Sam Harris responds to the Islam fracas

Here’s a clip with Sam Harris on yesterday’s “The Last Word,” Lawrence O’Donnell show on MSNBC. As usual, Sam is calm and eloquent, but makes his point forcefully, asking for Muslims as a whole to create a “groundswell” repudiating the kind of behavior evinced not only by ISIS, but the less extremist but still tribalistic and barbaric forms of sharia law in many Muslim countries.

As I said, I think that fight on Maher’s show was a watershed moment for American liberalism, forcing it to examine what “liberalism” really means in the face of Islamic extremism.  Evidence for that is the many discussions in the media that that exchange inspired. I haven’t seen Nicholas Kristof’s column yet, but according to O’Donnell on this clip he agrees with Sam on many points.

At 10:40 Harris and O’Donnell discusses Reza Aslan’s new op-ed in the New York Times,Bill Maher isn’t the only one who misunderstands religion”, an article that is is curiously ambiguous: it decries Islamic extremism, which surpised me, but then takes it back, implying that no religion is inherently violent and that religion is not so much a matter of belief as of culture, implying that Islamic violence does not come from Islam.

O’Donnell is a good interviewer, actually allowing his subjects to speak without interruption (he jokes at the start about others who don’t do that, and we can imagine who he has in mind).

 

 

h/t: Michael ~

93 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted October 10, 2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    sub

  2. merilee
    Posted October 10, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    sub

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 10, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      sub

  3. Linda K
    Posted October 10, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Um, at 10:40 it’s HARRIS and O’Donnell discussing….
    Excellent interview. We luv Lawrence.

  4. Posted October 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Nobel peace Prize finally goes to some folks who have earned it.

    • mordacious1
      Posted October 11, 2014 at 12:51 am | Permalink

      So, with the possible exception of the EU, who, in the last 5 years, didn’t deserve the Peace Prize?

    • craigp
      Posted October 11, 2014 at 3:28 am | Permalink

      Are you sure you’re posting your comment on the correct story?

      • Posted October 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Yes. “Malala [Yousafzai] rose to fame after Taliban militants shot her at close range in the head for speaking out against the Islamic extremists and demanding education for girls.” -VOA

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 10, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    What a great interview – I also liked the jokes O’Donnell made at the beginning and the ending of the interview about allowing Sam to finish his sentences. Finally, we get to hear Sam’s message uninterrupted and he makes such good points.

    Really, it’s pretty simple. I’ve worked in IT for most of my career. When we have to solve problems (systems, networks, people, processes) the first thing we have to do is get to root cause. If we try something that doesn’t address the root cause, we may see some improvement if we’re lucky, but most likely it won’t fix the problem & we’ll be wasting time & money.

    I see the issue of Islam as no different. We can avoid root cause (and with people issues, this happens a lot) or we can address it & start looking for solutions. I really believe that if we go down the path of agreeing on root cause, there will be a renaissance in the Muslim world pretty quickly.

    • Posted October 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      I think the idea of root cause is somewhat fallacious; most events have multiple contributing causes, which is well-understood by the human factors community. The root cause concept often serves more of a political purpose.

      This has become a joke in the aviation industry where so many accidents are determined by the NTSB to be due to “pilot error”. If a plane were struck by a meteorite, the root cause would be that the pilot failed to see and avoid it.

      More than likely, the same thing applies to terrorism; while the tenets of the religion no doubt play some role, it’s unlikely to be the entirety of it. Removing any of the contributing factors might be enough to greatly reduce the threat.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted October 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        More than likely, the same thing applies to terrorism; while the tenets of the religion no doubt play some role, it’s unlikely to be the entirety of it.

        In the case of ISIS, I think it is by far the overwheming contributor (root cause) to the barbaric terrorism they exhibit. No one claims it is the entirety.

        • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

          “I think it is by far the overwheming contributor”

          But that’s a biased evaluation from someone who doesn’t like religion. There are many who have expertise in the cultures involved who dispute that contribution, and to be dismissive of their views as “apologists” seems to reflect the Dunning-Kruger effect.

          Although I would like to blame religion 100% too, I have to admit that I don’t really know the answer.

          • GBJames
            Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

            Uh… “overwhelming” ≠ “100%”.

            • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

              Didn’t say it was.

              • NewEnglandBob
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

                Yes you did, in direct response to my use of the word overwhelming.

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

                Hmm… I think you clearly implied it, intentionally or not … ‘“I think it is by far the overwheming contributor” … Although I would like to blame religion 100% *too*, …’ [my emphasis]

                /@

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

                “Hmm… I think you clearly implied it, intentionally or not ”

                Ok, I can see how someone might infer that I implied it. 😉

                But I don’t think that the difference between 100% and overwhelming matters much to the present discussion.

          • NewEnglandBob
            Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

            Once again, you’re not paying attention. No one is claiming 100%. You are also ignoring the polls that show that a huge portion of Muslims in many countries support the barbaric practices.

            You’re also using the fallacy of authority.

            • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

              It’s not a fallacy when the people in question actually ARE authorities.

              • NewEnglandBob
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

                You are wrong. Unless you use their actual arguments and show how they fit the situation. Just by appealing to authority is the fallacy of authority. You also keep forgetting to address the point about the polling and the support in many countries for the barbaric practices.

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

                “You are wrong.”

                http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

                An argument from authority, when correctly applied, can be a valid and sometimes essential part of an argument that requests judgement or input from a qualified or expert source. The operation of the common law would be impossible without it, for example.

                Frequently, however, it is a logical fallacy consisting of an appeal to authority, but on a topic outside of the authority’s expertise[2] or on a topic on which the authority is not disinterested (aka. the authority is biased). Almost any subject has an authority on every side of the argument, even where there is generally agreed to be no argument.[3]

              • NewEnglandBob
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

                Thank you for making my point in the second paragraph, last sentence.

                Still waiting to hear the argument on how the polls don’t represent Muslims support of barbaric practices, as high as 70-85%,

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

                “Thank you for making my point in the second paragraph, last sentence.”

                I don’t see how the conditions of the second paragraph apply. Pretty much all the experts on the subject sing similar tunes; it’s the atheists who are totally dismissive of these experts, trying to claim they’re biased.

                We are outraged when we see others doing that sort of thing, e.g., anti-AGW and anti-evolution.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 10, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Root cause itself is not fallacious. It is perfectly acceptable for there to be more than one root cause. There is such a thing as true root cause however. I suspect that claiming everything is pilot error is an example of not getting to true root cause.

        • Posted October 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          Re “pilot error”, on a lighter note: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/574349758700168905/

          /@

        • Posted October 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          “I suspect that claiming everything is pilot error is an example of not getting to true root cause.”

          I think it highlights the ambiguity of the concept “true root cause”, just like “true religion”.

          I’m also an IT person and I’ve never any real problem that wasn’t due to multiple failures, and to call off them all “root” makes the word meaningless, IMO.

          • GBJames
            Posted October 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

            “…never any real problem that wasn’t due to multiple failures…”

            Seriously? That’s not my experience. And I’m an old fart.

            • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

              I may not be as old as you :-), but I’ve had 25 years in IT.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

                Well maybe you need to wait a bit longer. But by 25 years I had certainly seen many single-cause failures.

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

                “But by 25 years I had certainly seen many single-cause failures.”

                That may be a reflection of your analysis, not your experience.

                Whatever you think is a single-cause failure, I can probably come up with several other causes that were just as critical and whose elimination would produce a better result than merely addressing the supposed single-cause.

              • NewEnglandBob
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

                That, of course, is just your opinion. I’ve been in the software industry for 40 years and I’ve seen hundreds of times of single point failure usually by incompetent programming.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

                Poor programmers. 😉

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

                If fixing those other things that you thought weren’t “root cause” fix the problem – guess what – it was probably the root cause. Of course there are often several things that can contribute to the problem – it doesn’t mean those things are the root of the problem.

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

                “I’ve seen hundreds of times of single point failure usually by incompetent programming.”

                That’s a perfect example of a fallacious single-cause.

                Programmers make mistakes for many reasons, but one of the most common is that they’re modifying software that has been poorly maintained, or was poorly designed to begin with.

                Good software design ensures that it’s harder for programmers to make mistakes. When I discover a mistake by a programmer, I alter the development framework so that they can’t easily make that mistake again.

                You can also point to process. How did the mistake make it through code review? Do you do code reviews? How did the mistake make it through testing?

                So I’ve already identified three points of failure besides programmer incompetence.

              • NewEnglandBob
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

                …and most of those have a ROOT cause – the poorly written code. It is irrelevant about code review or testing or development framework, There is a ROOT cause.

                From Wikipedia:

                A root cause is an initiating cause of a causal chain which leads to an outcome or effect of interest. Commonly, root cause is used to describe the depth in the causal chain where an intervention could reasonably be implemented to change performance and prevent an undesirable outcome.
                In plain English a “root cause” is a “cause” (harmful factor) that is “root” (deep, basic, fundamental, underlying or the like).

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

                But as we all know the ***real*** root cause is a fluctuation in the primordial inflaton field.

                If only God had intervened to prevent the Big Bang …

                /@

              • NewEnglandBob
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

                Inflation preceded the big bang. It still might have cause a big whimper.

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

                Yes… that is what I was saying

                /@

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

                Or it is “god did it”. The prime mover.

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

                Maybe good was the poor programmer — and presumably his own poor manager …

                /@

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

                When I discover a mistake by a programmer, I alter the development framework so that they can’t easily make that mistake again.

                You don’t know that the example NewEnglandBob gave is necessarily fallacious because you don’t know what questions came before it or what the outputted error was that led back to that root cause. You’re making assumptions to try to prove a bizarre point that there is no such thing as root cause.

                You can also point to process. How did the mistake make it through code review? Do you do code reviews? How did the mistake make it through testing?

                This is how you get to root cause – answering those questions. Finding where the mistake was made and fixing where that mistake occurred. None of these things are multiple causes, they are the questions asked to see what set off the chain of events that caused the problem.

              • Curt Nelson
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

                I’ll bet it’s a matter of point of view – GW Bush caused the Iraq war. But of course his parents raised him that way. And D Cheney didn’t help. Those crazies who did 9/11, too. Or was it just Bush?

                Any one cause always has its own causes. One can divide or unite. (GWB did it.)

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

                You need to know when to stop asking your “why’s” in root cause analysis.

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

                Fucking magnets! How do they work? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO0r930Sn_8

                /@

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 11, 2014 at 7:21 am | Permalink

                What a great teacher.

              • Posted October 11, 2014 at 7:24 am | Permalink

                Can you imagine being Feynman’s 2-yr.-old and asking Daddy, why?

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

                “It is irrelevant about code review or testing or development framework, ”

                It’s not irrelevant at all. That’s why this idea of “root cause” is shortsighted. You may chastise the programmer who made the mistake, but you haven’t done a thing to prevent it from happening again. I do.

                By the way, the leading cause of bad code is bad management. Managers generally can’t recognize good code, nor do they understand what it costs them. They’re usually so concerned about getting their projects completed that they don’t want to spend the money to do it right.

                And they’re more concerned about blaming people than preventing problems.

              • NewEnglandBob
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

                You are talking in circles.

              • Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

                “You are talking in circles.”

                By pointing out four causes of your supposedly single-cause failure? How is that talking in circles?

              • NewEnglandBob
                Posted October 10, 2014 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

                Because you yourself said that bad programming is caused by bad program management which would then be the root cause, so yes you’re talking in circles.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted October 10, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

            I wasn’t calling them all root. What I’m saying is if everyone finds it easy to attribute every error in flying to “pilot error” then that is clearly not true root cause. You picked something that wasn’t root cause. You can get to root cause statistically using various tests – I’ve done this with large, complicated process issues. Or you can use other ways of getting to root cause. It’s ridiculous to suggest there is not root of an issue. There may be multiple factors but this doesn’t mean there is no root cause.

            • Posted October 12, 2014 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

              I manage other software engineers and I got there by being a good software engineer myself. So no, the primary or root cause of one of my reports writing poor code is not me. Perhaps, I contributed by not properly reviewing it, but I was not the root cause. The root cause is the bad code or bad DB collection method or what have you. There may be multiple points of failure where the problem could be corrected, but the root cause still underlies all of them.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted October 10, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        How come so many expensive technological enhancements, and retrofitting, have reduced accidents massively.
        Why bother if it’s mostly pilot error.
        Why does taking more and more out of the hands of the pilot reduce accidents?
        You may be right but I’m not sure industry rumour milling and self reassuring anecdotes point the the fact of the matter.
        I would be hesitant to flip off the root cause idea on the basis of that.

        There is in fact at least one root cause. It is not the only one but in the list of necessary and sufficient conditions, it is a necessary one.

      • Thanny
        Posted October 10, 2014 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

        All events have multiple contributing causes. You’re doing violence to the language if you insist that a “root cause” has to be the only cause, or that attending to the root cause is the only way of changing outcomes.

        The root cause of a series of events is that one factor which, when removed or altered, prevents those events.

        Consider the idea of drunken driving being the root cause of a set of automobile accidents. All that means is that in the various chains of events which lead to each of the accidents in question, the lack of inebriation on the part of the driver would break the chain.

        And it’s not all or nothing. A contributing cause can earn the “root” status by reducing the probability of some outcome by a significant enough amount in its absence – more so than other causes.

        Your example of terrorism is actually a pretty demonstration of what a good and proper root cause can look like. Each act of terrorism results from a series of contributing causes. That series virtually always (if not actually always) contains religious motivation. And removing that religious motivation will virtually always prevent the terrorist act. Of no other contributing causes can that be said.

        That makes religion the root cause of terrorism.

    • reasonshark
      Posted October 10, 2014 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

      We can avoid root cause (and with people issues, this happens a lot) or we can address it & start looking for solutions. I really believe that if we go down the path of agreeing on root cause, there will be a renaissance in the Muslim world pretty quickly.

      Could be, but in this case what is the root cause? A sect of Islam? Islam? Abrahamic religion? Religion in general? At what level of analysis are we aiming?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 11, 2014 at 7:24 am | Permalink

        That’s really the same thing stated differently. You know the root cause, you just aren’t explicitly saying it.

        I think that might work in some areas but not so much in others. Really the best way to move forward if with open, honest conversation. It’s muddied otherwise.

  6. Posted October 10, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    “It’s gorss, it’s racist.”
    That is a child’s response.

  7. lanceleuven
    Posted October 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Fair play to Sam Harris. He came across very well in this interview, in my view.

  8. ToddP
    Posted October 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Excellent interview. Nice to see Sam getting a chance to fully express his points.

    Sadly, the little subtitle MSNBC used next to Sam’s name on the graphic (“Bill Maher and Sam Harris v. everyone”) unfortunately seems to be case. It’s incredibly disheartening to see this tidal wave of antagonism and vitriol against people who are merely asking to shine a light on religion’s bad ideas and their deleterious effects. Especially when the anger is due to a blatant misunderstanding of the actual argument being made. My hair pulls itself out!

    I know we’re making slow progress in the rational direction, but some days it just feels like such an uphill struggle. Also, I really miss Hitch.

    • Jimbo
      Posted October 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Yes, yes, and yes

  9. Curt Nelson
    Posted October 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Man, that was great. I especially liked the last part – Christians used to be barbaric, too. Yes, and we can’t wait hundreds of years for Islam to become more moderate. We have to hasten that process by talking about it…

    Yes!

  10. DrDroid
    Posted October 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    “As I said, I think that fight on Maher’s show was a watershed moment for American liberalism, forcing it to examine what “liberalism” really means in the face of Islamic extremism.”

    Definitely agree. When I first saw the clash on Bill Maher’s show I was very dismayed and realized immediately that this was a significant moment: either Sam and Bill were going to get shouted down and metaphorically tarred and feathered, or they were going to emerge as even stronger voices than they have been so far. As it happens I think Sam is emerging as the winner, in part due to his eloquence (when he is allowed to speak). One reason I think Sam won this debate is that we now have the odd situation where Kristoff and Aslan are starting to say things that sound very much like Sam, an implicit acknowledgement of the validity of his views. We also see Andrew Sullivan encouraging his acolytes to read Sam’s latest book. Call me naive, but I have faith (oops, is that the right word?) that reason and truth will win out in the end…

    • GBJames
      Posted October 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      I pretty much agree. But it is odd. Most of the reaction has been like Chris Hayes’ the other day… supporting the Affleck position. But there has been an unusual amount of “yes, of course Islam has a problem” response from the apologists. And that is tentatively encouraging.

      • Cliff Melick
        Posted October 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        I’m sorry, but I have always considered Chris Hayes to be an ass, and a poor imitation of Rachel Maddow.

    • Luis
      Posted October 10, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      I have tried to follow the debate but it is getting a bit exhausting!! I don’t actually think there is a clear winner in this debate. I mean Harris clearly comes out as winner against someone like Ben Affleck, but I must confess some of the arguments from the other side are also very compelling. In particular Greenwald’s takedown of Harris in The Guardian has some interesting points. Let’s not forget that Harris thinks that Affleck was actually “prepped” by Greenwald before appearing with Maher:

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/apr/03/sam-harris-muslim-animus

      This is one of those issues where I find myself deeply conflicted!

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        Greenwald has no argument. He apparently doesn’t understand what Harris says and distorts it terribly. He doesn’t address the points that Harris makes particularly the polls and other evidence that Harris uses to support his position. Greenwald makes generic statements and thinks that’s evidence for his position.

        • Cliff Melick
          Posted October 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          +1

        • Posted October 11, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

          Agree too. Greenwald’s article is chock-full of intellectual dishonesty. Further, he criticizes the worst aspects of Harris (like sometimes supporting torture) as a reason to dismiss everything he says, then quotes Chomsky, who is happy to bomb fellow Americans.

          Greenwald, for understandable personal reasons, hates his own country. This colours his opinions at least as much as any atheist towards religion. In my own opinion, animus towards Islam is far more rationally based than Greenwald’s frequent support for what can only be described as conspiracy theories.

    • DrDroid
      Posted October 11, 2014 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      And this:

      http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2014/10/11/smerconish-commentary-10122014.cnn.html

      People who actually deign to think are becoming aware that what Sam has to say about Islam is credible. This guy speaks of it as though it’s something new, but of course Sam has been saying it ever since The End of Faith. It’s hard to squash the truth entirely…

  11. Posted October 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I did read Kristof’s NYT column. He tries to make the point – with which Harris has repeatedly agreed – that not all Muslims are bad. In support, he offers the example of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia, where ” . . . only 16 percent of Muslims favor . . .” death for apostasy. Imagine that: only 1 out of 6 Indonesian Muslims favor killing apostates! If that’s the best defense of Islam Kristof can manage, well it’s faint praise, in my book.

    • Posted October 11, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Yes, and Indonesia’s population is over 250 million, so 16% is c. 40 million people who think the death penalty for apostasy is a good idea! That’s no small matter. I live in a country of 4.5 million (NZ). I find the idea of 40 million people hard to even imagine.

  12. Posted October 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Great interview.

  13. Filippo
    Posted October 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    O’Donnell is a good interviewer, actually allowing his subjects to speak without interruption . . . .”

    I don’t doubt that he usually lets his subjects speak without interruption (though I take that “on faith,” not having observed the majority of his interviews). But, I did watch him interview a conservative type one time, and he was awfully hard-pressed to keep from cutting him off. I was dismayed. I don’t think he treated him fairly. We all slip up occasionally. The test is to discipline oneself to not interrupt someone with whom one vigorously disagrees.

    • Filippo
      Posted October 10, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      Also, re Sam’s statement to the effect that the label “Islamophobia” has been imposed on anyone who presumes to critique Islam in any way, shape or form:

      Perhaps the term should be modified to “Islamofascistphobe,” eh? Who denies that there are Islamofascists (other than Islamofascists)? Affleckesque liberals?

  14. briandupuis
    Posted October 10, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I love the comparisons to Christianity’s maturation too (it isn’t going out on a limb to say that most Christians are much better people than their religion would command), but I’m leery about it being perfect. After all, when confronted with “The Bible supports slavery”, many Christians go through mental gymnastics to present a way to exclude those passages from their religion; if taking slaves in the name of Christianity were widespread, this logic would lead to denouncing the slavers as “not true Christians”, as this reasoning dodges the responsibility of acknowledging that there is morally reprehensible stuff in the core texts of the faith.

    On a related note, I’ve got a simple rhetorical question for the apologists.

    Is there any substantial difference between the defenses of Islam in the light of ISIS put forward by moderate Muslims with #NotInOurName, and the defenses of men in light of the Santa Barbara shootings mounted by anti-feminists with #NotAllMen?

    I was discussing this fracas with some of my more liberal friends (who, unsurprisingly, completely missed that Harris, not once, mentioned “all” Muslims, and were quick to call him a racist), and that question came up. Both were hashtags that try to excuse one group from the sins of its worst members by dodging the responsibility borne by belonging to such a group. Both also change the focus of the discussion, by shifting the emphasis from the source of the problem to the people who are offended by being associated with them. My more liberal friends “get” that #NotAllMen is a cowardly dodge, but can’t seem to “get” that #NotInOurName is a similar dodge, instead of a call for reform.

    Call me when #QuranIsWrong starts trending. Until then, keep up the pressure for change.

  15. mordacious1
    Posted October 11, 2014 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately, the lefty left has had, for some time, celebrities (movie actors, musical artists, etc) as their spokespersons. These people are rich, pretty and usually sound good. That does not make them rational thinkers or even smart. Many of them are so dumb, that I consider them the Ted Nugents of liberalism. I’m looking at you Batman.

    • mordacious1
      Posted October 11, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      After sleeping on this comment, I’d like to retract the word “dumb”. I don’t think Affleck is dumb, not a deep thinker perhaps, but not dumb.

      • merilee
        Posted October 11, 2014 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        He did go to Harvard, after all. Can’t be too dumb.

        • Mark R.
          Posted October 11, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

          How about he’s not convincing as an actor or as an apologist. ?

  16. HaggisForBrains
    Posted October 11, 2014 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    Is it me? I can’t get the clip to play, either here or on YouTube. It appears to load (grey bar along the bottom), but won’t play. I’m able to play other YouTube clips no problem.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 11, 2014 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      It might be you. Weird though.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted October 13, 2014 at 3:00 am | Permalink

        Working now! At last I can read and understand the comments, apart from the the TL;DR Root Cause discussion (although I enjoyed the link to Richard Feynman, prompted by your comment 🙂 ).

  17. Scientifik
    Posted October 11, 2014 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    “Moreover, of the 10 bottom-ranking countries in the World Economic Forum’s report on women’s rights, nine are majority Muslim.”

    That’s really enough said.

  18. redlivingblue
    Posted October 13, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    IF we have a “system fail” error in IT, usually more than one “root cause”. It takes more than one problem to cause a complete “system fail” because all “good” systems have redundancies. Not so in these “failed systems” that make up nations whose root system (OS to keep with IT analogy) is Islamic based. For a modern airliner to crash, it requires multiple systems to fail in such a catastrophic way as to bring down the plane. I have never heard of an airliner going down because of one failed system, as I have never seen a proper computer network go down from a single fail. With that said, I do agree that Islam or any religious dogma if properly inserted into the “kernel” of any government system would make flawed base to build upon, but there must be multiple “causes of failure” to reach the train wreck state we are currently observing in the middle east. I agree that the kernel is flawed, but some moderate Islamic states exist, therefore it is more than a “root cause” that brings jihad and terror to the table.

    • GBJames
      Posted October 13, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Please provide your definition of “moderate Islamic state”.

  19. redlivingblue
    Posted October 13, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    My tentative, layman’s definition would be any nation with a Muslim majority that is not completely batshit crazy. 😉 I cannot think of a country with a Muslim majority in which I would want to live. (Algeria, Indonesia) To continue with Diana’s analogy, I agree that when a government is based on ANY dogma, that nation has a flawed kernel, but to get to the point we are currently at in regards to ISIS, Afghanistan, Pakistan, more than Islam is to blame. I see many problems here in the US attributed to “dogmatic” failure as well (capitalism run amok on wall street and main street). All I am really arguing is more than one cause, is almost always, the cause of systemic failure.

  20. redlivingblue
    Posted October 13, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps I am wrong. The more i think about it, I think I am wrong… Islam is sold as a complete, perfect solution, a “cure all”. From dress code to diet, Islam has an answer. A perfect, inerrant answer. Perhaps the error written into the kernel cannot be overcome. If so, we should see a digression in “moderate” Islamic nations over time as they move backwards toward an Islamic caliphate or move forward toward a more progressive, secular, society as influence of religion wanes in the daily lives of its citizens. What say you GB???

    • GBJames
      Posted October 13, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      To me “Islamic state” means “government that implements law according to Islam”, not “secular government in a country with a majority Muslim population”.

      Turkey under Ataturk was not an Islamic state. It seems to be currently drifting in that direction.


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