alan wrote:There is a danger in taking quotes out of context. Most of all when the person you are quoting thinks in long sentences.
I've read both his books twice and find no reason to believe he was "for the war on terror". Rather, he tells it like it is. Maybe Muslim society was great at a certain time in the past--ok. But now, it is radicalized. What do we do with this fact? And how do we, living in a world composed both of rational, progressive societies, and backward, ideologically constricted theocracies, deal with this situation?
As I said before, read and understand before commenting.
This is the sort of a black and white thinking that Harris is unfortunately complicit in. "It is radicalised"? I am in Turkey right now and I don't find it radicalized. The top Muslim cleric here has just spoken out to urge the government to rebuild a Christian monastery and study centre, saying that all religions should be able to train their priests with good facilities in Turkey.
I don't think Indonesia is radicalised. I don't think Tunisia is radicalised. And here you find at least three vibrant progressive Muslim societies.
This "thinking in long sentences" part is his ability to persuade. Good lawyers can be very persuasive even in the absence of a strong cogent reasons. "No reason to believe he was for the war on terror"? How about reading Sam Harris:
But more than that Harris becomes rather sloppy with the truth in order to advance his own agenda. For instance he insists:
“The Israelis are confronting people who will blow themselves up to kill the maximum number of noncombatants and will even use their own children as human shields. They’ll launch their missiles from the edge of a hospital or school so that any retaliation will produce the maximum number of innocent casualties. And they do all this secure in the knowledge that their opponents are genuinely worried about killing innocent people. It’s the most cynical thing imaginable. And yet within the moral discourse of the liberal West, the Israeli side looks like it’s the most egregiously insensitive to the cost of the conflict.”
Whereas Amnesty International has found that Israeli army rather than Hamas used children as shields and Des Travers of the Goldstone report wrote:
“We found no evidence that Hamas used civilians as hostages. I had expected to find such evidence but did not. We also found no evidence that mosques were used to store munitions. ”
“In our dealings with the Muslim world, we must acknowledge that Muslims have not found anything of substance to say against the actions of the September 11 hijackers, apart from the ubiquitous canard that they were really Jews.” ( The End of Faith, p. 134)
While in reality, a Joint Statement by American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers, Association of Muslim Social Scientists, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Medical Association of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Society of North America, Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Muslim American Society and Muslim Public Affairs Council, stated:
American Muslims utterly condemn the vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called the attacks in New York and Washington "horrific"
and added in a televised statement: "Egypt firmly and strongly condemns such attacks
on civilians and soldiers that led to the deaths of a large number of innocent victims."
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said "I send my condolences, and
the condolences of the Palestinian people to American President Bush and
his government and to the American people for this terrible act," Arafat told
reporters in Gaza. "We completely condemn this serious operation. . . . We
were completely shocked . . . It's unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable,"
says a visibly upset Arafat.
In Iran (yes, Iran!!) huge crowds attended candle-lit vigils for the victims with 60000 people attending in Tehran alone.
Even Gadhafi whose son was murdered by the US government before then called the attacks "horrifying" and urged Muslim aid groups to
offer help "regardless of political considerations or differences between America and the
peoples of the world." Gadhafi said, "Irrespective of the conflict with America it is a human
duty to show sympathy with the American people, and be with them at these horrifying
and awesome events which are bound to awaken human conscience."
I think it is shameful to dishonestly vilify Muslims like this. I see Harris driven by emotion rather than his scientific integrity here. And he should be called out on it.
A lot more can be said about his views especially from the Buddhist perspective. From advocating torture to attacking pacifism, I just fail to see how Buddhists of all people can find his views defensible. Whatever Dzogchen teacher he has, should give him a good whack between the ears to point out the rigpa, I say.