Sam Harris is making the news circuit again. (Who is this Sam Harris guy, anyway?) He’d choose Ben Carson over Noam Chomsky for President apparently because Ben Carson has a better understanding of the Islamist threat to the West; Jerry Coyne writes that Sam Harris drains the intellectual cesspool at Salon and sees himself and Sam as the true inheritors of the Age of Enlightenment; and of course he’s being misrepresented by his critics as always. As for everybody who has ever criticized Sam Harris being guilty of misrepresenting him, Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks analyses this proclivity masterfully in Nobody Understands Poor Sam Harris (h/t Pharyngula):
So I thought this would be an apropos time to dust off a draft post that has been sitting in my files for some weeks now. Recall back in mid October that Kyle Kulinski attempted to find a way for people like Glenn Greenwald and Sam Harris to come to a meeting of minds. Why can’t all atheists who agree Islamic terrorism is a serious problem just get along?
What I did was write notes on one of those conversations, the one published 17th October 2015. They’re too loose to be called a transcript but I have noted very approximate time markers throughout for relatively easy checking.
Kyle — There is so much agreement among us so why cannot we get along?
SH: — Says that Kyle’s attempt to establish a way New Atheists and others should be able to get along was destined to fail…..
He (SH) is going to explain why he agreed to come on KK’s show and “to nail down some basic facts”
SH says he also went on The Young Turks network where Werleman and Reza Aslan had been given a platform to “disparage me” (Sam Harris) “and lie about my views”.
He has come here on KK’s show to respond to Glenn Greenwald:
“Glenn came on your show and just ran me down for the better part of an hour. He misrepresented my views as he always does; he compared me to neo-nazis he’s known in his capacity as a lawyer; he called me a coward; he told the world that I changed my views where people find them offensive; and I falsely claim to have been misrepresented; and you more or less agreed with him on that point…..”
SH: “I want to take a few minutes to explain some background facts because it’s very easy for people to get confused about what’s happening here. . . . I want you and your listeners to understand why this debate is so poisonous.”
SH: To be unbiased “is a very good thing — most of the time. But it’s not such a good thing when you’re dealing with unethical and irresponsible people. If you came upon two people fighting in an alley you wouldn’t necessarily assume that each has a good reason for wanting to hurt the other. You’re aware that it’s perfectly possible that one of them is a psychopath who attacked the other for no good reason and the other’s just doing his best to defend himself. . . . ”
“Some people are in fact total arseholes. They’re unscrupulous, they’re dishonest, they’re self-serving, they’re powerfully self-deceived, they’re narcissistic, they’re unwilling to admit mistakes. Some people are just walking case studies in psychopathology and bad faith. Now, unfortunately I have managed to collide with a fair number of these people; and Glenn Greenwald and Reza Aslan are probably the most well-known. They have their minions: Glenn has Murtaza Hussain, I think he’s probably a psychopath from the way he behaves online. And Reza has Nathan Lean, who from my eyes is just aspiring to be the most ethically confused person on earth. And then there are people like Chris Hedges and C.J. Werleman. These are both famous plagiarists and loons. . . .
Many people assume that the criticising the character of one’s opponent as I’m doing now is to commit the ad hominem fallacy. It’s not. That’s only true if you’re failing to deal with their arguments. And insofar as any of these people have arguments, I’ve dealt with them. . . . But for the most part they but they just lie about my views. You are engaging with these people as though they are arguing in good faith. They aren’t. And my correspondence with them should prove that to you if you’ve been paying attention. . . .”
On KK with Werleman —
“you treat him like a perfectly moral intellectually honest person who just might have some interesting things to say about me and Dawkins and our alleged bias against Muslims. But who is C.J. Werleman? He’s a plagiarist who when caught, rather than apologize and spend a year in the wilderness ….. he created a sock puppet blog, literally a fake blog ostensibly by some woman in Brooklyn from which he accused me of plagiarism. . . . We’re talking about the most unprofessional behaviour imaginable, and yet you are taking him seriously.
“And who is Glenn Greenwald? GG is just C.J. Werleman after he won the lottery. Glenn is a totally unscrupulous defamer of people who just got handed the story of the decade because Snowden happened to like his political views. And if you think that’s unfair, you haven’t been paying attention to how Greenwald operates. Greenwald has his own sock puppet scam you might want to look into.
“I remain genuinely confused about Snowden. I honestly don’t know whether he’s a hero or whether he deserves to be in prison. I’m absolutely…. There’s a blank spot in my mind about the significance of what he has done. I simply don’t know the consequences of his actions now or what they will be in the future. But I know one thing to a moral certainty. Most people who fear government surveillance for obvious reasons and most people who are fond of what Snowden did are blinded to who GG actually is. Snowden simply handed him thousands of top secret documents and Greenwald leaked them and you seem to assume this makes him a brilliant investigative journalist. Greenwald doesn’t have a journalistic bone in his body. I have never seen someone so maliciously unconcerned about misrepresenting the views of his opponents …. apart from the other people we are talking about- Reza Aslan and Glenn’s deranged colleague Murtaza Hussain. These people are glorified cyber-bullies.
They’re not journalists. They’re not scholars. And they’re certainly not intellectuals. They almost never admit mistakes much less correct them. And practically everything they put out there is a half-truth at best. Yes, for the first time Greenwald corrected one false accusation he spread about me on Twitter — that Jerry Seinfeld business….. But he managed to do this in a totally dishonest way and it was only after he reaped a fucking whirlwind of criticism online — that was pure self-preservation on his part.
So generally speaking these people don’t admit errors, and when they do, when errors are pointed out to these guys, they just double down. They know their audience doesn’t care. Their audience just wants another partisan dog whistle about bigotry and white privilege and Islamophobia and U.S. crimes against humanity.
So when I’m dealing with these people the two sides are not equivalent. I’m not lying about their views or using stupid tricks to misrepresent them. If you ask me to restate Greenwald’s view on any of the points we’ll discuss I’ll be able to do it in a way that he’ll find no fault with. I don’t have to misrepresent his views to argue against them. These people seem to think that everything is fair as long as you’re quoting someone accurately. . . . .
Imagine I said the following….
Black people are apes. White people are apes. We’re all apes. Racism doesn’t make any sense.
Glenn Greenwald, Murtaza Hussain, Resa Aslan, Nathan Lean, Cenk Uygur, C.J. Werleman, Chris Hedges, — all of these guys, and literally thousands of their fans, would feel no compunction at all in summarizing my view as a shocking instance of racism saying that Sam Harris says black people are just apes. Full stop. This is how they operate.
In a million years I wouldn’t behave that way. If you don’t notice that crucial difference, if you don’t focus on how ethically and intellectually repellant that behaviour is, you have lost the plot and you are part of the problem when you give these people a platform.
Now the problem of the regressive left …. is separate from all of this. You can be a regressive leftist and treat your opponents’ views fairly. GG is a regressive leftist, yes, but he’s also an arsehole. He is an unethical arsehole. And this is not a fallacy of argumentation, ad hominem or otherwise, to point that out. …….
I want people to be aware of the asymmetry here. ….If you pay attention you will notice that the two people are not fighting in the same way. If you do a little digging you can find out how the fight started. And how it started will tell you a lot about the character of the people involved.”
SH asks KK what he thinks of the correspondence between him and GG …..
“Let’s take the fascism charge. So this is what happened. Murtaza Hussain wrote an article. I wrote an article back on 2007 about The End of Liberalism.
genocidal fascist maniac
On GG and MH: “these guys are deranged harpies”
KK “So when you hear Glenn talk you’re going ‘Okay, I think that he conspired beforehand to say untrue things about me.” Do you really think that’s what Glenn is doing?”
SH: “Absolutely. Absolutely. There are so many examples of this. . . . Glenn knows that I’m not a fascist; he knows that I don’t want to kill people for their beliefs; he knows that I don’t want to execute a nuclear first strike on the Muslim world. And C.J. Werleman knows this, and Cenk Uygur knows this, and Reza Aslan knows this, Chris Hedges knows this.”
KK: “Your follow ups have always been the most important part on these various issues”
SH: “No, No. … That’s just not true. …”
KK: “That’s honestly my view of those more inflammatory issues you just mentioned there that you’ve got a lot of backlash on…… Well the follow up is more reasonable and puts everything in perspective.”
SH: “Yeh, well, the follow up — I’m putting training wheels on it in most cases. And taking peoples’ false assumptions out of their heads. And so I’m doing damage control in a follow up. But none of my views have changed in these follow ups. And the actual view is clearly stated in the original. It’s just that people have a hard time reading….”
to take a specific example — “this is one way in which Glenn Greenwald and Islamist apologists generally are very slippery”
KK- – In all cases torture should be illegal, SH said in a follow up article … KK defended SH on what he said in that follow up that torture in all cases should be illegal so everything in the previous article had been a thought experiment
SH: “No, it’s not just a thought experiment. . .. ”
SH: — should be illegal but still right to do it… sometimes right to break the law….. some words are so loaded (e.g. torture, racial profiling) that “you are stigmatized for even raising the topic of conversation– but you’re not if you’re talking about collateral damage which is much worse….”
“Torture is deliberately making someone in your custody uncomfortable for the purpose of making them talk. That runs the full gammit from depriving them of sleep which is in fact torture…. If you deprive someone of sleep long enough, they die. Sleep deprivation is torture. So the question is, Are we ethically required to give members of Al Qaeda a full eight hours of sleep every night for the entirety of their time in prison? Is that an ethical requirement? I don’t get eight hours of sleep. So I think the answer to that is, No. So now already you’re on a slippery slope to . . . Well, just how uncomfortable are we going to make them and for what purpose? But people don’t want to talk about this. You feel like you’re participating in the inquisition of the fourteenth century even going down this road. But the reality is that good, well-intentioned people who are trying to keep open societies safe have to think these issues through. So everything I’ve written about torture is an effort to try to understand the ethics of this situation and my view on torture — though I’ve been slimed as if a pro-torture lunatic by people like Greenwald — my view on torture is exactly the view you get from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Now I just happened to discover that after I wrote The End of Faith but it is in fact exactly that view, that famous Handbook of Evil, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy enunciates the same ethical position on torture. And so in a context of thinking through the ethics I stand by everything I’ve said on torture. I do think it should be illegal for some reasons I’ve spelled out, but there are things that are illegal that in certain cases are not only ethical but you would have to be a monster not to do them. Right. And you can easily think of a situation where you, by refusing to get your hands dirty make the person in your custody at all uncomfortable, you would be a monster. Right. And the case in the Stanford Encyclopedia is a perfect case. . . . . “
Linked to the article on his blog in On Response to Controversy … http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/torture/
(cf http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2010/04/28/a-family-unfriendly-aesop/ — why not show video footage to leave suspect under no doubt they knew it was him; and note the possibility that a beating might kill the suspect and then no hope….)
“Smacking someone around is torture. Right. To slap someone across the face you are beginning to torture them. Right. Would you have slapped that guy across the face? . . . .
“My argument for torture here is that it should be illegal but these cops …. were clearly in a case where it was the right thing to do.. . . So they’re breaking the law…. “
KK protests that SH is focusing philosophically on some of the hardest cases, but we need to be more grounded in what we are dealing with now…. like Senate Torture Report where we learn 20% of those we tortured were totally innocent.
SH: “I’m trying to get down to ethical bed-rock on these issues”
We have to get the ethics straight first and then make the laws around that.
KK — you should state in your original piece that torture should be illegal …
SH: I have spelled all of this out in my writing.
KK: Yes, I defend you on the basis of your “training wheels” follow ups.
SH: “You’re giving my opponents too much credit here. No one has ever revised their take on my view based on the follow ups. Certainly Greenwald and… this rogues’ gallery and people I’m dealing with haven’t.”
KK — says Greenwald did say that the follow up on profiling was much more agreeable than the original pieces (e.g. don’t spend so much time on little kids and grandmothers)
SH: “No, no. He just used it as another springboard to attack me. … He said, Either he’s saying this very evil thing but that when people get outraged he says no no that’s not what I meant I’m saying this other thing which is totally prosaic which everyone already thinks. And so which is it? Are you saying the boring thing that everyone already thinks or are you saying this edgy evil thing that got everyone outraged? . . . . What the problem with Harris is that 1 he’s a bad writer or 2 he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions because when people push back on this stuff he just buckles and says no no that’s not what I meant. None of that is true. Right. That’s all happening in Greenwald’s mind. Right. Or he wants it to be happening in your mind.”
KK — likes SH’s follow ups better than the original pieces.
SH: “No, no, go back and read the original pieces. . . . . I’ve had to deal with objections and so my position gets more fleshed out and torture is actually one of those. . . . Profiling, that may be the case as well…. But my basic view hasn’t changed on any of these. ….”
My torture argument is part of collateral damage argument — we don’t bother when we kill half a dozen innocents to kill the bad guy.
ca 40:00 ….
SH: “This is an incredibly consequential and important area to be able to write about and think about openly without the fear that your reputation is going to be systematically destroyed by malicious people like Glenn Greenwald. And again it’s all of these guys. They know that a word like “torture” is so provocative and it’s shorthand for everything horrible about any person who can even raise the concept that they can slime me with a tweet and just do this endlessly….It’s not only lazy. It’s making it impossible to have conversations about, again, some of the most ethically important terrain we’ll ever stumble on. . . .. ”
“I’m dealing with people here who simply …. the most charitable case here is that they feel they are so in the right, they feel that their side is so important that they win that they think it is a fair tactic to simply attempt to defame the other side. . . . To call them fascists, to say that they want to turn immigrants into lampshades or support the people who do. And if you’re not going to draw a bright line between that behaviour and the actually dealing with the content of ideas, it’s hopeless.
“let’s deal with the issue of Islamism….” (sh)
GG is calling me a fascist and a neo-con (not right/not fair) and “I’m calling him an Islamist apologist.” — “Let me tell you why that is precisely fair. . . .
“Do I think Greenwald wants to live under sharia law? Of course not. He would be dead in a day under sharia law. But he does not have to want to live under sharia law to be effectively an apologist for Islamists. So follow this thread. Islamists use charges of racism and bigotry and Islamophobia to deflect criticism of their ideology and agenda. They’re theocrats. We’re talking about people who are intolerant of free speech, they’re intolerant of gender equality, they’re intolerant of gay rights. These are people who basically want to get back to the seventh century in some sense.”
“These are people who cynically use liberal tolerance, the tolerance of open societies to advance what is a highly illiberal agenda. They’re working toward theocracy under the guise of asserting their own political rights and by making a very cynical claim on our liberal values of tolerance and pluralism. And so they’re claiming at every turn that they’re the victims of intolerance from people like me, from Ayaan Hirsi Ali, from cartoonists, and regressive leftists like Greenwald stand shoulder to shoulder with them making the same noises. Think about this…. It is not safe to be a cartoonist anywhere on earth at this moment if you’re going to satirize Islam. And people like Glenn Greenwald blame the cartoonists for this, accusing them of racism and intolerance. ….”
“The far left blames the cartoonists for their insensitivity. And Glenn Greenwald did this. This is who you’re dealing with.”
KK: point conceded. — to be clear, asks SH, “Does Glenn say “Hey, I hate these cartoonists and they’re racists but it obviously should still be legal for them to draw”?
SH: “Along with the herd of imbeciles he just didn’t understand what the cartoonists were doing. . . . He compared them with…. and blamed French culture for its treatment of Muslims…..
“The fact that you see him doing that should tell you a lot about the rest of what he is doing, the rest of his political and ethical sympathies here.”
KK — you say that should give me a hint to the rest of his work, but I’m saying of the rest of his work I’d agree with over 80% of what he does….
SH: “Free speech is a life and death issue. It is the foundation of everything we care about. ….. It has been destroyed by the topic of Islam….
SH says that he is worried about Muslims, the free thinkers and the gays and apostates and aspiring scientists and true liberal reformers like Maajid Nawaz — the most vulnerable …And the Left, Chomsky and Greenwald and many of the people you admire — has just abandoned them.
“Murtaza Hussain, Greenwald’s crazy right hand man, called Maajid a porch monkey, a native informant, an Uncle Tom.– Where is Greenwald’s concern about racism and the denigration of Muslims there?”
KK – not all — Cenk is also hard on free speech (agrees with SH’s point here)
SH: Says that It’s very easy to say you support free speech. That doesn’t mean much when someone like Salmon Rushdie….. and your contribution is to criticise him for his insensitivity.
KK — need to be specific about each person — can’t generalize all do this.
SH: “…. Greenwald not only demand that we accept it — They try to destroy the reputations of those of us who complain about it by calling us bigots and Islamophobes. That is the dynamic here that is so ugly.”
KK — agrees emphasis is important in this debate.
KK — when you talk about connection between belief and action…. and there’s a spectrum where some people get radicalized as result of religious ideology becoming more attractive because they have terrestrial grievances (that’s the side that liberals like to speak about a lot) and on the other end is the purely religious terrorism…. What would you say is roughly the percentage of each?
SH: “I would say that most of the jihadism is ideological in that the behaviour makes no sense without certain beliefs which are at their very core religious. So yes, I admit there’s a spectrum there. And there are people who do have rational real-world grievances which get channelled in this area. But there’s an endless number of examples of people who have no intelligible grievance apart from what they believe to be true in religious terms.”
KK — Malala – is a good example….
SH: wants to drill down on the issue of the way people are denying the link between belief and behaviour with respect to Islamism.
SH: “So for instance in this area Greenwald made a big show on your show of understanding the problem of religious extremism. He admitted, Of course there are Muslim fanatics. Nobody denies that. A total straw man. But then he immediately goes to, But there are Christian and Buddhist fanatics too. Remember Christians kill abortion doctors. This is how he can be an Islamist apologist without wanting sharia law. This is rank apology for Islamism. These problems are incomparable on every level. First of all the problems are of a completely different scale. Islamism is destabilizing much of the world at this moment. And how many abortion doctors have been killed . . . in the last 50 years? Something like 10. And here’s another way they’re not comparable. The link between doctrine and behaviour is totally different. The link between the doctrine of Christianity and the murder of abortion doctors or even being against abortion is far from clear. There’s nothing in the Bible to give you a clear foundation for this behaviour. The link between Islamic doctrine and ISIS, the worst of the worst of Muslim behaviour, is direct. It is straightforward. An honest and comprehensive reading of the texts can get you ISIS. It is child’s play for Al Baghdadi to justify his behaviour in theological terms. What’s difficult to answer is the following question: What is ISIS doing that Muhammad didn’t do or would have clearly disapproved of? That is a genuinely hard question to answer in any meaningful way. The thing to realize is that it’s not hard for Jesus or Buddha. What’s ISIS doing that Jesus didn’t do or wouldn’t have approved of? What is ISIS doing that Buddha didn’t do? Everything, right! Now that difference is enormously important. Bring this back to Greenwald. Greenwald says that all forms of fundamentalism are dangerous, right? Bullshit. It matters what the fundamentals are. A fundamentalist Jainism….. is not dangerous. So Greenwald on your show emphasized we have to dedicate ourselves to criticizing all religion equally — as all fundamentalism is a problem, all religions have their extremists. Again, this is total bullshit. This is doing the work of Islamists for them.”
“That was moral core of Greenwald’s animus toward me in his interview. That was how he justified calling me a bigot — the fact that I did not criticize all religions equally. Go back and watch that interview. . . . That justifies all that what he’s doing. He says I’m a bigot, I’m a racist, I’m a fascist, because I have an emphasis on Islam in this area. But …. no-one is worrying about the Amish…”
KK — when they say you’re not criticizing all equally their point is that your criticism will be heard by more people….
SH: “Greenwald said on your show that I never criticize Judaism or Jews. That’s total bullshit. That is a lie about my record, about my books, about my public lectures. It’s just a misrepresentation of what I do. Here’s the reality. There are 15 million Jews on earth and most of them are secular. I hammer orthodox and ultra orthodox Judaism whenever it crosses my desk. But I get on stage with a conservative rabbi to debate and I find out in the middle of the debate that he barely even believes in God. There are probably a few million Jews on earth who are as religious as your average Muslim. There are just not that many Jews who believe much of anything. And still there are crucial differences between Judaism and Islam that makes Judaism more benign. It’s not a missionary faith. It’s not trying to conquer the world. It has no clear conception of Paradise, much less martyrdom. And the craziest Jews think that they’re hands are tied until the Messiah comes back. So there are many reasons why even if we had 1.6 billion Jews on earth it would be less problematic than Islam. So again, it’s essential to talk about the differences between religions. There are situations again where Christianity is scarier and more destructive than Islam…… embyronic stem cell research. . . Islam does not have a dog in that fight.”
Warren Jeffs — Mormons — Greenwald responsible for our moral and political confusion we have here …. polygamy and child marriage — no protests over right of their cultural beliefs being denied — though Muslim community has that in spades.
SH infuriated when Glenn Greenwald referred to SH’s claim that there are tens of millions of Muslims far scarier than Dick Cheney….
SH: paraphrase — Here we have to talk about intention and its ethical significance. It is conservative say… and Maajid Nawaz agrees with me on this as does the only research that’s been done in this area with all the opinion polls that you’ve ever seen come out of the Muslim community. . . . .2% of Muslim world is 32 million people.
“So yes, there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who have a vision of life that is far scarier than Dick Cheney’s. The fact that GG can demagogue this issue in the way that he did in your interview with him just proves that he’s not even following what’s happening in the world. He doesn’t care to know what we’re up against with political Islam. It’s a terrifying prospect because again at a certain point the only people who are going to have thick enough skins to talk about this are the demagogues on our side, the Christian fascists on our side. . . . Someone like me will just get out of the game because it’s too much of a fucking hassle and there are so many people who have reputations that they want to protect who agree with me on this but they can’t go near this. It’s too poisonous. They don’t want GG tweeting about them. That’s the problem.”
ca 1:10 —
Hitchens found all fundamentalist religions equally dangerous because “any sacrifice of reason to dogmatism, plus any with teh tribalism taht comes along with that … any given time yes one religion is worse, but overall they are all latently equally dangerous.
SH: I think that is unreasonable … — “It’s clearly not true. I can prove that that’s not true to you. Because if that were true then it would in fact be impossible to improve any of these religions morally speaking. . . . But if you could just tinker with Islam for about five minutes and get all the stuff that treated women like chattel and all the stuff that vilified infidels and made it a very fuzzy warm and love everyone sort of religion, that would be an improvement…… The reason dogmatism is latently dangerous is that it leaves you unresponsive to realities. . . . .But it’s trivially easy to see how you could improve any of these religions ethically… and Jainism simply does not have the potential to spawn a death cult of suicide terrorists. …”
“The problem with religion is that it gives a rationale for tribalism and makes it so much more endurable . . . .”
— it matters not just for this world but for the next.
KK refers to GG’s ‘context matters’ …. someone in Egypt criticising Muslims… or for someone from the Muslim world doing it like Maajid Nawaz…. that’s one thing; we, however, should criticize our own govt first….
SH: “Well no it doesn’t which is witnessed by the fact that you’ve got Murtaza Hussain calling him a porch monkey and an Uncle Tom and a “native informing”. So no, they don’t even give ground to someone like Maajid.”
Re the Chomsky doctrine on criticizing your own govt …. or a telling sign of jingoism and tribalism…
SH: “I think this is totally dishonest and pedantic and morally irresponsible. The people who follow this principle — and I’ve met these people — …… you meet people who complain about gender equality among venture capitalists in Silicon Valley…. or they’re worried about the over-use of the masculine pronoun in academic writing . …. Yet when girls in Afghanistan are getting their faces burnt off with battery acid they say it’s none of our business. Who are we to judge? Who can say what is right or wrong?”
KK — what percentage would really say that? it’s none of our business. Who are we to judge?
SH: “Well no, but it’s implicit in the fact that my focusing on that summons cries of bigotry by people like Greenwald— It’s a sign of my bigotry against Muslim barbarians that I’m more worried about the mistreatment of women in Afghanistan than I am about the misogyny in my own culture. Well because the misogyny in my own culture is not even moving the needle even slightly when you’ve got half the population forced to live in bags and be beaten or killed when they try to get out. ….”
SH: GG is participating in a global war against free speech and he’s on the wrong side of it — with his stance on the Charlie Hebdo massacre…. “He’s making the world safe for theocrats and increasingly dangerous for their enemies in the Muslim world. I hear from Muslims in Pakistan, in multiple countries, always by email, who can’t tell their own mothers that they’re atheists. They’re afraid that they’re going to be murdered by their parents of by their neighbours. And they’re noticing the kind of push back I get from people like Greenwald….. [a nearly verbatim quote] “if even a liberal like you can’t make these obvious points about intolerance without having your reputation destroyed what hope is there for someone like me who is afraid to even describe her beliefs for fear of being murdered by her neighbours…. This is the situation. And this is why Maajid calls them regressive leftists, the so-called liberals are standing side-by-side with the bearded theocrats crying racism and bigotry and Islamophobia whenever we focus on how intolerable the status quo is throughout the Muslim community worldwide.”
KK — SH and Rich Dawkins are not bigots coz they are critical of the ideas, not the persons…. what they are concerned about is conservatism, ultra-conservatism.
SH: “People like Greenwald and the true Islamist apologists, the Muslim Islamist apologists make every effort to blur the line between those two things …. Greenwald knows that I’m not a bigot. He has to know I’m not a bigot at this point. And yet still he’s talking in his interview with you about my focus on Islam being a sign of my jingoism and bigotry. This is another example of how he is in fact an Islamist apologist.”….. the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) .. “This is an odious organisation, an organisation that has explicit ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, it attacks Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a bigot and gets her blacklisted from universities, it does nothing but blur the line between Islamism, this creeping theocracy I’m talking about, and the legitimate concerns for civil rights that you just described. This organisation looks for hate crimes against Muslims everywhere. When a Muslim girl gets murdered they try to whip up a tribal frenzy about it. ….. When it turns out to be an ordinary honour killing, when this girl’s deranged father just killed her based on his crazy religious beliefs, they just move on. There’s no acknowledgement of their error, and more importantly there’s no acknowledgement of the horror of honour killing and the other forms of intolerance that occur disproportionately in the Muslim community. This is an organization that systematically conceals this kind of backwardness and intolerance and yet searches for bigotry against Muslims everywhere. …. Occasionally finding it (there is real bigotry against Muslims) but more often than not pretending to find it, finding it with me, … finding it with the triple murder in South Carolina over the parking spot. There is no evidence at all that New Atheist Muslim hatred gave rise to Hicks’s behaviour there. ….”
SH says that Greenwald speaks at CAIR events and says there’s no group he’s prouder to collaborate with.
“You have to keep connecting these dots. This is where the centre of ethical gravity is for him. It’s in finding the tiniest shreds of …. bigotry and intolerance wherever he can possibly detect them, and more often than not they’re not even there – a fact that they never admit — then simply disregarding the true horror of Muslim intolerance the world over. And again it’s not just in Saudi Arabia. It is in neighbourhoods in the West. . . . “
(bigger problem in Western Europe but also problem in the US)
KK — My biggest area of agreement with GG is on US imperialism.
KK Cheney — empiricism vs theory — Cheney did have more power than a lot of these terrorist leaders and did cause more deaths…
SH: “I’m not going to pretend to read Dick Cheney’s mind and pretend to know exactly what he thought he was doing”
KK: “I’ll send you an article that lays it out in pretty good detail from his own mouth.”
SH: “I don’t actually know, so let me say Dick Cheney is a kind of caricature, the golem that every liberal has made of him ….. I don’t actually know how culpable Dick Cheney is for [KK: Again I’ll send you that article — his own writing]. Right, so, This is why intentions matter. ….. Imagine a hostage situation”….
A sniper told to shoot terrorist but kills hostage by mistake… how do we judge?
“Intentions are everything in this context. The sniper is trying to save lives. If he could capture the terrorist and put him on trial he would, but he can’t. So he’s attempting to do the only thing that would stop him from killing more innocent people. Now by the logic of people like Greenwald, he’s just another murderer. He says Forget about his intentions, he killed an innocent person there. And God help him if he’s white and the victim is black or then we’ll never be able to think about this in a rational way because then he must be a racist, right? This is just moral insanity. Now take a messier situation of what just happened in Afghanistan, the bombing of the MSF hospital…. So liberals reacted to this, and the one that I noticed was Abby Martin
(= paraphrase — another person who attacks me as a racist and an Islamophobe and a psychopath)….
The only way to make sense of her reaction is that she believed the new plan now was to intentionally murder the people who work for MSF, one of the most beloved charities on earth. The new plan now is that we are going to kill these doctors and their nurses and their patients because it does something good for our side and we just want to do it, right. Not that this was a tragic accident. ….. This is so obviously tragic… it is so obviously bad for us — the idea that we would have intentionally done this — it’s crazy. Now what is the difference between intentionally having done it and having done it by accident. That difference is enormous….. It is enormous because intentions are the only indication of what someone is going to do if they get the chance to do it. It’s the only indication of what someone would do if they had the power to do anything they want. You call this theoretical. I actually think that is a term of disparagement, right. …. “
KK: Not saying it is not reality — just saying that people like Bin Laden haven’t had the power that Dick Cheney has. .. We have to say for honesty’s sake that Dick Cheney is responsible for more deaths than some of the monsters who have worse moral beliefs.
SH: Okay.. What was Dick Cheney really trying to do? …. However bad Dick Cheney personally is, the people who got us into the war in Iraq, for the most part….. 99.99% of the people on our side of that ugly war — If you had given them the magical power to do anything they want in the Middle East, what would they have done? What would George Bush have turned the Middle East into if he had the power of God? Would he have just created Hellscape for people to suffer in? No. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that.
KK — Cheney seems to believe that by definition are the good guys so whatever we decide to do is right — american exceptionalism….
SH: But no, We the 99.99% are the good guys when you’re talking about ISIS, when you’re talking about Jihadism, when you’re talking about other cases like Nazism. ….. We have to nail down the role of intention here. We know exactly what Al Baghdadi — Al Baghdadi is doing exactly what he intends to do. The vision of life that they’re trying to instantiate on the earth has been advertised ad nauseam to us. We know exactly what they want. …. The crucial difference here is that I think someone like Dick Cheney unless he happens to be the absolute outlier – basically everyone else in the administration, if you had given them the magical power, they would have turned the Middle East into Nebraska, they’d put a Star Bucks on every corner.
KK: let me dig deeper — SH reduces it to either good intentions or bad intentions — black and white– thinks it’s a much more complicated thing — spectrum….
And the US — think it’s been proven historically — isn’t primarily concerned with altruism and humanitarianism and bringing freedom to people — with foreign policy it’s more about power and control and geopolitics and imperialism and having a hold on natural resources…. You see US exceptionalism and imperialism manifest as a kind of militaristic fundamentalist religion … if really concerned how did we support Saudi Arabia, Syrian rebels etc
SH: “Some of those have been marriages of necessity where we’re picking the lesser of two evils. ….. What do we want to see actually happen in Syria? We would like Syria to be again to be Nebraska. We want peace in Syria. “
KK: “Is that why we’re involved there though?”
SH: “Well yeh, we’re terrified of the level of terrorism and instability that that region of the world is now exporting to us. I mean this Diaspora to Europe, ..”
KK: Not cold war mentality where US is mad because Assad is allied with Putin and Iran — with world like chess board ….
SH: Paraphrase…. But this is not chess. We want to avoid nuclear war with Russian .. we are not cynically pursuing our own selfish interests… except if interest is to avoid nuclear war
“That’s not a moustached twirling evil guy at the Carlyle Group …. “
“Take the Iraq war
KK: I believe they truly believe they are humanitarian and rationalise their motives…..
“The irony here is that Greenwald supported the war in Iraq. . . . Why did he support it? He was complicit with Dick Cheney”….
KK– sure many people thought it was about self-preservation….
SH: So is Greenwald an imperialist?
KK — obviously have to make distinction between American people and people running the government.
SH: …. No, …. Hitch is endlessly disparaged for the case for war that he made in Iraq .. who knows how many people in admin he persuaded. . “People including Glenn Greenwald in an instance of Freudian hypocrisy — it’s incredible…..” Have you read the “I dance on your grave” obituary that Greenwald wrote about Hitch?
SH: Greenwald supported the war in Iraq, right, Is he guilty of imperialism, is he guilty of wanting to destroy Muslims, to commit genocide…
KK — tries to insist that people in govt had more information than others …
SH: No-one had all the information… who knows who was being spun by Chalabi…
Returns to the hospital bombing …
KK — now have audio of cockpits showing pilots knew it was a hospital….
SH: Again, I have written about the horror of collateral damage and I acknowledge it’s a horror and I spell out its horror, but I think the least moral stance a person can adopt here though it seems ethically pristine is the stance of Gandhian pacificism. . . . . What pacificism is …. just to stand by while your children are raped and murdered. . .. If you’re not going to use violence ever you’re a moral imbecile.
SH: So we debate now when violence is justified…..
KK: So what’s your ideal foreign policy then?
SH: “What you and Greenwald call foreign policy is often just pure Islamism. Greenwald concedes that some jihadis are motivated by religion …. when they target someone like Malala. … But when they pick an American target . . . well then they’re driven by just rational geopolitical concerns, right.. .So Jihadist says that he’s supporting his brothers and sisters everywhere — Greenwald thinks that proves his concerns are political … If invading .. proof his behaviour is blowback…. And he’s quick to say that doesn’t excuse it but that is its cause. We are culpable for this, right… Boston bombers – they received nothing but aid from US… because they said their motives were political — so we think their motives are political…. The only thing these brothers had in common with people of Afghanistan and Iraq was Islam. They were not the victims of anything. They should have had nothing but gratitude for the US. Yet they talk about Muslim Lands — a term of Islamism and global Jihad.
“By sanitizing obvious religious fanaticism among jihadis and Islamists as ordinary political behaviour, or as a rational response to US mis-steps — this is apology for Islamism”.
.. destructive .. more dangerous than the extreme voices on the right….Left has always had the virtue of self-criticism – what if I’m wrong?… what if my opponent has a point? — that is the core of intellectual honesty…
“But the Greenwalds of the world, and I would argue the Chomskys of the world, have perverted this impulse. Rather than maintaining a healthy capacity for self-criticism and self-doubt, this has morphed into an ideology of masochism where we are always wrong, America is always to blame, and that it’s all blowback, right. …. “
You said this — how we made/were responsible for the mujahadeen etc.
KK I said we armed them, …
SH: “Yes, there’s a shred of truth there… That crumb of truth there is just enough to confuse people….. “
so the lesson we should learn is not to arm Al Qaeda in Syria, . . .
“but the rest is pure masochism and delusion. The idea that it’s all blowback… “
KK — I’m not saying it’s ALL blowback and I don’t think those guys say that either….
SH: “That is not true, okay”
KK: reminder of Malala….
SH: “But every time someone mentions foreign policy …. it is pure blowback. That is what is so crazy about this critique of American power.”
SH– “But when you start talking about the difference between us and ISIS, right, and you lose sight of the different vision of life we are trying to enact however ineptly, the world we want to build, the difference between Nebraska and the fucking seventh century — if you can’t get that straight you are just not part of a rational conversation about human well-being or about the future of global civilization. And Greenwald — 90% of what he says is undermining of the possible rational conversation, the necessary conversation we have to have on this topic. And he’s doing it in the most cynical and the most destructive way — and the price that people pay for this… that I have paid for this reputationally … that Ayin has paid for this— is intolerable, right. … … You see 5% of what I see directed at me. It is fucking incredible.”
KK– when there’s clear example of a genocide, I’m fine with an international movement to try to prevent it … Syria — I want nothing to do with that civil war….
SH: I agree in foreign intervention and we need some power to arrange that, but it’s obviously not the UN— UN is a joke, putting S. Arabia at head of Human Rights Commission
SH: These people summarize their views; e.g. the US is the worst terrorist state on earth .. and when I start talking about intentions — as in that exchange with Chomsky, that was taken as a sign of “my absolute confusion about what was important in this world”.
“The Left has lost its mind here”.
KK confused on the body count being part of the equation….
If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to Vridar. Thanks!