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(3,829 posts)
18. Sam Harris is very much a right-wing neocon kook.
Mon Dec 28, 2015, 02:56 PM
Dec 2015

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.


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."


"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.”
I could never understand why ppl take him seriously Nyan Dec 2015 #1
He thought no one would notice. rug Dec 2015 #2
Thanks Nyan Dec 2015 #3
Some people seem to think it is such a big achievement becoming an atheist cpwm17 Dec 2015 #5
This message was self-deleted by its author cleanhippie Dec 2015 #6
Did you read the book mentioned in the OP? Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #7
I watched him debate Chris Hedges. Nyan Dec 2015 #9
Then I find it hard to see any statements you make about this book Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #10
No, thanks. Nyan Dec 2015 #15
Sam Harris is very much a right-wing neocon kook. cpwm17 Dec 2015 #18
Thanks for the link to that rational wiki page. Jim__ Dec 2015 #19
Thank you: it's good to see that many people can see Sam Harris for what he is. cpwm17 Dec 2015 #21
He's said some pretty stupid things, Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #25
I'm not familiar with lies told about him cpwm17 Dec 2015 #27
The advantage of book reviews is that they tend to separate the wheat from the chaff. rug Dec 2015 #11
The only people who seem to take him seriously Lordquinton Dec 2015 #12
What does ISLAMOPHOBIA mean? rug Dec 2015 #13
You have a page of questions to answer first. Lordquinton Dec 2015 #14
I see. I will assume then you are ignorant of it and thereby enable it. rug Dec 2015 #16
No, that's your reasoning Lordquinton Dec 2015 #17
hey sam DonCoquixote Dec 2015 #4
Couple things Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #8
your points DonCoquixote Dec 2015 #24
Fair enough Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #26
reply DonCoquixote Dec 2015 #28
does these people even *know* what happened with the IRL Reformation? MisterP Dec 2015 #20
Doubtful. rug Dec 2015 #22
Cold-War history isn't that well-taught--it's mostly "Truman did some nice things and mutual MisterP Dec 2015 #23
the New Atheists seem a bit nervous, that people won't listen to their policy advice anymore MisterP Dec 2015 #29
The Pope is not " religious left". He's a misogynistic, homophobic social conservative. Humanist_Activist Dec 2015 #30
By papal standards, the Pope is wildly liberal. kwassa Dec 2015 #32
No, he is not, where the hell do you get your info? Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #33
From here, for one place: rug Jan 2016 #36
That would be an alliance of convenience, so what? Doesn't make the Pope a leader of the... Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #37
The phrase is "a like-minded thinker and potentially useful ally in a crucial battle of ideas." rug Jan 2016 #39
I get my information from the newspapers. I like Pope Francis. kwassa Jan 2016 #38
So I'm assuming you supported what his church did in Slovenia recently? Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #40
That is just a ridiculous argument. Goblinmonger Jan 2016 #35
I don't know that he is bigoted. kwassa Jan 2016 #41
Is a person who opposes legally recognizing interracial marriage racist? Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #42
Have you stopped beating your wife? Answer yes or no. kwassa Jan 2016 #43
I don't see how my question is equivalent to that gotcha question... Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #46
He openly fights against gay marriage. Goblinmonger Jan 2016 #44
He does? kwassa Jan 2016 #45
Sounds to me like he wants to change the hearts and minds of young people to be homophobic... Humanist_Activist Jan 2016 #47
Yes he does. Goblinmonger Jan 2016 #48
You do know most of Dawkins non-biology books were written AFTER 9/11, right? Goblinmonger Dec 2015 #31
he's a crypto-creationist. Warren Stupidity Jan 2016 #34
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