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History Professor Juan Cole on “The End of Faith”

 
lynmc
 
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lynmc
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05 April 2019 19:48
 

https://www.juancole.com/2019/04/everything-harris-unbelievers.html

I don’t personally think Sam Harris is malicious, that is, deliberately and consciously spreading hate of Muslims.  “Blood libel” might be apt.  I’m not an expert on Middle Eastern history like Juan Cole, but even I could detect Harris’s Islamophobia and carelessness with facts.  His book is an insult to science and rationality.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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06 April 2019 09:29
 
lynmc - 05 April 2019 07:48 PM

https://www.juancole.com/2019/04/everything-harris-unbelievers.html

I don’t personally think Sam Harris is malicious, that is, deliberately and consciously spreading hate of Muslims.  “Blood libel” might be apt.  I’m not an expert on Middle Eastern history like Juan Cole, but even I could detect Harris’s Islamophobia and carelessness with facts.  His book is an insult to science and rationality.

Cole might be an expert, but this article doesn’t demonstrate that. He starts be strawmanning Harris and then proceeds to pick and choose anecdotes in an attempt to build his case. It’s all very shaky and unconvincing.

BTW lyn, I’m still interested in your proposed solution for Israel, Palestine, and the ME in terms of religious freedom?

 
 
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08 April 2019 17:55
 
icehorse - 06 April 2019 09:29 AM
lynmc - 05 April 2019 07:48 PM

https://www.juancole.com/2019/04/everything-harris-unbelievers.html

I don’t personally think Sam Harris is malicious, that is, deliberately and consciously spreading hate of Muslims.  “Blood libel” might be apt.  I’m not an expert on Middle Eastern history like Juan Cole, but even I could detect Harris’s Islamophobia and carelessness with facts.  His book is an insult to science and rationality.

Cole might be an expert, but this article doesn’t demonstrate that. He starts be strawmanning Harris and then proceeds to pick and choose anecdotes in an attempt to build his case. It’s all very shaky and unconvincing.

BTW lyn, I’m still interested in your proposed solution for Israel, Palestine, and the ME in terms of religious freedom?

You’ll have to be specific.  What exactly do you find is a mis-characterization by Prof. Cole of Sam Harris’s book?  What is your defense of the assertion that Cole’s background information on the writing of the Koran is nothing more than “anecdotes”?

As far as my proposed solution for Israel and Palestine, I’ve provided that in previous threads, and your response has generally been something on the lines of “look at the context,” i.e., not a response to my specific proposals and in general, a waste of my time.  Besides which, it isn’t appropriate for this topic.  Post a new topic if you want to discuss that.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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21 April 2019 23:50
 

I disagree with Sam in terms of emphasis and context and possibly objective with this book but I don’t think he gets all the facts wrong. Especially in light of hindsight and clarification. There is most certainly a set of Muslim factions that hate the West, Christianity, Judaism, Israel and the U.S. We have very good and cross referenced poll data for that.

The problem with this critique, for me is the same as the problems it tries to highlight in The End Of Faith. Namely: over generalization, assumptions of motive and motivated reasoning. It isn’t careful. It’s less careful than Sam’s book… which also isn’t careful. Disagreeing with someone by calling them ‘hateful’ is never a great way to establish confidence with a reader who approaches your article willing to go either way. It’s unprofessional. I do appreciate his specific textual analysis and think some of that is on point. The problem which I think Sam correctly identifies is that it’s a category error to defend a religion with sophisticated theological or historical arguments when a majority of it’s followers subscribe to a simple and often toxic version. Again, poll data on this is pretty strong. Whether or not the Koran explicitly recommends judicial rape or child brides or public beheadings is scarcely significant if and when a majority of some region believes it to be true and puts it into practice. The ethical priority, I think is defend basic human rights first and cultural sensitivity about literature second. Though I know that is controversial.

 
icehorse
 
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22 April 2019 08:03
 

Very well put, brick.

 
 
lynmc
 
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27 April 2019 08:36
 
Brick Bungalow - 21 April 2019 11:50 PM

I disagree with Sam in terms of emphasis and context and possibly objective with this book but I don’t think he gets all the facts wrong. Especially in light of hindsight and clarification. There is most certainly a set of Muslim factions that hate the West, Christianity, Judaism, Israel and the U.S. We have very good and cross referenced poll data for that.

Then you agree with Harris that ‘“It is clear, however, that Muslims hate the West in the very terms of their faith and that the Koran mandates such hatred.”’ ?

The problem with this critique, for me is the same as the problems it tries to highlight in The End Of Faith. Namely: over generalization, assumptions of motive and motivated reasoning. It isn’t careful. It’s less careful than Sam’s book… which also isn’t careful.

It isn’t an assumption of motive if you can back it with historical evidence.  Juan Cole does back his “assumptions”, Harris doesn’t.

Disagreeing with someone by calling them ‘hateful’ is never a great way to establish confidence with a reader who approaches your article willing to go either way. It’s unprofessional.

Where, exactly, does Cole call Harris ‘hateful’?  He calls the Harris’s allegations ‘hateful’.  I think that’s supportable by evidence, the book is Islamophobic to the core.

I do appreciate his specific textual analysis and think some of that is on point. The problem which I think Sam correctly identifies is that it’s a category error to defend a religion with sophisticated theological or historical arguments when a majority of it’s followers subscribe to a simple and often toxic version. Again, poll data on this is pretty strong. Whether or not the Koran explicitly recommends judicial rape or child brides or public beheadings is scarcely significant if and when a majority of some region believes it to be true and puts it into practice. The ethical priority, I think is defend basic human rights first and cultural sensitivity about literature second. Though I know that is controversial.

It seems to me that Harris attacks Islam specifically with theological arguments (see above).  Your argument that it’s immaterial whether or not the Koran e.g., explicitly recommends judicial rape is much closer to Cole’s argument, “Are you criticizing what the historical Qur’an says? Or are you criticizing a strand of Muslim interpretation of it?”  You are certainly criticizing a strand of Muslim interpretation whereas Harris asserts that (e.g.) the command to make war on unbelievers is in the Qur’an itself.

As to whether majorities in some regions believe child brides or the other evils you describe are practiced and believed to to be recommended by Islam: I don’t doubt they’re practiced, I don’t doubt local religious authorities condone them, I doubt that this is unique to any particular religion and suspect it’s common where ever there’s widespread poverty.

 
icehorse
 
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27 April 2019 08:55
 

lyn:

It seems to me that Harris attacks Islam specifically with theological arguments (see above).  Your argument that it’s immaterial whether or not the Koran e.g., explicitly recommends judicial rape is much closer to Cole’s argument, “Are you criticizing what the historical Qur’an says? Or are you criticizing a strand of Muslim interpretation of it?”  You are certainly criticizing a strand of Muslim interpretation whereas Harris asserts that (e.g.) the command to make war on unbelievers is in the Qur’an itself.

From a cognitive science perspective, Harris is correct. The MINDS of people reading the Quran might have peaceful, inclusive intentions. But the book is EXTREMELY REPETITIVE, and the readers’ brains - the brains our minds are not in charge of - WILL pick up on the “make war” propaganda that’s so pervasive throughout the book.

 
 
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28 April 2019 08:23
 
icehorse - 27 April 2019 08:55 AM

lyn:

It seems to me that Harris attacks Islam specifically with theological arguments (see above).  Your argument that it’s immaterial whether or not the Koran e.g., explicitly recommends judicial rape is much closer to Cole’s argument, “Are you criticizing what the historical Qur’an says? Or are you criticizing a strand of Muslim interpretation of it?”  You are certainly criticizing a strand of Muslim interpretation whereas Harris asserts that (e.g.) the command to make war on unbelievers is in the Qur’an itself.

From a cognitive science perspective, Harris is correct. The MINDS of people reading the Quran might have peaceful, inclusive intentions. But the book is EXTREMELY REPETITIVE, and the readers’ brains - the brains our minds are not in charge of - WILL pick up on the “make war” propaganda that’s so pervasive throughout the book.

What you say makes no sense.  At the time the Quran was written, Muhammad and his followers were under attack by various other factions, they weren’t “making” war, the wars were being made by others (that’s if I can believe Juan Cole, who’s an honest historian and has studied the history).  So the so-called propaganda in the book is pretty much all “defend your community” nature, not “make war” propaganda.

 

 
icehorse
 
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28 April 2019 08:38
 
lynmc - 28 April 2019 08:23 AM
icehorse - 27 April 2019 08:55 AM

lyn:

It seems to me that Harris attacks Islam specifically with theological arguments (see above).  Your argument that it’s immaterial whether or not the Koran e.g., explicitly recommends judicial rape is much closer to Cole’s argument, “Are you criticizing what the historical Qur’an says? Or are you criticizing a strand of Muslim interpretation of it?”  You are certainly criticizing a strand of Muslim interpretation whereas Harris asserts that (e.g.) the command to make war on unbelievers is in the Qur’an itself.

From a cognitive science perspective, Harris is correct. The MINDS of people reading the Quran might have peaceful, inclusive intentions. But the book is EXTREMELY REPETITIVE, and the readers’ brains - the brains our minds are not in charge of - WILL pick up on the “make war” propaganda that’s so pervasive throughout the book.

What you say makes no sense.  At the time the Quran was written, Muhammad and his followers were under attack by various other factions, they weren’t “making” war, the wars were being made by others (that’s if I can believe Juan Cole, who’s an honest historian and has studied the history).  So the so-called propaganda in the book is pretty much all “defend your community” nature, not “make war” propaganda.

I hear two common defenses:

1 - At the time the book was written…
2 - You’re not reading the book the way scholars think you should…

As for #1, Muslims claim the book is timeless.
As for #2, I don’t care what scholars think, I care what hundreds of millions of Muslims think.

 
 
lynmc
 
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28 April 2019 16:14
 
icehorse - 28 April 2019 08:38 AM
lynmc - 28 April 2019 08:23 AM
icehorse - 27 April 2019 08:55 AM

lyn:

It seems to me that Harris attacks Islam specifically with theological arguments (see above).  Your argument that it’s immaterial whether or not the Koran e.g., explicitly recommends judicial rape is much closer to Cole’s argument, “Are you criticizing what the historical Qur’an says? Or are you criticizing a strand of Muslim interpretation of it?”  You are certainly criticizing a strand of Muslim interpretation whereas Harris asserts that (e.g.) the command to make war on unbelievers is in the Qur’an itself.

From a cognitive science perspective, Harris is correct. The MINDS of people reading the Quran might have peaceful, inclusive intentions. But the book is EXTREMELY REPETITIVE, and the readers’ brains - the brains our minds are not in charge of - WILL pick up on the “make war” propaganda that’s so pervasive throughout the book.

What you say makes no sense.  At the time the Quran was written, Muhammad and his followers were under attack by various other factions, they weren’t “making” war, the wars were being made by others (that’s if I can believe Juan Cole, who’s an honest historian and has studied the history).  So the so-called propaganda in the book is pretty much all “defend your community” nature, not “make war” propaganda.

I hear two common defenses:

1 - At the time the book was written…
2 - You’re not reading the book the way scholars think you should…

 

Obviously, you’re mis-characterizing what I said.  Perhaps to set up a strawman argument?  What do you think I was defending?

As for #1, Muslims claim the book is timeless.

 

So what?

As for #2, I don’t care what scholars think, I care what hundreds of millions of Muslims think.

You just went through a whole lot of trouble to explain that the book tells Muslims, REPETITIVELY, to “make war,” that is, start wars against others who didn’t attack them in the first place.  Harris goes to a lot of trouble to explain that the book tells Muslims to “make war,” hate Jews and Christians, etc., and furthermore, he says it’s the only way the book can be read.  If it doesn’t actually say make war as you describe, then I don’t see how Muslims can pick up on it.  That you and Harris are wrong according to the best scholarship in the field is of no concern to you?

Funny, some of the most noted atheist prophets tell us that Muslims are violent fanatics.  This seems to be teaching atheists to fear and hate Muslims (and Christians for that matter).  I can’t read Harris’s book any other way.

 
icehorse
 
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28 April 2019 18:02
 

lyn:

If it doesn’t actually say make war as you describe, then I don’t see how Muslims can pick up on it.

I don’t understand this sentence, can you phrase it differently?

lyn:

That you and Harris are wrong according to the best scholarship in the field is of no concern to you?

I’d say it’s quite the opposite. The best scholars spent their careers making these translations clear, and I agree with them.

 
 
lynmc
 
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04 May 2019 19:08
 
icehorse - 28 April 2019 06:02 PM

lyn:

If it doesn’t actually say make war as you describe, then I don’t see how Muslims can pick up on it.

I don’t understand this sentence, can you phrase it differently?

 

Your description: “From a cognitive science perspective, Harris is correct. The MINDS of people reading the Quran might have peaceful, inclusive intentions. But the book is EXTREMELY REPETITIVE, and the readers’ brains - the brains our minds are not in charge of - WILL pick up on the “make war” propaganda that’s so pervasive throughout the book.”

However, as noted, the Quran doesn’t tell readers to “make war”.  It tells them they can act in defense, there isn’t the repetitive propaganda you term “make war”.  I guess you don’t understand your own words?  Or perhaps you’re doing your all-too-frequent sealioning.

lyn:

That you and Harris are wrong according to the best scholarship in the field is of no concern to you?

I’d say it’s quite the opposite. The best scholars spent their careers making these translations clear, and I agree with them.

Right, those you so frequently cite from the Gatestone institute?  or those at MEMRI?  Neither listed as reliable sources according to mediabiasfactcheck.org.

 
lynmc
 
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04 May 2019 19:13
 
icehorse - 28 April 2019 08:38 AM

...
2 - You’re not reading the book the way scholars think you should…

As for #2, I don’t care what scholars think, I care what hundreds of millions of Muslims think.

Right, hundreds of millions of Muslims almost undoubtedly think Islam is a “religion of peace”, however, when it suits your argument that Muslims are violent fanatics you don’t seem to care a whit.

 
icehorse
 
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04 May 2019 20:08
 
lynmc - 04 May 2019 07:13 PM
icehorse - 28 April 2019 08:38 AM

...
2 - You’re not reading the book the way scholars think you should…

As for #2, I don’t care what scholars think, I care what hundreds of millions of Muslims think.

Right, hundreds of millions of Muslims almost undoubtedly think Islam is a “religion of peace”, however, when it suits your argument that Muslims are violent fanatics you don’t seem to care a whit.

I never said that. What I’ve said many times is that hundreds of millions of Muslims favor Sharia. Yes, yes, I know, Sharia has many different implementations, but at its core it is all the bad things I’ve listed over and over again, among them being supremacist.

 
 
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24 May 2019 17:41
 
icehorse - 04 May 2019 08:08 PM
lynmc - 04 May 2019 07:13 PM
icehorse - 28 April 2019 08:38 AM

...
2 - You’re not reading the book the way scholars think you should…

As for #2, I don’t care what scholars think, I care what hundreds of millions of Muslims think.

Right, hundreds of millions of Muslims almost undoubtedly think Islam is a “religion of peace”, however, when it suits your argument that Muslims are violent fanatics you don’t seem to care a whit.

I never said that. What I’ve said many times is that hundreds of millions of Muslims favor Sharia. Yes, yes, I know, Sharia has many different implementations, but at its core it is all the bad things I’ve listed over and over again, among them being supremacist.

I note that you provide no evidence, and without evidence, you’re just offering islamophobic propaganda.  Certainly, your constant repetition is one tactic of propaganda.

Which specific edict, core to Sharia, is supremacist, and why? 

Let me give an example.  The Israeli law of return, “every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh [immigrant]” (quoted from wikipedia) privileges Jews above other ethnic groups, and is therefore supremacist.  It is core to Israeli supremacism as evidenced by the myriad regulations barring most of its indigenous people from living in the state, and authorizing the killing of any who attempt to do so.

I’d also like to repeat my previous request to back up your claims with evidence:  What exactly do you find is a mis-characterization by Prof. Cole of Sam Harris’s book?  What is your defense of the assertion that Cole’s background information on the writing of the Koran is nothing more than “anecdotes”?

 
icehorse
 
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25 May 2019 08:03
 

lyn:

I note that you provide no evidence, and without evidence, you’re just offering islamophobic propaganda.  Certainly, your constant repetition is one tactic of propaganda.

In fact, I’ve linked to large polls many times on this forum.

lyn:

Which specific edict, core to Sharia, is supremacist, and why?

Over 500 times, the Quran instructs Muslims that they are superior to non-Muslims. There are hints of it from the very first Surah, and the 2nd Surah lays this message on thick. You can’t go more than a few pages in the book without being told how bad non-Muslims are.

 

 

 
 
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