Sam Harris on religion, politics, and making "enemies" online. by Recode Decode with Kara Swisher
Writer and podcaster Sam Harris talks with Recode's Kara Swisher about his views on Islam, social media, and President…
Sam Harris, Samuel Benjamin Harris (born April 9, 1967) is an American neuroscientist, philosopher, author, critic of religion, blogger, public intellectual, and podcast host.
His work touches on a wide range of topics, including rationality, ethics, free will, neuroscience, meditation, philosophy of mind, politics, Islam, terrorism, and artificial intelligence.
He is described as one of the atheistic “Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse”, along with Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett.
In an interview with Kara Swisher, editor-at-large of Recode, Sam Harris talks about Islam, politics, Twitter, and Trump.
I like Sam Harris, I watched a lot of his YouTube videos, interviews, and some of his podcasts.
My impression of him is that he is an excellent thinker and a lot of the points he raises about religion are brilliantly thought through.
A while back, however, I noticed that many have started to criticize his attacks on Islam, and I honestly didn’t get it. I thought it was exaggerated. After all, like every religion, Islam had bad ideas, and there were more than a few Muslims that acted on these bad ideas giving us ISIS and Al Qaida, so Islam shouldn’t be above criticism.
Admittedly, while I have his books as a must read on my long list of books to read, I haven’t read, watched, or listened to everything that Harris has produced.
I was simply listening to this interview out of interest and was really surprised and taken back by some of the things he said. I felt I had to say something, so I wrote this article.
Harris starts off sharing how he got into neuroscience and his focus on rational thinking and morality
“I was sick of hearing philosophers sort of wait around for more of come out of neuroscience labs when the conversation turned to the topic of the mind so so I did a lateral move and did my PhD in neuroscience but really always in the spirit of being a philosopher of mind and a moral philosopher”
“I’m interested in the intersection of how our growing understanding of ourselves scientifically is and should and must affect our sense of how we should live and what is a good life and what is rather rational to do”
More focus on what is rational, scientific, and understanding ourselves, probably referring to humans as opposed to Americans.
“The problem of life is to figure out how to navigate in the space of all possible experience toward better and better experiences you know both personally and collectively so there’s the question is you know how can you as an individual have a better life and how can we collectively as you know seven billion stranger are trying to figure out how to cooperate with one another, how can we all play more interesting beautiful creative games such that more human beings flourish”
The sentiment of collaboration, humans coming together and working together to flourish together.
“The more I learn and study that the more that I feel this way that there are right and wrong answers to those questions it’s not it’s not all made up you know it’s not you we’re not we don’t have infinite degrees of freedom to decide how what constitutes a good life you know there ways people can suffer reliably in their ways they can be made happy reliably and most crucially it’s possible for any individual or any group of people or any whole cultures not to know what they’re missing right so them in the way that the way”
Here Sam is probably referring to objective morality. To Harris, moral propositions, and explicit values, in general, are concerned with the flourishing of conscious creatures in a society. He argues that “Social morality exists to sustain cooperative social relationships, and morality can be objectively evaluated by that standard.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moral_Landscape)
Then Harris explains how he got into his criticism of Islam:
“this plunges us into political questions is, for instance, with my first book, when people started flying planes into our buildings, expecting to get to paradise, I spent a lot of time criticizing organized religion and Islam in particular”
Many would say, it’s unfair to take this statement alone as a representation of Harris’ thinking when it comes to Islam. That one has to look at everything Harris said and wrote about the topic to truly understand the nuances of his work.
I agree, it’s unfair. But I’m not trying in this article to address everything Harris said about Islam.
He is a master thinker capable of measured delivery, I find it hard to accept that he simply talks without thinking and didn’t mean what he says.
Considering who he is, the platform he has, the possible impact, and how people will take every word he says and use it to embolden their position, prejudice, and bias. I think every sentence must be taken seriously and anyone is free to analyze and examine it without having to go through everything he produced.
With that in mind, let’s take a moment here to examine his statement “this plunges us into political questions is, for instance, with my first book, when people started flying planes into our buildings, expecting to get to paradise, I spent a lot of time criticizing organized religion and Islam in particular”
It’s interesting that suddenly, Harris starts speaking as an American; “our buildings.” There is nothing wrong with that of course, but it’s interesting to note, and it just makes you wonder when he is talking about his philosophy and the culture he represents, is he speaking as an American, or about humans, and human culture.
In fairness, it’s hard to expect Harris who grew up in the US to not have strong feelings about what happened in the US, especially that 9/11 was a devastating terrorist attack that claimed the lives of so many innocent people and had a massive influence on the US and the world.
Next, let’s highlight what is missing in his statement and how it’s misleading.
“when people started flying planes into our buildings”
This statement makes it sound like these are regular everyday people who just decided to start flying planes into buildings.
But these are not just any people. The September 11 attacks (also referred to as 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks).
“started flying planes into buildings” makes it sound like 9/11 was the start of a trend of similar attacks, when in fact 9/11 was the last attack of its kind (thankfully) and it wasn’t the first!
- Bojinka plot — a plot by Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, foiled in 1995, to attack multiple airliners and crash a plane into the CIA headquarters
- Federal Express Flight 705–1994 cockpit attack
- Air France Flight 8969 — a plane hijacked by terrorists intended to be crashed into the Eiffel Tower
“expecting to get to paradise” While this is a fair statement from Harris, terrorists do expect to get to paradise according to their worldview, however, it seems like he then uses this premise to make assumptions that this worldview is held by Muslims in general and given the “requisite beliefs” anyone can become a terrorists, which he thinks is “totally rational” for “psychologically healthy, otherwise well-adjusted people who have other opportunities” while “In reality, white supremacy, and certainly murderous white supremacy, is the fringe of the fringe in our society and any society” and their acts are “committed just by a crazy person who snaps. It’s not an expression of ideology at all.”
According to Harris, “a doctrine of jihad, which is not just a doctrine of inner spiritual struggle, is also a doctrine of holy war and all the beliefs around martyrdom explain the character of Muslim violence we’re seeing throughout the world. And if they had different doctrines, they would behave differently.”
This is such a superficial point from Harris, for a heavyweight thinker to make such a lightweight idea on this important topic is almost unforgivable.
Jihad means “to strive or struggle” (in the way of God). Jihad, in its broadest sense, is “exerting one’s utmost power, efforts, endeavors, or ability in contending with an object of disapprobation”. Depending on the object being a visible enemy, the Devil, and aspects of one’s own self (such as sinful desires), different categories of jihad are defined. Jihad also refers to one’s striving to attain religious and moral perfection. When used without any qualifier, Jihad is understood in its military form. Some Muslim authorities, especially among the Shi’a and Sufis, distinguish between the “greater jihad”, which pertains to spiritual self-perfection, and the “lesser jihad”, defined as warfare.
Within Islamic jurisprudence, jihad is usually taken to mean military exertion against non-Muslim combatants. Jihad is the only form of warfare permissible in Islamic law and may be declared against illegal works, terrorists, criminal groups, rebels, apostates, and leaders or states who oppress Muslims. Most Muslims today interpret Jihad as only a defensive form of warfare. Jihad only becomes an individual duty for those vested with authority. For the rest of the populace, this happens only in the case of a general mobilization. For most Twelver Shias, offensive jihad can only be declared by a divinely appointed leader of the Muslim community, and as such is suspended since Muhammad al-Mahdi’s occultation in 868 AD. (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam#Jihad)
It is honestly so ridiculous to any rational person to think that the promise of paradise and religious doctrine is enough to cause people to organize and conduct mass killings in the most horrific ways.
But let’s not get stuck with what I think, and let’s examine some data points. Something that Harris should have done before opening his mouth and spounting this nonsense.
Two studies of the background of Muslim terrorists in Europe — one of the UK and one of France — found little connection between religious piety and terrorism. According to a “restricted” report of hundreds of case studies by the UK domestic counter-intelligence agency MI5,
[f]ar from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could actually be regarded as religious novices. Very few have been brought up in strongly religious households, and there is a higher than average proportion of converts. Some are involved in drug-taking, drinking alcohol and visiting prostitutes. MI5 says there is evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation.
Other motivations include Citizenship issues, Economic motivations, Identity, Ideology, Religious motivation, Societal motivations, and Western foreign policy.
Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer argues that terrorist attacks (specifically al-Qaeda attacks on targets in the United States) are not motivated by a religiously inspired hatred of American culture or religion, but by the belief that U.S. foreign policy has oppressed, killed, or otherwise harmed Muslims in the Middle East, condensed in the phrase “They hate us for what we do, not who we are.” U.S. foreign policy actions Scheuer believes are fueling Islamic terror include: the US–led intervention in Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq; Israel–United States relations, namely, financial, military, and political support for Israel; U.S. support for “apostate” police states in Muslim nations such as Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and Kuwait; U.S. support for the creation of an independent East Timor from territory previously held by Muslim Indonesia; perceived U.S. approval or support of actions against Muslim insurgents in India, the Philippines, Chechnya, and Palestine.
Maajid Nawaz, in a debate with Mehdi Hasan, countered Scheuer’s contention:
a tiny minority, from within the non-Iraqi British Muslim communities, reacted with violence on 7 July 2005. To interpret this simply as a “nationalist struggle” to remove occupation ignores the blatantly obvious fact that, first, the terrorists were not Iraqis, they were British-Pakistanis (though British Iraqis have lived here for a long time); second, the vast majority of the Stop the War protesters were non-Muslims, yet only a handful from among a minority of Muslims reacted to the war with terrorism. Even though occupation may have caused agitation among the 7 July bombers, these northern-born lads with thick Yorkshire accents confessed in their suicide tapes to considering themselves soldiers with a mission to kill our people (Britons) on behalf of their people (Iraqis). The prerequisite to such a disavowal of one’s country of birth is a recalibration of identity; this is the undeniable role of ideological narratives.
According to Scott Atran, a NATO researcher studying suicide terrorism, the available evidence contradicts a number of simplistic explanations for the motivations of terrorists, including mental instability, poverty, and feelings of humiliation.
Forensic psychiatrist and former foreign service officer Marc Sageman made an “intensive study of biographical data on 172 participants in the jihad”, in his book Understanding Terror Networks. He concluded social networks, the “tight bonds of family and friendship”, rather than emotional and behavioural disorders of “poverty, trauma, madness, [or] ignorance”, inspired alienated young Muslims to join the jihad and kill.
Author Lawrence Wright described the characteristic of “displacement” of members of the most famous Islamic terrorist group, al-Qaeda:
What the recruits tended to have in common — besides their urbanity, their cosmopolitan backgrounds, their education, their facility with languages, and their computer skills — was displacement. Most who joined the jihad did so in a country other than the one in which they were reared. They were Algerians living in expatriate enclaves in France, Moroccans in Spain, or Yemenis in Saudi Arabia. Despite their accomplishments, they had little standing in the host societies where they lived.
Scholar Olivier Roy describes the background of the hundreds of global (as opposed to local) terrorists who were incarcerated or killed and for whom authorities have records, as being surprising for their Westernized background; for the lack of Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans “coming to avenge what is going on in their country”; their lack of religiosity before being “born again” in a foreign country; the high percentage of converts to Islam among them; their “de-territorialized backgrounds” — “For instance, they may be born in a country, then educated in another country, then go to fight in a third country and take refuge in a fourth country”; their nontraditional belief that jihad is permanent, global, and “not linked with a specific territory.”
This profile differs from that found among recent local (as opposed to global) Islamist suicide bombers in Afghanistan, according to a 2007 study of 110 suicide bombers by Afghan pathologist Dr. Yusef Yadgari. Yadgari found that 80% of the attackers studied had some kind of physical or mental disability. The bombers were also “not celebrated like their counterparts in other Muslim nations. Afghan bombers are not featured on posters or in videos as martyrs.” Daniel Byman, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution, and Christine Fair, an assistant professor in peace and security studies at Georgetown University, say that many of the Islamic terrorists are foolish and untrained, perhaps even untrainable.
Studying 300 cases of people charged with jihadist terrorism in the United States since September 11, 2001, author Peter Bergen found the perpetrators were “generally motivated by a mix of factors”, including “militant Islamist ideology; dislike of American foreign policy in the Muslim world; a need to attach themselves to an ideology or organization that gave them a sense of purpose”; and a “cognitive opening” to militant Islam that often was “precipitated by personal disappointment, like the death of a parent.”
For years, psychologists examined terrorists’ individual characteristics, mining for clues that could explain their willingness to engage in violence. While researchers now agree that most terrorists are not “pathological” in any traditional sense, several important insights have been gleaned though interviews with some 60 former terrorists conducted by psychologist John Horgan, PhD, who directs the Pennsylvania State University’s International Center for the Study of Terrorism.
Horgan found that people who are more open to terrorist recruitment and radicalization tend to:
- Feel angry, alienated or disenfranchised.
- Believe that their current political involvement does not give them the power to effect real change.
- Identify with perceived victims of the social injustice they are fighting.
- Feel the need to take action rather than just talking about the problem.
- Believe that engaging in violence against the state is not immoral.
- Have friends or family sympathetic to the cause.
- Believe that joining a movement offers social and psychological rewards such as adventure, camaraderie and a heightened sense of identity.
Are you fucking kidding me!
Come on, let’s hear it… MI5, NATO and the CIA have a leftist agenda to hide the truth, to protect Muslims, right?!
How can Harris be so sloppy, and ignore all of these points and focus solely on the “doctrine of jihad” as the main motivation. How can he ignore data, studies, analysis, and research.
This is not to say in any way that Islam doesn’t have bad ideas, or that some of those ideas have not been used to influnece people to commit acts of terror, according to those studies, religious believes play a role, maybe even an important role. But are they the primary motivator as Harris would have us believe?
It’s shocking that all I needed to find out is one search on Google: Why do people become islamic terrorists. Which is something most people who listen to Harris’ interview will not do, and will take his word. After all, he is an intellectual, and he must have done his research, right?!
Most Muslim beliefs do not differ a lot from other relegious beliefs of Christianity and Judiasim, a simple Google search on how to get to paradise will turn up these results: 25 Ways to Enter Jannah (Paradise)! And even a To-Do List! Your Jannah To-Do List: 6 Tasks to Inherit Al-Firdaus (The Highest Paradise).
Silly for anyone who think rationally, but following Harris’ logic, isn’t more “rational” for a radical Muslim, since they are not “crazy” like white supremacist, to go after the easier ways to “get to paradise.” Isn’t it far easier than joining a “death cult of martyrdom,” suicide boomings, flying planes into buildings, and killing others?
Isn’t this especially true since a “jihadist mindset” requires risking one’s life, and spending years of planning in secrecy to execute their attacks while being hunted by the world’s top intelligence agencies?!
Here are Harris’ words to get the full context:
“martyrdom is a way to get there, either you believe that or you don’t. And insofar as you really believe it, down to your toes, it’s totally rational to be motivated by that. That’s how we can find ourselves in the presence of psychologically healthy, otherwise well-adjusted people who have other opportunities.”
“The shibboleths of the left here are really non-functional, the idea that you need to be a victim of some oppression, that you need to have economic hardship, no. The quarterback of the football team in Marin County can decide, I want to be jihadist, given the requisite beliefs.”
“a doctrine of jihad, which is not just a doctrine of inner spiritual struggle, is also a doctrine of holy war and all the beliefs around martyrdom explain the character of Muslim violence we’re seeing throughout the world. And if they had different doctrines, they would behave differently. And I’m not talking about all Muslims, I’m talking about the power of specific ideas on a subset of adherents to Islam — and how big that subset is is open for debate. It’s not as small as we would like. It’s not as big as right-wing nutcases fear, but it’s big enough to be of significant consequence such for the rest of our lives, we are going to be talking about this problem.”
Kara Swisher: Okay, we’re gonna talk about how we get there. Let’s talk a little bit about the recent attacks, the two different attacks, Sri Lanka and in New Zealand. How did you look at those?
“Well, obviously, they’re both awful. If you’re just gonna talk about the loss of life, there’s an equivalence there, forget about the differences in numbers. They’re different in that the Christchurch attack was an expression of an ideology that … Here’s the more generic case here. There are acts of violence which superficially can look the same, but they’re very, very different. Take a school shooting or a shooting like the Christchurch shooting. They’re examples of atrocities like that that are committed just by a crazy person who snaps. It’s not an expression of ideology at all.”
“Then there are cases where a person’s got a … He’s also psychologically unhealthy. I mean, there’s not a psychologically normal person who also has a belief system, a story they’re telling themselves that justifies this atrocity. That’s a different case. It’s like Adam Lanza going into Newtown. There’s no ideology, it was just psychopathology. There are cases where you have mentally unwell people who are also believing nonsense and that’s motivating nonsense and they do something horrible.”
“The cases that worry me the most are the cases where you have an ideology that’s so powerful and captivating that totally normal people, without real terrestrial grievances, can be inducted into it and do the unthinkable because of simply what they believe. The difference I would draw between Christchurch, a white supremacist atrocity, and what just happened in Sri Lanka or any jihadist attack you could name, the difference there is that white supremacy is an ideology, I’ll grant you. It doesn’t link up with so many good things in a person’s life that it is attracting psychologically normal non-beleaguered people into its fold. It may become that on some level.”
“It doesn’t have all the elements of a true religion. I mean, there are ways in which it’s entangled with certain forms of Christianity. Again, there’s not a death cult of martyrdom forming there. It’s conceivable that one could form there. I’m not ruling out the white supremacists for causing a lot of havoc in the world. But in reality, white supremacy, and certainly murderous white supremacy, is the fringe of the fringe in our society and any society. And if you’re gonna link it up with Christianity, it is the fringe of the fringe of Christianity. If you’re gonna debate a fundamentalist Christian, as I occasionally do, if I were to say, “Yeah, but what about white supremacy and all the …” He’s not gonna know what you’re … It’s not part of their doctrine in a meaningful way.”
“You cannot remotely say any of those things about jihadism and Islam. Jihadism is way more mainstream and support for it … There’s jihadism and the people who actually are gonna blow themselves up in a certain context, or kill a lot of people, thinking they’re gonna get into paradise for it. And then there’s the culture of acceptance around that. There are Islamists, there are conservatives who, while they’re not becoming jihadists themselves, they certainly endorse doctrines that makes this all look like kind of a rational enterprise.
“But if you were to find me the 20 worst white supremacist, Christian identitarian atrocities, and we did an analysis of the shooters or the bombers, I would predict that the vast majority of these people would obviously be unwell, psychologically. Just because the beliefs are not that captivating, they’re not systematized. There’s not the promise of paradise. It isn’t there.”
“This is not rocket science. People believe what they say they believe much of the time and we should take them at their word. It’s not that there aren’t ever other factors involved, but it’s just what we have is a pathology of over-interpretation here because we don’t like the answer we’re getting. When you ask members of ISIS, “Why are you doing this?” and they say, “It’s our religion, it’s right here, I can point to the passage in the Koran that assures me that it’s okay for me to cut the head off of an infidel,” say, “Or take a Yazidi sex slave.”
Harris has one fair point: Islam and Muslims are in no way above criticism, nor are they immune to bad ideas or doing bad things.
But there does seem to be a serious imbalance, lack research, and objective reasoning when it comes to Harris’s view on Islam and Muslims, at least in this interview and from these statements.
He seems stuck on the idea that the religious beliefs muslims are the sole reason behind everything bad and evil muslims have done and will do.
While pointing the finger at ISIS, an extreme Ideological militant group that is well funded, organized, and even trained and supported by the CIA under the banner of toppling the Syrian Regime, Harris uses Mormonism and Scientology as a comparison, which I can’t help but see as intellectually dishonest.
If you are going to bring up the atrocities created by ISIS like cutting off heads of infidels (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide_of_Yazidis_by_ISIL) and compare it to anything, why not not compare it to the Buddhist persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, one of the most persecuted groups in the world. (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Muslims_in_Myanmar). Both crimes but one is committed by a radical “fringe group” group and one is committed by a government and it’s organized military.
If you are going to bring up Sexual slavery by ISIS (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide_of_Yazidis_by_ISIL#Sexual_slavery) why not compare it to slavery in the US where Christians enslaved 4 million people (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_United_States).
If you are going to talk about “the starkest oppression of women anywhere on Earth at this moment” and “girls who are getting battery acid thrown in their face” making it seem like it’s a serious problem with Islam and Muslims everywhere
Shouldn’t you instead be honest and clarify that there are cultural and educational elements at play. For example, these are not problems in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia where people are highly educated. (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Islam) and Female Genital Mutilation (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_on_female_genital_mutilation).
And when it comes to “girls who are getting battery acid thrown in their face” why not mention that the UK has one of highest rates of acid attacks in the world, according to the police. According to data from the London Metropolitan Police, a demographic breakdown of known suspects in London attacks for the period (2002–2016) showed White Europeans comprising 32% of suspects, African Caribbeans 38% and Asian 6%. Victims for the same period were 45% White Europeans, 25% African Caribbeans and 19% Asian. Known suspects were overwhelmingly male, 77% of known suspects were male and just 2% of suspects female. Four out of five victims in 2016 were male in contrast to other countries where women are most frequently victimized by men.
In Bangladesh, such attacks are relatively common. Bangladesh has the highest reported incidence of acid assault in the world. Acid attacks are often referred to as a “crime of passion”, fueled by jealousy and revenge. Actual cases though, show that they are usually the result of rage at a woman who rebuffs the advances of a male. For the country of Bangladesh, such passion is often rooted in marriage and relationships. One study showed that refusal of marriage proposals accounted for 55% of acid assaults, with abuse from a husband or other family member (18%), property disputes (11%) and refusal of sexual or romantic advances (2%) as other leading causes. Additionally, the use of acid attacks in dowry arguments has been reported in Bangladesh, with 15% of cases studied by the Acid Survivors Foundation citing dowry disputes as the motive.
Acid attacks in India, like Bangladesh, have a gendered aspect to them: analyses of news reports revealed at least 72% of reported attacks included at least one female victim. However, unlike Bangladesh, India’s incidence rate of chemical assault has been increasing in the past decade, with a high 27 reported cases in 2010. Altogether, from January 2002 to October 2010, 153 cases of acid assault were reported in Indian print media while 174 judicial cases were reported for the year of 2000. (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_throwing).
I mean, come on. How can any rational person see this as anything other than intellectual dishonesty and misrepresentation?!
Here are Harris’ words to get the full context:
Islamophobia is an invented word. Its intention is propagandistic. It was invented for the purpose of conflating criticism of the faith, a set of ideas, with bigotry against Muslims as people. It is a neologism crafted for that purpose, and it is being used to create effect in that vein. So that now, even, again, the New York Times, nobody’s using this word with scare quotes anymore. It’s just like anti-Semitism’s a thing, Islamophobia is a thing, let’s talk about these grave evils.
Islamophobia is a confusing term. Islam is a set of ideas, and the question is, are there any ideas within Islam that are sufficiently animating to people that we should care about them and criticize them? And I think it’s rather obvious that there are. There’s nothing about doing that that entails being bigoted against people from the Middle East or their culture.
But you see the bright line of how that happens.
Yeah, no, but that’s …
Do you worry about the …
That’s cynically, but the fact that it’s possible to be confused about that is being cynically amplified by theocrats who don’t want their religion criticized. That’s the, “if you’re gonna criticize a hijab, you are a racist.” The reality is, most women the world over who are wearing the veil of whatever sort — I mean, the hijab is the least of it, but you think of the burka and the niqab — are not doing it out of choice. These are not Barnard girls who decided to take on this affectation because it was cool. No, these are people who, if they try to get out of the cloth bag that their father made them wear and now their husband is making them wear, they risk being killed, even by their own families.
We’re talking about the starkest oppression of women anywhere on Earth at this moment. And if women are gonna get feminism right, they can’t lose the plot about that. There are girls who are getting battery acid thrown in their face for the crime of learning to read, right?
There are real threats to our world and we need someone like Sam Harris to help shed a light on these threats, to make an appeal to reason, bus instead he is worried about the left and the global threat of Jihadist mentality?!
What about the ideology and religion that gave us Native American Genocide, Slavery, World War One, World War Two, The Holocaust, Vietnam War, Kosovo War, Iraq War, Afganistan War, Kosovo… Wasn’t all of that motivated by Christianity and done by Christians?
Yes, this is whataboutism, but how else can one counter Harris’ fear-mongering about the global threat of Islam, as if it’s the only religion still standing and the threat of other religions like Christianity, Judaism, and their bad ideas have been dealt with and they are no longer a threat to our world in any way!
When there are 4,392 Catholic Church sexual abuse cases (Sources https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_cases).
Israeli abuse of human rights against Palestinians is well documented and of epic proportions (Source https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/israel/palestine, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli%E2%80%93Palestinian_conflict).
Yes, there are Islamic terrorists and they need to be stopped and dealt with. But isn’t fair to say that when evangelicals help elect the most racist, corrupt, and unethical person to the highest office in the strongest country in the world. Then surround him with the most corrupt administration to enact policies that strip away freedoms, enable war, topple governments, and sell weapons around the world, isn’t that an act of terror done in the open while people like Harris turn a blind eye and blame the left because they are worried about PC culture, SJW’s and speaking on college campuses!! Please!
For Harris, it seems particularly hard to accept that lack of morality, committing crimes, and causing atrocities is a human thing, not exclusive to a religion or a race.
Isn’t it more rational to accept that bad people exist everywhere, and making bad decisions, and doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons is just human?
The fight against bad ideas, bad people, and bad deeds must continue. It’s a fight we must all join. And while we fight those bad ideas, bad people, and bad deeds within Islam, isn’t it reasonable to also fight those bad ideas, bad people, and bad deeds within other religions and ideologies.
Isn’t that the most balanced, intellectually honest, and most rational thing to do?!