Sam Harris Responds to Dust Up with Ben Affleck on Real Time

by | October 7, 2014
"It's not people, it's ideas." Sam tries to say to Affleck who rudely talks over him over and over

“It’s not people, it’s ideas.” Sam tries to say to Affleck who rudely talks over him over and over

For those of you who haven’t seen and/or read about Sam Harris’s dust up with Ben Affleck on Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, October 3, you can view the exchange here.

Today, Sam Harris addressed his discussion (if you can all it that since Affleck rudely interrupted Sam every time he tried to clarify or make a point about his position) in a post on his site titled, Can Liberalism Be Saved From ItselfAs soon as Sam announced the link on Twitter, his site slowed down so be patient, I’m sure many people are scouring it for “evidence” that Sam is a racist.

I personally found both Sam’s points/behaviour on Real Time and this response well argued and factually supported. Here is one of my favourite points that backs up Sam’s position:

After the show, Kristof, Affleck, Maher, and I continued our discussion. At one point, Kristof reiterated the claim that Maher and I had failed to acknowledge the existence of all the good Muslims who condemn ISIS, citing the popular hashtag #NotInOurName. In response, I said: “Yes, I agree that all condemnation of ISIS is good. But what do you think would happen if we had burned a copy of the Koran on tonight’s show? There would be riots in scores of countries. Embassies would fall. In response to our mistreating a book, millions of Muslims would take to the streets, and we would spend the rest of our lives fending off credible threats of murder. But when ISIS crucifies people, buries children alive, and rapes and tortures women by the thousands—all in the name of Islam—the response is a few small demonstrations in Europe and a hashtag.” I don’t think I’m being uncharitable when I say that neither Affleck nor Kristof had an intelligent response to this. Nor did they pretend to doubt the truth of what I said.

Do read the entire article.

via Can Liberalism Be Saved From Itself? : Sam Harris.

6 thoughts on “Sam Harris Responds to Dust Up with Ben Affleck on Real Time

  1. KC

    The blow back against Bill Maher and Sam Harris in recent weeks has really stretched my patience with internet discourse. Their critics don’t actually respond to their arguments but resort to one of several bullshit distractions such as:

    – They paint all Muslims with a broad brush… except they dont. They typically attach a number of caveats and qualifications. Neither Harris nor Maher has ever said that all 1.5 billion Muslims are terrorists or anything remotely. In fact they aren’t even talking about terrorism. They’re talking about social conservatism and the harsh imposition of religious laws in predominantly Muslim counties.

    – They paint all Muslim countries with a broad brush… except they don’t. Reza Aslan really “Straw-Mahered” Bill the other week on this one. Bill was very specific about several of the countries where FGM was practiced yet Aslan accused Bill of calling it a Muslim problem.

    – They single out Muslims… except they don’t. Both have a large volume of material that is highly critical of Christianity. Probably a greater volume in fact.

    – They accuse them of ignoring Jews… except they don’t. Both Harris and Maher have been critical before of Israel and judaism in the past.

    – They don’t give equal time to attacking Judaism and Israel… and why the hell should they? Despite what the inordinate media attention they receive might imply, Jews are teensy tiny minority of the world’s religious population. There are about 100 Muslims and 150 Christians for every one Jew. Israel is also a small sliver of the globe itself. Judaism simply isn’t the cultural driver that the other Abrahamic religions are. Curiously you never hear their critics saying they need to give equal time to Hindus (who outnumber Jews about 66:1) or Buddhists (20:1) or Sikhs (2:1).

    Seriously some of the stupidest dialogue I have ever seen out of liberals.

  2. Joe

    Heheh. Either Harris and Maher are atheists of the hopelessly tone deaf variety (I’m going to give Maher the benefit of the doubt and assume he was intentionally trolling for an emotional response) or they played Affleck like a violin.

    I should note, of course, Affleck over reacted, but well duh, they baited the hook well.

    As to the ‘unanswerable’ criticism, it is not that difficult. Burning a Quran is simply a different thing. It is an ‘outsider’ attacking the muslim religion/identity on a very basic level. This is entirely different from other muslims doing bad things in the name of islam. Because regardless of how horrible, the standard human reaction to attack from outsiders is to circle the wagons.

    Further, we are not talking about some random idiot outsider, like that preacher from florida, but rather, high profile members of western society, people who are listened to by many. To the muslim minority in the west, that would make a Quran burning even worse.

    But hey, its fun comparing apples and oranges. Makes feeling superior sooo much easier.

    1. KC

      Isn’t there an argument to be made that few other cultures are so easily triggered by a symbolic attack at its identity/religion even at its most basic level? Can you think of a comparable example to, for example, the (over)reaction to the Danish Cartoons?

      1. KC

        That said I take your point re: the unique offensiveness of it being done on HBO by national figures.

      2. Joe

        Over reactions? Orangeman parade season comes to mind. Can’t really think of any really good cultural ones off hand, but Scientology’s over litigious nature comes to mind, and then there are the social justice types and their obsession with micro-aggressions… Over sensitivity on the level of the cartoons is rare I think, but the Muslim ban on images is not unique. I think Buddhists used to have a similar thing about representing him, but of course there are lots of Buddha statues too.

        1. Theo Pious

          Its a bit off commenting in Feb 2015 to a conversation from Oct 2014 – but I just found it, and its too much to pass up. Orangemen Parades lose their political teeth outside of N. Ireland, and notwithstanding humorous fables, the Scientologists haven’t held any mass public beheadings. Since you can’t seem to tell apples from oranges yourself.

          But time tells all truths, doesn’t it. Despite your best defence of Osama Bin Affleck, just a months after your post was the beginning of a 3 month long 60+ victim Muslim-committed murder spree that went through France reaching its pinnacle at the small offices of Charlie Hebdo. And Bin Affleck has been a lot less public in his comments, as he should.

          Now, this is probably a dead thread, so I don’t expect there’d be a response, but I bet you a shiny new nickel that if I wait 5 more months after any response that might come, time will have told more truths, because in the end no matter the ‘feel good’ rhetoric, my side is right, and your side is wrong.



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