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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #10)

Mon Dec 28, 2015, 03:56 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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LineLineLineLineLineReply Sam Harris is very much a right-wing neocon kook.
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