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Why won’t Sam Harris ask Maajid Nawaz important questions?

 
Hesperado
 
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Hesperado
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13 December 2015 16:30
 

SkepticX—

“Harris doesn’t want to engage Islamists in a war of ideas himself, nor does he think “The West” is likely to enjoy much success in such an effort, he wants Muslims who have reformed and/or who are genuinely moderate, few as they may be, to wage the war of ideas with mainstream Muslims with our support. He’s not unclear about that. “

Two problems with this:

1) if Sam wants to enlist “reformed and/or who are genuinely moderate” Muslims, then he should first establish that the Muslim he is working with in this capacity in fact fits that description.  The fact that he fails to ask Maajid questions about glaring problems in his resume indicates Sam is doing a piss-poor job with quality control on this most exigent endeavor.

2) the number of such Muslims is paltry compared with the overwhelming vast majority who are not that way (and for which no proof indicates they are—unless the absence of positive proof is assumed to translate into the sweeping assumption of reformist moderation among untold millions—and indeed, indications abound that the vast majority are flaming fanatics (e.g., Pew polls showing over 80% of Egyptian Muslims want death for blasphemy)

and b) the overwhelming weight of normative mainstream Islam opposes moderation and any reform that goes against the Sunna.

Maajid with clever sophistry tries to do an end-run around this by bringing in the sweeping claims that a vaguely amorphous mass of a majority of world Muslims are more or less benign, and that there is no normatively fanatical Islam but only a vaguely diverse & dynamic force field of different Islams jostling one another in the cultural atmosphere of the Muslim World (which, tragically, extends into our Western world).  But whenever he does so, he indulges in what Andrew Bostom aptly described as “disingenuous drivel”; and it’s sad to see Harris nodding sagely along as though Maajid is not shitting out of his mouth merely a few feet away on the dais.

 
sojourner
 
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13 December 2015 16:37
 
orange - 13 December 2015 02:42 PM

This is the error west makes. Moderate Christians do not believe Bible is from God. But Majid Nawaz or moderate Muslims still believe Koran is from God.  That is the big difference,


That actually isn’t true, at least in the US. I do think there are important statistical differences (talking about large groups here, not any specific individual) when it comes to Christian vs. Muslim attitudes about the relationship of religion to government worldwide. (Although to be fair, when asked, about a third of all Americans and 57% of Republicans are for Christianity as a state religion, and despite these numbers, no recent movement in the US has come close to actually doing this. So it’s hard to tell how much is what people will simply say ‘yes’ to in a hypothetical “if I was in charge” kinda way, vs. what actually becomes policy.)

 
 
June
 
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13 December 2015 16:57
 

I think back to the debate with Douglas Murray, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali with Maajid Nawaz on Intelligence Squared, over five years ago,  “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?”    Maajid never challenged the idea that Islam is in need of a reformation when his debate partner argued Islam needs a Renaissance, a return to its original state.  He was unable to denounce Mohammad’s behavior with his child bride except to say that it was not a particularly good idea, acceptable for the times, and diverted the argument with a challenge to Ms. Hirsi on her Arabic reading skills.  Did he suddenly make a change and become an advocate for Islamic reformation?

I think Sam Harris is becoming tired over the non-stop assaults from enemies such as Salon,  on his character, and is now ready to hand off the debate mantle to a younger,  spirited type such as a Douglas Murray.  Surrender and hoping against his better previous arguments that Islam can be reformed. 

  The process of reforming a religion would, it seems, be a rather dispiriting, begrudging process.  A defeat actually.    Yet, televised appearances of Maajid show him as energized more than ever.  A process in motion hard to believe, yet impossible to ignore.

 
 
GodlessKafir
 
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13 December 2015 17:38
 

June “I think back to the debate with Douglas Murray, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali with Maajid Nawaz on Intelligence Squared, over five years ago,  “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?”  Maajid never challenged the idea that Islam is in need of a reformation when his debate partner argued Islam needs a Renaissance, a return to its original state.”
If you are claiming it is a religion of peace then what do you need to reform it to? Return to it’s original state? It originated with Mohammad who according to Islam went around waging war, raping, pillaging, terrorizing, slaughtering, capturing sex slaves, oppressing people and preaching hatred toward all infidels.
Look at Islamic history. WTF is wrong with you people?

“He was unable to denounce Mohammad’s behavior with his child bride except to say that it was not a particularly good idea, acceptable for the times, and diverted the argument with a challenge to Ms. Hirsi on her Arabic reading skills.”
How can you not recognize that he was being deceitful? He didn’t denounce Mohammad’s behavior because he admires Mohammad. In Islam you are supposed to follow in the example Mohammad and he practiced and preached the use of deception. Nawaz is just being a good Muslim by deceiving you. Also you are wrong about Nawaz challenging her Arabic over Aisha. It was when she used the word “maim” which had nothing to do with Aisha.

“I think Sam Harris is becoming tired over the non-stop assaults from enemies such as Salon,  on his character, and is now ready to hand off the debate mantle to a younger,  spirited type such as a Douglas Murray.”
Douglas Murray is being deceived by Nawaz too. Watch them together. What evidence do you have the Harris is going to “hand off the debate”? He seems very active to me.

You people are so blind and naive. Nawaz never mentions Islam as the problem. He defines “Islamism” as a politicized version of Islam as if Islam is not political. All the atrocities committed in the name of Islam he blames Western civilization, individual Muslims, and tribal mentality. It is blatantly obvious that he wants to protect Islam from criticism and distract us by making us hope for a reformation that he knows will never come.

[ Edited: 13 December 2015 17:40 by GodlessKafir]
 
Hesperado
 
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13 December 2015 17:43
 

June

“Did he [Maajid] suddenly make a change and become an advocate for Islamic reformation? “

No; I think he just got more clever—and it paid off.  Now Sam Harris and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are his supporters.

 
Hesperado
 
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13 December 2015 17:53
 

—and, as Godless points out, Douglas Murray (and countless civilians whose dismay at the metastasizing problem of Islam is being deftly massaged by Maajid into following his guile & wiles).

 
June
 
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13 December 2015 18:14
 

Of course I recognize he was being deceitful and realize Muslims, even moderate,  protect the reputation of Islam and Mohammad above everything.  I do not believe there can be a reformation of the Islamic religion.    My insufficient writing skills apparently lacked in conveying that message, and your assumption of my naivety over the religion is incorrect. 

When did Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Douglas Murray become supporters?  They challenged him at every turn, last I watched.

 
 
SkepticX
 
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13 December 2015 18:56
 
Hesperado - 13 December 2015 04:30 PM

SkepticX—

“Harris doesn’t want to engage Islamists in a war of ideas himself, nor does he think “The West” is likely to enjoy much success in such an effort, he wants Muslims who have reformed and/or who are genuinely moderate, few as they may be, to wage the war of ideas with mainstream Muslims with our support. He’s not unclear about that. “

Two problems with this:

1) if Sam wants to enlist “reformed and/or who are genuinely moderate” Muslims, then he should first establish that the Muslim he is working with in this capacity in fact fits that description.  The fact that he fails to ask Maajid questions about glaring problems in his resume indicates Sam is doing a piss-poor job with quality control on this most exigent endeavor.

That’s a problem with a given implementation, not with the strategy. I was responding to the claims about Sam Harris’ alleged strategy which were false.

 

Hesperado - 13 December 2015 04:30 PM

2) the number of such Muslims is paltry compared with the overwhelming vast majority who are not that way (and for which no proof indicates they are—unless the absence of positive proof is assumed to translate into the sweeping assumption of reformist moderation among untold millions—and indeed, indications abound that the vast majority are flaming fanatics (e.g., Pew polls showing over 80% of Egyptian Muslims want death for blasphemy)

and b) the overwhelming weight of normative mainstream Islam opposes moderation and any reform that goes against the Sunna.


I only know a few Muslims personally (and several acquaintances), and they’re all quite reformed as compared to the problem children and their supporters. They tend to make a point of that. One, Dr. Adel Amer, is flat out theologically liberal to what most would consider a fairly extreme degree, and he runs a mosque of some sort with his wife at the University of Georgia where I work (granted, it is kind of a cult of personality). He’s a popular speaker in the area (North GA—mostly Athens and Atlanta) So based upon what I see and hear from US Muslims, as I said, Islam here is overall fairly reformed. I’m quite sure there are plenty of exceptions, and in fact what I’ve seen and heard may well be the exception. In any case the problem is that just as with Christianity the fundies just quickly decide such believers are false and cut them off as far as any influence. But that’s always a problem with reform in any religion, it’s just amped up with Islam because it’s still in its Dark Age ... and it has modern weaponry at its disposal. But these reformed Muslims do in fact exist, and they’re not rare in the US.

 
 
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13 December 2015 19:04
 
Niclynn - 13 December 2015 04:37 PM
orange - 13 December 2015 02:42 PM

This is the error west makes. Moderate Christians do not believe Bible is from God. But Majid Nawaz or moderate Muslims still believe Koran is from God.  That is the big difference,

That actually isn’t true, at least in the US.


Yeah, I caught that one too—wasn’t going to mention it right now, but that’s pretty antithetical to my own background and to most Protestantism in the US as I’ve experienced it as a believer (raised So. Bapt. in a suburb of San Francisco—i.e. a very theologically “liberal” So. Bapt.) and certainly to my experience living in Georgia (Ft. Benning/Columbus, Macon and Athens). It also doesn’t mesh with popular devotional and Bible study literature at the major Christian bookstores or online.

 
 
sojourner
 
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13 December 2015 19:29
 
SkepticX - 13 December 2015 07:04 PM
Niclynn - 13 December 2015 04:37 PM
orange - 13 December 2015 02:42 PM

This is the error west makes. Moderate Christians do not believe Bible is from God. But Majid Nawaz or moderate Muslims still believe Koran is from God.  That is the big difference,

That actually isn’t true, at least in the US.


Yeah, I caught that one too—wasn’t going to mention it right now, but that’s pretty antithetical to my own background and to most Protestantism in the US as I’ve experienced it as a believer (raised So. Bapt. in a suburb of San Francisco—i.e. a very theologically “liberal” So. Bapt.) and certainly to my experience living in Georgia (Ft. Benning/Columbus, Macon and Athens). It also doesn’t mesh with popular devotional and Bible study literature at the major Christian bookstores or online.


Yeah, I’ve heard the phrase “True and perfect word of God” a lot in my life. In hindsight it’s strange how convinced I was about how the true and perfect word of God was delineated into allegorical and literal segments with no particular instructions as to how to interpret or parse these categories, but it all made total sense at the time.

June - 13 December 2015 04:57 PM

The process of reforming a religion would, it seems, be a rather dispiriting, begrudging process.  A defeat actually.    Yet, televised appearances of Maajid show him as energized more than ever.  A process in motion hard to believe, yet impossible to ignore.


Eh. I think he’s just a ‘shiny’ person who has that kind of resilience. He had to cool his heels in an Egyptian prison for a few years, remember, and watch his friend get tortured while he was spared (which may, in a weird way, be worse - survivor’s guilt and all that). Sometimes such experiences can be genuinely transformative for people. If I fault him for anything it’s for being a bit shallow and, I dunno, ‘worldly’, but I think he’s got his light side as well, he seems to have a genuine desire (perhaps mixed with other desires, like promoting violence in order to impress the right people, but still,) to help others, and certainly not just Muslims.

 
 
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13 December 2015 20:05
 

June,

“When did Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Douglas Murray become supporters?  They challenged him at every turn, last I watched.”

Do you think Murray and Ali disagree with Sam Harris on this point, then?  What has Murray said that would disagree with the partnership Harris has forged with Nawaz as they hold hands and walk into the sunset of the Future of Tolerance together…?

 
sojourner
 
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14 December 2015 07:24
 

Sort of relevant to this thread, Nawaz has a new article out on The Daily Beast today.

I have to say, I was feeling vaguely hostile towards him when he got his fucking pom poms out to cheer for bombing Syria, as a little boy I’ve worked with for years had just returned from the country after visiting a dying family member. I don’t recall ever advocating people bombing the place where your kid lives, Nawaz, so some basic reciprocity on those issues would be nice.

That said, I realize being a conservative / right-leaning thinker (because I’m sorry, I don’t buy him for a second as being on the ‘left’, but as a conservative thinker, he’s pretty reasonable) is often about being the group that has to make the heart-wrenching but necessary utilitarian decisions. I think we need a strong left to remind others that those decisions are heart-wrenching, and to make sure that they are only resorted to when absolutely necessary and at no other time. I think Nawaz was over-zealous on Syria and overly critical of Obama without good reason, but I can’t say I object to his way of thinking in principle. I am not a Gandhi type who thinks the world should have prayed for the Nazis to stop, even if I do feel guilty about not being a total pacifist. 

Anyways, I thought the new article was interesting. He is sort of between a rock and a hard place - to me he seems to take the Noam Chomsky approach in that he does nothing but bash the culture he purports to support, making his stated support for said culture in the first place a bit inexplicable. But if you accept that rationale from people like Chomsky, I suppose you have to accept it across-the-board (on the other hand, if you don’t accept it for people like Chomsky, I don’t think there’s anything hypocritical in not accepting it in the case of Nawaz). The second he said anything positive about Islam he would - as this thread kinda proves - he’d be instantly suspect to the right, while criticizing it makes him suspect to the left. So again, in trying to go the moderate-conservative route, he’s walking a very fine line.


Hmm… after typing this post saw this article about Nawaz alleging that he accused peaceful Muslim groups of being terrorist organizations, so now I’m not sure what to think. If it’s true, that would be extremely hypocritical, but I should get to work, so for now I’ll just add it and note that I saw it after I typed the above, not sure about the validity of it yet.

[ Edited: 14 December 2015 07:27 by sojourner]
 
 
Hesperado
 
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14 December 2015 11:04
 

“That said, I realize being a conservative / right-leaning thinker (because I’m sorry, I don’t buy him for a second as being on the ‘left’, but as a conservative thinker, he’s pretty reasonable)”

How is it reasonable to admire Abdullah Quilliam?  How is it reasonable to admire Muhammad?  How reasonable is it to admire the Koran?

 
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14 December 2015 12:28
 
Hesperado - 14 December 2015 11:04 AM

“That said, I realize being a conservative / right-leaning thinker (because I’m sorry, I don’t buy him for a second as being on the ‘left’, but as a conservative thinker, he’s pretty reasonable)”

How is it reasonable to admire Abdullah Quilliam?  How is it reasonable to admire Muhammad?  How reasonable is it to admire the Koran?

I can admire Muhammad as a crafty wartime general and at the same time say that as a role model for a religion he’s a horrible, horrible choice.

 
 
GodlessKafir
 
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14 December 2015 13:29
 

Icehorse “I can admire Muhammad as a crafty wartime general and at the same time say that as a role model for a religion he’s a horrible, horrible choice.”

You are equivocating. By “admire” you mean you are holding his skill at being successful as a ruthless warlord in high regard. You can even respect him for it. While Muslims “admire” him with feelings of affection, APPROVAL, and veneration.

 
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