Omer Aziz wrote an article critical of Sam Harris. So, as he likes to do, Harris invited Aziz to a “debate”. Without even considering the content, we can conclude that Harris is a dishonest clown. Take a look at the conditions he set:
So I accepted his offer and every onerous condition that came with it. Once again, all the terms were set by him: I would have to read the essay word for word, he could stop me whenever he wanted, I could not record the talk, and Harris reserved the right not to air it if it was “boring”—a standard to be defined only by him, and only after the fact.
They talked for four hours. Then, later:
A few weeks later, I was surprised then to find the following email in my inbox:
I just listened to our recorded conversation, and I’m sorry to say that I can’t release it as a podcast. Even if I took the time to edit it, I wouldn’t be doing either of us any favors putting it out there. The conversation fails in every way — but, most crucially, it fails to be interesting.
Better luck next time…
Just his lopsided and dishonest debate tactics are enough to condemn him. Unfortunately for Sam, Aziz also seems to have taken notes.
The hypocrisy, for one, is explicit. During our conversation, Harris complained that Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, and others were unethical and dishonest “regressives” who did not stand up for free speech—a term, first coined by Nawaz, that is bitter in tone and sweet in irony, considering Harris’s debate scheme.
For at least 30 minutes, Harris went on and on about the moral and intellectual failings of individuals and organizations he considered to be left-wing accomplices to jihadists, digressing boringly into petty feuds with people who were apparently so dumb they could not understand the threat posed by Islamist terrorism and so smart they could permanently get under his skin. Enduring the broken tune of the world’s smallest violin was painful enough, but enduring it while the man assumed the air of a virtuoso would qualify, I think, as cruel and unusual punishment.
That sounds sooooo familiar. So does the moral blindness.
Once we had cleared our throats, Harris repeated his cliched trope that he was defending the minorities of the Middle East—atheists, women, and the LGBT community. I heartily agreed that everyone must defend the rights of persecuted minorities, but I asked: Where was Sam Harris’s defense of thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims killed by Western bombs? He had never bothered to defend their right to life, those who had suffered hurricanes of shrapnel for years. Did he not lament those deaths, too?
In his reply, Harris reduced these people to “collateral damage,” and he went off on a tangent about the utility of this term, and the puritan motives of Western policymakers. This is the euphemism Harris repeats quicker than even the most hawkish conservatives do. He does so, I believe, because the Muslim-looking or brown-skinned body is of no human value to him. In one breath he declared his moral superiority in defending minorities, and in the next, he dehumanized thousands of victims and sanitized the victimizers. The corpses of children conveniently hidden behind his two favorite words, Harris could proceed with a clean conscience.
When will people finally see through this neocon kook?