Rubin report: Faisal Saeed Al Mutar and Melissa Chen

Faisal Saeed Al Mutar is the founder of the Global Secular Humanist Movement, and Melissa Chen helps him run it; they’re from Iraq and Singapore respectively. I’m proud to join them and others as a moderator of the Global Secular Humanist Movement Facebook page, which has a huge readership (336,000 “likes”) and, to our credit, has been taken down several times by Facebook—presumably for criticizing Islam. But we always go back up, for it’s not a “hate site.”

In an interview with David McAfee, Fasal explained the movement:

I think what makes GSHM different from other Humanist councils or movements is that it’s a movement without leaders and without a rigid platform. I never claim to be leader or anything of that kind, I am an administrator, my job is to stimulate discussions and share views that sometimes even I don’t support just for the sake of stimulating a debate and listening to multiple views.

We emphasize a lot on individual thinking and individual freedom, we ask people to think for themselves, think critically about issues that matter to their lives and our planet in general.

At the end, we humans are responsible for fixing the world and making it a better place to live. There can’t be any real solutions if we don’t first acknowledge that there are problems and that Gods, miracles, and apocalyptic beliefs are not the answers – because they are based on fiction and not facts.

As an ex-Muslim and humanist, Faisal is of course not only demonized, but has his credibility eroded, because, for reasons unclear to me, both apostate Muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and very liberal Muslims like Maajid Nawaz are simply denigrated as “porch monkeys” by people like Glenn Greenwald (whose own solution to the problem of Islamist violence is obscure).

Both Faisal and Melissa appeared on the Rubin Report this week, and I found the hour quite absorbing. I’ve put up the YouTube vidos in three parts, but you can see the full hour on the Rubin Report site.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


  1. John
    Posted March 12, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Nice to hear you are involved. Dave has a great show.

  2. Posted March 12, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    The Rubin Report is my new favorite thing on youtube. Even when Dave hosts guests with whom I disagree, I still feel those episodes offer a point-of-view that helps me to gain a more thorough and nuanced grasp of the issues being discussed.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted March 12, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Yes, agreed. There’s a danger in today’s identity politics trend of never listening to one’s ideological opponents.

      The problem is that you then rely on third parties to report to you what their positions are. You can’t know for sure that what you are getting is accurate. In some cases it really isn’t even close to accurate. It’s worth listening for one’s self.

      • scottoest
        Posted March 12, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        If I have a criticism of Rubin, it’s that I wish he’d actually challenge his guests more, on some of their views. Tommy Robinson was a pretty good example.

        Aside from that, I quite like his show. Apparently Cenk Uygur won’t even return his phone calls any more.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        Yes, agreed. There’s a danger in today’s identity politics trend of never listening to one’s ideological opponents.

        Are you including Trump in “identity politics”?

  3. Randy Schenck
    Posted March 12, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    It’s good to hear people who are practical and have both feet on the ground. We need to import more of them and export two others for every one coming in.

    • Posted March 12, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Export – to where 🙂 ?

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:49 am | Permalink

        Oh, say…Bulgaria?

        😀 J/K

        That’s a toughie. Should probably be tailored to the person, e.g., pro-Palestinians could go to the West Bank & Gaza Strip; Islam-apologists to–jeez, so many countries to chose from; etc.

  4. ALe
    Posted March 12, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    ” people like Glenn Greenwald (whose own solution to the problem of Islamist violence is obscure).”

    I’m pretty sure people like Greenwald believe most if not all the problems of fundamentalist and militant Islam is the result of Western foreign policy. The solution to the problem then, in their minds, is for the US, the UK and Israel to quit meddling in “Muslim affairs.” Then and only then will radical Islam fade away only to usher in a new Golden Age of Islam where women and gays are treated equally, apostasy and blasphemy are protected as free expression, and al-Zawahiri and al-Baghdadi become Nobel winning peace activists. You know, all the liberal things the Prophet intended.

  5. Drew
    Posted March 12, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    What a terrific hour. One point of interest was Melissa Chen’s observation regarding how pessimistic the authoritarian left seems to be. It tends to see the worst in people. Mountains are made of molehills and small disagreements grotesquely lead to full-scale demonization.

    A recent example is Sam Harris’s conversation with Omer Aziz. As far as I can tell, their positions are very similar. Both are politically liberal religious skeptics, and both are against the spread of Islamism. Fundamentally, they seem only to have small disagreements.

    Yet these have led to Aziz characterizing Harris as an aggressive extremist with a possible “bloodlust”. How bizarre and uncharitable.

    I have my own suspicions as to the source of this odd phenomenon. I wonder what other people think – what’s going on here?

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:55 am | Permalink

      Sounds a lot like the subject of that great book, Mistakes were made, but not by me.

      Or perhaps, the worser angels of our nature?

      Please let us know your suspicions. I agree that this phenomenon is most disheartening.

      • Drew
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        “The Worser Angels of our Nature” Ha ha, I agree.

        My suspicion, for what it’s worth, is that this has a lot to do with political orientation. Despite superficial similarities, those on the far left see the world very differently than left-leaning centrists like Sam Harris.
        Is the gap between them bridgeable? Maybe not.

        On the horseshoe model (which Dave Rubin frequently brings up) the far left and the far right veer toward each other and almost meet. If so, then we should find a counterpart on the far left to the authoritarian, intolerant and belligerent fascism of the far right. We should see an authoritarian, intolerant, and belligerent presence on the far left, and lo and behold, that’s exactly what we see. It’s the grouping that we call the authoritarian left (aka regressive left) and it has no time for moderates and centrists who, in their minds, are almost as culpable as their arch-enemy, the far right. This might explain the authoritarian left’s ostensibly bizarre demonization of moderates like Harris who, to centrists, seem quite reasonable.

        Strangely, i get the feeling that many centrist liberals (myself included) are relatively oblivious to the yawning gulf between them and the far left. Superficially it may seem like they have much in common (as in the cases of Maryam Namazie, Omer Aziz, and P.Z Meyers) but really, their differences are probably much greater than their commonalities.

        With the far-right, however, centrist liberals don’t seem to have that problem. They usually recognize that even if superficially they share certain views (e.g. we should take the threat of Islamism seriously) their overall worldviews are radically different, and there’s not much hope for rapprochement.

        To me it seems that both political extremes are representative of, as you so aptly put it, “The Worser Angels of our Nature”. If so, then why the double standard?

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Some people have a great big hole, right in the middle of them. They can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to fill it.
      (Doc Holliday to Wyatt Earp in the movie “Tombstone”)

  6. Another Tom
    Posted March 12, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Porch monkey? Really? Now that is a racist term I haven’t seen in a long time.

    For those not in the know, porch monkey is a term to describe black people and imply that they are lazy and would rather hang out on their porch all day rather than get a job. It is also to dehumanize black people by suggesting that they are not fully human, thus the monkey.

    Did Glenn Greenwald actually call someone a porch monkey? Doesn’t he know how racist that is?

    • BogiT
      Posted March 12, 2016 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      No, Glenn didn’t call anyone ‘porch monkey’. The term in question was used by Murtaza Hussain to describe Maajid Nawaz after book promotion with Sam Harris at Harvard.

      • scottoest
        Posted March 12, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        Worth noting that GG is absolutely friends and colleagues, as well as a frequent re-tweeter, of a few people who DID use such language, however. And he did not push back against it even a tiny bit.

  7. Gimmepaws
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    I’m starting to suspect that Rubin and people like Gad Saad are attacking (correctly so) authoritarian tendencies in the left, but as ANTAGONISTS to the left, in ways that ERODE the left as a viable and sane project. They don’t seem to have much interest in strengthening the left’s saner components, or in pointing out that they do indeed exist. To listen to them for a while, the left is all about doing crazy shit, and not much else of value. And they do NOT qualify their criticism by stating that they do stand for left values, as, on the contrary, Sam Harris often does, for example.
    As I mentioned, I vehemently oppose the current wave of authoritarian insanity enacted on campuses and elsewhere by self-declared “left activists” who, in my view, make a mockery of the values of freedom of speech, openness, compassion and rationality that an older left made their own. This new “left” is paranoid, delusional, ridiculously rigid and dogmatic, authoritarian, and cult-like. Particularly worrisome is the effective (whether or not it is intentional) rallying of whole sections of this “left” effectively in defense of extreme Islamism under the banner of battling “Islamophobia”, thus never bringing up the obvious despotism of backward Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia; or never really openly and unambiguously indicting the homicidal actions of ISIS; not even rising in defense of the women who were attacked in Cologne; and going as far as actually blaming the Charlie Hebdo victims as allegedly being responsible for why they were killed — and so on. The left’s silence and complicity on these things is deeply disturbing.
    But Rubin is a libertarian, and has declared his sympathies for several tenets of standard libertarian fare (flat tax, Rand Paul, small government, no free tuition at colleges, and so forth). And, if you follow Gad Saad on Facebook (as I did, momentarily interested as I was in what he seemed to be saying, only to recoil in horror soon after), you notice almost immediately that he distorts facts to suit his preconceived notions, going as far as defending lies spread by obviously slanted and tendentious right-wing sources. He is also rabidly defended, attack-dog-like, by scores of avidly anti-left and cultish Facebook followers who seem interested only in savagely mocking and throwing mud at ANY ideals that the historical left has traditionally stood for.
    In view of this, and though it’s right to attack the more insane manifestations of left authoritarianism, I’m developing a strong antipathy for the way these cheap attacks are used by some who SEEM to stand for the right things, but, upon closer inspection, may be intent on promoting a destructive agenda.

    • Posted March 13, 2016 at 4:04 am | Permalink

      Do Rubin and Gad Saad identify themselves as leftists?
      If not, I think that what you are describing is perfectly normal. Those opposing a political ideology or a culture will attack its extremes as the easiest target, but actually wish away the entire ideology or culture. The same way, many US commenters here want the Republican party to disappear, or at least say so.
      Opponents cannot be expected to distinguish the good furniture from the junk and to help bring out the junk while preserving the good stuff. They do not see this stuff as good and wish to demolish the entire house as a more expedient solution. It is up to the insiders to clean the house.

      • Gimmepaws
        Posted March 16, 2016 at 1:37 am | Permalink

        You (mayamarkov) missed my point: I’m not expecting Rubin and Saad to “clean house” for the left. That would be utterly foolish, given that, as I point out, they clearly show no interest in such a project, and, for all I know, may be perfectly fine with the left falling apart altogether.
        And that was exactly what *I* was pointing out and you seem to have not grasped.
        Mine is an invitation to realize that some people who join you/us against what we see as noxious authoritarian elements in the left may not have in mind the same things as we may have — in my case, promoting a better, more open and sane left.

  8. rebscar
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Professor Coyne, thank you so much for posting this video. The more people speak out about these topics, the more likely it is that change will come. It gives me hope in a dark time.

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