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Sun Dec 27, 2015, 11:15 PM

 

Sam Harris’ detestable crusade: How his latest anti-Islam tract reveals the bankruptcy of his ideas

Harris' haughty ignorance & chauvinism are on full display in his new book, a "dialogue" with a former radical

Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 07:30 PM EST
Omer Aziz

There are few get-rich-quick schemes left in modern publishing, but one that persists could be called Project Islamic Reformation. Writing a book that fits in this category is actually quite easy. First, label yourself a reformist. Never mind the congratulatory self-coronation the tag implies; it is necessary to segregate oneself from all the non-reformists out there. Second, make your agenda clear at the outset by criticizing what is ailing Islam and Muslims. The Qur’an is a good place to start because Muslims, especially in the Middle East, surely treat their holy book more like a military instruction manual than anything else. Third, propose a few solutions. Lest you be accused of nuance, the more vague and generic these are, the better. Fourth, soak up the inevitable publicity that awaits, and with it, your hard-earned cash. Voilà!

The books that make up Project Islamic Reformation are not works of scholarship or even well-crafted popular texts. They are almost exclusively political pamphlets of a very personal nature that often begin as biography and end as self-help, except the “self” in this case includes a quarter of the world’s people, and the “help” may or may not come at the end of a missile. Ayaan Hirsi Ali—who deserves empathy for her personal ordeals but not her conclusions—released such a book earlier this year with neat, Manichean categories delineating good and bad Muslims, as well as the expected checklist of proposed reforms. More tracts will certainly follow because publishers love a good Reformist, and the affluent Western audience that consumes these books loves having most of their pre-existing beliefs confirmed rather than challenged.

It is in the context of Project Islamic Reformation that the atheist neuroscientist Sam Harris and the redeemed radical Maajid Nawaz have published their latest book, “Islam and the Future of Tolerance,” put out by no less a publishing house than Harvard University Press. The book is structured as a conversation between Harris and Nawaz, who go back and forth over issues ranging from polling data suggesting Muslims support corporal punishment to the Islamic justifications for jihad. Compressed into its 128 pages is the entire Reformation Project, except that the book’s contents are as thin as its subject is grand. For a work whose title includes the words “Islam” and “future of tolerance,” the Harris-Nawaz pamphlet consistently veers from the ahistorical into the nonsensical and back again, almost always at Harris’s urging.

What is right in the book can be attributed solely to Maajid Nawaz. In fact, one can skip over everything Sam Harris says because he is merely repackaging ideas he has articulated many times before. Among the elementary truisms Nawaz points to: addressing the grievances many young Muslims feel, changing the narrative the Islamist demagogues have mastered, injecting a dose of cultural liberalism into conservative societies to induce progress on women’s rights and free speech, raising the low expectations held by too many Americans about supposedly thin-skinned Muslims who cannot take a joke and must be coddled. Well and good, and self-evident enough, except to the most benighted ideologues.

http://www.salon.com/2015/12/28/sam_harriss_detestable_crusade_how_his_latest_anti_islam_tract_reveals_the_bankruptcy_of_his_ideas/

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Reply Sam Harris’ detestable crusade: How his latest anti-Islam tract reveals the bankruptcy of his ideas (Original post)
rug Dec 2015 OP
Nyan Dec 2015 #1
rug Dec 2015 #2
Nyan Dec 2015 #3
cpwm17 Dec 2015 #5
cleanhippie Dec 2015 #6
Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #7
Nyan Dec 2015 #9
Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #10
Nyan Dec 2015 #15
cpwm17 Dec 2015 #18
Jim__ Dec 2015 #19
cpwm17 Dec 2015 #21
Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #25
cpwm17 Dec 2015 #27
rug Dec 2015 #11
Lordquinton Dec 2015 #12
rug Dec 2015 #13
Lordquinton Dec 2015 #14
rug Dec 2015 #16
Lordquinton Dec 2015 #17
DonCoquixote Dec 2015 #4
Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #8
DonCoquixote Dec 2015 #24
Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #26
DonCoquixote Dec 2015 #28
MisterP Dec 2015 #20
rug Dec 2015 #22
MisterP Dec 2015 #23
MisterP Dec 2015 #29
Humanist_Activist Dec 2015 #30
kwassa Dec 2015 #32
Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #33
rug Jan 2016 #36
Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #37
rug Jan 2016 #39
kwassa Jan 2016 #38
Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #40
Goblinmonger Jan 2016 #35
kwassa Jan 2016 #41
Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #42
kwassa Jan 2016 #43
Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #46
Goblinmonger Jan 2016 #44
kwassa Jan 2016 #45
Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #47
Goblinmonger Jan 2016 #48
Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #31
Warren Stupidity Jan 2016 #34

Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 12:28 AM

1. I could never understand why ppl take him seriously

He has no credible knowledge whatsoever about foreign policy regarding MENA. And yet, he's so conceited why?

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Response to Nyan (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 12:35 AM

2. He thought no one would notice.

 

Welcome to DU.

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Response to rug (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 01:01 AM

3. Thanks

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Response to Nyan (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 09:41 AM

5. Some people seem to think it is such a big achievement becoming an atheist

 

and they let it go to their heads. That's why Harris and Maher (agnostic?) seem to think they are god's gift to mankind. They're just smug, ignorant assholes. Sam Harris' conceit is unbearable to watch, and I'm an atheist.

Sam Harris is a neocon, and apparently his followers are also, as they defend his every word.

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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #5)


Response to Nyan (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 01:27 PM

7. Did you read the book mentioned in the OP?

 

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 01:35 PM

9. I watched him debate Chris Hedges.

Found him unbearable in his demeanor, uninformed on international relations, and misinformed on the motives, agendas, and interests driving the foreign policies of Great Powers throughout history such as the United States.
So...no. I would be wasting my time scoffing at every sentence that he has written.

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Response to Nyan (Reply #9)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 01:37 PM

10. Then I find it hard to see any statements you make about this book

 

as being anywhere near informed.

It's a good dialogue. Contrary to the article.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #10)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 01:57 PM

15. No, thanks.

There are a lot of good books in the world written by experts on the matter who know what they are talking about.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #10)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 02:56 PM

18. Sam Harris is very much a right-wing neocon kook.

 

Sam Harris blames the Iraqis for the failure of the Iraq War, saying that they could not accept the great sacrifice America made to give them the gift of civilization.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Sam_Harris

Let's play "Harris or Malkin?"

"The only future devout Muslims can envisage — as Muslims — is one in which all infidels have been converted to Islam, politically subjugated, or killed."

"I am one of the few people I know of who has argued in print that torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror."

"The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists. To say that this does not bode well for liberalism is an understatement: It does not bode well for the future of civilization."

"When I search my heart, I discover that I want to keep the barbarians beyond the city walls just as much as my conservative neighbors do, and I recognize that sacrifices of my own freedom may be warranted for this purpose. I expect that epiphanies of this sort could well multiply in the coming years"

"We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it."


Elsewhere he sees Islam as violent, anachronistic and opposed to important Western values, notably free speech. Harris accuses Western liberals of being more concerned with political correctness and with avoiding accusations of racism than with defending Western freedom.[33] Given some statements Harris has made, even within the book, it's possible he may actually have some sort of bias, but he is surely not a bigot, because everyone is only taking his statements out of context! Statements like:

"We are at war with Islam. It may not serve our immediate foreign policy objectives for our political leaders to openly acknowledge this fact, but it is unambiguously so. It is not merely that we are at war with an otherwise peaceful religion that has been ‘hijacked’ by extremists. We are at war with precisely the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran."

And:

"We cannot let our qualms over collateral damage paralyze us because our enemies know no such qualms. Theirs is a kill-the-children-first approach to war, and we ignore the fundamental difference between their violence and our own at our peril. Given the proliferation of weaponry in our world, we no longer have the option of waging this war with swords. It seems certain that collateral damage, of various sorts, will be a part of our future for many years to come."

We have to be monsters because, writes Harris, we are fighting Islam, and thus fighting Muslim monsters. But, no doubt, it is unfair -- an exercise in political correctness -- to treat Harris's text as if plain words carry plain meaning.


The poor misunderstood Sam Harris

In a post titled The saga of Slippery Sam, PZ Myers derides Harris and his acolytes, writing: "Sam Harris has an amazing talent: he can say the most awful things, and a horde of helpful apologists will rise up in righteous fury and simultaneously insist that he didn’t really say that, and yeah, he said that, but it only makes sense." Myers also observes about the constant demand for a Talmudic approach to Harris, "you must parse his words very carefully, one by one, and yet also his words must be understood in their greater context."[42]

Glenn Greenwald, in a livestream with Kyle Kulinski, noted that Harris is one of the only public intellectuals who does not own what he says. Rather, he publishes provocatively titled articles littered with equally provocative assertions and when people criticize him for it, he then insists not only that you didn't understand what he said, you're lying about it. Harris follows that up with "clarifications" that, according to Greenwald, are comparatively banal. Given that Harris is quite intelligent and must know what he's doing, it's reasonable to consider that he may be being intentionally controversial for the publicity.

Cenk Uygur has particularly received flak for his criticism of Harris, receiving a relentless barrage of negativity on Twitter and Youtube. Harris disciples accuse Uygur of not understanding Harris or, as some sort of personal vendetta, of intentionally misrepresenting him. When Uygur received word that Harris would honestly vote for "an imbecile" like Ben Carson rather than Noam Chomsky, and that he defended Ted Cruz's preferring Christian refugees over Muslim ones from Syria, Uygur completely took off the gloves.

He denounced Harris for packaging heinous arguments as "thought experiments," focusing specifically on Harris's vile proposal mere ponderings that the West's only option against certain Islamists "may be" a nuclear first strike that would, so sadly, entail killing "millions of innocent civilians in a single day." Uygur rhetorically inquired how this thought experiment would sound if those civilians were in the State of Florida or the city of Tel Aviv. After showing the moral depravity of Harris's "non-endorsement" of such a position, Uygur addressed the Harris fans who contact him every time he covers Harris and his views:

“Even though I’ve given you full context, tell me how the beloved Dr. Harris is once again misrepresented by his own words, and misunderstood by feeble minds like Noam Chomsky.”

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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #18)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 03:37 PM

19. Thanks for the link to that rational wiki page.

That's a great source.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #19)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 03:58 PM

21. Thank you: it's good to see that many people can see Sam Harris for what he is.

 

I also found where Sam Harris blamed the Iraqis for the failure of the unprovoked war against them:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/bombing-our-illusions_b_8615.html

The war in Iraq, while it may be exacerbating the conflict between Islam and the West, is a red herring. However mixed or misguided American intentions were in launching this war, civilized human beings are now attempting, at considerable cost to themselves, to improve life for the Iraqi people. The terrible truth about our predicament in Iraq is that even if we had invaded with no other purpose than to remove Saddam Hussein from power and make Iraq a paradise on earth, we could still expect tomorrow’s paper to reveal that another jihadi has blown himself up for the sake of killing scores of innocent men, women, and children. The outrage that Muslims feel over U.S. and British foreign policy is primarily the product of theological concerns. Devout Muslims consider it a sacrilege for infidels to depose a Muslim tyrant and occupy Muslim lands—no matter how well intentioned the infidels or malevolent the tyrant. Because of what they believe about God and the afterlife and the divine provenance of the Koran, devout Muslims tend to reflexively side with other Muslims, no matter how sociopathic their behavior. This is solidarity born of religious delusion, and it must end—or a genuine clash of civilizations will be unavoidable.

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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #18)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 07:32 PM

25. He's said some pretty stupid things,

 

but he's also had a lot of people straight out lie about what he has said.

I wouldn't go so far as to say he's a neocon, though.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #25)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 08:01 PM

27. I'm not familiar with lies told about him

 

Last edited Mon Dec 28, 2015, 10:08 PM - Edit history (1)

though those that quote him are often accused of lying or taking him out of context.

His support for American exceptionalism and aggressive wars, and his belief that US intentions in foreign policy and war making are mostly noble, are neocon positions.

He also believes that those that the US murders in US war making don't count against the US, since by definition, we are the good guys. Then he condemns Muslims for being inferior for their alleged violent tendencies, totally lacking self-awareness for his own love of war and his dehumanization of US war victims.

Muslims are the bad guys by definition, that's why he praises US war efforts against Iraq, and blames the Iraqis for the failure of our unprovoked war against them – since they are Muslims and suffering from "religious delusion."
http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1218&pid=220340

He also hobnobs with and praises neocons.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 01:42 PM

11. The advantage of book reviews is that they tend to separate the wheat from the chaff.

 

Oh, sorry. Didn't mean to refer to a phrase from the Bible, no matter how indirectly. I hope you're not offended.

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Response to Nyan (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 01:45 PM

12. The only people who seem to take him seriously

are theists who are out of ammo. And even then they resort to lieing about him rather than anything he actually said.

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Response to Lordquinton (Reply #12)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 01:54 PM

13. What does ISLAMOPHOBIA mean?

 

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Response to rug (Reply #13)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 01:57 PM

14. You have a page of questions to answer first.

So don't even start that game.

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Response to Lordquinton (Reply #14)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 02:00 PM

16. I see. I will assume then you are ignorant of it and thereby enable it.

 

That's how your "reasoning" goes.

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Response to rug (Reply #16)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 02:15 PM

17. No, that's your reasoning

and your question is a non-sequitur.

See, I don't support or defend Harris, he's quite often wrong, and the only thing I share with him is my lack of belief. You, on the other hand, support and defend the Pope, and often try to excuse his homophobia and misogyny, and you are not only a member, but a financial contributor to his organization which promotes such things, not just happen to share a point of view.

So tell me rug, have you figured out what LGBTQIA means yet?

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 05:51 AM

4. hey sam

why don;t you lock yourself and Dickie Dawkins in a room, call it "atheism reformed", but then again, that would mean you teo becomes the voices of atheism:

WHICH_YOU_ARE_NOT, no matter how many assholes you lure.

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Response to DonCoquixote (Reply #4)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 01:29 PM

8. Couple things

 

1. "Dickie"?
2. When has Harris or Dawkins ever intimated that they think they are the voice of atheism?
3. "asshole"? So anyone that things Dawkins or Harris has said something somewhere that is of merit is an asshole?
4. Have you read the book referred to in the OP?
5. Have you read any Harris or Dawkins?

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #8)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 04:35 PM

24. your points

1) anyone that makes a habit of ridiculing and insulting others can get a nickname. If Mr. Dawkins cannot handle that, he can go back to his biology lab instead of making lots of money writing about social issues.

2) They are two of the main authors on atheism, as seen in any Bookstore, or for that matter, DU. Hell, I wish people would read Penn Gillet "oh god, no!" a book even Mr. Dawkins likes, but they are the ones who get the book sales and airtime.

3) If they defend things like the sexist things Dawkins said, yes they are an asshole. If they defend the crap where he thought child molesting was not a problem, yes, and they they defend the Islamophoboc crap that Harris and Dawkins wroite, yes, they are an asshole.

4) God delusion for dawkins, Free will for Harris.

Thank you for playing.

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Response to DonCoquixote (Reply #24)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 07:40 PM

26. Fair enough

 

1. I'm sure Dawkins can handle some random anonymous person on the intertubes calling him a nickname.

2. There are other authors regarding atheism. PZ Meyers gets a lot of traction on DU, for example. And you won't see a lot of Penn Gillet on DU mostly because he's a conservative libertarian tool.

3. Dawkins has a problem with his positions regarding the sexes and gender. True. He never said that child molesting was not a problem.

4. Thanks. Sorry if it sounded shitty. There are a lot of people that criticize Dawkins, Harris, and other atheists and have never really read anything by them other than what the media puts out (which, shocker, isn't always accurate nor in context).

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #26)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 08:21 PM

28. reply

1) he damn well should

2) Penn may be a libertarian tool, but if you read THAT book in particular, he shows humor and compassion. Even Dawkins knew it was a better book, and he said that point blank.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/god-no-penn-jillette/1100392611

Penn Jillette is a 21st-century Lord of Misrule: big, boisterously anarchic, funny, Rabelaisian, impossible—and unique. There isn't—couldn't be—better not be—anybody like him.” —Richard Dawkins, bestselling author ofThe Greatest Show on Earth and The God Delusion

3)http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/09/richard-dawkins-pedophilia_n_3895514.html

I am sorry, there is no way anyone with half the education Dawkins has should make that statement in public. Who the hell is he to define "mild" pedophilia? We scrutinize psychologists for trivializing sexual abuse, and they are at least speaking IN THEIR FIELD OF PROFESSIONAL EXPERTISE. You are a Biologist, NOT a psychologist, Mr. Dawkins.

4) I do hear you, however, I would not be so harsh if the mistakes Sam and Richard made were not so CARELESS.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 03:42 PM

20. does these people even *know* what happened with the IRL Reformation?

not a single medieval altarpiece survives in England and the Netherlands' cathedrals are all whitewashed (and until the 1930s liberals were all clapping and cheering at the memory); existing late-medieval crises erupted into a wave of unprecedented persecution of homosexuals (well, "bottoms", women, and non-Germans

again, calls for "a Muslim Reformation" were always just dogwhistles to the US and UK, which still largely define themselves as anti-Catholic--they assumed that the problem was that terror was caused by listening to clergy and theologians, and that if Muslims would stop listening to their ulema and read their books for themselves without any training they'd settle down, get a job and maybe even start growing Shiraz for export again, instead of being a yelly mass that's out for our blood for no reason whatever, no siree bob

note how the Salon commenters are all "like, Europe used to be fundamentalist until Newton, lolz" but that just shows that they understand literally none of the words they're using, including to and Newton: the poor dears even think that Christianity was literalistic before the 18th century

Basayev et al were proud, militant Sufis, but because we like Sufi poetry and think they're "syncretic" we think these warrior monks are nice mini-Americans that the rest of Islam has to use as a model (then the wars will end and subdevelopments of tree-shaded ranchettes and Cape Codders will go up in Benghazi and Banjarmasin and Jenin)

now this is entirely missing the history of the region since the Urabi Revolt, and the fact that Washington's been playing favorites and then dumping them like pet rocks on and off since the 50s (before we were praised as not being like those imperialist asses France, Israel, and Britain)--if we understand that political Islam became a driving force only in the 70s because Nasserism and Kemal-style developmentalism had failed tremendously, if we suddenly remember what the CIA did in Islamabad and Khartoum and Jakarta and Kabul and Beirut and Riyadh and Mossad with Hamas in the 80s, then the illusion of an "Islamism" whose sole problem is being too Muslim is revealed as impossible

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Response to MisterP (Reply #20)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 04:16 PM

22. Doubtful.

 

Hell, I didn't know half of that.

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Response to rug (Reply #22)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 04:29 PM

23. Cold-War history isn't that well-taught--it's mostly "Truman did some nice things and mutual

paranoia froze Europe and there was a Korea, then Eisenhower existed and he was cheerful, and JFK handled a missile crisis, then something about Vietnam, and then it fades out before OPEC: maybe the textbook mentions that there was a scuffle in Afghanistan and a photo of all the shards flying off the South Tower; it's very recent and everyone's striving not to look "partisan" (though indeed it's a problem on the necks of both the parties)

Wiki's surprisingly in-depth as often as it's shallow unprofessional nonsense

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Response to rug (Original post)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 09:56 PM

29. the New Atheists seem a bit nervous, that people won't listen to their policy advice anymore

in the sense of kneejerk antitheism that sees fundamentalism as the epitome of theism (plus feeble attempts at legitimation through physics or biochemistry), New Atheism bubbled up before 9-11: after the attack it seemed like something that at least could simultaneously condemn the unprovoked bolt from the blue ("confirming" their books), the snake-handling yobs screaming for war, and the Iraqis blowing up our boys (who just happened to be in Iraq at the time)

but even by the time of the 2006 Euston Manifesto it and its larger associated movements were creaking--everyone just scratched their heads at the proposal that Bush and Bibi were the true torchbearers of leftism and that the onus of violence was all on those dang Mideasterners; after even 3 years in Iraq it seemed sick, perverse

so today Harris's Salon fans still yell about some hallucinatory pro-Salafist totalitarian-loving "illiberal left," but that sounds almost archaeological nowadays (like the attacks on Sanders for visiting Yaroslavl or Rand Paul saying he's gonna go all Khmer Rouge on us)

reality's steadfastly refused to humor the New Atheist view of the world (such as it is): theologians, historians, philosophers, and scientists are telling them to sit down before they hurt someone else after their cheerleading Iraq; Hirsi Ali, Darwish, Ye'or, Namazie, Shoebat, Gabriel, etc., all outed themselves as liars (about most things or literally everything in their lives)

and yet European refugees aren't joining IS like the Frontists and PEGIDA say, but instead are telling the rest of us that "these are the sort of people we fled" and that the reaction the terrorists want was to increase persecution (to prove their culture-clash): other than the surge in hate crimes I'm surprised by how mob-free the reactions to Paris and San Bernardino has been

even the facts of the Paris shooters themselves--that they seem to've been nebbish unchurched drunk stoners--doesn't jive with the assertion that "the trouble with Muslims" is that they take their religion too seriously and Grinchily lash out at us types who like to party; OBL and al-Baghdadi, it turns out, don't speak for most Muslims, who take issue with New Atheist assertions that those are the only guys truly following the Quran and Hadith--that theists can't be good people (however defined) if they were really following their own religion

their attempts to create a "science of ethics" was stillborn without them realizing it, already as ridiculous as the 60s calls to invade Cuba in the name of tribal evolution or EO Wilson saying women were evolved for the kitchen: and, after all, the main guys who derive their morality from chemistry turn out to be the Koch Brothers; Dawkins turns out to just have always been Trump without the dyejob

even the popular phrasing "Old Testament God" rubs everyone the wrong way after the first few times they blame Him for Pedro de Alvarado/Torquemada/Raynald of Châtillon: everything repressed and violent that did happen in Western history is being accidentally blamed on the Jews!

as the religious right ages and loses much of its GOP leadership it's facing a revived religious left boosted by the new Pope: to the antitheists this is the worse outcome, because it 1. keeps religion going after they said it'd be over by 1950 and 2. makes them unable to say that theists are all gay-stoning creationists; meanwhile Gohmert says we shouldn't get our science from religious leaders (what's wrong with that man) and much of our AGW denialism has deep roots in the skeptic movement; I smell another reshuffling of US religiosity like in the mid-70s--a historical curio, like Guatemala's temples to Minerva

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Response to MisterP (Reply #29)

Thu Dec 31, 2015, 05:34 PM

30. The Pope is not " religious left". He's a misogynistic, homophobic social conservative.

 

The amount of lies and mischaracterizations in your post is truly breathtaking.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #30)

Thu Dec 31, 2015, 09:29 PM

32. By papal standards, the Pope is wildly liberal.

But what makes Francis different is really a matter of which Catholic beliefs he has elevated to the level of communal concerns—public policy—and which he has framed as individual choices. To Francis, sharing wealth and fixing global warming are matters that governments should address, while not committing homosexual acts or having abortions are individual choices he endorses. (As he famously put it: “Who am I to judge?”) This is quite different from the American Catholic church, which has poured its political energy into laws banning gay marriage and restricting abortion. (The church, often through the Knights of Columbus, was one of the largest funders of anti-gay-marriage ballot initiatives, particularly post-2008, when the Mormons largely stopped funding them.)

The pope’s speech at the White House on Wednesday fit this framework. When it came to religious liberty, a hot-button issue for American conservatives, Francis extolled its virtues in the abstract. But in the case of climate, Francis called for government action: “Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution,” he said.

Francis is not an American politician, but his perspective on the state’s role in these issues lines up pretty well with that of most American Democrats. To greatly oversimplify, Democrats believe the U.S. needs to regulate the economy and the environment, while allowing people to make their own choices about whom they marry and whether to have an abortion. Republicans—again, oversimplifying greatly—think people should generally be able to do what they want with their money and their carbon footprint, but social behavior should be regulated by the state. Francis aligns more with Democrats than Republicans on other issues: He favors immigration reform, played a major role in the Obama administration’s détente with Cuba, and supports the Iran nuclear deal. No wonder the president and other American liberals are trying to claim him—and conservatives see him as a threat.

Through his activism, Francis has significantly raised the Church’s profile on issues with which it wasn’t previously associated in American politics—issues chiefly championed by Democrats. But Francis’s major impact within the Vatican, as Emma noted, has been as a reformer, reorganizing the Vatican bureaucracy and cleaning up its scandal-ridden finances. It’s in this regard that Francis most resembles Obama, who campaigned in 2007 on a promise to heal America’s divisions and disrupt the entrenched and corrupt political system.


http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/why-pope-francis-sounds-like-a-democrat/407023/

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Response to kwassa (Reply #32)

Fri Jan 1, 2016, 02:22 AM

33. No, he is not, where the hell do you get your info?

 

Politically and economically, he's in line with at least the 2 previous Popes, there's nothing radical or liberal there.

Pope Benedict wrote tracts arguing against unfettered capitalism and globalization, opposed the Iraq war, etc. Pope JPII did much the same. These Popes weren't opposed to distributism, which is a widespread Catholic belief, etc.

I don't understand this compulsive, counterproductive need to prop up this man. At this point I would say ignorance is no longer an excuse for you, and I'm just assuming you are dissembling for your own reasons.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #33)

Fri Jan 1, 2016, 01:36 PM

36. From here, for one place:

 

Obama highlights common ground with Pope Francis

By Kathleen Hennessey
December 25, 2013, 4:18 PM

WASHINGTON — When a White House speechwriter turned in a draft of a major speech on economic policy this month, President Obama sent it back with an unusual instruction: Add a reference to the pope.

The final version of the speech quoted directly from Pope Francis' recent letter to the faithful: "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?" he said.

The citation marked a notable development in Obama's complex and sometimes confrontational relationship with the Roman Catholic Church: After several years of high-profile clashes with U.S. bishops, Obama is seizing the chance to highlight common ground with the bishop of Rome.

Quoting the pope isn't likely to yield direct electoral dividends for Obama's party — the once-vaunted "Catholic vote" largely disappeared long ago. But in a string of effusive praise, the president has made clear he sees the pope as a like-minded thinker and potentially useful ally in a crucial battle of ideas, particularly on the importance of shrinking the gulf between rich and poor, a subject Obama has pushed repeatedly but with limited success.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-obama-francis-20131226-story.html

The link was in the excerpt.

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Response to rug (Reply #36)

Fri Jan 1, 2016, 10:17 PM

37. That would be an alliance of convenience, so what? Doesn't make the Pope a leader of the...

 

"Religious Left" nor a liberal.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #37)

Fri Jan 1, 2016, 10:27 PM

39. The phrase is "a like-minded thinker and potentially useful ally in a crucial battle of ideas."

 

No one is calling him a "leader of the 'Religious Left'", whatever you think that is. He is the Bishop of Rome and head of the RCC, and all of what that encompasses. Viewing him purely in terms of western democratic politics is, well, parochial.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #33)

Fri Jan 1, 2016, 10:26 PM

38. I get my information from the newspapers. I like Pope Francis.

the Pope has the bully pulpit of all bully pulpits. His real importance is symbolic.

He is refocusing the Church on service, which is the essential Christian message, service to the people, not the people serving the institution of the church, which was certainly Benedict's emphasis. He leads by example in his own modest lifestyle.

He is also attempting to reform the insular and corrupt Vatican bureaucracy, quite a challenging task unto itself.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #38)

Fri Jan 1, 2016, 10:29 PM

40. So I'm assuming you supported what his church did in Slovenia recently?

 

He used his bully pulpit to advocate to "protect the family" in Slovenia, and did a bang up job of it too, from what I hear.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #32)

Fri Jan 1, 2016, 12:20 PM

35. That is just a ridiculous argument.

 

Compared to McCarthy, Trump isn't so bad. Therefore, Trump is liberal.
Compared to Stalin, Putin isn't so bad. Therefore, Putin is liberal.

Do you people actually believe the tripe you are passing off as argument? The current pope is clearly bigoted against LGBTQIA and women, to name a couple big ones.

Why do so many people trip over themselves to defend this bigotry?

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #35)

Fri Jan 1, 2016, 10:29 PM

41. I don't know that he is bigoted.

I have yet to hear him denigrate either women or gays, and he is trying to de-emphasize those teachings, though he doesn't have the power to overrule them. Francis works within a limited framework of possibilities.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #41)

Fri Jan 1, 2016, 11:03 PM

42. Is a person who opposes legally recognizing interracial marriage racist?

 

Yes or no?

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #42)

Fri Jan 1, 2016, 11:17 PM

43. Have you stopped beating your wife? Answer yes or no.

The Catholic Church as an institution is opposed to same sex marriage.

Pope Francis has personally expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage, but he seems to be softening church positions on homosexuality, which might be part of his evolution in the direction of acceptance. This is an evolutionary process that has taken place here in the US in only the past few years. There are certainly many gay Catholic priests that he deals with every day. He might be gay himself, for all I know.

Pope Francis is also a politician in a vast bureaucracy, and works within limits, which he is attempting to change, to the best of his ability. What he publicly says might be less on this issue than he personally believes.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #43)

Sat Jan 2, 2016, 03:45 PM

46. I don't see how my question is equivalent to that gotcha question...

 

they are completely dissimilar, if you wanted to make a point, best use something analogous.

After all I have no problem saying that those who oppose interracial marriages in a legal context are racist, because they are racist, its a racist position to take, a segregationist position to take. In fact, it was a position that the majority of the country had for over 30 years after Loving v. Virginia, up until the 1990s. I have no problem saying that those people were(and some still are) racist in this regard.

In addition, there have always been gay priests, and, at least since the 1960s or so, the Church largely didn't care about that, as long as they followed their vows. Pope Benedict actually was uniquely regressive in this regard, at least compared to the past 3 popes or so, and his decision was reversed by Pope Francis. Note, the context for the famous "who am I to judge" misquote comes from this.

In addition, being gay does not mean that you can't be homophobic, quite the contrary, just like women can be misogynist, look at Phyllis Schafly as an example of that.

In addition, does this acceptance include open approval of the opposition to same sex marriage in Argentina, Ireland and Slovenia? Including the use of his image, which I'm assuming he can say no to, in campaigns against legalizing same sex marriage?

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Response to kwassa (Reply #41)

Sat Jan 2, 2016, 01:19 PM

44. He openly fights against gay marriage.

 

What would you call that?

And, "he doesn't have the power"? Really? He's the Pope. He has the power. Or are we now pretending that the RCC isn't a long entrenched hierarchical organization.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #44)

Sat Jan 2, 2016, 03:34 PM

45. He does?

Francis, who has been hailed by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics and progressives for some of his remarks on gay people, such as his famed “Who am I to judge" response on gay priests, has also previously spoken out against gay marriage during his 2-and-a-half-year papacy. But while he’s criticized the "ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family,” for example, he’s also previously said the church is “obsessed” with speaking out against abortion, contraception and gay marriage.

The pope encouraged bishops to not give up on young people who often don't hold the same values as the church on family and marriage.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pope-francis-gay-marriage-and-families_5607eb53e4b0dd850307ed5a

sounds like a mixed message to me.

and no, the Pope doesn't have the power to make a change as radical as this without facing open rebellion among many parts of the church that are very conservative. His is not a dictatorship with an army or secret police force to back it up, and much of the rebellion would be inside Vatican City, as well.

Look at the Anglican Communion, and the shit storm that happened when we ordained a gay bishop back in 2003 in New Hampshire. That battle, or war, to put it more bluntly, is still not over.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #45)

Sat Jan 2, 2016, 04:13 PM

47. Sounds to me like he wants to change the hearts and minds of young people to be homophobic...

 

or in words he uses, to protect "traditional families" through gentle conversion efforts rather than condemnation. Its a change in tone, at best, not message. The message is as ugly as ever, you can wrap shit in a Snickers wrapper, but that doesn't magically make it chocolate.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #45)

Sat Jan 2, 2016, 05:09 PM

48. Yes he does.

 

"not give up on young people who often don't hold the same values as the church on family and marriage". What do you think those values are? I'll give you one guess. It's not a mixed message. It's just good PR. Even the "who am I to judge" response was made assuming that those gay priest shut the hell up about it.

So the Pope, who can speak infallibly if he wants to, is held prisoner by conservatives? He wants the church to be more liberal and apparently it is, but he just can't do anything about it. Which is bullshit.

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Response to MisterP (Reply #29)

Thu Dec 31, 2015, 05:47 PM

31. You do know most of Dawkins non-biology books were written AFTER 9/11, right?

 

Not that that is the end of your factual problems.

2. makes them unable to say that theists are all gay-stoning creationists;


You may want to look at little closer at your pope hero. He doesn't call for stoning and he's not a creationist, but he is no friend to the gay movement. At all. And he's a chemist--just for the humor of the BS you say 2 paragraphs before the pope love at the end.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #31)

Fri Jan 1, 2016, 11:21 AM

34. he's a crypto-creationist.

 

The RCC accepts evolution but insists that their man-deadthing-god intervened in the process to create us super-duper special yakking semi-bald apes (in addition to some mumble-blortz prime-moverist 7 days of let there be light nonsense.)

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