Roundup: Some more thoughts on Islamophobia


On the show this Sunday I predicted some angry backlash when I said that yes, sometimes criticism of Islam winds up sinking to the level of racism and xenophobia. I won’t run through everything, although I will throw up a handful of Q&A type responses at the end of this post. I guess the best one was this:

Just wanted to say Russel’s tone is smug and pretentious. Makes it hard to listen to the show even if you agree with him.

Okay. Now I know.

In any case, I’ve been seeing a few related conversations around the web lately, so I thought I’d share them.

Adam Lee: Maher, Harris and Atheist Islamophobia

The atheist movement’s critique of Islam is at its strongest and most necessary when it points out the real and serious harm done by Islamic fundamentalism and theocracy. However, we must be cautious not to stray over the line into promoting bigotry, or treating Muslims as homogeneous representatives of an alien and dangerous culture. The best solution is to emphasize the voices of ex-Muslim atheists, who can speak about their cultures with understanding while not sparing them from criticism on subjects for which they deserve to be criticized.

Heina Dadabhoy: When & How Criticizing Islam Takes a Turn for the Racist

 The stereotyping of Muslims, then, comes from racism and is a part of racism against Middle-Easterners (and, more broadly, the Other) rather than is equivalent to or is racism. Because Muslims are widely perceived and stereotyped to be a certain race, i.e. not white, criticism that is purported to be of Islam can end up being dressed-up racist statements against Arabs.

What makes a criticism of Islam racialized? Some examples:

The “durka durka Muhammad jihad”-style gibberish favored by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and other comedians who fancy themselves clever for basically saying “this language sounds weird to me because I don’t understand it” is racialized. It’s the adult version of the “haha, you sound / smell / look funny!” taunt familiar to many non-white people. It’s Othering in its most basic form.

A few things I’d like to add, addressing common things people have said to or about me lately:

Q: Aren’t you essentially still agreeing with Sam Harris that criticism of Islam shouldn’t always be interpreted as Islamophobia or racism?

A: Yes. I absolutely do agree with that.

Q: Then why are you talking as if you don’t agree with Sam?

As I hope Heina’s post highlights, some attacks on Muslims absolutely do come from a similar place to racism and xenophobia. Sam is overly dismissive of this point, in my experience. For a previous example of my disagreement with Sam, see my post “Racial Profiling – a data mining perspective.”

Q: But we stand together in hating actual theocracies, right?

A: Obviously yes. And in most cases, the victims of those theocracies are the people forced to live under them, i.e., other Muslims, as well as ex-Muslims.

Q: By arguing against Sam’s point you are proving his point.

A: Yes, yes, that’s a super witty rejoinder. Thanks for that.

Q: 97% of all suicide terrorists are either Muslim or Hindu.

A: Link, please.

Q: You don’t have a problem with Halal? Then you must be totally fine with inhumane animal butchering.

A: I don’t shop for Halal food. I just said the notion that a few stores in a first world country might offer it does not put any of us in danger of a Sharia state. Not all Halal items are meat: “Since 1991, mainstream manufacturers of soups, grains, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, prepared foods, and other industries, as well as hotels, restaurants, airlines, hospitals and other service providers have pursued the halal market.” And while the Halal methods of butchering are kind of ugly, so are some Kosher methods of butchering, and yet I hear a lot less panic about that. For that matter, some factory farming methods are pretty abominable as well. I’m not saying we should sweep those problems under the rug; I’m saying they need to be put in perspective. People who don’t normally care at all about animal rights seem to become obsessed with it as soon as Muslims are involved.

Q: Would you go into a Muslim theocracy and say the same things you do on the show? Chicken.

A: No, I would not. Nor would I go into Uganda and declare to major Christian leaders that I demand the immediate right to marry a man. If that makes me chicken, that’s cool with me. I’m not a big fan of martyrdom myself.

Comments

  1. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Would you go into a Muslim theocracy and say the same things you do on the show? Chicken.

    A: No, I would not. Nor would I go into Uganda and declare to major Christian leaders that I demand the immediate right to marry a man.

    The Muslim one is pretty certain death. The one in Uganda IMHO AFAIK is not. I think you exaggerate a bit here, and are doing a false equivalence. Yes both are bad, and we should work to fix both, but you won’t be killed in Uganda for a mere statement AFAIK.

  2. Monocle Smile says

    I’m glad this was posted.

    I have a bit of personal experience with Islamophobia. I grew up in an area with a fairly large Chaldean population. Want to know about Islamophobia? Ask a Chaldean. They deal with it daily.

  3. JT Rager says

    Thanks for posting Russel. It’s unfortunate that religion is such an inherent part of cultures they are found in, because multiculturalism and a variety of perspectives is a strength to society and not a weakness. The thing is, cultures can throw out the bad ideas and keep the good. In the same sense that someone could be “culturally Jewish” I could completely appreciate someone being “culturally Muslim.” Most atheists with in the movement probably wouldn’t force people to stop being Muslim either, our biggest fuel is rational discussion and criticism.

    As far as Harris’ appearance goes on the Maher show, I’m pretty sure I support everything he said during that particular appearance. His labeling of Islam as a “bad idea” is on point in that all kinds of bad ideas stem from the religion. He then goes on to be very specific on the different types of groups within Islam, including many non-dangerous liberal ones that we shouldn’t really be concerned with. Meanwhile, while he’s differentiating different types of believers, Ben Affleck is on the other side of the table telling Sam Harris that he’s painting all Muslims the same (?!?!?). This basically proves Harris’ point that a failure of Liberals is to jump right on to Islamophobia. I’m not sure why nuance was so hard for Affleck there.

  4. Monocle Smile says

    Sigh.

    This basically proves Harris’ point that a failure of Liberals is to jump right on to Islamophobia

    No. This proves that a failure of Ben Affleck is to jump to Islamophobia. Nothing more.

  5. Frank G. Turner says

    @ JT Rager # 5

    Most atheists with in the movement probably wouldn’t force people to stop being Muslim either, our biggest fuel is rational discussion and criticism.

    Well of course, I have no problem with a person being Muslim if they are a calm and peaceful person that believes in education and won’t stand in the way of children (male or female) learning (despite what the Qu’ran might say about women and learning for example).
    .
    As I have often said, I don’t want to remove relgion, I want to remove the negative consequences of religion.

  6. JT Rager says

    @Monocle Smile: Point taken, probably shouldn’t have phrased it like that. Certainly didn’t help Affleck’s point at all.

    As I have often said, I don’t want to remove relgion, I want to remove the negative consequences of religion.

    ^This.

  7. chris lowe says

    I agree that there is a certain misdirect here. But it can’t be ignored that there is a lot going on in the middle east zone of Islam where leaders are hiding behind the Koran to justify their behaviour. You can’t paint a brush over everybody because a few in charge (often by force) manipulate people into war and worse. The trouble is you can’t divorce Islam from the problem either. I side with Sam Harris and I think the distinction is lost between criticism of Islam and criticism of Muslims. Islam sets itself up to bear no criticism or critique of it’s holy books and teachings. This is required whether you’re moderate or extreme. Unfortunately the Koran has a rich source to justify egregious behaviour at those perceived as enemies. Actually read the Koran and you will find this to be disturbingly true. Tediously, verse after verse it exhorts its followers to forcibly convert all who are not muslim or to treat them as less than human. If it was just a side-mention I could see the howls and charges of cherry picking but unfortunately this view is expressed extensively through it’s entirety. Parts of the Koran read like a military manual.

    The point is war makers in the region use the unquestionability of the Koran, and point to The Words themselves to stave off criticism of their own obviously secular and worldly goals. To leave out Islam in this area roiled in conflict is impossible. Islamophobia is justified as long as it is being imposed and inforced through the barrel of the gun.

    Here is the distinction: Islamophobia is not an ethnical discrimination, it is a criticism of an idea. An Idea for which answers need be demanded and explanations as how they feel justified doing what they do because they create untold numbers of victims and target especially those who don’t buy into their ideas. Muslim-0-Phobia on the other hand would be a completely different animal. Wouldn’t you think and respect that the Muslim butchers, bakers and the candlestick makers just want things to calm the fuck down so that they could get along with their lives.

    Those that use Islam to whip people into murderous frenzies need to be confronted . So does the utility of the Koran in endorsing and exhorting this kind of behaviour, which it does, need to be confronted. Especially by Muslims. They don’t need this shit anymore than anybody else.

    I feel Ben Affleck failed to see the distinction between an idea and a people and I too would be outraged if i had conflated the two in my mind. You can criticize communism without criticizing the rank and file Chinese.

  8. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Russell
    There is a difference between demanding the right to engage in homosexual behavior, and engaging in homosexual behavior. You cite laws which criminalize engaging in homosexual behavior, not demanding the right to engage in homosexual behavior. I fail to see the relevance.

    There are other Christian countries where what you claim is true. Russia springs to mind. If you cited that, I would not have had a problem. In Russia, they actually criminalize demanding the right to engage in homosexual behavior. But you didn’t cite Russia; you cited Uganda, and as far as I know, they have not (yet) criminalized demanding the right to engage in homosexual behavior.

    Whereas, simply stating “Mohamud is not a prophet” publicly in most Muslim countries can and will get you criminally charged. In a large number of them, with the death penalty – although you’re more likely to be killed by a mob or a lone policeman than by an official execution.

    I think it’s very, very important to note the difference between criminalizing speech, and criminalizing other things. Speech is the most important right. Without speech, we and they cannot discuss the issues and change things. Muslims on average are way far ahead of Christians in criminalizing speech for religious reasons. As far as I know offhand, the only significant example of Christians criminalizing speech in today’s world is Russia and its “anti pro gay” speech laws.

  9. sw says

    I just wanted to reply to the quote you have saying

    The “durka durka Muhammad jihad”-style gibberish favored by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and other comedians who fancy themselves clever for basically saying “this language sounds weird to me because I don’t understand it” is racialized.

    I disagree with this. I found the “durka durka Muhammad jihad”-style gibberish funny not because it was making fun of the language, but because it was making fun of the kind of people who think that Muslims talk like that. In my mind it’s lampooning an idiot’s interpretation of the language, not the language itself. I think it was pretty clearly satire. Especially given that it was written by the very, very satirical writers of South Park.

    People certainly do say plenty of stupid, bigoted things, but I think pointing at “durka durka Muhammad jihad”-style gibberish as ridiculing foreigners and not ridiculing bigoted perceptions of foreigners is a bad example in my opinion.

  10. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Russell
    Err, hit send a little too early.

    You wrongly implied that Uganda has laws criminalizing speech advocating for gay rights. Again review what you said:

    Would you go into a Muslim theocracy and say the same things you do on the show? Chicken.

    A: No, I would not. Nor would I go into Uganda and declare to major Christian leaders that I demand the immediate right to marry a man.

    You are wrong. I sincerely doubt stating that in Uganda openly and publicly that you want homosexual behavior to be legal will get you legally charged. Saying it just once publicly and openly may get you beaten by random individuals, but no criminal charge. Further, if you were to immediately follow up with “I was joking”, I think the odds are good that you could avoid the beating too.

    Whereas, if you even say once “Mohamed was a fraud” openly and publicly in any Muslim country (or at least most), you can and likely will get criminally charged. Saying “I was joking” afterward will do little to help. In many of those countries, just saying that once will likely cause a mob of people to descend on you to try and kill you.

    The difference here is night and day.

  11. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Hell, even with Russia, that criminalizes only speech which a minor might overhear IIRC. It’s still legal to advocate privately for changing the law. That’s not true for blasphemy and apostacy in the Muslim world. There’s just no comparison to the scale of the problem.

  12. L.Long says

    I treat all religions the same…hate full-bigoted-fearful-irrational, as a group NONE are to be trusted in the long haul cuz I’ve studied history & cultures and know that the so called lying-hypocritical moderates can change into fundies. Because they lie and are hypocrites to their holey book of BS. So it aint a phobia if the present news and past actions demonstrate they are aholes. And the hypocrite moderates? When they cut out the awful-bigoted-hateful-irrational parts of their books of BS and then say this is our way, THEN I will revise my caution towards any religion when there is more then 3 gathered….of coarse that will not happen because they would then have no real reason to call themselves (insert BS).

  13. robertwilson says

    @sw The stuff Matt and Trey do often has the ring of “hipster racism” though. Like using the n-word and saying you’re not racist because you know it’s racist and if you know it’s racist then you must be doing it as a way of being aware of and making other people aware of racism, because you couldn’t possibly be racist if you’re using a word you know is racist.

    I agree the Team America characters are meant to lampoon idiots and therefore the intent is there, but they more often than not they end up doing an “equal-opportunity offense” kind of joke where they hit the oppressed just as hard as the oppressors.

    I love South Park, but the example is not a bad one at all. Their jokes are often great but clouded by a cynical “both sides are just a bad” attitude that is rather uncreative and certainly uncritical.

  14. unfogged says

    @Frank

    I don’t want to remove relgion, I want to remove the negative consequences of religion.

    I understand the statement, and can even agree with the sentiment, but sometimes I think it is like saying “I don’t want to eliminate baseball, just bats, balls, mitts, and uniforms”. Once everything that has negative consequences is gone there isn’t much left that would deserve the label.

  15. says

    My thoughts: Maher is just a windbag IMO, who’s lucky if he’s able to repeat a fact or argument without screwing it up. I don’t really doubt that Harris himself thinks that he’s not being racist or exhibiting Islamophobia. But, in the same way he “isn’t the sexist pig we’re looking for”, he is completely oblivious to how a point he’s trying to make can be racist or Islamophobic. In the concentric circles example, the focus is on “the people” in those circles. The thing about that example is that it’s hard to discern if the intent is just to make a point about how the currently held Islamic beliefs are represented in a population or to make the case that there is something deeply wrong with the people in those circles that they hold those beliefs at all. Harris (and his trusty sidekick Maher) seem to think they can be immune from latter simply by saying so, but if it in any bolsters those who latch on to the latter, Harris is just one of the people in his concentric circle example who form a buffer around the bigoted extremists in the middle. What I don’t get is what Harris thinks the end game is in droning on an on about how those Muslim people believe these obviously harmful things. Even Steele was joining Kristof and Afflack, trying to make the point that we need to support the Muslim people with moderate views, that simply painting Muslims with a broad brush isn’t going to help anybody. While I think talking about harmful things and how they are bad and how we can fix them is good, the only advantage I can see in painting Muslims with a broad brush is that it’s for Harris’ personal gain. As trite as that accusation can be, Harris is very famous and sells a lot of books while doing this. Would Maher even invite him if he were less hard-line on this topic?

    Side note: At one point, Afflack made (while being talked over, I wonder why) the point that our western military is responsible for far more deaths of Muslims than the entirety of attacks of Muslims on westerners (by my count, three orders of magnitude more death?). And that point doesn’t even count the non-death related imbalance (we now have to wait in line a bit longer at the airport while the areas we attacked are still trying to recover basic infrastructure). Makes me nauseous to even think about it.

  16. robertwilson says

    @Chan Kobun

    Thanks, and as one might expect none of that is original, but shares a lot with other blogs I read (including some on FTB). The latest critique of South Park I read was from the Escapist’s film critic (a year old article of his he relinked to recently: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/moviesandtv/columns/moviebob/10638-South-Park-As-A-Gated-Community ). And of course the hipster racism (as well as hipster sexism) idea has been dealt with on FTB before as well.

    I’m a huge South Park fan, but they absolutely are guilty of thinking their satire is more equal than it actually is.

  17. says

    Russell:
    Personally, I’ve been convinced to stop using ‘Islamophobia’, and replace it with ‘anti-Muslim bigotry’ (or Muslimphobia):

    It’s a difficult term because it gets used by the Muslims in countries like the U.S. as a way to silence legitimate criticism of Islam. And that’s very harmful, because ex-Muslims, particularly young ones, here don’t have it easy at all. It’s a weird nested punching down effect. Right-wing bigot politicians and media discriminate against Muslims in general and the Muslim societies oppress the ex-Muslims among them. To label someone like Peter King and someone like me with the same term is beyond unfair and hijacks a real conversation by trying to make it look like the punching down/punching up dynamic is the other way around. Because of it having such negative connotations, it also silences legitimate concerns and provides cover for things like arranged marriage and oppression of women (the least addressed of which is probably gender segregation in mosques). To me Islamophobia feel like being called a man-hater does to a female feminist. Or like the term war on Christianity to an atheist who used to be Christian.
    Anti-Muslim bigotry is a much better (not to mention simply more accurate) term.

  18. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @peterbollwerk
    That links seems pretty good. No complaints.

    I still think the problem is exactly on the proposition Russell made “Every religion has its terrorists”, implying that it’s equal numbers of terrorists for every religion. That’s ridiculous. Beliefs matter, and some religions have radically different beliefs. It is ridiculous to deny consequences of beliefs, and it is ridiculous to deny the black-and-white difference between Jainism and Islam.

    At this point, we start playing a No True Scotsman. People like Russell will say they’re not true Muslims, but again that’s just arguing that Islam is contentless and we should expect equal numbers of terrorists from various Muslim cultures and Christian cultures.

    It seems the problem is entirely on the label. The problem seems to be that I’m hitting collateral damage by using the word “Muslim” to describe this problem, when there are plenty of nice Muslims. It’s true there are plenty of nice Muslims, but IMHO the big difference between the cultures is that damn book and the beliefs around it, and there is no better word for it than Islamic culture.

    As far as I can tell, it’s like a hypothetical person who takes offensive when I say the Roman Catholic Church is an international child rape organization, and Christianity is a failed apacolyptic death cult (it is) because I’m hitting collateral damage, such as on all of the good works that the Catholic church does like charity and education. It’s simply ridiculous.

    It’s also ridiculous to not see the huge difference in the scale of the problem. As Harris said in the link, if they burned a Koran on air, they all would have feared for their lives from credible death threats for the rest of their lives. Over a damn book, from people on the other side of the world. There is no similar situation anywhere else in any other belief system or culture where I burning a book on this side of the world will make millions of people on the other side of the world want to kill me, and many (tens, hundreds, who knows) will credibly actually try and kill me, while millions cheer them on.

  19. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    As far as I can tell, it’s like a hypothetical person who takes offensive when I say the Roman Catholic Church is an international child rape organization, and Christianity is a failed apacolyptic death cult (it is) because I’m hitting collateral damage, such as on all of the good works that the Catholic church does like charity and education. It’s simply ridiculous.

    More specifically, it’s like taking offense when I say that because you know good Catholics, and they’re not all child rapists. News flash – they are in my book. Especially those who know this and support the organization which has an official policy to protect people who rape children. Especially true if they tithe – give money to that criminal organization. Until we start holding people personally accountable for doing evil acts like supporting that Catholic church, worshiping the abomination of the Christian god, or identifying as a Muslim, this shit will just go on.

  20. Ben Finney says

    People who don’t normally care at all about animal rights seem to become obsessed with it as soon as Muslims are involved.

    This paints it in very extreme terms (really? “don’t care at all”? “become obsessed with it”?), so I’ll assume that’s a hyperbolic way of saying you see a striking increase in concern over unnecessary cruelty in animal slaughter, when that cruelty is caused by following rules of halal and kosher.

    For my part, I’m equally outraged that anyone respects halal slaughter as I am that anyone respects kosher slaughter.

    The increase in outrage, more than that reserved for the general cruelty of our industrial meat production system, is because not only is the cruelty of halal and kosher slaughter unnecessary, it’s not even *useful*. It’s wanton cruelty because a barbaric odious religion from an ancient ignorant culture is still given unwarranted respect.

    Where efficient, less troublesome, and pain-minimising methods (stunning, often instantaneously with a mechanical bolt) are widely available to any slaughterhouse, halal and kosher insist on a wasteful, and markedly more cruel, means of killing the animal: slitting its throat and letting the panicked animal bleed to death.

    So to my view, the increase in outrage is because this is cruelty supported not by anyone’s desire for meat — which is at least understandable in a species designed to digest meat. It’s additional unnecessary cruelty, pursued in the face of widely-available more-efficient and more-effective options, supported solely by overweening respect to an imaginary cosmic tyrant from the Bronze Age.

    If you don’t share that outrage, I hope you can at least acknowledge its legitimacy.

  21. corwyn says

    Okay. Now I know.

    No, you really don’t. Many people seem to use ‘smug’, ‘pretentious’, and ‘condescending’ when they mean ‘disagrees with my tenuously held belief’.

    p.s. I wanted to write this BEFORE I listened. I will have another evaluation once I do.

  22. Matt Gerrans says

    #23 & 24: Hear, hear! I’d like to see some response to these points.

    Russell, I was disappointed by this bit in your “FAQ:”
    Q: By arguing against Sam’s point you are proving his point.
    A: Yes, yes, that’s a super witty rejoinder. Thanks for that.

    This is straw man. Not sure if this was in response to JJM or mintho, but they both made good points to back up similar forms of this statement. Neither just made the claim in isolation like you are implying.

    Finally, using phrases like “I predicted some angry backlash” is similar to the theists’ accusations of “angry atheist.” It is an attempt to head off any legitimate criticism of your position, so you can say “I told you so!” and characterize any disagreement as “angry.” Come on.

  23. drken says

    I think the problem for many liberals (at least it is for me) is that while we want to condemn the sexism, homophobia, and treatment of apostates in muslim countries, we don’t want to get lumped in with those who want to ban muslims from entering the country, stop mosques from being built, invade muslim countries, etc. There’s also the fear that by pointing out that the preponderance of muslims in those countries hold values that we find repugnant, we’re contributing to the justification of killing innocent civilians under the guise of either protecting ourselves from the extremists or “Heart of Darkness” style “bringing civilization to the savages.” So, while I agree with Sam Harris on much of what he says about Islam, I disagree with his tendency to use those facts to justify treating muslims worse than everybody else.

  24. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @drken
    My initial reaction was “But Sam doesn’t do that!”, and then I remembered the whole airport screening thing, or how it’s sometimes morally acceptable to kill people for simply preaching jihad, and yeh…

    I disagree with his tendency to use those facts to justify treating muslims worse than everybody else.

    I agree to this. The compromise of the first amendment is pretty clear – anyone can preach any vile thing no matter how vile, and we should not legally stop them simply on account of how vile it is.

    Let me do the “Some of my best friends are black”. Some people I work with are Muslim, and I have no fear that they would kill me if I were to be a colossal asshat and burn a Koran in front of them. They’re nice people. I have just as many problems with them as my other friend who is a Catholic, and whom I once accused of aiding and abetting child rapists. He’s still a Catholic, and I’m still his friend.

  25. says

    #23 & 24: Hear, hear! I’d like to see some response to these points.

    I’ll comment, since I think I agree with what Russell has said on this (this is a tricky subject).

    EL, I generally agree with your assessment. My wife is from a Muslim country and one of the things that shocked me while traveling there (at least while young and ignorant) was the prohibition of apostasy. One other rather nasty side effect is that it gets extended to politics, where criticism of leaders triggers the same prohibited response, which IMO probably leads to some of the political problems (tendency toward authoritarian rule, etc.).

    There is no similar situation anywhere else in any other belief system or culture where I burning a book on this side of the world will make millions of people on the other side of the world want to kill me, and many (tens, hundreds, who knows) will credibly actually try and kill me, while millions cheer them on.

    I’m a bit skeptical of the “no similar situation”. There are many places in the USA where burning a bible or yelling “Fuck Jesus” would be very dangerous. We do have rule of law that *should* protect you (which is a valid difference between the USA and an Islamic Theocracy), but that’s no protection against a mob of angry conservative Christians. I’m not as familiar with the specifics, but I’ve read about anti-Hindu speech/actions that have incited mob violence in India. I’ve also heard of Buddhists driven mob violence. That said, I do agree that Islam seems to be a bigger problem, that it’s going to be harder to reform/liberate than some other religions due to the text in the Qur’an, and that the scale of the situation does seem much more daunting (at least compared to the currently “tamer” Christian/Hindu/Buddhist religions).

    Now, to be even a bit more contrary:

    I don’t think that westerners making blanket, critical statements about Muslims or Islam is helpful, at all. It’s not the people who are the problem, it’s the circumstances that they’re in that need to change, and ultimately they (not us) will need to change them. I’m fine with criticism of the ideas, passages or beliefs (most of which are like shooting fish in a barrel), but as soon as you make it a blanket thing about Muslims or Islam you risk perpetuating bigotry that IMO will only serve to make reforming Islam that much harder.

    I’d also say that Harris is committing a straw-man fallacy against liberals. He seems to think that rational reservations toward making blanket statements about Islam/Muslims means liberals think there is nothing wrong with those associated ideas and beliefs. Really? Just because we don’t join the borderline bigoted bandwagon means we’re fine with what happens to people in the name of Islam? If anything, liberals are guilty of rejecting the idiotic notion that dropping bombs all around the Middle East and Persia will “solve the Muslim Terrorist problem”.

    To me, the discussion should be on how we can help Muslim people reform and liberate the Islamic world (or at least not get in the way by doing things that would stifle it). I’m no expert in this, but any inroads we can make with education (especially women!) would probably save future generations from a few wars.

  26. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’m a bit skeptical of the “no similar situation”. There are many places in the USA where burning a bible or yelling “Fuck Jesus” would be very dangerous. We do have rule of law that *should* protect you (which is a valid difference between the USA and an Islamic Theocracy), but that’s no protection against a mob of angry conservative Christians.

    I doubt it. I am sheltered, but I doubt it. Especially if you’re white (but that’s a separate issue). If you just shouted that anywhere in the US, and then immediately recanted, apologized, promised to leave town, etc., you are not going to get killed. Compare and contrast that with Islam.

    It’s not the people who are the problem, it’s the circumstances that they’re in that need to change, and ultimately they (not us) will need to change them.

    I disagree fundamentally. It’s their beliefs which are the problem, not merely their circumstances. There are other poor cultures who won’t come try and kill me for attacking their beliefs halfway around the world. It’s exactly this sentiment that I have a problem with.

    but as soon as you make it a blanket thing about Muslims or Islam you risk perpetuating bigotry that IMO will only serve to make reforming Islam that much harder.

    To me, the discussion should be on how we can help Muslim people reform and liberate the Islamic world (or at least not get in the way by doing things that would stifle it). I’m no expert in this, but any inroads we can make with education (especially women!) would probably save future generations from a few wars.

    Are you saying I cannot be firebrand about the problem, and the only way to solve this is slow steps and an accommodationist approach? That seems to be what you’re saying.

    What do you mean when you use the word “bigotry”? Generally, I understand the word to simply mean unjustified discrimination against or dislike of a particular group. Are you using the word differently? Can we agree that it’s justified to generally dislike child rapists and those who aid and abet child rapists? Can we agree that it’s justified to generally dislike those who kill apostates and those who aid and abet those who kill apostates? Can we agree that it’s ok, even morally obligatory, to change the culture to make more people dislike aiders and abetters of child rapists and aiders and abetters of those who would kill apostates?

    It seems as though I addressed this exact point in my earlier post. It’s all about using a particular label which might overaccuse. “Accusing Catholics of aiding and abetting child rape overreaches and hits many nice Catholics who are trying to reform the church.” As far as I can tell, that seems to be your argument. F that. Catholics are aiders and abetters of child rapists. At best Catholics are ignorant of this fact, but ignorance is only the barest of situational excuses. Catholicism is false. There is no excuse to call yourself as a Catholic. If you call yourself a Catholic, you are aiding and abetting child rapists. When someone says “I am a Catholic”, they might as well be saying “I support child rapists”.

    I have the same position on Islam. It is false, and basically the consensus of scholars in all sects of Islam AFAIK is that apostates should be killed. When I hear someone call themself a Muslim, I hear “I support the killing of people who disagree with me”.

    I support reformers of both Catholics and Muslims, but my first question is “Why are you trying to reform it? Why not ditch it entirely? There’s nothing worth saving there.”

  27. Matt Gerrans says

    I doubt it. I am sheltered, but I doubt it. Especially if you’re white (but that’s a separate issue). If you just shouted that anywhere in the US…

    I’m with EL on this, but I would like to add (and stress) that the comparison here isn’t even apples-to-apples, the Jesus case is much more insulting and yet the risk of injury or death is much lower. The comparison should be between declaring “Jesus is not the son of God” (or “Jesus is a mythologized character” or whatever, but without insult), vs. “Mohammad is not a prophet.” Then follow the recanting and apologizing as discussed. The difference clear.

    I support reformers of both Catholics and Muslims, but my first question is “Why are you trying to reform it? Why not ditch it entirely? There’s nothing worth saving there.”

    YEAH!!! Now this is the salient point. For Catholicism and Islam and all the rest. It is the 21st century. We no longer need this superstitious crap and all of its useless and damaging baggage.

  28. Frank G. Turner says

    @ El regarding Catholicism
    Yeah the child rape thing was a big reason that I had a hard time with continuing to be Catholic, I just didn’t know where else to go. And then to turn around and make claims against gay marriage when they had basically supported child rape, I wanted to scream that they have no credibility on the topic.
    .
    Now if Bernard Law had been excommunicated and forced to come back to the US and face criminal charges, my tune might have been a bit different (I always had doubts about the existence of god anyway though). Of course that is taking a hard line stance on an issue which is exactly what organized religion does not do. They are more interested in being popular than being right (morally speaking).
    .
    That is kind of how I see the issue with Islam nowadays. It isn’t about being right morally or even following the Qu’ran, it is about popular sentiment. So basically organized relgion is little more than politics.
    .
    I don’t have as much of a problem with an individual Muslim who may be a peaceful individual that does not believe that people should be killed for their beliefs, but how many of those are there honestly? For that individual it is not about politics but their own personal enlightenment. It is hard to know if a person is that way because the loud popular belief seems to be what you said, “I support the killing of people who disagree with me.” Even if that is not an individual’s stance, it becomes harder and harder to know nowadays.

  29. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I don’t have as much of a problem with an individual Muslim who may be a peaceful individual that does not believe that people should be killed for their beliefs, but how many of those are there honestly?

    Don’t downplay this too strongly. There are lot of them probably, just like there are a lot of Catholics who – in one sense – do not want to support child rape. However, the effect of identifying as a Catholic is to support child rape. In that same sense, identifying a Muslims supports the killing of apostates. I would be singing a different tune if there was a significant sect with scholars who didn’t take that interpretation. In that case, I would be saying Sunni or Shia instead of Islam – exactly how I currently say Catholic instead of Christian.

  30. Dean Amine says

    I lost all interest in the show after hearing this. Criticize Ben Affleck you idiot. Do you realize what’s going on in the name of that religion? Do you realize the factual inaccuracies that were all on the side of Affleck? Why do some people always have to try to be contrarians within their circle? Harris isn’t just right, he is morally right.

  31. says

    I doubt it. I am sheltered, but I doubt it. Especially if you’re white (but that’s a separate issue). If you just shouted that anywhere in the US, and then immediately recanted, apologized, promised to leave town, etc., you are not going to get killed. Compare and contrast that with Islam.

    I don’t know. I think the same specific example would play out the same in an Islamic country most of the time. Most of the examples I’ve heard of were where the “apostate” didn’t recant or apologize, although I think they would have been just fine with leaving the town/country. :o)

    I disagree fundamentally. It’s their beliefs which are the problem, not merely their circumstances. There are other poor cultures who won’t come try and kill me for attacking their beliefs halfway around the world. It’s exactly this sentiment that I have a problem with.

    And they chose “their beliefs”? How many of them do you think actually want to come kill you for your beliefs? Even in Harris’ concentric circle example, he put those that would in the smallest circle.

    Are you saying I cannot be firebrand about the problem

    Of course not. I’m just saying that I think lumping it on the Muslim people as a whole isn’t helpful for us or them. Especially anything that dehumanizes them (or us in the process). And I’m not accusing you personally of dehumanizing Muslims (I generally agree with nearly everything you said), just saying that firebrand approach sometimes makes it hard to distinguish the criticism of beliefs from bigotry (or it provides cover for bigotry, which is also dangerous). Let me see if an example will help:

    Muslims are horrible because they follow a religion that tells them to kill apostates. – Very Dehumanizing.
    It’s horrible that Muslims believe that killing apostates is acceptable. – Better, but certainly not all Muslims believe this (and even fewer of them would act upon it).
    The Islamic practice of executing apostates is a horrible human rights violation. – Even better, focuses the issue on the religion (with the word switched).

    Just writing the above makes me uncomfortable since I don’t have a Muslim background (which my ex-Muslim wife reminds me of, also that I’m not a woman from a Muslim country).

    and the only way to solve this is slow steps and an accommodationist approach? That seems to be what you’re saying.

    I think its easier to be a “good” firebrand against the religious culture you’re in (or very familiar with) than it is to be against religious culture that’s more foreign. I said in the post that I don’t know how to “solve it”. I’m pretty sure that yelling at them that they’re a bunch of savages from the Middle Age probably does more harm than good.

    What do you mean when you use the word “bigotry”? Generally, I understand the word to simply mean unjustified discrimination against or dislike of a particular group. Are you using the word differently? Can we agree that it’s justified to generally dislike child rapists and those who aid and abet child rapists? Can we agree that it’s justified to generally dislike those who kill apostates and those who aid and abet those who kill apostates? Can we agree that it’s ok, even morally obligatory, to change the culture to make more people dislike aiders and abetters of child rapists and aiders and abetters of those who would kill apostates?

    It’s simply not as black/white as that. I actually think individual Catholics have more to answer for for the child rapists than Muslims do for being in a religion that says it’s OK to kill apostates. Participation in the Catholic church generally voluntary (not perfectly voluntary, but pretty close), most Muslim people enjoy no such luxury, especially the ones that live in areas where apostates are being killed.

    I just think we should be careful with what we say and how we say it, and not get any delusions of grandeur that simply condemning Muslim beliefs actually helps the very people who are suffering under those beliefs. Meanwhile, my wife’s parents have been under curfew the last two days thanks to ISIS (they’re safe, for now).

  32. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And they chose “their beliefs”? How many of them do you think actually want to come kill you for your beliefs? Even in Harris’ concentric circle example, he put those that would in the smallest circle.

    How many would come to try and kill me? I want you to google “Danish Cartoons”, “Satanic Verses”, and “Ayaan Hirsi Ali” for a start. That’s enough.

    Also:
    http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-beliefs-about-sharia/

    The belief that sharia should extend to non-Muslims is most widespread in the Middle East and North Africa, where at least four-in-ten Muslims in all countries except Iraq (38%) and Morocco (29%) hold this opinion. Egyptian Muslims (74%) are the most likely to say it should apply to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, while 58% in Jordan hold this view.

    Also see “Penalty for Converting to Another Faith” in the above link. (It’s rather long to copy-paste.) How big is that “smaller circle” which Harris is talking about? Harris is right that it’s 20% easy. From the data above, it looks like we’re close to a majority of Muslims worldwide. At least, that’s the conclusion we should draw if we can trust self-report surveys. It looks like around half of the Muslims in the world would answer “Yes, I would want that person killed for leaving Islam”.

    Muslims are horrible because they follow a religion that tells them to kill apostates. – Very Dehumanizing.

    Sorry. You’ve already lost me. Catholics are also horrible because they support an international child rape organization. Simply calling yourself a Catholic supports child rape. Muslims are horrible for following a religion whose religious leaders, government leaders, religious scholars, all agree that apostates and blasphemers should be punished, often killed.

    Is that dehumanizing? I don’t much care at the moment. You haven’t given me a reason to care. Whatever your problem is, it seems that it’s an unavoidable effect of talking about serious problems and trying to hold individuals accountable for these very serious problems.

    I don’t want to focus on the religion. That’s nebulous. I want personal responsibility. When I talk to a Catholic, I want them to feel personally responsible for the rape of children. I don’t want them to be able to push off responsibility onto others. I want to raise cognitive dissonance.

    You are right that Muslims living in areas where not being Muslim will get you killed are under a kind of duress, and so I should not hold such people responsible. However, it’s a great catch-22. I cannot hold them personally responsible, which means it’ll never be changed.

    I just think we should be careful with what we say and how we say it, and not get any delusions of grandeur that simply condemning Muslim beliefs actually helps the very people who are suffering under those beliefs.

    Even if it doesn’t help, it’s the truth, and I have no plans on holding back saying what’s true. Partly because I implicitly reject the premise that there are better alternatives which involve lying about the problems or hiding the problems, etc.

    At best, I could include the following disclaimers every time I talk about the subject: The most important principle of our way of life is this paraphrase from Voltaire: ‘I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.’ There is a serious problem with Islam, but also Catholocism, conservatism, and any other evil dogma. The solution is not to discriminate against them via the law or mob action, but neither is the solution to coddle them and refrain from telling them that they are personally morally culpable for the ill effects of their evil and false dogmas.

    I suppose I should start including that. It might help with some people.

  33. chris lowe says

    @ changerofbits
    To me, Affleck came across like someone who came in on the middle of a conversation and missed the point entirely. I couldn’t help but notice you displaying a similar reaction. Understandable. The difference between Islam and Muslims is a distinction WITH a difference. It takes someone like Sam Harris who has actually read the Koran to make the statements he did. It is not as if the Koran just states that it is right and everybody else is wrong. No it is far far more menacing than that. It exhorts its readers ad nauseam to treat nonbelievers as sub human or at the very least as a group with no human rights. You must know that the Koran is viewed as perfect in every syllable of it’s writing and is the unchallengeable Word of God. Of those who reject it’s teaching you obviously have at least your wife there to give you understanding of what happens there. What is this? What right is given any religion to threaten others of different or non faiths? What right is given to have themselves protected against criticism and challenges to these threats? Yes, the Middle East is a train wreck. Yes those who aren’t paying close attention ,which is a huge number here in North America, are making generalizations (often bigoted). But the elephant in the room is that the parties of god are the instigators of this and the directors of traffic. Who gives a fuck about hurting the feelings of those that believe in a book like this when real harm and misery is being done specifically because this book exists. The Koran deserves challenge and an enormous push back, given what it actually says, and how its power mongers follow through.

    Ah, the distinction I mentioned earlier ….You can hate all Nazis without hating Germans, even if the Nazis you hate are all German. Do Indonesians who are majority Muslim have a dog in the hunt in the Syrian war? Koran fed hatred can be hated right back but you can also feel sorry or even solidarity for those hapless muslim victims in those same areas or those who are powerless to oppose.

  34. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I wouldn’t focus on the book. That’s not the right measure. The Christian bible is about as evil. The difference is the culture and beliefs around it. Christians have managed to find excuses to say that many of the bad parts of the Christian bible are not the word of god – or something. Muslims at large haven’t done that (yet).

  35. says

    Thanks for posting this, Russel. I have been thinking a lot about this and have found myself agreeing and disagreeing with both sides. It seems we need to be firm in our criticism of Islam as we are of other religions and aware that the negative effects of Islam can be very unpleasant indeed but at the same time we need to be as sure to always reiterate that we aren’t referring to ALL Muslims as we are that we don’t mean ALL Jews when we criticise Israel. The main thing I feel I have learned from this has been just how little we in the West seem to know of what the average Muslim believes. I find Maher’s Egypt Stat of 90% pretty unbelievable and would need to see some more evidence to back that up.

  36. says

    These sorts of arguments leave me feeling very frustrated because it seems that both sides are talking past each other.

    It seems that both sides agree on a lot of points: they agree that some criticism of Islam is motivated by racism; they agree that not all criticism of Islam is necessarily racist; they agree that Islam – as a collection of doctrines and ideas – is wrong and potentially dangerous; they agree that people should be free to criticize Islam as a collection of doctrines and ideas; they agree that racism is bad and should be fought against and avoided; they agree that theocracy is bad and should be fought against and avoided.

    That’s a *lot* of agreement.

    It seems to me that, with all of that agreement, we *should* be able to have a productive conversation without people shouting at each other and calling each other names.

    Productive conversations begin by identifying exactly what the disagreements *are.* I’m not entirely sure in this case. It sort of seems – and please correct me if I’m wrong – like the main disagreement is over the question of whether the danger posed by Islam is in some sense unique among religions.

    There are two sides to that question. The first side is whether Islam is *inherently* more dangerous than other religions, and the second side is whether Islam is *practically* more dangerous than other religions *at this current time* right now in the world, given the influence of cultures and politics.

    Personally, I’m inclined to think that while Islam isn’t necessarily *inherently* any more dangerous than any other religion, the *context* surrounding Islam currently makes it a more dangerous collection of ideas *in practice.*

    If we were still living in the Middle Ages, I would agree that the *practical* dangers of Christianity and Islam were about equal, worldwide. But we’re not living in the Middle Ages. The West underwent an Enlightenment that dragged Christianity kicking and screaming into a more peaceful, secular world, while many Muslim-majority countries have not had such an opportunity.

    Now, I certainly understand why someone might have reservations about criticisms of Islam. Look at that Ground Zero Mosque a few years ago, where the opponents of the mosque – as far as I can tell – were mostly a bunch of racists who didn’t have a good argument to support their case.

    But on the other hand, I really don’t see what the use is for a term like “Islamophobia,” which – even in its very name – conflates racism with criticism of Islam-as-an-idea. Why do we need a new term? Why not decry racism as racism, and stick to attacking Islam-as-an-idea?

    Further, I don’t see what we gain by avoiding having an honest discussion about the fact that the *practical effects* of Islam do seem connected uniquely to suicide bombings. It’s commonly said on the Atheist Experience that beliefs inform actions. It follows, therefore, that different beliefs will produce different actions. The belief that martyrdom is the highest good – that it will, in fact, lead one to an endless sensual paradise – seems more likely than other beliefs to produce suicide bombers.

    Is it really controversial to suggest that? Is it really a form of racism to reach what would appear to be a fairly reasonable conclusion about ideas?

  37. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Los # 42

    It seems to me that, with all of that agreement, we *should* be able to have a productive conversation without people shouting at each other and calling each other names.

    That works when people can agree to disagree. I think that tends to work when an individual from one side decides to immerse themselves in the other culture and not just know that there is agreement on the other side, but feel that there is agreement on the other side. Even if the person does not change their minds they start to “feel” how the individual on the other side of the line feels.
    .
    It is kind of unfortunate because many individuals often put emotion ahead of rational thinking, so if they don’t feel emotionally that the other side agrees with them on certain points they won’t hear it. Of course there are obsessive compulsive types who won’t acknowledge agreement with another individual until every miniscule detail is agreed upon no matter how trivial.
    .

    The West underwent an Enlightenment that dragged Christianity kicking and screaming into a more peaceful, secular world, while many Muslim-majority countries have not had such an opportunity.

    I am not a historian but based on what I have learned it seems like the big accomplishment that drove the enlightenment was education. We have talked about how the more well educated people are the less religious they are, despite there being some very highly educated and also highly religious people. However, when a person is highly educated they also (in some cases) be intellectually fit enough to realize that there are such an infinitely large quantity of talking points that you can’t agree on everything and need to listen carefully to the ones that you do agree upon. Maybe that is what is lacking, a type of intellectual fitness similar to physical endurance in an athlete (there are certainly intellectual specialties just like athletic ones).
    .
    Bring this back to the Islamic, Muslim issue, maybe that is what is lacking that is preventing them from going through such an enlightenment, education. Does someone have statistics on the education levels of individuals in Islamic countries? (% of individuals who can read, do mathematics, engage in scientific studies, scholarly writings, etc).

  38. says

    Sort of in reverse order here (sorry, I don’t have much time to devote to this conversation, apologies for not responding sooner/more often):

    @41

    I find Maher’s Egypt Stat of 90% pretty unbelievable and would need to see some more evidence to back that up.

    EL linked the Pew poll in @38, specifically it’s 86% of polled Egyptians that believe there should be death penalty for leaving Islam:

    http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-beliefs-about-sharia/

    @40

    The Christian bible is about as evil.

    And if you read most Muslim apologia about killing apostates/others, guess what they focus on? All the extremely horrible parts of the Bible and all of the places in the Qur’an* where it says be nice to other people (which is basically the same thing that Christians do to justify the Bible within our modern moral society). I find their gymnastics justifying how apostates deserve death as ugly as the anti-gay crap from Christians (and yes, I agree there are more Muslims who are fine with killing apostates than there are Christians who want to stone gay people).

    @39

    To me, Affleck came across like someone who came in on the middle of a conversation and missed the point entirely.

    I mostly agree with Harris on this. But, I think Affleck was reacting to the attack on “liberals” and possibly Harris’ very general statement about Islam being “the Mother lode of bad ideas”. Affleck didn’t really give Sam a chance to make his case. I might think that what Harris said doesn’t help and might actually hurt the cause of humanity to some degree, but he has a right to say it and maybe if Affleck didn’t interrupt him it wouldn’t have been as bad on the whole.

    I couldn’t help but notice you displaying a similar reaction. Understandable.

    If you think that’s the case, why are you bothering to responding to me? Just call me a name and move on. I think I have a justified position on this that I hopefully have the ability to express and you are free to disagree. Saying that I’m just reacting is childish.

    @38

    How many would come to try and kill me? I want you to google “Danish Cartoons”, “Satanic Verses”, and “Ayaan Hirsi Ali” for a start. That’s enough.

    I didn’t say those thing doesn’t exist or that there aren’t people who are rightfully fear for their lives and I think that is very bad. I meant it more as you personally. In any case, I don’t think the average westerner has much to fear. We’re probably more likely to be shot by a gun nut than by Muslim violence.

    It looks like around half of the Muslims in the world would answer “Yes, I would want that person killed for leaving Islam”.

    I know, I’m not trying to say that isn’t true or that we should just ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist.

    Sorry. You’ve already lost me. Catholics are also horrible because they support an international child rape organization. Simply calling yourself a Catholic supports child rape. Muslims are horrible for following a religion whose religious leaders, government leaders, religious scholars, all agree that apostates and blasphemers should be punished, often killed.

    And you might get some good out of calling all Catholics horrible because you live within the broader culture where the crimes of Catholicism are heinous (at least 1,000s of victims if not 10s of thousands). Also, Catholics are relatively privileged in our culture (one of the reasons they got away with raping so many children), and certainly much more privileged compared Muslims in our culture (and really privileged compared to those in Islamic countries). I think that’s one of the main points, our culture views Muslims that live with us (not to mention those that live in foreign countries) as shitty, second class citizens. They have to pass a test, to pick on Frank from this thread: “if they are a calm and peaceful person” and “who may be a peaceful individual”. They’re treated as the other. How many non-Muslim Sikhs have been killed *in our culture* because some fools thought they were Muslim?

    Is that dehumanizing? I don’t much care at the moment. You haven’t given me a reason to care. Whatever your problem is, it seems that it’s an unavoidable effect of talking about serious problems and trying to hold individuals accountable for these very serious problems.

    I acknowledge your anger about this and I agree with you that some of them have horrible beliefs that stem from their religion. Imagine that you have family living in a society that holds these beliefs. Imagine that you’re not sure when your kids will be able to see their grandparents (one they still haven’t seen!). I just think that as fellow humans, we are obliged to try to fix that, and my point is that painting them with a broad brush doesn’t help at all. The first three sentences in the above seem really bad to me. Why don’t you care if you’re dehumanizing them? Is it really OK to do that because some of them hold some very horrible ideas?

    I don’t want to focus on the religion. That’s nebulous. I want personal responsibility. When I talk to a Catholic, I want them to feel personally responsible for the rape of children. I don’t want them to be able to push off responsibility onto others. I want to raise cognitive dissonance.

    I think it’s fine to drill them on those horrible beliefs. That’s what I’ve been saying, criticize the fuck out of those beliefs, make it as uncomfortable as possible to hold those beliefs. You can do that without painting all of the people who identify with a religion as horrible. Your Catholic to Muslim analogy breaks down because the Catholic church is a hierarchical organization. Islam is much more like protestantism, where it’s a mixed bag of what any one of them are going to believe. If they all sent 10% of their income to a caliphate that supported killing apostates, then it would be more apt.

    You are right that Muslims living in areas where not being Muslim will get you killed are under a kind of duress, and so I should not hold such people responsible. However, it’s a great catch-22. I cannot hold them personally responsible, which means it’ll never be changed.

    I’m just saying that painting them all with a broad brush does more harm than good.

    Let me try to make my point more clear: It is far more helpful and important to focus the individual problems/beliefs/ideas within Islam than it is to make broad statements about all Muslims or Islam. The first reason is that it’s hard to distinguish it from bigotry (whether based on racism, xenophobia, etc) and that can actually make things worse (actually harder to fix those horrible beliefs) for a class of people who are already disadvantaged.

    Kristof, who was on the panel, has done a good job of highlight exposing these bad things within Islam that some Muslims believe. Did he do it by writing articles bashing Muslims and Islam in general?

    At best, I could include the following disclaimers every time I talk about the subject: The most important principle of our way of life is this paraphrase from Voltaire: ‘I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.’ There is a serious problem with Islam, but also Catholocism, conservatism, and any other evil dogma. The solution is not to discriminate against them via the law or mob action, but neither is the solution to coddle them and refrain from telling them that they are personally morally culpable for the ill effects of their evil and false dogmas.

    I suppose I should start including that. It might help with some people.

    If one of the arguments in favor of something you say is that it’s illegal to arrest you for saying it, you should probably re-evaluate why you’re saying it. Of course, I acknowledge that the position I’m defending involves trying to convince folks to not saying certain things a certain way. But, I’m not trying to take away anybody’s free speech.

    * Before anybody blows a gasket (since I have the contrary opinion here) about why I don’t just type “Koran”: When I engage with Muslims who want to have a conversation and I try to use the spellings they use just to keep the conversation from devolving into useless squabbling over the “right” way to spell it.

  39. says

    It is far more helpful and important to focus the individual problems/beliefs/ideas within Islam than it is to make broad statements about all Muslims or Islam.I’m also not saying that we should hide the fact that Islam is the source of any one bad idea or that we should hide statistics about how many people hold them, but we should focus the criticism on the bad idea, not just criticize the people or the religion alone.

  40. says

    Fixed blockquote (and edited slightly):

    It is far more helpful and important to focus the individual problems/beliefs/ideas within Islam than it is to make broad statements about all Muslims or Islam.

    I’m also not saying that we should hide the fact that Islam is the source of any one bad idea or that we should hide statistics about how many people of that religion hold them, but that we should focus the criticism on the bad idea, not just criticize the people or the religion alone.

  41. Mas says

    Chris lowe 39: Do Indonesians who are majority Muslim have a dog in the hunt in the Syrian war?

    That conflict is too confusing. I can, however, confirm that they are programmed by preachers and media to be obsessively pro-Palestine, without any nuance.
    Source: I live here, and read several papers every morning. (Stopped subscribing to the Muslim Brotherhood one, which was just unpalatably deceptive when not just naive and ignorant.)

  42. Paul Wright says

    My feelings on the stupid word that is ‘Islamaphobia’ are summed up quite well by this clip from Pat Condell.

  43. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @changerofbits says
    I had a knee jerk reaction when you said “average westerner”. In a sense, that’s simply false. You are right that my actuary statistics are that I’m more likely to be killed by lightning than by a Muslim killing me for blasphemy. However, if I were to engage in blasphemy against Islam, post a video about it on youtube, and popularize it, then my odds change drastically. In that sense, any normal teenager in the US could run afoul of this, and that is the sense in which you are wrong.

    Further, you are not responding to my argument about personal responsibility. You’re just asserting my tactics are wrong without acknowledging my goals and how your tactics are better at accomplishing my goals. I’m not sure if you’re just glossing over it, or what. I again say that I specifically do not want to attack ideas. I want to attack people. I want to attack individual Catholics and hold every Catholic personally morally responsible for supporting an international child rape organization to make them stop. I want to make them feel miserable, and I think I have a better shot of doing that by pointing out in no uncertain terms that they personally are supporting child rape. At this point, you again seem to be arguing about tactics, and I don’t much care.

    Also:

    Why don’t you care if you’re dehumanizing them? Is it really OK to do that because some of them hold some very horrible ideas?

    Because currently I fail to understand how I might accuse all Catholics of gross crimes against humanity without dehumanizing them. I’d hazard a guess that it’s impossible, and that’s why I stopped caring.

    Daniel Dannett once said: “There is no polite way to say: ‘Good sir, have you considered the possibility that you’ve squandered your life away on a lie?'” Similarly, there is no polite way to say: “Sir Catholic, have you considered the gross injustice that you personally do by supporting an international child rape organization?”

    PS: What is the “proper” English-ization of “Koran”? Sorry. I don’t mean to purposefully misspell it.

    @Marcelo

    Islam is not a democracy, it’s a teocracy in every place it grows.

    Of course, Christianity too. And Judaism.

  44. Wholly_Cow says

    I’m no cheerleader for Sam Harris. I happen to enjoy his book and speeches and I think he’s trying to get at the core problems of faith and religion as a whole. That said, he’s made some statements in the past that I can’t agree with, particularly his support of ‘toppling Sadam’ whatever that means.

    I have a larger problem with the responses to his transgressions, responses like Russel’s. Now, understand: I love the Atheist Experience, I think what Matt and the gang have done for both Atheism and social justice is awesome. But this boggles the mind. First and foremost, Harris had a huge response on his blog about the encounter that directly addresses some of the concerns brought up here. You can read the whole thing here:

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/can-liberalism-be-saved-from-itself

    For those who didn’t read it, the larger point he makes is that Affleck seemed to have gone into the show with a chip on his shoulder about Harris but had zero familiarity with his work. And be clear, Harris even says not to write off Affleck as a stupid actor, but to understand how people like Affleck form opinions. Granted this is a problem with any television show format, but it seems that in Harris’ case, folks simply don’t bother to read beyond the ugly soundbite and actually engage with his work.

    Second is that Russell uses a quote from Adam Lee. I happen to like much of what Lee writes and have seen him pop up occasionally on blogs, etc. that I read. But Russell does the exact same thing with Lee that he does with Harris: pulls a quote or an article that works without looking into the whole picture. For instance, Lee says that the best way to discuss the problem of Islam is by listening to former Muslims. But a while back, he wrote a piece for The Big Think that all but slanders Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Again, she has said some things I disagree with as well, but, well read it for yourself:

    http://bigthink.com/daylight-atheism/single-issue-lives-on-ayaan-hirsi-ali-and-hero-worship

    An actual quote from the piece: “Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not Stalin, but she is a person whose interests are not our own.” Well, thank you for helping me understand the minute differences between an ex-Muslim from Africa and one of the worst dictators in human history. He then goes on to state that we shouldn’t pick her as a ‘leader’ as if there was any kind of Atheist/Secular/Skeptic meeting where we all voted for her as Our Token Muslim.

    Finally, please understand, I’m not saying that Harris shouldn’t be criticized or that Islamophobia is a boogieman created by the left or whatever. I am saying that increasingly the arguments being had are no longer big picture, informed debates where agreements and disagreements can be had. After seeing the Harris V Affleck nonsense, I was immediately reminded of another time Harris was on Real Time:

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/sam-harris-sparks-epic-gun-debate-with-bill-maher-and-cory-booker-gun-nuts-have-many-good-points/

    You’ll note that the exact same thing happened there. Booker has a point he wanted to say, Harris was ‘the other side’ and they argued. But they freaking agreed on nearly everything. Granted Booker is a politician and politicians aren’t allowed to have textured views on anything. But it was particularly galling to see a situation where a true debate about the best way to move forward on an issue, about looking at the actual science and data and making determinations was just utterly abandoned for the sake of grandstanding. Again, I don’t even agree 100% with Harris what he says about gun control. But he at least tried to dissect the issue and start from a pragmatic point and create a real dialogue.

    Ultimately,I expect more from this community. We purport to hold skepticism and logic in high regard but many, many people seem fit to drawing a line in the sand and not change their minds, not examine the evidence and throw in with one particular faction. I honestly believe it is because the formats available for interaction make it difficult to have a true dialogue. Twitter, YouTube and Blogging are either contextually difficult or a one-way exchange. But I think we’ve got to do a better job of evaluating the entire issue instead of falling back onto ‘Faction A doesn’t agree with Person X so I’ll start from there.’

    As always, keep up the awesome work though. Love the show, even if I can never see it live.

  45. Marcelo says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal:
    Of course, Christianity too. And Judaism.

    That’s not true. Christianity had long ago established the separation from Church and State, the concept of person as individuals, and the Enlightment could only develop in a Christian mind. You can read Agustin of Hipona or Aquina.

    It’s a very long theme and I can’t develop it because my English level is not enough to say all I have to say.

  46. Monocle Smile says

    @Marcelo

    You are factually in error on some of those points and you couldn’t possibly prove others. Christianity was just as dominionist (and still is in some parts of the world) as modern Islam.

  47. unfogged says

    @Marcelo
    From my perspective, some Christians were able to set aside their religious dogma in order to investigate the world around them rationally. It was the individuals who were able to think for themselves and not Christianity that began the Enlightenment. Christianity now just tries to take credit for it.

  48. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Marcelo
    Christian churches and Jewish churches have far less power in many countries today and their adherents generally take it far less seriously. This is for a lot of reasons, including the secularization of culture perhaps stemming from the Enlightenment.

    However, if the Christian churches or Jewish churches were to take control even now, look at what would happen. Israel is a great case study, where they regularly commit gross abuses against their neighbors on the basis of religion. Similarly, look at the dominionists of the United States. Or look at the Catholic church who are doing their damnest to ensure as many people as possible can die from HIV/AIDS because condoms are worse.

  49. Marcelo says

    @unfogged: because Christianity (mainly the Catholic church) favors reason. Reason is encouraged in Church as well as faith, and they are not contradictory.

    In politics, there was allways a separation between God and the Cesar. Or the city of God and the Earth kings.

    I am not saying that the Church was in favor of Enlightment, but Enlightment was only posible in a chistian mindset.

    Take for example the concept of person. For Christianity it’s very important, because this is a concept that is central to the faith: you have a God that is at the same time one and three persons, and that has to be thinked, explained and developed.

    Of course, the consequences cannot be foreseen, but it is part of the environment, and is part of your mindset, and you can be against all of that.

    But this is unimaginable in the Muslim world.

    I am an atheist. In this comment, I tell what the Church says (I’m not saying that I consider they are right).

  50. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Reason is encouraged in Church as well as faith, and they are not contradictory.

    They are contradictory. Reason is believing things with sufficient justification. Faith is believing things without sufficient justification.

  51. unfogged says

    @Marcelo

    because Christianity (mainly the Catholic church) favors reason. Reason is encouraged in Church as well as faith, and they are not contradictory.

    Christianity claims that it favors reason but their book and their history shows otherwise. In practice they value blind obedience. Faith and reason are not compatible.

    In politics, there was allways a separation between God and the Cesar. Or the city of God and the Earth kings.

    Tell that to the US “tea party”.

    I am not saying that the Church was in favor of Enlightment, but Enlightment was only posible in a chistian mindset.

    I’d say it was possible only by compartmentalizing the Christian mindset form the rationalist mindset.

    Take for example the concept of person. For Christianity it’s very important, because this is a concept that is central to the faith: you have a God that is at the same time one and three persons, and that has to be thinked, explained and developed.

    No, it has to be accepted without question because it makes no sense.

    Of course, the consequences cannot be foreseen, but it is part of the environment, and is part of your mindset, and you can be against all of that.
    But this is unimaginable in the Muslim world.

    I do not understand what you mean by that.

    I am an atheist. In this comment, I tell what the Church says (I’m not saying that I consider they are right).

    You are hearing a very different message than I hear. The only real difference I hear between the message of Christianity and the message of Islam is that Christianity is more willing to wait and let their god take action.

  52. Narf says

    Marcelo, I was raised Catholic. I went through their indoctrination process. I’m not buying what you’re selling. They engage in post hoc rationalization, just like any fundamentalist Christian apologist, not reason.

    But this is unimaginable in the Muslim world.

    It’s unimaginable in the current Muslim world. 900 years ago, it would have been much easier to imagine something like the enlightenment happening in the Muslim world. They were far more secular and tolerant than Christianity in the same period. Then, main Islamic centers went through a fundamentalist turn, and they haven’t crawled back out, yet.

    There’s a certain amount of timing and luck to this sort of thing. If Islam had risen a few centuries later, it might have been the one to bring something like the enlightenment. Of course we might have been on a much later progression, scientifically speaking, if we hadn’t had the scientific advances of the Muslim Golden Age, so who knows? Things get very messy, very quickly, when you start playing “What if?”

  53. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    It’s unimaginable in the current Muslim world.

    Unimaginable is way too strong a word. I know it was a “for the sake of argument”, a rhetorical flourish, but come on – people are converting away from Islam in the Muslim world now, and in growing numbers. Where else do you think we get our examples of people put to death for apostasy?

  54. Robert Schulze says

    Most religions, especially the Abrahamic religions have one thing in common: violence in the name of God is acceptable, and in many cases, praiseworthy.

    So basically, in order to be a “tolerant” Muslim, or a “liberal” Christian, believers will have to ignore major sections of their own holy books. So in order to live in a peaceful, progressive society, religious believers are being asked to only “kinda” follow the word of the Supreme Creator and Ruler of the Universe and ultimate judge of their eternal soul.

    The worst thing you can say about Theism is that the “radicals” and “extremists” are actually acting consistently with their beliefs.

    So in the end, Bill Maher and Sam Harris make the best point. The problem isn’t whether someone is a “moderate” or a “radical”… the problem is superstitious irrational thought in general.

  55. Muz says

    Ben Finney @ 25

    The increase in outrage, more than that reserved for the general cruelty of our industrial meat production system, is because not only is the cruelty of halal and kosher slaughter unnecessary, it’s not even *useful*. It’s wanton cruelty because a barbaric odious religion from an ancient ignorant culture is still given unwarranted respect.

    Where efficient, less troublesome, and pain-minimising methods (stunning, often instantaneously with a mechanical bolt) are widely available to any slaughterhouse, halal and kosher insist on a wasteful, and markedly more cruel, means of killing the animal: slitting its throat and letting the panicked animal bleed to death.

    Being against halal slaughter is all well and good, but there are details to the certification that are necessary to know.
    In Australia for instance a campaign against halal formed as a supposed consumer rights movement. One of their garbage arguments was that, since the halal certification costs money ordinary buys are paying for it in prices and taxes etc. So we need clear labeling so people can avoid halal food if they want.
    What this seemingly arose from was some KFCs having only a small halal sign, while others did not. What it revealed, to the horror of some, was that all KFC chicken was halal and in fact all the largest chicken suppliers in the country were as well.
    A horrid Islamic conspiracy worming its way through our culture in the back ground? Actually no. It turns out that the slaughter methods at these large suppliers were already satisfactory to the Islamic Councils of Australia so all they needed was a prayer and a rubber stamp. While silly religiosity, it’s hardly worth getting up in arms about.

    This applies to other animals as well (but there are anatomical complexities to some). Quite often they are stunned to the satisfaction of animal ethics people (the RSPCA and such) and still manage to meet halal standards.
    So the halal meat someone gets was highly likely to have been slaughtered in pretty much the same way it would have been without the stamp. The stamp doesn’t necessarily tell you either way.

  56. says

    @49:

    The suffix “phobia” has been in common use as a term for irrational hatred for at least a couple of decades now.

    But I guess that’s another advantage to using the term “anti-Muslim bigotry”; fewer opportunities for someone to wave the dictionary definition* as a distraction.

    *Wiktionary lists ~phobia in the irrational hatred sense as its second entry.

  57. says

    People are Islamaphobes homophobes anythingaphobes. Comes down to plain ignorance and discrimination. There are good and bad in every religion or culture. And good and bad traits in every one of us. No one is perfect or chosen over anyone else. Just another excuse organized religion uses to say we are right they are wrong.

    http://minnesotadude.weebly.com/

  58. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    There are good and bad in every religion or culture.

    And some cultures have less bad things and more good things than others, and some religious have more bad things and less good things than others. For example, the modern western way of life is clearly and demonstrably better than the Afghanistan Taliban way of life. For example, the moral philosophies of the European Enlightenment are clearly and demonstrably better than the Abrahamic religious moral dictates.

    It’s not wrong to say that our western culture is just better than the culture of the Afghanistan Taliban. In fact, I would say that it’s morally outrageous to not recognize and admit this fact. Maybe there’s a minor point or two where the Taliban have it better than us, but overall it’s completely swamped by other issues.

  59. JJM says

    After my great disappointment with what Russell (and Martin, although my expectations weren’t as high) had said on the show I was interested to see if it was mentioned on the Non Prophets. It was, and to my great relief Jeff Dee absolutely nailed it, as usual. Sensible and thoughtful points of view, and decrying the usual automatic “Islamophobia” rhetoric we hear so often and which we had heard on the show.

  60. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Russell
    Sorry for repeating myself. I’m looking for the right phrasing. I think I found it.

    Imagine a Christian called into the show and said that atheists produce as many mass murderers as Christians, and they cite Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot – the usual. One of the good counters is that you’re not personally advocating only mere atheist. Instead, you are advocating rationalism, science, and humanism. Now, suppose the Christian responds that every population of people with shared beliefs has their terrorists; secular humanists have their terrorists, and Christians have their terrorists. Surely this is a ridiculous statement, right? We advocate humanism over religious dogma because we believe that people who have humanist beliefs are far less likely to be terrorists, right?

    Now, apply that same kind of thinking to your equally ridiculous statement that “every religion has its terrorists”. That kind of argument is basically moral relativism and nihilism, and defeatism. That statement implies that you cannot change the world for the better by changing people’s bad beliefs. You cannot honestly believe that while also advocating humanism and atheism.

  61. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    Yeah, I have to agree with all of that. The “every religion has its terrorists” line was poorly formed.

    I do agree with part of Russell’s spiel, and it’s noted in the section about halal food. There’s this tendency to freak out about certain aspects of Islam that are also present in other religions, but the freakouts are isolated to Islam. But don’t get me wrong…I’m not advocating softening up on Islam. Quite the opposite. I’d like to push for equal opportunity outrage. Yeah, we should get upset about halal meat processing. But we should also get upset about kosher meat and factory farming.

  62. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Monocle Smile
    I don’t think I explicitly said it, so I will. Islamaphobia is real in the sense that many, many people who criticize Islam do so only because of rank xenophobia and racism, and they use “I’m just criticizing Islam!” as an excuse and shield for their rank xenophobia and racism.

    My favorite example of this is that jackoff in the US who killed a bunch of sikhs thinking that they were Muslim. Such an idiot.

    People who freak out about companies offering Halal food are idiotic. I see nothing wrong when companies offer Halal food. If some subset of the population wants their food served in a certain way, I don’t care. It’s like taking issue with restaurants offering vegetarian or vegan options, or taking issue when your favorite food spot of choice offers sushi or other foreign cuisines. It’s completely ridiculous. To do otherwise is a violation of my prime directive – I advocate only speech and honest argument and dialog. In no way do I endorse (other forms of) persecution like denying Muslims their preferred diet. Simply ridiculous.

  63. Narf says

    @67 – JJM

    … mentioned on the Non Prophets. It was, and to my great relief Jeff Dee absolutely nailed it, as usual.

    It helps when you have a group of people who are at least in agreement on the large strokes. Nonprophets Radio is a much better forum for this sort of discussion, which is a detail issue. When you can skip past the large strokes to the fine detail, you have more time left to hash through those details.

    Thanks for reminding me, by the way. I haven’t listened to the last episode of NPR. Let me download that and go for a walk.

  64. Narf says

    @70 – EnlightenmentLiberal

    If some subset of the population wants their food served in a certain way, I don’t care. It’s like taking issue with restaurants offering vegetarian or vegan options, or taking issue when your favorite food spot of choice offers sushi or other foreign cuisines.

    I’m not sure that’s right. The objection to Kosher/Halal is about animal treatment. The comparison to vegetarian/vegan and sushi seems completely out there.

    And I’m not pushing one side or the other. While I am completely vegetarian, lately, it isn’t for ethical reasons. Or at least it isn’t for those ethical reasons.

    Primarily, I’m vegetarian because I don’t like meat much, anyway, and it’s fairly easy for me to give it up completely, for general, “It’s healthier to not eat meat,” reasons. The ethical reasons are a background reason, but it’s the ecological ethics that persuade me and help push me along into full vegetarianism. I’m not sure that cows have enough brain power for me to care that much about them, and I’m pretty sure that chickens don’t.

    Plus, notice that I say vegetarian, not vegan. I eat eggs, milk, and cheese regularly, mostly milk in my tea and coffee.

  65. Monocle Smile says

    it’s fairly easy for me to give it up completely, for general, “It’s healthier to not eat meat,” reasons

    ಠ_ಠ

    JK. This just falls on deaf ears a bit for athletes who lift weights. Our rule of thumb is to get a gram of protein for each pound of bodyweight, and to reach that much protein through vegetarian means would involve consuming irrationally high amounts of carbs and fats along with it. I would rephrase this as “it’s easier to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet without meat in the United States.”

  66. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’m not sure that’s right. The objection to Kosher/Halal is about animal treatment. The comparison to vegetarian/vegan and sushi seems completely out there.

    Some of the hate on Halal food is that. That’s the part I’m perfectly fine with. However, some of it is simple “We should persecute Muslims because this is our country” and/or “Oh my god we’re eating Satanic [Muslim] food”. That’s the part Russell was getting at with legitimate forms of Islamophobia.

  67. Narf says

    @73

    JK. This just falls on deaf ears a bit for athletes who lift weights. Our rule of thumb is to get a gram of protein for each pound of bodyweight, and to reach that much protein through vegetarian means would involve consuming irrationally high amounts of carbs and fats along with it. I would rephrase this as “it’s easier to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet without meat in the United States.”

    How do you figure? I get about 150 – 160 grams of protein each day, on about a 2,500 calorie diet. It really isn’t that hard. I eat a lot of lentils, chickpeas, eggs and mozzarella cheese on high-protein/high-fiber breads … 1/2% or 1% milk in my tea and coffee …

    Most vegetables have a fairly high concentration of protein per calorie, actually, just very few calories per unit of biomass. Most greens are very high in protein; you just have to eat a freaking serving-bowl full, before you can make a dent in your appetite and get enough calories for your body to notice. I usually mix them with cheese or something.

    If I really wanted to, I could easily get to 200 grams of protein in a 2,000 calorie diet, if I was trying to bulk up. Of course, I would also have to increase the calories significantly, if I wanted my body to add more muscle mass, for some reason, so I wouldn’t even be going for that kind of protein concentration. You have to over-eat a bit for that.

    I lift weights somewhat regularly, but I do high reps with just 25 and 35 pound dumbbells. I’m not trying to add on more muscle, just maintain what I have. I need to strip off 20 pounds or so, not add anything.

  68. Narf says

    @74

    Some of the hate on Halal food is that. That’s the part I’m perfectly fine with. However, some of it is simple “We should persecute Muslims because this is our country” and/or “Oh my god we’re eating Satanic [Muslim] food”. That’s the part Russell was getting at with legitimate forms of Islamophobia.

    True enough. Rational people will object to Kosher food the same as Halal, since they’re essentially the same thing, but the ones who are most likely to flip the fuck out about it and actually make themselves noticed aren’t the rational ones.

  69. Monocle Smile says

    @Narf

    That’s not quite enough for me, I need about 200g of protein and 3500-4000 calories a day, but if you eat eggs and drink milk, it makes more sense. It’s really a combination of macros AND calorie count for me. I was under the impression that people who label themselves “vegetarian” reject eggs, but I could be mistaken.

    I have a mild dairy allergy, and so I’ve had to limit cheese and cut milk entirely, unfortunately.

    Most vegetarians like using nuts or avocados for protein, and while I do consume almonds, using them as your primary source of protein introduces insane amounts of fat into your diet.

  70. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    “Vegans” – Generally refuse to eat any meat, and any animal byproducts such as eggs and milk.
    “Vegetarians” – Generally refuse to eat any meat, but generally will eat other animal byproducts like eggs and milk.

  71. Narf says

    @77
    What EL said. You’re mixing up vegetarianism and veganism.

    Most vegetarians like using nuts or avocados for protein, and while I do consume almonds, using them as your primary source of protein introduces insane amounts of fat into your diet.

    Ummmmmmmm, I think you’re mixing up something else there. Some nuts are fairly high protein, yes, although they’re far from my target ratio. Avocados though …

    Amount per 1 cup, sliced (146 grams)
    Calories 234
    Total Fat 21 g
    Total Carbohydrate 12 g
    Protein 2.9 g

    I’m sure you’re just pulling that from memory, so you might just have that flat-out wrong. On the off chance that you’re quoting a vegetarian/vegan friend who is actually eating avocados for protein, smack him/her. Hard. 😀 I don’t expect you to have done the research, but your vegetarian/vegan friend should have.

    Almonds don’t have what I would call an acceptable protein ratio, either, if I was actually eating them for the protein: 529 calories to 20 grams of protein. Peanuts are much better, coming in at 828 to 38, although still not ideal. If something isn’t better than 20 calories to 1 gram of protein, I don’t consider it a good protein source, and I try to get as close as possible to 10 to 1.

    You’re better off with the “non-nut” legumes, not that peanuts are actually nuts. Lentils are about 230 to 18. Chickpeas are about 729 to 39. Peas are about 118 to 8. Most beans have much better than a 20 to 1 ratio.

    Lots of vegetables that you don’t even think of as good protein are better than legumes. Broccoli is about 50 calories to 4.2 grams of protein. Cauliflower is 146 to 11.

    Hell, even my bread is about 110 to 6, and there’s a crap-load of fiber in it, if you’re pardon the pun, because it’s specifically a high-fiber, whole-grain bread. And they make vegan “cheese”, even if I don’t touch the stuff.

    Basically, if I was going to jump to a 3,500 – 4,000 calorie diet, I would have to add in more fat or carbs to get down to 200 grams of protein, eating completely vegetarian.

  72. Narf says

    @78

    “Vegans” – Generally refuse to eat any meat, and any animal byproducts such as eggs and milk.
    “Vegetarians” – Generally refuse to eat any meat, but generally will eat other animal byproducts like eggs and milk.

    And no gummy bears for either.

  73. Monocle Smile says

    @Narf
    You were right about my source(s), so maybe it’s time to organize a trip to Smackdonalds.

    Broccoli has excellent macros, as does kale. Both are typically blender-fodder for me. I appreciate the other information, as I’m constantly looking for more crap to toss in my shakes. I use avocados, mostly for the calorie count (and the fats aren’t terrible for you), as well as bananas, but I’ve been experimenting with different greens for the final ingredient.

    @EL
    Those are the commonly accepted labels, though in my experience, there’s a bit of an issue with people mislabeling themselves.

  74. Narf says

    Oh hell yeah. As far as fats go, the ones in avocados are apparently some of the best sorts out there for you, and they’re tasty as hell. You just aren’t getting enough protein to make it even worth adding into your daily-intake calculation.

    I could go in for kale more, if it didn’t taste so much like kale. I don’t know what it is. I love spinach greens, collard greens, turnip greens … even parsley. Can’t freaking stand kale, for some reason. I dunno.

    If you haven’t done lentils, you should try those. The best thing about green lentils is cooking them. You can just get a bag of dried lentils, pour them into a pot of water simmering on low, and just set the timer for half an hour or 45 minutes. Then you just go lie down within olfactory range and enjoy the smell for a while. Even the smell of freaking baking cake and cookies get a run for their money from the smell of simmering lentils. Plus, you don’t get diabetes from eating the end result.

    I imagine they would blend fairly well into a smoothie, too, once you simmer the hell out of them. They’re like slightly less-sweet, spicier peas, and one meal of them a day will cover your 25 – 35 grams of fiber. Not that I’m ever short on fiber, since I sometimes get 90 or 100 grams a day, if I’m not eating much cheese on that particular day. Vegetarians never seem to have an issue with that.

  75. xxxxxx says

    caller: Peter — motivated reason much? I know all of humanity suffers from motivated reasoning, but why do the faithful always seem so utterly consumed by it, that they can’t, say, Google the counterarguments PRIOR to calling? Believers like Peter become enamored with EAAN merely because….Plantinga. But there are a lot of fairly basic issues with it that anyone with even a small passing interest in understanding it (i.e. wikipedia) would have to come across, and thus be aware that it’s a rather weak argument no matter how you try and frame it.

    But despite that, Peter calls in anyway and shamelessly makes a fool of himself. I am utterly baffled when religious people are so wrapped up in arguing their particular point, that they seem to utterly lose their ability to hear, entertain, or comprehend counter-argumentation. I happened to believe that Peter was likely intelligent and may have even had some education too, but his faith-based inability to hear counter-argumentation in this call simply lead me to think “Dunning-Kruger” the whole time.

  76. Frank G. Turner says

    @xxxxxx # 83

    I am utterly baffled when religious people are so wrapped up in arguing their particular point, that they seem to utterly lose their ability to hear, entertain, or comprehend counter-argumentation.

    .
    A lot of people think emotionally like politicians, once you get an important point and get people behind it emotionally and rally them you can get them to ignore anything contradictory. If you think like a scientist then you present a hypothesis and introduce what information you would have to observe to support the hypothesis (the argument) and what you would have to observe that would support the hypothesis being false (the counter argument). ONe or the other may not exist but you are opened to it if it does.
    .
    The caller Peter (I know which thread that you are talking about) thinks like a politician or the follower of a politician. That is essentially what presuppositional apologetics is, politics. People who think like politicians can’t be opened to the possibility of the countert argument being correct because as soon as you even entertain the possibility of the counter argument being correct the gusto and bravado that people have for the argument is utterly destroyed in their minds. Things are all or nothing, black or white in their minds. It is intellectually dishonest but as George Carlin said there is no commandment that said “though shalt not be dishonest.”