Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Wherein "New Atheist" Sam Harris Responds Like a Religious Fanatic

Sam Harris 
A few weeks ago, I took issue with the so-called "New Atheists" and their incessant Muslim-bashing. The issue was that their stances appeared to be more informed by racism than atheism.

Recently, Murtaza Hussain wrote about the same thing in Aljazeera: "Scientific racism, militarism, and the new atheists" The article singles out Sam Harris as a particularly douchey strident voice of "scientific racism". It's a good article, and solid.

So thought Glenn Greenwald when he tweeted about it:

Sam Harris, evidently, didn't like that tweet. He fired off an email that turned into a low-intensity flame war, which Greenwald posted on his blog here.

Besides his insistence that the article was "crudely libelous, defamatory", etc., here are a few lines from
Harris I liked:

  • "Before you retweet defamatory garbage about me to 125,000 people, it would nice if you looked at the article from which that joker had mined that "very revealing quote."
  • "There is no such thing as 'Islamophobia.' This is a term of propaganda designed to protect Islam from the forces of secularism by conflating all criticism of it with racism and xenophobia."
  • "[Muslims are] brainwashed into the faith from birth"

Besides that he sounds kind of like one of those obnoxious Scientologists, what he really sounds like (to me) is a fundamentalist Christian. Most of the "New Atheists" do. The stubborn adherence to a set of beliefs, the zealous defense against shadowy enemies, the othering of said enemies, the persecution complexes. It's all there.

I hope people with the ability to be heard keep calling these guys out on their bullshit. I like a lot of what they do (in particular, Richard Dawkins and the late Chris Hitchens), but they need to understand the impact of some of their speech, and where it comes from.

Random thought: Sam Harris looks kinda' like Seth Green.
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