Sam Harris does it again, opening his yap and exposing his biases.
Liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy. They’ll criticize white theocracy, they’ll criticize Christians. They’ll still get agitated over the abortion clinic bombing that happened in 1984. But when you want to talk about the treatment of women and homosexuals and free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us.
Hell yes, I’m still agitated over any abortion clinic bombing. Shouldn’t we all be? I’m also agitated over female genital mutilation and shooting girls who want an education in Pakistan. I can be frustrated by all the onslaughts against modernity everywhere; I don’t treat it as a failure of liberalism that American women are fighting for their rights at home as a priority; I’m sure that almost all of them feel a sense of solidarity with women around the world, but in most cases they are far more limited in what they can do about Somalia than they are about taking action in their own back yard.
Violence against abortion clinics and abortion providers dates back to at least the 1980s and continues in the present. Eight doctors or clinic providers have been murdered, the last one only five years ago. In fact, the clinic that was bombed in the 1984 incident Harris mentions was bombed again in 2012—and completely gutted as a result. I hear of arson and death threats, and it shakes me. I’ve served as an escort at my local Planned Parenthood clinic. It can be very scary—for all involved. Women often have their license plate numbers recorded by anti-abortion protesters calling them “murderers,” and in some areas of the country doctors who perform abortions have to wear masks when entering clinics to protect their identities. Just recently a writer for the high-profile National Review called for hanging women who have had abortions.
Americans are facing a wave of oppression of women’s reproductive rights: there have been 230 restrictions enacted since 2011. The majority of abortion clinics in Texas have been shut down by entirely legal means, and Sam Harris wants to blame liberals for not doing enough to protect freethinkers in the Muslim world? The only way liberals have failed is in not being as obsessed with Islam as Harris…but since Harris isn’t a particularly good example of an individual with liberal ideals, you’ll have to forgive me if I say “so fucking what?”
I say we must fight the fights we can. It’s important to stand up for women’s freedom world-wide, but it’s futile and hypocritical if we can’t even do the same for women at home.
I think Libby Anne is right. Harris is using Islamic oppression as a pretext for dismissing serious concerns right here in the United States.