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Jan 28 2014

“The New Atheists as Secular Fundamentalists”

My delightful evening of fun and intellectual stimulation continues shortly, with a guest lecture on my campus from Chris Hedges, who threatens to berate atheists with his typical ignorance. I’m hoping for full-bore hand-waving purple-faced screaming, but otherwise, it’s going to be a failure of a night.

I’ll try to live-blog it, if he says anything interesting.

His introduction is all about his Harvard Divinity School professor’s experiences in Nazi Germany, and how Christianity was coopted by fascists, which led to his book, Christian Fascists, and his concern with the origins of totalitarianism. He also talks about how megachurches absorb people into the fold, and the nonsense at the Creation Museum.

Then he debated Harris and Hitchens. He was upset and angry at how Dawkins and Dennett and Harris and Hitchens replicated the authority structures of the Christian Right. What?


7:45. Suddenly we’re talking about genocide in Serbia. Where’s the connection to the atheists?

Now he says that like like the Christian Right, atheists can only argue against a caricature of religion: they haven’t studied theology! They have gods of reason and science. And this meme stuff is an example of the misuse of science, reflecting the desire of atheists to engineer ideas, and control the way people think.

He really doesn’t like Sam Harris, quoting him on torture and nuking Islamists. I know this would surprise Hedges, but there are an awful lot of atheists who dislike Harris’s ideas, too.

But no: both atheists and the Christian Right embrace the dehumanization of Muslims. We do? I keep hearing things that I reject, being told that this is what I believe to be a New Atheist.


Weird. Now we’re being told of the bizarre practices of Christian Right anti-abortion activists. What drives people into these movements is despair. Relevance? I don’t know. It seems he doesn’t have enough horrible stories about totalitarian atheists so he has to drag in tales of the religious to tar us with their sins.

The New Atheists misuse Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. It’s not a theory about politics or culture, and Dawkins and EO Wilson abuse it to make false claims about society. What? The Dawkins who has said that selection is an inappropriate ideal for human behavior? Freakish. And now he has brought up Social Darwinism. He’s sounding a bit like the loons at the Discovery Institute.

The New Atheists believe that evolution is linear and directed towards a goal and that we believe in using it to justify genocide.

Religion is not irrational, but it is non-rational. Jebus, Hedges, focus. Make an argument and back it up. This is rambling nonsense.


8:05. My brain hurts. This is stupid. Now he’s chewing out science for fracking and global warming and pollution, and blames it on the corporate state. Fine. Do atheists align with the corporate state? Does any of this have anything to do with his thesis?

New Atheists see evil as something outside themselves that must be eradicated and that evil is largely Muslim.

Fundamentalists readily embrace violence, just like Sam Harris, therefore atheists are fundamentalists. How can I possibly defeat such lucid logic?


8:15. I don’t much like Sam Harris. Harris rather detests me. It’s getting a bit old hearing some horrible thing Harris said being pinned on atheists, including me, as a class…by a guy who’s berating atheists for demonizing groups of people.

We seem to be closing with some babble about transcendance and the struggle with the irrational and the need for the sacred, whatever the hell that is. And we get to the heart of his problem: atheists are knocking down his cherished presumptions, and replacing then with squalid monuments to ourselves…which is a form of idolatry.


8:20. He’s blathering incoherently through the Q&anp;A now. This talk has been such a mess of misconceptions and rambling nonsense that I can’t even think of a question. It’s the same feeling I get when I’m at a creationist talk: it’s wrong from word one, so where do you start?


There were two places where Hedges totally lost me with his bullshit false equivalencies. Well, more than two — but these were the big ones.

  • Just as the Christian fascists abuse the bible, the atheists abuse evolution. Dawkins argues for a linear, progressive, utopian version of evolution. Total crap. Dawkins has been quite clear that natural selection is a “clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel” process, and not at all desirable as a model for human relations. Hedges argument relied entirely on misrepresenting what atheist evolutionists have said.

  • Christian fascists have totalitarian authority structures, just like the New Atheists. I just wanted to ask, what authority structures in atheism? He spent a lot of time railing against Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris; one of those three is dead, and the other two are single individuals who’ve written books. I remember attending a Hitchens lecture in which he presented his odious anti-Muslim views, and the audience booed him. These guys are not our rulers. Hedges has simply inflated his animus against a few individuals into a broad brush characterization of every atheist.

It was infuriating.

316 comments

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  1. 1
    Ray, rude-ass yankee

    Any chance he’ll pop a blood vessel on stage?

  2. 2
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Well, he almost gets it. New Atheists are Fundamentally Right (as in correct, rather than politically).

  3. 3
    Al Dente

    “The New Atheists as Secular Fundamentalists”

    That old canard is really getting old.

  4. 4
    dofang

    I predict we’ll be fighting that lazy “fundamentalist” meme for years to come.

  5. 5
    Acolyte of Sagan

    We put the fun in fundamentalist. Derren Brown completed it.

  6. 6
    ck

    @dofang,
    I predict that you’re likely off by an order of magnitude or more.

  7. 7
    Pierce R. Butler

    Pope Richard wants a word with all you wayward acolytes. Deacon Dennett and His Holiness Harris will escort you to The Sanctum, where… well, no one expects the Hitchensquisition!

  8. 8
    Hank_Says

    PZ:

    [Hedges] was upset and angry at how Dawkins and Dennett and Harris and Hitchens replicated the authority structures of the Christian Right. What?

    It’s obvious, PZ. The way DDHH write books and participate in debates and speak at conferences and make films in an attempt to encourage people to comprehend the pernicious effects of faith-based philosophy (and the benefits of skepticism and science) is exactly the fucking same as the Christian Right spending four or more decades turning their warped, hateful, sectarian honky Jesus into a de facto political candidate, the Bible into a manifesto and the Republican Party into anti-intellectual theocrats. And the absolute social and sexual power held by DDHH over atheists and non-believers is exactly the same as that wielded by preachers to keep their congregations in line (and keep them tithing). Haven’t you ever heard Dennett pounding the rostrum as he demands sexual promiscuity and promotes the subversive teaching of The Gay Agenda in pre-schools?

    The New Atheist Secular Fundamentalist Authority Structures would also certainly explain the influence atheists have on government policy on every level from municipal to federal – not to mention the presence at every level of government of fundamentalist secularists and the constant deference paid to atheism, secularism, science and freethought by the White House. Haven’t you ever been to a National Theoretical Physics Breakfast hosted by Brian Cox? Isn’t it obvious? WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

  9. 9
    Sastra

    He was upset and angry at how Dawkins and Dennett and Harris and Hitchens replicated the authority structures of the Christian Right. What?

    Authority structures? I’ve been to talks given by all 4 and the Q & A afterwards was always filled with atheists disagreeing with them. How many people stand at the mike during a rally of the Christian Right and say “Now, I don’t think you understand something and I’ll tell you where I think you’re wrong…?” And have an audience eagerly awaiting both the question and reply?

    Most people who complain about new atheists and compare them to secular fundamentalists seem to fall into either one of two camps:

    1.) Creationists and other fundamentalists who think that keeping God out of science and government is an act of totalitarian dictatorship. Religious beliefs are true facts and anything else is wrong. These are the ‘conservative’ critics.

    2.) Liberal theists and faitheists who think that telling people they’re wrong about God is an act of totalitarian dictatorship. Religious beliefs are private matters of identity and people should be “free” to hold them. These are the accomodationist critics.

    If the audience applauds for Hedges’ speech, then he is trying to lead a group of acolytes just like the fascist did. I have a hammer: looks like a nail.

  10. 10
    Cliff Hendroval

    In the stuff of his I’ve read, he basically regurgitates the old “new atheists aren’t serious thinkers, because they haven’t tortured themselves like Nietzsche, doodle doodle dee, wubba wubba wubba”.

  11. 11
    brianpansky

    @9
    Sastra

    Most people who complain about new atheists and compare them to secular fundamentalists seem to fall into either one of two camps:

    1.) Creationists and other fundamentalists[...]

    2.) Liberal theists and faitheists[...]

    haha, that is a very very exhaustive list there. it seems to cover ALL theists and then a few atheists too.

  12. 12
    Sastra

    “Religion is not irrational, but it is non-rational”.

    This is the standard tactic of trying to equate believing that God exists with believing in the value of love, or human worth, or some other preference, experience, or moral premise.

    brianpansky #11 wrote:

    haha, that is a very very exhaustive list there. it seems to cover ALL theists and then a few atheists too.

    Heh, not ALL theists — just the ones who also criticize the gnus. They come from both sides, but are complaining about different things.

  13. 13
    Sastra

    And we get to the heart of his problem: atheists are knocking down his cherished presumptions, and replacing then with “squalid monuments to ourselves…which is a form of idolatry”.

    “Squalid monuments to ourselves?” Wtf? Does he mean the atheist billboards? Or secular buildings like libraries? Or is he being all metaphorical and making another dreary “if you don’t worship God then you worship Man” complaint?

    If that’s the heart of his problem then he apparently wasted a lot of time not explaining it.

  14. 14
    zibble

    He really doesn’t like Sam Harris, quoting him on torture and nuking Islamists.

    I haven’t watch Hedges’ bullshit, but weren’t those quotes taken completely out of context?

    It’s funny how he talks about dehumanizing people when he’s spreading lies about an unpopular minority for personal gain.

  15. 15
    mikeyb

    At least based on you tube videos, I rather strongly agree with Hedges articulate takes on war and the totalitarian influence of corporate state. But he really needs to get out and about a lot more. Hitchens and Harris bad takes on a few things don’t constitute atheism. By and large we are a despised minority, no where near the power and influence of even a single megachurch. It would be nice, but it just ain’t so that anybody in power gives a damn what most atheists have to say about just about anything.

  16. 16
    alkaloid

    I know this sentence gets heavily overused, but “I feel your pain”. You should try arguing with Hedges’ followers.

    On second thought: probably not. You’ve suffered enough.

  17. 17
    anteprepro

    Gish Galloping for Fence-Sitter Jesus!

  18. 18
    Al Dente

    Has Hedges ever had a conversation with a gnu atheist? I don’t mean has he ever debated one but rather has he ever had a discussion with a gnu atheist about what atheism?

  19. 19
    Al Dente

    @18 Add word “is” at the end of the second sentence.

  20. 20
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    They have “gods of reason and science”.

    Did I just wander into a Terry Pratchett novel?

  21. 21
    Rob Grigjanis

    This talk has been such a mess of misconceptions and rambling nonsense that I can’t even think of a question.

    I’d have thought “Why do you seem to lump all New Atheists with Hitchens and Harris?” has been screaming to be asked for quite some time.

  22. 22
    godfreyj

    Jesus, Mary and hairy Joseph, this man is a Pulitzer-Prizewinning journalist?

    If his argumentation is as poor and as skewed as PZ blogged (and I don’t doubt that it is) then it begs the question: How reliable were the reports he sent home when working as a foreign correspondent?

  23. 23
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Rob:
    Good question. He speaks of atheism as if it is a religion (or similar enough to count as one) and an extremist one at that.
    I know little of Hedges. Is he a moderate theist or accommodationist (my money is on the latter)?

  24. 24
    Marcus Ranum

    “New Atheists see evil as something outside themselves that must be eradicated”

    I’m curious, is it reasonable to be a nihilist and a new atheist? I consider myself both, and it seems pretty reasonable to me. But that means ideas like “evil” are at best placeholders for the sake of argument.

  25. 25
    rorschach

    Well, I think it would be safe to say that at least Dan Dennett didn’t get the “authority structures” memo.

  26. 26
    anuran

    The sad thing is, he’s not entirely wrong even though he’s an idiot and a sloppy thinker. Fundamentalism in the popular sense does not depend on believing in gods. It is a mindset and an attitude which can attach itself to any ideology or worldview.

    Randites, Maoists, Nationalists and Racists can all exhibit the same qualities of doctrinal inflexibility, inability to entertain opposing viewpoints, insularity, devotion to core principles and literal interpretations of their chosen sources. Atheists are no more immune to this disease of the imagination than anyone else. In fact, the evolution of a visible, identifiable atheist movement will inevitably increase the numbers of Hoffer-style True Believers and others who take their lack of belief and their rigid version of “free” thought into territory which would be familiar to a Revolutionary Guard or a foot-washing Baptist.

    One would hope that the ideals of skepticism and respect for the methods of scientific and philosophical inquiry would lead unbelievers to be less doctrinaire than their theistic counterparts, to be open-minded and willing to see things from other perspectives. One would similarly hope a devotion to Christian principles would make the Faithful kind, loving, generous and compassionate, and one would be equally disappointed. PZ regarding any religious person or anyone who doesn’t vomit in fear at the sight of a gun. A snake-handling Pentecostal seeing a feminist or Catholic. The mental illness is identical from cause to symptoms. All that differs on that level is the plumage. “You ain’t one of us. You’re crazy and evil.”

    It gets even worse when there’s a specific movement with a name and tribal identification. It’s hard to wave a skeptical flag and sing rousing songs when you’re just an atheist, someone who doesn’t happen to believe in the gods. But when you’re a New Atheist or an Atheist Plus the trap is there waiting to be sprung. Suddenly you have very specific views and goals to identify with and defend. You can more easily set yourself apart not just from the common herd but from those namby-pamby types who simply don’t have the god-monkey on their back. You can feel a sense of kinship with other smart free-spirited people and, yes, a bit of pride at seeing things a little more clearly by being one of the Tribe.

  27. 27
    Rob Grigjanis

    Tony @23: He doesn’t believe in a personal, or anthropomorphic god, or heaven/hell. See here. Play the whole thing to hear some of the things PZ mentions.

    He is one of the most passionate and articulate advocates for social justice. I hope he gets back to concentrating on that ASAP.

  28. 28
    raven

    It sounds like almost a genocide. Of strawpeople.

    Chris Hedges slaughtered so many poor strawpeople, I couldn’t even count them.

    Won’t someone think of the poor strawpeople?

  29. 29
    Inaji

    “New Atheists see evil as something outside themselves that must be eradicated”

    I can only speak for this Gnu atheist, and I say no. Nope, absolutely wrong there. The capacity for evil is in all of us, it’s human.

    and “that evil is largely Muslim”.

    Another no, nope, absolutely wrong. All Abrahamaic religions house much room for monstrous attitudes and acts. Again, a very human thing, seeking justification for whatever attitudes one may hold, and nothing provides a sense of righteousness like believing that your god believes exactly the same as yourself.

  30. 30
    raven

    I just wanted to ask, what authority structures in atheism?

    Oh c;mon PZ, you know the answer to that from long experience.

    The authority structure of atheism is like herding cats!!! Except much harder.

  31. 31
    raven

    This talk has been such a mess of misconceptions and rambling nonsense that I can’t even think of a question.

    This pretty much sums it up.

    It’s not just all wrong. It’s spectacularly wrong.

    There are different degrees of being wrong. Chris Hedges is way out there on the bleeding edge of wrongness, breaking new ground on just how wrong one can be.

  32. 32
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    it’s wrong from word one, so where do you start?Either ask “What exactly are you trying to say?” in a concerned tone, or just “Eh?” on a rising note.

  33. 33
    unclefrogy

    from the descriptions and the quotes posted here sounds like what he had was a title and not a subject for his lecture. then just through in everything he had which was mostly crap and not particularly new crap. either.
    what is it with people like that? They do not seem to have ever actually asked questions to find out what their “enemy” thinks or for that matter even listened very closely nor read any of the available writings.
    Even a few hours of reading on the internet. would show you there is not a lot of unanimity on all subjects going around. Certainly little deference to authority.

    uncle frogy

  34. 34
    robinjohnson

    What drives people into these [anti-abortion] movements is despair

    What drives them to despair is religion. It’s told them, from childhood, that every time somebody has an abortion, a baby dies.

  35. 35
    Alex

    This talk has been such a mess of misconceptions and rambling nonsense that I can’t even think of a question.

    Here’s a question I would have liked to ask if your account of the talk was in any way accurate:

    “Mr. Hedges, concerning your statements about evolution – are you incompetent or are you lying?”

  36. 36
    brucegorton

    Considering that linear, goal oriented evolution would at least support theist narratives on origins (it is after all the concept of evolution championed by the likes of Francis Collins) I have to assume Hedges’ entire talk was pulled out of his ass.

  37. 37
    Nick Gotts

    I haven’t watch Hedges’ bullshit, but weren’t those quotes taken completely out of context? – zibble@14

    No, Harris really is an arsehole, as his “Response to controversy” amply confirms.

    I must admit I’ve stopped calling myself either a New or gnu atheist, because it inevitably associates me with Harris, Hitchens and Dawkins, with all of whom I have fundamental (hah!) disagreements. But Hedges’ mishmash of drivel seems to go as far as stright lying when it comes to his claims about authority structures and atheist views of evolution.

    PZ regarding any religious person or anyone who doesn’t vomit in fear at the sight of a gun. A snake-handling Pentecostal seeing a feminist or Catholic. The mental illness is identical from cause to symptoms. anuran@26

    Yes, that sort of casual contempt for people who actually suffer the torments of mental illness is about the level we’ve come to expect from you, anuran.

  38. 38
    AJ Milne

    I find myself idly wondering if this kind of vapid song and dance will ever get old for its audience. Or is the appetite for reassuring dishonesty going to prove essentially bottomless…

    The cynic in me is divided. It’s between whether the craven appetite to be told your lies are still the best lies will win out, or will the nod go to short attention spans…

    I wonder also,vaguely, how people like Hedges live with themselves. I suppose perhaps it’s moot. As, apparently, however they do, they do seem to manage.

    The disorganization of it all PZ noted is symptomatic, though, I think. I think you may be getting a very nice–if typically disturbing–view of the mainstream fuzzy-believer brain, here. Yes, because science gave us technology and global warming followed from the industrial revolution and new atheists are all about ‘scientism’, clearly, we can assume our religions are still perfectly valid systems of thought… I mean, transubstantiation isn’t giving us rising sea levels, right?

    … and if you’re still trying to parse that and failing, oddly enough–and hello there, Mr. Hedges’ glaring penchant for projection, I couldn’t see you in the corner–or, rather, it’s hard to see much of any of the room at all around you, and never mind any particular corner–oddly enough, I think this is a bit about authoritarianism, after all…

    It’s in the very subject of the talk. The question Hedges proposes to answer is not what is true–this is quite irrelevant… Nay, let us not speak in any serious way of ideas, let us talk of the people who he has seen so insolently advance them, to his annoyance, and those he imagines read these same ideas, and how they do…

    What he wants to engage with, and what he chooses to engage with, is not what is true. It is who to follow. And the authority of these leaders he chooses to engage with is suspect, and thus you may dismiss ‘new atheism’ as being all these horrible things. So yes, you can make an argument like blah blah associated with rising sea levels blah blah thus suspect blah blah thus ignore…

    His confused (but very typical for the hackneyed genre) relative idolatry of Nietzsche is part and parcel, I figure. Nietzsche was himself as much prophet as anything, at least in how he presented his various notions. So this is an easier figure for the authoritarian to digest. Not someone who says listen, this is what I get, and this is how you work it out for yourself, here’s the math, go do your homework, but a well-nigh to mystic seer who sails out of some other century like a bolt from the blue with a book that might as well have been a revelation. So of course preening hot air balloons like Hedges love him. Sounds way deeper, that way–especially with that proper dose of angst–than listen, this is what I get, and by the way, I’m not even sure you need to be that upset about this…

    … and again, of course, trust a religionist to find a way to worship the dead, one way or another. And a dead atheist, even, apparently will do.

    Leaving room for one half-kind thing to say: I don’t expect for a minute he does any of what he does in honesty; he’s a bought hack, just selling the line he knows he can (and oh yes, I expect he can; on this, my internal cynic is at least in agreement with itself that he can count on getting a few more speaking engagements). But if people who do identify with the gnus are suitably insulted by this bog standard smear about authoritarianism to be that much more careful not to become that, not to worship at anyone’s feet, Dawkins, Dennett, or other, I’ll consider it a limited public service, I guess. Recent events, fair enough, do suggest a (I guess regretfully unsurprising) hazard, here.

  39. 39
    Louis

    Ah irony. Tethys on the North Star thread, Anuran on this one. Both othering people by casual appeal to the extant prejudices against people with mental illnesses. Classy stuff. The ironic part? In this instance, Anuran is othering people whilst complaining about othering! What a fuckwit! Mental health bigotry? Like any other bigotry, the very hall mark of a shallow, sloppy thinker unworthy of the piss off the end of my cock.

    Fuck you so very, very much.

    Louis

  40. 40
    Great American Satan

    anuran@26 … just yuck.

    Am I seconding or thirding the disgust on this one?

  41. 41
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I didn’t read anuran, my nerves are strained enough atm…

    “atheists and the Christian Right embrace the dehumanization of Muslims”

    It is almost funny how somebody called Hadges doesn’t understand how to use, well, hedges.
    Words like “some, many, few, prominent, etc” would greatly prevent him from looking like a complete fool. It might even lead to a productive discussion about the topic because sure there are such atheist.

  42. 42
    Great American Satan

    If PZ alternated his posts between things that outrage the average lefty and the average scumbag, would his readership decrease or go thru the roof? I’d like to see it.

    Pro animal testing
    Anti gun
    Pro GMO
    Pro social welfare
    Pro vaccination

    … Probably run out of one before the other, but It could be a fun couple of days.

  43. 43
    Rob Grigjanis

    AJ Milne @38:

    I don’t expect for a minute he does any of what he does in honesty; he’s a bought hack

    Have you actually read anything by Hedges?

  44. 44
    PZ Myers

    That was the most troubling thing about the event. I’ve read a lot of Hedges — his criticisms of corporatism, religious fanatics, and war are spot on; you can’t fault him for courage, because he’s gone deep into war zones.

    And then he does this talk, and in his writing about atheism in general, and I find myself questioning his competence, which makes me wonder whether he’s as sloppy when he’s talking about things I haven’t experienced as directly as he has, and that makes him an unreliable source. And I hate that.

    In his intro, he was pretty clear that he was brought up in a family of ministers, went to divinity school, and while not believing specifically in an anthropomorphic, benign, and personal god, he’s carrying a lot of baggage that makes him sympathetic to religion as a whole. He’d hate this, but Hitchens was right: religion poisons everything.

  45. 45
    Alex

    And then he does this talk, and in his writing about atheism in general, and I find myself questioning his competence, which makes me wonder whether he’s as sloppy when he’s talking about things I haven’t experienced as directly as he has, and that makes him an unreliable source. And I hate that.

    My experience exactly every single time I read a science news item in my field of specialization on a news source which I otherwise trust – I usually think: oh dear lard, do they get the economics and politics articles just as wrong as they do the science which I know by heart, and I just don’t have any means to check it? I find it really, really shocking.
    Please tell me that political journalism is better than science journalism.

  46. 46
    Nathair

    godfreyj:

    then it begs the question

    No, it doesn’t.

    Great American Satan:

    things that outrage the average lefty and the average scumbag…
    Pro animal testing
    Anti gun
    Pro GMO
    Pro social welfare
    Pro vaccination

    Which of those are supposed to outrage “the average lefty”?

  47. 47
    Anri

    Alex @ 45:

    Please tell me that political journalism is better than science journalism.

    President Obama is described as a leftist and a socialist.

    That answer your question?

  48. 48
    Nick Gotts

    Nathair@46,

    Well, support for animal testing, GMOs and vaccination would presumably outrage Great American Satan’s caricature of “the average lefty”.

    As a democratic ecosocialist I’m probably well to the left of the “average lefty”, and to summarise, I’m strongly pro-vaccination (while recognising that it’s not without risks), pro animal testing where necessary for human welfare or where it does not cause significant suffering, and under proper controls (it’s certainly less morally problematic than raising animals to eat), and not opposed to GMOs in general, although highly sceptical of the way agricultural GMOs are being promoted by agribusiness interests. But you hang on to those comforting stereotypes, G.A.S.

  49. 49
    Alex

    @Anri

    Not in European news media he isn’t :)
    But valid point, this is subject to huge differences between countries

  50. 50
    doublereed

    I really hate how Americans are trying to turn secular into a dirty word. Americans SHOULD be “secular fundamentalists” because secularism is fundamental to America. I don’t care if you’re a Secular Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Humanist.

    Secular does not mean atheist or even nonreligious. And this kind of linguistic bullshit cedes huge ground to the actual fascists, because it makes the more sane religious people afraid to argue for sanity.

  51. 51
    doublereed

    So basically Hedges just paints New Atheists with a massively broad brush by accusing us of using a massively broad brush? Classy.

  52. 52
    brucegorton

    Hedges demonstrates exactly how the religious left, despite all their protestations of being better than the right, aren’t all that different.

  53. 53
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    doublereed

    I really hate how Americans are trying to turn secular into a dirty word.

    This week I mentioned to my American instructor that no, “atheist” isn’t a dirty word in Germany.

  54. 54
    Rob Grigjanis

    brucegorton @52: Ah well, as long as we’re not condemning whole groups on the basis of one person’s comments…

  55. 55
    godfreyj

    PZ,

    “…makes me wonder whether he’s as sloppy when he’s talking about things I haven’t experienced as directly as he has, and that makes him an unreliable source.”

    My point exactly at 22. I’ve been in various places at times of trouble and strife, and checked the news “stories” filed by reporters. Occasionally I had to ask myself whether those guys had seen and heard the same things I had.

    I guess there’s no such animal as an “impartial observer” or a “disinterested party.”

    Nathair,

    It begs the question. Or, if you wish, it raises the question. Same thing. Check your dic.

  56. 56
    Alex

    @Giliell,

    yeah, no kidding right? Nor are healthcare or welfare state (*)… we’re such extremists.

    (*) it only ever comes up in a negative context when the CSU assholes are trying to scapegoat immigrants again as exploiters of the welfare state.

  57. 57
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Alex

    it only ever comes up in a negative context when the CSU assholes are trying to scapegoat immigrants again as exploiters of the welfare state.

    Yeah, but you see then there’s good welfare state helping German citizens and bad welfare state that feeds not German people.

  58. 58
    Nathair

    It begs the question. Or, if you wish, it raises the question. Same thing. Check your dic.

    A dictionary is descriptive not prescriptive. If enough people use (or pronounce) something incorrectly for long enough then into the book it goes. However, the first dictionary I checked, while listing your usage for the phrase, included the caveat “This reinterpretation of beg the question is incorrect but is currently in widespread use.” Instantly available web sources other than the dictionary (grammar sites, logic sites or even Wikipedia) all agree and explain the correct usage of the phrase. It is your choice of course, if for some reason you want to continue in the incorrect use of the phrase then be my guest.

  59. 59
    brucegorton

    Rob Grigjanis

    You know, we tend to tar the religious right quite happily with nary a word about entire categories of people.

    Anyway its not just one person’s comments, it is an entire genre of comments. Heck its about 90% of Salon’s articles dealing with atheism.

    It has become a genre of literary shittiness, and its time it started getting treated much the same way we do when we get it from the right.

    I have nothing against religious people who are leftwing, or rightwing for that matter, it is when they bring their faith into their politics, when it becomes the religious left and the religious right, that you see this happening.

    When it stops being about the practical requirements of government and starts being about being a special spiritual snowflake and what their imaginary sky-daddy wants.

    And feeling righteous about making politics all about that, rather than the people politicians are supposed to serve.

    I mean that is what secular government really means – a government which serves the people, not a government that makes reassuring noises towards the correct altars. Government based on data, on what we can see working, rather than the opinions of some being we can’t.

    But political religion can’t have that – it has to make religion important to government somehow.

    Thus you get this whole scare tactic of painting atheists as wanting genocide, or the moral collapse of society – much the same whether it comes from voices claiming to be liberal or conservative.

    The opponents of secularism in politics really aren’t all that different, they just want everybody to pretend they are.

  60. 60
    ck

    New Atheists see evil as something outside themselves that must be eradicated and that evil is largely Muslim.

    Even Christopher Hitchens never said that and probably would never have said something like that (despite his warmongering attitude towards the middle east). Sam Harris often did say something like this, but at least he tries to pretend he didn’t. Both of them took positions that are easy to morally oppose, yet he goes for the strawperson version of their arguments because…?

  61. 61
    David Marjanović

    “Begging the question” is a bad translation of petitio principii.

    Jesus, Mary and hairy Joseph, this man is a Pulitzer-Prizewinning journalist?

    what

    *blink*

    what

    I don’t even

  62. 62
    gussnarp

    What concerns me about this guy is that people out there will hear his lectures or read his articles and actually believe the outright lies he’s telling are characteristic of atheists.

    As far as I can tell his problem with “New Atheists” is that he’s either never read a word of Dawkins or didn’t understand it and he hates Sam Harris and Hitch on Muslims and military policy, so all New Atheists are like Harris and Hitchens and have the misguided view of evolution that he misunderstood Dawkins to have. Or he just hates Harris and Hitchens so much that he’s actively lying about Dawkins’ views in order to have a larger group of examples of how awful we are.

  63. 63
    Zeppelin

    “if for some reason you want to continue in the incorrect use of the phrase”

    There is no such thing as “incorrect use” of a phrase/word/grammatical construction.

    You can argue that it is non-standard and so might confuse people not familiar with that usage (which I don’t think applies to “beg the question”, since the “incorrect” usage is probably the more common, familiar one at this point). Or you can argue that it shows a lack of education, or that it should be avoided for the sake of clarity or consistency with other systems in the language, or is harmful in some way (as in the use of slurs etc.), or just not aesthetically pleasing I guess.

    Personally I would kind of like people to not use “beg the question” to mean “bring up the question” because the original usage is useful and it would be nice to preserve it.

    But “incorrect” isn’t a thing in the ordinary use of language.

    [/pet peeve]

    Oh ya, and Chris Hedges is a reactionary moron I guess and even secular Americans get bafflingly defensive of religion when someone criticises it.

  64. 64
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Hedges has long had a tendency to reflexively other, and in a very hostile and disturbing manner. He did it in American Fascists, and it was disturbing then. He’s done it with the Black Bloc (and anarchists in general, and vegans). And he does it with gnu atheists.*

    He unleashes these bilious attacks on whole categories of people and social movements, and doesn’t seem to care who gets hurt. Sadly, people often accept it because they share his dislike of those targeted and fail to realize that it’s not helpful and in many cases woefully inaccurate. It’s frustrating because he has a lot that’s worthwhile to say, but it’s tainted by this othering. It’s sloppy, harmful journalism of the sort that he hates when rightwingers do it.

    * It even made me recoil when he did it with rich people. A few months ago, he published an article at Truthdig, “Let’s Get This Class War Started”:

    Wealth breeds, as Fitzgerald illustrated in “The Great Gatsby” and his short story “The Rich Boy,” a class of people for whom human beings are disposable commodities.

    …The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults.

    …their insatiable selfishness and hedonism…

    …I learned, as a boy, who were my enemies.

    …We have been blinded to the depravity of our ruling elite…

  65. 65
    doublereed

    Whenever people use “begs the question” correctly, it always sounds wrong (to me at least). Whenever people use “begs the question” incorrectly, it always sounds right.

    I’d rather just say “that’s circular reasoning” and point out the circular reasoning. I don’t understand what that has to do with begging, though.

  66. 66
    Alex

    @doublereed

    Whenever people use “begs the question” correctly, it always sounds wrong (to me at least). Whenever people use “begs the question” incorrectly, it always sounds right.

    This begs the question whether you are begging the question that your gut feeling towards the correct use of the phrase “it begs the question” implies that the incorrect use is thus justified. In fact, your choice of the labels “correct” and “incorrect” begs the question which of the uses of “begging the question” is actually the correct one.

    You heard me!

  67. 67
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    It’s also interesting how self-contradictory he is. He writes against his straw black bloc opponents:

    This is a struggle to win the hearts and minds of the wider public and those within the structures of power (including the police) who are possessed of a conscience. It is not a war.

    But then the other article I link to from a few months ago paints it as precisely a class war and calls the powerful “pathological” and “depraved,” chastising others on the Left for failing to recognize this.

    He criticizes gnu atheists (and BB anarchists) for allegedly being intolerant, but the closing chapters of American Fascists are an open call for intolerance of Christian fundamentalists. He seems to consider othering and intolerance as virtues when he practices them but vices in those onto whom he’s projecting them (and who he considers, for the moment, fundamentally other and not to be tolerated).

  68. 68
    doublereed

    This begs the question whether you are begging the question that your gut feeling towards the correct use of the phrase “it begs the question” implies that the incorrect use is thus justified. In fact, your choice of the labels “correct” and “incorrect” begs the question which of the uses of “begging the question” is actually the correct one.

    You heard me!

    This really begs the question of whether the correct usage of “begs the question” is worth discussing.

  69. 69
    sqlrob

    @Marcus Ranum, #24

    I’m curious, is it reasonable to be a nihilist and a new atheist?

    I think if a new atheist isn’t a nihilist, they’re doing it wrong. What external is imposing the purpose?

    “Life has no purpose, I’m going to make me some” is nihilist.

  70. 70
    Nathair

    But “incorrect” isn’t a thing in the ordinary use of language.

    Well, I fish rail wooden that irregardlessly or not. Spaniard?

  71. 71
    godfreyj

    Jesus, Mary and hairy Joseph! Next time I’ll go with “it prompts the question” or some such.

    Pedants are, generally speaking, men with too much time on their hands.

  72. 72
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    godfreyj #71

    Pedants are, generally speaking, men with too much time on their hands.

    Women can’t be pedants?

    Try “people.”

  73. 73
    vaiyt

    And then he does this talk, and in his writing about atheism in general, and I find myself questioning his competence, which makes me wonder whether he’s as sloppy when he’s talking about things I haven’t experienced as directly as he has, and that makes him an unreliable source.

    He probably is. It seems that his entire MO is painting large swathes of people with a broad brush to tap into existing prejudices in his audience.

  74. 74
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    By the way, you can read David Graeber’s response to Hedges about the Black Bloc here. One important and relevant quote:

    I am appealing to you because I really do believe the kind of statement you made is profoundly dangerous.

    The reason I say this is because, whatever your intentions, it is very hard to read your statement as anything but an appeal to violence. After all, what are you basically saying about what you call “Black Bloc anarchists”?

    1) they are not part of us

    2) they are consciously malevolent in their intentions

    3) they are violent

    4) they cannot be reasoned with

    5) they are all the same

    6) they wish to destroy us

    7) they are a cancer that must be excised

    Surely you must recognize, when it’s laid out in this fashion, that this is precisely the sort of language and argument that, historically, has been invoked by those encouraging one group of people to physically attack, ethnically cleanse, or exterminate another—in fact, the sort of language and argument that is almost never invoked in any other circumstance. After all, if a group is made up exclusively of violent fanatics who cannot be reasoned with, intent on our destruction, what else can we really do? This is the language of violence in its purest form. Far more than “fuck the police.” To see this kind of language employed by someone who claims to be speaking in the name of non-violence is genuinely extraordinary.

    I wish Hedges would listen to this.

  75. 75
    godfreyj

    Daz,

    In my experience pedants are almost exclusively (or, if you like, to a man) male.

  76. 76
    Nathair

    In my experience pedants are almost exclusively (or, if you like, to a man) male.

    That’s a relief! For a second there I thought you were calling me a pedant. I’m glad the puerile name-calling is directed elsewhere.

  77. 77
    chigau (違う)

    godfreyj #75

    In my experience pedants are almost exclusively (or, if you like, to a man) male.

    Are you new here?

  78. 78
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    godfreyj #75

    In my experience pedants are almost exclusively (or, if you like, to a man) male.

    No, I don’t like.

    Seriously, your best option here is. “Sorry, I’ll make sure to avoid making unconsciously sexist statements in future.” We all make mistakes. The best we can do is try to learn from them.

  79. 79
    doublereed

    godfreyj has three options that I see: double-down, notpology, and apology.

    Bets anyone? I got three dogecoins on notpology.

  80. 80
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Sign me up for tuppence on “goes mysteriously quiet.”

  81. 81
    godfreyj

    godfreyj has three options that I see: double-down, notpology, and apology.

    I’m going with number three. He’ll apologize for overestimating the degree of self-awareness of commentators on blogs put up by serious-minded people.

  82. 82
    Inaji

    godfreyj @ 81:

    I’m going with number three. He’ll apologize for overestimating the degree of self-awareness of commentators on blogs put up by serious-minded people.

    This would be a classic notpology, which would be number two. An actual apology would run something like this: “I didn’t realize how thoughtlessly biased I was being, now that I’m aware of it, I’ll be careful from now on in not assuming gender. I apologize, and thanks for raising my consciousness!”

  83. 83
    Sastra

    godfreyj #75 wrote:

    In my experience pedants are almost exclusively (or, if you like, to a man) male.

    You forgot to put a comma after the word “experience.”

  84. 84
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    godfreyj:

    then it begs the question

    No, it doesn’t.

    Yes it does.

    It’s not the modern users’ fault that past generations of philosophers made such a piss-poor choice of expressions to appropriate as a term of art to express a very different concept which the phrasing suggests far less than the way it’s actually used. Philosophers, more than anyone else, should know how to say what they fucking mean. See comment about “worshipping the dead.”

  85. 85
    godfreyj

    Oh, dear. For anybody interested, I’m told lives are going cheap in Syria, North Korea, and several other charming places.

    Now do please excuse me, I actually have one. Au revoir.

  86. 86
    scienceavenger

    If this madeup bullshit is typical of Hedges’ reporting prowess, the Pulitzer people need to retract their award, for clearly the vast majority of what Hedges reported was based on his fantasies rather than reality.

  87. 87
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Personally I would kind of like people to not use “beg the question” to mean “bring up the question” because the original usage is useful and it would be nice to preserve it.

    The problem with all these alternatives like “bring up,” “raise,” etc is that they are nowhere near forceful enough to convey the incredulity which is usually due.

  88. 88
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    godfreyj #85

    Oh, dear. For anybody interested, I’m told lives are going cheap in Syria, North Korea, and several other charming places.

    Dear Muslima…

    It’s possible to be concerned about more than one problem at a time, old chap. Why, some of us have been known, after a strict training regime, to walk, talk, chew gum and breathe, all at the same time.

  89. 89
    chigau (違う)

    godfreyj #85
    Wow. Snap. You sure told us.
    Whew.
    I am stung.

  90. 90
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    “I didn’t realize how thoughtlessly biased I was being, now that I’m aware of it, I’ll be careful from now on in not assuming gender. I apologize, and thanks for raising my consciousness!”

    From and to a reasonable person, “Okay, a PERSON with too much time on their hands” would have been fine.

  91. 91
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Oooh: The rarely seen option 4b! Notpology, followed by a a generalized insult to all readers, and then a half-gainer into the bandwidth.

  92. 92
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Damnit, though, that’s two whole pence I’ll not see again.

  93. 93
    Nathair

    It’s not the modern users’ fault that past generations of philosophers made such a piss-poor choice of expressions to appropriate as a term of art to express a very different concept which the phrasing suggests far less than the way it’s actually used.

    You have that ass-backwards. (Hint: That’s the point.) As has already been pointed out in these comments (not to mention in Wikipedia, that minimum-bar source to check before you hold forth) the phrase originated as a mistranslation of the Latin petitio principii. It was not in use and then appropriated by “philosophers”, it entered the language as a technical term for a very specific logical fallacy and has since been misused by people who simply do not understand the actual meaning of the phrase (Vizzini syndrome).

  94. 94
    morgan ?! epitheting a metaphor

    Ha! Sastra at #83 for the win!

    Hi all. I’m just starting to come up for air after having moved from the beach to the rural mountains. What an experience this has been. I’ll explain more in a bit in the Lounge.

    P.S. I dearly love it when very smart people are very droll.

  95. 95
    doublereed

    Woo!! Called it! Notpology for the win! *victory dance*

    This would be a classic notpology, which would be number two.

    I much prefer classic notpologies. Some of the new flavors are just weird.

  96. 96
    Inaji

    godfreyj:

    Oh, dear. For anybody interested, I’m told lives are going cheap in Syria, North Korea, and several other charming places.

    Another classic: we’re all wasting our time on unimportant drivel, just commenting on a blog. However, when you’re spending time commenting on a blog, why, that’s terribly different.

  97. 97
    coffeehound

    @ 85,

    Now do please excuse me, I actually have one. Au revoir.

    Wow. a #2, followed by a snark and a flounce. Bravo! 9/10!

  98. 98
    David Marjanović

    Vizzini syndrome

    So full of win!

  99. 99
    ChasCPeterson

    Oh, dear. For anybody interested, I’m told lives are going cheap in Syria, North Korea, and several other charming places.
    Now do please excuse me, I actually have one.

    How nice for him or her; he or she has a charming place.

  100. 100
    goon

    Nick Gotts @ #37

    No, Harris really is an arsehole, as his “Response to controversy” amply confirms.


    ____________________________________________________________________________
    I don’t get it. Could you be more specific about what makes him an arsehole.

    That article seems pretty reasonable to me.

  101. 101
    Nathair

    That article seems pretty reasonable to me.

    Blasphemy!

  102. 102
    godfreyj

    Chas et al:

    I see I was a shade too subtle for some. Okay, I’ll simplify it:

    1. The pedants here need to get a life.
    2. Lives are cheap in certain countries.
    3. I, on the other hand, have a life and would rather devote my time to worthwhile pursuits.

    Clear?

    It’s a little disappointing to note that so few here are ready to discuss my original contention, i.e. that Hedge hardly merits a Pulitzer Prize and that the integrity of his foreign journalism may well be suspect.

  103. 103
    doublereed

    godfrey, we got it. It’s just that once we got it, we didn’t want it anymore.

  104. 104
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    You have that ass-backwards. (Hint: That’s the point.) As has already been pointed out in these comments (not to mention in Wikipedia, that minimum-bar source to check before you hold forth) the phrase originated as a mistranslation of the Latin petitio principii. It was not in use and then appropriated by “philosophers”, it entered the language as a technical term for a very specific logical fallacy and has since been misused by people who simply do not understand the actual meaning of the phrase (Vizzini syndrome).

    Are you seriously asserting that the English words “beg,” “the,” and “question” did not exist or did not have their straightforward meanings as individual words prior to that dumb-shit translation decision? Because that’s the only way they could have previously not had their straightforward meaning as an assemblage prior to that mistranslation, which is the only way your claim makes sense.

  105. 105
    Sastra

    godfreyj #102 wrote:

    It’s a little disappointing to note that so few here are ready to discuss my original contention, i.e. that Hedge hardly merits a Pulitzer Prize and that the integrity of his foreign journalism may well be suspect.

    Suggestion: if that’s what you wanted to focus on, then that’s what you should have focused on. If someone corrects a bit of phrasing (“begs the question”) which doesn’t concern what you want to focus on, then say nothing — or say thanks — and don’t get into a long debate about it, about pedantry, about the gender of pedantry, and so forth. Stay on topic. Others have agreed with your original contention, including PZ.

  106. 106
    paulmccue

    PZ,
    why are you and Sam Harris not seeing eye to eye? I mean are there specific ideas or just over time things got testy?

  107. 107
    Nathair

    Are you seriously asserting that the English words “beg,” “the,” and “question” did not exist or did not have their straightforward meanings as individual words prior to that dumb-shit translation decision?

    Neither seriously, in jest nor otherwise.

    Because that’s the only way they could have previously not had their straightforward meaning as an assemblage prior to that mistranslation, which is the only way your claim makes sense.

    No. The phrase “begs the question” does not actually make any literal sense. It only “makes sense” in this context if it is an idiom, a figurative phrase actually meaning “raises the question” or “prompts one to ask the question”. The only reason that the word “begs” is involved here is because of the mistranslation of petitio. Without that mistake I very much doubt that the words “beg the question” would ever have been strung together in this context.

    Don’t take my word for it, do a little research for yourself.

  108. 108
    godfreyj

    Doublereed,

    You may have “got it” but others evidently did not.

    Sastra,

    I wasn’t the one who strayed from the topic. Blame the pedants, and there are a lot of them about today.

  109. 109
    vaiyt

    1. The pedants here need to get a life.
    2. Lives are cheap in certain countries.
    3. I, on the other hand, have a life and would rather devote my time to worthwhile pursuits.

    1. Says you.
    2. Which has nothing to do with whatever you said, and it’s just using the deaths of other people as a cheap weapon to snipe at people in a blog.
    3. Says you. While coming to a blog. To say things. Just like everyone else here.

  110. 110
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    godfreyj:

    1. The pedants here need to get a life

    I’ve grown rather tired of this ridiculous attempt at an insult. We all have lives. Over the course of a period of time, many of us will engage in various activities that constitute “having a life”. The implication here is that you disagree with how others spend their time, i.e. “live their lives”.
    Guess what? You don’t get to determine how others spend their time and your approval (or lack thereof) regarding how others spend their time is neither needed nor wanted.

  111. 111
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    vaiyt:

    2. Which has nothing to do with whatever you said, and it’s just using the deaths of other people as a cheap weapon to snipe at people in a blog.

    Thanks. I couldn’t put my finger on why that comment made me cringe. You nailed it.

  112. 112
    chigau (違う)

    Did you know that in order to be considered for a Pulitzer Prize, you submit your work and pay $50?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulitzer_Prize#Entry_and_prize_consideration

  113. 113
    ChasCPeterson

    yep, godfreyj is just way too subtle for me!

    I, on the other hand, have a life and would rather devote my time to worthwhile pursuits.

    and yet here you are. Being subtle.

    why are you and Sam Harris not seeing eye to eye?

    cheese-off

    in order to be considered for a Pulitzer Prize, you submit your work and pay $50?

    Usually your publisher pays (my best buddy from college almost won one last year).

  114. 114
    Sastra

    godfreyj #108 wrote:

    I wasn’t the one who strayed from the topic. Blame the pedants, and there are a lot of them about today.

    No, you misunderstand. I wasn’t concerned about keeping the topic from straying within the thread. Who cares if it does? People see something of interest. Good.

    I was suggesting that if you keep your focus and don’t personally follow and argue and defend and contribute to that new issue so that you become the new issue, then you’re more likely to have the sort of conversation you say you want to have. With comment sections which routinely go over 100 posts, there’s always multiple lines of discussions. Pick yours.

  115. 115
    Nick Gotts

    goon@100:

    1) He says torture should be illegal, but “we” should give a nod and a wink to “our” interrogators that they should go ahead and torture if they think the circumstances call for it. IOW, he supports torture.
    2) He supports racial profiling, i.e. the harassment of people who “look Muslim”. IOW, he’s a racist.
    3) He says that:

    The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.

    He justifies this pat on the back for fascists by saying:

    The whole purpose of that essay (written in 2006) was to express my concern that the political correctness of the Left has made it taboo to even notice the menace of political Islam, leaving only right-wing fanatics to do the job.

    No-one but an arsehole or a fuckwit uses the term “political correctness” to attack people: it is and always was nothing other than a right-wing sneer aimed at anyone who objects to bigotry. The “menace of political Islam” is itself largely a bogeyman used to justify repressive policies and hatred of brown people. There is zero chance of political Islam coming anywhere near power in any western country in the forseeable future; our liberties are in far more danger from our own governments than from political Islam; and while there are Islamist terrorists, the chances of the average person in a western country being killed by them is orders of magnitude less than their chances of being killed in a road accident.

    4) He thinks:

    Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.

    His supposed justification for this is completely dishonest.

    When one asks why it would be ethical to drop a bomb on Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda, the answer cannot be, “Because he killed so many people in the past.” To my knowledge, the man hasn’t killed anyone personally. However, he is likely to get a lot of innocent people killed because of what he and his followers believe about jihad, martyrdom, the ascendancy of Islam, etc.

    Of course, al-Zawahiri is not targeted for his beliefs, but for his role as a terrorist recruiter and organiser. The fact that he hasn’t killed anyone personally is so utterly irrelevant it is impossible to believe Harris doesn’t know that fact. Harris said quite explicitly that it “may be ethical” to kill people for their beliefs. Then he lacks the moral courage either to openly stand by that claim, or to say “Sorry. I didn’t mean that.” That’s typical of Harris: he likes to court controversy with his moral pronouncements, then when challenged claims he’s been misinterpreted, while effectively reiterating his earlier position.
    5) He supports pre-emptive genocide in certain circumstances. Here he is in his own words:

    What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. 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.

    Of course it would not be “the only action available to us”. Talk of “the only course of action available to us” is always dishonest. The alternative to committing pre-emptive genocide (which Harris goes on to admit that might well lead to a war in which “much of the world’s population could be annihilated”), is not to commit pre-emptive genocide. Even retaliatory genocide would be utterly immoral, but to even consider launching a nuclear first strike is plain evil.

    So in sum, Harris supports torture, racial profiling, fascist rhetoric, killing people for their beliefs, and pre-emptive genocide. If that doesn’t make him an arsehole, it’s only because the metaphor is grossly unfair to arseholes.

  116. 116
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @ck

    New Atheists see evil as something outside themselves that must be eradicated” and “that evil is largely Muslim.

    [...] Sam Harris often did say something like this, but at least he tries to pretend he didn’t.

    Sam Harris is the first to point out the big losers of Islam are the Muslims themselves. This has been his shtick for quite a while now. I don’t think it’s fair or honest to attribute the above to him. (However, about other horrible things he’s said…)

    @zibble
    What Nick Gotts says in 115 is roughly accurate, but I still think the tone is extreme. He’s no white supremacist or actual fascist. He has said some rather outrageous things with pisspoor justifications.

    He is for wink-wink support of torture of “terrorists” because safety. There’s no nuance which can save him here.

    He is for racial profiling because safety. In his defense, he’s not saying that Arabs or any other race are inherently or genetically evil, inferior, more prone to violence, etc. He’s clear that Arab is just a convenient association with Muslim which is what he really wants to profile. Meh, not much better. He doesn’t have inherently racist values. He just advocates racist policies (such as racial profiling). I think most people here wouldn’t care, but I think it’s an important difference.

    Killing people for their beliefs and preemptive genocide. Nick did a great dissection of the idiocy he said there. I think there’s some interesting and good points buried in there, but Sam’s stupid is pretty strong.

    On the whole though, I respect the man and find most of his work to be brilliant. However, I think I’m alone in that opinion here.

  117. 117
    paulmccue

    Nock Gotts @ 115

    Two points.
    Firstly you have missed the point on the fascist remark. It was only referring to the lack of voice from other places on the political spectrum, not endorsing the fascists.

    the chances of the average person in a western country being killed by them is orders of magnitude less than their chances of being killed in a road accident.

    Secondly, for your quote above, this is only because of the lack of opportunity, which also leads on to the point about first strike or WMD. The numbers dying from terrorism at the moment is dependant only on the lack of means from those professing to want you destroyed, as a culture.

  118. 118
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    EnlightenmentLiberal #116

    He doesn’t have inherently racist values. He just advocates racist policies (such as racial profiling). I think most people here wouldn’t care, but I think it’s an important difference.

    If the outcome is applied racism, what matters it whether proponents of the action “have racist values” or not? The end result is still applied racism.

    Someone who claims not to be racist, yet advocates racism, is indeed racist. They’re just compounding it with hypocrisy.

  119. 119
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Daz
    Because his starting values are racist, because it’s a surface phenomenon, I hold out hope that it can more easily be fixed, and I believe that it’s less likely to infect the rest of his beliefs and policy positions unlike an actual white supremacist.

  120. 120
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Daz
    Because his starting values are *NOT* racist, because it’s a surface phenomenon, I hold out hope that it can more easily be fixed, and I believe that it’s less likely to infect the rest of his beliefs and policy positions unlike an actual white supremacist.

  121. 121
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    EnlightenmentLiberal

    For sure, I’m not accusing him of KKK-levels of bigotry, but really; “I don’t have racist values, I just think we should do this racist thing,” is merely a wordy version of “I’m not racist, but….”

  122. 122
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Yeah. I’m not defending Sam on that point. I think he’s clearly wrong. I was just noting that I think he’s mostly a good guy with great points on many subjects – just not this one.

  123. 123
    ck

    2) He supports racial profiling, i.e. the harassment of people who “look Muslim”. IOW, he’s a racist.

    No, he says he opposes racial profiling, but thinks we should profile those who “look Muslim” without explaining how he wants to profile them without the racial component. Another “wink, wink” “nudge, nudge” maneuver similar to #1 on your list.

    His entire schtick seems to be saying something while claiming to not be saying it, and the worst part is that it seems to fool some people.

  124. 124
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    EnlightenmentLiberal:

    Because his starting values are *NOT* racist, because it’s a surface phenomenon,

    How do you know his starting values are not racist?
    As he is a USanian, and racist beliefs are embedded in society, Harris is just as likely to hold racist beliefs as anyone else in this country. His privilege may make his words *that* much more dangerous.

  125. 125
    Nathair

    He is for racial profiling because safety. In his defense, he’s not saying that Arabs or any other race are inherently or genetically evil, inferior, more prone to violence, etc. He’s clear that Arab is just a convenient association with Muslim which is what he really wants to profile.

    Actually, I don’t think it’s not even that bad. Certainly he is in favour of profiling. There are a number of factors which he suggests make a person more or less likely, statistically speaking, to be a terrorist threat. Being a young to middle aged male or apparently Middle Eastern are examples of such, likewise being an eight year old wheelchair-bound kid from the midwest travelling to Disney World with his family or an eighty year old woman travelling with her eighty five year old husband would be others. What he was proposing was profiling for such factors. Personally I think that such profiling is both wrong and mistaken, but that doesn’t make it Racial Profiling and it certainly does not make it racially motivated or Harris a racist. It is hard to deny that the 9/11 hijackers, Richard Reid, the underwear bomber, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev etc. don’t fit a fairly narrow (although not a racial) profile. It is perfectly understandable that someone might think that this fact should be used to focus detection resources without them automatically being racist.

    On the whole though, I respect the man and find most of his work to be brilliant. However, I think I’m alone in that opinion here.

    Nope.

  126. 126
    Nathair

    *Please ignore the first and last “not” in that comment.

  127. 127
    consciousness razor

    I wonder if Hedges has had any contact with the Harvard Humanists. Some of them are/were in Harvard Divinity School as well, so he could’ve easily run this bullshit past them first. Have any of them tried confronting him? If he saw that he’s wrong about them on every single point PZ mentioned, would that give him a reason to change his mind, or would they not count as “New Atheists”? Would he continue to lie about them, right to their faces?

  128. 128
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    How do you know his starting values are not racist?

    How do I know what anything thinks? By using my knowledge of human psychology to construct models of other people’s minds. Basic theory of mind stuff.

    Of everything I know of him, his statements are not consistent with someone who has the “naive” belief that Arabs are subhuman or whatever. In fact, if you listen to him, one of his big shticks is that the cultural relativists of the west are amoral asshats for not attacking Islam more because they fail to emphasize with the true losers Islam – all of the people in Islamic countries. He’s been saying this for years. This is not someone who thinks that Muslims, or Arabs, Africans, Asians, etc., are inherently inferior, nor less deserving of moral consideration.

    Does he have some internalized privilege? He’s a white male in the US. Very probably. So do I. So does mots of the population. But we don’t all people racist for merely having such subconscious views.

    However, we do call people racist who pursue racist policies, and on that Sam fails hard.

    Still, it’s not done out of a belief that non-Muslims are more deserving of moral value or consideration. It’s not done out of a belief that Muslims are more violent because of their ethnicity / genetics. It is done out of the belief that Muslims are more violent and dangerous because of their culture (culture includes religious beliefs, practices, etc.), and he wants to help them by getting them to jettison their noxious beliefs for their own benefit. Meh.

  129. 129
    consciousness razor

    It is perfectly understandable that someone might think that this fact should be used to focus detection resources without them automatically being racist.

    There’s nothing “automatic” about this. He’s been ranting about Muslims for a long time now; so this isn’t just some isolated, ignorant speculation about how he thinks security ought to be run.

    But if what you want to do is speculate that Harris “might” not be racist, because of a series of motivations you’ve projected onto him, that’s some pretty weak tea. It wouldn’t hold up, even if he hadn’t shown his cards so many other times.

  130. 130
    Rob Grigjanis

    godfreyj @102:

    It’s a little disappointing to note that so few here are ready to discuss my original contention, i.e. that Hedge hardly merits a Pulitzer Prize and that the integrity of his foreign journalism may well be suspect.

    Discuss what? If you don’t think he merited the Pulitzer, write a stern letter to the Pulitzer Prize Board, outlining your reasons. I’m sure they’ll give you the consideration you deserve. Be sure to send copies to Amnesty International and the Los Angeles Press Club as well. They were taken in too, apparently.

    For his foreign journalism, you should concentrate on his time in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. Look for reports of atheist snipers.

  131. 131
    consciousness razor

    In fact, if you listen to him, one of his big shticks is that the cultural relativists of the west are amoral asshats for not attacking Islam more because they fail to emphasize with the true losers Islam – all of the people in Islamic countries. He’s been saying this for years. This is not someone who thinks that Muslims, or Arabs, Africans, Asians, etc., are inherently inferior, nor less deserving of moral consideration.

    It’s a common theme among conservative warmongers, that liberals are just a bunch of relativists, hence why we should attack X or punish X severely, while it’s invariably some foreign or minority group. What gives you the idea that this isn’t racially motivated? Is it that they say something else which distracts you from actually considering it in the first place?

  132. 132
    doublereed

    Honestly, after that long conversation with Bruce Schneier about racial profiling (read it at Harris’ site or at Schneier’s site, I came to the conclusion that he is in fact racist (or Islamophobic or whatever).

    Why?

    Because he’s clearly throwing whatever arguments he can, even ones that do not pertain at all or are completely irrelevant, to justify profiling muslims. Even when it is explained that causation doesn’t matter, just correlation, he continues to yammer on about causation, as if it affects the argument. Even when Schneier demonstrates cost ineffectiveness, Harris tries to distract with nonsense about other topics which involve completely different variables and concepts. Basically the conversation is Harris trying to justify a way – any way – to profile for muslims, and Schneier smacks them all down for being bad security.

    Harris still doesn’t think he lost that argument. And because of that, I’m convinced that the real reason he wants to profile muslims is because he has an irrational hatred of muslims.

  133. 133
    mbrysonb

    Hedges is gloriously (and tragically) incoherent. I had a short exchange with him in the pages of the Globe and Mail a few years back– none of the points I made got any kind of response from him– he just went on repeating himself. Maybe I could have focused my remarks more clearly, but I had the impression that there was no way at all to have a conversation with him. (BTW, his criticisms of Harris I don’t much mind — not only does Harris play a cartoon Islamophobe all too well, his discussions of Israeli actions, including killing Palestinian civilians, made him sound like a hard-line Likudnik.)

    For those curious enough to want to read the exchange, see: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/symposium-atheism/article670344/

  134. 134
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @consciousness razor
    I can only go by what he says. He seems honest enough, and he has said repeatedly for years that the biggest reason we need to fix Islam is for the Muslims. The Muslims are on the receiving end of the biggest harm of Islam, and we should care about that because empathy and basic human decency.

    @doublereed
    I think the real reason is that he is tenacious, and will argue a point into the ground on an obscure technicality, even when he’s wrong on the major point. He’s a pedant, like me, and I can identify and sympathize with that. His actual goal is not to profile Muslims per se. His actual goal is to prove an esoteric point that if racially profiling Muslims would work that it can be justifiable to do it. (IIRC, Schneier also set off another one of his pet peeves – that belief doesn’t matter, and so he argued into the ground that belief does matter.) In the end, he went way overboard.

    We both agree the net result is that Sam is a racist in fact. However, you think it’s due to some deep-seated hatred or fear of Muslims or Arabs or whatever, whereas I think that’s patently ridiculous given everything else he’s said about the suffering of Muslims because of Islam (see above).

  135. 135
    Nathair

    It wouldn’t hold up, even if he hadn’t shown his cards so many other times.

    So he’s clearly racist because of a bunch of other unspecified stuff?

    He’s been ranting about Muslims for a long time now

    “Ranting” about Muslims or about Islam or about Islamists? The distinction is important. Or do you think all of PZ’s “ranting” about the Catholic church means he hates Catholic people? Is criticism of Israel likewise antisemitism?

  136. 136
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    “Or do you think all of PZ’s “ranting” about the Catholic church means he hates Catholic people?”
    No, but I’m pretty sure Ian Paisley’s ranting about them means that. Did you know there’s in fact more than one way to criticize a religion?

    “Is criticism of Israel likewise antisemitism?”
    Not inherently, unless you’re among the many, many anti-Semites who think they’re fooling anyone when they claim “Israeli government”= “all Jewish people”. In ways that are traditionally used to dehumanize Jewish people and legitimize hatred against them. Which is closer to what Harris seems to think is awesome.

  137. 137
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    I really hope this doesn’t turn into an “Islam in not a race” thread.

    Nathair:
    Did you read Nick Gotts’ #115? When you look at who Sam Harris is talking about when speaking of Muslims or Islam, he’s talking about people of a specific ethnicity. This is not at all similar to PZ “ranting” about the Catholic church.

  138. 138
    consciousness razor

    I can only go by what he says. He seems honest enough, and he has said repeatedly for years that the biggest reason we need to fix Islam is for the Muslims. The Muslims are on the receiving end of the biggest harm of Islam, and we should care about that because empathy and basic human decency.

    Sure, I agree Islam has problems, just like Christianity or Buddhism or whatever, and we should care about the people affected by it, most of whom are the Muslims and Christians and Buddhists themselves.

    But it doesn’t show any empathy or decency at all to go to war with them, profile them, etc. Bombing their cities, an inevitable consequence of any modern U.S.-led war you support (cf., “what he says”), is not something a person with empathy and basic human decency wants. Either Harris lacks those, or he’s astonishingly naive about what kind of “just war” he was expecting to get. He’s not that stupid. He’s just prejudiced, like many people are. He at least cares more about people in “the West” and what kind of bombings they might have to endure, than any of the people he claims to be helping.

  139. 139
    doublereed

    @EnlightenmentLiberal

    Yea, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. In my opinion, it was an obvious example of someone who simply cannot think clearly about an issue because of an irrational fear or bias. And ever since then, I always cringe when he speaks about any issue that is tangentially related to Islam. He clearly cannot think rationally when Islam is in the room.

  140. 140
    Nathair

    Did you read Nick Gotts’ #115? When you look at who Sam Harris is talking about when speaking of Muslims or Islam, he’s talking about people of a specific ethnicity.

    I did read it. I do not find what you see to have found. Harris speaks of “an Islamist regime” and “political Islam” but if he is quoted as having said anything at all about a particular ethnicity in that comment I cannot seem to find it. I do see Nick claiming that he just knows, somehow, that “political Islam” is secretly a code for “hatred of brown people” but that’s far from compelling. What exactly are you referring to?

  141. 141
    Rob Grigjanis

    mbrysonb @133: Yeah, it’s the same rehashed tripe. New Atheism has become his bête noire. The sad thing is that he is a great journalist, and this isn’t journalism. It’s obviously personal. There’s a symmetry of a sort with Harris, who can also be brilliant, but

    I wish he’d get back to talking about sacrifice zones like the coal fields of West Virginia, Camden, NJ, and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. If he can find an audience.

  142. 142
    godfreyj

    HappiestSadist,

    Re Ian Paisley, I happen to know the man and can assure you that, despite what his ranting would suggest, he doesn’t actually hate Catholic people.

    He certainly despises their denomination and all it stands for. He associates “papists” with the IRA and those who waged a terror campaign against his co-religionists and Unionists. In this he isn’t too mistaken.

    But he’s one of those old-school Bible-thumpers who prefer to pray for those they see as being “in error” rather than hate them as individuals. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” and all that.

  143. 143
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    he has said repeatedly for years that the biggest reason we need to fix Islam is for the Muslims. The Muslims are on the receiving end of the biggest harm of Islam, and we should care about that because empathy and basic human decency.

    If you and Harris care about the people in Muslim-majority countries/communities who are harmed by Islamic fundamentalism, you should learn more and spread the word about movements in these countries/communities, the people who are resisting fundamentalism at great personal risk and cost. Talking about how “we” need to “fix Islam” is arrogant, patronizing, and offensive.

  144. 144
    Nathair

    In ways that are traditionally used to dehumanize Jewish people and legitimize hatred against them. Which is closer to what Harris seems to think is awesome.

    OK, so show me what you’re talking about. You’re accusing the man of racism, surely you have evidence beyond assumptions about what he really probably secretly thinks based on, you know, personal impressions about tone and stuff.

  145. 145
    unclefrogy

    you know this argument about an Islamic country i.e. Iran getting atomic weapons is not very honest or something. While they are a danger if they were to fall in to the hands of someone who wanted to commit suicide and take a lot of people with them they are just about useless as an offensive weapon . the Big players,U.S. Russia and China know this and only Russia and the U.S. have enough already to turn everyone else to dust many times over. Any use as a first strike would be akin to suicide by cop. They are only of any use as a deterrent from attack by their neighbors.
    A difficult issue and a potential for massive contamination and death to be sure . it adds more difficulty to negotiations, absolutely! No one that could will start a Thermonuclear war and destroy the U.S.
    slightly off topic sorry but it just sets me off
    uncle frogy

  146. 146
    Al Dente

    Nathair @144

    You’re accusing the man of racism, surely you have evidence beyond assumptions about what he really probably secretly thinks based on, you know, personal impressions about tone and stuff.

    Harris has been very careful to approach the fringes of racism without actually crossing the line. Likewise he’s been very careful not to recommend genocide against Muslims but merely drop semi-subtle hints. He keeps his racism hidden enough that accusations of racism can be disputed by people like you. Harris is not stupid. He knows that overtly displaying his contempt for Muslims would only backfire. He’s all “Nudge, nudge. Wink wink. Say no more.”

  147. 147
    Nathair

    He keeps his racism hidden enough that accusations of racism can be disputed by people like you.

    Then it’s a good thing people like you can read minds and set us all straight on what he’s really thinking.

  148. 148
    anteprepro

    You’re accusing the man of racism,

    Heaven forbid!

    Place your bets on Nathair by default denying that anyone more tolerant than a Klan member is really a real true racist for real.

    (Symptom: Nathair will respond to this by illustrating with utter clarity that the only racism they count as True Racism is overt and explicitly hateful/angry)

  149. 149
    Nathair

    Place your bets on Nathair by default denying that anyone more tolerant than a Klan member is really a real true racist for real.

    “C’mon, you can just tell he’s super-duper-secretly racist!” doesn’t cut it. If he is, as you suggest, so obviously racially intolerant then you should be able to demonstrate it.

  150. 150
    anteprepro

    I believe such things have already been brought up, but how about we reduce the length of this little game:

    Tell us what you think racism is. What counts as racist. Set your goalposts down now, for all of us to see, and so everyone will notice if they budge a few yards. Then we’ll talk.

  151. 151
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:
    Mind reading is unnecessary.
    Just read Harris’ own words:
    (thanks to Nick’s #115)

    What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. 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 holds the opinion that committing genocide should be an option against a hypothetical Islamic regime. He even recognizes that it would kills tens of millions of innocent civilians. I wonder what region of the world his hypothetical Islamic regime is located.
    Then there’s the ethical and moral problems with killing people because of their beliefs. There are other religions across the world with adherents who have vile beliefs. Why is he singling out Islamic countries for genocide? What makes Islam so much worse than other religions that committing genocide is an option?

  152. 152
    Nathair

    He holds the opinion that committing genocide should be an option against a hypothetical Islamic regime. He even recognizes that it would kills tens of millions of innocent civilians. I wonder what region of the world his hypothetical Islamic regime is located.

    You’re conflating two things. Islam is predominantly a North African and Middle Eastern religion. That does not mean that criticism and concerns about Islam must therefore be mere camouflage for hating the people who happen to live where Islam predominates. You can’t just cavalierly make the assumption and then call it a day.

    Why is he singling out Islamic countries for genocide? What makes Islam so much worse than other religions that committing genocide is an option?

    As Harris has himself explained all religions are not the same. His commonly employed example is fundamentalist Jainism vs fundamentalist Islam. A core component of Jainism is absolute non-violence whereas the employment of violence in defence of the faith is central to a lot of fundamentalist Islamic interpretations. Put simply, you don’t get a lot of Quaker suicide bombers or Jainist Jihadis and it’s deeply disingenuous to pretend that all religions are equally dangerous.

  153. 153
    Nathair

    Tell us what you think racism is. What counts as racist.

    Racism is believing that people can be grouped into wide groups based on relatively superficial things like skin tone and ethnic origin and that some of these groups are inherently superior or inferior to others. Usually this includes assigning collections of traits supposedly endemic to these “races”.

    The distinction between racism and cultural or religious criticism is what seems to be central to the issue here. Does Sam Harris distinguish between these Islamist fundamentalists and, for example, Lebanese Christians or moderate Muslims? Yes, yet these people are all presumably of the same “race”? Does he specifically include non Middle Eastern/North African converts to fundamentalist Islam in his criticisms, in fact reserving especial criticism for them? Yes, yet such people of different “races”? So very clearly race is not what is driving these positions, Islamism is.

    I don’t exactly agree with Harris on these issues, but I do not think charges of racism are anything like justified.

  154. 154
    ck

    @Nathair,

    How convenient: a definition of racism that allows even KKK members and neo-nazis to avoid being called racist. You see, many members of these groups will tell you that they don’t hold any hatred for “coloured” people, just that they think they should be shipped out to live in “their own countries” because of purity or some such nonsense.

    You might want to rethink that definition.

  155. 155
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:

    Put simply, you don’t get a lot of Quaker suicide bombers or Jainist Jihadis and it’s deeply disingenuous to pretend that all religions are equally dangerous.

    And somehow that justifies genocide?

  156. 156
    theoreticalgrrrl

    When you believe the end justifies the means, you definitely are a borderline fanatic. I think Harris criticizing religion for excusing violence in the name of God is hypocritical, because he is using similar reasoning to excuse dropping nuclear bombs on people. To him, there is a higher purpose at stake, because he believes our very survival might depend on it.
    But I don’t think he is as a racist. Unless you can read his mind, you can’t accuse people of things you think they ‘secretly’ believe.

  157. 157
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:

    Does he specifically include non Middle Eastern/North African converts to fundamentalist Islam in his criticisms, in fact reserving especial criticism for them? Yes, yet such people of different “races”? So very clearly race is not what is driving these positions, Islamism is.

    Sam Harris supports profiling of Muslims. Based on his words, I believe he means racial profiling:

    For this reason, I have argued that we should profile for Muslims, or anyone who could conceivably be Muslim, at airport security. More specifically, I argue that we should anti-profile—paying less attention to people who, based on the totality of their characteristics, could not conceivably be jihadists. Once again, I would not put you or myself in this category, but many people one sees at the airport would fall into it.

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/to-profile-or-not-to-profile

    (the link is a debate between Harris and Bruce Schneier)

    As you cannot profile someone based on religion, who do you imagine Harris is talking about profiling?
    He’s avoiding saying it outright. Look at that last sentence. Who are the type of people in an airport that would fit in the category of “people to profile”. He’s saying that we see many people at an airport that could conceivably be jihadists. We see them. What visual clues do you think would lead someone to think an individual is a jihadist?

    Harris’ answer:

    Please remember, we are talking about recruiting people who want to die for the privilege of waging jihad against infidels. Just how deep a recruiting pool could this be among people born as non-Muslims? Not very. How easy can it be to recruit an old rancher and his wife from Texas to be suicide bombers? What about a pretty blonde from San Diego who once had a walk-on part on Battlestar Galactica? If it were easy to recruit such people—people about whom you would say, “Are you kidding me? They are members of al-Qaeda?”—then we would not be seeing young middle-eastern men show upon on the news, again and again.

    Take a look at the FBI’s most wanted terrorists. There appears to be one non-Muslim among them—an animal rights extremist. The rest fit the profile (absurdly well). Muslim terrorists have no trouble finding people willing to martyr themselves in places like Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia—and in their satellite communities in Europe—but, lucky for us, they still have a hard time recruiting a family that looks as if it just stepped out of a Ralph Lauren ad. Until this changes, it strikes me as completely irrational not to take these facts into account when screening for terrorists.

    Harris provides a link to the FBIs most wanted terrorists, most of whom he says “fit the profile”.
    Based on looking at them, Harris thinks most of the people on that list fit the profile for “potential jihadist”.

    He discounts one person on the list for appearing to be not Muslim.

    Can his Islamophobia be any more blatant?

    Given the ethnic group Harris is talking about profiling here, who do you think he’s talking about when he proposes a first strike against an Islamic regime? He’s talking about people from a specific region of the world. He’s saying that the deaths of millions of innocent people is acceptable so long as Islamists are prevented from attacking.

    That brings us back to the question of why Sam Harris is so focused on Islam.

  158. 158
    Weed(less) Monkey

    But I don’t think he is as a racist. Unless you can read his mind, you can’t accuse people of things you think they ‘secretly’ believe.

    That’s why “a racist” is meaningless. He’s racist in effect, and that’s an adjective.

  159. 159
    brucegorton

    Harris’ views involve treating people like a rather suspicious other.

    I know from my own frustrations with the religious left that this isn’t going to work. If you define me as the enemy, I’m going to feel less like being your friend.

    I mean that is ultimately the issue we have with Hedges isn’t it? Hedges has defined us as the rather suspicious other – much as Harris does with Muslims.

    I strongly disagree with Islam, but I also believe strongly in the idea of being fair to people. I do not believe that profiling, or treating people like an alien ‘minority’ is productive.

    Nor do I believe that torture is ultimately justifiable. While some people will point to the ticking time bomb analogy – well frankly I suspect that the bomb might have been planted there in the first place because of the state’s willingness to use torture against certain populations of people.

    Okay I’m a South African, that maybe led me towards having odd views on the subject.

    Further I extend this to countries. Iran wasn’t made any friendlier to the west by having one of the two major political parties in America beating war-drums at it, and that has had consequences for human rights in that country.

    If the first world wants to ‘fix’ the third – then do it by example. That includes things like not making exceptions for Islamist speakers at universities who want gender segregation sure – but it also means not particularly targeting Muslims for unfair treatment.

    I think to a large extent the debate over whether Harris is racist or not is kind of missing that point – it doesn’t really matter what he is, what matters is that what he proposes is wrong and has harmful consequences.

  160. 160
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    theoreticalgrrrl:

    To him, there is a higher purpose at stake, because he believes our very survival might depend on it.

    Is there evidence that his concern is warranted?
    Also, if he’s so worried about our survival, he ought to be concerned about the number of domestic terrorists.

    Unless you can read his mind, you can’t accuse people of things you think they ‘secretly’ believe.

    The man advocates racial profiling of Muslims. He looks at a particular ethnic group and thinks they fit the profile for jihadist.

    “Racial profiling” refers to the targeting of particular individuals by law enforcement authorities based not on their behavior, but rather their personal characteristics. It is generally used to encompass more than simply an individual’s race. As used in this report, it encompasses race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion—and means the impermissible use by law enforcement authorities of these personal characteristics, to any degree, in determining which individuals to stop, detain, question, or subject to other law enforcement activities. Two points should be emphasized in connection with this definition.

    As the qualifying term “impermissible use” indicates, the definition does not prohibit reliance by law enforcement authorities on race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion in all circumstances. Rather, it is aimed at law enforcement activities that are premised on the erroneous assumption that individuals of a particular race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion are more likely to engage in certain types of unlawful conduct than are individuals of another race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion

    (bolding mine)
    http://www.civilrights.org/publications/reports/racial-profiling2011/what-is-racial-profiling.html

    How effective is racial profiling?

    Racial profiling is “a sloppy, lazy substitute” for actual policing, said Professor Deborah Ramirez from Northeastern University School of Law, at a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties hearing called “Racial Profiling and the Use of Suspect Classifications in Law Enforcement.” The witnesses at the hearing represented many different organizations and fields, like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Sikh Coalition, Muslim Advocates, police officers, and professors. This diverse group of experts agreed on the following key points:

    Racial profiling is an abusive practice that targets innocent citizens solely because of the way that they look.
    Racial profiling is not an effective law enforcement strategy. Research shows that racial profiling diverts officers’ attention from using actual, objective signs of suspicious behavior to effectively assess situations.
    Racial profiling erodes trust between law enforcement and its community. As a result, people are less likely to report a crime or work with the police to give information that could apprehend an actual criminal.

    https://www.aclu.org/blog/racial-justice/racial-profiling-ineffective-distracting-and-detrimental-public-safety

    Not very effective.

  161. 161
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    brucegorton:

    I think to a large extent the debate over whether Harris is racist or not is kind of missing that point – it doesn’t really matter what he is, what matters is that what he proposes is wrong and has harmful consequences.

    I agree with you for the most part.
    Yes, some of the things he proposes are wrong and that shouldn’t be overlooked. However, *why* he holds the opinions that lead to his proposals is still an important question.

  162. 162
    theoreticalgrrrl

    @ Tony!
    Harris has explained why he believes Islam is a bigger threat than other religions. It wasn’t Catholics or Mormons who flew planes into the World Trade Center. Islam promotes jihad against nonbelievers.

  163. 163
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @SC (Salty Current), OM

    Talking about how “we” need to “fix Islam” is arrogant,

    Not seeing it. We need to fix all religions. Ideally by getting rid of them, although I’d be very happy with Dan Dennett’s possible vision of the future of where religions of the future are like the sports teams of today.

    patronizing

    What? Because I say they’re living their life wrong when this is a clearly demonstrable fact? This is me not giving a fuck if you think it’s patronizing.

    and offensive.

    This is again me not giving a fuck. If my choices are between calling out one of the largest sources of evil in this world, or not being “offensive”, the choice is obvious.

    If you and Harris care about the people in Muslim-majority countries/communities who are harmed by Islamic fundamentalism, you should learn more and spread the word about movements in these countries/communities, the people who are resisting fundamentalism at great personal risk and cost.

    And who are you to conclude that I’m not doing that? Fucker.

    Shitty tone trolling and a false dilemma fallacy. Not too impressive.

  164. 164
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    theoreticalgrrrl:

    Harris has explained why he believes Islam is a bigger threat than other religions. It wasn’t Catholics or Mormons who flew planes into the World Trade Center. Islam promotes jihad against nonbelievers.

    Are your comments above a response to what I wrote @160?

    Is there evidence that his concern is warranted?
    Also, if he’s so worried about our survival, he ought to be concerned about the number of domestic terrorists.

    I suspect they are, but I’ll hold off on my response until you verify.

  165. 165
    theoreticalgrrrl

    It was a response to #157 where you asked why “Sam Harris is so focused on Islam.”

  166. 166
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @doublereed
    Sure.

    As others have said, it’s a rather pedantic point; either way, Sam is still being an asshat for some of the things he’s advocated repeatedly without retraction.

  167. 167
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    EnlightementLiberal:
    I’ve read several of SC’s comments over the years. Based on that, I really don’t think they are tone trolling.
    Also, why can’t Muslims “fix Islam” for themselves with or without our support? Why do “we” need to fix it for them? Can “we” even fix Islam? How does one go about that?

  168. 168
    sentient

    Yes, atheists, like religious nuts, can be as adamant in parroting superficial worldviews based on flimsy evidence, mere speculation, bad logic, sheer ignorance or egoism.

  169. 169
    chigau (違う)

    EnlightenmentLiberal
    whatever else is going on, be assured that SC (Salty Current), OM
    doesn’t tone-troll

  170. 170
    sentient

    Zionism of the orthodox and fundamental Christian variety and Islamism are the biggest threats to world peace.

  171. 171
    chigau (違う)

    sentient
    Did you have a nice nap?

  172. 172
    sentient

    typo

    Zionism of the orthodox Jewish and fundamental Christian variety and Islamism are the biggest threats to world peace.

  173. 173
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!
    Part of being a decent human being is to help out others in some cases, including helping those for which you have no direct relation and it will not benefit you in any tangible way. If a human being is in need and suffering, it is at the very minimum morally permissible to butt your head in and render aid, no matter their skin color, nationality, or religion. They’re a human being regardless.

    Would we be having this same discussion about a hypothetical culture which still kept slaves? If you asked those questions when I was attacking a culture which kept slaves, it would be outrageous. Yet, you seem to think that intervention in Muslim cultures is categorically different and not obviously as justifiable. Why? No matter how big or small the harm, we still have an obligation to help where we can.

    Now, realize for a moment that the distinction between slavery and the current condition of women in some Islamic countries is a rather tenuous distinction, and feel bad for your lack of basic empathy.

    Note that the only intervention I’m suggesting at the moment is speech. I very much want to destroy all of the world’s religions, and the rest of the bullshit irrational beliefs and dogmas, but I want to do so only through honest discussion.

    “I may not agree with what you have say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.”

    PS: SC was clearly tone trolling.

  174. 174
    chigau (違う)

    clearly

  175. 175
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    EnlightenmentLiberal:

    Part of being a decent human being is to help out others in some cases, including helping those for which you have no direct relation and it will not benefit you in any tangible way.

    I’m not only aware of that, I strive to be just such a human being.

    If a human being is in need and suffering, it is at the very minimum morally permissible to butt your head in and render aid, no matter their skin color, nationality, or religion. They’re a human being regardless.

    “Render aid to Muslims” =/= “Fixing Islam for Muslims”.
    Offering assistance, aid, or support for those Muslims that wish to escape Islam, oppose Islamism, or strive for a secular government–I support that.

    Telling Muslims that their problem is Islam and that “we’re” here to fix that problem for them is, as SC said, arrogant and patronizing.

    Note that the only intervention I’m suggesting at the moment is speech. I very much want to destroy all of the world’s religions, and the rest of the bullshit irrational beliefs and dogmas, but I want to do so only through honest discussion.

    I agree with the above 100%.
    Part of that honest discussion is saying “I’m here to offer assistance”, not “You have a problem. I’m going to fix it for you.”

  176. 176
    consciousness razor
    Talking about how “we” need to “fix Islam” is arrogant,

    Not seeing it. We need to fix all religions. Ideally by getting rid of them,

    Ideally, would “we” be the ones who’d do that, or would it be religious people making a voluntary and rational choice for themselves? If you don’t see the arrogance yet, maybe you could see the totalitarianism lurking around the corner.

    although I’d be very happy with Dan Dennett’s possible vision of the future of where religions of the future are like the sports teams of today.

    I, for one, am not turning a religion into a sports team. It’s not something I can do, given that I’m not in a religion. Focus on the “we” part in SC’s comment, in case you just don’t grasp the meaning of that somehow.

    And who are you to conclude that I’m not doing that? Fucker.

    I’m someone who’ll conclude that. You’ve got no fucking clue what you’re talking about. But keep bullshitting, fucker — you’ll go far in this world that way.

    Note that the only intervention I’m suggesting at the moment is speech. I very much want to destroy all of the world’s religions, and the rest of the bullshit irrational beliefs and dogmas, but I want to do so only through honest discussion.

    You should talk to Harris about that, instead of ineptly defending his hateful, warmongering, torture-endorsing, racial-profiling bullshit.

    And if at some other moment, you’ll suggest something more than speech, do let us know what that’s going to be.

    … So much fucking weaseling in this thread. And it just demonstrates that Hedges isn’t so far off the mark about some atheists. It’s pretty sad.

  177. 177
    Nick Gotts

    It wasn’t Catholics or Mormons who flew planes into the World Trade Center. – theoreticalgrrrl@162

    It wasn’t Muslims who invaded Iraq. It’s not Muslims who are trying to turn the world’s most powerful country into a science-denying theocracy.

  178. 178
    sentient

    THE REALITY:

    Since energy in an isolated system like our universe(s) can neither be created nor destroyed (in keeping with the principle of conservation) but simply oscillates between subtle (QM vacuum) state and manifest state (multidimensional universe) with each phase lasting billions of years for all eternity then where is the question of an extra-cosmic creator, having no causal link with anything, creating the universe from nothing?

    If we assume the existence of an extra-cosmic creator God then we move into an infinite regress which is illogical and besides how do we logically explain the existence of energy/matter/consciousness having sprung into existence from “nothing”?

    Nothing cannot be defined, cannot be imagined, cannot be tested and cannot be experienced and so does not exist.

    Evidently, energy, matter and consciousness are the only entities that can be accounted for in the whole of existence when viewed, cogitated upon, experimented and experienced.

    So, everything in existence, from the noumenon to the phenomena, should be expressed, quantized and experienced exclusively in terms of the triune of energy, matter and consciousness that form an integrated whole.

    This is the reality.

    Words like extra-cosmic God, spirit, nothing, creation from nothing etc are misnomers.

  179. 179
    sentient

    THE ONUS IS ON BELIEVERS TO PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD:

    I simply laugh out loud when I hear deluded and naive religious nuts asking atheists or nonbelievers to “disprove” the existence of God.

    The onus is fully on the believers in God to provide evidence about this deity (God) since when we investigate nature and its embodied laws and natural phenomenon like life we find no evidence whatsoever to support any belief in a creator God.

    Nature and its laws and its phenomena and its living forms are constituted exclusively of energy, matter and consciousness that gradually emerge from a state of singularity at various levels of interaction and of increasing complexity of the cosmic hierarchy.

    The whole of cosmic existence with its innate operations is based completely on the triune of energy, matter and consciousness in varying degrees of manifestation and so everything in existence should be explained exclusively in terms of energy, matter and consciousness.

    Whereas, belief in religion rests on irrational ideas uncorroborated by evidence which can be summarized as follows:

    1) “spirit” that can neither be defined nor corroborated since there’s not the tiniest shred of evidence in support of it,

    2) the state of nothing/void that can neither be defined nor supported by an atom of evidence,

    3) extra-cosmic God having no causal link with anything in existence which is illogical and for which there’s no evidence, and

    4) creation from nothing whose causal mechanism cannot be explained.

    So, atheists, who take their realistic stand on tangible universals like energy, matter and consciousness to explain the whole of existence are justified in debunking the very idea of God and the rest of the religious mumbo that have nothing to do with the universal realities based on the workings of energy, matter and consciousness.

    The day believers can produce evidence of spirit, the state of nothing, the mechanism of creation from nothing and of uncausal extra-cosmicism then only can atheists begin taking religious claims seriously but until then religion is just a laughing stock and believers a bunch of irrational jokers.

  180. 180
    theoreticalgrrrl

    It wasn’t Muslims who invaded Iraq. It’s not Muslims who are trying to turn the world’s most powerful country into a science-denying theocracy.

    I’m not sure what invading Iraq has to do with anything we were talking about.

    Actually, Islamic Fundamentalists also want to turn the world into a science-denying theocracy. Not Muslims, Islamic Fundamentalists. And to be allowed to impose Sharia Law on Muslim women in Western countries like the U.S. and the U.K.

    And there are liberals who think that is just fine and dandy, and are offended by the “Islamaphobes” who do not want Sharia Law allowed, because we have to respect Islamic culture, even if that includes gross human rights violations against women.

    According to the Sharia law:

    • Criticizing or denying any part of the Quran is punishable by death.
    • Criticizing or denying Muhammad is a prophet is punishable by death.
    • Criticizing or denying Allah, the moon god of Islam is punishable by death.
    • A Muslim who becomes a non-Muslim is punishable by death.
    • A non-Muslim who leads a Muslim away from Islam is punishable by death.
    • A non-Muslim man who marries a Muslim woman is punishable by death.
    • A man can marry an infant girl and consummate the marriage when she is 9 years old.
    • Girls’ clitoris should be cut (per Muhammad’s words in Book 41, Kitab Al-Adab, Hadith 5251).
    • A woman can have 1 husband, but a man can have up to 4 wives; Muhammad can have more.
    • A man can unilaterally divorce his wife but a woman needs her husband’s consent to divorce.
    • A man can beat his wife for insubordination.
    • Testimonies of four male witnesses are required to prove rape against a woman.
    • A woman who has been raped cannot testify in court against her rapist(s).
    • A woman’s testimony in court, allowed only in property cases, carries half the weight of a man’s.
    • A female heir inherits half of what a male heir inherits.
    • A woman cannot speak alone to a man who is not her husband or relative.
    • Meat to be eaten must come from animals that have been sacrificed to Allah – i.e., be Halal.
    • Muslims should engage in Taqiyya and lie to non-Muslims to advance Islam.

    You seem to be painting all Muslims with the same brush. This was written by a Muslim:
    When will LibDems side with us?
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2014/01/22/lib-dems-nawaz/

  181. 181
    Nick Gotts

    theoreticalgrrrl@180

    I’m not sure what invading Iraq has to do with anything we were talking about.

    You were supporting Harris’s claim that Islam is uniquely dangerous. George W. Bush told us that he invaded Iraq on God’s orders. George Bush is a Christian, as is his sidekick in that invasion, Tony Blair – who also believes God tells him what to do.

    Actually, Islamic Fundamentalists also want to turn the world into a science-denying theocracy.

    And they have zero chance of doing so, while Christian fundamentalists have already captured one of the two main parties in the world’s most powerful state. Christian fundamentalism is thus many times more dangerous than Islamic fundamentalism.

    Actually, Islamic Fundamentalists also want to turn the world into a science-denying theocracy. Not Muslims, Islamic Fundamentalists. Not Muslims, Islamic Fundamentalists. And to be allowed to impose Sharia Law on Muslim women in Western countries like the U.S. and the U.K.

    And there are liberals who think that is just fine and dandy

    OK then, link to a liberal saying these things are fine and dandy.

    You seem to be painting all Muslims with the same brush.

    Are you addressing me?If so, on what grounds do you make this ludicrous claim?

    This was written by a Muslim:
    When will LibDems side with us?

    No, it wasn’t. Maryam Namazie is an atheist, a member of the Worker-communist Party of Iran, and a declared enemy of democracy.

  182. 182
    brianpansky

    @153
    Nathair

    Racism is believing that people can be grouped into wide groups based on relatively superficial things like skin tone and ethnic origin and that some of these groups are inherently superior or inferior to others. Usually this includes assigning collections of traits supposedly endemic to these “races”.

    hey thanks! glad to know i can refuse service to all black people at my restaurant without that counting as racism!

    unless those silly liberals are going to claim they have MIND READING POWERS ABOUT MY BELIeFS DEEP DOWN!!

    (i’m being sarcastic here)

  183. 183
    anteprepro

    Verdict from the apologists: Racism is explicit belief, never action, never influencing action. Racism isn’t bias. Isn’t prejudice. Isn’t differential treatment. Racism is only if you explicitly say that “the white race is the superior race”.

    Why do so many people seem to have a peculiar interest using the most limited definition of racism, and then chastising people as WRONG and crying out HOW DARE YOU when they use a broader definition? Are there really that many ignorant people or is this motivated reasoning?

  184. 184
    Nathair

    @CK

    How convenient: a definition of racism that allows even KKK members and neo-nazis to avoid being called racist.

    Fuck completely off. It does no such thing. What I gave is pretty much a textbook definition of the word. Since you reject the usual definition and you are the one claiming that Harris is “racist” , then it behooves you to define your own terms.

    @Tony

    Sam Harris supports profiling of Muslims. Based on his words, I believe he means racial profiling

    There’s the crux of it. Harris believes that the most serious threat facing airport security is Islamic terrorism. (The TSA was created as a direct response to an act of Islamic terrorism, after all.) If this was a different year he could just as well have named the IRA and been just as correct. In yet another year or another place it would have been Zionists or the FLQ or the Red Brigades. There is nothing radical or racist in acknowledging that at different times in recent history it has been different groups leaving their bombs in the markets. If this were 1975 Harris would be advising the screeners in the UK to be concentrating on Irish Catholics. Not because Sam Harris is a racist bastard who hates the Irish or because he believes that all Irish Catholics are terrorists but because it was an Irish Catholic terrorist group leaving bombs at Parliament and Harrods and that provides a good “hook” on which to focus detection efforts. In such a climate it does seem to make sense to ask why security forces should be wasting time singling out a Japanese schoolgirl for a pat down or strip search since there is no real possibility that such a child is an IRA bomber or Irgun bomber or Al Qaeda bomber or Baader-Meinhof bomber or whatever the current threat is. As you said “*why* he holds the opinions that lead to his proposals is still an important question” and it seems clear to me that race or any kind of racial animosity is just not involved. Wrong he may be but racist? I just don’t see it.

  185. 185
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Nathair #184

    Harris believes that the most serious threat facing airport security is Islamic terrorism.

    Oh good grief, are we going to have this conversation again?

    Think for a moment. How are airport security supposed to spot potential Muslims, if not by resorting to ethnicity? Like it or not, such procedures would lead to all people of Middle-Eastern appearance being singled out for extra scrutiny.

  186. 186
    anteprepro

    The Pfft:

    Racism is generally defined as actions, practices or beliefs, or social or political systems that are based in views that see the human species to be divided into races with shared traits, abilities, or qualities, such as personality, intellect, morality, or other cultural behavioral characteristics, and especially the belief that races can be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to others, or that members of different races should be treated differently ……

    Some sociologists have defined racism as a system of group privilege. In Portraits of White Racism, David Wellman has defined racism as “culturally sanctioned beliefs, which, regardless of intentions involved, defend the advantages whites have because of the subordinated position of racial minorities”. [30] Sociologists Noël A. Cazenave and Darlene Alvarez Maddern define racism as “…a highly organized system of ‘race’-based group privilege that operates at every level of society and is held together by a sophisticated ideology of color/’race’ supremacy. Sellers and Shelton (2003) found that a relationship between racial discrimination and emotional distress was moderated by racial ideology and public regard beliefs. That is, racial centrality appears to promote the degree of discrimination African American young adults perceive whereas racial ideology may buffer the detrimental emotional effects of that discrimination. Racist systems include, but cannot be reduced to, racial bigotry ,”.[31]

    Some sociologists have also argued, with reference to the USA and elsewhere, that forms of racism have in many instances mutated from more blatant expressions hereof into more covert kinds (albeit that blatant forms of hatred and discrimination still endure). The “newer” (more hidden and less easily detectable) forms of racism—which can be considered as embedded in social processes and structures—are more difficult to explore as well as challenge. It has been suggested that, while in many countries overt and explicit racism has become increasingly taboo, even in those who display egalitarian explicit attitudes, an implicit or aversive racism is still maintained subconsciously.

  187. 187
    Nick Gotts

    Fuck completely off. It does no such thing. – Nathair@184

    Yes, it does. Many racists now will deny that they believe one race is superior to another – they just believe each race should keep to itself. Libertarians will typically even deny this, but think anyone who wants to should be able to discriminate on racial grounds in the provision of service if they wish. If someone who wants to do this denies that they are racist in your sense, on what grounds can you contradict them? You can’t see into their minds, can you? I suppose you think the “Birther” campaign against Obama is not racist, because none of its main proponents admit to being motivated by a belief in white superiority.

  188. 188
    anteprepro

    In yet another year or another place it would have been Zionists or the FLQ or the Red Brigades.

    The problem is that Harris has nowhere acknowledged that the danger is limited to this particular time and place.

    As you said “*why* he holds the opinions that lead to his proposals is still an important question” and it seems clear to me that race or any kind of racial animosity is just not involved.

    For fuck’s sake.
    One: racism =/= “animosity”.
    Two: He insists that we can profile Muslims! That we can readily identify Muslims in order to more thoroughly search them. How the fuck does NOT involve race?

    I just don’t see it.

    Did it ever occur to you that your lack of seeing it doesn’t mean that it isn’t there?

  189. 189
    Nathair

    hey thanks! glad to know i can refuse service to all black people at my restaurant without that counting as racism!

    The problem here seems to be that you think I am saying you should be allowed such discrimination. I have said no such thing. I do not think so. I do not think that Harris’ profiling ideas should be adopted. What I am saying is that whether or not I point the RACIST! ptichforks and torches at you (as opposed to the different question of permitting your refusal policy) depends entirely upon why you want to implement this policy. As Tony pointed out “why?” does matter when we are talking about judging the man, not his plan. Why, if you’re not racist, do you want to refuse service based upon “race”? Harris has answered this question in a way that makes it clear that “racial” elements are accidental to his plan. He’s not a racist, he’s just wrong.

  190. 190
    timgueguen

    If you really want to profile anyone who “looks Muslim” then you pretty much have to profile everyone, given that Islam is as multiracial as Christianity is. But of course that’s not what people mean when they advocate that. They mean people who look Arab or South Asia.

    That wouldn’t have caught Xristos Katsiroubis if he’d decided to bring a bomb onto a plane. Instead Greek-Canadian Katsiroubis took part in the In Amenas terrorist attack in Algeria in January of 2013. It wouldn’t have caught his friend Aaron Yoon, who ended up being arrested in Mauritania on terrorism related charges, charges he claims are false. Profiling fans seem to think that “non-brown” people won’t convert and become fanatics, or that al Qaeda won’t recruit from Muslim communities that don’t look Arab or South Asian, such as Filipinos, Malaysians, and Indonesians.

  191. 191
    Nick Gotts

    Why, if you’re not racist, do you want to refuse service based upon “race”? – Nathair@189

    Well suppose I say:
    “I don’t believe one race is superior to another, I just believe they should never mix. Black people in the USA and Europe should be deported to Africa.”
    According to you, I’m not racist. Is that really your view?

  192. 192
    anteprepro

    The problem here seems to be that you think I am saying you should be allowed such discrimination.

    *facepalm*
    No, I really don’t think anyone is saying that. They are saying that you arbitrarily don’t seem to count it as “racist” enough for you, though.

    What I am saying is that whether or not I point the RACIST! ptichforks and torches at you… depends entirely upon why you want to implement this policy.

    Still got your undies in a bunch over how SERIOUS it is to accuse someone of racism, huh? And sometimes “reasons” don’t matter. The effect is still racist. Segregation isn’t suddenly not racist because the person who strives for it had a heart of purest gold. Intent: Still not magic.

    Harris has answered this question in a way that makes it clear that “racial” elements are accidental to his plan.

    What? His reasoning is that Muslims are violent. That’s one of those magical traits wrongly attributed to a whole group. A group he claims that we can easily identify. And that are bad enough to warrant pre-emptively annihilating. That’s not incidental, that’s just prejudice. That’s how racism fucking works.

    Imagine: A man says we should gather up all of the African Americans into concentration camps. His reasoning is that African Americans make up a significant amount of violent crime in this country and that this is just a practical, utilitarian way of reducing the crime rate, based entirely on statistics and data, and is thus totally not racist. Do you believe him?

  193. 193
    Nathair

    Oh good grief, are we going to have this conversation again?

    Think for a moment. How are airport security supposed to spot potential Muslims, if not by resorting to ethnicity? Like it or not, such procedures would lead to all people of Middle-Eastern appearance being singled out for extra scrutiny.

    Of course it would and I do not like or support it. I have repeatedly acknowledged that I think Harris is wrong about this. What I am protesting against is the people suggesting that this policy was proposed because Sam Harris is racist and that this was, at least in part, racially motivated.

  194. 194
    anteprepro

    What I am protesting against is the people suggesting that this policy was proposed because Sam Harris is racist and that this was, at least in part, racially motivated.

    “Protesting against” is your translation for “denying adamantly and repeatedly for no good reason”, I suppose?

    Oh “Skepticism”. I never realized how ugly, blinkered, and stubborn of a beast it truly is.

  195. 195
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:
    Did you miss everything I pointed out at my #157? Harris’ own words support the contention that he supports racial profiling of Muslims, despite the fact that this is very difficult to do, and such profiling isn’t likely to improve airport security.

    I really don’t get how you can continue to deny the obvious racial component at the heart of Harris’ words.

  196. 196
    Nathair

    What? His reasoning is that Muslims are violent. That’s one of those magical traits wrongly attributed to a whole group.

    And that is exactly the point. That is exactly the kind of vile racist motivation which, as you sneer, I have “still got my undies in a bunch over how SERIOUS it is to accuse someone of”. There is a huge and enormously significant difference between saying that in today’s climate terrorists are likely to be Muslim and saying that Muslims are likely to be terrorists. One is merely accurate while the other is entirely reprehensible and yet you seem completely unable or unwilling to distinguish between them.

  197. 197
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Nathair #193

    It doesn’t matter if the plan was “racially motivated.” The only way the way the plan could be implemented would be by targeting race. Which makes the plan racist. And at this point we’re back to “I’m not racist, I merely want to implement a racist plan.” Which is, as I said way upthread, no more than a wordy version of “I’m not racist but….”

    If someone advocates racist actions, then they are a racist.

  198. 198
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    One is merely accurate while the other is entirely reprehensible and yet you seem completely unable or unwilling to distinguish between them.

    A distinction only a racist tries to make. Your hole is way over your head. Stop digging.

  199. 199
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:
    Harris holds to racial stereotypes that, if implemented would discriminate against Muslims.
    How is that *not* racism?

  200. 200
    anteprepro

    yet you seem completely unable or unwilling to distinguish between them.

    Yes, I am the one failing to distinguish things here. Suuure.

    There is a huge and enormously significant difference between saying that in today’s climate terrorists are likely to be Muslim and saying that Muslims are likely to be terrorists.

    Absolutely precious. No, there really isn’t that much of a difference in practice. And no, it’s not quite clear that Sam Harris is only saying the former and never the latter.

  201. 201
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:

    There is a huge and enormously significant difference between saying that in today’s climate terrorists are likely to be Muslim and saying that Muslims are likely to be terrorists.

    “In today’s climate, terrorists are likely to be Muslim”???
    That makes my skin crawl.
    What about all the domestic terrorist groups in the United States? Why are terrorists more likely to be Muslim? Is there any evidence this is true? What facts support this contention?
    I do not at all agree that terrorists are likely to be Muslim. I’m more afraid of right wing assholes with guns than I am of Muslims.

    Nothing before or since has come close to the terror attacks of 9/11 in terms of lives lost, scope, and impact. And we know that al Qaeda led and inspired operatives still seek to strike our homeland—including with weapons of mass destruction. Which is why globally-fueled terrorism continues to occupy much of our time and attention these days.

    And yet, as we were reminded by shootings in Kansas, Arkansas, and the nation’s capital over just 11 days this spring, the threat of domestic terror—Americans attacking Americans based on U.S.-based extremist ideologies—is alive and well.

    Today’s domestic terror threats run the gamut, from hate-filled white supremacists…to highly destructive eco-terrorists…to violence-prone anti-government extremists…to radical separatist groups.

    One particularly insidious concern that touches all forms of domestic extremism is the lone offender—a single individual driven to hateful attacks based on a particular set of beliefs without a larger group’s knowledge or support. In some cases, these lone offenders may have tried to join a group but were kicked out for being too radical or simply left the group because they felt it wasn’t extreme or violent enough. We believe most domestic attacks are carried out by lone offenders to promote their own grievances and agendas.

    http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2009/september/domterror_090709

    Why does Harris focus so narrowly on Islamist terrorists as if they are such a potent threat?

    I’m starting to worry that the September 11 attacks have set a bar for terrorism. As if “it only counts as terrorism if the event is large enough/enough people die”. Terrorist attacks by Americans against Americans has been ongoing through US history. It continues today. Treating the threat of Islamist extremists as more significant than domestic terrorists obscures a very real threat existing in the US.

    When it comes to fears about a terrorist attack, people in the U.S. usually focus on Osama bin Laden and foreign-based radical groups. Yet researchers say domestic extremists who commit violence in the name of their cause _ abortion or the environment, for example _ account for most of the damage from such incidents in this country.

    These homegrown groups are seven times more likely than overseas groups to commit some kind of violence in the United States, a panel reported Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
    http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2004187583_apdomesticextremists17.html

    So no, I don’t at all believe Islamic extremists pose a significant threat to the safety of Americans in the US (the case may be different for Americans on foreign soil).

    Your continued defense of Harris is frustrating. Whether we know in his heart of hearts that Harris’ motivations are racist or not is beside the point. If he were to put into effect his proposals, they would result in discrimination of a particular ethnic group.

  202. 202
    anteprepro

    Hey, it’s everyone’s favorite program!
    Sam Harris Being Totally Not Racist!
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/dear-fellow-liberal2

    The truth is that the liberal (multicultural) position on Islam is racist. If a predominantly white community behaved this way—the Left would effortlessly perceive the depth of the problem. Imagine Mormons regularly practicing honor killing or burning embassies over cartoons…

    There is no such thing as “Islamophobia.” This is a term of propaganda designed to protect Islam from the forces of secularism by conflating all criticism of it with racism and xenophobia. And it is doing its job, because people like you have been taken in by it.
    Did you happen to see The Book of Mormon? Do you know how the Mormons protested this attack upon their faith? They placed ads for Mormonism in the Playbill. Imagine staging a similar production about Islam: Would it be “bizarre and wholly irrational” for Trey Parker and Matt Stone to worry that the Muslim community might have a different response?

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/no-ordinary-violence/

    To imagine that one is a holy warrior bound for Paradise might seem delusional, but we live in a world where perfectly sane people are led to believe such floridly crazy things in the name of religion. This is primarily a social and cultural issue, not a psychological one. There is no clear line between what members of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and al Shabab believe about Islam and the “true” Islam. In fact, these groups have as good a claim as any to being impeccable Muslims. This presents an enormous threat to civil society, which apologists for Islam and secular liberals can now be counted upon to obfuscate. A tsunami of stupidity and violence is breaking simultaneously on a hundred shores, and people like Karen Armstrong, Reza Aslan, Juan Cole, John Esposito, and Glenn Greenwald insist that it’s a beautiful day at the beach. Their determination that “moderate” Islam not be blamed for the acts of “extremists” causes them to deny that genuine (and theologically justifiable) religious beliefs can inspire psychologically normal people to commit horrific acts of violence.

    How is it that this man came to board a school bus with the intention of murdering a 15-year-old girl? Absent ideology, this could have only been the work of a psychotic or a psychopath. Given the requisite beliefs, however, an entire culture will support such evil. Malala is the best thing to come out of the Muslim world in a thousand years.

    Until moderate Muslims and secular liberals stop misplacing the blame for this evil, they will remain part of the problem. Yes, our drone strikes in Pakistan kill innocent people—and this undoubtedly creates new enemies for the West. But we wouldn’t need to drop a single bomb on Pakistan, or anywhere else, if a death cult of devout Muslims weren’t making life miserable for millions of innocent people and posing an unacceptable threat of violence to open societies.

  203. 203
    anteprepro

    People like Nathair are the reason why there such thing as dogwhistles. Some people really are easily fooled by even the least plausible of “plausible deniability”.

  204. 204
    Nathair

    Harris holds to racial stereotypes that

    I am not aware of that. Could you provide an example?

    A distinction only a racist tries to make.

    Oh, I see! So now, like Harris, I am also a racist. How convenient for you.

    Consider this; The vast majority of Tea Party supporters are white. That’s a fact.

    1)Therefore any random Tea Party supporter is likely to be white. That’s correct. (Harris’ position.)
    2)Therefore any random white person is likely to be a Tea Party supporter? That’s not correct.
    3)Therefore all white people are Tea Party supporters? That’s vile. (anteprepro’s version of Harris.)

    That I am able to distinguish between those conclusions does not make me a racist. It seems, rather, that you won’t distinguish between them in this one case because Harris is being rather an asshole about the whole thing.

  205. 205
    brucegorton

    @Nathair

    At the moment in South Africa right now – I can’t think of a single Islamist terrorist attack we have suffered in the last ten years.

    A bunch of very white people did however plan to attack our ruling party’s elective conference at Mangaung.

    Also, one should note the term ‘Shock and awe’ that was applied to the Iraq war.

    From Wikipedia, the point of it is “to affect the will, perception, and understanding of the adversary to fight or respond to our strategic policy ends through imposing a regime of Shock and Awe.”

    America’s central military doctrine looks an awful lot like terrorism to me.

    In other words I contest this idea that “in today’s climate terrorists are likely to be Muslim” is accurate.

  206. 206
    anteprepro

    Nathair has nothing and is just flailing wildly now. He “knows” what Harris’s position is, “knows” what racism is, and isn’t willing to let things like facts or logic budge his opinion on the matter.

  207. 207
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:

    I am not aware of that. Could you provide an example?

    EPIC FUCKING FACEPALM.

    You cannot be serious.
    His support for racial profiling bc he feels like terrorists are more likely to be Muslim is one of the big examples we’ve been discussing.

  208. 208
    anteprepro

    America’s central military doctrine looks an awful lot like terrorism to me.

    DING DING DING DING.

    A little factoid that lily white NOT RACIST apologists for war seem to overlook with their disingenuous whining over “danger” and “violence”.

  209. 209
    goon

    He keeps his racism hidden enough that accusations of racism can be disputed by people like you.

    Nathair: Then it’s a good thing people like you can read minds and set us all straight on what he’s really thinking.

    ______________________
    (I can’t figure out this HTML blockquote thingy, Jesus.)

    LOL, this.

    Almost everyone here seems to hate the guy and for some reason they just can’t convince me to do the same. I guess I’m just another racist douche myself.

  210. 210
    anteprepro

    Almost everyone here seems to hate the guy and for some reason they just can’t convince me to do the same.

    No one seems to know what “hate” is. Go fucking figure.

  211. 211
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    goon:

    Almost everyone here seems to hate the guy and for some reason they just can’t convince me to do the same. I guess I’m just another racist douche myself.

    Almost everyone?
    In this thread or on Pharyngula?
    Is that true?

    Also, I think Sam Harris’ proposals about profiling and the possibility of a first strike are (or would be) racist in effect, and I also believe that Sam Harris holds racist beliefs.

    I don’t *hate* the man.

    Don’t conflate genuine criticism with hatred.

  212. 212
    Nathair

    What about all the domestic terrorist groups in the United States? Why are terrorists more likely to be Muslim? Is there any evidence this is true? What facts support this contention?
    I do not at all agree that terrorists are likely to be Muslim. I’m more afraid of right wing assholes with guns than I am of Muslims.

    You are right, of course. Harris was, I believe, speaking about specific kinds of international terrorist threats and about airport security, was he not? Right wing assholes are a different flavour of problem, generally domestic, and different methods apply.

    Why does Harris focus so narrowly on Islamist terrorists as if they are such a potent threat?

    I would imagine it is because they are a potent threat.

  213. 213
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:
    What would it take to convince you that Sam Harris has racist beliefs?

    I would concede that the beliefs we are discussing about Harris are NOT racist if it could be shown that the effect of these beliefs-if put into practice-does not discriminate against people based on the perception that they are Muslim.

  214. 214
    anteprepro

    Gotta fucking love this.

    Sam Harris criticizing Islam by over-stating the threat it causes, and coaxing us into violently “defending” ourselves: “Obviously not hateful, how dare you!”

    Us criticizing Harris for what we perceive as hateful, and criticizing people who play word game apologetics to defend him: “HATE HATE HAAAAAAATE!!!”

  215. 215
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:

    I would imagine it is because they are a potent threat.

    You realize that Sam Harris is narrowing his focus to “Islamists are a threat to the US”, no? Hence his proposal to profile at airports. Your link refers to terrorist attacks by Islamists across the globe. I really have no interest in playing Terrorist Olympics. Yes, Islamist attacks do occur. Yes they are terrorist attacks. Yes, they deserve to be called out and heavily criticized. Yes, the people that are affected by these attacks deserve our support and empathy.
    None of that detracts from the fact that Sam Harris’ proposals are racist. Nor does it change the fact that-domestically-US citizens have more to fear from domestic terrorists than Islamic ones.

  216. 216
    timgueguen

    One doesn’t need to believe that you’re going to live in paradise afterwards to engage in suicide attacks. The Tamil Tigers used suicide bombers during the Sri Lankan conflict, and they’re considered to be primarily a secular group. Not to mention that Hindusim generally doesn’t talk about that kind of afterlife. It’s also dangerous to assume that Muslim suicide bombers are strictly motivated by faith. Some are likely motivated by the same thought processes that motivate people in North America to kill family members and acquaintances before killing themselves. Others may be doing it to bring financial benefit or prestige to their families.

  217. 217
    anteprepro

    I would imagine it is because they are a potent threat.

    Yeah. Mostly in Israel, India, Pakistan, and Iraq. Stellar proof of Teh Dangerz!!!

    You are arguing out of both sides of your mouth. Didn’t you say that Harris was wrong about this issue just a few comments ago?

  218. 218
    Nathair

    At the moment in South Africa right now – I can’t think of a single Islamist terrorist attack we have suffered in the last ten years.

    Harris was not making universal pronouncements, he was specifically addressing the 2012 airport security policies of the American Transportation Security Administration. It is not a surprise that these would not reflect the situation in South Africa.

  219. 219
    anteprepro

    Harris was not making universal pronouncements, he was specifically addressing the 2012 airport security policies of the American Transportation Security Administration.

    Well then I guess you linked to the wrong wikipedia article when trying to prove TEH DANGER of Islam, eh? Or do you want it to have it both ways? Islam is a danger abroad, so it is a danger to the U.S….except for when it isn’t a danger abroad, then it doesn’t matter, because the U.S. is still at risk for some reason! Or something.

  220. 220
    Nathair

    You are arguing out of both sides of your mouth. Didn’t you say that Harris was wrong about this issue just a few comments ago?

    No, I did not. I believe that Harris’ suggestions about implementing profiling are wrong not that Islamic terrorism isn’t a legitimate threat.

  221. 221
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Nathair #218

    Harris was not making universal pronouncements, he was specifically addressing the 2012 airport security policies of the American Transportation Security Administration. It is not a surprise that these would not reflect the situation in South Africa.

    Then why did you just link to a list of worldwide “Islamist”* attacks? Make your mind up.

    *Why the fuck we should count attacks which form part of the Israel/Palestine mess—a large proportion of that list—as religiously motivated, I have no idea.

  222. 222
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:

    Harris was not making universal pronouncements, he was specifically addressing the 2012 airport security policies of the American Transportation Security Administration. It is not a surprise that these would not reflect the situation in South Africa.

    So Harris is focused on American security.
    Why the link to a list of Islamic terrorist attacks around the globe?
    Again, within the US borders, Americans face a greater threat from domestic terrorists than Islamic extremists. The so-called “great threat” of Islam just isn’t here.

  223. 223
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:

    I believe that Harris’ suggestions about implementing profiling are wrong not that Islamic terrorism isn’t a legitimate threat.

    I may have missed it, but *why* do you think Harris’ suggestions are wrong?
    Also, Islamic terrorism is a legitimate threat to whom?

  224. 224
    anteprepro

    I believe that Harris’ suggestions about implementing profiling are wrong not that Islamic terrorism isn’t a legitimate threat.

    So that explains why you are defending him so much. You believe the same irrational, paranoid tripe that he does. You just aren’t as willing to go full on racist in the name of National Security. But you are willing to defend someone who is, because you suffer from the same underlying misconceptions.

    Here’s a puzzler: Is Islamic terrorism a bigger threat to Americans than American war is to Muslims?

  225. 225
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:
    When people proclaim that blacks are more violent than whites, do you think that is racist?

  226. 226
    Nathair

    What would it take to convince you that Sam Harris has racist beliefs?

    Some demonstration that he is prejudiced against non-Muslim people from the Middle East/North Africa or alternately that he gives a pass to Muslims who are not Middle Eastern/North African would certainly be telling.

  227. 227
    anteprepro

    Islamic terrorists: death toll of 12000 people worldwide over 30 years (death toll in U.S.: 3000+, largely from 9/11)

    The U S of A!
    Iraq War: lowball death toll of over 100000 over 10 years
    Afghanistan: death toll of over 3000 over first 3 years
    Operation Enduring Freedom in Phillipines and Horn of Africa: death toll of around 500.
    Drones: Lowball death toll of 300.
    American war: MINIMUM death toll of 103800 over 13 years

    The fear and paranoia over terrorists attacks, and about Muslims in particular as culprits of it, and the privileging of war as acceptable while stigmatizing “terrorism” as unforgiveable…. it is all prejudiced thinking. Maybe not necessarily racist, but it is still disconnected from reality. It allows us to privilege and dismiss our own violence while “othering” the people we are violent against. Terrorism is the bad violence that happens to us. The bombs killing civilians Over There, though, that’s just War. Perfectly justifiable, perfectly moral War.

  228. 228
    anteprepro

    alternately that he gives a pass to Muslims who are not Middle Eastern/North African would certainly be telling.

    No, he’s more critical of them, because they “should know better”. Which could be interpreted many different ways…

  229. 229
    Nathair

    When people proclaim that blacks are more violent than whites, do you think that is racist?

    Put that way I certainly do. Of course that is entirely different from someone saying something like “Statistically, African Americans are more likely to commit a violent crime than ‘White’ Americans”. It is one thing to note that regional cultural and economic forces compound the effects of institutional racism resulting in a great disparity, statistically, in “racial” behaviour in a particular context. It is quite another to suggest that the behaviour is instead inherent to the “race”.

  230. 230
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:

    Some demonstration that he is prejudiced against non-Muslim people from the Middle East/North Africa or alternately that he gives a pass to Muslims who are not Middle Eastern/North African would certainly be telling.

    ? To convince you that Sam Harris holds racist/prejudicial views about Muslims in the Middle East/North Africa, I have to demonstrate that he holds racist/prejudicial views of non Muslims in the same region?
    “Here’s the evidence that Sam Harris holds prejudicial views about non Muslims in the Middle East. That TOTES means he holds prejudicial views about Muslims in the Middle East.”

    I really don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.

    He’s looked at the FBI most wanted terrorist list and concluded that one individual didn’t fit the profile of potential Islamic terrorist. You cannot *look* at an individual and determine if they are or aren’t Muslim. Yet he does that.

  231. 231
    anteprepro

    Of course that is entirely different from someone saying something like “Statistically, African Americans are more likely to commit a violent crime than ‘White’ Americans”.

    Ahahahaha. Holy shit, you are such a rube! You fail race relations forever.

  232. 232
    vaiyt

    @theoreticalgrrrl

    Islam promotes jihad against nonbelievers.

    ONE AND A HALF BILLION PEOPLE are Muslims. Do you honestly think all these people are out to kill the other five and a half billion? There are 45 million Muslims in Europe alone. The immense majority of Muslims are (LE FUCKING GASP!) normal people, who dream and work just like you do. I don’t believe I have to fucking tell people this, but here we go.
    .
    For crying out loud, Muslims are not some nebulous army of Orcs living in a distant Mordor. They are the families of my neighbors and friends who you’re calling terrorists, you fucking shithead without a clue. Guess what? The Muslims in my neck of the woods are the quietest, most pacifistic religious community around. Maybe it’s because we don’t treat them like shit?
    .
    Fuck your use of the WTC attacks as a cheap rhetorical trick. It was a traumatic event, but it was not the goddamn apocalypse. The rest of the world has faced and faces much worse, you just make it a big drama because it was the first time your country tasted a bit of what others had to endure. Your stupid ass wars alone have killed hundreds of times more people, which I believe by your shitty absurd logic would make your victims perfectly justified in sending more terrorists your way.
    .
    May Sam Harris and his defenders all bash their heads on Legos. I don’t give a fuck. That stupid asshole defends racist policies, which puts him in the same camp as the racists. Let’s profile Muslims! How in the fuck are you going to do that? Oh yeah, like the idiots who went around shooting Sikhs because they wore turbans.

  233. 233
    Nathair

    Is Islamic terrorism a bigger threat to Americans than American war is to Muslims?

    It’s not even close. In fact, I would say that American War (including American support for Israel) is the fundamental reason that Islamic terrorism is any threat to Americans at all. Not really relevant to the question though,

  234. 234
    vaiyt

    Of course that is entirely different from someone saying something like “Statistically, African Americans are more likely to commit a violent crime than ‘White’ Americans”

    Have you ever tried to read what follows from a phrase like that? Hint: if it’s used to build the same racist arguments, IT IS THE SAME FUCKING THING, just phrased backwards!
    .
    If it’s so easy to fool you, I can see why you’re so adamant in defending Harris’ integrity.

  235. 235
    consciousness razor

    It is one thing to note that regional cultural and economic forces compound the effects of institutional racism resulting in a great disparity, statistically, in “racial” behaviour in a particular context. It is quite another to suggest that the behaviour is instead inherent to the “race”.

    And it’s another thing to support policies that harm an entire race of people. (But out of the goodness of your heart!)

    What was Harris doing again? I forget.

  236. 236
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:

    It’s not even close. In fact, I would say that American War (including American support for Israel) is the fundamental reason that Islamic terrorism is any threat to Americans at all. Not really relevant to the question though,

    It’s relevant to the question of how much danger Americans in the US face from Islamic extremism. Harris thinks this is a significant danger to Americans living in the US. Why is he so worried about terrorist attacks being conducted by Muslims when the terror the US has brought to Muslims is *worse*? US citizens should be scared of the terrorist activities of their own country rather than Islamic extremists. But since (in this case) said US activities aren’t targeting Americans, it’s not a problem. Terrorism is only a problem when other people do it.

  237. 237
    Nathair

    Ahahahaha. Holy shit, you are such a rube! You fail race relations forever.

    So your counter-argument is to smirk “Nuh uh! You’re so dumb!” Well, that certainly proves me wrong.

  238. 238
    anteprepro

    Terrorism for ye, not for me!

  239. 239
    consciousness razor

    I want to know, Nathair. Are you white? Male? Straight? Are you an expert on racism, by any chance?

    Also, do you have a dictionary with the word “racism” in it? Because I’m fresh out, and that would give me a BINGO.

  240. 240
    anteprepro

    So your counter-argument is to smirk “Nuh uh! You’re so dumb!” Well, that certainly proves me wrong.

    Counter argument? You didn’t really argue anything as much as state your opinion. Your incredibly naive opinion. There’s no need to prove you wrong: You’ve done that quite well on your own by now. Certainly proved it to my satisfaction.

  241. 241
    anteprepro

    Close, cr. It was a textbook, though, not a dictionary. A textbook for what, who fucking knows.

    Source: 184.

  242. 242
    Nathair

    Have you ever tried to read what follows from a phrase like that?

    I have but apparently you have not because in this particular case what followed was my observation that regional cultural and economic forces compound the effects of institutional racism resulting in a great disparity, statistically, in “racial” behaviour in a particular context. I would say that this clearly indicates significant harm being done and demands that we address such racism and work to alleviate these economic disparities. Do you also wave your hands and freak out about acknowledging Darwin because he has been invoked to support eugenics, imperialism and laissez-faire capitalism?

  243. 243
    vaiyt

    So your counter-argument is to smirk “Nuh uh! You’re so dumb!”

    What else can we say about someone who doesn’t grasp something so basic? I guess you believe worries about “welfare queens” and “urban youth” are legitimate issues too and not at all codes for racist beliefs? Maybe “family values” are something completely benign and innocuous to you?

  244. 244
    vaiyt

    I have but apparently you have not

    My next phrase starts with an “if”. Try wiping the blood from your eyes and reading for comprehension.

  245. 245
    Nathair

    @cr

    I want to know, Nathair. Are you white? Male? Straight? Are you an expert on racism, by any chance?

    Explain to me how that’s relevant or any of your business and I might tell you which one of those four I am.

    @cr

    And it’s another thing to support policies that harm an entire race of people

    That’s absolutely right and almost exactly my point.

  246. 246
    anteprepro

    I have but apparently you have not because in this particular case what followed was my observation that regional cultural and economic forces compound the effects of institutional racism resulting in a great disparity, statistically, in “racial” behaviour in a particular context.

    You’re just disingenuous to the fucking core.

    Nathair originally sed:

    Of course that is entirely different from someone saying something like “Statistically, African Americans are more likely to commit a violent crime than ‘White’ Americans”. It is one thing to note that regional cultural and economic forces compound the effects of institutional racism resulting in a great disparity, statistically, in “racial” behaviour in a particular context. It is quite another to suggest that the behaviour is instead inherent to the “race”.

    That first sentence has a part that is in quotation marks. That is a hypothetical statement, said by a hypothetical person, that is “entirely different” from the statement that “blacks are more violent than whites”. You then proceed to explain your own personal views, but if you meant for this PART of that hypothetical statement in quotes, you failed to make that connection clear.

    Do you also wave your hands and freak out about acknowledging Darwin because he has been invoked to support eugenics, imperialism and laissez-faire capitalism?

    Yeah, that’s a fair analogy. Because evolutionary theory is brought up to support eugenics just as frequently as “blacks are statistically more likely to be violent” is to support racism! Because “blacks are statistically more likely to be violent” is just as important and vital of a scientific fact to know as evolutionary theory!

    Do you ever get the feeling that you are digging deeper just for the sake of digging?

  247. 247
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:

    So your counter-argument is to smirk “Nuh uh! You’re so dumb!” Well, that certainly proves me wrong.

    I doubt that was mean to be a counter argument.
    The counter arguments to your assertion that Sam Harris does not hold racist beliefs are found throughout this thread.

    (I think it was mockery)

  248. 248
    anteprepro

    Explain to me how that’s relevant or any of your business and I might tell you which one of those four I am.

    Yes. Because it is hard to figure out how privilege might make it difficult for you to understand racism.

    I don’t think it matters. It is pretty much confirmed that Nathair is fucking clueless and is way too obstinate to fix that themself.

  249. 249
    anteprepro

    (I think it was mockery)

    Usually a good bet.

  250. 250
    Nathair

    My next phrase starts with an “if”. Try wiping the blood from your eyes and reading for comprehension.

    I’m afraid I don’t understand what you are suggesting by “wiping the blood from my eyes”. I do confess though that I don’t see what point there is in your offering a completely hypothetical “What if”. If someone uses the facts, like that of the racial disparity in American violent crime rates, to attempt to support a racist claim like “blacks are more violent than whites” then it is the racist claim which is the problem and the flawed attempt to support it with data that doesn’t fit. I don’t automatically throw out the data or condemn everyone who considers it just because some assholes try to use it for their own ends.

    Something about “Never ascribe to malice…”

  251. 251
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:

    That’s absolutely right and almost exactly my point.

    No, it’s not.
    Sam Harris supports policies that, if implemented would discriminate against those *he* views as Muslim. Those people fit a specific profile: People who look Muslim. The policies he advocates would harm an entire race of people.

    Put yourself in the shoes of the average Muslim from the Middle East at the airport engaged in the same activities as pretty much everyone else at the airport. Sam Harris’ proposals would have airport security profiling this individual based on their looks. How do you think it would feel to be singled out because someone thinks you or people who look like you hold a high probability of being jihadists?
    Related to that, I don’t think it’s a good idea to tie up time, resources, and money on profiling when its been shown to be ineffective.

    To recap:
    Sam Harris supports racial profiling at airports and proposes first strikes against hypothetical Islamic regimes even though such an attack would kill great numbers of civilians.
    He does so, ostensibly because Islam presents a grave danger to Americans living in the US.

    Racial profiling does *not* work.
    It is unethical and immoral to support genocide.
    Islam is not a grave danger to Americans living in the US.

    Sam Harris’ proposals have the effect of marginalizing and discriminating against those he perceives as Muslims.

    That is racist.

  252. 252
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Nathair:
    *Do* you understand the concept of privilege?

  253. 253
    anteprepro

    Something about “Never ascribe to malice…”

    We haven’t been. We have very good about ascribing all of what you have said to mere stupidity. Just like the adage dictates. You are welcome for that.

  254. 254
    Nathair

    Put yourself in the shoes of the average Muslim from the Middle East at the airport engaged in the same activities as pretty much everyone else at the airport. Sam Harris’ proposals would have airport security profiling this individual based on their looks. How do you think it would feel to be singled out because someone thinks you or people who look like you hold a high probability of being jihadists?
    Related to that, I don’t think it’s a good idea to tie up time, resources, and money on profiling when its been shown to be ineffective.

    I heartily agree. I have said again and again that I think it’s a bad idea. I do not support Harris’ call for profiling. I think it would do much harm and no compensatory good. I do not think I can possibly be more clear on that. I think Harris is wrong here. Harris. Wrong. That is what I think. Proposed policy bad. That is what I think. OK? However, Harris is racist? No. Not what I think. If you think differently then clearly you think differently. Is there more to be said?

  255. 255
    consciousness razor

    That’s absolutely right and almost exactly my point.

    Your point is almost exactly that Sam Harris was being racist?

    I guess I need to read this thread again, because that’s fucking incredible.

  256. 256
    consciousness razor

    Explain to me how that’s relevant or any of your business and I might tell you which one of those four I am.

    Well, you don’t have to tell me. Expert on racism. It’s pretty obvious.

  257. 257
    anteprepro

    . If you think differently then clearly you think differently. Is there more to be said?

    That you are irrationally opposed to fairly conventional use of the word “racism” because it doesn’t meet your stringent, dictionary definition requirements? That it strikes us plainly bizarre that you continue to deny the racism involved in profiling people who “look” Muslim? That you have not admitted that you are in error regarding the actual severity of the threat that Muslims pose to Americans? That you have not acknowledged any level of awareness regarding how racism manifests in modern day political dialogue? That you are suspiciously adamant in your defense of Harris? That you are wrong at a level that is bordering on denialism, and that after all of this time, it is hilarious that you are now trying to brush it all under the rug as a mere difference of opinion?

    Aside from that, no, not much more to say.

  258. 258
    Louis

    So a person who supports and advocates a racist thing is not racist?

    Well I am glad that is clear.

    Fuck me deftly, it seems another Clue-Lack-O-Meter has broken.

    Louis

  259. 259
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Telling Muslims that their problem is Islam and that “we’re” here to fix that problem for them is, as SC said, arrogant and patronizing.

    I’m sorry. You’re either exercising a unjustifiable double standard, and/or you are a miserable excuse of a human being. I hope it’s the unjustifiable double standard.

    Consider the Catholic priests who rape children. It’s an entirely internal matter for Catholics. However, I am not going to sit on my ass and wait for the Catholics to fix this problem. I’m not just going to sit by and say “You know. You guys shouldn’t do that.” I’m going to do everything in my power through legitimate means to end it, including speech. In this case, I also advocate the use of violence – through legal channels e.g. police, legal prosecution, and prison – in order to fix this problem which obviously the Catholics cannot or will not fix themselves.

    I fail to see how I should treat the horrible problems of some Muslim societies any differently. I fail to see how this is arrogant, patronizing, or offensive. The only one being offensive is you – to all of the children who are raped by Christian priests and to all of the people in some Muslim societies who are experiencing comparable suffering. Yyou need to check yourself.

    Of course, I don’t have any concrete proposals in mind for any Muslim society except for speech. There’s being for violence in principle in a nebulous way, and then there’s living in the real world where I have to weigh the consequences of my actions and see how well they achieve my goals. Obviously the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan haven’t been that productive, and I’m not advocating that against Saudi Arabia for example, where all of the women are at most one baby step away from conventional slavery – or they’re already there.

    But if I had magic superpowers and I could fly in like Superman to stop a girl from being stoned to death for being raped? I’d do it in a heartbeat, and yet I’m getting flak for this position from you guys. You really need to examine yourselves. You have some serious problems in the empathy department, probably because of some bullshit cultural-relativism values masquerading as multiculturalism.

    @anteprepro

    The problem is that Harris has nowhere acknowledged that the danger is limited to this particular time and place.

    Simply untrue. In fact, wildly and flagrantly untrue. In his (bad) defense of profiling at airports, he very clearly says that it is because the big problem is suicide bombers (bombing your own plane), and that the suicide bombers the US needs to care about are basically all Muslim.

    PS: I’m not defending Harris. He clearly advocates racist policies, which makes him a racist in effect, which we commonly shorten to “racist”. He’s not a white supremacist though, and I think he’s a generally likable guy except when he’s going off on these side issues like an idiot IHMO just to make some esoteric philosophical point.

    @vaiyt
    The holy book of Islam does promote jihad against nonbelievers, just like the Christian bible commands people to stone to death witches. Muslims are free to be cafeteria Muslims just like most Christians are cafeteria Christians. I think it’s a great thing that basically every modern Christian has somehow invented an excuse about why we should no longer stone witches. That’s a great development. I think a lot of Muslims are there, but not all of them. It would be great if Muslims could learn to cherrypick their holy book just like modern Christians.

  260. 260
    David Marjanović

    a declared enemy of democracy

    I love your term “sub-Marxoid verbiage”. It’s so widely applicable! :-D

    Does Sam Harris distinguish between these Islamist fundamentalists and, for example, Lebanese Christians or moderate Muslims? Yes

    No! He wants airports to profile against all of them except if they look Chechen or Uyghur or Filipino or Indonesian! Hey, there are lots of Tunisians who look completely European. The profiling Harris suggests would let them all pass.

    (I can’t figure out this HTML blockquote thingy, Jesus.)

    You need to close each HTML tag after you open it: </blockquote>.

    One doesn’t need to believe that you’re going to live in paradise afterwards to engage in suicide attacks. The Tamil Tigers used suicide bombers during the Sri Lankan conflict, and they’re considered to be primarily a secular group. Not to mention that Hindusim generally doesn’t talk about that kind of afterlife. It’s also dangerous to assume that Muslim suicide bombers are strictly motivated by faith. Some are likely motivated by the same thought processes that motivate people in North America to kill family members and acquaintances before killing themselves. Others may be doing it to bring financial benefit or prestige to their families.

    The PKK, the Kurdish Workers’ Party, has had suicide bombers. It is officially Stalinist, meaning atheist and believing there’s no afterlife whatsoever.

    Once people believe there’s something worth dying for, they will die for it. Once people believe there’s something worth killing for, they’ll kill for it.

  261. 261
    vaiyt

    Muslims are free to be cafeteria Muslims just like most Christians are cafeteria Christians.

    Good. Can you fucking stop talking like they have a special mandate to not be?

  262. 262
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @vaiyt

    Good. Can you fucking stop talking like they have a special mandate to not be?

    I don’t believe I have been at all. You were yelling at someone else before.

    But as a simple matter of facts, there are many Muslims societies where surveys show that a sizable minority, and in some a majority, are for the death penalty for apostasy. The analogs for Christian culture, such as stoning to death witches, simply isn’t there. (Ok, some countries are trying to pass death penalties for homosexuals, which is a huge step backward.) Still, I’m willing to make the claim and argue that the evidence backs it up that Muslims on average are far behind the curve here compared to Christians.

    Obviously there is nothing magic about Muslim culture which says it must be this way. Christians used to be this way until the European Enlightenment dragged them kicking and screaming into modernity. Islam is just a little behind the times on that.

    However, religious moderates provide moral support, intellectual support, and cover for the crazies. The moderates are part of the problem. While not every Christian firebombs abortion clinics, most of them give intellectual support to the underlying root beliefs, such as a god exists, the god doesn’t want abortions, etc. I don’t care if most Christians say in the next breath that firebombing abortion clinics is wrong. They’re still giving support to bullshit beliefs which create a culture where firebombing abortion clinics can even happen.

  263. 263
    vaiyt

    Does Sam Harris distinguish between these Islamist fundamentalists and, for example, Lebanese Christians or moderate Muslims? Yes

    He does? The bombs he advocates dropping in the Middle East don’t. The profiling methods he advocates using in airports don’t.

    “Never ascribe to malice…”

    “…that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” So, Sam Harris is stupid, then. Spectacularly, harmfully stupid. A victim of terminal Dunning-Kruger syndrome.

  264. 264
    vaiyt

    I do confess though that I don’t see what point there is in your offering a completely hypothetical “What if”.

    It’s not an hypothetical, it’s a conditional.

  265. 265
    twas brillig (stevem)

    But as a simple matter of facts, there are many Muslims societies where surveys show that a sizable minority, and in some a majority, are for the death penalty for apostasy.

    Yes, so that means EVERY person who looks like a Muslim must be stopped-and-frisked (for bombs, etc)?
    And surveys also show that the majority of Americans are for gun ownership; so they too, must be stopped and frisked for potentially carrying a gun?
    You do not seem to understand that “racism” (cultural ism) is simply assuming that every member of that race/culture represents (and deeply believes) everything about that culture. You are just using ‘surveys’ as a smokescreen for the common fallacy of, “Every X was a Y, so any Y must be an X.”
    Add as many twists and nuances as you want to that fallacy, but fallacy it remains.

  266. 266
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @stevem
    You need to read for comprehension bro. You think you’re attacking what I’ve said, even though I’ve made largely the same points.

  267. 267
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    EnlightenmentLiberal #262

    But as a simple matter of facts, there are many Muslims societies where surveys show that a sizable minority, and in some a majority, are for the death penalty for apostasy. The analogs for Christian culture, such as stoning to death witches, simply isn’t there. (Ok, some countries are trying to pass death penalties for homosexuals, which is a huge step backward.)

    That huge step backwards looks a helluva lot like an analogue to me.

  268. 268
    Nick Gotts

    The analogs for Christian culture, such as stoning to death witches, simply isn’t there. – Enlightenment Liberal@262

    Oh really? Is that so?

  269. 269
    theoreticalgrrrl

    @vaiyt
    “you fucking shithead without a clue.”
    Charming.You’re a real class act.

    I wasn’t talking about Muslims, I specifically clarified in the sentence *right before* the one you quoted that I was speaking only of Islamic Fundamentalists, NOT Muslim people in general.

    You just see what you want to see, apparently.

    I don’t advocate Sam Harris’ views on profiling, maybe you should actually read what people say before you make your nasty personal attacks.

    And I didn’t use the World Trade Center as a “cheap rhetorical trick.” F.U. It was a traumatic event for Americans, but we were just asking for it, right?

  270. 270
    vaiyt

    But that is Africa! It is full of black people, who are statistically more likely to commit violent acts anyway.

  271. 271
    A. Noyd

    Nick Gotts (#187)

    Many racists now will deny that they believe one race is superior to another – they just believe each race should keep to itself.

    There was a former grand wizard of the KKK on Ed’s blog two weeks ago who objected to being called a white supremacist. And jusified it thus:

    When I speak of the system I mean the ruling class .You know those that control most of the money. Those that are White are truely white Supremacists because they have great control. The White working class cant possibly be White supremacists since they do not have the power to control anyone.

    But you should know that, Nathair. You were commenting in that thread. You called him out for trying to pretend he’s not a white supremacist. And you thought him just as contemptible after he explained how he merely wishes to be “racially separate” and for the state to “drop forced integration and all the system laws that punish discrimination.” Does it take literal dressing up in white sheets to get you to see through this sort of thing?

  272. 272
    A. Noyd

    Tony (#201)

    What about all the domestic terrorist groups in the United States?

    Or the motherfucking police, who kill way more Americans than Muslim terrorists and terrorize the shit out of communities of color? Even their non-lethal activities are terroristic: Next-door SWAT training exercises, stop-and-frisk, arresting someone 60+ times for for simply going to work, etc.

  273. 273
    A. Noyd

    @Nathair (#226)
    See anteprepro’s citation at #202 where Sam Harris is quoted as saying, “The truth is that the liberal (multicultural) position on Islam is racist. If a predominantly white community behaved this way—the Left would effortlessly perceive the depth of the problem.” How could he juxtapose “white” and “Muslim” if he didn’t see them as opposites in some way? And then he brings up Mormons, of all groups, as his example of the better behavior of white communities. Clearly the idiot either dismisses or hasn’t heard about the horrors of FLDS sects and how little anyone in the US does to dismantle them. He disproves his own contention though his ignorance.

    (#237)

    So your counter-argument is to smirk “Nuh uh! You’re so dumb!” Well, that certainly proves me wrong.

    If you really do need the explanation for why what you said is silly, I’ll oblige. Where do you think statistics like that come from? From things like tallying up arrests and counting how many black people versus white people were arrested. But if the system is already racist—which it is—and cops are several times more likely to go after black people—which they are—despite crime rates being the same between whites and blacks—which they are—then couching things in statistics is no different in the end than making a blatant assertion.

    (#250)

    don’t automatically throw out the data or condemn everyone who considers it just because some assholes try to use it for their own ends.

    “The data.” See, you have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m not interested in hypotheticals when, in the real world, all such “data” is bullshit like I described just above.

    Something about “Never ascribe to malice…”

    Get it through your head that nobody here but you considers “malice” a necessary component of racism.

  274. 274
    vaiyt

    @theoreticalgrrrl

    Charming.You’re a real class act.

    I don’t give a fucking shit about your approval.

    I wasn’t talking about Muslims, I specifically clarified in the sentence *right before* the one you quoted that I was speaking only of Islamic Fundamentalists, NOT Muslim people in general.

    Lie. This was your previous phrase.

    It wasn’t Catholics or Mormons who flew planes into the World Trade Center.

    You were specifically defending Harris’ claim that Islam – not Fundamentalists, not terrorists, Islam – is the most threatening religion to America. A claim which he used to defend preemptive genocidal attacks against “Muslim” countries. I did read your following post, where you wrote a giant diatribe about Sharia law and accused us of abetting violence against women because we don’t want Muslims to be singled out.
    Take your fucking condescension and shove it.

  275. 275
    alkaloid

    @EnlightenmentLiberal, #259

    Consider the Catholic priests who rape children. It’s an entirely internal matter for Catholics. However, I am not going to sit on my ass and wait for the Catholics to fix this problem. I’m not just going to sit by and say “You know. You guys shouldn’t do that.” I’m going to do everything in my power through legitimate means to end it, including speech. In this case, I also advocate the use of violence – through legal channels e.g. police, legal prosecution, and prison – in order to fix this problem which obviously the Catholics cannot or will not fix themselves.

    This is not a good comparison, though, because the misdeeds of the Catholic church are still occurring within our culture and not really external to it. Furthermore, the kinds of responses that you advocate are still at least limited by the rule of law (however strained it really is at this point, which originates in large part from ‘war on terror’ thinking).

    If you wanted to make this an accurate comparison to how the United States has acted, and for what Sam Harris advocates, then it would state something to the effect that people from another culture, because the United States can’t prevent Catholic priests from raping children, should feel perfectly justified in bombing Catholic churches and those who support them without any kind of legal or moral restraint-and despite the fact that this will inevitably kill a lot of innocent people.

    I fail to see how I should treat the horrible problems of some Muslim societies any differently. I fail to see how this is arrogant, patronizing, or offensive.

    It is arrogant, patronizing, and offensive because it assumes that they are too unintelligent/immoral/whatever other term is implied for their inferiority to fix their own problems, and so need your kind of ‘help’-delivered by someone who is so much better than them. It is also hypocritical given that the United States has historically been the supporter and arms supplier for many of the most atrocious regimes in the region-until they became problematic for one reason or another. I’m thinking in particular of Saudi Arabia.

  276. 276
    ChasCPeterson

    maybe you should actually read what people say before you make your nasty personal attacks.

    not vaiyt’s style.

  277. 277
    theoreticalgrrrl

    My mistake, it was comment #180 where I specified Islam NOT Muslims.

    It was Islamic fundamentalists who flew planes into the World Trade Center. I never said Muslims did it.
    Stop jumping to conclusions so you can feel smug and self-righteous and superior.

    Yes, Islam is a religion that advocates holy wars and killing non-believers and apostates, and anyone who draws pictures of Mohammed. Not all Muslims follow Islamic fundamentalism.

    “not vaiyt’s style”
    Hmm, you could have fooled me.

  278. 278
    theoreticalgrrrl

    vaiyt said: “You were specifically defending Harris’ claim that Islam – not Fundamentalists, not terrorists, Islam – is the most threatening religion to America.”

    No, I wasn’t defending it. Someone asked why Sam Harris is so focused on Islam, and I answered the question.

  279. 279
    Weed(less) Monkey

    theoreticalgrrrl

    Yes, Islam is a religion that advocates holy wars and killing non-believers and apostates, and anyone who draws pictures of Mohammed.

    No, it isn’t. That’s what the fundies advocate.

  280. 280
    vaiyt

    Yes, Islam is a religion that advocates holy wars and killing non-believers and apostates, and anyone who draws pictures of Mohammed.

    In the same way that Christianity advocates the stoning of children. So what?

  281. 281
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Louis #39
    Well, that’s pretty much par for the course on anuran’s part.

    Nathair #58

    nstantly available web sources other than the dictionary (grammar sites, logic sites or even Wikipedia) all agree and explain the correct usage of the phrase.

    Wikipedia

    The term “begging the question” originated in the 16th century as a mistranslation of Latin petitio principii “assuming the initial point”.[2] In modern vernacular usage, “to beg the question” more frequently is used to mean “to raise the question” (as in “This begs the question of whether …”) or “to dodge the question”.

    You were saying?
    #152

    . Islam is predominantly a North African and Middle Eastern religion

    How sure of that are you?

  282. 282
    theoreticalgrrrl

    “So what?”

    ??

    I don’t understand this line of reasoning….the Old Testament advocated the stoning of disobedient children, so criticizing Islamic dogma that advocates similar things is racist because…Christians are just as bad? The Old Testament advocated the stoning of children for disobedience, most Christians today do not, or if they did they would have to deal with Child Protective Services. I grew up an Orthodox Christian, I was never threatened with being stoned by my parents for disobeying them. There are no groups saying we must respect the Judeo-Christian belief in the stoning of children, otherwise we are being intolerant, racist, cultural imperialists.

    As a woman, I can’t ignore the violence and dehumanization that Islam promotes against women. And I can’t ignore the fact that quite a few Western liberals completely trivialize this violence against women and girls by saying it’s just a cultural issue that we must respect, otherwise we are being racist against brown men.

    That anyone in a democratic country would even consider Sharia Law an acceptable thing, and that a man’s right to religious expression trumps the human rights of women and girls, shows how trivial women’s lives are to most men, men on the Left and the Right, Atheist and Believer alike.

  283. 283
    omnicrom

    I don’t understand this line of reasoning….the Old Testament advocated the stoning of disobedient children, so criticizing Islamic dogma that advocates similar things is racist because…Christians are just as bad? The Old Testament advocated the stoning of children for disobedience, most Christians today do not

    Bolding is mine because you tripped over it. That’s the point people were at pains to make. You don’t dismiss all of Christianity as utterly monstrous and horrible, most Christians aren’t like that. You shouldn’t dismiss all of Islam as utterly monstrous and horrible, most Muslims aren’t like that either.

    That anyone in a democratic country would even consider Sharia Law an acceptable thing, and that a man’s right to religious expression trumps the human rights of women and girls, shows how trivial women’s lives are to most men, men on the Left and the Right, Atheist and Believer alike.

    If you seriously think the men and women of Pharyngula aren’t sympathetic to the plight of women who are victimized by Islam you aren’t really cognizant of the commentariate here. However there’s a fine line between taking a stance against fundamentalist Islam and tarring 1.5 Billion people as sexist and horrible. If you attack Islam with such a broad brush you tar every single Muslim believer then the only consistent thing to do is tar every single Christian and Jew.

  284. 284
    vaiyt

    I don’t understand this line of reasoning….the Old Testament advocated the stoning of disobedient children, so criticizing Islamic dogma that advocates similar things is racist because…Christians are just as bad?

    No, you blithering idiot, that means you can’t single out Muslims for being SUPER MORE EVILER THAN THOU because of some passage in their book.

    The Old Testament advocated the stoning of children for disobedience, most Christians today do not, or if they did they would have to deal with Child Protective Services.

    So would any Muslims living in the same country as you!

  285. 285
    vaiyt

    theoreticalgrrrl, the advantages secular society offers you, they didn’t come due to the gentle, rational nature of Christianity as opposed to Islam. They came about after plenty of bitter conflict. Christianity had to be dragged to the light kicking and screaming all the way through, and it still thrashes about whenever people sit on their asses and pretend only Those People Over There can spread evil through religion.

    And by the way, fuck you for trying to equate defending Muslim people from being painted with the extremism brush with defending Sharia law. Fuck you doubly for appropriating the plight of Muslim women to condemn the very people they belong to.

  286. 286
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    theoreticalgrrrl:

    No, I wasn’t defending it. Someone asked why Sam Harris is so focused on Islam, and I answered the question.

    I know *I* asked this question.
    Also, re-reading your comment, I’m struck by how much you *do* seem to be defending Harris.

    It wasn’t Muslims who invaded Iraq. It’s not Muslims who are trying to turn the world’s most powerful country into a science-denying theocracy.

    This is what you quoted from Nick, and judging by your response, you didn’t understand his point at all.

    I’m not sure what invading Iraq has to do with anything we were talking about.

    The United States invaded Iraq and their actions led to many Iraqi casualties, many of whom were civilians. We terrorized the citizens of Iraq because Islamic extremists from another country committed the September 11 attacks. There is some justification for the United States bringing those involved in the attacks to justice. There is no justification for attacking a country that had nothing to do with the attacks. There is no justification for plunging said country into chaos, all while being responsible for the deaths of large numbers of civilians.
    The point is that Harris is so worried about the US being attacked by Islamic extremists (which is quite irrational) that he doesn’t realize the US is a greater threat to the safety and security of its own citizens than Islamic extremists are. So why does he treat Islamism as such a grave threat to our security?

    Actually, Islamic Fundamentalists also want to turn the world into a science-denying theocracy.

    They may *want* to, but do they stand a chance of that?
    No, not really.
    However, the Tea Party and Right Wing Assclams in the US have significant power in the US (Islamists do not) and have been successful in eroding the rights of Americans. They want to turn the US into a theocracy and between the Far Right and the Islamic Fundamentalists, the former stands a greater chance of achieving their goal..

    Not Muslims, Islamic Fundamentalists. And to be allowed to impose Sharia Law on Muslim women in Western countries like the U.S. and the U.K.

    They can want this all they desire. Do they have the capacity to bring their dreams to life?

    And there are liberals who think that is just fine and dandy, and are offended by the “Islamaphobes” who do not want Sharia Law allowed, because we have to respect Islamic culture, even if that includes gross human rights violations against women.

    I don’t respect Islam. I despise all religions.
    I don’t attempt to weigh them and determine which is the worst, biggest threat to world security (or US security). That would be a massive undertaking and I’m not certain any clear answer would ever emerge. Islam is not a significant threat to the security of Americans in the US. Christian Fundamentalists, OTOH…
    I don’t want Sharia Law instituted in the US either. The difference, for me, is that I don’t see this as a serious possibility.

  287. 287
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    theoreticalgrrrl:

    As a woman, I can’t ignore the violence and dehumanization that Islam promotes against women.

    I hope this doesn’t mean you ignore the violence and dehumnization that other religions coughcoughChristianitycoughcough promote against women. Said violence and dehumanization may not [always] manifest in the same manner, but the end result is the same (denying women the right to full control of their bodies is dehumanizing). Christianity, Islam, Judaism–none of them treats women as full human beings.
    ____
    Hmmm…
    Those American atheists/freethinkers/skeptics who think Islam is so bad…have they been swimming in christianity for so long that they’ve become desensitized to the harms brought about by fundie christians? I’m trying to understand the mindset that leads one to think “Islamism is one of the biggest threats to the US (or the world)”, and I just can’t.

    There’s also a media component there. Listening to the news since September 11, 2001, the media has talked about how bad Islamic fundies are. The media painted a very skewed picture of Muslims. I wonder if the focus on the horrors of Islamism (and precious little coverage of average Muslims), combined with desensitization to christianity, as well as the lingering anger over September 11 plays a role in how so many supposedly rational, freethinking individuals can so irrationally view Islam as a world shaking threat.

  288. 288
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @theoreticalgrrrl #277

    My mistake, it was comment #180 where I specified Islam NOT Muslims.

    Christianity is to Christians as Islam is to _______?

    You fucking idiot.

  289. 289
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Hi Tony! *waves*

    As you can see, I followed your link. I think I regret it.

  290. 290
    brucegorton

    However, the Tea Party and Right Wing Assclams in the US have significant power in the US (Islamists do not) and have been successful in eroding the rights of Americans. They want to turn the US into a theocracy and between the Far Right and the Islamic Fundamentalists, the former stands a greater chance of achieving their goal..

    They also have a nasty tendency to spread their influence outside of America.

    I still haven’t gotten over when the ASA had to stop a bunch of Evangelicals advertising prayer as a cure for AIDS.

    Particularly seen as they were also telling people to throw away their ARVs.

  291. 291
    gussnarp

    @Dalillama, Schmott Guy #281
    Regarding the map you linked to. It seems, after the map of creationism in US schools, I’m appointing myself resident geographer. As such, and entirely without taking any position on this whole argument about Islam that’s now taken over this thread, I’m going to point out several of the things that are wrong with that map.

    First, let’s talk purpose. What is the purpose of this map? What is it trying to show? It does successfully demonstrate that the country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia, meaning that Asia ought to be combined with Middle East and North Africa in terms of where Islam is located.

    It fails to account for two very important factors that any map like this ought to account for: population density and areal density. So China and Saudi Arabia are in the same category. They have similar (oh wait, not that similar, there’s a range of fifty million, we’ll get into that later) numbers of Muslims. But how dominant is Islam in those countries? We need to know the population density, the number of Muslims per capita or per thousand people, or some such to get a handle on that. What do you suppose that number is for Saudi Arabia? What is it for China, made to look the same on this map? I’m guessing those are very different numbers. What about areal or spatial density? How many Muslims per square mile? The population number is probably more important here, but the area figure can be used to similar effect. Take China again and this time compare it to Yemen. Same category, once again. But how many Muslims per square mile? These two countries, once again, should not be in the same category at all. No competent geographer or cartographer would release a map like this with raw counts instead of accounting for population or area or both. I’d do population for this map if I were making it.

    That doesn’t actually change the importance of Indonesia, which would likely be in the top category by either of those measures as well, but it does significantly matter when discussing China or the United States or Europe.

    Which brings us to another problem: the color scale is awful. There are too many categories and the color ramp is unable to make them easily distinguishable. You can figure it out, but it takes too much work and doesn’t really add accuracy. But that’s not the worst thing about the color scale, the worst thing is how the categories are defined. There are a number of ways to do this, many academic geographers suggest doing it by statistics in some way: standard deviations or simply natural groupings in the data. You can just look at a histogram and figure it out. Another way is to break the categories into equal sizes. So each category has the same difference between high end and low end. This map obviously didn’t do that. The bottom category spans only 500,000 while the top spans 100 million. It’s pretty obvious the map makers didn’t use any of those strategies. They may have chosen categories to get as many countries as possible up out of the bottom end. It’s hard to say, but I don’t think the best strategy to clearly show the data was used.

    Overall, if this map were submitted by a student in my computer cartography class I’d give it a D. But yes, leaving out Asia, especially Indonesia, when considering the geographic spread of Islam is a mistake.

  292. 292
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    @alkaloid

    This is not a good comparison, though, because the misdeeds of the Catholic church are still occurring within our culture and not really external to it.

    I’ve been more than clear that I didn’t drink the moral-coolaid and buy into the morally bankrupt idea that we can criticize our own culture but not others, that we can work to better our own culture but not others. Cultural relativism is obscene, and cannot be held by thinking decent people except as a consequence of a bullshit propaganda campaign hidden in the guise of multiculturalism. I don’t give a damn if the harm is happening “in my own culture” or not.

    And for god’s sake, I’m not defending Harris. Stop attributing his positions to me. Stop strawmanning me.

    It is arrogant, patronizing, and offensive because it assumes that they are too unintelligent/immoral/whatever other term is implied for their inferiority to fix their own problems, and so need your kind of ‘help’-delivered by someone who is so much better than them.

    No. It is that they are brainwashed in a culture and they could use some help to get out, just like the Catholics in my example. The Muslims obviously do need help, just like the Catholic children in Catholic communities obviously need help from outside the community to not be raped. At the very least, it is morally acceptable to provide such help, and especially it’s morally acceptable to criticize both cultures which is the extent of my proposed activities for Muslims.

    Seriously – you’re tripping over the words, reading the worst possible way. What I’ve said is perfectly consistent, and includes, giving help and aid to atheist, secular, and liberal groups in those countries. Is that arrogant, patronizing, and offensive? I don’t see you leaping at SC for making the exact same suggestion upthread. What the fuck?

    Again, would you have a problem if I had Superman-like powers and I went in and used force to rescue every girl who was about to be stoned to death for being raped?

    It is also hypocritical given that the United States has historically been the supporter and arms supplier for many of the most atrocious regimes in the region-until they became problematic for one reason or another. I’m thinking in particular of Saudi Arabia.

    What you wrote: “You can’t complain about problems elsewhere until your own house is perfect” e.g. “Dear Muslima”. Response: fuck you.

    @omnicrom

    If you seriously think the men and women of Pharyngula aren’t sympathetic to the plight of women who are victimized by Islam you aren’t really cognizant of the commentariate here.

    Some of them aren’t, like alkaloid, and every other person bending over backwards to take issue with me when I criticize real problems and when I advocate doing something about it.

  293. 293
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Quoting me:

    Seriously – you’re tripping over the words, reading the worst possible way. What I’ve said is perfectly consistent, and includes, giving help and aid to atheist, secular, and liberal groups in those countries. Is that arrogant, patronizing, and offensive? I don’t see you leaping at SC for making the exact same suggestion upthread. What the fuck?

    Here, let me jump ahead in the conversation. This is how I see it going:
    “It’s ok to help those secular groups. That’s not patronizing.”
    “Ok, so they need the help?”
    “No. That’s patronizing.”
    “Oh – so there’s no need to help, and thus my time is better spent elsewhere.”
    “I didn’t say that. They could use the help to make the situation better.”
    “Ok, so they do need help?”

  294. 294
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    There is a difference between swooping in to help children who cannot help themselves and telling adults that we are not just here to assist, but that you need our help. I don’t understand why you cannot see how patronizing that is.
    Offering assistance bc I FUCKING DO EMPATHISE WITH THE PLIGHT OF THOSE PEOPLE SUFFERING UNDER THE THUMB OF ISLAMIC THEOCRACIES–I support that.
    I

  295. 295
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Also, I really want you to answer the Superman question. If you had Superman-like powers and if you were unwilling to use those powers to interfere in foreign cultures to rescue girls who are about to be stoned to death for being raped, then you are a miserable excuse of a human being. If you are willing to interfere with force, then voila – we’ve identified a case where you know better than them what is good for them, and where you are willing to use force to contradict the standard operating procedures of a foreign culture.

    Now, if you want to argue that it’s dishonest or unfair because none of us have Superman-like powers and military intervention is almost always fails miserably – I agree there are very important differences. However, you are making a categorical denial of ever using violence to interfere, whereas I am not, which puts you clearly in the wrong. The question is not “should we ever interfere?” The questions should be:

    “Are we sure enough on these particular moral issues to impose our values by force?” – Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. I’m more than willing to use violence to prevent stoning to death girls for being raped.

    “What kind of interference will achieve our goals, taking into account any collateral damage, unintended consequences, blowback, etc.?” – Also very important questions. We don’t want to do more harm than good. We also don’t have to be purely selfless and so I recognize that maybe we don’t have to interfere if it will cost us too much personally (ala blowback).

    What I do not understand is how you can sit back and say it’s patronizing for me to say I’m right, they’re wrong, and if possible to do so to good effect, then it is morally required to use violence to fix some aspects of their culture such as stoning to death girls for being raped.

  296. 296
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    telling adults that we are not just here to assist, but that you need our help. I don’t understand why you cannot see how patronizing that is.

    Let’s go with this definition I just googled:
    “treat with an apparent kindness that betrays a feeling of superiority.”

    Am I morally superior to the moral thuggery that exists in many if not most Islamic countries? You betcha. I recognize that the equal treatment of women is a good thing and keeping them in cloth bags, always inside the house, illiterate, etc., is bad.

    Am I doing this out of kindness? Yes.

    Does this kindness “betray” – or more accurately show because I’m not hiding it at all – my feelings of superiority? Yes, it shows my feelings of superiority. If I didn’t think I was right and they were wrong, then I wouldn’t be helping in the first place. Of course you think you’re in the right and they’re in the wrong when you offer aid in a fight. Otherwise, why the hell would you offer aid?

    Yes it’s patronizing, and I do not give a damn about it. I don’t care if the Catholics find it patronizing when I tell them that their internal affairs does not properly handle child rapists, and I do not care if most Muslims find it patronizing when I tell them that they are not structuring their society correctly, such as women’s rights and more.

    Please, be patronizing more often! “All it takes for evil to flourish is good people to do nothing.”

  297. 297
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    PS: Simply using the word “patronizing” is either tone trolling, or moral nihilism.

  298. 298
    alkaloid

    PS: Simply using the word “patronizing” is either tone trolling, or moral nihilism.

    I would hardly consider it to be moral nihilism to refuse to have faith in a moral standard that inevitably supports bloodshed and warfare as long as you can justify it to yourself.

  299. 299
    alkaloid

    @Enlightenment Liberal, #296

    Am I morally superior to the moral thuggery that exists in many if not most Islamic countries? You betcha. I recognize that the equal treatment of women is a good thing and keeping them in cloth bags, always inside the house, illiterate, etc., is bad.

    Which forms of moral thuggery merit intervention in your worldview, and which forms of moral thuggery can be safely overlooked or neglected?

  300. 300
    chigau (違う)

    Why do I keep thinking of Residential Schools?

  301. 301
    theoreticalgrrrl

    Wow. Just wow. Stop strawmanning me too. I think all religions are dangerous, basically they are all dangerous cults of varying degrees, but some have more authority and power because they’ve been around longer and have more money and influence.
    I NEVER said Christianity is not misogynistic, I NEVER dehumanized Musilms. I made it very clear I wasn’t talking about Muslims at all, but about FUNDAMENTALIST Islamists. I live in Utah, I have the same problem with Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, they treat women like property and abuse little girls and boys, and no one in this country does anything about it. But that wasn’t the topic I was addressing, I was addressing the accusation that Sam Harris is a raving racist.

    Token Breeder, vaiyt, and Tony!, you all keep making personal attacks against me and belittle my intelligence, falsely attributing beliefs to me that I don’t have, screaming and flailing at the strawmen created in your own heads.

    I was totally on the side of the Free Thought community and didn’t understand why others keep calling you FTBullies, but I can kind of see it now, quite clearly. You LOVE having someone to vilify as being dumber than you, less righteous than you, someone you can feel smug and superior to, you even make up shit to justify your bullying behavior. Interesting how easily you can get thrown under the bus around here. No good faith, no actually reading what people write.

    Never said I was for Harris’ ideas like profiling or first-strikes on Muslim populations. But it’s more fun to believe I do, right? I can be your little chew toy and you can vent your delusional self-righteous nonsense on me.

  302. 302
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I’m late to this, but I’m also confused:

    I was addressing the accusation that Sam Harris is a raving racist.

    Never said I was for Harris’ ideas like profiling or first-strikes on Muslim populations.

    Even just those two things, they’re pretty racist. Or bigoted and xenophobic, if you will. Horrible. Inhumane. Even if we strike “racist”, other applicable descriptions don’t paint Harris in a better light.

  303. 303
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    theoreticalgrrrl:
    I’m sorry.

  304. 304
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    theoreticalgrrrl:

    But that wasn’t the topic I was addressing, I was addressing the accusation that Sam Harris is a raving racist.

    Who has made this accusation?
    ****
    Would Sam Harris’ bigotry be more noticeable if he were talking about queers instead of Muslims?

    In any case, you have conceded that the next person who will try to blow himself up on an airplane bound for Europe or the United States is very likely to be Muslim. When considering the details of the example I gave—of terrorists who will even build their own children into their bombs—it should be clear that, in the year 2012, we are talking about Muslims waging jihad.

    For this reason, I have argued that we should profile for Muslims, or anyone who could conceivably be Muslim, at airport security. More specifically, I argue that we should anti-profile—paying less attention to people who, based on the totality of their characteristics, could not conceivably be jihadists. Once again, I would not put you or myself in this category, but many people one sees at the airport would fall into it.

    I think you overestimate the ability of jihadists to recruit people who do not fit the profile, and you seriously underestimate the talent that neurologically intact observers (not to mention trained screeners, like those who work for El Al) have for spotting high-risk individuals. While it is clearly prudent to scan everyone’s bags, doing a secondary screening of low-risk travelers, purely for the sake of fairness, seems like a dangerous waste of time.

    Please remember, we are talking about recruiting people who want to die for the privilege of waging jihad against infidels. Just how deep a recruiting pool could this be among people born as non-Muslims? Not very. How easy can it be to recruit an old rancher and his wife from Texas to be suicide bombers? What about a pretty blonde from San Diego who once had a walk-on part on Battlestar Galactica? If it were easy to recruit such people—people about whom you would say, “Are you kidding me? They are members of al-Qaeda?”—then we would not be seeing young middle-eastern men show upon on the news, again and again.
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/to-profile-or-not-to-profile

  305. 305
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    295
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    31 January 2014 at 1:25 pm (UTC -6)

    Also, I really want you to answer the Superman question. If you had Superman-like powers and if you were unwilling to use those powers to interfere in foreign cultures to rescue girls who are about to be stoned to death for being raped, then you are a miserable excuse of a human being. If you are willing to interfere with force, then voila – we’ve identified a case where you know better than them what is good for them, and where you are willing to use force to contradict the standard operating procedures of a foreign culture.

    Did Superman suddently become omnipresent and omnipotent? If not, then how the hell would he know what’s happening where and when? And be able to stop it all? He’d have to be around the area, which means moving to those countries. He’d either stop it all or have to pick and choose. Considering the wars going on, I have a feeling he’ll be occupied.

    Sounds as if Superman like people will just have to settle with solving problems around their own area (like in the comics around Metropolis, right?). Besides, that’s simple shit and doesn’t necessarily have to be violent intervention anyways.

    Unless you’re going super villain route and threatening countries to get their shit together (Feed your people! Stop the Wars! Yes, USA I’m talking to you!) then Superman can’t solve the biggest problems. Problems that lead to higher crime and a worse living conditions. Might as well be Batman will the superpower of money, there’s plenty of those running around fucking shit up here.

  306. 306
    vaiyt

    Please remember, we are talking about recruiting people who want to die for the privilege of waging jihad against infidels. Just how deep a recruiting pool could this be among people born as non-Muslims? Not very.

    God.
    Fucking.
    DAMMIT.
    MUSLIMS CAN LOOK LIKE FUCKING ANYTHING!

  307. 307
    vaiyt

    (cont.)
    Again with the assumption that Muslims have to be brown people!

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/Albanian_children_at_school.jpg Muslims

    http://img-fotki.yandex.ru/get/4507/ottenki-serogo.67/0_57483_147c65f_orig.jpg Muslims

    http://www.eurasianet.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/galleria_fullscreen/090613_02_0.jpg Muslims

    All from Muslim-majority countries.

    There’s also the mistaken assumption that Muslim minorities from other countries have to be new converts as opposed to “born” Muslims (how is one person born a Muslim? Newborns don’t give a shit about god!). Guess what, they aren’t. Our Muslims have been here for generations, and they’re just as faithful as anyone from Saudi Arabia.

    All together now: you can’t profile Muslims by their appearance, unless you want to restrict your search for easy to disguise aspects. Meanwhile, you’re putting arbitrarily chosen people under undue suspicion, and wasting your time chasing after the last terrorist instead of trying to catch the next one.

  308. 308
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Oh please, and all those Americans going to war have so much nobler reasons. Oh wait, for them, it’s sometimes about them being violent thugs or naive conservatives, but it can also be about being poor and jobless or having a family to support. Of course, these are real people who have real reasons for doing things.

    Not like those monsters over there who just dream about killing the infidels. It’s like Borg and humans. Guess who’s the Borg.

  309. 309
    anteprepro

    I made it very clear I wasn’t talking about Muslims at all, but about FUNDAMENTALIST Islamists.

    Yes, and you keep saying it as if “FUNDAMENTALIST Islamists” aren’t Muslims.

    didn’t understand why others keep calling you FTBullies, but I can kind of see it now, quite clearly. You LOVE having someone to vilify as being dumber than you, less righteous than you, someone you can feel smug and superior to, you even make up shit to justify your bullying behavior. Interesting how easily you can get thrown under the bus around here. No good faith, no actually reading what people write.

    We are critical. We like to argue. We address the logical implications of arguments and not just the exact wording. We are rude and not willing to have our hands tied in the holy name of Tone. If you can’t take harsh language, can’t take vigorous disagreement, then Pharyngula isn’t for you. As for good faith, I am seeing more from the people criticizing you then I am from you.

    (In fairness: You are not a very serious offender when it comes to the Harris Defenders in this thread. At least as far as I can see)

  310. 310
    ledasmom

    But part of the point of Superman is that he’s a fantasy of fighting crime without collateral damage. So if you ask “What if you could intervene without any of the real-world negative consequences of intervention?”, and get a positive answer, how does that actually relate to the real world where you do get the negative consequences? Superman is the easy case.

  311. 311
    alkaloid

    @ledasmom, #310

    But part of the point of Superman is that he’s a fantasy of fighting crime without collateral damage. So if you ask “What if you could intervene without any of the real-world negative consequences of intervention?”, and get a positive answer, how does that actually relate to the real world where you do get the negative consequences? Superman is the easy case.

    Exactly. It’s easy for people like EnlightenmentLiberal to choose this as the hypothetical precisely because it is so far removed from the reality of the situation-which is that ‘assistance’ usually comes in the form of sustained bombing campaigns, extended and self-justifying occupations, and choosing sides in such a way that when the occupier eventually leaves, the country often ends up more fundamentalist than it was before the occupier even got involved in the first place.

    I also don’t think that the United States is so morally superior that it should be intervening in other countries, especially given its:

    1) Continuing history of racism.

    2) The degree to which American governmental espionage violates everything that the government says that the United States ought to be about with the other side of its mouth. (In fact, given the recent Snowden revelations that the US government used NSA spying against the climate change talks, given how lethal climate change could be, sinking these kinds of efforts could indirectly end up killing a lot of people).

    3) The degree to which a lot of Americans really don’t disagree with the underlying misogyny of fundamentalist Islam as much as they seem to hate the people implementing it. I don’t think for a second that a lot of the fanatics trying to pass laws against ‘sharia’ in Oklahoma would do exactly the same thing if given half the chance to implement it against American women.

  312. 312
    alkaloid

    wouldn’t do exactly the same thing, rather, instead of “would do exactly the same thing”. Hopefully, my correction is read before my intended statement is misinterpreted.

  313. 313
    David Marjanović

    Please remember, we are talking about recruiting people who want to die for the privilege of waging jihad against infidels. Just how deep a recruiting pool could this be among people born as non-Muslims? Not very.

    Have you heard of “the zeal of a convert”? Several German converts to salafist Islam have gone to Afghanistan to fight the US. One was killed just a few days ago.

    Again with the assumption that Muslims have to be brown people!

    Indeed, many Tatars are blond and blue-eyed.

  314. 314
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Gussnarp #291
    The map’s not mine, it’s from Wikipedia; the entirety of the point I was making with it is that numerically speaking, Islam is not, in fact, primarily a Middle Eastern phenomenon as Nathair claimed.

  315. 315
    gussnarp

    @Dalillama #314:

    I know it’s not your map.
    I know it’s the best you could find to make your point.
    I was just being a bit of a pedant. Imagine if someone were linking to an article on biology that had terrible methodology, but one piece of accurate and useful information managed to come out of it by sheer luck. That’s pretty much how I felt about the map, so I thought I’d try to educate the commentariat a bit.

  316. 316
    theoreticalgrrrl

    @anteprepro

    I’m not upset at people arguing with me, vigorous disagreements or people being blunt. But being called “you fucking idiot” and “you fucking shithead without a clue,” seems unnecessary to me, and feels like a personal attack rather than a vigorous disagreement. Why is that necessary in a debate? I don’t think that objecting to that is tone trolling. . Maybe I am being too sensitive. I admit it’s a sore spot with me for personal reasons. Disagree with me, call my argument stupid, but not me personally. Too much to ask?

    @Tony!
    Thank you.

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