisdevries says

    @52 I said “defy” instead of “blaspheme like there’s no tomorrow”, which I thought sounded a bit childish, but is what I mean by defy. The more we piss them off, the more their true colors show through, the more uneasy non-Islamist Muslims will feel about staying silent on the issue of blasphemy, rather than denouncing the violence and threats. The only way the extremists will lose ground is if the so-called moderate majority starts making its voice heard. If they are truly in favor of freedom of speech, if they are truly in favor of a progressive, non-literalist version of Islam where women are equal and apostasy is A-Okay, and if they are truly the majority, then they need to prove it to the extremists, they need to be loud and proud and unwilling to see the crazies pervert their religion and use it to justify horrible crimes.

    @55 No, I know lots about power differentials. I especially love the power differential that male Muslim clerics have over all of the females in their country. Oh oh, what about the power differential that all male Muslims hold over the women they are related, or married to.

    But to address what I think your point is, it’s one thing to say that Muslims engaged in active resistance (or as sane people call it, blowing shit up) against the Great Satan and its allies are doing so because we are interfering with their part of the world, walkin’ softly and carryin’ our big stick. And sure, that’s a problem that might result in some desperate people doing desperate things. But what of the people from the West, raised in our culture and given opportunities orders of magnitude better than the average Somali merchant. Why are they calling for blasphemers against Mohammed to be executed, or imprisoned? Sure, they may not have been the beneficiaries of white privilege, but shit seems to roll downhill on the privilege scale; these male Westerners are pretty keen to control the lives of their sisters, daughters and wives, all lacking their male privilege (and the male-female privilege gap is almost always far larger in cultures shaped by Islam than it is in our culture). And what of the 9/11 hijackers, many of whom were doctors and engineers, people of privilege in their home countries?

    Why must we be forbidden to try to eradicate Islamism from the world just because the people who espouse this philosophy are often victims of, or descended from victims of Western imperialism? Why must we solve our problems first when, awaiting us, are far bigger problems affecting far more people in Africa, Asia and the Middle East? Can we not try to solve many problems at once? Can we not criticise all cultures when they are fucked up? And, if we’re pumping billions in foreign aid into countries where a significant percentage of the population want to create or maintain an Islamic theocracy, shouldn’t we care that part of that money goes to educating people (boys and girls), ending poverty, and supporting NGOs that are working towards secularism?

    I think we need to reclaim secularism from the fundamentalists. They use it as a code-word for godlessness, atheism, liberalism even. But secularism benefits everyone, and any non-theocrat of any religion can also be a secularist. Allowing one, or a few religions power over everyone else is a recipe for conflict, be it in America, Algeria or Afghanistan. Freedom of religion is one of the main benefits of secularism…also, the freedom to not have someone else force you to be part of THEIR religion. Yes, we need to fight this fight on the home front, but we need to help others fight it everywhere else too. We cannot live for very long in a world where nuclear materials are accessible to people who WANT to use the bombs they can build with these materials. The Cold War was sustainable because nobody wanted to be eradicated from the face of the Earth. Religious zealots couldn’t care less whether they die.

    So yeah, Harris is right about a lot, in my opinion. But he is wrong about a lot too, and we need to call him on irrationality.

  62. ck says

    chrisdevries wrote:

    But I should point out that Sam Harris never said he supported torture: he just said that a society that is OK with collateral damage in war should be willing to selectively employ torture (again, assuming torture can be successful at saving lives).

    Only if you choose to ignore the historical backdrop against which his writings on torture appeared. The stories about torture in Abu Ghraib appeared in Jan 2004, End of Faith was published in August 2004. Stories about “enhanced interrogation techniques” in Guantanamo Bay started cropping up in May, 2005, Sam’s In Defense of Torture appeared in October 2005. It doesn’t matter what Sammy’s intent was, because intent is not magic. The result was that his writings were used as academic validation of what was going on in these two places.

    Furthermore, I’d suggest that if Sam thinks he’s constantly being misinterpreted, that criticizing his audience for not understanding his sophisticated arguments that he failed to convey is placing the blame on the wrong party. Just as it’s a poor labourer who blames his or her tools for a poorly done job, it’s also a poor writer who blames the audience for failing to see his or her brilliance.

  63. Xaivius says

    chigau (ouch ouch ouch)@70

    Sam Harris is “old”?
    Forsooth‽

    Blarglefuck. I always think of later Hitchens when I see Sam Harris’s name. If I had an edit, I’d strike through “Old” and “man” and append an “asshole” after the “Man”.

    Sorry. >.<

  64. says

    I said “defy” instead of “blaspheme like there’s no tomorrow”, which I thought sounded a bit childish, but is what I mean by defy.

    blaspheming against people who have no power over you and without making a specific point (the way boobquake or crackergate did) is not activism, it’s just being an ass because you can.

    I think we need to reclaim secularism from the fundamentalists. They use it as a code-word for godlessness, atheism, liberalism even. But secularism benefits everyone, and any non-theocrat of any religion can also be a secularist.

    Did you mean fundamentalists as in: religious fundies? Because then I’d fully agree. Unfortunately there seems to be s section of atheists who can no longer tell the difference, either, so I’m just making sure you’re not using some odd “Fundie atheist” trope here.

  65. chigau (ouch ouch ouch) says

    Xaivius
    No worries.
    I’m stoned on the codeine and my sensitivity is up to 11.
    Harris is younger than me therefore cannot be “old”.

  66. mythbri says

    @chrisdevries

    Can you really blaspheme against a religion that isn’t yours (regionally, culturally, historically)?

    Why the fuck would “non-Islamist Muslims” (whatever that means) want to join forces with people who give every appearance of thinking of them as lesser, uncivilized barbarians? What does “Western” society offer that’s so fucking great for them, when they can expect to be treated as second class citizens or worse? Why would they go running into the arms of a country or culture that has brought flaming death down on them?

    …..

    “Hey women! Why aren’t more of you joining the atheist/secular/skeptic movement, you cunts?!”

  67. Xaivius says

    chigau (ouch ouch ouch)@76

    Thanks. I’m still embarrassed. My parents always said I was “a bright kid, but thicker than two bricks.” Once a concept (Like Sam harris = Chris Hitchens) enters my head, it takes some severe metaphorical percussive maintenance to remove it.

    Jadehawk@75

    Did you mean fundamentalists as in: religious fundies? Because then I’d fully agree. Unfortunately there seems to be s section of atheists who can no longer tell the difference, either, so I’m just making sure you’re not using some odd “Fundie atheist” trope here.

    The pedant in me screams at this. Athiests do not have “funamental” tenets to revert to, as compared to that of the Abrahamic religions. I fully realize that the meaning of the word should be “dogmatic” or possibly even “orthodox,” but the use of fundamentalist in its place is irking. The best we can go to is probably Rationalism in the rennaisance and possibly some Greek and Roman philosophy, but nothing that we could define so thoroughly as “fundamentalism.” AAAAAAAAAAAAnyway I’ll shut up now because pedantry is silly and distracting and I should probably take this to the lounge/thunderdome.

  68. says

    some things really stick with you,at the time the assent of man was on tv i was just a couple years out of the army and my opinion of the way the world was going was very low to say the least.when bronowski walked out into that pond of human ashes it was one of the very few jaw dropping moments i ever had and gave me a glimmer of hope.
    i could use another one.

  69. thunk, warm air advection says

    oooh. scary. not.

    Also, pray tell, what are the secret cult initiation rites anyway?

  70. chigau (ouch ouch ouch) says

    I am not a cycad!
    I a human being!
    And pleased to be of the same ilk as mythbri and thunk.

  71. says

    As I said, I don’t think those accusations of racism amount to “unethical” behavior because I think there is case, however feeble, to be made. He does have thin skin in this regard but I can see his point; he was reviled in highly nasty, and in many cases unfounded, ways (not just here). And here your own comment, PZ, holds a germ of the problem (from Harris’ perspective, as I see it). You call it “racial” profiling. Harris does not see that is racial, as he points out in his piece today on Islamaphobia.

    The fact that Harris refuses to “see that it is racial” does not excuse him from accusations of racism. He can claim all he wants that there is nothing racial about profiling Muslims. Objective reality–i.e., how profiling plays out in reality–shows him to be wrong. Ignorance of objective reality in support of a racially discriminatory policy or attitude is still racism. If Harris were being honest, he would have to admit that calling his statements racist is not slander or libel, even if he disagrees. It is not a long leap to make from “profile Muslims” to “profile people wearing a stereotypical type of clothing, with stereotypical hairstyles, and a stereotypical skin tone.” Even if he firmly, sincerely believes that those two phenomena can be kept separate, he should be able to recognize that it is perfectly rational to judge that it is practically impossible to profile Muslims without also profiling a certain racial group, and thus conclude that endorsing such a practice is racist in effect if not in intent. He might disagree when people call his positions racist, but he is wrong to claim that it is unfounded to label him thus.

  72. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    when bronowski walked out into that pond of human ashes

    I so didn’t need to hear that. Cripes. I couldn’t get through the first minute, now I can’t decide if I’m better off watching the whole thing and seeing the actual picture or just letting my imagination run.

    BTW: don’t give me advice on that. It’s really not the kind of thing amenable to advice.

  73. ck says

    Well, ericyoungstrom, you sure showed us. How can we possibly compete with your logic, random capitalization and misused ellipsis? Left with no other options, I suppose we shall all have to become good little slymeballs like you.

  74. Xaivius says

    Soooo, what the shit is ericyoungstrom on about now? Angry navy man is angry? Da menz?

    WAT

  75. says

    Boy you bloggers/posters sure showed me! I learned a valuable lesson from you all! You keep up the “good” fight and protect us from those that question… You flippin’ twats!

  76. ck says

    Seems like it. “Banned by PZ” must be the last merit badge he needs for his Slyme Scouts sash.

  77. says

    I can’t believe I read the whole Sam Harris response. Funniest quotes:

    The term “Islamophobia” is now being used as a kind of intellectual blood libel to protect intrinsically harmful ideas from criticism.

    Just had to pull out the blood libel.

    Many peoples have been conquered by foreign powers or otherwise mistreated and show no propensity for the type of violence that is commonplace among Muslims.

    How very uncivilized of them.

  78. says

    One other observation, re the Spock thing: it’s unfortunate that the myth of some sort of dualism between emotional and rational thinking still persists. All reasoning is emotional reasoning. All cognition involves emotion. There is no real way to separate emotion from other workings of the brain.

    Spock is a self-contradictory idea.

    Hopefully in a few hundred years, we won’t speak about it in the same way.

  79. says

    “Schneier conceded that the most secure system would use a combination of profiling and randomness “

    I’d be very surprised if Bruce said that. I’ve been reading his stuff for years, debated him publicly and in print a number of times, I’ve – while I’ve heard him say any number of times that randomness or 100% screening would work, I’ve never seen or heard him recommend profiling. In his discussion with Harris, it’s my opinion that Harris heard what he wanted to hear; Schneier’s a nice guy and gave Harris a pretty solid hammering, to which Harris responded by moving the goal-posts. I’ve never known Bruce to be anything but scrupulously intellectually honest (even when I’ve come up on his wrong side) – I can’t say that about Harris.

  80. says

    he should be able to recognize that it is perfectly rational to judge that it is practically impossible to profile Muslims without also profiling a certain racial group

    Harris acknowledged that in his original argument, by making a throwaway to the effect of that racial profiling for muslims would probably make life inconvenient for him. Implied: muslims look a certain way. Yes, Sam, how does a muslim look??

    Bruce was kind to Harris because Harris was being publicly stupid and asked Bruce to spank him and Bruce is a pretty nice guy. If Bruce was going full asshole on Harris (which I have never seen him do, unfortunately) he would have asked Harris to describe his algorithm for detecting muslims – which he tried to do an Harris dodged (nice bit of intellectual honesty on Harris’ part) and then would have slammed Harris by posting pictures of the 9/11 hijackers and asking him to explain how his muslim profiling algorithm would have picked the 9/11 hijackers out of a stream of normal passengers. Because – and Harris repeatedly ignores this – the 9/11 hijackers looked as muslim as PZ does, when they boarded those planes.

  81. says

    “TSA’s efforts are insufficiently funded and poorly conducted security theater”

    I am aware of no security expert except the ones who work for TSA that think TSA should be funded at all and [citation needed] for where Bruse said TSA was insufficiently funded. Unless you’re being dishonest and confusing a statement such as:
    “Doing that kind of screening would be prohibitively expensive”
    with
    “TSA is insufficiently funded.”
    I don’t think even Harris is that intellectually dishonest but he’s, unfortunately, becoming adept at moving goal-posts and changing topic at the right time. I’m increasingly underwhelmed with him.

  82. chrisdevries says

    @75 Jadehawk

    Yeah, I meant religious fundamentalists. I guess there are atheists who misuse the term “secularism” but it’s mostly the religious right.

    As for blasphemy, it is not a crime against a person or a society. It is, by definition, a crime against God, or some representative thereof. The fact that it happens to drive millions of Islamists to acts of unthinking rage is something that Muslim society needs to carefully examine, but it cannot do so unless there are two clear sides involved in a debate: the side that doesn’t care about not-funny cartoons and atheist bloggers, and the side that does a collective “Incredible Hulk” impression upon realizing that someone defamed their prophet, God, or belief system. We are asked to believe that there is this massive majority of largely silent Muslims who are in group A; that the crazy rioters and killers of infidels are a small minority. If this is so, why do we see no massive backlash against theocratic Islamists when they go off on an infidel hunt? Why is the so-called moderate majority silent? The solution, as I see it, is to keep giving the Islamists opportunities to behave like raging rhinoceroses; if there is a silent majority, they will eventually rise up and say “people should have the right to say whatever they want; insulting God shouldn’t be a crime in the 21st century”, while the crazies will eventually become desensitized to our Satanic free speech.

    This isn’t just a West vs. Islamism issue. There are people living in theocracies right now who are persecuted, jailed, even executed for blasphemy. I hope that by being the big blasphemers here in North America, those brave bloggers and journalists will feel supported by members of a culture that has, at best, ignored them and at worst, harmed them. This is why we have International Blasphemy Day, Draw Mohammed Day, and other, one-off,blasphemy extravaganzas.

  83. laurentweppe says

    And then Sam Harris wrote his response to the controversy.

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahaha
    You could have stopoed here: it’s the perfect Punchline: you could turn it into a variation of the aristocrats joke: “I was about to make [[insert very long essay about one's worldview here]], And Then, Sam Harris opened his mouth

    ***

    I don’t think Harris is islamophobic, but I disagree on other things, and for disagreeing with him on racial profiling and agreeing that the atheist movement is not perfect

    So, you’re not calling him an islamophobe, you’re “just” aknowledging his sectarian supremacism and love for indulging into cultural determinim. It’s the old excuse, the “Oh,I know this guy, he’s not racist, But” people use when they’re embarassed about the crazy uncle they keep on inviting at the family dinners ’cause he’s a relative even though anyone else would have been kicked out of the table for saying a third of a tenth of what he utters on a good day.

  84. deoridhe says

    I remain baffled with the assumption that Muslims look like Arabs when the majority of Muslims are in Indonesia, and don’t look Arabian or Semitic at all.

  85. says

    The fact that it happens to drive millions of Islamists to acts of unthinking rage is something that Muslim society needs to carefully examine, but it cannot do so unless there are two clear sides involved in a debate: the side that doesn’t care about not-funny cartoons and atheist bloggers, and the side that does a collective “Incredible Hulk” impression upon realizing that someone defamed their prophet, God, or belief system.

    this is bull, given that there’s plenty such “blasphemy” coming from within Muslim societies (and solidarity-actions of such internal “blasphemous acts” whom without Muslim societies) that random outsider asshattery is simply not needed. Worse, it appears now to negatively affect genuine activism, making solidarity actions less effective as they become near invisible against the background of near constant asshattish trolling.

  86. says

    This isn’t just a West vs. Islamism issue. There are people living in theocracies right now who are persecuted, jailed, even executed for blasphemy.

    given this, why do you think the Muslim communities needs a bunch of American bloggers to in order to realize that “The fact that it happens to drive millions of Islamists to acts of unthinking rage is something that Muslim society needs to carefully examine”? Either they’re going to realize this because they’re daily confronted with that fact by the internal acts of blasphemy and the outsider support for it, at which point trolling bloggers won’t make a difference; or they will turn a blind eye to the horrible crimes, at which point no amount of trolling can ever be a louder wakeup call than arrests.

    tl;dr – I fail to see the magical power of Westerners trolling Islamists that will work where one’s own community members’ fights against oppression don’t.

  87. says

    while the crazies will eventually become desensitized to our Satanic free speech

    lol. you need to read Rapture Ready more. Fundies never get desensitized to Teh Ebil Satan-led Materialist World (TM). They only reduce their bloodthirst if/when the government/larger society won’t support them in their actions anymore; and still, you get the occasional zealot shooting up a clinic or murdering a doctor.

  88. says

    I think more of Sam Harris than apparently most people on this thread do. His problem is that he doesn’t know how to finish his sentences.
    We would have greater chances of stopping suicide bombers if we could identify Islamists, or people who are likely to be; unfortunately, we can’t do that without being blatantly racist, so we can’t do that. Period.
    What would happen if an Islamist regime acquires long-range nuclear weapons doesn’t bear thinking about: there would be absolutely nothing we can do. Period.
    We all agree that torture is terrible and must not be used: we should consider that the “collateral damage” we inflict is equally unacceptable. Period.
    .
    I think it’s even possible that he thinks he said that (in points 2 and 3).
    I don’t know if there’s any way of making Harris understand why saying what he’s saying is damaging – or how it can be used as a whitewash for all sorts of awful things.

  89. skepticsanonymous says

    Methinks a certain pathetic professor-blogger is just terribly butt-hurt that Sam Harris is much more famous than he is.

  90. thumper1990 says

    @Jadehawk #69

    well, think of it this way: how often in the recent past have you commented on these things happening in conservative Muslim communities? And how often have you commented on exactly the same problems with e.g. Orthodox Jewish communities?

    If the numbers come out more or less the same, you’re probably fine. But unfortunately, for most people, that’s not the case. Orthodox Jews only ever seem to get talked about when they harass bicyclists in NYC. Or actively throw stones at women.

    In fairness, a lot of people aren’t aware these problems exist in the Jewish community. I know I wasn’t, whereas I was very aware of problems of this nature in the Islamic community; which is in itself indicatve of the hyperbolic Islamophobia in the media (hey, stereotyping sells papers, right?). Even now I’m not as familiar with it and hear of less specific instances, so it’s harder to call out. What we need is an equal, balanced source of information. That would go a long way to curing this strange idea (especially prevalent in Britain) that these problems are endemic to the Muslim community and none other.

  91. thumper1990 says

    @skepticsanonymous

    Methinks a certain idiotic fanboy is just terribly butt-hurt that not everyone is chock-full of blind admiration for their hero.

    You are aware it is entirely possible to disagree with someone on some points while still admiring other things about them? It’s called “objectivity”. Try it sometime.

  92. says

    Nononono, me and Sam Harris, we’re not Islamophobes. It’s because obejectively there are millions of muslims who really, really want to muuuuuuurder s in our sleep for mispronouncing Moohamed. Millions! More dangerous than the people who waged two bloody wars against them and killed hundreds of thousands. For which they should be grateful. They were killed in the name of freedom.

    +++

    I also don’t believe a word of Harris’ and Dawinks’ and their ilk’s concern for muslim women. Their concern is just a way to diss those horrible muslims a bit more and feel all so superior and civilised when they then turn around to treat other atheist women as shit and use “rape” as their standard reference to compare things to as “worse than”

  93. esmith4102 says

    Thanks P.Z. My sentiments as well. I have become more and more suspicious of Sam Harris in the past year and his criticisms of Glenn Greenwald was particularly odious to me and is a clue of a non-introspective ego. Also, thanks for the Bronowski recording. Bronowski’s “The Ascent of Man” had a profound effect on the people who looked and tried to understand what he had to say.

  94. mudpuddles says

    Hi PZ.

    When considering the possibility that Muslim fanatics might get nuclear weapons, argue that we might just be justified in vaporizing millions of human beings to prevent that possibility.

    That’s not really a fair accusation. You seem to suggest that Harris overlooks the human elements in that scenario, or gives too little consideration to the fact that human beings would suffer terribly. He really does not do that.

    His words again (emphasis his):

    In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe

    He posits a frightful scenario with a possible frightful result, and clearly highlights that this would be abominable because of the terrible human consequences. If (and, as Harris suggests, its a massive IF) an extremist Islamist regime obtained nuclear weapons and were determined to use them against another state, it might be a case of “hit or wait to be hit”. Might be. And that of course would be appalling, because either way millions would die. I see nothing wrong with posing that kind of thought problem, as the impact on human beings is central to the consideration. In the end, Harris is posing the problem to highlight the need to prevent it arising in the first place.
    Apart from that I would tend to agree with everything else in your post. When I saw Harris’s piece, my first thought was “let it go!”. It seems he is too concerned with getting everyone to agree with his position, or to counter every challenge to his stance, and yet does not always pay due attention to the human consequences.

  95. Eurasian magpie says

    Methinks a certain pathetic professor-blogger is just terribly butt-hurt that Sam Harris is much more famous than he is.

    …because in cases of dispute the situation is decided to the benefit of the more famous participant. That’s how objectivity and rationality work!!!!11!

  96. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    You do not get to make these cold calculations while leaving out the human element — the fact that we atheists, as a people supposedly dedicated to reality and truth and respect for the potential of the human mind, can so callously dismiss personal experience and the lives of the people at the heart of these hypothetic scenarios and thought experiments is precisely the reason their author is so easily made to look “morally suspect, even depraved.”

    This. A thousand times this.

    There’s a regression, happily not infinite, to my beliefs.

    I’m an atheist.

    I’m a skeptic.

    I’m human.

    That atheism is a result of my skepticism. I see no reason to not apply the same evidential and logical standards to religion that serve so well in all other aspects of enquiry. Given the current evidence for the existence of gods such an application can only result in atheism.

    But my scepticism is also a result, not a starting point.

    I’m human. I’m heir to all the cognitive biases and perceptual inaccuracies that every human has, and I have the full gamut of human emotions. Emotions that cloud my judgement, emotions that drive me to want to improve the world, emotions that blind me to alternatives, emotions that make me rail against injustice. This is why I’m a skeptic.

    I have no interest in trying to tamp my emotions down. But to follow them blindly would be to wash in and out on an every changing tide of contradictions, never moving forward, never improving myself or my world. I did this for years, and I lived through that time in a whirlpool of self-doubt and ineffectualness. And worse still, I did everything I could, include self-medicate, to try and halt the emotions that threw me about so effortlessly.

    Skepticism broke me free of that.

    Far from making me unemotional, I can now fully indulge them. I can let free my passion, unleash my anger, and my compassion, and all the other great and roaring feelings I have. Skepticism allows me to direct these inevitable, unquenchable emotions towards targets and projects that are worthy of them. Reason and evidence are the aiming device and passionate emotion is the charge that propel me.

    And let’s be clear about this: I’m still vulnerable to error. Perhaps I’m a little better equipped to avoid it that I was before, but fucking up is as much a part of being human as breathing. Skepticism hasn’t made me any more certain that I’m right about everything, far from it.

    But fortunately skepticism isn’t about certainty, it’s about following the evidence. That pursuit of evidence, that burning desire to believe what is as close to truth as we can discover means that I cannot dodge error when presented with it. And that means I have to be willing to accept my mistakes and change my beliefs. I cannot convey how freeing this was to me.

    I’m more passionate, more emotional, and unexpectedly, more content than I’ve ever been in my life because skepticism has allowed me to accept when I’m wrong. It’s freed me to be as passionate as I wish to be, with the unforeseen benefit of allowing me to care more for others now that I no longer have to push down my feelings in order to survive.

    So fuck Harris.

    Fuck all the wannabe Vulcans who want to use skepticism as blunt scalpel to excise their passions. He’s shown us the dry and stony intellectual road that that can take us down. It’s ugly and full of horrors, and I’ll have no part of it.

  97. Rob Grigjanis says

    mudpuddles @114: So a couple of judiciously placed ‘may be’s turn a radical policy proposal into a perfectly acceptable gedankenexperiment. Or, with the ‘unthinkable crime’ thrown in, maybe that should be ungedankenexperiment.

  98. says

    #114: Notice how in the same sentence he says that it is “unthinkable” and that it “may be the only course of action”?

    “Unthinkable”. I do not think that word means what you think it means.

  99. richardh says

    Delft @107, paraphrasing Harris as-he-should-have-said-it:

    We would have greater chances of stopping suicide bombers if we could identify Islamists, or people who are likely to be; unfortunately, we can’t do that without being blatantly racist, so we can’t do that. Period.

    Schneier’s point, which Harris wilfully failed to hear or understand, is that no, we can’t do that even by being blatantly racist. If the selection criteria are predictable, the hypothetical attackers will use that knowledge to put themselves into the subset of passengers that don’t get selected.

  100. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    @#3 Pterryx- THIS!! A million times! I’m so sick of the presumption that anything that Harris, Hitchens, and Dawkins has ever said/written is seen as representative of Atheism by outsiders. I often have to explain to people who don’t follow this stuff very closely (people who just read the headlines from Salon pieces etc.) that the skeptic community is large and diverse and so are the views of it’s participants. I have never read any Dawkins and while I appreciate much of his influence on popularizing science and promoting faithlessness, I cringe at some of his stances on other things like sexism. Harris is disappointing on racism, torture and Islam. Hitchens was wonderful at mocking religion but awful on Iraq and foreign policy (and sexism.) Funny how the people who obsess over the words of the four horseman as representing all of atheism never seem to mention the fourth, Dan Dennett. Probably because he’s just not provocative enough.

    In a world where we have such a great variety of skeptic bloggers/writers: Greta Christina, Rebecca Watson, Jen McReight, Jason Rosenthal, Crommunist, Ophelia Benson, etc. it’s so frustrating that Atheism is so often tied to only 3 individuals who wrote some great books 10 years ago (and still do in the case of Dawkins) based almost entirely on the fact that they have the most name recognition. I mean Hitchens isn’t even here anymore, yet he’s still constantly mentioned anytime people want to criticize New Atheists. And of course these criticisms always seem to leave out the fact that Hitchens’ and Harris’ and Dawkins’ more controversial views did and do receive a shit-load of criticism from atheists/skeptics and that there is healthy debate about them. I guess it’s just easier to take pot-shots at atheism if you only look at Hitchens/Dawkins/Harris and ignore everyone else.

  101. says

    If (and, as Harris suggests, its a massive IF) an extremist Islamist regime obtained nuclear weapons and were determined to use them against another state, it might be a case of “hit or wait to be hit”. Might be.

    I assume Harris is currently advocating a first strike against N. Korea. Right?
    (crickets)

  102. the_wildlifer says

    Unless something new has arisen, N Korea doesn’t have the capabilities for a “first strike” and all they’ve ever done for the past several decades is bluster about. But I see no reason Harris’ position would change if N Korea posed the same threat.

  103. kylecarruthers says

    I think that Sam’s (somewhat) more hawkish attitude towards issues of war and peace are being blurred with the fact that his comments were made in the context of Islam to unfairly malign him. Sam’s critics seem to fall into one or both of two categories–anti-racists/accomodationists and peace activists.

    I’m more sympathetic towards criticism of Harris for the latter. I’m not a warmonger. Maybe in some non existent utopia bombing people to bring them freedom and democracy or alternatively to advance some security objectives makes some ethical sense but in the real world I think it is unproductive and just results in a lot of dead people.

    Sam does a lot of musing out loud in a kind of dialectic style so its not exactly clear to me where he stands on issues such as nuclear first strike and torture. Its a style of writing that unfortunately invites people to misconstrue your opinions. Personally I think the circumstances in which either a nuclear first strike or torture could be justified ethically are so incredibly rare that they are hardly worth talking about. Sam’s also never said whether he was ‘fer or againt’ the Iraq war but it has been inferred that he supports it. I was adamantly against the Iraq war and profoundly disagreed with Hitchens about the wisdom and ethical implications of that endeavour.

    But being a jingoist doesn’t make you a hater. People support military ‘solutions’ for a whole host of reasons not all of which have anything to do with hate. Its interesting that the spectre of Dick Cheney has been raised (and I agree with PZ that Dick Cheney is one of the most despicable people on the face of the planet and Harris was dead wrong with that comment) but I see him as being motivated by greed. Pure unabashed greed. Iraq had oil and Dick wanted it. At the same time I wouldn’t put it past ole Dick to bomb the crap out of Wisconsin if it was preventing him from accessing shale gas and he thought he could get away with it.

    Sam strikes me as a realist–in the foreign policy sense of the word–which I suspect is what motivates some of his more hawkish musings. Its not a philosophy I necessarily fully agree with but I think it has merit and he came to it honestly.

    His critics want us to believe that his more hawkish tendencies and alleged ‘islamophobia’ are mutually reinforcing. I don’t think that is fair. One can be a warmonger without being a racist and can be a racist without being a warmonger.

  104. kylecarruthers says

    Marcus – That is such a bogus smear. Harris wrote about the prospect of a nuclear strike almost ten years ago in End of Faith (and I would argue that he didn’t advocate for it). Its not as if it is something he is out on the stump advocating for day in and day out. Its not his hobby horse. So it shouldn’t be a surprise nor should it say anything about his character that he isn’t out advocating for a first strike against North Korea. I’m sure that if the same circumstances were present vis-à-vis North Korea that could ‘justify’ a first strike, Sam would be in favour of it.

    This notion that if one has taken a position with respect to an issue that they have to actively speak up every time an analogous situation arises otherwise s/he’s a hypocrite is tired and lame.

  105. mudpuddles says

    @ Rob Grigjanis, #117

    Hi Rob,

    So a couple of judiciously placed ‘may be’s turn a radical policy proposal into a perfectly acceptable gedankenexperiment.

    He wasn’t making any form of policy proposal. I can see nothing anywhere in that passage, page, chapter or book where he states that he is setting that as a policy proposal. My reading is that it is a version of the rail car scenario (a rail car is going to kill someone unless it is derailed, but derailing will kill its passenger, so is it right to act or not act? – both choices are terrible), using what Harris sees as a possible future real world problem (Islamic fundamentalists obtaining nuclear weapons), which he says is plausible and must be avoided. Correct me if I’m missing something.

    @ PZ, # 118
    I take his use of “unthinkable” to mean “too bloody awful for someone to want to think about”. He is making the point that the course of action would be terrible because of the human consequences. I would argue that his scenario is deeply flawed because a pre-emptive strike does not necessarily follow as a response, such a strike need not be nuclear or indeed even military, and need not come from the US or other western power etc… and there are lots of other reasons why his hypothesis is a bit pants. But I reckon its wrong to say that in that case he is not considering human beings, when he explicitly states the human impact makes it an unconscionable (i.e. unjust, unreasonable) act. I agree with you that he fails to give due weight to the humanitarian aspect when considering torture and racial profiling. I just disagree that he makes the same error in this case.

  106. jacklewis says

    @PZ Myers

    Wonderful article, sums it up perfectly well.
    If I want to hear hypothetical situations that could (but really don’t) justify torture, I can always watch a GOP presidential debate.

    Ultimately Harris can only see fault in others and will never change is mind on anything.
    I had a small exchange via email about his weird gun fetish, and basically the moment you disagree with him, well you haven’t though much about the subject. Heck he even said that Sean Faircloth, who did a solid job at rebuking Harris’ pointless pro-gun stand, had simply not thought about it enough…

    And his tweets on this new matter have been really childish.

  107. harvardmba says

    This is the best criticism of Harris’ penchant for weak responses to critics I’ve read. It’s also a great analysis of of the creepy dispassionate nature of Harris and his writings.

    I will also say that after I finished “The End of Faith” I felt dirty, like I had been hoodwinked by a bait-and-switch. I thought I was reading a book on atheism in general, but when I was done I felt like I had read an anti-Muslim diatribe more than anything else. The fact that Harris acknowledges his emphasis on Islam as meriting more attention as uniquely threatening should have also merited a different title. As usual, the disingenuous Harris plods forward with his same old schtick. It’s tiresome, and it’s about time someone with a platform like Greenwald called him out.

  108. says

    Notably, the ‘warmonger without being a racist’. I’ve never seen someone pull for war with those of a different ethnicity without ultimately being a racist fuck.

  109. says

    But I reckon its wrong to say that in that case he is not considering human beings, when he explicitly states the human impact makes it an unconscionable (i.e. unjust, unreasonable) act.

    but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe

    Not filling me with confidence here.

  110. kylecarruthers says

    Rutee – Our planet? Boiling the the causes of war to racial hatred is reductionism of the highest order. History is littered with figures driven to war without the slightest care about the race of his opponent. This should be obvious since there have been many wars within the same racial group. War is a complex phenomena and is fought for any number of reasons including power, prestige, control of resources, self defense, and perceived threats to one’s security (both actual and imaginary).

    I’m sure that there were Americans who genuinely believed that Saddam Hussein posed an actual threat to their security and supported the war as a result. You’d have to be unintelligent or naïve to think so but some people are unintelligent and naïve.

  111. says

    But being a jingoist doesn’t make you a hater.

    I’m deeply unconcerned with the heart-of-hearts of jingoists or other extremely harmful people. Abusers, after all, also abuse because they love you, if you ask them. And they may even believe it.

  112. says

    Rutee – Our planet? Boiling the the causes of war to racial hatred is reductionism of the highest order.

    Good thing I didn’t say that was the cause of war. I said it was a motivator of warhawks who were pulling for wars against those of other ethnicities.

    I’m sure that there were Americans who genuinely believed that Saddam Hussein posed an actual threat to their security and supported the war as a result.

    How is a belief so blatantly counterfactual, and so bound to cause problems on the basis of race, not racist again?

  113. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @ the wildlife

    N Korea has no capability for a first strike?

    You mean, they don’t have the ability to buy a couple dozen box cutters and train 8 people to crash a plane?

    Seems to me, that they have cargo transports that they wouldn’t even need to hijack. Flown over international waters, there would be no radar coverage and no warning. Heck, they could even put a big, bulky bomb into the cargo bay -and they have nukes. A declaration of an in-flight emergency, and if they were painted appropriately, they could get overland and crash/detonate before being shot down. Probably not over DC, since there are now standing CAPs, but NY or Miami or LA or Bremerton or San Diego or Honolulu, sure.

    But no, they don’t have the capability of a first strike. Of course not. That would be silly. Don’t stress.

  114. says

    Marcus – That is such a bogus smear.

    You’re welcome to think so, but that was not my intent. I was trying to point out the problem with claiming that a nuclear attack is imminent. The premise that someone might be so dangerous as to warrant a pre-emptive strike is a serious problem, because it raises the question of how you know they are so dangerous. Here we have North Korea waving flags and rattling sabres and acting very dangerous indeed – how is that different from the hypothetical islamic state with the hypothetical (and stereotyped) crazed nihilist leaders*? Those that argue that pre-emption may be necessary are placed in a quandary by North Korea: their words are threatening indeed and they have the means and the motive. They hold a huge number of lives under the shadow of their hand. If those arguing that pre-emption may be moral really believe in that argument, it’s not sufficient to play some undergraduate philosophy games – they need to explain how, in a real world situation like this one, you make that very difficult non-hypothetical decision.

    The reason this matters is because it’s all well and good to pronounce yourself a moral philosopher and have a good grunting wank over carefully constructed hypothetical situations, but if you’re honest about what you’re doing it has to either stop there or you have to be able to answer questions like “What about North Korea?”

    Perhaps my question was not very pleasant, since it makes real and horrible an all too pat hypothetical, but I don’t think I’m going to let you try to dismiss me as a “smear.” If anyone is “smearing” it is you, say I.

    (* “no true nihilist” applies. Apparently Pakistan’s islamic leaders are not crazed nihilists because they had perfectly good reasons to build their bombs – fear of being dominated by India – but apparently the presumption is that other hypothetical islamic states somehow manage to be ruled by humans who long for death.)

  115. says

    kylecarruthers@123

    One can be a warmonger without being a racist and can be a racist without being a warmonger.

    On the face of it, yes. But racism easily leads to war, and a warmonger stirs up hate, which turns to racism if the other group is somehow different. The warmonger may not want the war for racial reasons, but if he uses latent racism to fire the war, isn’t that racism too?
    .
    richardh@119
    I didn’t follow the debate.
    My point is that (whether or not it would help) it’s not a good idea to promote it.
    As with the other points, there’s a good reason to stop talking about it, and that is where Harris has his blind spot.

  116. Alastair B says

    I don’t really get the overall problem with Harris’ ‘ticking bomb’ type arguments. Yes, he plays games with logic to elucidate how crazy some of the ideas are, and how crazy some of the problems they present are. But even if you don’t like that style, you can’t say its then ok to wilfully misrepresent the arguments? Truthfully, its really not rocket science to understand the point he’s making, at least, even if you disagree. As a result, I’d agree with Harris that Greenwald is being disingenuous to the point of being malicious.

  117. dereksmear says

    “Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe. The demographic trends are ominous: Given current birthrates, France could be a majority Muslim country in 25 years, and that is if immigration were to stop tomorrow. Throughout Western Europe, Muslim immigrants show little inclination to acquire the secular and civil values of their host countries, and yet exploit these values to the utmost—demanding tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques.” (Sam Harris)

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20060207_reality_islam/

    And Sam Harris says that he doesn’t agree with the fascists’ ideas about Muslims. Oh well.

  118. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    at the risk of kicking over the proverbial pie tin of Cthylla, the idea that one can be jingoistic without being racist is back to the idea “intent is magic” which was skewered in recent threads with someone pointing out (I think on Thunderdome) that the virtue ethics of intent leads to horrible places, but it also comes up in relation to EllenBeth Wachs.

    She said that Richards was “wrong” to do what she did, but that she didn’t deserve the horrific backlash she was getting. While in theory it’s possible to say a victim was wrong to do X without actually engaging in victim blaming, I don’t see how one does it in practice. Moreover, EB was clearly assigning *guilt* to Richards, but vociferously maintained on her own site that she wasn’t engaging in victim *blame*, pointing to those statements that Richards didn’t deserve rape & death threats, nor to be fired.

    This has to be one of the weirdest “intent is not magic” things I’ve ever seen. Being victimized by someone else doesn’t make your behaviors immune to criticism, but when you assert that the behavior was “wrong” in the midst of a context of victim blaming, how does an intent not to blame the victim aid the situation in any way?

    Ugh.

    So, I’m reading this defense of Harris & thinking – jingoism without racism? How is racism not part of the definition of jingoism? Jingoism has always been inseparable from nationalism, and nationalism is virtually inseparable from racism.

    I suppose in theory one can be a nationalistic warmonger (a jingo) without being racist, but how would that work in practice? Are there any such people?

  119. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    #114: Notice how in the same sentence he says that it is “unthinkable” and that it “may be the only course of action”?

    “Unthinkable”. I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    Seriously, Pz can’t be the only person to notice that. Are people incapable of reading for comprehension?

    As Harris says,

    In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe.

    Something cannot both be unthinkable and a possible, even the only, course of action to take. Either it’s a horrific possibility or it’s not, pardon me, thinkable.

    Harris would have been better to have said that it would be a ‘terrible’ crime, because it sure isn’t an unthinkable crime for him, since it, ‘may be the only course of action available to us.’ Of course, he didn’t just use any other adjective. Perhaps he wasn’t being careful, but I’m so less prone to giving him the benefit of the doubt considering his penchant for retreating constantly behind his walls of text whose meanings shift whenever they’re parsed by someone who disagrees with him and lets him know it.

  120. says

    @Thomathy

    Perhaps he wasn’t being careful

    I’ve read two-and-a-half of Harris’ books, and I’m inclined to conclude that he is just not a very skilled writer. He was going for the most superlative adjective on file so that everyone would know he was simply horrified by the possibility of nuking people, and he failed to notice that a “literal” interpretation rendered the sentence absurd.

  121. kylecarruthers says

    Marcus – It is no different. In fact I agree with you that the reasoning should apply equally to N. Korea. The reason I characterized yours as a smear was your “crickets” quip–the implication being why isn’t Sam Harris saying anything about this. I explained why he hasn’t and why the suggestion that he is being inconsistent isn’t fair. To my knowledge he’s never been asked.

    Rutee – Promoters of the Iraq war asserted facts that could, if correct, potentially justify military intervention. The more skeptical among us called bullshit on those asserted facts. But there are many naïve and deferent people who innocently took the Bush Administration on its word. I’m not willing to dismiss those people as racist. They’re naïve and too trusting of authority is a flaw but it is not “racism.

    You never said that racism was the only motivator for war but you did claim that there is no such thing as a non-racist warmonger. Certainly some people are motivated in their war mongering by racism but racism is not a necessary cause. Warmongering can exist because of the other motivators I cited.

    Jadehawk – Re: ‘rolleyes’ – To clarify, I used quotations because I don’t like the term “Islamophobia” as a word to describe the anti-Muslim animus that clearly exists in society. I certainly acknowledge that a form of racist-esque anti-Muslim hate exists and is incredibly problematic. I just don’t like the word “Islamophobia” to describe it.

  122. kylecarruthers says

    I see I have misused the term “jingoism”. I thought I had a grasp on its definition but see now that I missed an element. What I meant was warmongering, a tendency towards aggressive foreign policy and the use of force in the international arena. Yes if nationalism factors into ones thought process that would be a form of racism. But my point otherwise stands that one can be a war monger without being a racist (or a nationalist for that matter).

  123. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @ kylecarruthers

    Yes. I would agree that one can be a warmonger without being a racist or a nationalist. It seems that we agree once nationalism is accounted.

  124. says

    I see I have misused the term “jingoism”. I thought I had a grasp on its definition but see now that I missed an element. What I meant was warmongering, a tendency towards aggressive foreign policy and the use of force in the international arena. Yes if nationalism factors into ones thought process that would be a form of racism. But my point otherwise stands that one can be a war monger without being a racist (or a nationalist for that matter).

    In the real world, it isn’t really possible if your policy is to make war on those of other ethnicities who are societally and internationally weaker than you – the act of making war is itself racist in these circumstances. And you’re not going to pull for war when they’re stronger than you, as long as you know that. So no, go stuff yourself.

  125. Aaaa Uuu says

    “I was all primed to write today about this Islamophobia nonsense that is still going around. It seems to be the latest bogus argument against atheism: why, atheists are just all bigots who hate Muslims, the complainers say, instead of actually addressing the fact…”

    I am disappointed by this part of your article. The article doesn’t state at all that atheists are all bigots, especially as it is written by an atheist himself!

    The article attacks certain atheists, this is extremely different to ALL atheists. So, yes, you’re using hyperbole to try and discredit the argument someone makes that you do not like, and that’s a dishonest way of arguing your case.

  126. kylecarruthers says

    “So no, go stuff yourself”

    Aren’t we a charmer? I don’t share your postmodern, ever expansive understanding of what constitutes “racism” and don’t expect we’ll find much common ground.

    The implication of your claim that ANY war against “other ethnicities who are societally and internationally weaker than you” is “racist” is that you either 1) reject the idea of legitimate self defense as a justification for war or 2) think that a war can be both a legitimate war of self defense AND racist at the same time. If it is the former than our differences go deeper than what constitutes racism. The strange implications of latter suggests that maybe you might want to go back to the drawing board on your definition of racism.

    To be clear I don’t think the Iraq war was a legitimate war of self defense but I accept that some people naively but in good faith understood it to be.

  127. says

    Didn’t have time to read all the comments, so hopefully I’m not repeating something that was already addressed or said elsewhere, but:

    “There’s a place for playing philosophical games when thinking about trolleys and vats and logic puzzles, but when it comes down to real world thinking, reducing hugely complex problems to simplified abstractions does not provide clarity at all, only confusion and false conclusions.”

    Okay, so where’s the place and who gets to police it, and how/why?

    Why does reduction and abstraction necessarily induce confusion and false conclusions? Or is that the case only in this matter and regarding these topics? And then why?

    You didn’t actually make an argument there.

  128. atheist says

    Harris, and to a lesser extent Dawkins, when they describe Islam, are arguing much like libertarians do when describing economics. They have the same preference for theory over reality, the same aversion to facts and context. They seem to prefer thought-experiments to empirical study.

    There is a saying, “Never argue with a stupid man; he will pull you down to his level and beat you with experience.” I guess that secularists who wish to argue against people like Harris, we have to be “stupid”, and destroy theories with experiences. We have to pull these guys back to Earth and force them to consider ugly facts.

  129. chigau (ouch ouch ouch) says

    Ethan Gach #152
    I didn’t bother to read your whole comment so ..

  130. atheist says

    @Ethan Gach – 9 April 2013 at 3:09 pm (UTC -5)

    “There’s a place for playing philosophical games when thinking about trolleys and vats and logic puzzles, but when it comes down to real world thinking, reducing hugely complex problems to simplified abstractions does not provide clarity at all, only confusion and false conclusions.”

    Okay, so where’s the place and who gets to police it, and how/why?

    When you make statements about the conduct of an ongoing war, calling war opponents dangerously naive, and stating that only people with sense are the fascists, then you don’t get to later claim it was just a theoretical exercise. That’s bullshit.

  131. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    I’ve read two-and-a-half of Harris’ books, and I’m inclined to conclude that he is just not a very skilled writer.

    I’ve read three of his books and the pamphlet Letter to a Christian Nation. I don’t know that he’s not very skilled. Certainly, he seems to think carefully about what he’s writing, at least at first glance. I have a problem with his appearance of being intentional when contrasted with the obviously problematic example given earlier.

    He was going for the most superlative adjective on file so that everyone would know he was simply horrified by the possibility of nuking people,

    I might accept that given a slightly different excuse …

    and he failed to notice that a “literal” interpretation rendered the sentence absurd.

    But I won’t accept that. How is it supposed to be read but literally? I can’t believe that he didn’t know the meaning of the words he used and I would certainly not be convinced that he wasn’t aware of the logical implications of his word choices.

    If not for so much else, I would give him the benefit of the doubt, call him careless or cast him as ‘not a very skilled writer’, but he speaks too and his writing is prolific. No, I rather think that Harris’s intention is to be obfuscating. As has been said earlier, he hopes to hide behind the cloak of plausible deniability, but it’s transparent.

  132. chrisdevries says

    I disagree with Harris on many points, but I am somewhat surprised that here, a hang-out for atheists of all stripes, I see plenty of people repeating accomodationist tropes. If one treats the arguments these people are making charitably, the ideas that they are repeating here seem to stem from the fact that they are uncomfortable that some of us sometimes seem to be treating Islam and Muslims differently from adherents of other religions.

    But to clarify, I don’t believe Harris is Islamophobic (that is being irrationally “against” Muslims). I don’t know the content of his heart. But I want to state, for everyone here to know, that I bear no animosity towards Muslims (frequently stereotyped as a bunch of America-hating, misogynistic terrorists) as a whole. People can be of the Islamic faith and still share many of the values we all hold dear.

    My anger and arguments are directed solely against Muslims of the Islamist persuasion (that is, those who are trying to initiate or maintain Islamic theocracy in their country, and sometimes beyond their country). I bear equal animosity towards Dominionist Christians in the USA, and towards anyone else who uses (or wishes they could use) their religion (or any other dogmatically-held belief, such as nationalism) as a tool to obtain and sustain control over others.

    This animosity is not irrational; Hitchens so eloquently subtitled his most notorious book, “religion poisons everything”, but I believe this statement is a tad too broad. Religion only poisons everything when it is wielded by power-hungry dogmatists; these people are dangerous regardless of the color of their skin or the content of their holy book. Otherwise, religion is a bit like the element radium, discovered by Madame Curie at the turn of the 20th century. People were attracted to its unique properties…it is all glowy and interesting, and a lot of people believed it to have beneficial properties, drinking water containing radium and using it for everyday practical purposes (glow-in-the-dark clock hands, for example). The placebo effect ensured that people who used it medicinally did seem to feel better after having consumed something like radium-water; so many people ended up swearing by the miraculous alleviation of a whole variety of symptoms that radium-water seemed to provide. If handled with care, radium was safe to use, even to ingest in minute quantities. But a minority of people, unaware of the danger, adopted the “if a little is good, more is better” philosophy, and ended up harming themselves and those under their care. Yes, anyone who utilizes radium in any unshielded capacity is self-poisoning, just like religion has qualities that make it inherently harmful unless it is studied dispassionately and without serious literal-minded belief. Poisonous but not really dangerous.

    Islamists, Christian Dominionists and/or Reconstructionists (I can never tell the difference), Zionists, etc. are basically trying to get everyone to drink the radium Kool-Aid, every day, forever. Islamists force it on their wives and on religious minorities in Muslim theocracies. Christian fundamentalists force it on their families, in areas where they are the majority they sometimes get away with forcing it on other peoples’ kids, and despite all of the resistance we have put up, they still haven’t given up their attempts to make the whole world, or at least the whole USA, into a theocracy. And Zionists believe that God gave them the Holy Land, and it’s theirs, forever. Fortunately, this is the only place where they are trying to impose their beliefs on others. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who are drinking a different type of poisonous Kool-Aid in the Holy Land, and a small minority who abstain from poisonous Kool-Aid, altogether. And so cultures clash.

    Someone, upthread, doubted Harris, Hitchens, and Dawkins’ sincerity in claiming that they are trying to help people are being oppressed by Islam (and other religions), throughout the world. Honestly, I believe that they are sincere, or believe themselves to be, at any rate, on this issue. But again, I don’t know the content of their hearts. I know my heart though, and I believe that it is thoroughly unacceptable that there are people trying to subjugate their wives and daughters, mothers and aunts, because of their extreme religious views (to take the example of the Taliban). I am no pacifist. It is true that I would rather die than have someone save my life by engaging in behavior that contravenes my values (e.g. torture), but in the calculus of human suffering, using an unmanned drone to kill someone who would throw (or perhaps has already thrown) acid in the face of his daughter if she is sexually assaulted, someone who has demonstrated their commitment to violence and oppression in the name of Islam is absolutely justified, if there is no other way to protect the people he will harm. Similarly, I am fully in favor of overruling a Jehovah’s Witness parent who has decided that his daughter or son (a minor) cannot receive a life-saving blood transfusion because it contravenes their religion (I have mixed feelings whether an adult who decides to deny receipt of a life-saving treatment because their religion forbids it should be granted the right to die, but my moral compass in the case of a child is very clear on this matter). Violence is probably not necessary here to prevent the death and/or suffering of a child. And it may not be necessary in Afghanistan to protect a girl from an acid attack. But when all other options have failed, violence, in my opinion, is necessary in both cases.

    I repeat, I am not Islamophobic, and I agree with PZ that Sam Harris is probably not, either. The fact that Islamism is resurgent in many African and Middle-Eastern countries requires us to focus on finding solutions to the problem of Islamic extremism, and yes, I think Harris and especially Hitchens advocated violence as a solution far more readily than I would have. But I think they did so out of frustration, not out of hatred. It is hard to be helpless, to let suffering continue, when there are options available (such as military intervention) that may eventually reduce that suffering. Harris is maybe too willing to employ “the ends justify the means” as an argument but it is NOT an irrational argument, just an inhumane one. Above all, we need to focus on ways to give those who are oppressed by their religion a chance to speak out, to free themselves from its shackles. Sometimes, this means helping rebels fight a war (the Libyan solution). Sometimes it means international pressure and sanctions. Sometimes it means giving people the means to engage in effective civil disobedience. I think that there really is a majority of Muslims in some countries who just want to be able to survive, to be economically engaged and successful, to give their kids the best chance they can for success, people who are not happy with the status quo but who, naturally, have prioritized their family’s well-being over rebelling against their government. These people are innocent of wrongdoing, are Muslim only because of where they were born, and should be our first concern when trying to fight extremism. We need to help them make their lives better; in empowering them, we dis-empower Islamism.

    Finally, we should not ignore those who would, if they had their way, turn our countries into the Christian equivalent of Iran. But realistically, their power is limited by the freedoms granted to our citizens by founding documents such as the Constitution, and by the luxuries we enjoy that many in the developing world do not (education for everyone, good healthcare, just laws applied equally to everyone, at least most of the time). Singling out Islam may be a mistake, but it is a mistake made out of concern for those who do not have these luxuries, concern for the powerless. At least this is the case in my own moral analysis of the global situation. I speak only for myself; Harris can go to hell with some of the crap he spews, but he’s partly right and we should not forget that.

  133. says

    Promoters of the Iraq war asserted facts that could, if correct, potentially justify military intervention. The more skeptical among us called bullshit on those asserted facts. But there are many naïve and deferent people who innocently took the Bush Administration on its word. I’m not willing to dismiss those people as racist. They’re naïve and too trusting of authority is a flaw but it is not “racism.

    Being duped into endorsing racist positions because you are too lazy or brainwashed or whatever to find out the actual facts of a situation does not erase the fact that you have been endorsing racist positions.

    “So no, go stuff yourself”

    Aren’t we a charmer?

    First rule of Pharyngula: parse tone from content or be destroyed.

    I don’t share your postmodern, ever expansive understanding of what constitutes “racism” and don’t expect we’ll find much common ground.

    Ah well, shucks, we can’t even have a discussion about why your definition of racism is worse than useless, because it enables actual racists to avoid being criticized for their racist words and actions, such as going to war with a country and killing hundreds of thousands of (brown) people based on false pretenses?

  134. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Every time somebody says “I’m not Islamophobic”, it always comes up in my mind as “I’m not a bigot but….”, with the next words those that sound like a bigot speaking. So, if you don’t want to sound like a bigot, don’t deny your leanings so vehemently. It is a fine line, but too many people step over it and don’t say “oops”. Including you CD.

  135. kylecarruthers says

    “Ah well, shucks, we can’t even have a discussion about why your definition of racism is worse than useless, because it enables actual racists to avoid being criticized for their racist words and actions, such as going to war with a country and killing hundreds of thousands of (brown) people based on false pretenses?”

    Hey if you want to stretch the meaning of words to the point where they are so malleable that they’ve lost meaning that is your prerogative. I prefer to reserve accusations of racism for when they are actually warranted.

    It is enough to note that the Iraq war was fought because of greed, and a desire to protect an empire. These motives are sufficiently blameworthy that we don’t need to move the goalposts of what constitutes “racism” to invent another motive. As I said earlier, Dick Cheney would bomb Wisconsin if it refused him access to its shale gas and he thought he could get away with it.

    “Being duped into endorsing racist positions because you are too lazy or brainwashed or whatever to find out the actual facts of a situation does not erase the fact that you have been endorsing racist positions.”

    See above.

  136. says

    The reason I characterized yours as a smear was your “crickets” quip–the implication being why isn’t Sam Harris saying anything about this.

    Oh, I’m sorry. My implication of “crickets” was that Harris’ supporters probably wouldn’t offer any substantive commentary on the N Korea topic.

    I suppose someone trying ineptly to accuse me of “smear” is better than crickets. No. Wait, no it isn’t.

  137. says

    (PS – you’d have to think I’m pretty fucking stupid if you’re implying that I’d expect Harris to personally respond to my comment. And, to think that, you’d have to be pretty fucking stupid, yourself)

  138. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    Is it exceedingly funny that kylecarruthers is accusing anyone here (but specifically the people xi is accusing) of employing postmodern thought, or is it just me?

  139. says

    Promoters of the Iraq war asserted facts that could, if correct, potentially justify military intervention.

    And they were wrong, so it doesn’t really matter. In fact, they were wrong in ways that were known.

    But there are many naïve and deferent people who innocently took the Bush Administration on its word. I’m not willing to dismiss those people as racist.

    considering how many of them bought it because it reinforced extant racist notions of Iraqis, I am. But let’s pretend the USian public was better than they are for a moment, and really was innocently duped, and thought the best of Iraq – I couldn’t possibly care less. They supported bullshit that disadvantaged a lot of people because of what amounts tot heir race. That’s fucking racist, and I don’t care if it was supported out of naivete.

    I don’t share your postmodern, ever expansive understanding of what constitutes “racism” and don’t expect we’ll find much common ground.

    I know you are trying to turn this into intent, I just don’t care.

    1) reject the idea of legitimate self defense as a justification for war

    People aren’t generally called ‘warmongers’ for having war declared on them.

    2) think that a war can be both a legitimate war of self defense AND racist at the same time.

    Even a legitimate war of self defense can and probably will end up taking racist measures. Obvious example, WWII, USA vs. Japan. Citizens of Japanese descent were subject to incredibly racist measures. We took up war crimes against Japanese soldiers we probably would have thought twice about before doing to Germans or Italians. We unnecessarily murdered millions of Japanese civilians. All of this in a war of legitimate self defense. ‘Legitimate self defense’ is not a defense to any racist bullshittery done.

    The strange implications of latter suggests that maybe you might want to go back to the drawing board on your definition of racism.

    Nah, I’m good siding with the facts.

  140. kylecarruthers says

    Maybe you should be more clear Marcus. You never said “Harris’ supporters”. You said “Harris”

    “I assume HARRIS is currently advocating a first strike against N. Korea. Right?”

  141. atheist says

    Pro-tip: if you want to sound like you have an axe to grind, accusing people of postmodernism is a great way to do it!

  142. kylecarruthers says

    “I know you are trying to turn this into intent, I just don’t care.”

    Well I guess we don’t have much to talk about. I’d caution against debasing the term “racism” such that intent–whether conscious or unconscious–is no longer important. The boy who cried wolf is a valuable cautionary tale.

  143. says

    It is enough to note that the Iraq war was fought because of greed, and a desire to protect an empire. These motives are sufficiently blameworthy that we don’t need to move the goalposts of what constitutes “racism” to invent another motive.

    You assert that it is an invention to note that the widespread acceptance of the lies about Iraq was helped along by existing anti-Arab prejudices? That the fact that Arab men attacked the US on 9/11 and the fact that Iraq is peopled mostly by Arab and Arab-looking folks had nothing to do with the relatively easy acceptance of the obvious lie that Iraq had some connection to the 9/11 attacks?

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you are not one of those people who has to deal with racism directed at you, personally, very much.

    Let’s not forget your boneheaded implication that noting that there was racism mixed up in the warmongering against Iraq does not rob anybody of the ability to also disapprove of greed and imperialism.

    And shall we not talk about the racism inherent in imperialism?

    Or would that be rendering the word “racist” meaningless?

    What is racist? I suppose you can agree that guys in white sheets burning crosses is racist, but apart from that?

  144. says

    I’d caution against debasing the term “racism” such that intent

    I don’t care what a white man has to say on the matter. Your word is less than worthless – it being about intent allows jackassery that hurts nonwhite people to spread further. Even if you were as well-meaning as you say, it’s irrelevant. And considering you’re very clearly trying to say that things which INTENDED to be racist weren’t, I don’t really think you’re as well-meaning as you try to say.

  145. says

    I’d caution against debasing the term “racism” such that intent–whether conscious or unconscious–is no longer important.

    Premise 1: A very, very tiny minority of the population is actually consciously, deliberately racist and unashamed to announce their racist views. This has been true for two or three decades at least.

    Premise 2: Racism continues to thrive in the present day.

    Conclusion: it is actually crucial to accurately understanding the sociological phenomenon called “racism”, and to decreasing it, that we include acts of racism motivated by ignorance and apathy under the term “racism” along with acts of racism motivated by malice and active hatred.

  146. kylecarruthers says

    Nice assumption that I’m “white”. I’m actually of mixed caucasion and Asian origins but, given where I live, am more commonly mistaken for being Aboriginal. In any event your dismissal of opinions because they come from someone you assume to be white says more about you than I.

    I’d submit that YOUR meaning of racism is the one that is “less than worthless” because it is so malleable that it can be applied in almost every circumstance and thus loses its meaning. “Jackassery” that “hurts non-white people” comes in many forms and can be criticized without cheapening commonly understood words. The Iraq war for instance was fought because of greed and a desire to defend an empire. These motibvations are sufficiently contemptible in and of itself that we don’t need to redefine “racism” to condemn them.

  147. says

    To clarify, I used quotations because I don’t like the term “Islamophobia”

    it’s the “alleged” I was rolling my eyes about.

    one can be a war monger without being a racist (or a nationalist for that matter).

    I honestly can’t imagine how one could be a warmonger without being a nationalist. “us vs them” is pretty much a requirement to going off to murder people for something you want in an organized manner, and at the level of warfare the “us vs them” plays out at the national level.

    the act of making war is itself racist in these circumstances

    QFT

    I don’t share your postmodern, ever expansive understanding of what constitutes “racist”

    now that’s just one pathetic answer. there’s nothing “postmodern” or “ever expansive” about a basic consequentialist definition of racism: that which perpetuates or creates differential outcomes based on race.

    The implication of your claim that ANY war against “other ethnicities who are societally and internationally weaker than you” is “racist” is that you either 1) reject the idea of legitimate self defense as a justification for war

    incoherent; you don’t need to go wage wars on weaker foreigners for self-defense; that wasn’t true in the Cold War, and it’s not true in the War on Terror, either.

    2) think that a war can be both a legitimate war of self defense AND racist at the same time

    there’s no reason that it can’t be both.

    I accept that some people naively but in good faith understood it to be.

    generally irrelevant, since the outcome was racist regardless of people’s beliefs. As a sidenote though, think of why people would believe rank bullshit like that, but wouldn’t have bought the same excuse if Bush had randomly decided to attack a white-people country that also had fuck-all to do with 9/11 and/or WMDs.

    I see plenty of people repeating accomodationist tropes

    no you don’t actually; no one here is doing anything to accommodate religious bigots; but it’s entirely possible to be both against xenophobes and against religious bigots.

    I don’t believe Harris is Islamophobic (that is being irrationally “against” Muslims). I don’t know the content of his heart.

    don’t need to. his output is entirely sufficient to make the case.

    I bear equal animosity towards Dominionist Christians in the USA

    this cannot be true unless you put as much effort into trolling dominionists as you do into trolling Islamists; and given that you probably live in a country with more Christians than Muslims, you probably should focus MORE on preventing the laws assorted christians try to pass through various legislatures all over the world than into shit you can’t do shit about somewhere else in the world.

    Christian fundamentalists force it on their families, in areas where they are the majority they sometimes get away with forcing it on other peoples’ kids, and despite all of the resistance we have put up, they still haven’t given up their attempts to make the whole world, or at least the whole USA, into a theocracy.

    adult women and gender and sexual minorities don’t exist in your world, or what? Because I assure you, Christians fuck up the lives of more than just their families and kids. They pass laws that kill people. And sometimes, they just go and directly kill people, by shooting them.

    Fortunately, this is the only place where they are trying to impose their beliefs on others.

    Pure, unadulterated bullshit, and confirmation that indeed you are biased in a way that takes some highly dangerous beliefs more seriously than others.

    Honestly, I believe that they are sincere, or believe themselves to be, at any rate, on this issue.

    Given that they shit on women “back home” on a regular basis, I see no reason to believe they actually care about women, rather than about having another point to argue against religion. Of course, it’s entirely possible that they believe themselves to care, but ultimately it doesn’t matter; the effect is one of belittling women unless you can use them to argue against religion.

    But when all other options have failed, violence, in my opinion, is necessary in both cases.

    this assumes that violence will actually get the desired result. evidence for that claim, please.

    But I think they did so out of frustration, not out of hatred

    who promotes murder out of frustration?!

  148. says

    I’d caution against debasing the term “racism” such that intent–whether conscious or unconscious–is no longer important. The boy who cried wolf is a valuable cautionary tale.

    it’s an entirely inapplicable tale. Racist consequences are racist regardless of intent. Arguing over intent is really just a way of avoiding dealing with consequences, since intent can never be known until we develop mind-reading tech.

  149. says

    I’d submit that YOUR meaning of racism is the one that is “less than worthless” because it is so malleable that it can be applied in almost every circumstance and thus loses its meaning.

    you’d be wrong, in ways so very obvious that I suspect willful ignorance. Because rather self-evidently, something isn’t racist if it doesn’t produce or promote differential effects based on race. D’uh.

  150. kylecarruthers says

    Sally – If you want to redefine terms to accomplish a political objective (one I support I would note) that is your prerogative but I think that is misguided and won’t actually accomplish what you intend to. Racism has strong connotations and when employed properly is a valuable tool against both conscious and subconscious acts of prejudice. People commonly associate racism with intention not effects. If you call X racist and on further review Y determines that X was motivated by something other than prejudice you will lose credibility in his/her eyes and they will stop listening.

    I see now why so many here feel that Sam Harris is a “racist”. If “racism” means anything that disproportionally effects another racial group regardless of motive clearly he is a racist.

  151. says

    I’d submit that YOUR meaning of racism is the one that is “less than worthless” because it is so malleable that it can be applied in almost every circumstance and thus loses its meaning.

    Racism is a phenomenon of relationships between people and societies. As such, it is studied by experts on this thing called “sociology,” and we call these experts on societies and human interactions within societies “sociologists.” Because racism is a sociological phenomenon, I use the definition offered by sociologists, and repeated by Jadehawk above: that which perpetuates or creates differential outcomes based on race.

    Since there exist many, many actions you can take, positions you can endorse, words you can speak, which do not create or perpetuate differential outcomes based on race, it is simply false to state that this definition of racism can be applied in almost every circumstance, and it is not overly malleable to the point of meaninglessness. In other words, your criticism is invalid.

    Thank you! Come again!

  152. says

    If you want to redefine terms

    oh, stop saying that. no one is “redefining” anything; the consequentialist definition of racism isn’t new. Besides, given the racist brew all of us grow up in, it’s extremely likely that all of us harbor racist biases and prejudices, so intent as the defining characteristic of racism becomes meaningless, since then we all become racists.

    People commonly associate racism with intention not effects.

    people also think atheist and pagan means the same thing, think inflammable means fireproof, and don’t know that a scientific theory is not just a wild guess.

    You want to discuss precise, nuanced issues, you have to stay away from the fuzzy, ever-changing and shallow way in which words are defined by the general public.

  153. mythbri says

    @kylecarruthers

    Sam Harris advocated racist ideas.

    He has stated, plain and simple, that he thinks Muslims should be profiled. He also states, plain and simple, that the only thing that unites Muslims is adherence to a particular set of beliefs.

    How do you profile for a set of beliefs?

    Or do you only profile people who look Muslim?

    To me, this is no different than Arizona’s ridiculous “papers, please” law that would allow officers to arrest people for not having proof of citizenship on them at all times.

    Is this going to be universally applied? Or only to the people who look Mexican?

  154. says

    If “racism” means anything that disproportionally effects another racial group regardless of motive clearly he is a racist.

    Nobody here is claiming special knowledge of Harris’ mental state, and since I suspect you are not telepathic, I am not going to give your speculation about Harris’ mental state (“He IS a racist”) any credence.

    What is accurate and true and demonstrated by the available evidence is that Harris has made racist statements and endorsed racist policies.

  155. roro80 says

    #177

    If “racism” means anything that disproportionally effects another racial group regardless of motive clearly he is a racist.

    Glad you understand now.

    Of course, since your comment was sarcastic instead of earnest (which it should be), maybe this will help you understand: Harris has been told many many times that the views and policies he supports would have real-world consequences that fundamentally hurt people of a specific race. He has been told this, and instead of reassessing his point of view, putting in the work to see where he went wrong, he has dug in, reaffirming his positions, explaining many times over in published and internet writings, why he is right. He cares so much about his rightness, and so little that his viewpoints are fundamentally harmful to so many people — people of a specific race/ethnicity. Someone who cares about a stupid thing like being right more than he cares about causing harm to a specific racial group is racist. No scare quotes needed.

  156. kylecarruthers says

    “you don’t need to go wage wars on weaker foreigners for self-defense; that wasn’t true in the Cold War, and it’s not true in the War on Terror, either.”

    In the era of weapons of mass destruction this is not necessarily true. One can be economically and militarily more powerful than ones opponent. But if they possess nuclear, biological or chemical weapons they can pose a threat to your security. To be clear this is a hypothetical since apparently one needs to be very clear with the commentariat here lest the hypothetical be seen as an endorsement of US foreign policy.

    “Arguing over intent is really just a way of avoiding dealing with consequences, since intent can never be known until we develop mind-reading tech.”

    Intent can be inferred as it has been in our criminal justice system and elsewhere for many many years.

    “Because rather self-evidently, something isn’t racist if it doesn’t produce or promote differential effects based on race.”

    And when, pray tell, are state-state relations on the international stage EVER not going to “produce or promote differential effects based on race”. By your definition it would essentially be impossible for State A to take a position against State B that is detrimental to State B because it would “produce or promote differential effects based on race”.

    “I honestly can’t imagine how one could be a warmonger without being a nationalist. “us vs them” is pretty much a requirement to going off to murder people for something you want in an organized manner”

    Not when we’re talking about Dick Cheney, et. al. These guys are so greedy they would throw their own mothers under the bus for another 5 points on their quarterly dividends. I’m sure if Canada–a country racially similar to the United States–threatened to cut off its oil Dick Cheney could rationalize bombing it.

  157. says

    In any event your dismissal of opinions because they come from someone you assume to be white says more about you than I.
    Because white people are the true victims of racism.

    I’d submit that YOUR meaning of racism is the one that is “less than worthless” because it is so malleable that it can be applied in almost every circumstance and thus loses its meaning.

    Only if you pretend consequences are things we make up, rather than observe.

    “Jackassery” that “hurts non-white people” comes in many forms and can be criticized without cheapening commonly understood words

    ‘cheapening’ words by making them actually useful, instead of turning them into wank about “I’M A GOOD PERSON AND THEREFORE NOT A RACIST! I HAVE A BLACK FRIEND”. Sure thing.

    —-

    oh, stop saying that. no one is “redefining” anything; the consequentialist definition of racism isn’t new. Besides, given the racist brew all of us grow up in, it’s extremely likely that all of us harbor racist biases and prejudices, so intent as the defining characteristic of racism becomes meaningless, since then we all become racists.

    We’re all racists either way – I differ from Crommunist in that I consider ‘more’ and ‘less’ racist useful descriptors.

    —–

    Racism is a phenomenon of relationships between people and societies. As such, it is studied by experts on this thing called “sociology,” and we call these experts on societies and human interactions within societies “sociologists.” Because racism is a sociological phenomenon, I use the definition offered by sociologists, and repeated by Jadehawk above: that which perpetuates or creates differential outcomes based on race.

    Sociologists, and also many people affected by it. I’d be more than a little wary otherwise.

  158. says

    Intent can be inferred as it has been in our criminal justice system and elsewhere for many many years.

    Lack of intent does not erase consequences. The law may distinguish between manslaughter and murder in the first degree, but the victim is still dead whether their killer intended to kill them or not.

  159. simonnorwich says

    PZ, I feel very tempted to accuse you of being as “unethical” as Greenwald, because you’ve also totally misrepresented Harris’s moral position.

    In your criticism of Harris, why (like Greenwald) have you brought up the issue of the Iraq war and the series of tragic problems associated with that war? Harris has stated he was AGAINST the Iraq war! You are trying to make him guilty by false association. That is unethical. For all the sense behind doing that, you might just as well have brought up the tragedy of the Holocaust and tried to associate Harris’s moral position with that. OH, I SEE YOU’VE EVEN DONE THAT TOO!

    Your arguments against Harris’s views and his alleged inability to look at the human element is blinkered by that fact that you only address the Islamic problem from the East v West perspective. You ignore the most important – and human – aspect of the criticism Harris and others direct against Islam, which is that Muslims are the biggest victims of Islamism. Harris has made this point over and over again, expressing deep concern for the welfare of women and girls in particular in the Islamic world.

  160. chigau (ouch ouch ouch) says

    kylecarruthers
    If you type <blockquote>quoted words</blockquote>
    this will result

    quoted words

    It will make your comments easier to read.

  161. Rob Grigjanis says

    mudpuddles @125:

    He wasn’t making any form of policy proposal

    He’s using a lot of weasel words around a definite policy; if an Islamist regime acquires long-range nuclear weaponry, nuclear first strike “may” be our only option. Whichever words you choose to highlight, these scream out loud; …the only thing likely to ensure our survivalthe only course of action available to us. “may be” and “unthinkable” my ass. The message is clear.

  162. roro80 says

    In other words, you can’t claim lack of intent if you know that the consequences of your ideas are fundamentally harmful and yet you continue to advocate for those ideas.

  163. kylecarruthers says

    Sally- I am well aware that some (some, not all) sociologists have moved the goalposts to endorse the definition preferred by many here. My point is that it is a redefinition of how the term is commonly understood and cheapens the political value of the term. There is a profound and important difference between acting on the basis of irrational prejudice against a group of people and endorsing policies that “promote or produce differential effects based on race” and I think that difference should be maintained.

  164. says

    Intent can be inferred as it has been in our criminal justice system and elsewhere for many many years.

    In a criminal trial with excellent fact-finding, it certainly can be, but in general, there’s insufficient evidence.

  165. says

    Sally- I am well aware that some (some, not all) sociologists have moved the goalposts
    Like I said, it was pretty clear you were trying to bullshit us from the start.

  166. says

    There is a profound and important difference between acting on the basis of irrational prejudice against a group of people and endorsing policies that “promote or produce differential effects based on race” and I think that difference should be maintained.

    One oft hem is defended by fucks like you, and the other is used to try to bludgeon the rest of us into showing what ‘real’ racism is. I know the difference.

  167. kylecarruthers says

    “Lack of intent does not erase consequences. The law may distinguish between manslaughter and murder in the first degree, but the victim is still dead whether their killer intended to kill them or not.”

    Yes they are still dead but there is a difference in culpability and that is why the distinction is maintained in law. I’d suggest the same should apply with respect to the term “racism”. We wouldn’t call someone guilty of manslaughter a murderer nor should we call someone who may promote policies that produce a “differential effect” a “racist”.

  168. roro80 says

    kyle #191

    There is a profound and important difference between acting on the basis of irrational prejudice against a group of people and endorsing policies that “promote or produce differential effects based on race” and I think that difference should be maintained.

    Why? Why do you think that should be maintained, when its primary purpose is to set up an impossible standard for what is racist? If you don’t know someone’s innermost soul (which you don’t, except for your own), then how is one to set up a rational test for what is and is not racist?

  169. kylecarruthers says

    Rutee – Might be time to change your meds. I’m having difficulty finding a comprehendible argument in any your last three posts. Just a lot of name calling from someone throwing a temper tantrum because someone else disagrees with a particular worldview.

  170. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My point is that it is a redefinition of how the term is commonly understood and cheapens the political value of the term.

    Who gives a shit about your inane and unevidenced OPINION. Your unevidenced opinion is *floosh* treated like the sewage it is.

  171. kylecarruthers says

    Roro- Please see my comment re: murder/manslaughter as to “why” we should maintain the distinction. And I disagree that it is “impossible” to prove intent. Prosecutors do it all the time.

  172. says

    Yes they are still dead but there is a difference in culpability

    Is this a court of law y/n?

    I’m having difficulty finding a comprehendible argument in any your last three posts.

    Sounds like you’re the one with the problem here, not me.

    Just a lot of name calling from someone throwing a temper tantrum because someone else disagrees with a particular worldview.

    It is not ‘just disagreement with a particular worldview’ when you actively try to cover for racist jackassery.

  173. kylecarruthers says

    Nerd – Calm down. This is a debate about semantics and political strategy. One can’t prove through evidence that a word means a certain thing because words don’t have objective meanings. What matters is how words are understood by people and how ideas are best communicated to people.

  174. kylecarruthers says

    “Is this a court of law y/n?”

    What does that have to do with anything? The point is that intent can be proven by both overt statements and by inference.

    “It is not ‘just disagreement with a particular worldview’ when you actively try to cover for racist jackassery.”

    Begging the question.

  175. says

    In the era of weapons of mass destruction this is not necessarily true. One can be economically and militarily more powerful than ones opponent. But if they possess nuclear, biological or chemical weapons they can pose a threat to your security.

    yeah, no, if you’re going to go warmongering because someone “poses a threat to your security”, that’s not self defense (please try to remember we’re talking about warmongering)

    To be clear this is a hypothetical since apparently one needs to be very clear with the commentariat here lest the hypothetical be seen as an endorsement of US foreign policy.

    you’re right. endorsing a hypothetical preventive war because of a potential threat is not the same as endorsing an actual preventive war because of a potential threat; there’s always the option of bullshitting, after all.

    Intent can be inferred as it has been in our criminal justice system and elsewhere for many many years.

    and incredibly badly one might add, especially given the resources and powers given to the criminal justice system. How then is it supposed to be possible to accurately determine intent with less than that, with people you can’t directly talk to, and who claim otherwise? You can’t, of course. You just get bogged down in useless “he said she said” bull.

    And when, pray tell, are state-state relations on the international stage EVER not going to “produce or promote differential effects based on race”. By your definition it would essentially be impossible for State A to take a position against State B that is detrimental to State B because it would “produce or promote differential effects based on race”.

    This doesn’t make any fucking sense unless you think race=nationality. And aside from that, why shouldn’t white-people-state taking a stance that will harm brown-people-state be considered racist, if they’re not also taking that same stand against other white-people-states that are doing the same things?

    I’m sure if Canada–a country racially similar to the United States–threatened to cut off its oil Dick Cheney could rationalize bombing it.

    you do know that Canada and the U.S. are different countries, yes? Your hypothetical doesn’t challenge my claim that you can’t be a warmonger without being a nationalist. The Wisconsin claim made more sense here, but let’s face it: Cheney wouldn’t actually bomb it; he’s got a well-paid government to solve internal problems for him. And again, you have to promote the idea of your right to use your state machinery for organized murder of foreigners in order to warmonger, for whatever personal intent one is waging it. Hence, not possible to not be nationalist when being a warmonger; it comes with the territory.

  176. roro80 says

    kyle #199

    Please see my comment re: murder/manslaughter as to “why” we should maintain the distinction.

    Please note that if you realize your actions are going to kill someone and yet you continue to do those actions, that’s not just murder, that’s Murder 1. Harris knows what he says and the policies he advocates are harmful to a specific race of people. He knows; this is not a mystery. Yet he continues to advocate for them.

  177. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    This is a debate about semantics and political strategy.

    No, this is an asshole (you) being an asshole. Either back up your arguments with evidence, or *floosh* you OPINION is sewage. Mature up.

  178. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What matters is how words are understood by people and how ideas are best communicated to people.

    And your OPINION, without evidence, doesn’t matter. End of story.

  179. says

    should we call someone who may promote policies that produce a “differential effect” a “racist”.

    other than an appeal to popularity, you’ve not actually made an argument for that. And I also note that “racism” is not a crime; it’s not equivalent to “murderer”, it’s equivalent to “killer”. The person guilty of manslaughter and the person guilty of 1st degree murder are both killers, because they both caused death.

    Rutee – Might be time to change your meds.

    resorting to ableist slurs now, are you. Scum.

    The point is that intent can be proven by both overt statements and by inference.

    actually no, intent cannot be proven. That’s a convenient fiction. Intent can sometimes be deduced within a certain margin of error, but it cannot be proven except as a legal fiction consisting mostly of “close enough for government work” circumstantial evidence; which I should note has also a tendency to vary depending on race, class, sex, etc. of the defendant.

  180. kylecarruthers says

    “yeah, no, if you’re going to go warmongering because someone “poses a threat to your security”, that’s not self defense (please try to remember we’re talking about warmongering)”

    I would argue that genuine pre-emptive and preventative war is actually a form of self defence (when there is a REAL threat, not a fabricated one as there was in the case of Iraq). But you avoided my actual point–which is that with the invention of weapons of mass destruction the weak CAN pose a threat to the powerful.

    “endorsing a hypothetical preventive war because of a potential threat is not the same as endorsing an actual preventive war because of a potential threat; there’s always the option of bullshitting, after all.”

    I don’t know what is so difficult about the concept of a hypothetical. A logical argument could be made for a preventative war if there was a genuine threat to ones security. If there is no genuine threat because the threat was imagined or fabricated such a “preventative war” would not be justified.

    “You just get bogged down in useless “he said she said” bull.”

    Its either that or get bogged down in debates over the meaning of terms like “racism”.

    “How then is it supposed to be possible to accurately determine intent with less than that, with people you can’t directly talk to, and who claim otherwise?”

    “you do know that Canada and the U.S. are different countries, yes? ”

    Obviously. I am Canadian. My point was I don’t think the race of Iraqis played much of a role in Dick Cheney calculus of greed because I have no doubt that he would do the same thing to people of the same race.

    “The Wisconsin claim made more sense here, but let’s face it: Cheney wouldn’t actually bomb it; he’s got a well-paid government to solve internal problems for him.”

    Again. My point was that greed provides a sufficient explanation of the motives of the likes of Dick Cheney without supposing any racist intent. But then again if you think racism is anything that causes differential effects by races the point is moot.

  181. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Good for you. Way to ‘shut me down’

    Gee, you still aren’t evidencing your definitnions and claims. *floosh* Per Hitchens, DISMISSED.

  182. chigau (ouch ouch ouch) says

    This is beginning to read like a script.
    Is kylecarruthers a sockpuppet?

  183. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Is kylecarruthers a sockpuppet?

    I don’t think xe is honest, if that is what you mean.

  184. kylecarruthers says

    “other than an appeal to popularity, you’ve not actually made an argument for that”

    When it comes to semantics, popularity matters, particularly in the context of the English language that has no authority as to meanings. I’ve said your definition of racism won’t accomplish the political goals that Sally set out. If you want to use it anyway that is your loss but I think you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

    “resorting to ableist slurs now, are you. Scum.”

    S/he seems awfully unhinged and unstable…. Seems to be a common trait around here (**cough cough Nerd)

    “actually no, intent cannot be proven. That’s a convenient fiction”

    There are different standards of proof. No one is asking for proof beyond a reasonable doubt based on deductive logic and conclusive evidence. A reasonable standard can be established.

  185. says

    I would argue that genuine pre-emptive and preventative war is actually a form of self defence

    Do you have an opinion on whether momeraths outgrabe?

    Its either that or get bogged down in debates over the meaning of terms like “racism”.

    There isn’t a debate – there’s dissembling fucks trying to cover for other fucks, like you, and those of us who care about facts.

    Obviously. I am Canadian. My point was I don’t think the race of Iraqis played much of a role in Dick Cheney calculus of greed

    Lie: Cheney knew damn well he could fob it off better on the Iraqi people for their race.

    What does that have to do with anything?

    Because notions of ‘culpability’ matter more when assigning punishments.

    Begging the question.

    I’ll take bullshit questions racist fucks invent for 500, Alex.

  186. consciousness razor says

    Rutee – Might be time to change your meds.

    Go fuck yourself, asshole.

    Pro-tip: Shaming bullshit about taking “meds” doesn’t make you any more credible or appear less like a bigot apologist.

    Roro- Please see my comment re: murder/manslaughter as to “why” we should maintain the distinction.

    It explains nothing about why we should do anything. You apparently think it’s an acceptable analogy, so I guess let’s work with that, but let’s start by noting it’s not even a complete analogy. A racist is to a convicted murderer as someone convicted of manslaughter is to what? Is there a term you have in mind, other than “unintentional racist”? Is there some reason why it’s not actually racist when you put “unintentional” in front of it?

  187. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Kyle, try here for evidence that will convince us. Your unsupported word convinces nobody. You should know that, as your unsupported word is *floosh* dismissed as fuckwittery.

  188. kylecarruthers says

    “Please note that if you realize your actions are going to kill someone and yet you continue to do those actions, that’s not just murder, that’s Murder 1. Harris knows what he says and the policies he advocates are harmful to a specific race of people. He knows; this is not a mystery. Yet he continues to advocate for them.”

    Roro this is actually the best argument I’ve heard all day. I’m still not persuaded though. Murder/Manslaughter and Racism/’policies that produce differential effects’ are similar distinctions but different. Can I ask if you think the Iraq war would be any LESS reprehensible if–all other things being equal–it was waged against a predominant white Christian country? I don’t see it.

  189. chigau (ouch ouch ouch) says

    Nerd, no.
    I mean someone we already know.
    I can’t quite put my finger on who, though.

  190. roro80 says

    kylecarruthers, this is the point at which you admit you’re not an expert on the subject of race or racism, and go do some learning from people who are. If you’d like some resources and ask in good faith, I’m sure that there are many here willing to give you a few links to start out. It’s very clear that you just aren’t well-versed on the subject, and have taken up the pop version of the subject. That’s not a crime, but please remember that the pop version of racism — where you have to be wearing a swastica or think slavery is super-cool to be a racist — is a big reason we’re so in the shitter as far as race in this country. Choose not to be part of that. Choose to listen and learn instead of just sounding silly and ignorant.

  191. consciousness razor says

    Can I ask if you think the Iraq war would be any LESS reprehensible if–all other things being equal–it was waged against a predominant white Christian country?

    I don’t know, can you? What the hell would “the Iraq war” be like if it were in a predominantly white Christian country? Exactly the same? You think all the same shit would had to have happened?

  192. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nerd, no.
    I mean someone we already know.
    I can’t quite put my finger on who, though.

    I know that feeling. Who in the past has complained about us crying “bigot” too quickly? Noelplum/Jim comes to mind, but not his style.

  193. yazikus says

    Can I ask if you think the Iraq war would be any LESS reprehensible if–all other things being equal–it was waged against a predominant white Christian country? I don’t see it.

    That is kind of a bullshit question. The point isn’t that it would be less reprehensible, it that it would never happen. Not in the current climate.

  194. roro80 says

    Can I ask if you think the Iraq war would be any LESS reprehensible if–all other things being equal–it was waged against a predominant white Christian country? I don’t see it.

    I think there is no way in a hell I don’t even believe in that we would be in Iraq if it were a predominant white Christian country. For about 20 reasons I can think of just off the top of my head. If we all lived on the moon, we wouldn’t be able to breath, but that’s neither here nor there? The Iraq War didn’t pop up in a vacuum either.

  195. chigau (ouch ouch ouch) says

    The accusation of needing meds is familiar…
    maybe it’s true that there is nothing new under the sun.
    or rocks

  196. says

    I would argue that genuine pre-emptive and preventative war is actually a form of self defence

    but that’s totes not racist or nationalist, to value one’s own kind so much more that even a mere possibility of attack is enough to go and slaughter them furriners. And of course this belief is also not at all a support for U.S. foreign policy. [/sarc]

    But you avoided my actual point–which is that with the invention of weapons of mass destruction the weak CAN pose a threat to the powerful.

    you’re imagining things if you think I said they can’t be a threat. I said you can’t be defending yourself if you’re the aggressor.

    My point was that greed provides a sufficient explanation of the motives of the likes of Dick Cheney without supposing any racist intent

    you’re confused. nationalism is not the same thing as racism. please keep your lines of conversations straight. For reference, this is my original claim you’re responding to here: “I honestly can’t imagine how one could be a warmonger without being a nationalist”

    Its either that or get bogged down in debates over the meaning of terms like “racism”.

    defining terms is useful; waffling pointlessly about the unknowable, not so much. And are you ever actually going to present an argument for why your definition is better, or are you just going to stick with the argumentum ad populum?

    I’ve said your definition of racism won’t accomplish the political goals that Sally set out.

    what “political goals”? Sally was talking about sociology, a field of research.
    Anyway, you’re wrong. The consequentialist definition of racism is already accomplishing its goal, namely getting activism targeted not at fuzzy intent and what people may or may not believe in their heart-of-hearts, but at consequences of people’s actions.

    S/he seems awfully unhinged and unstable….

    so that’s a yes. Instead of defending your argument, you’re just going to be throw slurs at people. Your ableism is despicable.

    No one is asking for proof beyond a reasonable doubt based on deductive logic and conclusive evidence. A reasonable standard can be established.

    not in the real world, where like I said, all accusations of racist intent as a target for activism can be blocked off with a “I would never! stop playing the racism card!” and accusations of libel/slander.
    Accusations of racist consequences on the other hand need to be refuted with evidence.

  197. kylecarruthers says

    Wow lots of unhinged people. And here I thought it was us ‘intolerant new atheists’ who were the meanies. Good thing I have thick skin.

    “Because notions of ‘culpability’ matter more when assigning punishments.”

    Calling someone a racist is a form of punishment. No one wants to be called a racist.

    “Lie: Cheney knew damn well he could fob it off better on the Iraqi people for their race.”

    Nooooo… he went after the Iraqi people because unlike us complacent Canadians they won’t just hand the oil over.

    “and those of us who care about facts.”

    It amuses me that you think you “care about facts”

    “Go fuck yourself, asshole.

    Pro-tip: Shaming bullshit about taking “meds” doesn’t make you any more credible or appear less like a bigot apologist.”

    Again. Rutee seem incredibly unhinged and while we’re at it I’d put yourself and Nerd in the same category. Even the conservative pages I go to to spark a debate don’t go ape shit nearly as easily as some of you here. You do have better grammar though. I’ll give you that.

    I frankly don’t care what any of you think of me and knew perfectly well the gnats nest I’d stir up here by expressing my views here. Debating the goal post movers of the postmodern left makes my head heart because it is so slippery and malleable.

    But I take comfort in knowing that my views are closer to those of the majority and most of you are fringe element that is largely ignored by the mainstream. Hows that for trash talk? Better?

    “Is there a term you have in mind, other than “unintentional racist”? Is there some reason why it’s not actually racist when you put “unintentional” in front of it?”

    I don’t know that it needs a word but I’ll leave that to you. Again you are free to use ‘racist’ all you want but you’re not going to get anywhere in advancing your political views by attempting to redefine “racism”.

  198. says

    Can I ask if you think the Iraq war would be any LESS reprehensible if–all other things being equal–it was waged against a predominant white Christian country? I don’t see it.

    the answer is actually ‘yes’, but not for the reason you’re fishing for here; the reason why it would be less reprehensible would be because it would have happened differently, if at all. Despite what Cheneys intent may or may not be, there will never be an oil war between Norway and the US, even if Norway shut down their oil-rigs tomorrow and Cheney decided he’d like to have a slice of that.

  199. roro80 says

    Rutee seem incredibly unhinged and while we’re at it I’d put yourself and Nerd in the same category.

    When you are active in defending harm to others, some people get *rationally* angry. Trying to debase someone due to rational, justified anger at real harm as someone with mental disabilities is deeply fucked up — not only to the person you’re directly insulting, but to people with mental disabilities who nonetheless are quite capable of seeing that you’re wrong and acting like an asshole about it.

  200. consciousness razor says

    kylecarruthers

    So what I’m getting from all of that is that you’ve got nothing.

    Try this one out for size. Unintentional drunk drivers: are they drunk drivers or not?

    DEEP questions.

  201. kylecarruthers says

    Its been fun getting under all of your skin but I’m afraid I’ve got work to do. Keep screaming “racist” at people who don’t deserve if you want. I don’t really care. No skin off my back. Your brand of leftism is so outside the mainstream that I can sleep comfortably knowing none of you will ever actually wield real power in the world!

  202. yazikus says

    Again. Rutee seem incredibly unhinged and while we’re at it I’d put yourself and Nerd in the same category. Even the conservative pages I go to to spark a debate don’t go ape shit nearly as easily as some of you here.

    I came in late in the thread and read the comments to catch up, and am just not seeing what you are describing here. I see people expressing their views passionately. Which is a good thing. I see some frustration when you can’t seem to get the point. I don’t see anything “unhinged” at all. And again, the ableist slurs, not doing you any favors.

  203. consciousness razor says

    But I take comfort in knowing that my views are closer to those of the majority and most of you are fringe element that is largely ignored by the mainstream. Hows that for trash talk? Better?

    It would be better if instead of “take comfort” you said something like “resistance is futile.” Your arguments are shit, and I’m fairly sure you know it, so I’m satisfied.

  204. says

    Keep screaming “racist” at people who don’t deserve if you want.

    Keep attributing mental illness to your interlocutors in lieu of addressing their arguments. That worked super well for you here, after all. I’m sure the social stigma against people with mental illness is also “no skin off your back,” you selfish asshole.

  205. chigau (ouch ouch ouch) says

    Nerd and Rutee can both handle

    blockquoting

    even without hinges.

  206. says

    Again. Rutee seem incredibly unhinged and while we’re at it I’d put yourself and Nerd in the same category. Even the conservative pages I go to to spark a debate don’t go ape shit nearly as easily as some of you here. You do have better grammar though. I’ll give you that.

    I fail to see how this is even supposed to excuse/explain your ableism.

    goal post movers of the postmodern left

    “postmodernism” is the centrists’ “communist nazi muslim”

    But I take comfort in knowing that my views are closer to those of the majority

    I expect your conversion to Catholicism any moment now. I mean, seriously, what the fuck is it with the arguments from popularity? something being believed by a lot of people doesn’t make it actually so. Reality doesn’t work that way.

    Hows that for trash talk?

    ineffective, given that you’re just replacing slurs with fallacies.

    you’re not going to get anywhere in advancing your political views by attempting to redefine “racism”.

    how ignorant you are.

  207. roro80 says

    Calling someone a racist is a form of punishment. No one wants to be called a racist.

    Being a racist is a punishment against those who you harm with your racism. It’s a much, much bigger punishment, and the only thing the person did to deserve that punishment is being born. Being the victim of racism is way, way worse than being called a racist. Not even in the same ballpark. They are so far from each other in the level of severity of punishment, and the difference in level of “crime” committed for said punishment, that anyone uttering the statement you made should be ashamed. If you are accused of racism, your job is to think about what you said or did that caused harm, and then try to do better in the future. That is the long and the short of the “punishment” — go to your room and think about what you did. Now what is the punishment for being a person of color?

  208. says

    I don’t know that it needs a word but I’ll leave that to you. Again you are free to use ‘racist’ all you want but you’re not going to get anywhere in advancing your political views by attempting to redefine “racism”.

    It’s accomodationism, but with racists!

  209. says

    Its been fun getting under all of your skin but I’m afraid I’ve got work to do. Keep screaming “racist” at people who don’t deserve if you want. I don’t really care. No skin off my back. Your brand of leftism is so outside the mainstream that I can sleep comfortably knowing none of you will ever actually wield real power in the world!

    and this is the bankrupcy of centrism exposed: caring more about popularity and one’s own sense of superiority than about knowing what’s actually going on and trying to fix it.

  210. roro80 says

    But I take comfort in knowing that my views are closer to those of the majority and most of you are fringe element that is largely ignored by the mainstream.

    This is pretty hilarious to see, in all places, on an atheist site in a Christian country. Said with not a hint of irony! Oh my. Quite a flounce, kyle, quite a flounce.

  211. consciousness razor says

    This is pretty hilarious to see, in all places, on an atheist site in a Christian country. Said with not a hint of irony!

    Praise Jebus!

  212. pacal says

    Harris said in his piece:

    Many peoples have been conquered by foreign powers or otherwise mistreated and show no propensity for the type of violence that is commonplace among Muslims.

    Really so Muslims have a propensity for terrorism. Harris needs to read some remedial history fast. I suspect reading up on the history of terrorism and state terrorism. Oh and does he think that drone strikes are terrorism?

    dereksmear 141 found this wonderful quote from Harris:

    Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe. The demographic trends are ominous: Given current birthrates, France could be a majority Muslim country in 25 years, and that is if immigration were to stop tomorrow. Throughout Western Europe, Muslim immigrants show little inclination to acquire the secular and civil values of their host countries, and yet exploit these values to the utmost—demanding tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques.” (Sam Harris)

    This is pure hysteria. What has Harris been smoking? I definitely don’t want some.

  213. Rob Grigjanis says

    A farewell to kyle, from the music I’m listening to right now (Thick as a Brick);

    Let me help you pick up your dead as the sins of the father are fed
    with the blood of the fools and
    the thoughts of the wise and
    from the pan under your bed.
    Let me make you a present of song as
    the wise man breaks wind and is gone while
    the fool with the hour-glass is cooking his goose and
    the nursery rhyme winds along.

  214. says

    amusingly enough, the intent-based definition of racism is more congruent with the “popular” understanding of postmodernism, since it’s much more fuzzy and open to interpretations. Differential consequences on the other hand are empirical; either something has disproportional impact on people depending on their race, or it doesn’t. You can argue about completeness and accuracy of data, but there’s so much less wiggle-room left up to interpretation.

    :-p

  215. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    *killfiles kyle, then rereads thread for intelligence, honesty, and integrity* Refreshing….

  216. says

    that which perpetuates or creates differential outcomes based on race.

    I hadn’t heard that before. I did always think it was something to do with how one views people of a different ethnicity, I like this sociological definition because it’s not about intent, but actions – so much cleaner, and less emotionally weighted.
    I think the gap between the different understandings of what racism is, probably contributes to the arguments. Like with sexism, I guess. Maybe we need some giant poster campaigns?
    /musings
    @ John Morales
    That link is sickening. Couldn’t finish reading it.

  217. chigau (ouch ouch ouch) says

    *[hushes] everyone except kyle*
    *including self*
    …. weird ….

  218. says

    Shit! Did Kyle leave without playing the this was research for a class project card?!?!?
     
    Stop! Come back, Kyle!
     
    My bingo card is almost filled in!

  219. says

    Maybe we need some giant poster campaigns?

    Hey, why not. We couldn’t do worse than American Atheists, and their messaging has been at least somewhat effective.

    In Philly, Hollaback launched a poster ad campaign with six posters. They say things like:

    “IF YOUR BOSS SAYS
    HEY SEXY
    LOOKIN’ GOOD TODAY
    TO YOU AT WORK, THAT’S A PROBLEM.
    WHAT IS A STRANGER SAYS IT TO YOU ON THE STREET?”

    ______________

    “NICE A** IS NOT A COMPLIMENT.
    UNWANTED COMMENTS ARE STREET HARASSMENT.
    DON’T JUST WALK ON, HOLLABACK.”

    ______________

    “IF YOU SEE IT HAPPEN, HAVE HER BACK.
    UNWANTED COMMENTS ARE STREET HARASSMENT.
    DON’T JUST WALK ON, HOLLABACK.”

    ___________________________

    IN A PERFECT WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOUR SISTER/DAUGHTER/GIRLFRIEND HEAR AS SHE WALKS TO THE SUBWAY?

    HEY SEXY ……………………………………………

    CAN I HAVE A SMILE?……………………………

    WHAT, YOU GAY? ………………………………..

    GOOD MORNING…………………………………X

    TOO BAD WE DON’T LIVE IN A PERFECT WORLD.”

    The Edmeston, CA “Don’t be that guy” campaign appeared to have positive results, a measurable drop in the rate of rape during the year following the campaign.

    A “This is racism” campaign. You drop a brick on my toe and it may hurt less than if you throw it at my toe, but there’s still a brick on my toe.

    ***

    If you click through to the link to the Philly Hollaback ad campaign, there’s a survey after you look at the photos. It would be cool for them to get more feedback, I think.

  220. James Conohan says

    Harris isn’t worth defending since he’s argued that Jews brought the holocaust upon themselves by practicing Judaism which he demonizes: which does sort of defend him since it shows he hates Judaism more than Islam. There are numerous flaws in this article:

    “we murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians”

    Most civilians were killed by various insurgent groups as proven by Iraq body count data. The single worst atrocity of the war was committed by Sunni insurgents against the Yazidis.

    “especially considering that the United States has more blood on its hands than any other nation.”

    This is patently absurd and false: the US would have to nuke the an entire continent to come close to killing a fraction of people killed by its former or current enemies whether Mao or Hirohito or the DPRK. Your credentials as a scientist are impressive, your grasp of history less so.

    “Beyond all that, I find extremely suspect the behavior of westerners like Harris (and Hitchens and Dawkins) who spend the bulk of their time condemning the sins of other, distant peoples rather than the bulk of their time working against the sins of their own country. That’s particularly true of Americans, whose government has brought more violence, aggression, suffering, misery, and degradation to the world over the last decade than any other.”

    Thats a false misrepresentation of Harris and Dawkins who constantly rail on about Western religious extremism, Dawkisn described half the US as ignorant fanatics and as I previously proved Harris is uniquely harsh on Judaism: he hasn’t that non-western victims of a genocide brought it on themselves by practicing their religion. The last sentence is untrue: the most brutal wars of the last decade were Russia’s two Chechen wars and the second Congo civil wars followed by Ituri, Kivu, M23 and Dongo conflicts. The majority civilian death in Iraq and Afghanistan has been caused by insurgents or the taliban. The Syrian civil war is shaping up to be the bloodiest MENA conflict to date.

    The humanitarian legacy of the US by its state or citizens is without peer: Borlaug is credited with saving literally a billion lives. US state policy on AIDS “has saved millions of lives…This is an amazing accomplishment, especially because it wasn’t supposed to be possible.” USAID efforts against TB have “saved 20 million lives in recent years.” The impact of USAID programs have saved “five million lives in five years.”

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-07-26/opinions/35487798_1_african-countries-pepfar-antiretroviral-treatment

    http://austriantribune.com/informationen/131524-usaid-intensified-efforts-against-tb-have-saved-20-million-lives-recent-years

    http://www.impatientoptimists.org/Posts/2011/12/USAID-Saving-5-Million-Child-Lives-by-2015

  221. Rob Grigjanis says

    James Conohan @256:

    The majority civilian death in Iraq and Afghanistan has been caused by insurgents or the taliban.

    Citation, please!

  222. James Conohan says

    Rutee Katreya is delusional:

    “We took up war crimes against Japanese soldiers we probably would have thought twice about before doing to Germans or Italians.”

    So killing enemy combatants is a war crime now? How curious. Attributing difference in treatment of white Axis combatants vs. that of Japanese combatants to racism is imbecilic seeing as European combatants surrendered, the Japanese believed in fighting to the death before surrender. Libeling the men who fought to defend your liberty for not being very nice to men who were trying to turn your country into a slaughterhouse and slave pen is the height of self hatred.

    “We unnecessarily murdered millions of Japanese civilians. All of this in a war of legitimate self defense. ‘Legitimate self defense’ is not a defense to any racist bullshittery done.”

    Completely untrue as you can see from the graph below German civilian deaths dwarf Japan’s which experienced the lowest civilian death rate out of the axis powers which experienced the lowest civilian death rate compared to the Allies. Total xis civilian deaths account for 4 percent: Germany took the highest rate of civilian death while Japan experienced the lowest of the low.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/95/WorldWarII-DeathsByCountry-Barchart.png

    Describing a war against the third reich’s equal in mass slaughter as ‘racism’ and harping on about poor axis Japanese soldiers strongly suggests sympathy for an empire whose genocides were on par with Hitler’s. Is there any more ridiculous than presenting an empire that killed possibly more people than Hitler based on the belief that the Japanese were literally descended from gods (more racist than the nazi master race concept) and had a right to rule over all other peoples?

  223. Rob Grigjanis says

    James Conohan @258: From Iraq Body Count;

    In order to assess this impact further, the researchers calculated the proportion of women and children among civilian deaths identified as men, women or children. This proportion is termed the “Dirty War Index” (DWI), and indicates the scale of indiscriminate killing in a conflict. The most indiscriminate effects on women and children in Iraq were from unknown perpetrators firing mortars (DWI = 79) and using non-suicide vehicle bombs (DWI = 54), and from Coalition air attacks (DWI = 69). Coalition forces had a higher DWI than anti-coalition forces for all weapons combined, and for small arms gunfire, with no decrease over the study period.

    You do understand the last sentence, right? Wonder what the numbers might have been if the coalition had stayed out of Iraq.

  224. John Morales says

    [meta]

    James Conohan:

    Thats a false misrepresentation of [blah]

    Well, at least it’s not a true misrepresentation! ;)

  225. James Conohan says

    “Most civilian deaths in Iraq during the insurgency have been inflicted by Iraqis….American strategery: not clever but never civilian victimization.”

    http://books.google.com/books?id=xiAp2dy_WX4C&pg=PA236&dq=insurgents+majority+civilian&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5N9kUYfsCcK0iwKrioHgCA&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=insurgents%20majority%20civilian&f=false

    Years later after the war Iraq is still plagued by car bombings and sectarianism.

    “You do understand the last sentence, right? Wonder what the numbers might have been if the coalition had stayed out of Iraq.”

    Syria along with examples where the Baathist state brutally crushed uprisings shows us what would have occurred if the war had never happened. Without the intervention it would Iraq would have descended into civil war followed by sectarian conflict after the regime’s fall or Hussein’s sons would have taken over if the regime had remained.

  226. John Morales says

    [OT]

    James Conohan:

    Without the intervention it would Iraq would have descended into civil war followed by sectarian conflict after the regime’s fall or Hussein’s sons would have taken over if the regime had remained.

    Your ignorance of the events between the first and second Iraq wars* is evident.

    * You ever heard of the marsh Arabs? The Kurds?

  227. James Conohan says

    Of course I have thats my entire point: that without the intervention the Baathist regime would have fallen into civil war after brutal suppression by the regime creating a far worse conflict. That doesn’t make the Iraq war a good thing but it does make the idea that “if we had just stayed out it would be great” argument a delusion.

  228. says

    So killing enemy combatants is a war crime now

    Torture is. So is killing surrendering or captured troops (and don’t kid yourself, Japanese soldiers fell under both at times). So were the fucking atomic bombs. If you think it isn’t possible to commit war crimes on enemy troops, you are fucking ignorant. If you think it isn’t possible to commit war crimes on civilians, you need to put that fucking murderboner away.

    Libeling the men who fought to defend your liberty

    The men who fought to defend what? It may have been a defensive war, but don’t kid yourself – the war against the Japanese was a war to maintain a military supply embargo. This was important, and certainly a just cause, but it was by no means a ‘war over my liberty’. Japan’s war goals against the USA did not include conquest – that wasn’t considered a realistic goal, because there was too much land to plausibly hold alongside China, Korea, etc. Their goals were to be allowed to buy gas, iron, steel, etc, so they could keep the conquest wars they thought they could actually win going. Get your head out of your fucking propaganda-swallowing ass.

    for not being very nice to men who were trying to turn your country into a slaughterhouse and slave pen is the height of self hatred.

    I’m not Chinese, Vietnamese, or Korean, and the Meriken government wasn’t really fighting for Asians even if I were. Fucking addled twit – what tired bullshit from Tora! Tora! Tora! or CoD will you throw at me next?

    the Japanese believed in fighting to the death before surrender

    Everyone does, right up until they don’t. Rather a necessary condition to fight a war at all. It is predominantly a USian propaganda myth that the Japanese were brainwashed fanatics who felt no fear of death.

    Completely untrue as you can see from the graph below German civilian deaths dwarf Japan’s

    The atom bombs were unnecessary. Further, the difference between Japan and Germany’s civilians here is that the allies were actually capable of bombing Germany from Britain. Considering just how little time in comparison the USA was in range to bomb Japan in comparison…

    harping on about poor axis Japanese soldiers strongly suggests sympathy for an empire whose genocides were on par with Hitler’s.

    It ‘suggests’ that to you, because you are a fool. Only ultranationalist fuckheads even pretend Japan was justified at this point – this is a nonzero number of japanese people, but it is a paltry sum compared to the number of Meriken (And other predominantly white people) who believe the US government did nothing wrong in that war whatsoever. Should an ultranationalist fuckhead rear their ugly maw to defend Japan’s actions, I will be no kinder – they were imperialists and were themselves incredibly racist in how they carried out their imperial conquests. But seriously, one need look no further than propaganda the USA put out about the Japanese. If you really need to question whether there was racism in there, you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

    I notice, also, that in all this hemming and hawing about the evil of the Japanese people, you had nothing to say regarding the USA’s treatment of its own citizens, whom were nominally of Japanese descent.

  229. James Conohan says

    “Torture is. So is killing surrendering or captured troops (and don’t kid yourself, Japanese soldiers fell under both at times). So were the fucking atomic bombs. If you think it isn’t possible to commit war crimes on enemy troops, you are fucking ignorant. If you think it isn’t possible to commit war crimes on civilians, you need to put that fucking murderboner away.”

    Except the US treated Japanese POWs better than they were by their own army which used torture to control its troops. Whats next a rant about the ‘dachau massacre’? As for atom bombs see below.

    “This was important, and certainly a just cause, but it was by no means a ‘war over my liberty’. Japan’s war goals against the USA did not include conquest – that wasn’t considered a realistic goal, because there was too much land to plausibly hold alongside China, Korea, etc. Their goals were to be allowed to buy gas, iron, steel, etc, so they could keep the conquest wars they thought they could actually win going. Get your head out of your fucking propaganda-swallowing ass.”

    Do you think American liberty would have thrived if we had lost the pacific war? You’re elevating axis fascists to the level of victims, describe war against as ‘racist’ and you accuse me of swallowing propaganda? Hilarious.

    “Everyone does, right up until they don’t. Rather a necessary condition to fight a war at all. It is predominantly a USian propaganda myth that the Japanese were brainwashed fanatics who felt no fear of death.”

    No thats a little thing called historic fact.

    “For the Imperial soldiers, surrender was not an option”

    http://books.google.com/books?id=0LDWaKwSCNIC&pg=PA63&dq=imperial+japanese+soldiers+surrender&hl=en&sa=X&ei=c_JkUda2EoWUjALD6YHAAg&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=imperial%20japanese%20soldiers%20surrender&f=false

    “The atom bombs were unnecessary. Further, the difference between Japan and Germany’s civilians here is that the allies were actually capable of bombing Germany from Britain. Considering just how little time in comparison the USA was in range to bomb Japan in comparison…”

    The atom bombs as Japan contrary to myth was not in fact about to surrender but merely asked the USSR to broker that would allow them to keep colonies. Your interpretation is irrelevant as the numbers speak for themselves, casualties from the atom bombs and all military operations account for the lowest civilian deaths experienced by an axis power.

    “But seriously, one need look no further than propaganda the USA put out about the Japanese. ”

    Which was no different from anti-nazi propaganda. You seem to incensed that would people would say something bad about genocidal fascists. The propaganda in particular paled in comparison to what the Japanese empire actually did.

    ” If you really need to question whether there was racism in there, you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”

    Your comprehension is as bad as your grasp of history, I never said there wasn’t any racism I said that its idiotic to describe a war against totalitarian genocidists as ‘racist’ anti-German sentiment was actually more entrenched since it existed since WWI. Racism existed but to describe it as a racist war (meaning that the US only went to war out of racism) is idiotic and suggests sympathy for axis Japan. You keep ascribing to me opinions I do not hold, I never said the US did no wrong.

    “I notice, also, that in all this hemming and hawing about the evil of the Japanese people, you had nothing to say regarding the USA’s treatment of its own citizens, whom were nominally of Japanese descent.”

    I wrote about the evils of a fascist empire, are you seriously suggesting that internment (while a horrible crime) make the US and Imperial Japan morally equivalent? If so thats fucked up and no different from the neo-nazi tactic of equating death camps to internment. Internment as practiced by the Japanese was a genocidal tacti which claimed three million lives in Indonesia alone.

  230. chrisdevries says

    Okay, this thread has seriously degenerated, as discussions and debates about Harris tend to do. I have been converted, years ago, to the “differential consequences” definition of racism. I know that most, if not all white Westerners are racists in practice (including myself), simply by engaging in an economic system that causes so much suffering in places that aren’t here (and even in places that are) to people less privileged and with less power (and sometimes in other ways as well). But this discussion is about “Islamophobia” not racism, and I have been careful to limit my points thus.

    All I’ve been saying is that one can have a perfectly rational basis for opposing individuals who believe certain things to be true about the world that a) are almost certainly not true, and b) tend to, when belief turns into action (when such individuals get some power) harm others in their society and around the world. As it happens, I AM vigilant in fighting Christian reconstructionist efforts in my own country (Canada) – actually, I believe my actions (which include letter-writing to current and prospective politicians, writing the occasional social media post to raise awareness when I see fundamentalist Christians trying to gain and/or abuse their power in North America, and arguing with Christians of all stripes all over the internet) on the home front far exceed my very infrequent (i.e. on official international blasphemy and draw Mohammed days), deliberate blasphemy against Islam in solidarity with secularists living in countries with blasphemy laws. And even when I engage in such blasphemy I try to be an equal-opportunity infidel, offending people of all fundamentalist persuasions, all over the world.

    Personally, I think we, in this thread, are arguing over the 1% of our behavior as anti-theists over which we disagree; most of us are constantly revising our positions as we learn new things, but we’re revising them in the same way, mostly – moving in the same direction. For example, where there used to be fights over whether “racism” should include unintentional, subconscious discrimination and differential harm to disadvantaged groups, or if it should be limited to acts of intentional discrimination and harm, we are basically all on the same page now that it must include both types of transgressions.

    But Sam Harris has a point, and it is this: the political manifestation of Islam known as Islamism IS dangerous. Islamists do have serious political power in many countries with massive populations. Of the theocracies that exist the world over, the vast majority of them are Islamic, and the vast majority of people living in theocracies live in Islamist ones. There are places in Africa where Christians have enough power to be in danger of enforcing their own brand of theocracy on millions (such as Uganda), and we should remember to speak out against these people and against the Western Christian fundamentalists who are praising, and in some cases pressuring governments to employ laws based on religious teachings (like the “kill the gays bill”). These people are ALSO dangerous. But in Western countries, we have the advantage of stable economies and a high standard of living, relative to other places. Furthermore, the trend in most places, INCLUDING THE USA, is towards secularisation. We haven’t won this war, but we are winning (although it doesn’t always feel like it).

    Unlike Hitchens and Dawkins, Harris has not, to my knowledge, spoken out against feminism or accused anyone in our movement of over-reacting to the quite serious underbelly of misogyny and sexism we are combating in this community. Just because he has spent more time arguing against Islamic fundies than Christian ones doesn’t mean he is irrationally afraid of Islam, or against Muslims because they are “others” (not to mention the fact that he is pretty scathing towards the Christian fundies about whom he speaks very frequently). Indeed, there are plenty of former Muslims, people who lived in theocracies and experienced the suffering firsthand, who spend far more time than Harris in speaking out against Islamism…could anyone seriously call Ayaan Hirsi Ali “Islamophobic”? Is this because she is not Caucasian or because the Islamic community was/is HER community? Harris makes exactly the same points in exactly the same ways while saving a large percentage of his rhetoric for fundamentalists of other persuasions, something Ms. Ali avoids for the most part.

    I am a moral absolutist and a pragmatist; this means that even though I try to apply my values to every situation equally, I understand that wanting to change something and being able to change something are two different things. There may be nothing we can do, here in North America, to help secularists living in Egypt or Indonesia, no course of action that doesn’t produce more suffering than it alleviates (I don’t agree with this postulation, but I admit it may be possible). There may also be more we can do in our own countries to combat the scourge of fundamentalism of all stripes. And all of this moral calculus must take into account issues of power and privilege.

    My view is that there may be actions we can take against Islamism that result in short-term suffering but provide the possibility of long-term flourishing, but as long as neither suffering nor flourishing affects us in our comfy little lives, it is ultimately up to the people whose lives it does affect to push their societies down these paths. For example, I don’t think it is an understatement that almost all atheists and anti-theists see secularism as a superior way to exist in a world of tremendous diversity. If there is a subset of Egyptian society who would choose to make Egypt a secular country (and there is), they have the right to try to push their country down any path they believe has a chance of producing a secular outcome. As outsiders, we can offer suggestions, support and solidarity with their cause while they decide how to approach changing their culture. They may even ask for our ideas and help at this stage. But once they choose a strategy (or strategies), I see nothing wrong with joining their fight, donating to their cause, highlighting their efforts in the Western media, etc. This is why I spoke in favour of the Libyan rebels and the Western world’s intervention there – some Libyans decided they wanted to control their own fate rather than submit to totalitarianism. I’m not saying our countries’ motives were purely unselfish, but if intent is irrelevant in racism (i.e. an action is racist if harm results to a disempowered race, the intent to harm need not be present), it should also be irrelevant if the end result ends up hurting a disproportionally empowered segment of the population (those who benefited from the status quo in Gaddafi’s Libya). As I said, I try to employ my morality consistently.

    In the end though, PZ is right: Sam Harris shoots himself in the foot when he wanders down his infamous hypothetical pathways (e.g. nuclear first-strike, torture, profiling). He is certainly a racist by the differential consequences definition, but so am I and so are you (though his views tend to be more extreme than mine or yours). None of this means he doesn’t have any useful contribution to make; he shares many opinions with most other anti-theists (basically most Pharyngulites), and even when I vehemently disagree with him, I find his work thought-provoking (though it may occasionally be somewhat unhelpful in the grander scheme of things). He doesn’t speak for me, or for atheists/anti-theists as a group, and nobody should hesitate to call him out, patiently and with rational arguments, when they think he’s wrong, even when he shows a complete unwillingness to consider that possibility (I make many a face-palm reading his work on profiling in airports, for example). From what I’ve read, I see no indications that the moral system Harris proposes necessarily results in racism; some of his conclusions are racist though and I think he will eventually realize this (even if he is too cowardly to come out and admit it publicly).

    The most important thing we should concern ourselves with is making our voices heard; our societies are by no means perfect, but we are moving, slowly, in the right direction and it is good to acknowledge this. Most Muslims envy our freedom; many of these would gladly embrace our values in their own societies, including the right to freeze peach. There is no one right way to advance our cause; context matters. Harris has done more than most people in our movement to make the case for atheism and anti-theism. Furthermore, his work in neuroscience and psychology is stirring up a tonne of debate; The Moral Landscape is an imperfect work, but it is only describing the birth of a branch of brain-based moral research that could revolutionise how we view our interactions with others. Yes, he is frequently blind to his own deficiencies, but Dr. Harris is one of the most incisive, iconoclastic atheist writers and a great polemicist to boot. He just needs to learn how to check his privilege. As do we all.

  231. chrisdevries says

    And to James Conohan, please show me where Harris has said the Jews deserved the Holocaust because they were Jewish…that is a repugnant opinion…Holocaust rationalisation is almost worse than Holocaust denial, and while Harris has certainly spewed vile, racist bullshit on occasion, I’ve never seen him stoop to this level of ignorance and hatred.

  232. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Time to hushfile as utterly irrelevant those who post walls of text claiming they aren’t bigots, but yet sound like they are. They don’t get to redefine the definitions, so they have nothing cogent to say.

  233. dereksmear says

    @chrisdevries

    “The gravity of Jewish suffering over the ages, culminating in the Holocaust, makes it almost impossible to entertain any suggestion that Jews might have brought their troubles upon themselves. This is, however, in a rather narrow sense, the truth.Prior to the rise of the church, Jews became the objects of suspicion and occasional persecution for their refusal to assimilate, for the insularity and professed superiority of their religious culture-that is, for the content of their own unreasonable, sectarian beliefs. The dogma of a “chosen people,” while at least implicit in most faiths, achieved a stridence in Judaism that was unknown in the ancient world. Among cultures that worshiped a plurality of Gods, the later monotheism of the Jews proved indigestible. And while their explicit demonization as a people required the mad work of the Christian church, the ideology of Judaism remains a lightning rod for intolerance to this day. As a system of beliefs, it appears among the least suited to survive in a theological state of nature. Christianity and Islam both acknowledge the sanctity of the Old Testament and offer easy conversion to their faiths. Islam honors Abraham, Moses, and Jesus as forerunners of Muhammad. Hinduism embraces almost anything in sight with its manifold arms (many Hindus, for instance, consider Jesus an avatar of Vishnu). Judaism alone finds itself surrounded by unmitigated errors. It seems little wonder, therefore, that it has drawn so much sectarian fire. Jews, insofar as they are religious, believe that they are bearers of a unique covenant with God. As a consequence, they have spent the last two thousand years collaborating with those who see them as different by seeing themselves as irretrievably so. Judaism is as intrinsically divisive, as ridiculous in its literalism, and as at odds with the civilizing insights of modernity as any other religion.”

    (The End of Faith, p. 93)

  234. says

    Except the US treated Japanese POWs better than they were by their own army

    I find it highly unlikely the USA forced Chinese women to service Japanese POWs while lionizing their imperialist actions to the US citizenry. And no, we did in fact torture a fair number of POWs, for ‘information’.

    No thats a little thing called historic fact.

    You’re discussing Japanese soldiers who were defending their homelands when you get to the ones holding island hopping islands (And they were, even as the aggressors in the war. This doesn’t make them in the right, but it does greatly reduce willingness to surrender in general, not just for Japanese people), and your ‘historical fact’ ignores that even according to your source at face value, 13% of Japanese soldiers surrendered. It lists survivors of their military campaigns, well after losing to US troops – Survivors who couldn’t feasibly retreat. It’s also not lost on me that the only sourced thing in your source is the number of survivors. Seriously now, try harder.

    Do you think American liberty would have thrived if we had lost the pacific war?

    Well, we wouldn’t have been so able to project imperial power into Asia ourselves had we, but other than that, yes. It’s been 70 years. We know what the Japanese command was planning at this point. They were trying to break the embargo – anything else was too ambitious with that embargo going. They needed iron and gas 6 months ago, and they simply didn’t have the means to conquer the USA if they wanted to, which we have no indication of them thinking.

    You’re elevating axis fascists to the level of victims, describe war against as ‘racist’ and you accuse me of swallowing propaganda?

    Your reading comprehension is just super. This doesn’t make them ‘the victims’ in general – they were trying to maintain imperialistic wars. But it doesn’t mean the Japanese were a threat to USian ‘liberty’. And yes, as long as you keep repeating bullshit, I’ll keep saying it.

    The atom bombs as Japan contrary to myth was not in fact about to surrender but merely asked the USSR to broker that would allow them to keep colonies.

    …So you admit they asked to go to the table? And even if they’d been given those concessions (And they knew they weren’t going to get them – do you not know what negotiation is, even during surrender? Fuck, the Hungarians and ITalians got terms) the Chinese and Koreans would have been able to kick them out on their own at that point – Japanese naval and air power had been stripped to nil, the embargos would have remained so long as troops did, and the USA wasn’t likely to stop supplying the Chinese, at least, with warplanes.

    Which was no different from anti-nazi propaganda.

    Sure, if you ignore the fact that germans were generally made to look like villainous humans, and the Japanese were made to look like yellow space aliens, I guess you could try to say that. Japanese propaganda also made a much bigger deal about how they were ZOMG TEH DIFFARANT as well as evil (and is the source of these myths of the Japanese never surrendering), while German and Italian propaganda targets were generally just evil.

    Your comprehension is as bad as your grasp of history, I never said there wasn’t any racism,I said that its idiotic to describe a war against totalitarian genocidists as ‘racist’

    So there was racism in the war, but hte war wasn’t racist. You’re just super at arguing your points.

    anti-German sentiment was actually more entrenched since it existed since WWI.

    Meriken Germans didn’t go to concentration camps. ‘more entrenched’ my ass.

    Racism existed but to describe it as a racist war (meaning that the US only went to war out of racism)

    You’re apparently illiterate as well as stupid. I didn’t say the USA went to war solely out of racism. I said the USA conducted the war in a racist way – thus making it racist. The war was racist, even with a just cause, and I’ve specified 3 times that they went to war with a just cause – rather obviating this idiotic claim that I said ‘they only went to war out of racism’.

    You keep ascribing to me opinions I do not hold, I never said the US did no wrong.

    Yes, actually, you did – you said it committed no war crimes.

    You seem to incensed that would people would say something bad about genocidal fascists.

    I’m incensed that people are racist – even towards genocidal fascists. It is, in fact, not necessary to be racist towards genocidal fascists.

  235. says

    Wow, Harris is even more a piece of shit than I give him credit for. I also find it interesting that, after complaining to be left alone by religious people, Harris now cites Judaism’s unwillingness to convert as a negative. Crikes.

    But this discussion is about “Islamophobia” not racism, and I have been careful to limit my points thus.

    …Islamophobia IS racism, dude. Racism typically characterized by hyper-concern with islamic doctrines that have no practical effect on you.

    could anyone seriously call Ayaan Hirsi Ali “Islamophobic”?

    I’ve seen the argument made, and made well, by other former muslims. I steer well-clear of intra-mural disputes in other -isms that don’t affect me (Not that racism doesn’t, but I’m a different shade of brown), however.

    This is why I spoke in favour of the Libyan rebels and the Western world’s intervention there – some Libyans decided they wanted to control their own fate rather than submit to totalitarianism. I’m not saying our countries’ motives were purely unselfish, but if intent is irrelevant in racism (i.e. an action is racist if harm results to a disempowered race, the intent to harm need not be present), it should also be irrelevant if the end result ends up hurting a disproportionally empowered segment of the population (those who benefited from the status quo in Gaddafi’s Libya). As I said, I try to employ my morality consistently.

    I’mma give you a non-101 lesson here, buddy. The western intervention in Libya won’t have been racist at all if it:
    1) Never provides cover for future imperialism (We did it right in Libya! Now let’s go prosecute this war to ‘help people’ like it’s Iraq)
    2) Doesn’t maintain the status of Libya as a periphery state who’s primary purpose is to supply white people with military and economic commodities.

    2 is hard. And seems unlikely. The assistance we have given will have been a positive thing, or at least, more positive than not assisting the Libyan rebels, even if it comes to pass, but it will not change that, despite being an improvement for Libya, it maintained structures that hurt Libyans – and erego, was also racist.

  236. says

    It is always amazing how people know exactly what would have happened in the past if some horrible act hadn’t been commited, a horrible war hadn’t happened, but were pretty much unable to fortell the Arab Spring even after it happened. I guess hindsight is magical.

  237. says

    The “mom-and-dad-fighting”-analogy made by a previous commentator is probably the most accurate. For me, personally, Sam Harris’ rethoric and reasoning resonates really well (not to say I agree with him on everything. Promoting racial profiling, for instance, is a tough sell on me) but I also agree with PZ about the problems with just that; his rethoric and reasoning. He really is a preacher foremost and not so much a missionary; for atheists, he’s cutting to the core and making a lot of sense. For religious people (i think) he’s not even close to the core and making a lot of noise.

  238. James Conohan says

    “And to James Conohan, please show me where Harris has said the Jews deserved the Holocaust because they were Jewish”

    Right here:

    “The gravity of Jewish suffering over the ages, culminating in the Holocaust, makes it almost impossible to entertain any suggestion that Jews might have brought their troubles upon themselves. This is, however, in a rather narrow sense, the truth. [...] the ideology of Judaism remains a lightning rod for intolerance to this day. [...] Jews, insofar as they are religious, believe that they are bearers of a unique covenant with God. As a consequence, they have spent the last two thousand years collaborating with those who see them as different by seeing themselves as irretrievably so. Judaism is as intrinsically divisive, as ridiculous in its literalism, and as at odds with the civilizing insights of modernity as any other religion. Jewish settlers, by exercising their “freedom of belief” on contested land, are now one of the principal obstacles to peace in the Middle East.”
    -Sam Harris

    Thats more vile than any of his writings on Muslims.

  239. chrisdevries says

    @270 dereksmear

    Ah. Well then.

    Writing such a paragraph makes Harris an asshole, but his thesis in The End of Faith is that religion is a bad thing, and one of the reasons is that it divides people. To blame the victims, as he is “in a narrow sense” is a moronic thing to do. What he should have said, in order to make the same point without coming across as a bigoted genocide apologist is “Christians and Muslims, by their unwillingness to tolerate those they considered ‘outsiders’ in their societies, have engaged in behavior up to and including genocide against Jews and others who refused to assimilate. In a narrow sense however, the nature of Judaism and its insistence on spiritual purity, is also to blame.” That way, he would sound like he’s putting the blame on the perpetrators of the crimes and their religious rationalisation, while also blaming a religion that, in addition to being fundamentally irrational (as all religions are), has the additional quality of promoting societal isolation upon its adherents. Blame Judaism, not Jews. And blame the ethnic cleansers, not the cleansed.

    Shit, Harris can be a really unpleasant fellow, and he really stuck his foot in his mouth on this issue.

  240. chrisdevries says

    Actually, on re-reading that paragraph, he does clearly state that “the ideology of Judaism remains a lightning rod…”. It sounds to me like he IS trying to blame Judaism and not Jews (something I have no problem with), just doing an extremely bad job of it. But you are right, it does sound like he blames Jews and if I ever meet the man at a convention or something, I will make sure to ask a public question involving this issue to see if he is a genocide apologist or just a bad proof-reader.

  241. James Conohan says

    “. And no, we did in fact torture a fair number of POWs, for ‘information’.”

    And we did the same to other axis soldiers, why do you go on an apology tour? Start with stormfront.

    “You’re discussing Japanese soldiers who were defending their homelands when you get to the ones holding island hopping islands (And they were, even as the aggressors in the war. This doesn’t make them in the right, but it does greatly reduce willingness to surrender in general, not just for Japanese people), and your ‘historical fact’ ignores that even according to your source at face value, 13% of Japanese soldiers surrendered. It lists survivors of their military campaigns, well after losing to US troops – Survivors who couldn’t feasibly retreat. It’s also not lost on me that the only sourced thing in your source is the number of survivors. Seriously now, try harder.”

    My so defensive of them…

    “The Imperial Japanese Army’s Field Service Code — Senjinkun — deer that surrendering to the enemy was not an option. To become a Prisoner War would bring shame onto yourself, your family, and your community.”

    http://books.google.com/books?id=x1dQwuiEU3UC&pg=PA286&dq=imperial+japanese+army+surrender&hl=en&sa=X&ei=K7ZlUdzQNaStigKwh4GgAQ&ved=0CEwQ6AEwBQ

    “We know what the Japanese command was planning at this point. ”

    And yet they invaded alaska,

    ” But it doesn’t mean the Japanese were a threat to USian ‘liberty’. And yes, as long as you keep repeating bullshit, I’ll keep saying it.”

    Lets pretend that is true, its irrelevant as the world is a better place without a fascist empire in Japan.

    “Sure, if you ignore the fact that germans were generally made to look like villainous humans, and the Japanese were made to look like yellow space aliens, I guess you could try to say that. Japanese propaganda also made a much bigger deal about how they were ZOMG TEH DIFFARANT as well as evil (and is the source of these myths of the Japanese never surrendering), while German and Italian propaganda targets were generally just evil.”

    Who cares? You seem to be more angry that history’s greatest monsters were portrayed negatively than at what they actually did. Wartime propaganda seems tame compared to axis Japan’s actual actions whether cannibalism or slavery.

    “So there was racism in the war, but hte war wasn’t racist. You’re just super at arguing your points.”

    I never said no one was racist in the war, but you seem to think that because the Japanese were non-White that makes them victims of racism and describing it as a ‘racist’ war would mean that US only went to war because of racism. Which is imbecilic even by your semi-literate standards. Its especially stupid since the US turned Japan into one of the most prosperous democracies: the US leadership that you characterize as racist thought that the Japanese deserved something more than dictatorship unlike Japanese leaders.

    “Meriken Germans didn’t go to concentration camps. ‘more entrenched’ my ass.”

    Anti-German sentiment predates anti-Japanese sentiment.

    “You’re apparently illiterate as well as stupid.”

    This like being called a slut by Linda Lovelace: meaningless projection.

    “I didn’t say the USA went to war solely out of racism. I said the USA conducted the war in a racist way – thus making it racist. The war was racist, even with a just cause, and I’ve specified 3 times that they went to war with a just cause – rather obviating this idiotic claim that I said ‘they only went to war out of racism’.””

    You described it as a racist war the only conclusion form that comment would be that it was fought solely or primarily because of racism. The claim that it was “conducted in a racist way” is a silly example of the leftist tendency to make anyone non-white a victim. The war against the Japanese claimed only a fraction of civilian casualties inflicted on Europeans as you can see from the graph which shows that German civilian death vastly dwarfs Japan. Similarly the liberation of France was achieved by indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets. Again the US turned Japan into a prosperous democracy they had a higher of the Japanese than their own leaders did by considering them fit for democracy.

    “Yes, actually, you did – you said it committed no war crimes.”

    Civilian death occurs in any war, its impossible to wage without them.

    “I’m incensed that people are racist – even towards genocidal fascists. It is, in fact, not necessary to be racist towards genocidal fascists.”

    Oh I see its not enough that the men who fought and died in the pacific won, they had to be perfect in every way lest they earn the disapproval of hipsters like you.

  242. James Conohan says

    “…Islamophobia IS racism, dude. Racism typically characterized by hyper-concern with islamic doctrines that have no practical effect on you.”

    Given that Muslims are White, Asian, African and just about race in existence that shows that your personal definition of racism is all but meaningless. Especially since the last caliphate the Ottoman empire was made up of people who looked no different from their Christian neighbors, nearly every sultan had a European mother. If its racist why exactly do bigots like Robert Spencer deny massacres of White Bosnian Muslims and support atrocities against White Chechens?

    ” The western intervention in Libya won’t have been racist at all if it”

    The intervention was based on the concept that Libyans are equal to westerners

    “Never provides cover for future imperialism (We did it right in Libya! Now let’s go prosecute this war to ‘help people’ like it’s Iraq)”

    The Libyan intervention wasn’t imperialist, the US army never entered Libya and the vast majority of Libyans supported the intervention: there is probably more US flag waving than in Texas. Besides surely if you were correct the US would have intervened in Syria by now? Its a pity we haven’t.

    “Doesn’t maintain the status of Libya as a periphery state who’s primary purpose is to supply white people with military and economic commodities.”

    The intervention cost oil corporations millions and the US defines MENA ethnics as White.

    “The assistance we have given will have been a positive thing, or at least, more positive than not assisting the Libyan rebels, even if it comes to pass, but it will not change that, despite being an improvement for Libya, it maintained structures that hurt Libyans – and erego, was also racist.”

    This shows that your idea of racism is meaningless as white noise, the intervention allowed Libyans to form their government thats clearly not racist. And any pre-intervention “structures” were the product of either King Idris or Gadaffi.

  243. James Conohan says

    Chris,
    even if you are correct that doesn’t make him less vile as blaming the Shoah on Judaism is disgusting.

  244. says

    And we did the same to other axis soldiers, why do you go on an apology tour? Start with stormfront.

    I love this tango that white ‘allies’ dance with anti-racists when we’ve said something they don’t like. Forget about stormfront until it’s convenient to threaten or associate someone with, all while spouting racist bullshit yourself.

    My so defensive of them…

    *Eyeroll* Yeah, that’s exactly what’s going on. It’s not like white people conveniently forget that soldiers protecting their homeland tend to be less inclined to surrender when we’re talking about Japanese, amongst many other common flaws you exhibited along these lines.

    “The Imperial Japanese Army’s Field Service Code — Senjinkun — deer that surrendering to the enemy was not an option. To become a Prisoner War would bring shame onto yourself, your family, and your community.”

    You’re not even good at collecting useful quotes out of your sources, are you? Also, if field codes were always listened to, the USA wouldn’t have engaged in torture at all (And nobody would ever desert, and…)

    Also, I enjoy that you have a book specifically entitled ‘Japanese POWs of WWII’ while insisting that these same POWs don’t exist because all Japanese people fought to the death.

    And yet they invaded alaska,

    …Meriken invaded Italy, but they didn’t really occupy it once the war was over. I know what you’re trying to say, but it’s irrelevant. Again, the Japanese High Command’s inner talks are part of the public record, as was the USian high command’s (where the majority outright state that it is unnecessary and counterproductive to nuke Japan). The invasion of Alaska was part of short term goals predicated on breaking the embargo (and the Russian interdiction of Manchuria), not ‘ZOMG WE’D ALL BE SPEAKING JAPANESE IF WE LOST”.

    Who cares?

    Well, at least you’re being honest.

    You seem to be more angry that history’s greatest monsters were portrayed negatively than at what they actually did.

    You know, the United States carried out genocide more successfully and more zealously than the Japanese did on the whole – I’d be very careful trying to pretend ‘history’s greatest monsters’ is a label you can throw around with impunity. Further, ‘history’s greatest monsters’ is pretty much just great person history. Let’s pretend you said something accurate – ‘a country that engaged in monstrous actions was portrayed negatively…’.

    To this marginally more accurate point, I say: “Go fuck yourself, you obtuse moron”. “The Japanese Empire engaged in genocidal actions, prosecuted racist, imperialist wars, and murdered millions, to the general acclaim of its citizenry” is an accurate, negative, non-racist statement that obviously doesn’t make me angry. It may be difficult to throw off societal racism, but it is by no stretch of the imagination impossible, and racism is what makes me angry.

    Anti-German sentiment predates anti-Japanese sentiment.

    You must be one ignorant fuck. Anti-Japanese sentiment began when asian people landed in the USA at all (Not like white people bothered dicing up asian people into accurate groups). It has NEVER gone away, although it has changed forms repeatedly. Anti German sentiment began in WWI, and ended within 5 years of the war ending on the whole.

    You described it as a racist war the only conclusion form that comment would be that it was fought solely or primarily because of racism.

    Or for people who aren’t raging racist jackasses, who know how to read up, they can read what I said first:

    Even a legitimate war of self defense can and probably will end up taking racist measures. Obvious example, WWII, USA vs. Japan. Citizens of Japanese descent were subject to incredibly racist measures. We took up war crimes against Japanese soldiers we probably would have thought twice about before doing to Germans or Italians. We unnecessarily murdered millions of Japanese civilians. All of this in a war of legitimate self defense. ‘Legitimate self defense’ is not a defense to any racist bullshittery done.

    and describing it as a ‘racist’ war would mean that US only went to war because of racism.

    Or, for people who can read what I wrote:

    Even a legitimate war of self defense can and probably will end up taking racist measures. Obvious example, WWII, USA vs. Japan. Citizens of Japanese descent were subject to incredibly racist measures. We took up war crimes against Japanese soldiers we probably would have thought twice about before doing to Germans or Italians. We unnecessarily murdered millions of Japanese civilians. All of this in a war of legitimate self defense. ‘Legitimate self defense’ is not a defense to any racist bullshittery done.

    But yanno, never let get that in the way of bullshit racism.

    but you seem to think that because the Japanese were non-White that makes them victims of racism

    The fact that the empirical evidence strongly suggests that the Japanese were subject to bullshit on account of their race, even beyond the other enemy states, is what makes them the victims of racism. You’re not getting what racism is, shockingly.

    The war against the Japanese claimed only a fraction of civilian casualties inflicted on Europeans as you can see from the graph

    …Again, the Germans were being bombed from the fucking start. Considering how little time the USA was in a position to strike at Japan proper, the civilian death toll is actually appalling. The USA doesn’t get cookies and punch just because it wasn’t capable of bombing the Japanese for most of the war.

    Lets pretend that is true, its irrelevant as the world is a better place without a fascist empire in Japan.

    I didn’t contest that, you racist fuck. What I said is that counter to Meriken wardrum bangers’ assertions, my freedom was not protected by those soldiers (shocker) – and in fact, given that the Japanese outright had no interest in controlling the USA at all at the time, the Pacific theater of WWII was still not one of those times. Hitler actually did have long term designs on North America, so yanno, the european theater still directly was, and USian troops *did* protect other nations (as a secondary war goal, not as their primary one) in the pacific theater, but that’s not even close to what you said.

    Civilian death occurs in any war, its impossible to wage without them.

    War was waged without the atom bomb. Modern Warfare’s targeting of civilian populace is a novel invention. Torture is still a war crime, even if you have a murderboner.

    Oh I see its not enough that the men who fought and died in the pacific won, they had to be perfect in every way lest they earn the disapproval of hipsters like you.

    If people want to not be called racists, they should try not being racist – even during a war.

  245. says

    Well, okay, it is impossible to throw off societal racism entirely. But one can manage to at least make non-racist statements from time to time. Also, calling a non-white, non-trust fund kiddy person a ‘hipster’, in seriousness, is pretty giggles.

    Given that Muslims are White, Asian, African and just about race in existence that shows that your personal definition of racism is all but meaningless.

    Oh, this is just amusing equivocation – white people almost always mean near and middle easterners, as well as africans, when they talk about muslims.

    The intervention was based on the concept that Libyans are equal to westerners

    Syria. Oh, and you know, all that support for the Libyan dictator until it was clear that his ass was getting overthrown soon. What the fuck is wrong with you, that you need everything to be spotless and insist that it was despite the empirical evidence to the contrary?

    The intervention cost oil corporations millions and the US defines MENA ethnics as White.

    How much would the oil corporations have lost if (when) an angry Libyan democracy cut off oil to the supporters of their oppressors? The US government’s definitions of races, funnily enough, have nothing to do with that of its citizens, or indeed, its officials, given the way support for the intervention was drummed up.

    This shows that your idea of racism is meaningless as white noise, the intervention allowed Libyans to form their government thats clearly not racist

    The ability to form their own government isn’t racist – maintaining relationships of dependence is.

  246. dereksmear says

    @chrisdevries

    I really don’t think it is possible to defend his remarks about the Holocaust. The only other place you would find those kind of ideas would be Neo-Nazi websites.

  247. says

    All I’ve been saying is that one can have a perfectly rational basis for opposing individuals who believe certain things to be true about the world that a) are almost certainly not true, and b) tend to, when belief turns into action (when such individuals get some power) harm others in their society and around the world.

    of course. but Hitchens’ and Harris’ opposition was not based in reason; demonstrably so.

    But Sam Harris has a point, and it is this: the political manifestation of Islam known as Islamism IS dangerous.

    I wish he really bothered with that distinction. Usually, he does not.

    Furthermore, the trend in most places, INCLUDING THE USA, is towards secularisation.

    not in this part of the USA it isn’t.

    Harris has not, to my knowledge, spoken out against feminism or accused anyone in our movement of over-reacting

    you’re talking about the dude who said: “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.”

    could anyone seriously call Ayaan Hirsi Ali “Islamophobic”?

    she’s a neocon who favors Christian proselytizing of Muslims. I find that troublesome at least.

    There may be nothing we can do, here in North America, to help secularists living in Egypt or Indonesia,

    that’s not quite what I said. there are actions of support that are likely effective; constant aimless trolling is probably not one of them though.

    once they choose a strategy (or strategies), I see nothing wrong with joining their fight, donating to their cause, highlighting their efforts in the Western media, etc.

    this is true. but again, you want to do this in a way that highlights their fight, rather than drown it out. Constant internet “blasphemy” is just white noise.

    it should also be irrelevant if the end result ends up hurting a disproportionally empowered segment of the population

    that depends on what you mean by “hurt”.

    The most important thing we should concern ourselves with is making our voices heard

    not to the degree that they drown out the voices of those actually directly fighting against religious oppression in their own countries, though.

  248. says

    PZ:

    “especially considering that the United States has more blood on its hands than any other nation.”

    ***********************

    Really PZ? Really? The United States is worse than Saddam’s Iraq or Yemen or Putin’s Russia or Ahmadinejad’s Iran or Equatorial Guinea, or Eritrea or North Korea or Saudi Arabia or Somalia or Sudan or Syria or Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan? Want to reconsider that little bit of self-loathing? What makes moderates like me incensed over either side is unjustified hyperbole.

  249. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    moderate == moron?

    Show numbers, because we are definitely worse than a good number of those when you look at how we treat the rest of the world.

    Doesn’t help some of the ones you listed count for us because of our support

  250. says

    What makes moderates like me incensed over either side is unjustified hyperbole.

    well, the important thing is that you’ve found a way to feel superior to both.

  251. says

    Jadehawk:

    Personally I think what’s really important is that I’ve got you to concede my point since your only response is a witicism that completely avoids it.

  252. says

    Hey ing:

    Thanks for the intellectual response. (moderate = moron) I guess my attack on PZ statement naming us the worst violator of human rights confused you. Here’s a little guidance in your English studies. There’s a difference between superlatives and comparatives. PZ didn’t say (without one syllable of proof mind you) tht we were a sometimes violator of human rights which we can intellectually debate. He said we were the worst. That’ s sheer foolishness and he knows it. Sorry to offend your tender sensibilities for pointing out the hyperbole but it’s there — and it’s dumb.

  253. thedude says

    When it comes to religion, I like to paraphrase Gandhi: “Hate the religion, not the religious”. I try to be careful in my criticism of other religions than the one I was raised in. This is because there is a lot of inter-religious hatred, which seems to me to be badly camouflage racism, and I don’t want to get involved in that.

  254. John Morales says

    [OT]

    PZ,

    No excuse can justify nuking or torturing my people, so no excuse can justify nuking or torturing anyone else…especially considering that the United States has more blood on its hands than any other nation.

    Mark Esposito:

    PZ didn’t say (without one syllable of proof mind you) tht we were a sometimes violator of human rights which we can intellectually debate. He said we were the worst. That’ s sheer foolishness and he knows it. Sorry to offend your tender sensibilities for pointing out the hyperbole but it’s there — and it’s dumb.

    Well, I’ll grant you the torture (though the USA has a record of outsourcing it), but when it comes to nuking others, surely you grant that they’re in a class of their own.

    (Quite literally!)

  255. John Morales says

    thedude:

    When it comes to religion, I like to paraphrase Gandhi: “Hate the religion, not the religious”.

    A rather stupid thing to advocate; it boils down to hating the action and not the actor and therefore utterly ignores issues of personal responsibility.

    I try to be careful in my criticism of other religions than the one I was raised in.

    Why the qualification?

    (Surely you don’t intend to imply that you’re not careful when criticising the religion in which you were raised?)

    This is because there is a lot of inter-religious hatred, which seems to me to be badly camouflage racism, and I don’t want to get involved in that.

    What a ridiculous reason for a non-religious person to plead!

  256. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Mark Esposito essays a retort to Jadehawk:

    Personally I think what’s really important is that I’ve got you to concede my point since your only response is a witicism that completely avoids it.

    Well, Mark, personally I think what’s really important is that she’s got you to concede her point since your only response is a witicism that completely avoids it.

  257. says

    Well John Morales had jade hawk made a point I would have refuted it but since she didn’t I didn ‘t. I will respond to your rather unlettered one though:. Imitation is the sincerest rom of flattery. Thanks!

  258. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    So no defense just defensiveness? how dare anyone not say we’re good guys!? objectively how do you defend American hegemony other than its ok because we’re American?

    This is why moderate==moron. throwing a public tantrum that someone dare question American exceptionalism.

  259. clevehicks says

    Beautifully written PZ … and I am glad to see a prominent atheist defending Greenwald’s courageous piece. Harris should spend more time confronting the arguments against his position and less time whining about how his integrity was attacked. And he should realize his abstract thought experiments can have real-world consequences.

  260. says

    ING:

    “This is why moderate==moron. throwing a public tantrum that someone dare question American exceptionalism.”

    ******************

    The only one casting insults and raising their voice is you. I merely confirmed what everyone who read your ill-conceived comment and who has mastered English thought , namely, that you don’t have the language skills to distinguish between comparisons and superlatives. That’s not stupidity merely ignorance. If you want to be considered stupid just keep posting diatribes about America being the worst locus of evil in the world like PZ did. You’ll get your wish, my patriotic friend.

  261. says

    John Morales:

    “Well, I’ll grant you the torture (though the USA has a record of outsourcing it), but when it comes to nuking others, surely you grant that they’re in a class of their own.”

    *****************

    I’ll take your concession on torture. Without getting into a detailed explanation of the law of armed conflict, there’s little to say except that no international body has ever condemned the US for ending the war with Japan by detonating nuclear devices. Thus those strikes were lawfully justified by international law. If you want to get into a moral debate, that’s fine. We can compare atrocities on both sides and have a reasoned debate about which side was worse the losing aggressor of the victorious victim of sneak attack.

  262. says

    Really PZ? Really? The United States is worse than Saddam’s Iraq or Yemen or Putin’s Russia or Ahmadinejad’s Iran or Equatorial Guinea, or Eritrea or North Korea or Saudi Arabia or Somalia or Sudan or Syria or Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan? Want to reconsider that little bit of self-loathing? What makes moderates like me incensed over either side is unjustified hyperbole.

    Really? You’re seriously asking this? Dude, all of the countries you listed as having ‘more blood on their hands’ can only kill their own citizens at most. The USA has projected imperial power for 70 years, and has done so on every continent except Antarctica. If you want to pretend that dictators that terrorize their own citizenry are more capable of killing than a superpower guilty of starting at least 7 wars (absolute top of my head) in the last 60 years, you are welcome to do so, but the rest of us will be here in reality.

    Without getting into a detailed explanation of the law of armed conflict, there’s little to say except that no international body has ever condemned the US for ending the war with Japan by detonating nuclear devices.

    Because people were, and still are, pretending the USA can do no wrong. When you nuke a country that is trying to surrender, you are explicitly in the wrong.

    We can compare atrocities on both sides and have a reasoned debate about which side was worse the losing aggressor of the victorious victim of sneak attack.

    WWII Japan isn’t worse for sucker punching the USA in a military facility, you racist fuck. WWII Japan actually puts up a fight against WWII USA because it murdered a lot of civilians int he countries it actually wanted to conquer, like Korea and China.

  263. thumper1990 says

    The only one casting insults and raising their voice is you.

    As if that somehow invalidates their argument. I would suggest, Mark Esposito, that they are casting insults because you deserve it. How on Earth you know they’ve raised their voice when you are communicating in text via the internet is beyond me, but assuming your psychic powers are accurate I would assume it’s because you are irritating.

  264. says

    Rutee Katreya:

    “WWII Japan isn’t worse for sucker punching the USA in a military facility, you racist fuck. WWII Japan actually puts up a fight against WWII USA because it murdered a lot of civilians int he countries it actually wanted to conquer, like Korea and China.”

    ******************

    Well I’m glad you’re over all that name calling and insulting of people who don’t march in goose-step with your “thinking.” I’m also hopeful you ‘re not still kissing your momma with that mouth, but to your hair-on-fire, convoluted point: The Japanese were not trying to surrender when the bombs fell but I think you might consider that approach after this unseemly diatribe. And all the dead soldiers in Iran and Iraq killed in the Iran-Iraq War by the other country are happy to hear they aren’t really dead.

    You’re the kind of guy, gal, thing, that folks like me love to run into. Irrational to the extreme, America hating in the extreme, history impaired to the extreme, and just plain ol’ hilarious to the to the extreme to any rational mind.

    There’ s a name for people like you. Give me time I’ll think of it! Begins with an “e.”

  265. says

    thumper:

    “As if that somehow invalidates their argument.”

    ********************

    It does there “Thumper” if their argument is that it’s really you casting insults and not them. Take a logic class — you’ll be amazed by how rational people think. You might even like it so much you’ll try it. Ask the prof about the term “group think” while you’re there. Your hair will be blown back.

  266. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Oh wow, a condescending tone-troll. We never get those here.

    /bitter, bitter sarcasm

  267. says

    Well I’m glad you’re over all that name calling and insulting of people

    ‘name calling’? Dude, pretending that sucker punching the USA in a military facility was an atrocity, when we’re talking about the actions of WWII Japan, is straight up ignoring the mass murders of millions of Asian civilians… to talk about predominantly soldiers dying and military hardware being destroyed. That’s fuckin’ racist, dude.

    The Japanese were not trying to surrender when the bombs fell

    Yes, they were. They were trying to go to the table to talk surrender terms (You know, like Italy or Hungary did). The USA declared anything short of an unconditional surrender was unacceptable. That doesn’t mean they weren’t trying to surrender.

    And all the dead soldiers in Iran and Iraq killed in the Iran-Iraq War by the other country are happy to hear they aren’t really dead.

    Do you seriously think that doesn’t count towards the USA’s death count? ’cause you know, we kinda instigated that war with our support for Iraq (support predicated on fighting that war), that was one of the 7 off the top of my head.

    Irrational to the extreme, America hating in the extreme,

    Yeah, it’s so irrational to despise imperialist nations? Oh, skippy, keep living in that little patriot bubble you’ve erected yourself, the one that means reality doesn’t count.

    One wonders how a hyperrational man like yourself could possibly consider a sneak attack on military personnel an example of an atrocity, when you have little things like the Rape of Nanking to look at instead..

    history impaired to the extreme,

    Uo HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO

  268. says

    Personally I think what’s really important is that I’ve got you to concede my point since your only response is a witicism that completely avoids it.

    oh honeycakes. dismissing your golden middle fallacy with an xkcd reference is the exact opposite of conceding your point.

  269. says

    Without getting into a detailed explanation of the law of armed conflict, there’s little to say except that no international body has ever condemned the US for ending the war with Japan by detonating nuclear devices. Thus those strikes were lawfully justified by international law.

    how very irrelevant. nuking people qualifies as “blood on their hands” regardless of whether it was legal or not.

  270. says

    plus, “larges military power in the world not convicted of warcrimes it’s guilty of” is not actually quite the same as “lawful”

  271. says

    jadehawk:

    “how very irrelevant. nuking people qualifies as “blood on their hands” regardless of whether it was legal or not.”

    ****************

    Oh, I see legalities be damned! I’ll pass along that little pearl of wisdom to those students who tackled the knife wielding attacker in Texas, as all that really matters are your personal sensibilities and feelings. According to you they are guilty of assault. I suppose if we (hypothetically, of course) respond with a nuclear weapon against North Korea following their initial nuclear attack we’ve also got “blood on our hands. Too funny.

    Let me know when you want the skewering of your half-baked ideas to stop, but it is a lot of fun for me. I often wondered what talking to extremists was like. Now I know. It’s great sport.

  272. vaiyt says

    @Mark Esposito:

    I’ll just reiterate this quote from Rukee Katreya,

    The USA has projected imperial power for 70 years, and has done so on every continent except Antarctica. If you want to pretend that dictators that terrorize their own citizenry are more capable of killing than a superpower guilty of starting at least 7 wars (absolute top of my head) in the last 60 years, you are welcome to do so, but the rest of us will be here in reality.

    because I live in a country that faced a US-backed dictatorship under the excuse of “saving democracy”, along with all our close neighbors. Your defenders of freedom did nothing but bring misery and exploitation to us, and kill most of our advanced social government programs in the cradle.

    America’s speciality as saviors of civilization is going where nobody asked for their help, and break what doesn’t need fixing.

    You can take your Mighty Whitey complex and shove it in the orifice of your choice.

  273. says

    jadehawk:

    “oh honeycakes. dismissing your golden middle fallacy with an xkcd reference is the exact opposite of conceding your point.”

    *********************

    By the way, it’s the “golden mean” fallacy not “golden middle fallacy” and, of course, it has no application to our tête-à-tête over your sophomoric reply, but hey, you’re close to right and that looks like that’s all that matters around here. Take another whack at it. Hey, I bet you can sign up for that logic class with Thumper if you hurry and get a volume discount. Any school would love to have such fertile ground to work with.

  274. vaiyt says

    An international body actually was against America’s stupid Iraq yahoo adventure, but that didn’t stop them.

    An international body condemned America’s insistence in keeping chemical weapons in defiance to treaties they signed, and their reaction was to rig an emergency vote to evict the president of said body.

    Since when is murder not a crime if the murderer gets away with it?

  275. says

    vaiyt:

    “our defenders of freedom did nothing but bring misery and exploitation to us, and kill most of our advanced social government programs in the cradle. … You can take your Mighty Whitey complex and shove it in the orifice of your choice.”

    ************************

    I see your English comprehension matches your friends around here. I never said the good ol’ US of A was perfect or even optimal though a case can be made for the latter. I merely said PZ was engaging in rankest hyperbole by suggesting that we were the worst nation of the “blood on our hands” club. If you want to have a real discussion let us know your secret homeland and we can discuss benefits as well as detriments to your country from US influence. That’s a debate worth having, but we will be asking for our money back if we win. Having you take ill-mannered potshots at folks with the temerity to disagree with you… well that makes you like Rutee.

    By the way, I like your depraved insult the best. Mighty Whitey? And who says you can’t get intelligent discourse on PZ’s website?

  276. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    And who says you can’t get intelligent discourse on PZ’s website?

    One can, but not from you. Typical of those with arrogant attitudes. They aren’t as smart and educated as they pretend they are. Fakers all the way around.

  277. says

    vaiyt:

    “An international body actually was against America’s stupid Iraq yahoo adventure, but that didn’t stop them.”

    *********************

    Of course that wasn’t our topic but why limit your sterling intellect to the topic at hand. The US war in Iraq was not authorized by the UN and Kofi Annan did consider it unlawful. He’s not the Security Council though. The Security Council did not meet on the matter and no resolution was ever passed condemning the US invasion. You could read Security Council Resolution 678 which authorizes UN Member States “to use all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660 and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area” to authorize the invasion of Iraq but the matter is hotly debated. Not in the UN mind you, but elsewhere. Personally I think the invasion was ill-advised but did some good in deposing a dictator. The dire predictions of a US quagmire never materialized thought we paid heavily in troop losses and squandered treasure. All in all a mixed bag but the people of Iraq probably are better off without Saddam. Or do wish he was still there brutalizing his subjects?

  278. says

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls:

    “One can, but not from you. Typical of those with arrogant attitudes. They aren’t as smart and educated as they pretend they are. Fakers all the way around.”

    ************************

    I see that now by the flood of insults and provocations one encounters by just suggesting that you folks aren’t exactly the Algonquin Roundtable — though your sage commentary calls to mind Harpo Marx

  279. says

    Well if that’s the end of the Last Comic Standing contestant line, I’ll bid you finely cultured folks “adieu.” It’s been fun sloshing around in the mud pit with ya. Keep up the insults; it makes you classy.

  280. says

    of course, it has no application to our tête-à-tête over your sophomoric reply

    you’re one confused cookie.

    but hey, you’re close to right

    when you speak your 4th language as well as I speak English, you get to come back and be condescending to me about fucking up one word.

    If you want to have a real discussion let us know your secret homeland and we can discuss benefits as well as detriments to your country from US influence.

    vaiyt’s statement would be accurate for a large number of Latin American countries, where the US supported murderous dictators over elected social reformers. Few countries benefited more than lost from U.S. interest in their country; most of them are in Western Europe.

    I see your ability to follow a line of conversation is entirely nonexistent; first you get confused about what the golden mean fallacy was in reference to, then you forget that you argued that nuking people without being condemned for it internationally somehow made that ok.

  281. says

    oh, hey, editing fail

    Of course that wasn’t our topic

    I see your ability to follow a line of conversation is entirely nonexistent; first you get confused about what the golden mean fallacy was in reference to, then you forget that you argued that nuking people without being condemned for it internationally somehow made that ok.

    The dire predictions of a US quagmire never materialized

    a decade of war with nothing to show for it but death and destruction. but totes not a quagmire.

  282. says

    All in all a mixed bag but the people of Iraq probably are better off without Saddam.

    I’m sure all the people who lost family, homes, and the right to leave their house without hijab will be glad that you think they’re better off now.

  283. says

    The Security Council did not meet on the matter and no resolution was ever passed condemning the US invasion.

    …probably because the USA is on the council, and all council members have veto. How dishonest must your point be, if you’re relying on this? Also, if the UN doesn’t specifically condone aggression, that aggression isn’t legal.

    If you want to have a real discussion let us know your secret homeland and we can discuss benefits as well as detriments to your country from US influence.

    Vaiyt can be from basically any South American country and be correct. You really don’t know how much the USA fucks things up for locals, do you?

    he dire predictions of a US quagmire

    wh- how many years was the USA in Iraq again? Contemporary US officials like Colin Powell described it as a quagmire, for god’s sake.

    By the way, I like your depraved insult the best. Mighty Whitey? And who says you can’t get intelligent discourse on PZ’s website?

    ….You are one ignorant fuck. ‘Mighty Whitey’ refers to a narrative structure wherein a white person enters an indigenous society and is the best at everything that society does, or fixes and leads it. An archetypal example is The Last Samurai or James Cameron’s Avatar. USAnian claims of being bringers of democracy and all that jazz tend to reek of this narrative structure.

    I merely said PZ was engaging in rankest hyperbole by suggesting that we were the worst nation of the “blood on our hands” club.

    And that point can only be made if you pretend the USA was always in the right and hasn’t done… well, a strong plurality of its foreign policy, to say the least. You are one really racist chump.

  284. vaiyt says

    I see your English comprehension matches your friends around here. I never said the good ol’ US of A was perfect or even optimal though a case can be made for the latter.

    Make me a favor and go try to make a case for the USA being optimal in Vietnam. I’ll get a mop to gather what’s left of you.

    If you want to have a real discussion let us know your secret homeland and we can discuss benefits as well as detriments to your country from US influence.

    The reason I keep it a secret is precisely to avoid condescension from assholes like you, who think they know what’s best for me better than myself.

    Having you take ill-mannered potshots at folks with the temerity to disagree with you… well that makes you like Rutee.

    My, not the ill manners. So much profanity! That’s positively dreadful! Here, have a fainting couch and some pearls.

    Protip: nobody is impressed here by your pretend-Vulcan act.

  285. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    #303 Mark Esposito

    Rutee Katreya:
    You’re the kind of guy, gal, thing, that folks like me love to run into.

    Guy, girl or thing? WTF is wrong with you?

  286. thedude says

    @John

    A rather stupid thing to advocate; it boils down to hating the action and not the actor and therefore utterly ignores issues of personal responsibility.

    No, it doesn’t ignore personal responsibility. I just want to make sure that my criticism of religious people doesn’t degrade into hatred, at least when it comes to followers of religions. I try not to hate any people, but it can be hard to avoid it when it comes to the worst religious and political leaders. One of the reason I try to avoid hatred of religious people is that I know how difficult it can be to leave a religion that you have been brought up in.

    Surely you don’t intend to imply that you’re not careful when criticising the religion in which you were raised?

    I am less careful, as it is more difficult to get entangled in racism and inter-religious hatred when criticising the religion that I was raised in.

    What a ridiculous reason for a non-religious person to plead!

    So wanting to avoid racism is ridiculous? Grow a brain.

  287. John Morales says

    thedude:

    No, it doesn’t ignore personal responsibility.

    Well, I guess it depends on how literally one takes the word ‘hate’ there — but note that you’re claiming someone can do any hateful thing (any number of times) and so long as its motivation is religious one should never hate that person.

    (How does “Blame the religion, not the religious” read to you?)

    I just want to make sure that my criticism of religious people doesn’t degrade into hatred, at least when it comes to followers of religions.

    Well then, that’s what you should have written.

    (More to the point, the two aren’t mutually-exclusive)

    I try not to hate any people, but it can be hard to avoid it when it comes to the worst religious and political leaders. One of the reason I try to avoid hatred of religious people is that I know how difficult it can be to leave a religion that you have been brought up in.

    Again, if that’s what you mean, then that’s what you should have written.

    I am less careful, as it is more difficult to get entangled in racism and inter-religious hatred when criticising the religion that I was raised in.

    Well, everyone has moral failings, and with your rule-based system of morality I guess slacking off is no biggie.

    So wanting to avoid racism is ridiculous? Grow a brain.

    Heh.

    No, the concept of a non-religious person participating in inter-religious hatred is ridiculous. :)

  288. thedude says

    John

    Well, I guess it depends on how literally one takes the word ‘hate’ there — but note that you’re claiming someone can do any hateful thing (any number of times) and so long as its motivation is religious one should never hate that person.

    You are just putting words in my mouth. I never claimed that one should never hate the person, and I didn’t say that this should only extend to religious people. I assumed that people understood that it was meant as a guideline, not as a law. The reason I try to stick to the guideline is that religious hatred and racism is a big hornets nest that I want to give a wide berth to. Some famous atheists have stuck their hands into the nest and been stung. I don’t want to follow their example.

    How does “Blame the religion, not the religious” read to you?

    Well that is very similar to what I wrote.

    Well then, that’s what you should have written.

    Well I thought that most people were smart enough to understand the shorter, better sounding version.

    No, the concept of a non-religious person participating in inter-religious hatred is ridiculous. :)

    As you have proven, it is easy to misunderstand what people are saying, and why they are saying it. If I, as a white person of european descent, were to say something hateful about people of a non-christian religion, it might easily be interpreted both by christians and the members of the other religion as inter-religous hatred.

  289. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Heh.

    “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
    Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood”