Open thread for episode 20.07: Russell & Martin


Martin here. Predictably there have been the usual suspects on social media firing off about the discussion with Kieran. I think a lot about the conversation with Kieran could have gone better, but what’s notable about those responding is the way in which binary thinking is their general pattern. Either you’re someone who condemns everything about Islam as a cancer and scourge upon the earth that requires immediate cauterization, or you’re a jihadi apologist. Very little in the way of nuance, shall we say, is on display. The usual dog-whistle terms (“regressive left,” etc etc.) are trotted out and put through their paces, indicating a preference for lazy reactionary emotionalism over intellectual engagement.

Also, posting actual data which shows that, in the US at least, random gun violence has been an exponentially higher cause of death than violence of an expressly terrorist nature is seen as a “deflection” from the real issue. The following tweet (not embedding it because I don’t wish anyone to come back at the guy) is typical: Three different issues: Mass shootings by insane people, gang violence/crime, & terrorism. “Different issues”? They’re all about mass murder and its causes, which sounds like the same issue to me. Are the victims of mass shootings by “insane people” somehow less dead than those deliberately carried out by ISIS cells?

Click to embiggenify.

There is a contigent among atheists who are very much in line with conservative Christian Republicans on this topic, and it’s a problem. Allow me to suggest the following radical ideas: rejecting xenophobia towards Muslims generally does not mean one is blithely pretending Islamist violence and terrorism do not exist at all. (Yes, some of the haters are arguing that.) Pointing out that gun violence by angry white men takes vastly more lives in the US is, also, not a way of denying that Islamist terrorists are a thing. It’s simply asking paranoid people to look at the data, put your paranoia in perspective, and then come up with reasoned and effective responses to terrorism that don’t target the innocent victims who are fleeing that very terrorism.

That Islamist theocracies are the most oppressive societies in the world is not anything any sensible person would debate (in fact I recall both of us on the show yesterday making that point). But when people assume, and politicians like Trump and Farage go on to exploit said assumption, that we have to fear all the people fleeing an Islamist bloodbath because they’re obviously just coming here to start a bloodbath of their own, then it’s time for folks to step back and take a breath. Caving into that manipulative fear is playing right into the terrorists’ hands.

Comments

  1. sezit says

    Regarding the caller who wondered why the US has so much religious wingnuttery, I’m reminded of the aphorism:
    “Canada got the French, Australia got the convicts, and the US got the religious nuts.”
    Sorry, can’t remeber where it came from.

  2. says

    In regards to what “proof” I need, my first question to the caller would be “Can your god be tested?” Hypothesis testing is what convinces me… if the answer is “no”, then nothing will convince me of your claim. That’s not me being closed-minded. It’s not particularly fair to ask me what it would take to demonstrate a claim that’s been specifically engineered to be non-demonstrable.

  3. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Also in regards to what evidence would change my mind: Obviously, first question is “what do you have?”. As for example evidence, I say “Jesus comes down and submits to experiments of his healing powers under the best laboratory conditions we can muster, thousands of times, by every scientific lab in the world, with the best magicians overseeing the experiments as well”. I might be able to be convinced by weaker evidence than that, but IMHO at least it’s a start to the conversation.

  4. Yaddith says

    Have Islamic immigrants recently come into this country to commit acts of terror? Yes. Have Christian immigrants recently come into this country to commit acts of terror? No. But Russell and Martin see no difference between the two groups. Does political correctness cause blindness? Yes!

  5. Herman Nietzche says

    The notion of eternity, or heaven, being oppressive was depicted in a great porno movie, For the Love of Pleasure, that starred Jamie Gillis as Simon, a distaff crook who was killed during a burglary. Simon’s passage from living to eternity takes many twists, turns and ejaculations all of a hedonistic nature. As Simon descends (?) into more and more depravity he becomes increasingly jaded and morose until he asks his perceived guardian angel, Annette Haven, to send him to hell because he did not deserve the pleasures of heaven. Of course, she replies, “Simon, what makes you think this is heaven?” Absolutely one of the last great porn movies shot on film and very erotic too. Herman Nietzche former editor Swinger’s Update magazine.

  6. Vivec says

    Have Christian immigrants recently come into this country to commit acts of terror? No.

    Well, that’s true, but trivial. Our christian terrorists are home-grown.

  7. says

    The main reason I don’t buy the eternity=hell argument is because God can just make it so you never get bored. If the theology holds that you will be in hell eternity without becoming numb to the pain, their theology can just have a magic trick that ensures you’re always happy in heaven.

  8. says

    Nietzche @ 5:

    the twilight zone got there in 1960 (with less loss of body fluids) in the episode “A Nice Place to Visit”, right down to the twist ending:

    After a month, Rocky becomes thoroughly bored by always having his whims satisfied and predictably winning at anything he attempts. He calls up Pip and asks if he can put a challenge where he would actually get caught in a robbery. Pip is able to do that, but Rocky backs off claiming there would be no fun if he knew the outcome. He then tells Pip, “If I gotta stay here another day, I’m gonna go nuts! I don’t belong in Heaven, see? I want to go to the other place.” Pip retorts, “Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea that you were in heaven, Mr. Valentine? This is the other place!!” Shocked and horrified, Rocky unsuccessfully tries to open his apartment door in order to escape his endless “paradise,” as Pip begins to laugh malevolently at Rocky’s predicament.

    and before that was sartre’s 1944 play “no exit”

  9. rodney says

    I can relate to what the caller was talking about with heaven, that was always something that bothered me when I was younger. Not so much being bored, but the idea of existing forever, it really creeped me out, literally never ending, it didn’t sound much better than hell. Of course, feeling that way made me feel guilty for not even wanting to go to the place that everyone thought I should be so excited about. I also get where Russell was coming from, I enjoy my life, and I want it to last as long as possible, but we’re not really talking about the life I’m living now, it’s some undefined other realm, I guess where I do nothing but praise the creator. If I wanted that, I guess I could just defect to North Korea now and get a head start.

  10. says

    Have Islamic immigrants recently come into this country to commit acts of terror? Yes. Have Christian immigrants recently come into this country to commit acts of terror? No. But Russell and Martin see no difference between the two groups. Does political correctness cause blindness? Yes!

    I haven’t listened to the show yet, but did Martin or Russell say we should eliminate the NSA/FBI/USCIS, or tell them to ignore recent Islamic immigrants because there is flatly no threat from recent Islamic immigrants and the only recent immigrants than are terrorizing us are Christians? Or that we should ignore the cases of Islamic terrorism that happen in this country because we want the an Islamic Caliphate to take over US government? Hyperbole aside, and homegrown Christian terrorists aside, this “Christians don’t come here to terrorize, but some Muslims immigrants do, so therefore Islam is the far more horrible than Christianity” is something that, in public discourse where it is meant to sow distrust of Muslim immigrants, only serves to ostracize the Muslims who come to the US because they want to be normal US citizens and feed the Christian and atheist bigots who really do think it’s good to ostracize them. It’s not “politically correct” to try to avoid ostracizing Muslims, it’s basic common human decency. It’s also very practical as having a population of politically and civically engaged Muslims, who we don’t treat like shit in public discourse, is the best way to understand, and ultimately combat, Islamic terrorism. If you think that’s “blindness”, I have pity for your ability to think straight.

  11. Mike S says

    The comment about why America has more extreme religious nuts than other countries. I believe it’s the same answer of why many American’s are interested in Communism and Socialism because they never suffered under the system imposed. So they never suffered history of Pope / Imam / Theocratic governments ordering countries and people around resulting in tyrannical horror shows.

  12. says

    I hope the caller asking about why Americans are wingnuts, check this, there is a book “Religious America, Secular Europe?” that tries to answer that. It talks about the difference of say France, where they fought off the Pope, or the UK where they still have this vestigial “Church of England”, and here we have pluralism, where many of them feel they are the right one and don’t get that they wouldn’t exist if the rest of us didn’t allow for all of them.

    There’s also the PBS, God in America series. Should be online.

    Finally, a local guy created “Kings of Israel”, an RPG game set in the days of Solomon and David. Sorry to say I haven’t played it, but I’ve heard the he’s a nice guy, not trying to push religion, just thought it would fun to apply gaming to that time period. It is available commercially.

  13. Argus Von Blargus says

    I have a theory about Hamish:

    Comedian Craig Ferguson is pulling your leg…

    Just saying..OK..so maybe it’s only a hypothesis.

  14. says

    Not only are right-wing Christian terrorists homegrown, but most of the Muslim terrorists in recent attacks have been as well. Contrary to the paranoia that ISIS is smuggling in hordes of operatives amongst refugees (which would be an extremely difficult, not to mention expensive, process), most of their recruiting has in fact been done online. The Paris shooters were Belgian nationals. The San Bernardino shooters weren’t immigrants either.

    According to FBI Director James B. Comey, the FBI’s investigation revealed that the perpetrators were “homegrown violent extremists” inspired by foreign terrorist groups. They were not directed by such groups and were not part of any terrorist cell or network. FBI investigators have said that Farook and Malik had become radicalized over several years prior to the attack, consuming “poison on the internet” and expressing a commitment to jihadism and martyrdom in private messages to each other. Farook and Malik had traveled to Saudi Arabia in the years before the attack. The couple had amassed a large stockpile of weapons, ammunition, and bomb-making equipment in their home.

    “Political correctness” clearly doesn’t cause the same level of blindness as reactionary xenophobia.

  15. Rick Pikul says

    Not only have people made mock-ups of Bible-based fighting games, there has been an actual such game on Kongregate for years.

  16. says

    re: “What if you’re wrong?” My answer is: What if *you’re* wrong and Buddhism is right and you’ll be reincarnated a million times as a cockroach for your hubris in claiming that your parents’ religion is the right one?

    Or perhaps I should say crickets, as that’s what I usually hear in response.

  17. Conversion Tube says

    I think Russell and Martin need to find better arguments against that anti immigration caller. I think you are right, I think Trumps plan is crazy. Yes a very small portion are dangerous and almost all are wonderful people.

    But a couple of your arguments were bad.

    Pointing to Christians in Africa was bad for example.

    You were throwing out red herrings and he didn’t quite know how to state that, when he asked can’t we just discuss the Muslim problem.

    “Christians are suggesting to kill people in Africa too, should we stop them coming in”??

    His response should be
    Ahh, if the statistics of possible terrorists acts are similar, then ,, ahh yes lets stop Christians coming in from those countries too.

    So now what? Can we talk about the Islamic terrorists again. You know since we have examples of the recent past of their acts of terror?

    I’m not saying he was right or that you are wrong, I’m just saying some of your arguments are bad.

    He claims
    Here is a bad thing so we should do A.

    You claim
    Here is another bad thing so should we continue to do A with this other bad thing?

    He responds
    If they are equal then yes.

    So now can we agree we should do A?

    Except we never got to this point because your response was just a red herring in an attempt to derail.

  18. Monocle Smile says

    @Conversion tube
    It’s not a red herring. I think it’s presumptive to claim the caller’s response would have been the reasonable one you posted. The hosts were trying to be Socratic, as the caller probably has zero objection to Christian immigrants.

  19. Mahmud Abbas says

    Russel&Martins arguments about islamophobia is very naive. As an atheist living in a islamic country if you are not islamobhobic you are most likely to be victim of natural selection. Russel’s discussing atheism with his muslim friends and coming out not being hurt is funny like his other failed view on circumcision. There is no way a practicing muslim can make an empathy with the others especially with atheists.

  20. says

    But doesn’t it then follow that if it’s impossible for practicing Muslims to have any empathy for non-Muslims, Russell’s Muslim friends should have either hurt him by now, or harbor a secret desire to hurt him? Why does the Muslim guy who works my neighborhood convenience store loan me CDR’s of his personal psytrance mixes, instead of shooting me dead on sight?

  21. Brian Spence says

    Sorry Russell and Martin but your understanding of religious history in England and Europe is woefully misinformed. I’m no scholar myself but simple research regarding the Pilgrims, Puritans and the Church of England provides many answers. Certainly the Pilgrims and Puritans held strict and rigid theological and sociological beliefs but the instigation for them leaving England was in fact the oppressiveness of the Church of England and maybe even more specifically Queen Elizabeth’s religious settlement in The Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity of 1559. Among the laws enacted were that all citizens were to attend church on Sundays and holy days or be fined 12 pence and that of measures or punishments for clergymen who did not stick to the Act and the Book of Common Prayer.

  22. .Mahmud Abbas says

    When they are minority of course they tend to be more moderate .There are thousands warriors that joined ISIS from the western countries, I am sure most of them have a pretty normal relations with the society but when they are in’ the free zone’ they easily became horrible beasts, speaking of music remember that famous rapper from UK that joined ISIS.
    Again, as an outspoken atheist you can’t survive in an islamic country, this is the fact and every practicing muslim support this in some way.

  23. Russell Glasser says

    @Brian, I wasn’t talking about Puritans and pilgrims. I was talking about the expansion of makeshift religious groups into the southern states, centuries later.

  24. says

    I think I mentioned Puritans, but only to point out while they were fleeing a society that was repressive towards their particular brand of faith, what they created in the New World wasn’t exactly any more tolerant and humane.

  25. Yaddith says

    Martin Wagner: Do your homework. The female shooter in the San Bernardino massacre immigrated to the United States in 2014.

  26. Yaddith says

    Martin Wagner: According to reports, she was radicalized long before coming to the United States. What the heck difference does it make how she managed to get here?

  27. Monocle Smile says

    @Yaddith
    Actually, her wiki page mentions these reports and cites a couple of sources dismissing them as unfounded. Care to answer my question? Or are you content to Trump away?

  28. says

    It makes a difference because the specific argument made by Kieran and others is that Syrian refugees must be stopped in their tracks because there are supposedly hordes of ISIS sleeper agents among them, and that the refugee situation is the biggest threat to us right now because of this. This may or may not be true. I think it’s not very likely. But the point is that it demonstrates terrorists can get into the country in other ways, and a great many of them don’t have to be sent here, they’re here now.

    Now, should there be a better background check system in place if there is a question about whether or not certain immigrants are too high-risk to give visas to? Now there’s a discussion worth having. I’d like to think the CIA and Homeland Security are dealing with that, though so far they seem to have just settled on making us all take our shoes off at the airport. So I doubt it?

  29. Yaddith says

    Monocle Smile: Do you really believe that she was radicalized in the few months she lived in the United States before the massacre? That seems rather unlikely. The only point I am making is that it is ridiculous to view Islamic immigrants and Christian immigrants as having the same threat level.

  30. Vivec says

    100% of the nukes ever fired in history were fired by white dudes. Clearly we have to ban white immigration and tourism to prevent the risk of a white person sneaking a nuke in. The risk is simply too high to be “politically correct” about this.

  31. Monocle Smile says

    @Yaddith
    Why did you even reference “reports” when you were just going to make shit up anyway?
    It is not ridiculous in the least. You just clearly have problems with Muslims, seeing that actual facts and data don’t even get addressed when presented.. Furthermore, Matt and Don JUST did an episode about christian detectors. So tell me…how can you tell whether an immigrant is a Christian or Muslim aside from self-identification?

  32. Yaddith says

    Monocle Smile: Hmmm. That’s a good question. How could I tell whether an immigrant who professed to be Christian wasn’t really a Muslim? I think I would start by asking him to draw a picture of Muhammad. Then I would serve him a nice ham sandwich.

  33. Vivec says

    @35
    Neither of those are remotely universal values. Theres a shit ton of islamic art that depicts muhammad, and I know plenty of muslims that eat pork and drink alcohol as much as any other person.

    I also know jews that love pork, and a shitton of LGBT people from every major religion. Go figure.

  34. Yaddith says

    Monocle Smile: Gee, I thought I was responding to your trolling! I try to be good, but stupidity brings out the snarkiness in me. Political correctness makes my teeth itch.

  35. says

    I think I’ll just leave this in the capable hands of John Scalzi, who’s phrased it much better than I could.

    “Political Correctness” is a catchphrase which today means one of two things. The first is, “I have done no substantial thinking on this topic in at least twenty years and therefore anything I say past this point cannot be treated with any seriousness.” The second is “It is more important for me to continue my ingrained bigotry than it is for you not to be denigrated or offended by my bigotry, because I am lazy and do not wish to be bothered.” If in fact you do not intend to convey either of these two things, you should not use the phrase “political correctness.”

  36. Argus Von Blargus says

    @Martin Wagner

    Obviously the Muslim guy who is loaning you CDR’s of his personal psytrance mixes has inserted subliminal ISIS messages therein, probably prompting you to go all jihad on a future AXP episode.

    Just a personal anecdote…..of the handful of Muslims I have met in my sedate North Carolina mountain college town, they have all been moderate, polite and kind.

  37. Argus Von Blargus says

    @37

    Yup….at the end of the day most humans — Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, Mugwumps, Pagans, Rastafarians — are all seeking the same values (think Maslow’s hierarchy of need) — food, clothing, shelter, social interaction, personal productivity. Thus I would contend most religious people are moderates because most people live in a pluralistic world in which radical behavior is “punished” socially. The exceptions of course are those communities that inculcate radical values as the norm whether it be a village full of ISIS adherents (wherein radicalized behavior is rewarded) or my own pre-Internet Baptist-heavy Tennessee hometown (wherein radical ideas like abstention from liquor and subtle racism were rewarded).

    In short, most humans simply do “whatever works” in their social/community paradigm and satisfies their personal desires (which may or may not be wired — cue Dennis/Jeff Dee debate NOW) — which leads to pork-eating Jews, craft-beer-drinking Muslims, Baptist gay people, beef-eating Hindus or church-visiting atheists (I myself attended a liberal UCC for awhile).

    I’ll close with the immortal words of St. Stevie of Wonder and Sir Paul of McCartney:

    We all know
    That people are the same wherever you go
    There is good and bad in everyone
    When we learn to live, we learn to give each other
    What we need to survive
    Together alive

  38. kudlak says

    The lack of details about Heaven is directly analogous to the ending of fairytales, where the Christians get to simply “Live happily ever after” up in Heaven instead of somewhere else. Story-wise, living “happily” is outright boring. There’s no conflict, which may account for there being so many more stories about dystopian worlds than utopias. Then again, utopias are always one person’s idea of paradise, which may account for stories where characters realize that they’re actually fascist dystopias.

  39. YC FU says

    Perhaps Russell Glasser should convert to Islam and leave the show, since he loves Islam so much. First of all, the caller never identified himself as a Christian nor did he ever say he favored Christianity. The caller obviously hates all Muslims, a position that I do not necessarily agree. But Russell went on to argue by saying that Christianity is just as bad. So what? I agree that Christianity may be just as bad but that does not mean Islam is good. More importantly, the caller never mentioned Christianity at all. but Russell kept saying Christianity was no better. Hey Russell, how about comparing Islam to Taoism next time?

  40. says

    @20 Mahmud Abbas

    Russel&Martins arguments about islamophobia is very naive. As an atheist living in a islamic country if you are not islamobhobic you are most likely to be victim of natural selection.

    It’s not a phobia if the danger is significant. It only becomes a phobia if the level of fear is not proportional to the threat. Hence, you are not Islamophobic, you genuinely have a justified fear for your life as an out atheist in an Islamic country. Nobody on the “regressive left” is trying to deny that or not offer solidarity to you and other people in your situation. My wife is from a Muslim country and I make damn well sure no one knows I’m an atheist. The context of islamophobia, a word of which the well has been poisoned, is in the context of Christian and secular people in the west, who do have an irrational fear of Muslims. In the US since 9/11, you are about as likely to be killed by a dog as you are to be killed by an Islamic terrorist. And you can see by the chart, including the 9/11 data, that a person in the US should be 100x more fearful of being gunned down by a somebody who is not an Islamic terrorist.

    Russel’s discussing atheism with his muslim friends and coming out not being hurt is funny like his other failed view on circumcision.

    Well, it’s sort of defies the definition of “friend” if they hurt you, not sure what you’re getting at there. For the non sequitur/ad hominem: I believe Russel’s position is that he is against circumcision personally and has talked family members out of circumcising their children, but doesn’t think it should be made illegal and that people who have their kids circumcised aren’t monsters. I’m not sure how that position on circumcision could be “fail”.

    There is no way a practicing muslim can make an empathy with the others especially with atheists.

    Well, that’s pretty dehumanizing of you, and doubtless the authentically Islamophobic westerners will cite this as why we need to “do something” about the Muslims. Never mind the fact that every Muslim is a person like you or me and is a potential atheist.

    You seem to be on the side of “let’s demonize the Muslims”. I have an honest question for you: How does a bunch of atheists in the west railing against the evils of Muslims help lead to a enlightened, secular, progressive reformation in Islamic countries?

  41. says

    @43

    Perhaps Russell Glasser should convert to Islam and leave the show, since he loves Islam so much. …. But Russell went on to argue by saying that Christianity is just as bad. So what? I agree that Christianity may be just as bad but that does not mean Islam is good.

    I’m not sure how you got any of that out of the conversation. The entire point of the discussion was to attempt to show that the caller has a double standard in his reasoning. It’s like when almost every argument against gay marriage equally applies against marriage in general, and they don’t seem to realize it.

    You don’t have to become gay and get gay married to make that point.

    Which other religion is picked isn’t particularly relevant, outside of the fact that Christianity is the primary religious position in America.

  42. says

    Jasper:

    I’m not sure how you got any of that out of the conversation.

    Because among some atheists their hatred of Muslims is so deeply rooted and corrosive that it’s eclipsed all of their reason. Like bigotry does.

    And let’s be clear, it isn’t Islam they really hate, it’s Muslims. Granted, there are the obvious brutal atrocities that Islamist society and Islamist terrorism are responsible for. But even though these folks will angrily assure you that “of course I’m not saying all Muslims, for fuck’s sake” (as I was repeatedly told yesterday), the arguments many of them follow up with make it abundantly clear that they are looking for ways to hate #YesAllMuslims that are intellectually defensible. The following exchange is typical (and screw it, I’ll just post the screengrabs).


    So it starts from a condemnation of the belief, which would be perfectly fine if it stayed right there and focused upon that. Then it quickly moves to its logical end: a barbaric belief makes for barbaric people. Attempt to isolate criticism of belief from attacking the believer, and you’re told that even the most “vanilla” practice of the belief is barbaric, from which the only conclusion that can be drawn is that it is emphatically #YesAllMuslims who are barbarians, complicit in the violent rampages of ISIS or the cruel oppression of the Saudi sheikhdom. You see this right here in this thread, where Mahmud Abbas declares every “practicing muslim” alive incapable of empathy. Disagreement with this reactionary absolutism gets you the “apologist” label. Binary thinking in action.

    And it’s not something they’re willing to apply to Christianity and Christians.

    I mean, Russell and I came right out and said on the show “Islam is false. Islam is bad.” And yet there are sure to be the usual gang of ragey bros recording 45-minute YouTube rants who will straight-up ignore that.

  43. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Martin.

    Thanks Martin for fighting the good fight. I was never that bad – I hope – pretty sure – but because of people like you, I have improved.

    I will take this opportunity for a minor nit. Sorry for length.

    #YesAllMuslims […] complicit in the violent rampages of ISIS or the cruel oppression of the Saudi sheikhdom.

    I do believe that, with an emphasis on extremely mildly complicit. For example, I also believe that all Catholics are mildly complicit in the child rape of their church.

    It stems from my belief that all it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to stand idly by and let it happen.

    I believe that I echo what Martin Luther King Jr said in his letter from a Birmingham Jail, where he says that he (almost) reached the regrettable conclusion that the biggest impediment to black equality is not the KKKer, but the white moderate, who says that he agrees with the black freedom fighter, but doesn’t like their methods of direct action because – in my own words – it’s disruptive and rocks the boat.

    So, I would go further and say that we all bear some responsibility for the ISIS attacks and the child rape of the Catholic church, mitigated to the extent that every person individually fight against it. Further, in this line of thought, I would say that saying that one is a Catholic is itself tacitly condoning the abhorrent behavior of the Catholic church, aka enabling it, and thus Catholics bear a larger responsibility than the average person.

    Of course, I recognize that most Catholics, just like most Muslims, are normal, decent people, just like everyone else. They just happen to have a couple particularly pernicious beliefs which cause them to be enablers of the bad behavior of others, and for that I will hold every single person morally responsible (to a varying degree of mildly responsible to very mildly responsible).

    PS:
    I think it’s wrong-headed to draw a bright line between attacking beliefs and attacking persons. Rather, I think that there’s another line that should be drawn. Let me explain.

    What am I? I am a person. I have no soul. I am merely a collective of my beliefs, preferences, behavioral ticks, relationships, etc. I have self esteem, and so I like who I am. If someone purports to merely attack the claims of humanism – for example saying that humanism is wrong-headed and foolish – then I am going to take it personally, because who I am as a person is deeply rooted in humanism, and I value that part of myself.

    Thus, I think it is impossible to attack beliefs without attacking the person. Claims “I am only attacking the beliefs, not the person” seems like a particularly pernicious form of patronizing. For example, for someone who says that, they would be personally offended if their core beliefs were challenged as foolish and evil, but it seems that they don’t recognize this fact for others. Purely guessing, but people who say that don’t put enough stock into the fact that the other person really believes what they say that they believe, and that the other person really does identify according to those beliefs and value themselves according to those beliefs. It seems like patronizing in order to implicitly claim that they know what the other person actually believes better than the person themself. It’s probably hypocritical too.

    Again, I think that it is impossible to attack beliefs without attacking the person. I don’t even try.

    However, the line that I think should be drawn is this. I also think that this is the line that many people intuitively mean to say, but don’t actually say, with the words “attack the beliefs, not the person”. I believe that when we attack particular beliefs, we are attacking the person, in order to hopefully make the person into a better person. In other words, the person is redeemable. The person is not trash. The person is not completely incapable of empathy (referencing the bit above). The line we need to draw is this: For someone with extremely wrong-headed beliefs, it is almost always true that they are a nice and decent person in most aspects. In other words, they are redeemable. They can have their mind changed. Very, very few people are irredeemable trash. That’s the line. We shouldn’t say that people are irredeemable trash, inherently evil, because they are not, and because that kind of thinking does lead to bigotry.

  44. Soulforge says

    By the way, sent an email (found on the atheist experience main page), but since the cast seems to monitor these forums as well, the guy who identified himself as Hamith from Perth isn’t trolling, at least not in that he actually believes what he keeps calling about. His youtube channel name is Rational Theist Matt and he hangs out with G-Man from time to time on his channel. Listen to a few seconds of any video that channel, it’s unmistakably him, and the picture he uses is the same as the one he uses in his chats with G-Man where he just uses the identifier of Rational Theist.

  45. byrysh says

    Wow, whoever posted that graph has a serious problem. Legal gun owners are about .1 % of the gun violence which consists mostly of law enforcement fatalities and illegal gun owners. They also fail to list the amount of crimes stopped by legal gun owners.
    Secondly. At the end of the video Russel said not to hold all muslims responsible for the actions of a few which is the exact regressive mentality that germany, switzerland and Holland took and look at their streets now. Woman have to die their hair dark to avoid islamic rape gangs, the welfare system is taxed almost beyond its ability to support the native population and there are no-go zones that are entirely ran by sharia law. Yeah, lets let that happen here. /sarcasm
    The 2 things we do have going for us is an ocean and the second amendment.

  46. says

    EL: I think you make some excellent points. But where you talk of most believers’ redeeming qualities in your final paragraph, I think you aren’t really describing a situation where it’s “impossible to attack beliefs without attacking the person.” If the person can be engaged in a thoughtful and friendly way about why you don’t believe the things they do, then you’re not attacking them by having that discussion. You’re challenging them, perhaps. You may even be making them uncomfortable or upset. But unless you’re, I don’t know, jabbing your finger at them and yelling at them for what a moron they are for believing this shit — and yes, we’ve spoken to enough thick-headed theists on our show that conversations have taken that form — then you aren’t really attacking them. Even when you do end up in that kind of heated argument, you still, for the most part, don’t come out of it thinking that the believer you’ve just dealt with is almost certainly a delusional lunatic with no vestige of humanity whose very presence is a danger to himself and others. Hell, maybe this is all semantics. But I guess that’s what I mean when I discuss separating criticisms of beliefs and ideas, however wrong or stupid, with attacks on people: the danger of the very outcome you mention in your last paragraph.

    The problem of religious moderates enabling religious extremists, which we’ve often discussed, is a real one, but in the Islamic world — and this is where valid attacks on Islam come in — the situation is a bit stickier. Islam has the only active theocracies going on these days, and so it isn’t the case that all of the rank and file Muslims in those societies are just blithely indifferent to the oppressors among them. The oppressors are in charge, and are using the rule of law to keep any dissent down, enforced by terrifying punishments and human rights abuses. People flee when they can, and when they can their efforts should be supported. Because they’re the redeemable ones.

  47. Russell Glasser says

    Just to confirm what others have already said: At no point did I say I love Islam, or anything remotely similar to that. I don’t want to convert to Islam, and I don’t think Islam is harmless. This doesn’t sound like a case of simple confusion, either; I think YC FU is either extremely bad at following a conversation, or (more likely) so filled with rage that he is intentionally misrepresenting my position in a malicious but extremely clumsy and incompetent way. I’ve seen a lot of that from people like him lately.

  48. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Martin
    All good points.
    Regarding “attack the beliefs, not the person”, it may well be semantics.
    Thanks!

  49. Yaddith says

    Martin Wagner: Very well said, Martin! I am always up for a vigorous discussion of ideas, but I only attack a person’s ideas, not the person. Someone can hold very wrongheaded ideas and still be a good person, and ideas are always subject to change. My heart goes out to people in a theocracy like Iran, where religious or political dissent can be a death sentence. I certainly don’t fault moderate Muslims for keeping their mouths shut in Iran. No doubt I would do the same.

  50. Monocle Smile says

    @byrysh
    Citations, please. For all of that. Furthermore, drawing this lazy line between “legal gun owner” and “illegal gun owner” is a great way to avoid talking about the problem. Merely making something illegal isn’t enough. There needs to be significant deterrence and even perhaps ways to make the law difficult to break.

  51. says

    byrysh’s bringing up “legal” vs. “illegal” gun ownership in an attempt to dismiss the graph is exactly the kind of point-missing deflection I mention in the OP. The whole purpose is to illustrate, with citations (you know, unlike byrysh did with his own claims) that among the categories of death-by-violence American citizens have reason to fear, terrorism is way down the list, compared to gun related deaths of pretty much any other kind. It’s as thorough a refutation of the claim that terrorism is our greatest threat that there is, so much so that anyone who objects to it can only hope to do so with random irrelevancies they pull out of their ass. Even if we all agree that Islam is the thing creating the most organized terrorists these days, you’re still looking at victims in the low double digits, compared to well over 30,000 a year due to Americans killing one another.

  52. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Repeating for emphasis:

    It’s simply asking paranoid people to look at the data, put your paranoia in perspective, and then come up with reasoned and effective responses to terrorism that don’t target the innocent victims who are fleeing that very terrorism.

    Well said.

    But when people assume, and politicians like Trump and Farage go on to exploit said assumption, that we have to fear all the people fleeing an Islamist bloodbath because they’re obviously just coming here to start a bloodbath of their own, then it’s time for folks to step back and take a breath.

    I’m sure that these same people do not apply their logic to the real biggest threat to freedom and democracy in the United States: Christian theocratic fascists. I don’t see these people complaining about the threat posed by Christian immigrants. That’s because the threat posed by Christian immigrants and Muslim immigrants is about nil.

    In general, these asshats do not want to talk about the real problems like Christian theocratic fascism, and the related issue of extreme economic poverty plaguing this nation which is a primary cause of social unrest, gun violence, and many other real problems.

  53. jack16 says

    Aww gee. “lazy reactionary emotionalism” is so easy. You spoil all my fun. I’m an old man. Now I have to define all those dog whistles. I think one of you young people ought to publish a reference.

  54. jack16 says

    Mike S 11

    There’s a thing you ought to consider about “socialism”. Man is a social animal! What that means is that if you speak to your neighbors your a socialist! There are no non-social people. Comatose maybe? So what kind of a socialist are you? And watch out for propaganda!

  55. favog says

    Theocracies are bad. That’s the big problem with Islam. People point to doctrine, or that it’s a young religion (“Just look how much better Christianity is now than it was 700 years ago” you’ll hear). But other religions have similar doctrines, especially the other Abrahamic ones that oppose it most vocally. And these supposedly more “grown-up” religions have adherents who want to regain political power for the express purpose of being able to wield it in the same terrible ways that Islam does where it has the power of the state. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are equally bad. But political power is what makes Islam a more dangerous force in today’s world. And fences, ID checks, and military belligerence toward it will do nothing to help change that situation.

  56. says

    @38

    Political correctness makes my teeth itch.

    You should probably go to your doc to get that looked at. After all, it might distract you from your goal of becoming a Grade A annoying internet asshole.

  57. kudlak says

    The “Christian” immigrants that they do have a problem with are the illegal Latin-Americans, but I wonder if they’d be as eager to eject them if they were predominately evangelicals instead of Catholics?

  58. Mike Davey says

    I was disappointed in Russel and Martin’s arguments concerning the guy who agrees with Trump. I also disagree with Trump. But Russel and Martin kept going to “Terrorism”. Being extremists isn’t just about people who commit violent acts. There are those who agree large parts of Islam, that it’s OK to beat your wife, that sharia law is the best possible law and should supersede all other laws and exist everywhere. That sharia law should be applied to Muslims and non Muslims alike. That adulterers should be stoned to death. That apostates should be killed.
    They said (paraphrasing) that not all Muslims are terrorists or violent, but that was not a position the caller made. You strawmanned him. Nor could it be determined what his position is since you both kept talking over him and you refused to let him get a word in edgewise.

    Just because you have extremist Christians in your country now is no reason to allow other extremists in, no matter what their religion. And extremism is about far more than just committing acts of violence. Becoming a citizen of a secular country means committing to live within that secular framework. Current citizens can hold extremist views, and we can’t do anything except talk against them as long as they don’t get violent or propose violence. But that in no way makes it a good idea to allow extremists into the country.
    Regardless of if they are Muslims or Christians or Hindu, should people who hold extremist opinions be accepted as citizens into a secular country? It seems like a bad idea to me to let in more extremists. You already have enough problems with the ones you have.

    Does that mean I agree with Trump or the Caller? No it does not. But I do recognize that there are varying levels of bad ideas. Should the US allow in people who believe homosexuals should be killed? It’s perfectly legal to have that opinion in the US. In some situations it’s perfectly legal to preach them in church, temple or mosque. But that does not mean we should be allowing people who believe such into our Western secular countries. Or to let in people who think everyone should be forced to follow sharia law. Or kill apostates. Or kill witches or homosexuals. That would be foolish. Just because an idea or speech is legal doesn’t mean people who believe those ideas should be given free reign to spread them if they are not already citizens. The fact that we can’t kick out those citizens who already do think this is neither here nor there. It would be the height of foolishness to pretend everyone’s opinions are of equal worth and let them in our countries on that basis.

    Perhaps the caller would have made those points or others, had he been allowed.

    I think the best we can do is to accept the most moderate (and atheists), welcome them and try to prevent their being isolated. Extremists and radicals should be prevented from coming to our countries, no matter what their religion or beliefs.

    I do find this position that one must let religions in or your a bigot to be rather odd. And what about Wahhabists?
    Or the Japanese death cult Aum Shinrikyo? Or Scientology during the time it was committing illegal acts?
    Should a persons religion be ignored when they are applying for citizenship?
    I sure hope not. There have been some rather blood thirsty and badly behaving religions and cults in the world.
    I certainly would not allow the Christians mentioned in, the ones who lobbied the Ugandan government to pass laws allowing for the execution of homosexuals. In fact, I think they are barred from entering my country.
    I don’t see it as necessarily bad to not let in people who believe in religion. But that wouldn’t leave very many for immigration and I believe immigration to be an overall positive good to my country.
    We have freedom of thought and freedom of speech, but that doesn’t mean no matter what you believe or what you say, you get to immigrate. Plenty of people are rejected because they are radicals. What you believe and say and think matters. To say “Unless it’s your religion” is crazy.

  59. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I think the best we can do is to accept the most moderate (and atheists), welcome them and try to prevent their being isolated. Extremists and radicals should be prevented from coming to our countries, no matter what their religion or beliefs.

    How do you suggest to enforce this? For example, do you propose that every potential immigrant be given a lengthy and thorough interview / (non-torture) interrogation? Presumably it’s easy enough to lie your way through such a thing when the topic concerns one’s own beliefs. I fail to see how one might implement a policy to achieve these ends.

  60. Monocle Smile says

    @Mike Davey

    The fact that we can’t kick out those citizens who already do think this is neither here nor there

    Actually, I think this is an extremely salient point in this discussion that you are ignoring. I have saying things like this, but the practices you advocate go against what this country is about. Also, in the US, I hope you realize that such practices would end extremely poorly for atheists.

  61. Russell Glasser says

    “The fact that we can’t kick out those citizens who already do think this is neither here nor there.”

    Then you are not responding to the conversation that we actually had on the show, because that is EXACTLY the point at which the caller agreed with Trump and we stopped treating him politely. You are responding to a different conversation that took place inside your own head. If you don’t want to kick out Muslim citizens then you are not in agreement with the caller.

  62. Vivec says

    Regardless of if they are Muslims or Christians or Hindu, should people who hold extremist opinions be accepted as citizens into a secular country?

    Yes, absolutely. Trying to legislate thoughtcrime is bad.

    A. How do you find out the contents of people’s heads? Do you think real terrorists are too stupid to lie under questioning? It reminds me of Harrisites somehow managing to convince themselves that a supposedly huge terrorist organization is too stupid to recruit old ladies, white people, or kids.

    B. We already tried purging our country of “dangerous ideologies” and scary foreigners. It worked really, really poorly.

  63. Vivec says

    Also shaking my head at the “Lol if you oppose islamiphobia you support islamists” talk, as if there’s not a shitton of splash damage against non-islamic people.

    My completely secular parents got death threats and had to pull me and my sister out of school after 9/11. My dad got a brick thrown at him and called a sand n’er. The Sihks at my college got their diversity month presentation torn down and vandalized with islamiphobic graffiti. To your average bigot, muslim = spooky turban-wearing brown people invading our countries.

  64. Yaddith says

    changerofbits: Sorry if you found my comments annoying. That was not my intent. My biggest problem with the PC Police is that they tend to ascribe base motives to anyone who disagrees with any aspect of their agenda. If I state an opinion that others disagree with, I have no problem if they slam it, but if they go further and assume that they know what I think and why I think it, they are deluding themselves.

  65. Monocle Smile says

    @Yaddith
    I don’t believe anyone here did such things, and maybe you’d be taken more seriously if you didn’t make such easily avoidable mistakes.

  66. Yaddith says

    Monocle Smile: I didn’t say that anyone here did such things. I was speaking in general terms.

  67. VeFi says

    If PLANCK (and other independent space observatories) showed us the map of the fluctuations of cosmic background radiation in which we saw clear message written in some or several modern languages I would be impressed. Even though it wouldn’t exclude other explanations like sufficiently advanced aliens fooling around.

  68. indianajones says

    @ Yaddith 35. Are you seriously suggesting that a committed and active terrorist would be stymied by your test?

  69. Yaddith says

    indianajones: Nope, I was just joking. In a few cases we would probably know who some of the terrorists are, but there is no way we could properly vet hundreds or thousands of refugees. As Martin Wagner pointed out, the US government has a bad track record in this regard. I don’t think a large number of terrorists would get through, but then it only took a few terrorists to take down the World Trade Center and fly a plane into the Pentagon.

  70. Devocate says

    Anyone want to take on the task of constructing that graph from the standpoint of (for example) a Syrian? (US sponsored ‘terrorism’ as the blue color)

  71. says

    changerofbits: Sorry if you found my comments annoying. That was not my intent. My biggest problem with the PC Police is that they tend to ascribe base motives to anyone who disagrees with any aspect of their agenda. If I state an opinion that others disagree with, I have no problem if they slam it, but if they go further and assume that they know what I think and why I think it, they are deluding themselves.

    Well, I’m not sure ascribing motives (correctly or incorrectly) is something limited to so called “PC Police”, it’s sort of a basic premise of the theory of mind that allows fellow sapiens to communicate. These “PC Police” may be more up front about telling you what they think your motives and thoughts are for expressing an opinion they disagree with, but I don’t see this anything that is out of bounds in discourse. In fact, it may be helpful overall as you can then clarify their faulty assumptions and further refine how you express your opinion so it’s more easily understood by a broader audience. And, in that respect, it’s a two way street. You can’t just go on the internet and expect people to assume the best of your opinions when trying to deduce your intention/thinking (especially if one side or both have an emotional stake in the subject), you have be good at communicating your opinions in a way that clearly reflects your thoughts/motive/agenda.

  72. Yaddith says

    I guess I’m a bit peculiar in that I am much more interested in issues than in personalities, and I really don’t care enough about what others think of me to bother explaining my motives. When I hear or read an opinion, I judge it on its own merits, and don’t give a damn what the motives are of the person expressing the opinion. That has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not it is correct. The name calling that one often finds on blog sites like this just bores me.

  73. Monocle Smile says

    @Yaddith
    Then fuck off. You won’t be missed.
    I also don’t believe your spiel whatsoever. You appear to be perfectly comfortable judging the personalities of Muslims.

  74. indianajones says

    Apologies if I misrepresent your position here with my paraphrasing and expansion MS. I do so to try and make the point I think you were trying to make, and that I agree with, a little clearer.

    Well then Yaddith MS’s question remains. Noting that normal health and security checks etc done on any immigrant as a matter of course (or at least should/would be in a perfect world). How would you tell, specifically and just on this point alone, whether an immigrant is a Christian or Muslim aside from self-identification? Especially as, as you note @75, it is already difficult to do even these basic first checks I mentioned without adding yet another layer to it?

    I don’t want to misrepresent your position here either Yaddith, so apologies to you too if I do. But if your position is indeed something running along the lines of ‘Ban all muslims!’, then this becomes an important question for you (or someone) to answer and is, I think, worth more than a joke in response.

    Also, and not apropos to the above at all, whatever happened to Narf?

  75. Yaddith says

    Monocle Smile: Thanks for providing a perfect example of what I was talking about. Rather than address my argument, you prefer to attack what you believe to be my motive.

    indianapolisjones: I don’t really care whether and immigrant is a Christian or a Muslim. I care whether an immigrant is a terrorist or not, and I don’t think there is any foolproof way to determine who is a terrorist and who is not. I am not in favor of banning all Muslims. But if we decide to let Syrian refugees into this country, we have to be willing to accept the very real possibility that some of them might be terrorists. There are no easy answers here.

  76. Bature says

    @Byrysh
    You said
    “Secondly. At the end of the video Russel said not to hold all muslims responsible for the actions of a few which is the exact regressive mentality that germany, switzerland and Holland took and look at their streets now. Woman have to die their hair dark to avoid islamic rape gangs, ”
    Well, i live in Switzerland and have family and friends in Germany and Holland. This is completely, utter nonsense. No where, in none of the afore mentioned countries do the women have to dye their hair in order to “o avoid islamic rape gangs”. Complete utter untrue propaganda. I don’t know where you got this nonsense, but its completely untrue, completely.

  77. Devocate says

    @81:

    But if we decide to let Syrian refugees into this country, we have to be willing to accept the very real possibility that some of them might be terrorists.

    Why use the words ‘Syrians Refugees’ in that sentence? It is just as valid with the word ‘People’. And (as shown above), more valid replacing the initial phrase with, ‘If we continue to allow the the current population to remain,…’

    Home of the brave, my ass…

  78. indianajones says

    @Yaddith

    Aahh I see. So noting that @81 you say ‘I don’t really care whether and (sic) immigrant is a Christian or a Muslim.’ then:

    Where does this leave your comment @4 ‘Have Islamic immigrants recently come into this country to commit acts of terror? Yes. Have Christian immigrants recently come into this country to commit acts of terror? No. ‘ then?

    Especially given that I cannot see where you have answered the question of how to tell the difference.

  79. Vivec says

    But if we decide to let Syrian refugees into this country, we have to be willing to accept the very real possibility that some of them might be terrorists.

    Fine by me.

    We breed christian terrorists just by existing a way they don’t like. We breed green terrorists just by having animal industries. We breed right wing terrorists just by existing a way they don’t like.

    If we’re not going to purge the country of christians, animal rights activists, and right wingers due to the miniscule chance of terrorism, I see no reason to disallow syrian refugees for that same reason.

  80. Monocle Smile says

    @indianajones
    I appreciate you taking up this charge, but Yaddith seems content to prop up positions that he/she can instantly abandon at the first sign of adversity.
    I’ve also been wondering what happened to Narf.

  81. indianajones says

    @MS you’re welcome 😀 Even while I don’t necessarily agree with your tactics at times, the general thrust appears to be OK. For instance, as opposed to your ‘ Then fuck off’, I in in contrast wait, with breath abated, for the gymnastics (and yes Yaddith, that is an unambiguous dig at you, you utter utter holder of clownish arguments) of any answer I may, or not, get from Yaddith. I am more a fan, in this and most case/s, of the ‘Give ’em enough rope’ tactic. This being in order to advance the ‘not talking to you, you utter utter clown, but to your potential audience’ strategy. Then again, all of the tactics in order to achieve the strategic aim (whatever that is) I suppose. Some will work for the undecided and dispassionate observer (IMHO the best audience) of one sort where others won’t, but vice versa too. I think.

    So says me, the long time lurker but only infrequent commenter, SO THERE!

  82. says

    @ Yaddith, comment 81:

    But if we decide to let Syrian refugees into this country, we have to be willing to accept the very real possibility that some of them might be terrorists. There are no easy answers here.

    But that’s a concern completely lacking in content, because it’s also true of every other country on Earth. The globalization genie is out of the bottle and there’s no sense choosing to ignore it: terrorist organizations are not only able to reach out and contact nearly every area on the globe, they’re also able to travel there, and frankly, that’s what they will do if they’re truly so hellbent on getting where they want to go.

    There’s really no way of stopping that: say the US completely closes its borders to anyone from X, Y, and Z countries. So now your terrorists hop a plane to somewhere not on that list, gain false credentials and passports from there, and fly into America under an assumed identity. If they’re coming here to do violence, as is your concern, then adding an extra step like that isn’t too much of a commitment. Hell, they could do that now to avoid even suspicion, if they so desire.

    So, what do you do then? Does the moving finger of fear point somewhere else, toward the last country to let in an extremist? Does the collection of countries on the “not allowed” list just continue to expand and expand until the borders are entirely closed and all the conservative politicians feel safe… until some homegrown guy is radicalized over the internet, and then there’s some whole new target in need of stifling in the name of safety? This isn’t me attempting to strawman your position, I’m just trying to illustrate how fundamentally impossible it is to prevent terrorism on any particular patch of land by simply restricting people’s movements to it, and also how focusing on Syrian refugees unnecessarily narrows focus and plays into the race-based fearmongering of the far right and elements of the far left.

    So, yes: you might get some terrorists fleeing Syria. But the location they come from is entirely incidental and, in truth, a completely arbitrary thing to hone in on.

  83. robertwilson says

    A lot of people have tackled this nonsense already but I think it’s worth adding more.

    The “we have to be willing to accept the very real possibility that some of them might be terrorists.” line of thinking is what Sam Harris employs all the time. And it’s very poor reasoning. Harris says things like “if you let a number of muslims in, and 10% of the worldwide population of muslims is extremists based on several good sources, then you have to consider that 10% of the number of muslims you let in are extremists.”

    This of course is nonsense. Letting people in doesn’t mean not screening them and there are so many factors not being considered that it’s laughable anyone takes this as a reasonable argument. It’s couched in skepticism by pointing out numbers, but it jumps to a conclusion that is leaps and bounds away from what those numbers actually tell you.

  84. Feno says

    The line about accepting SOME terrorists will be “hidden” in the stream of refugees makes just as much sense as claiming that a large number of chinese or russian business men accepted into the country will invariably include a significant but unknown number of saboteurs, spies and assassins from a hostile foreign government… does it follow it’s best to not allow any travel from those countries into the US? Does it follow that closing this channel will prevent any properly prepared saboteur, spy or assassin from entering the country pretending to be something other than chinese or russian?

    I have had a look over some numbers from the Vietnam war. An ACTUAL war where both vietnamese governments commited acts that can only be described as terrorism. Where vietnamese and americans committed horrible warcrimes.
    Now the numbers seem to support that initially 130,000 people were evacuated directly after the fall of Saigon and that over 25 years about 1,3 million refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were taken into the US. It’s next to imposssible that so high numbers did not include communist supporters, sleeper agents and war criminals. So? How high was the risk of vietnamese terror in the now 41 years since the “end” of the war? Was it worth even contemplating to not take up the 1 1/4 million people fleeing for their life? And remember this was in 75 and throughout the eighties, when the fear of communism and a hot war was imminent and omnipresent… no less so than the fear of muslim violence today, and easily bolstered by very similar statistics of war and deaths in the communist ruled countries… yet the reaching out to help the displaced vietnamese and laotians and cambodians wasn’t on the table in any presidential election like the muslim “question” is today.

    @Russell and Martin… i don’t know who in your team takes care of such stuff, but the text / disclaimer published with the Youtube video still talks about cable access and the FAQ at the AXP Website still mentions the Brian Stekma song as intro music. Oh and I really like the new song, although Listen to Reason was a great song and intro theme. You should try and get Shelley for an interview in the show some day, her website with the lyrics sounds like there’s an interesting story behind “Saved”.

  85. Yaddith says

    indianajones: The reason I answered Monocle Smile’s question about how to tell the difference between Christian refugees and Muslim refugees with a joke is that I thought it was a stupid question. Obviously there is no way to tell the difference. Even if there were, it would make no difference to me, because I would not discriminate against Muslims simply because of their religion. (Surprised you, didn’t I.) None of that in any way contradicts my contention that Muslim immigrants have come into this country to commit acts of terror and Christian immigrants have not. That seems to me to be an indisputable fact.

  86. indianajones says

    ‘Obviously there is no way to tell the difference’

    and

    ‘I would not discriminate’

    So, then, Yaddith you are repeatedly (4 times that I have counted so far) making a big deal out of a difference that you can’t detect in any meaningful fashion and that would not sway you one way or the other in any case then? And if that is about right, why? Especially given that you have also said: ‘I don’t really care whether and immigrant is a Christian or a Muslim’.

  87. Vivec says

    None of that in any way contradicts my contention that Muslim immigrants have come into this country to commit acts of terror and Christian immigrants have not

    Right, but so what? We breed homegrown terrorists just by existing. If that’s not sufficient reason to purge the nation of all christians, animal rights believers, and conservatives, why is that relevant with the topic of allowing refugees?

  88. Yaddith says

    indianajones: The reason I keep repeating myself is that so many of the posters have gotten off track addressing issues that have nothing to do with what I said. Martin and Russell both said that Muslim immigrants do not pose a greater threat than Christian immigrants, and I think that is ridiculous. I don’t like delusional thinking, whether it comes from theists or atheists.

  89. Monocle Smile says

    @Yaddith
    Please prove that the difference is statistically significant.
    Also, this “just sayin'” crap isn’t fooling anyone.

  90. indianajones says

    Ok Yaddith, I think I finally understand your position. Thank you.

    Analogy time. There are professional Chess players and there are professional Backgammon players and then there are other professional players of this or that and finally those who have no gaming profession at all. I know I am teaching people to suck eggs here but for the sake of being as clear as possible this is analogous to Christians, Muslims, other religions and Atheists. And I say professionals so that there is no possible mix-up saying that it might be possible to be a professional game player at more than one. That’s highly unusual at the very least even if not necessarily impossible in the same way that having 2 religions (or none at all) at once is. Sorry and moving on.

    It would be impossible to tell the difference between them meaningfully, silly to discriminate against any of them on these grounds and I would, not care (on those grounds) one way or the other when assessing their immigration claims. It would be stupid and meaningless to even try.

    From there, suppose there were a bunch of terrorists who called themselves Chessists and committed some atrocious acts. Where I would get worried is if people took this seriously enough to actually believe them to the point where many if not all Chessists started getting persecuted in everyday life. And/or started having powerful political figures trying to have them banned/deported/whatever. Or, even more alarmingly, started saying things like ‘We live in a Backgammon nation and (left as an exercise to the reader)’. Particularly when there are bigger threats out there, and better criteria for assessing and dealing with those threats.

    Under those circumstances, were I to come along and make the obvious statement that there is indeed a (and you’ve already conceded an undetectable one that you wouldn’t care about anyway) difference in threat level between Chessists and Backgammonists in a forum like this it would be unrealistic of me to not expect to get piled on and ridiculed. I would not be in the least bit surprised if people ascribed some level of other tangential view point to me noting how often in general they’d be right about that. And I would expect to be engaged upon what you call ‘issues that have nothing to do with what I said’ because in the current body politic, sorry buddy, but they are indeed frighteningly relevant. I would consider it intellectually dishonest and/or stupid of me were I to then retreat to the position of not personally particularly caring about Chessists vs Backgammonists as though the piling on etc was some sort of surprising development. To me, that last smacks of ‘I’m not saying that all (insert group here) are evil scum who ought to be destroyed and may or may not peep through windows, I’m Just asking the question.’ and faux moral high ground. Ugh.

    I get that your raw statement of a difference in threat level is true. Hell, there is just a big difference in sheer self declared (but remember were not using self declaration as a criterion of assessment) numbers. And I don’t want to presume to tell you where and how to fight your battle against ‘delusional thinking’. But I, personally, would not use your criteria of where and how to fight ’em. I would come out and say the substantive point immediately before I used a trivially silly (though technically true) statement of the obvious as an example.

    Having said all that. I, too, don’t like delusional thinking.

  91. Yaddith says

    indianajones: So, if I understand you correctly, you are saying that what I said is true, but that no one cares whether or not it is true. Got it.

  92. indianajones says

    No Yaddith. Not whether anyone cares or not but whether it is trivial or not. Whether it is useful or not. Whether it implies a substantive truth and/or argument or not. Whether it is honest or not. Whether you are willing to engage in the implications of your stance or not.

    I am pretty confident in saying that, in direct contradiction to your understanding of my position (being a complete mis-understanding), we all very much care about the truth of your statements.

  93. says

    @98

    The mindset of where you seem to be coming from is something like:

    If we allow [X] then [Y] happens, so we should [Z]

    The problem is that you’ve arbitrarily applied this one one specific scenario. In this discussion, we have two cases:

    1) If we allow Muslim Immigrants, we get get the occasional terrorist, so we should ban Muslim immigrants.

    2) If we allow Christians to live in America, we get the occasional terrorist, so we should ban Christians to live in America.

    You’re seem to side with #1, but are reluctant to embrace #2. In terms of problem solving, whether they physically moved here from afar, or are already here, is irrelevant. If you’re clutching onto #1 over #2, then you’re either trolling us, or have some ulterior motive… which is why people want to try to assign one to you.

    … because your overall stance is totally inconsistent, when it comes to the goal of reducing terrorist acts. Pointing out that some we get more Muslim terrorists through immigration than Christian may be a technically true statement, but it’s devoid of any meaningful content in the light of your inconsistent application of problem solving.

  94. Robert,+not+Bob says

    Regarding the differing fear levels in response to Muslim versus Christian terrorism, aside from the usual bigotry and political obfuscation, I think there’s another factor. Muslim terrorism is more frightening than Christian for the same reason that plane crashes are more scary than train derailments: because it’s less familiar, more alien. And it must be the opposite in mostly-Muslim countries, right? So if a bunch of Christians murdered a lot of people in, say, Indonesia, people there would freak.

  95. Yaddith says

    indianajones: Sorry for the delay in responding to you. I left for work immediately after my last post. After rereading your last two posts addressed to me several times, I think I finally understand your point. You are not saying that I was wrong to think that Muslim immigrants are more of a threat than Christian immigrants, but only that it was impolitic of me to say so publicly. Have I got it right this time?

    I don’t think it is ever “trivial” to point out an example of delusional thinking. Is it trivial to point out that the world isn’t really run by a magic man in the sky? After all, such a silly belief could not possibly lead to unpleasant consequences, could it?

  96. indianajones says

    ‘Muslim immigrants are more of a threat than Christian immigrants, but only that it was impolitic of me.’ No, that was the trivial part.

    ‘Is it trivial to point out that the world isn’t really run by a magic man in the sky?’ Again, no, but that’s not what I said either.

    ‘After all, such a silly belief could not possibly lead to unpleasant consequences, could it?’ Of course it could, another trivially true statement from you, trivial in this case because it is so obviously true.

    I think this will be my last engagement with you on this topic. I suggest that you engage with the smorgasbord of other objections made to you here if you would like to continue. I won’t be.

  97. indianajones says

    Actually, one last thing. I never conceded that Muslim immigrants are a greater threat. I conceded that there was inevitably a different threat level between the 2.

  98. says

    Yaddith, put it this way, there are somewhere around 2 million muslim immigrants in America. Of those, how many have committed terrorist acts? I can think of four off the top of my head; the woman in the San Bernardino shooting (the husband was US born, IIRC), the two Boston Marathon bombers, and one of the two 1993 World Trade Center bombers (The other was on a visa, and the 911 terrorists were all there an student visas) Let’s just say I am forgetting a WHOLE LOT of other examples, and say for the purpose of argument that there have been 100 muslim immigrants who have committed terrorist acts. Probably a huge exaggeration, but it still illustrates my point. So, out of 2 million muslim immigrants, lets say 100 have committed terrorist acts. That would be 0.0005%. Now you claim that there has NEVER been a terrorist act in the US committed by Christian immigrants. I find that claim doubtful. In fact, if I remember correctly, at least one Abortion clinic bombing or murder (domestic terrorism) was committed by a Canadian Christian immigrant. But let’s leave that aside and say you are correct. So the percentage of Christian immigrants who have committed terrorist acts is a flat 0.0%

    Now, it is true, but trivial, to claim that there is more risk of terrorist acts from Muslim immigrants than Christian, because 0.0005% is greater than 0.0%. But is that difference significant? Significant enough to base a policy banning Muslim immigrants in the future on?

    That’s one point people are making to you. Another is that domestic terrorism occurs far more often than Islamic terrorism in the US, and excepting 911, costs more lives.

    And a third point is that non-terrorist gun violence has cost over 125 TIMES as many lives as all terrorism combined, including 911.

  99. says

    Russell & Martin,

    Did you hear from Anhk Imhotep at the after show meet up? I’d love to hear you debate Hotep or Pan-African spiritualism with him. I’d also suggest you read up on it, if you aren’t already on top of the subject, before he calls in again. It’s a wild field of irrationality and nonsense. 😉

  100. Yaddith says

    indianajones: So if a statement is obviously true it is trivial to state it, but it is not trivial to point out that the world is not run by a magic man in the sky? Now I am more confused than ever. I agree that our conversation seems to be going nowhere. Bye.

  101. Chikoppi says

    The people most victimized by Islamic terror have been, by orders of magnitude, themselves Muslim. These theocratic fascist groups are attempting, through intimidation and force, to subjugate the citizenry of predominantly Muslim regions in order to control resources.

    Leaders of these groups have clearly stated, plainly and publicly, that the reason for targeting terror attacks in the west is to provoke an overreaction. They hope to paint the conflict as “all Muslims are threatened by the aggression of western societies,” thereby forcing moderates to despair of any foreign offer of refuge or relief.

    Welcoming and sheltering the victims of theocratic fascism is not only the ethically correct thing to do, in keeping with our proclaimed secular national values, it is also a strategically sound initiative. Yes, there are risks that require mitigation. No, we cannot ensure a foolproof screening process.

    We have Christian dominionists among our citizenry, some of whom have committed acts of terror and murder. We deal with it on an individual basis without condemning “all Christians” or “all ethnically-European white males.” That is the appropriate standard to apply regardless of the religious tradition or ethnicity of the subject.

  102. says

    Well, in asmuch as there’d be any debate between us, I’m sure it would boil down to the same questions: Why do you believe this? What is the evidence supporting it? The usual problems plaguing “spiritualism,” Pan-African or otherwise.

  103. says

    I think Martin has disqualified himself from any rational discourse after he wrote “Pointing out that gun violence by angry white men takes vastly more lives in the US is, also, not a way of denying that Islamist terrorists are a thing.”
    Not only it’s a red herring, totally irrelevant to Islam, you are now using the same arguments as Christians apologetics use against atheists, and that after we spend like years to point out the red herring of irrelevancy. It’s also a flat out lie, a racists slur. Gun violence is predominant by black young men, not “angry white men”. White supremacy terrorism is minuscule to gun violence in the black community. By your logic then, White supremacy groups are not a problem at all.
    Sources
    https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2013.xls
    http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/social-mobility-memos/posts/2015/12/15-guns-race-different-worlds-reeves

  104. Monocle Smile says

    @Erwin
    You do realize that if you count only the lives lost due to white men with guns…it is still higher than the lives lost to terrorism right? That was kind of Martin’s point.

  105. says

    @Monocle
    And what is the relevancy? Logically, it’s a red herring. The caller was discussing terror due to Islam and that a lot of Muslims oppose our democratic secular values, but Martin started to deflect to Christianity and gun violence. One problem doesn’t go away if we find a (claimed) bigger problem. Yes, gun violence is a problem, and terrorism by Christians is a problem, and terrorism by Muslim is also a problem. How about we address one problem at a time.
    That statistic that in the US you are x times more likely to be killed by Christian terror is false, because Christians are not targeting random people, only abortion doctors are at danger, and a very low danger anyway, because there was just like 5 clinic bombings in the past 50 years. Muslims do target random people, and the more innocent people, the better. In the Boston Marathon bombing over 250 people were injured and 3 killed. Please point me to any group that is doing that.

  106. corwyn says

    @113:

    How about we address one problem at a time.[/blockqutoe]

    Sounds stupid to me, but ok. We will get back to your problem with Muslim terrorists after we have fixed all the problems that kill more people per year.

    Thank you kindly.

  107. says

    @114
    Let me ask you a hypothetical. If some Christian group would commit an act of terror and injure over 250 and kill 3 people, how would the AtheistExperience react? How would you react? Would you also deflect to gun violence, and say that guns kill way more people so we shouldn’t care about those Christian terrorists? If I would want to talk about gun violence, I would go to a political forum.

  108. Monocle Smile says

    @Erwin
    I won’t speak for corwyn but I’ll answer.
    If people were clamoring for the deportation of all Christians and pretending that Christian terrorism was the biggest threat to our lives, then yes, that would be one thing I might do. It’s not a deflection. It’s perspective.
    Also, it’s not just abortion doctors at risk from Christian terrorism.

  109. Monocle Smile says

    @Erwin
    Furthermore, the Boston bombing was not connected to a terrorist group and was perpetrated by people who had been in the country for eleven years. Pretending as if they were specifically sent to this country to commit terrorist acts ignores reality.

  110. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Erwin Müller

    And what is the relevancy? Logically, it’s a red herring.

    Martin’s argument is simple: People concerned with Islamic terrorism in the United States are not apportioning their fear to the actual risk, and Martin uses gun deaths as an example of something that is far more dangerous but far less feared as one data point in support of his position concerning the excessively high amount of fear regarding Islamic terrorism in the United States.

    I admit that it is one step away from a Dear Muslima (saying that problem X is not a problem because problem Y is bigger), but that’s a big and important step. AFAICT, Martin has clearly handled himself rightly on this matter.

    So, your post 115 is simply not addressing Martin’s arguments.

    In this blog, the show hosts and the regular commentors all regularly condemn Christian violence, Muslim violence, and the incredibly rare atheist violence. However, our point is that the risks of Muslim violence does not rise to the level to justify such fear and paranoia to refuse entry to Syrian refugees. That kind of fear and paranoia is often based in bigotry, and it’s definitely not based on real-world risks.

  111. says

    Erwin Muller, has the Atheist Experience misrepresented the risk of Islamic terrorism? How would you assess a risk without comparing it to other risks? They aren’t saying “Christian terror and gun violence exists, therefore Islamic terrorism is nothing and can be ignored”, which would be a red herring. They’re using the comparison to put the risk of Islamic terrorism in perspective. How is discussing other risks a red herring when discussing a reactionary proposal like banning all Muslim immigration because of the risk of Islamic terrorism?

  112. says

    I’ll relay another story from this weekend: My wife is from a Muslim country. We had few friends visit us this weekend, a pilot and a couple of cabin crew from the airline based in the same Muslim country. During the conversation, they said that getting clearance, even as a pilot, to fly to the US is becoming more and more difficult to get, to the point that they are unlikely to be moved from the crew that flies to the US (to some other route/destination) any time soon. This is anecdotal (I have no idea if it really has gotten more difficult, or what metric they are basing this on, if any), but it’s an indication that US immigration is actually screening people. Obviously, the screening process is not perfect, but immigrating to this country as a refugee or as an airline pilot* from a Muslim country is no “please come terrorize us!” cake walk.

    * Different than the 9/11 “pilots”, who weren’t really pilots, they were terrorists pretending to be pilots. Civilian pilots from there are almost always former military pilots, who have flown in missions coordinated with the US Military at some point.

  113. corwyn says

    @115:

    You were the one who wanted to take one problem at a time, not me.

    Given that stupid idea, yes, treat the highest killer first.

  114. Vivec says

    Only abortion doctors are at danger

    Pfffffffft, holy shit

    No, sorry, christian terrorists don’t only attack abortion doctors. I wish we lived in a reality where they are that restrained.

  115. says

    you can remove the link to the “Athiesm is Unstoppable” youtube channel that attacks Russel and Martin if you deem it warrent it, I just thought you needed to be aware of it.

    again, it’s really disgusting in the personal attacks and ad hominem.

  116. says

    “He said they were motivated by extremist Islamist beliefs and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that they were self-radicalized and unconnected to any outside terrorist groups. According to him, they learned to build explosive devices from an online magazine of the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen.[19] He said that he and his brother had decided after the Boston bombing to travel to New York City to bomb Times Square. ”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Marathon_bombing
    How is that not connected to Islamic terror? If they would say that they were motivated by “extremist Christian beliefs”, we would call it Christian terror, no?

    “Also, it’s not just abortion doctors at risk from Christian terrorism.”
    Oh, please tell what was the last Christian terrorism. The KKK wasn’t a Christian terror group, it was a white supremacist group, and then we had one racist (Dylann Storm Roof) who was also a white supremacists. But the KKK is totally irrelevant today, so please tell me. Yes, I’m aware of some small groups in Africa and about the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. But please compare the LRA with about 300-500 members to ISIS that is a military grade organization with somewhere between 52,600–257,900 active members. For comparison, Germany have an army of 60,000 people.

    “Erwin Muller, has the Atheist Experience misrepresented the risk of Islamic terrorism? How would you assess a risk without comparing it to other risks? They aren’t saying “Christian terror and gun violence exists, therefore Islamic terrorism is nothing and can be ignored”, which would be a red herring. They’re using the comparison to put the risk of Islamic terrorism in perspective. How is discussing other risks a red herring when discussing a reactionary proposal like banning all Muslim immigration because of the risk of Islamic terrorism?”

    That was precisely Martin’s argument. His argument was exactly that, “Christian terror and gun violence exists, therefore Islamic terrorism is nothing and can be ignored”. You need to compare one threat to a comparative threat. Compare Christian terror to Islamic terror. Christian terror=0, Islamic terror=9/11, Boston Bombing, Paris attack, Charli Hebdo, rioting Muslims that destroyed an embassy over cartoons, London bombings, and of course ISIS and alQaida and Boko Haram.

  117. says

    @124

    That was precisely Martin’s argument. His argument was exactly that, “Christian terror and gun violence exists, therefore Islamic terrorism is nothing and can be ignored”.

    Now you’re just arguing dishonestly. This is what you *want* to hear, not what Martin is actually saying.

    You need to compare one threat to a comparative threat. Compare Christian terror to Islamic terror. Christian terror=0, Islamic terror=9/11, Boston Bombing, Paris attack, Charli Hebdo, rioting Muslims that destroyed an embassy over cartoons, London bombings, and of course ISIS and alQaida and Boko Haram.

    You’re confusing the definition of a threat (classic dishonest arguing tactic). Yes, in a category of “worldwide terrorism where religion is the explicit stated reason by the terrorists”, Islamic terrorism is currently worse that other religions. I don’t have the numbers in terms of people killed/injured/etc handy, but I’m sure you have the numbers for some reliable data rather than just “look at how alarming all of these Islamic terrorist events are, please ignore Christian terrorist” rhetoric, right? But, in a category of “all things that could kill me in the USA”, the numbers I have looked at do say that I’m as likely to be killed by a dog as I am to be killed by an Islamic terrorist. Of course, I support the government’s terrorism prevention, just as I support the government’s killer dog prevention. And, of course, killer dogs and terrorism aren’t the same kind of threat (gosh, if Erwin Muller didn’t remind me, I may have forgottent!! /faints), such as killer dogs don’t have the potential to do mass damage, so it’s rational that we spend more or do more things to prevent terrorism than killer dogs. Now, back to the actual topic of the show: Is there rational justification for banning Muslim immigration? Practically, I don’t see it being useful in stopping an Islamic terrorist from immigrating. The 9/11 terrorist’s lied about wanting to become “pilots”, I see no reason why a terrorist would lie about being Christian or Atheist to gain access to their target. Maybe there are some existential few that say: “You know, I was totally going to bring this dirty bomb to NY and detonate it in Times Square, but I simply will not give up my principles and lie to the infidel in order to carry this out.” Does continuing to allowing Muslim immigration produce some risk of terrorism? Yes, but seems pretty damn marginal. How marginal? What can I compare it to? Oh yea, killer dogs. Do I want some sort of ban on dogs? No, even though a few kill us, they’re a net benefit to us. Do I want to ban Muslims? No, even though a few kill us, they’re a net benefit to us.

  118. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I was re-reading the OP, and I noticed this:

    That Islamist theocracies are the most oppressive societies in the world is not anything any sensible person would debate (in fact I recall both of us on the show yesterday making that point).

    I wonder actually. I’m not sure if North Korea is worse. I was about to post that obviously North Korea is worse, but then I remembered how women are treated. I think that North Korea is obviously worse for the men living under it, but I don’t know about the women. Women have it pretty bad in Saudi Arabia and other extreme Islamic countries.

    I’m still tempted to say that North Korea overall is worse, even for women. The place is ridiculous and unimaginably bad. Paraphrasing Christopher Hitchens, it’s like someone read Orwell’s 1984, and tried to make it into reality.

  119. says

    I’m still tempted to say that North Korea overall is worse, even for women.

    I don’t know enough about North Korean society to say anything about this, but let me channel Erwin Muller to save him the effort of posting. 🙂

    How is this even remotely connected to Islamic terrorism? And it’s so typical of you regressives to deflect the horrors of Islamic terrorism by literally saying: “North Korea is the most oppressive society in the world and all Islamic terrorism should be ignored”. Please do tell me about all of the North Korean terrorism that even begins to compare with 9/11, Boston Bombing, Paris attack, Charli Hebdo, rioting Muslims that destroyed an embassy over cartoons, London bombings, and of course ISIS and alQaida and Boko Haram. If you want to discuss North Korea, go to a foreign policy forum.

  120. Devocate says

    @127:

    If we are going rank terrorists, we seem to be missing a big one:
    Over 500,000 civilian deaths in the same period that the graph shows for 3,300 deaths here.

    I have heard not one word against those butchers.

  121. says

    Over 500,000 civilian deaths in the same period that the graph shows for 3,300 deaths here.

    Yeah, of course the Edwin Mullers and Sam Harris apologists of the world will claim that those 500,000 deaths aren’t morally the same as the 3,300 deaths, because the terrorists that caused those 3,300 were explicitly trying to kill civilians. The 500,000 deaths were caused by people who didn’t really want to kill them, it’s just an unfortunate side effect of getting rid of a really nasty guy who, while he did kill lots of people, had literally nothing to do with the 3,300 deaths nor had any capability to do mass destruction. Thus, we’re not the evil or stupid like those terrorists. /puke