Sam Harris and Maryam Namazie – Wake Up to Disagreement

If you lost two hours of your life listening to the Waking Up podcast between Sam Harris and Maryam Namazie, do not despair. For it revealed in those two hours a debate that needs to be had. Or rather two different debates seemed to be crossing one another, for most listeners. Minds rather than being changed, were left shaken as a result.

It makes no sense to use the word profiling, as Sam does, and then halfway decide what you mean is anti-profiling. At odds when you state wearing a niqab means you should be profiled as a potential jihadist. Nor does it help when you say not all Muslims are jihadists, but because all jihadists are Muslim, we must profile Muslims as potential terrorists. Such profiling by any other name, would have a consequence on anyone of Muslim heritage, regardless of their actual beliefs or ideology.

Maryam pointed out conservative or orthodox Muslims are not the same as jihadists just because of their religious identity. Sam agreed that behaviour was key, but was adamant that if we did not go with all jihadists are Muslims, the authorities would be wasting time checking out the Amish congregation rather than a mosque. Maryam countered the real world does not work that way when assessing threats – the greatest issue is the resources put in place following up suspected targets who follow through with their deadly designs.

I had hoped the dialogue with Maajid Nawaz that became the book “Islam and the Future of Tolerance” might help – that Islamism and political allegiance to its ideals with support for jihadism, would be the behaviour that needed looking out for. Yet it was Maryam that brought that up first. Sam agreed.

When you say the identity of a religious believer or of a neo-Nazi makes profiling fair (as Sam did) the equivocation is not the same. Maryam pointed out you can make the case for similarities between Islamism and nazism, but not for Muslims. Sam once again agreed.

That was the pattern of conversation – Sam I agree, Maryam no we do not. Gone from the argument was Harris saying he should be profiled because of his age (as he did on the Rubin Report). The focus was on those identifying as Muslim. A civil rights discourse to show the problem with that in practise was attempted by Maryam.

Namazie expained the practical problems profiling posed – and how white supremacists would not be used to justify profiling white Christians. She also mentioned her experience of vetting immigrants. That would have been something to explore – the practicalities of policies in action. Instead, Sam wanted to stay on track because he wanted it taken back that his approach  to such issues could ever be considered bigoted. That was the validation he seeked from Maryam, and when he did not get it from her, he suggested Maajid Nawaz agreed with him on a family to exclude from security, while they were both at an airport. It reminded me of Nathan Lean’s contemptible remark about Maajid being his “Muslim validator.”

When Sam suggested Tommy Robinson is being “pre stigmatised” but then had to admit he only knew what Robinson said on the Rubin Report, it was a defining moment. As in the past when Sam had suggested the only people talking sense on immigration are the far right, you come across as validating the wrong people in civil society. Some sections of the left did this with Islamists – the regressive left. Some on the right are now doing this with the far right in an attempt to have a new grouping of alliances.

Maybe Sam should know what the prestigmatising is: Tommy Robinson illegally entered the United States, has a string of criminal convictions: fraud, possession of a class A drug, kicking a police officer in the head, and has shown a talent for reinvention based on using anti-Muslim hate (see Robinson’s interview for his book “Enemy of the State”). If Sam can still be taken in by such a character, it may be from a misplaced sense of injustice. For Sam is often accused of hatred at people, rather than at religion and extremism.

The fallout from the podcast on social media shows the need for free spaces – to discuss ideas and have an exchange of views without worrying how you come across or how soundbites will be used, as you try to formulate your opinion. I genuinely am grateful Harris does this. He takes me out of my comfort zone, and stops me taking for granted the views and opinions I have. With Sam his intention is one thing, but how he communicates can let him down. He can also, as in his profiling anti-profiling, be inconsistent. And wrong.

Maryam tried to show we have to go beyond theorising and look at the real impact on people in society. Profiling and attitudes to immigrants affect ex Muslims as well as Muslims. When we challenge Islamist bigotry we do not need to use the bigoted language of the far right – especially if we have no intention of supporting them. Or else we are creating the friendly fire in the discourse and saying do not shoot back I was not aiming at you, you hurt me saying I shot you, would you mind not bleeding over me in response?

To support secular Muslims and ex Muslims, we need to be attentive to what they say about racism in society. We need to give them a voice.

Then we need to listen. And it is not going to necessarily make us feel comfortable.

Photo of Sam Harris taken by Chris Boland of Maryam Namazie from her twitter profile

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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33 responses to “Sam Harris and Maryam Namazie – Wake Up to Disagreement

  1. jumpedupchimpanzee

    I find this concern about profiling odd. Profiling is used in all cases of police investigation. They will pour their resources into checking people who could potentially have committed – or could be about to commit – a particular offence. That doesn’t mean they assume everyone they check is guilty, they are just trying to eliminate the innocent to zoom in on the guilty.

  2. Maryam can also be wrong on profiling. She kept on insisting that profiling was ‘blaming’ ‘all’ Muslims. It is not. Profiling is a tool that narrows the search space. It is not blaming those being included in the profile criteria.

    Nobody bats an when the police issue a description, “young white male” when a young white male has robbed a store. Maryam herself seemed quite happy to profile Islamists. How do you identify Islamists? Within the search space of followers of Islam.

    There are problems associated with that. Not least of which is the victimhood that many liberal Muslims and ex-Muslims have pointed out in the Islamophobia narrative. It isn’t helped by the complex nature of Islam. Even when ‘moderate’ Muslims condemn ISIS, when a non-Muslim criticises ISIS this isn’t allowed. The non-Muslim sees ISIS as a part of Islam, but various Muslim sects are busy calling Takfir on each others ass, while declaring the unity and victimhood of Islam when criticised from the outside. The contradictory and duplicitous nature of the religion itself, the religious-political ideology, seems to leave many Muslims in two concurrent minds, caricatured by the cartoonish: Islam is a religion of peace, and death to anyone who says it isn’t.

    Yes, positive profiling in this tricky situation can be too useful for right wing hate groups.

    So, Harris has taken this on board and changed the emphasis to anti-profiling, which isn’t singling out Muslims at all, but identifying people that really don’t need as thorough checking as others. That’s not contradictory on his part, but adaptation to what he has been persuaded of.

    Even if you still disagree over the effectiveness of that position, one’s objections then are fully pragmatic. It’s possible, common sense even, to accept that profiling as a search tool is not some immoral bigoted act, and at the same time agree or disagree on how effectively it might be used.

    And these pragmatic issues are where the debate needs to be had. It’s where Harris tries to have the debate. But refusing to debate and coming up with childish crap that Chomsky does isn’t helping.

    And not does it help when Maryam makes simplistic tweets about bigotry, without naming Harris, and then retweets responses that attack Harris as a bigot in that context.

    Profiling is not blaming.

    • As I mention, the Harris that spoke of anti-profiling on the Rubin report seemed to have changed in this podcast. Suspicious behaviour is something authorities have to act on, but it needs to be targeted rather than a fishing net to be effective and ethical.

      • On efficiency and ethics: How are those goals furthered where authorities knowingly spend (waste) finite resources on searching a tour group of elderly and disabled nuns returning from Lourdes just so as to maintain the appearance of fairness?

        I have personal experience of being profiled (Irish entering UK during the IRA bombing era) and being Muslim alone ought never to result in your being targeted. But, it is legitimate to take it into account in forming a picture. As Harris says, if you’re looking for Jihadists, including non-Muslims in that net for the sake of appearances is immoral, given the finite resources deployable.

      • The whole point of the original context of the Harris-profiling discussion was at airport security. How do you target the unknown in that context? How do you target Islamic extremists newly radicalised that aren’t on any narrower profile? A fishing net is exactly what you should use. And for those that turn out to be the wrong fish, you put them back in the ocean, you let them through security. Profiling is not inherently unethical. How it is actually performed – and depending on the profiling that goes on in hiring and training TSA agents, is the pragmatic political issue. Not profiling in principle. The actually effectiveness is a pragmatic issue. The way in which this is often sold is as an example of unethical Harris bigotry is pure BS.

        I’ve not seen anyone give a cogent argument for profiling being unethical; and many of those that complain about Harris are perfectly happy to use profiling that satisfies their agenda.

        Let’s, for a moment, suppose Harris was actually a bigoted racist. How many posts and comments do we see where all New Atheists are ‘profiled’ (i.e. read blamed, in Maryam-speak). Harris says something, Werleman, Greenwald, Uygur, Aslan, … declare all New Atheists to be Islamophoci racist bigots, and twitland is awash with New Atheist hate.

    • dc,
      “You are very confused.”
      Isn’t everyone? With good reason to be.

  3. Sarah

    I was so disappointed with Maryam Namazie and her inability to articulate her position and her erecting a straw man rather than addressing Harris, position. This article does the same. Namazie says that profiling Muslims is racists and then promotes profiling Muslims. She concludes by saying that islamist groups like ISIS should be allowed to enter Europe and Britain to attack it,s citizens. She also says that that population of the West should be replaced by four billion none Western people. Whether you deserve respect and protection from the state is a matter of race and religion. If you come from the West and aren,t Muslim then you aren,t entitled to basic human rights.

    • Er no, Maryam has been active in calling for bans on people entering the country that advocate apostates be killed.

      • But in the Harris-Namazie podcast she was adamant about opening borders for anyone to go anywhere. But you can’t do that and ban some people without checking those that come in. And you can’t do that instantly – for the numbers entering Europe it takes border controls, fences, and time to check people. Without that the ones you want to target just walk right in. The ones that you specifically don’t want to come in will be the ones most prepared to avoid being profiled or checked in any way, and will want to get in before any profiling of any kind an be carried out.

        If you want to question the morality of various positions, what do you think encourages people to get into tiny boats risking the lives of their own children, if not the idea that there are routes into western Europe that are not checked and will not be checked as long as there are sufficient numbers of people in the west demonising their own governments for not performing instantaneous miracles. Jesus feeding the five thousand pales into insignificance with what certain factions of the SJW left are demanding of their own governments.

      • Sarah

        No she doesn,t. She said she would move all the terrorist groups to Europe and Britain and if there,s a problem the government would sort it out then. She,s talking about replacing the European and British population with several billion people from other parts of the world.

  4. Mark

    Harris can be robotic-like and employ absolute “logic” in his arguments, but on the profiling thing, Namazie got it wrong. Suddenly, she came out with that it’s fine to profile “Islamists” (how do you discover they are Islamists in the first place?) and “Salafis” (are all Salafis Islamists?).
    Harris was confused and so was I, because if you profile Salafis on the basis they might be Islamists, then she *should* support profiling white, conservative Christians on the basis they *might* be neo-Nazis.
    Her logic on this changed and was all over the place.

    The point about using an airport conversation with Maajid Nawaz, and examples given, when Harris said, “We came to absolute agreement,” was immediately leapt upon by Namazie with, “Well I wouldn’t have agreed with you”. That was a playground “Yaa boo sucks, I’m fed up with this now.”

    I agree that Harris was wrong to base a view on one interview with Tommy Robinson. Robinson may have made sense on the Islamist threat and as Harris said, did not say one bigoted thing (there’s that logic again but based on one hour). And also probably based on Harris getting called a bigot for declaring it a “good interview”. Namazie tried to explain to him, but really could have done this better, with far many easier examples. An easy one would have been that Robinson has polished up his interviews and then takes to Twitter and makes people frown with either generalisations and sometimes implications of “all” which he denies in interviews.
    Harris said, “He may be lying, I don’t know, but….” Here, he was half-right to suggest that, because his absolute logic based on one interview (which I get), showed a lacking in knowledge or investigation, which he freely admitted.

    Overall it was Harris’s logic up against Namazie’s emotion, and that is never going to work. Both approaches can be wrong sometimes and both can be used to help make the other be better, but this wasn’t that conversation, and mostly I think that was Namazie’s fault.

    • RS

      I must say i agree with your comments here.

    • Not just referring to Maryam now, but it’s common for critics of Harris to take him to mean ‘all Muslims’ when in fact the context is already clear, or should be. In many cases he’s talking about Islam, Islamism, Jihad, etc., and not specifically about Muslims. And when he is talking about Muslims, which you have to when referring to people that hold to Islam, Islamism, Jihad, etc., it’s usually clear from the context. And if it isn’t clear in the original he then makes it clear. And still his critics carry on as if it wasn’t clear at all that he doesn’t mean all Muslims.

      The trouble is, it’s his critics making the generalisations. Harris speculates about an Islamic state having nuclear weapon and suddenly opponents say he wants to nuke all Muslims, when in truth he wants to nuke nobody, but would rather avoid the world getting to the position where the prospect was imminent. I’m not sure how his stating that it would be a crime against humanity doesn’t make that clear.

      But the generalisations of the views of Harris persist.

      And then, whatever fault they see in Harris, suddenly ALL New Atheists are branded with that same misrepresentation.

      Part of the problem is that as an anti-theist (that nevertheless still subscribes to freedom of belief and combatting ideas with ideas) I would want to criticise Islam, but criticise Islamist even more, and Jihad more still. But they are difficult to separate. And the boundaries of liberal values within Islam are not so clearly defined. Criticise Islam for gender issues and you might still inflame the anger of cultural traditionalists that are pretty liberal with regard to apostasy but still want their four wives, but are horrified when you suggest a woman might have four husbands (e.g.

      Islam is a mess of Islamic making. Takfir charges rain down on any Muslim that’s just a little too different in their take on Islam. It’s so bad that we have the Pres. of the US still declaring ISIS unIslamic. And yet the unity of Islam binds all Muslims – which seems odd if all those other Muslims are not Muslims.

      So we have actual generalisations, accusations of generalisations where there are none, and one holy mess of Islam. And Harris is criticised for trying to make sense of it?

      • That was another thing that annoyed and frustrated me, when Harris had to keep asserting, “Of course I don’t mean all” etc. Either Namazie wasn’t listening, or was subconsciously injecting the word “all” like so many do.

      • Sam did not help himself with “all jihadists are Muslims” mantra – if Maryam was not addressing the nub of Harris views, his poor articulation (compare his Rubin Report which I link to) was not helping either of them.

        He recognised it. As I have said on Twitter, they needed to clear the air first and then do this podcast. It might have been easier for us all then.

      • John,

        “Sam did not help himself with “all jihadists are Muslims” mantra”

        There’s no help for anyone in this regard.

        All jihadists ARE Muslims (if the context is Islamic jihadists). The error is to take that to mean all Muslims are jihadists. Which critics of Harris do take Harris to mean (and Werleman has recently said this of @sherlockmichael: Islam=ISIS)

        The ‘no true Muslim’ (a much better fit than ‘no true Scotsman’) is played by ‘all’ Muslims (perhaps one context where ‘all’ nearly does apply – those Muslims accepting all Muslims as Muslims being an exception.

        Or, put another way, we have what would have been Russell’s Muslim Paradox:
        1 – A Muslim is a Muslim who calls various other Muslims non-Muslim.
        2 – A Muslim is a Muslim who accepts all other Muslims as Muslims.
        3 – Those Muslims that accept all other claimants to being Muslim as Muslims, by 2, are not proper Muslims, by 1.
        4 – But by 2, all those Muslims of 1, and those they dismiss as non-Muslim, are Muslims.
        5 – The unity of Muslims is the set of all Muslims that subscribe to 1, plus all Muslims that subscribe to 2, and all those that both do and do not hold to 3 and 4.
        6 – Go to 1

        And still, the misunderstanding is the fault of Harris.

      • Language is the only thing that marks out our arguments as different from those we oppose. So it helps to appreciate that, if you care to mean what you say. If Sam really thinks those identifying as Muslim would keep us safer, he is mistaken. The civil discord and treating Muslims as other to rest of society (he has not said how this would be avoided) is not the equal society.

        Solidarity is we go through security the same because the terrorists will not divide us from one another. We will be equal citizens, and stand for everything they would oppose.

  5. dc

    You are very confused.

  6. Salma

    On profiling…Sam Harris says that he believes in reverse-profiling, and that while passing through airport security with Maajid Nawaz he felt like he could rule out 50% of the people he saw from the possibility of having been ever recruited by a jihadi organization. I might agree, and I would also say that some individuals were probably Muslim in that group.
    The conclusion here is: Being a Muslim can qualify you for being profiled, but there are a number of obvious factors than any one individual Muslim can have for being disqualified.
    And making profiling Muslims a significant point of security, could quickly turn into not having disqualification measures in check.
    To the extent that the most ardent of atheists from a Muslim background might being labeled as “secret jihadis”.
    The distinction between “being a Muslim” and “having a Muslim background” to a right-winger, or even just to someone who is effectively applying a profiling policy, might be completely minuscule.

    In Namazie’s words:
    “The reality is that people are born into a religion out of no choice of their own; the very fact that out of some misfortune of lottery I was born in Iran and I have the label of “Muslim” on my forehead until the day I die unless I make this very difficult decision to leave it and to publicly leave it, and even then the far right will call me an undercover jihadi.”

  7. A “clear the air chat before the podcast”? An idea that Namazie has belittled, quite disparagingly.

    She has now gone full-on Greenwald/Werleman/Aslan by posting a “Sam Harris quotes” video mock-up on her Facebook. It’s really now personal for her.

    And by the way, if “All jihadists are Muslims” logic is wrong, has there yet been found a jihadi who is not a Muslim?
    If it’s “wrong” in the sense of “It’s technically correct, but we shouldn’t really be taking that approach,” that is wrong thinking.

    • Because those advocating all “jihadists are Muslims”usually do that to justify profiling all Muslims. If Sam genuinely wants to insist that is not his approach as he is “anti-profiling” might want to change his rhetoric to avoid sounding like he is for profiling.

      • “Because those advocating all “jihadists are Muslims”usually do that to justify profiling all Muslims.”

        Do they.
        Not because it’s true?

        I suppose this the exact same logical confusion Harris had with Namazie. The technical, logical truth, verses some sort of something.
        But then again, Namazie’s assertion that profiling Salafis has *all* Salafis down as potential Jihadists, rather than I suppose someone claiming Sufism. I wonder, if she allowed herself to be pressed further, she might have shown a problem with other internal Muslim groups. In any case, with her targeting Salafis, she was being very much more specific than Harris.

        Maybe she should change her rhetoric.

        Because I suppose if neither do, they might end up getting called some sort of name. And on that subject she has stooped to putting a video of “Sam Harris Quotes” on her Facebook page, with her tagline of “Can they be true?”
        All are taken out of context, and have been explained quite a while ago by Harris. What she has done is behave like Greenwald, Werleman and Aslan, and is obviously taking the whole thing very personally, and is now throwing stones in a playground.

      • John,

        Talking of rhetoric, this now sounds like you are suggesting that someone who would not otherwise consider jihadists to be Muslims are doing so in order to justify their anti-Muslim bigotry – and that this is ‘usual’.

        I’m not sure how anyone could justify a claim that jihadists are not Muslims. It seems to be a straight forward fact that they are. About the only debates regarding jihadists are the variations in their devoutness, what they do and don’t take literally, etc., which applies to all Muslims – since jihad is a principle, a requirement, of Islam. Many Muslims might even be prepared to say jihadists are ‘more’ Muslim than Maajid Nawaz and other liberal Muslims. Even the notion of jihadism isn’t that well defined to distinguish between its violent and non-violent. I don’t see any non-Muslims declaring their intent on Islamic jihad.

        As for profiling, there are a wide range of views on that, such that many supporters of the general principle of profiling, that don’t see Harris applying it in a bigoted way (i.e. not, as Maryam uses it as ‘blaming’ all Muslims), are none the less in disagreement with Harris over its use. That jihadists are Muslims can be used to justify profiling only in the tautological sense that young while male crooks justifies the profiling of young white males.

        The notion of profiling as a search tool, a means of narrowing the search space, is not blaming the members of a profile group. If Harris sees himself as being part of the profile, which he has, and with the reasonable assumption he doesn’t see himself as a guilty jihadists, the whole idea of blaming everyone is nonsense.

        So, with Harris making that clear, it seems what you are now suggesting is that Harris adopt his rhetoric specifically to avoid those of malliscuous intent to misrepresent succeeding. That’s not really any different than using the offence card in its effect. The more one can dishonestly misrepresent someone the better opinion can be turned to shutting them down.

        Personally I’d prefer plain speaking, with clarification if necessary. What we get from Greenwald, Werleman and others, and with a lot of the retweeting from Maryam seems to be nothing but intentional misrepresentation.

      • But he never mentioned including himself in a profile in that podcast – and as I mention that was a *big omission* to make. It changes the argument. And as I say it makes misrepresenting easier and his position seem incoherent. He dropped the ball, and it lets others play their games against him. I was fair in mentioning a time he was more coherent in making his argument – and where incidentally I defended him against Greenwald, Werldman etc. I even posted to Maryam to give her background.

        A belief in “islamism and political allegiance to its ideals with support for jihadism, would be the behaviour that needed looking out for. Yet it was Maryam that brought that up first. Sam agreed.”

        In short, the authorities don’t do it just because you “look like a Muslim.” But that is what Sam has written in the past. And it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth when explained like that.

      • Sam Harris *is* for profiling, and “anti-profiling” by his definition.

        From the podcast with Maajid Nawaz in the airport situation:

        “He (Maajid Nawaz) is on the record of being against profiling.
        I’m on the record as being for profiling, under some construal.
        My view of profiling is what I call anti-profiling which is not wasting
        time when we know what we are looking for.”

        So I’m not sure why you think Harris is total “anti-profiling”.
        I thought he explained it all.

      • He is for profiling (as I keep saying in my post and on comments) but claims to be anti-profiling because he does not want it based on racial markers. But he thinks all who look like Muslims should be profiled – and that is the problem. Also, it’s as confusing as hell. For some reason he thinks his profiling will not cause the issues racial profiling has in society.

        It raises the problems Maajid Nawaz has highlighted in an article he did on why ISIS love profiling. It is needlessly divisive, counter productive, and crucially treats all Muslims as different from society and all as potential threats.

      • John,

        On that, I agree. It is the pragmatic effect of profiling and its efficacy to achieve what we want to achieve – find terrorists at airports before they reach the planes, in the context of the original statements by Harris.

        But profiling is not inherently immoral or racist – which is what a lot of people make it out to be. A lot of the backlash is not because it isn’t efficatious, but because commentors think it directly racist or bigoted – they say so. They may co-opt other criticisms of it, but their main objection is they think it racist.

        It may be the case that ISIS love profiling for the reasons you state. But they will like any criticism of Islam for the same reason. Are we not to say Quran 24:2, lashing people for sex outside marriage, is a bad idea, because ISIS might like to make use of that criticism?

        It there is such benefit to be had by ISIS, because it plays on the internalised notion of Muslim victimhood, then that’s for Muslims to deal with themselves.

        This is not unlike Maryam’s problem with the hijab. No matter how much she says people should be allowed to dress as they please, is her case that many women are forced to wear it a case not to be made because ISIS love the divisive nature of Maryam’s position on the hijab? Are we to succumb to the rhetoric that labels Maryam a hater of religious freedom when in fact she wants nothing less than freedom to wear or not to wear.

        Is it okay to tweet:

        “‘My Hijab, My Right’ – I don’t think so” – says Maryam Namazie

        without the context:

        “… Of course it is her ‘personal choice’ to be veiled. But if you remove all forms of intimidation and threats by Islamists, Islamic laws, racism, cultural relativism and ghetto-isation by Western governments, norms that consider women half that of men, and so on I assure you that there will be very few women wearing the veil. …”

        I support both Maryam and Sam. They are addressing variations on the same issues, from different perspectives, and with some different opinions about the effectiveness of what they do and how they do it.

        Harris is a humanist in all meaningful senses of the word. He is not a pacifist, and neither are many if not most humanists. Pacifism is fine on paper, but amounts to a suicidal principle when faced with bad actors. Humanism recognises the fact that not all humants are nice people, but they are still human. His position on free will is such that he clearly sees that people are indoctrinated into religion, by other people that have been indoctrinated in turn – it’s not their fault they have been persuaded by bad ideas. The choices we make are ones we are caused to make, even if the local focus of the choice occurs in our heads. This is covered clearly in other work by Harris which many of his pseudo-liberal critics ought to be aware of, and many probably are.

        I’ve no problem with criticisms of profiling in the context in which Harris has considered it, and I think it difficult to get right and counter productive. But this Harris-racist-bigot nonsense has no foundation, and it’s a shame that supposed liberal skeptics can’t read more generously, investigate more thoroughly, and avoid jumping on ideologically motivated bandwagons – and it’s deeply ironic that they don’t.

        If you look back at how a lot of Harris-hate unfolded, there are similar threads that also apply to Dawkins with different actors. The spiteful Greenwald very clearly misrepresents him early on. Others like Werleman and Aslan jump on board – hardly known for their honesty. Uygur buys into the rhetoric of both those characters, then doubles down on his position with ever more irate and insane shows aimed at Harris. And when you look at this, published just a few days ago, it contains nothing more than the misrepresentations that were put out by Greenwald and Werleman: Chomsky even says he knows little of what Harris yet feels qualified to label the atheism of people like Harris as a religion – a critic of Harris, calling the atheism of Harris a religion, basing his opinion on what amounts to a faith in what others have said about Harris. Super irony.

        There is nothing new in the anti-Harris BS that hasn’t been called out for the misrepresentation it is. It’s a shame Maryam was suckerd into retweeting so many of those that have gone sub-prime morgage on their Harris-hate.

      • Indeed – Harris retweeted my post on that rape meme that was going around. I disagree with Sam that his profiling would avoid the problems associated with racial profiling.

        People are always ready to twist words. Price we pay for sharing our views. I hope people follow my link in the post to see the video where Sam articulates his position much better.

  8. John

    Indeed, no greater evidence of Harris’ antipathy to ethnic profiling can be found than the following remarks:

    ‘It is not enough for moderate Muslims to say “not in our name.” They must now police their own communities. They must offer unreserved assistance to western governments in locating the extremists in their midst. They must tolerate, advocate, and even practice ethnic profiling.’

    • I can selectively quote too, from the same article:

      “Moderate Muslims must accept and practice open criticism of their religion. We are now in the 21st century: all books, including the Koran, should be fair game for flushing down the toilet without fear of violent reprisal. If you disagree, you are not a religious moderate, and you are on a collision course with modernity.”

      And indeed many liberal Muslims, and many of those Muslims that found so much wrong with their religion they became ex-Muslims, would agree with this sentiment. There is no way around the fact that if you are going to find fault with Islam, then when looking for the most extreme examples of the implementation of Islam, you won’t find it in atheist, Christian, Hindu or any other group.

      And the reference to communities is about the insular nature of Islamic communities in the west. Many ex-Muslims have to leave their communities for fear of reprisal. Many members of those communities live in fear themselves.

      This problem of community doesn’t apply only to Muslims. Their are various communities in Britain that would not give up a known criminal to the police, either out of fear, or because they hate the police more than the criminals. But in the context of that piece by Harris it does apply to Muslim communities.

      The idea that ISIS is not Islamic, peddled by a variety of Muslims, from people like Mehdi Hasan to a number of organisations porporting to represent Muslims, to various preachers in mosques, is symptomatic of the denialism that exists within the Muslim communities. When there’s not outright denialism there’s evasion – which is seen regularly when Muslims on panels are asked outright if they think apostasy should be punished: no answer, just evasion. And, in addition to the that there are plenty that see no problem with the illiberal undemocratic practices of Islam, that say, “Actually, I do agree that apostates should be punished or killed, even if I put that belief on hold while living in a democratic state. But come the caliphate …”

      A lot of these issues are addressed directly by Maryam. Maryam approves of profiling. But she sees profiling as also blaming, and that’s why she wants to profile Islamists. Harris sees profiling as a means of locating Islamists among a wider group.

      While the subject here is communities, let’s pick up Harris from the podcast. If you wanted to get the co-operation of anyone that could help locate Islamic Jihadists, would you book appointments to speak with leaders of the local Roman Catholic church, or the Jahova’s Witness? Or would you visit religious leaders in mosques to talk about the dangers of giving over zealous preachers with ties to Islamist groups access?

      To that, Maryam’s answer was to profile the mosques were you already think Islamism is being propagated. And she would know that how? From what Roman Catholics are telling her?

      Non-profiling on some trumped up ethical grounds is dumb. The specifics of profiling, its efficacy, how it is perceived, how those perceptions are dealt with, are all pragmatic matters.

    • The ‘community’ issues addressed here vindicate Harris in this regard:

  9. christiantj

    Its strange because I can imagine an efficient way to narrow down a profiling effort that makes common sense. But Harris is short on his own specifics – instead throwing out “obviously not Seinfeld and the old lady” arguments. He also conceded in the Rubin interview that training TSA is important – but seems un-phased by the difficulty of that effort. As if they’re not already doing everything to train them well.

    What ultimately leaves me baffled is that Harris, nor anyone else, seems to realize how absolutely impossible it is to decipher the face of an actual terrorist. For example, the 911 hijackers wore no beard, no traditional garb and the complexion of their skin could have easily placed them anywhere from Latin American, India, the South Pacific, the Navajo reservation or countless other spots on the globe. We live in an era where Sikhs are regularly harassed and sometime killed! for being mistaken as Muslim -because Americans are too stupid to know the difference. And we want to leave it to TSA workers to figure our who LOOKS like they’s a jihadist? And this whole time Harris has been saying its just “the set of ideas”, not a race…. Its bizarre. I remain unconvinced.

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