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Book Review:  The New Atheist Threat: The Dangerous Rise of Secular Extremism, by C J Werleman

“Every religion needs its heretics. For me heresy is critical to the viability of religious experience and the authenticity of religious experience. So to keep the door open for heretics is really a blessing for every religion.”

–  Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im.

It used to be that certain traits came with being an atheist. You were a free thinker. You were a dissident. And as the terms implied, you were skeptical of power in both its clerical and government forms, if only because they were often in cahoots with each other. Atheism was the outlier’s creed. The peripheral man’s belief. Perhaps they were communist or libertarian, socialist or anarchist. Perhaps they were just mavericks. Whatever they were, they were not on easy terms with officialdom. There weren’t many atheist monarchists.

If atheism was a competitive sport, it would be MMA, mixed martial arts. It was a no-holds-barred, anything goes free for all. And we loved it for it. It was a noble tradition of dissent from the imbecile superstitions of theology and the infamy of the politician class. The names of its heroes inspire reverence: Mark Twain, H L Mencken, Gore Vidal and Bertrand Russell. What made them so iconoclastic was the boldness of their lonely defiance of public opinion. They were hated more than they were loved. It is doubtful if they ever expected a glimmer of approval at all.

Today, atheism is in vogue. It’s not even called atheism any more. That’s so yesterday. Like any media phenomenon, it has to be rebranded, repackaged and resold. If you tire of reading the anti-religion essays of Voltaire, why we’ve got something new for you. It’s the New Atheism, the Old One being not fit for purpose. Books fly off the printing press denouncing God faster than you can read them. Conferences, lecture circuits, and prime time TV slots await the heirs to the persecuted theophobes of old. There are careers to be made by making jibes about dumb hillbillies and their Sky Daddy. Just point and laugh.

The New Atheist Threat

The New Atheist Threat

All very droll and all very easy. It takes about as much pluck to be a Western atheist today as being an abolitionist. That ship has sailed. Which would be hunky-dory if not for the sheer rancid politics of some of its leading lights. The old radicalism is dead. What remains is either a harmless enough liberalism among the likes of Richard Dawkins and, among two of the principal celebrities in the movement, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens, a full bore degeneration into invade-the-world politics. The New Atheist Threat by C J Werleman is a corrective to this phenomenon. It is a study of this current’s menace to the dissident movement of which atheism has historically been a branch, as well as to the integrity of Old Atheism itself. It is a critique of a narrow kind of religion-bashing that reduces all political analysis in the age of terrorism to sacred texts and holy books. Its thesis is that an atheism that does battle only with imaginary spirits and ghosts to the neglect of pressing international issues of war and peace cheapens the legacy of the old free thinkers.

Werleman has several things in his favour that make him uniquely qualified to write about unbelief in the age of Islamist fanaticism. He has lived a decade in the most populous Muslim country, Indonesia; he was an eyewitness to the Bali bombing which massacred his fellow Australians; he is the author of a book on the Koran that is more readable and intelligent than most; and having published two books on the case for atheism, he’s seen the New Atheist bonanza up close. This is his field report.

A mistake that critics of the New Atheists often make is to lump them all together as if they shared the same views on everything. Atheism aside, they are not a cohesive body politically speaking. Werleman is careful to avoid this trap by focusing on, say, the militaristic opinions of Harris and Hitchens specifically where foreign policy is concerned. Dawkins and Dennett are not guilty of the persistent war-lust that marks the work of the former two who are rather unique among atheists in their enthusiasm for international violence.

What distinguishes them from old fashioned critics of religion in the mold of Isaac Asimov, and what gives them a certain cache, is their denunciation of Islam. They bask in the aura of being considered the only figures with courage enough to be hard on the Saracens. The likes of Hitchens and Harris flourish because few leftists talk straight about the problems of Islam. Gore Vidal and Johann Hari are notable exceptions. They combine strong opposition to Western imperial designs with a muscular atheism that does not spare the Meccan philosophy. Vidal said “Islam, Christianity and Judaism are the three great evils of the world”. Hari has been even more contemptuous. But such plain speaking is rare in Leftism. The reticence of decent people gives an opening to war junkies who smuggle violent politics into what should simply be religious criticism. Until the peace movement gets over its cringe about talking freely about Islam as it does about the Christianity which it lampoons at every turn, we shall be afflicted by the chickenhawks for some time yet.

Whilst the New Atheists are more candid about the Islamic question, Werleman is right to say that their analysis is more entertaining than it is acute. They say they want to reform and modernise Islam. They want to help the cause of freedom in the Muslim world. Yet their writings about Islam overlook Muslim dissidents who labour to change attitudes on the ground and who command greater influence in Islamic circles where such critiques ought to be directed. People such as the reformist Muslim thinker Abdullahi Ahmed An’naim whose quotation opens this review, the humanistic imam Shabir Ally, the academic Ebrahim Moosa, the historian Said Aburish, and the columnist Yasmin Alibhai Brown. They pass over Muslim human rights activists with a link to the community they serve in favour of ex-Muslims who, though admirable and more congenial to one’s values, enjoy no grassroots support and are thus incapable of effecting Islamic reform.

Shabir Ally says much the same thing about religious extremism and gets a respectful hearing from Muslims. You would think the New Atheists would make better use of a lavishly bearded imam who churns out videos urging a humane Islamic view on the death penaltyapostasyblasphemy laws, penal reform, and an enlightened reading of hadiths, but it’s doubtful they’ve ever heard of an Islamic thinker not featured on Jihad Watch.

This omission of broad-minded Muslim intellectuals makes them a propaganda asset for hawks in the US and Israel keen to portray its opponents as just religious zealots. And some of them go beyond merely being useful to power. They are in active collusion with it. Werleman notes that “Harris parrots far right wing, pro-Israel propagandist [Alan] Dershowitz, who has often called for genocide against specific Palestinian villages; smears any critic of Israeli policy as an anti-Semite, including the Reverend Desmond Tutu, and is known for heinous racist remarks, including his assertion that all criminals in South Africa are black”.

The New Atheism succeeds as entertainment value. Hitchens and Harris are witty and charismatic figures with great appeal to their admirers. Like the urbane William F. Buckley before them, they know how to spin a good joke, and they bring the fun back into an arid intellectual life. But the new atheism fails as a coherent strategy for engineering political change. It is the triumph of personalities over principle. For making these pointed observations C J Werleman has been the subject of a hate campaign by Hitchenites, Harrisites and kindred parasites. 72 hours after publication the book was deluged by 20 negative reviews on Amazon by the fanboys, none with an Amazon verified purchase. Reading books before you review them is for suckers. Just bash the wicked malefactor who blasphemes the demigods of Reason. They did the same to Richard Seymour’s critical biography of Hitchens when it came out. And to Chris Hedges before that. The cult is amusing, but if the findings of The New Atheist Threat are anything to go by, the truth will out.

Theodore Sayeed
About Theodore Sayeed

Theodore Sayeed is a contributor to Mondoweiss. He may be reached at: [email protected]

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98 Responses

  1. CigarGod
    CigarGod
    October 7, 2015, 10:07 am

    Nice job pointing out that those supposedly without theism, discover, promote and violently defend their own Gods.

    Humans are always looking for a Savior…the magic the two groups wish for, seems to be pretty much the same thing…and they end up in the same barbaric place.

    • eljay
      eljay
      October 7, 2015, 10:40 am

      || CigarGod: Nice job pointing out that those supposedly without theism, discover, promote and violently defend their own Gods. … ||

      I am without theism. I have no gods* – and I have no wish to discover any gods – to promote or violently defend.

      (*I don’t consider the universal and consistent application of justice, accountability and equality to be a god.)

      || … Humans are always looking for a Savior … ||

      I’m not.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        October 7, 2015, 11:20 am

        You are a rare bird, eljay.
        But, don’t you think there are so few of you that the exception proves it?

      • eljay
        eljay
        October 7, 2015, 11:38 am

        || CigarGod: You are a rare bird, eljay. But, don’t you think there are so few of you that the exception proves it? ||

        I don’t know how many atheists have a mindset similar to mine, but it is disheartening to know that there are so many (too many) atheists who prefer to create their own gods and violently promote them.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        October 7, 2015, 1:27 pm

        Well, as for me, I’m convinced. If humans didn’t invent God, He would have to exist.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        October 7, 2015, 10:01 pm

        Damn.
        Just when I thought I had all the doors covered.

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer
        October 9, 2015, 9:21 am

        @CG

        I have to agree with eljay.

        I would not describe myself as a militant atheist though. I have my beliefs and values and try to live by them. I seek no converts to my way of thinking and accept others believe differently.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      October 7, 2015, 1:32 pm

      “promote and violently defend their own Gods.” “Cigar God”

      And I suppose you would be all right, just hunky-dory, with somebody ‘diss’ing’ George Burns? Or saying “God smokes ultra-light cigarettes!”

  2. amigo
    amigo
    October 7, 2015, 1:50 pm

    “There are careers to be made by making jibes about dumb hillbillies and their Sky Daddy – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/10/rescuing-atheism-hitchens#sthash.7NfOW3yh.dpuf

    Unlike , making jibes at dumb zionists and their Sky Daddy.

  3. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    October 7, 2015, 2:09 pm

    There may be a paradox in arguing a)!that all forms of religion (or of anything) are equally and extremely bad and b) that some are worse than others.
    However, this would not disprove the claim, which some atheists might make while remaining atheists, that the forces of broad and liberal mind within Islam, like Yasmin A-B, are very weak compared with their counterparts in other religions. I am a regular reader of Yasmin in the Independent – I am unable to bring myself to read her rebarbative Zionist colleague Howard Jacobson. It does seem, though, that Yasmin herself is seriously worried about the weakness of her own side within Islam. On the other hand I’ve just received a document in connection with a CofE committee pointing out that Muslim voices on matters of values and moderation are characteristically refused a fair hearing.

  4. Krauss
    Krauss
    October 7, 2015, 4:32 pm

    Well Theo, I wish you all the luck in the world. If Atheism continues to be a club for right-wing white men, it has as much as a snowball’s chance in hell to reach a critical mass outside of the party faithful. And we need more diverse voices. Lots more!

    All due respect to CJ Werleman, but his book just underlined how completetly undiverse the New Atheist movement really is, and how isolated.

  5. JWalters
    JWalters
    October 7, 2015, 7:13 pm

    Sounds like those ingenious war profiteers have found a way to use even atheism to foment their religious conflicts.

  6. zaid
    zaid
    October 8, 2015, 1:46 am

    I read this article and i want to share it with you:

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/12/new-atheism-old-empire/

  7. echinococcus
    echinococcus
    October 8, 2015, 2:36 am

    All the nonsense. Not having imaginary friends (at least the classical ones) doesn’t commit to more. We already knew that not only the best thinkers but also the greatest assholes were atheists (Herzl and Jabotinsky and Bengurion.) There is one difference, though. The assholes generally start churches, like Zionism and “New Atheism”, collecting a swarm of bottleflies. The thinkers don’t.

  8. vfilipch
    vfilipch
    October 8, 2015, 3:11 am

    Teddy writes (point made by Werleman) “…the new atheism fails as a coherent strategy for engineering political change”. And this is supposed to be bad. Basically authors of book, this article and posts here want atheism to serve some specific ideology (and take it easy on moderate Islam). I am totally disagree. Atheism itself contains absolutely no ideological components and should stay this way. The best argument against mixing atheism with ideology is a fact that in the West majority of people think that atrocities committed by communist regimes were due to their atheism. Am I “right wing atheist”? No. My personal political views are closest to the Green party. And I think such combination of words as right wing atheist is ridiculous. I don’t follow Hitchens or Harris or Dawkins, I don’ read their books or listen to their lectures, but if you ask me what is the difference between moderate Islam and extreme Islam, my answer would be – NONE, just like no difference is between Catholicism and Judaism,or between Islam and Judaism,or between Islam and Christianity, or between Buddhism and Islam. They are all equally harmful for humankind because they all are ideologies which claim to know what is The One Right Way To Live. Atheism doesn’t do that. Atheism is not supposed to do that. And atheism better stay away from politics as far as possible. Even if these politics seems to be good, like supporting moderates in Islam. On side note, please pay attention to the difference between criticizing people and criticizing ideology. The first one is unproductive activity, like Werleman’s book or Teddy’s article. The second is one where progress happens.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      October 8, 2015, 5:30 am

      The best argument against mixing atheism with ideology is a fact that in the West majority of people think that atrocities committed by communist regimes were due to their atheism

      The West? Surely you only mean the US. In the civilized countries, atheists are a large majority today. You’d be hard put to get even people from the extreme right to agree to that kind of a statement.

      • vfilipch
        vfilipch
        October 8, 2015, 9:29 pm

        Yes. I meant the US.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        October 12, 2015, 10:20 am

        Filipovich,

        You were told, repeatedly, to do your own research (given that we all used to read Snitchens over the years) but kept at your intolerable screeching and nagging, so you were provided with a quick example. You then kept nagging because it wasn’t the original and you implied the next two paras would change all. So then, instead of berating the brat for not telling that he had the text all along, we posted the famous next two paras showing they were no different. Instead of apologizing you start again, you get a package expressly marked “just what I find in 5 minutes”, and again you reveal that instead of being the lazy brat that wants all pre-chewed, you had the original at your fingertips all along, just enjoying the way you could command grown people to run around just for you.
        And again, your original shows no difference.
        You remind me very strongly of Snitchens.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      October 8, 2015, 8:12 am

      “They are all equally harmful for humankind because they all are ideologies which claim to know what is The One Right Way To Live.

      So, is there a difference between this Atheist’s conclusion, and an Agnostic’s conclusion? Just wondering since I agree with this conclusion but I am Agnostic, not Atheist.

    • zaid
      zaid
      October 8, 2015, 12:02 pm

      Criticism is good, I agree, but who is the audience.

      Are you going to reform Islam by insulting and ridiculing it in front of a christian and atheist audience.

      • vfilipch
        vfilipch
        October 8, 2015, 9:42 pm

        You are not going to reform Islam by criticizing Hitchens and Harris. Keep your focus on Islam. Do it any way you like it, don’t pay attention how Hitchens and Harris do that.

      • zaid
        zaid
        October 9, 2015, 1:50 pm

        I never claimed that.

        And no, i am not criticizing Hitchens and Harris to reform Islam.
        i am doing that because they advocate the use of violence against me and my people.

      • vfilipch
        vfilipch
        October 9, 2015, 7:48 pm

        Zaid, you are now claiming that Hitchens advocate violence against (some) people. It is a surprise to me. Can you support this claim with a quote or two?

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        October 9, 2015, 9:27 pm

        Geez, man.
        Google or go on youtube and watch.
        It takes 5 seconds.
        I’m a huge Hitch fan except for his Muslim stance.

      • zaid
        zaid
        October 10, 2015, 12:10 am

        Are you serious!!

        the man was literally a copy of Paul Wolfowitz and Jean Kirkpatrick

      • vfilipch
        vfilipch
        October 10, 2015, 12:40 am

        Yes, zaid. I am serious. I want to see a quote from Hitchens where he advocates violence against people.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        October 10, 2015, 9:19 am

        You want it?
        Go get it.
        Zaid ain’t your fetch.

      • vfilipch
        vfilipch
        October 10, 2015, 11:24 am

        cigargod, I tried. I cannot find a single quote which would show Hitchens support and recommend violence against people.

      • zaid
        zaid
        October 10, 2015, 12:32 pm

        I am sure you will never find him saying lets go kill Muslim children.
        but neither would you see Hitler,Binladin, netanuaho or any other promoter of violence say such a thing.

        but you will diffidently find him advocating wars in the muslim world and glorifying and siding with the neocons like Paul Wolfowitz.which is exactly what i mean.

      • gamal
        gamal
        October 10, 2015, 1:13 pm

        “However, here is a passage from Hitchens’s “Saving Islam from bin Laden,” from The Age, September 5, 2002:

        It is impossible to compromise with the proponents of sacrificial killings of civilians, the disseminators of anti-Semitic filth, the violators of women and the cheerful murderers of children.

        It is also impossible to compromise with the stone-faced propagandists for Bronze Age morality: morons and philistines who hate Darwin and Einstein and managed, during their brief rule in Afghanistan, to ban and erase music and art while cultivating the skills of germ warfare. If they could do that to Afghans, what might they not have in mind for us? In confronting such people, the crucial thing is to be willing and able, if not in fact eager, to kill them without pity before they get started. ”

        http://www.inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2010/volume_2/number_1/christopher_hitchens_and_his_critics.php

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        October 10, 2015, 7:45 pm

        Amazing that the vfilipch kid doesn’t know the bloodthirsty side of Hitch.

      • vfilipch
        vfilipch
        October 11, 2015, 1:51 am

        gamal, please post 2 paragraphs that follow one you just posted. I am very much sure you didn’t see them yet. May be such experience will help you to understand that it always better to read original sources instead of reprating someone’s agenda, and also learn what “taking out of context ” means.
        Cigargod, please help gamal, seems you know how to use Google better than anyone else here.

      • zaid
        zaid
        October 11, 2015, 12:20 pm

        Taking words out of context…….I heard that before…..but from whom???

        Think Zaid Think

        aaahhh now i remember….

        From THE SAME PEOPLE that Hitchens criticize.

      • vfilipch
        vfilipch
        October 11, 2015, 2:44 pm

        So, zaid, still can’t support your claim that Hitchens advocate violence against people?

      • diasp0ra
        diasp0ra
        October 11, 2015, 3:02 pm

        @vfilipch

        Isn’t the very fact that he was a huge cheerleader for the war on Iraq kinda cover that?

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        October 11, 2015, 3:32 pm

        So big F what, Filipovic?

        Not a retraction or anything, your famous two paragraphs:

        But can we be sure we are on the “right” side of the Islamic civil war in the second sense? The holy writ on public stoning for sexual “offences” actually occurs often in the Bible and nowhere in the Koran, and much of the Islamic world is now in the position that “Christian” society occupied a few centuries ago. It has been widely discovered that you cannot run anything but a primaeval and cruel and stupid society out of the precepts of one rather mediocre “revelation”. Muslims want to travel, to engage with others, and to have access to information and enlightenment (to which they have already made quite majestic contributions).

        I am sure many people make the assumption that the United States, which is actually the world’s only truly secular state as well as in some ways the world’s most religious one – is on the side of those Muslims who want to practise their religion but otherwise neither to impose it or to be stifled by it.

        So he exempts from his mass murders people who agree with him and want to travel and he gives one more a$$licking to Bush. So what, a man must eat –and drink.

        If you have no idea what kind of poison Snitchens was, it means that you are way too young to know. Or is there a Snitchens cult now, risen from the ashes and so?

      • vfilipch
        vfilipch
        October 11, 2015, 7:20 pm

        diasp0ra, what exactly do you know so you think Hitchens was a cheerleader for was in Iraq?

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        October 11, 2015, 7:38 pm

        Filipovich,

        The whole world read him at the time; if you weren’t around do your own research. As you already were told by someone earlier, Zaid isn’t your fetch, neither are the others.

      • vfilipch
        vfilipch
        October 11, 2015, 7:45 pm

        echinococcus, my age is not an issue, my issue is that I am VERY skeptical. On February 15, 2002 I was old enough to bring my 16 years old daughter to Washington DC where we participated in protests against war with Iraq because I didn’t believe a bit in government’s propaganda.. Another my issue is that I don’t like when people, who are interested in advancing atheism, waste their time on criticizing people, instead of criticizing harmful ideologies. So far it seems to me that zaid’s claim that Hitchens advocate violence against (some) people is still not supported by any facts. Plenty of opinions from those with various agendas, including the author of article above, but still zero facts.

      • zaid
        zaid
        October 11, 2015, 7:49 pm

        Hitchens advocated wars and supported the neocons agenda’s.

        War is violence.

        If you want quotes where he advoctae wars like the iraq war and clearly states that he supports neocons like wolfowitz, then i will provide it.

        in the other hand If you believe that Wars are different from Violence, then i dont think i am debating a rational person. and seriously i dont think we will ever agree on anything.

      • diasp0ra
        diasp0ra
        October 11, 2015, 8:31 pm

        @vf

        “diasp0ra, what exactly do you know so you think Hitchens was a cheerleader for was in Iraq?”

        Could you please rephrase that, I don’t understand your question.

        His position on the Iraq war is well known, a war started on false pretenses I might add. He was all for it, and went on to become an apologist for the government when things got sour, which is to say, straight away.

      • zaid
        zaid
        October 11, 2015, 8:46 pm

        You are living in denial

        He cheered for wars like the Iraq war in several articles and speeches like his article ” We must fight Iraq” and “Machiavelli in Mesopotamia” and his debate with Tarek Ali.

        some quotes of him:

        “Only the force of American arms, or the extremely credible threat of that force, can bring a fresh face to power.”

        ” It’s a big improvement to be intervening in Iraq against Saddam Hussein instead of in his favor. I think it makes a nice change. It’s a regime change for us too.”

        ” The President will give an order, there will then occur in Iraq a show of military force like nothing probably the world has ever seen. It will be rapid and accurate and overwhelming enough to deal with an army or a country many times the size of Iraq, even if that country possessed what Iraq does not, armed forces in the command structure willing to obey and be the last to die for the supreme leader.”

        “The realization that American power could and should be used for the defense of pluralism and as a punishment for fascism came to me in Sarajevo a year or two later… That was an early quarrel between me and many of my Nation colleagues, and it was also the first time I found myself in the same trench as people like Paul Wolfowitz and Jeane Kirkpatrick: a shock I had to learn to get over.”

        “There is a division within the neo-conservative movement, which is, by the way, one of the tests of its authenticity as a tendency. I would say I was a supporter of Paul Wolfowitz.”

        “If you think that the intifada in France is about housing, go and try covering the story wearing a yarmulka.”

        “Will an Iraq war make our Al Qaeda problem worse? Not likely.”

        “Fine, now that I know that, to you, medical ethics are nothing, you’ve told me all I need to know. I’m not trying to persuade you. Do you think I care whether you agree with me? No. I’m telling you why I disagree with you. That I do care about. I have no further interest in any of your opinions. There’s nothing you wouldn’t make an excuse for. You know what? I wouldn’t want you on my side. I was telling you why I knew that Howard Dean was a psycho and a fraud, and you say ‘That’s O.K.’ Fuck off. No, I mean it: fuck off. I’m telling you what I think are standards and you say, ‘What standards? It’s fine, he’s against the Iraq War.’ Fuck. Off. You’re MoveOn.org. Any liar will do. He’s anti-Bush. Fuck off…Save it sweetie, for someone who cares. It will not be me. You love it, you suck on it. I now know what your standards are, and now you know what mine are, and that’s all the difference — I hope — in the world.”

        “The grievance and animosity predate even the Balfour Declaration, let alone the occupation of the West Bank. They predate the creation of Iraq as a state. The gates of Vienna would have had to fall to the Ottoman jihad before any balm could begin to be applied to these psychic wounds.”

        “That’s when I began to first find myself on the same side as the neocons. I was signing petitions in favour of action in Bosnia, and I would look down the list of names and I kept finding, there’s Richard Perle. There’s Paul Wolfowitz. That seemed interesting to me. These people were saying that we had to act. Before, I had avoided them like the plague, especially because of what they said about General Sharon and about Nicaragua. But nobody could say they were interested in oil in the Balkans, or in strategic needs, and the people who tried to say that – like Chomsky – looked ridiculous. So now I was interested.”

        this is from a 5 minute search

        https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Christopher_Hitchens

      • vfilipch
        vfilipch
        October 12, 2015, 12:09 am

        zaid, wiki quotes is a good source TO START, but again – to go to originals is better. For example, your first quote fro wikipedia is
        “Only the force of American arms, or the extremely credible threat of that force, can bring a fresh face to power.”
        However if you if you look at original you would see this –
        “It is now admitted by all concerned that only the force of American arms, or the extremely credible threat of that force, can bring a fresh face to power in the evidently rather jaded Baghdad political scene.”
        Look a bit different, doesn’t it? And when you post a full sentence, it suddenly becomes something other than what Hitchens support and recommend. And when you read the entire article from which you posted a quote, you would see that Hitchens in this article doesn’t advocate for anything, article was just a political analysis of the situation in Iraq, NOTHING else.
        So, my advice – read the full text of originals. Then form your own opinion.

        And one more time my original point: dear zaid and all others who waste their time on criticizing Hitchens! You are indeed wasting your time. Hitchens is dead. He isn’t and he was’t your enemy. You enemy was, is, and will be for a long time, a collection of ideologies, including but not limited to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, communism and fascism.

      • zaid
        zaid
        October 12, 2015, 1:28 pm

        “Look a bit different, doesn’t it?”

        No, it does not actually.

        “And when you read the entire article from which you posted a quote, you would see that Hitchens in this article doesn’t advocate for anything, ”

        You mean the “We must fight Iraq” article!

        You are in denial,I really feel sad for you .

        “You enemy was, is, and will be for a long time, a collection of ideologies, including but not limited to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, communism and fascism.”

        No, my enemy are settler colonialist regimes like Israel. and neocons who doesnot see anything in the Muslim world except of oil, and are ready to support any dictatorship or launch any war to guarantee full control of these resources.

        My enemy are the arms industry which can only thrive as long as the war machine is succeeding in driving western populations to support wars across the globe, with the help of fanatics like Harris and Hitchens.

        My enemies are ideologues like you who believe that the root cause of violence is a thousand year old text and not socio-economic factors, and who believe that violence in Chechnya, Palestine..etc is a product of religious indoctrination rather than decades of oppression or imperialist expansions.

        I am really glad that the neocons / new Atheist campaign broke down at its first battle in the Muslim world and credit is for Islam on this one.

        I am also glad that the new Atheist movement is nothing but an echo chamber without any significant gain in Muslim communities or even among traditional Atheists and liberals who exposed them as frauds,violent, imperialists and bigots.

        Dear Vilopic , you and me will never agree on anything, we are from different planet and we have different drives.

  9. tokyobk
    tokyobk
    October 8, 2015, 3:13 am

    The tells:

    —One’s definition of the essence of a religion is identical or near identical to the most radical of its adherents.

    —One’s source or sources are only or nearly only discontented ex-adherants and other ciritcs.

    –Reformers within the tradition, as mentioned above, are ignored or minimised. They must be celebrating their own private X because X is and always has been a molevolant faith.

    -self-awareded degrees and the assumption of expertise are attained in a day or week or a few months of internet scholarship, often confirming pre-existing biases.

    –The religion is essentialized to only one thing, across time and space.

    –One’s definition of bigotry is drawn with a hole in it shaped exactly like the disliked faith. So, there is no such thing really as bigotry against that religion, just natural reactions to it.

    The major Abrahamic faiths and others all have their differences, but apply the above and you know your critic.

  10. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    October 8, 2015, 5:54 am

    It is a gross exaggeration to say that atheism is in vogue. It would still be suicidal for any candidate for US president to proclaim himself or herself an atheist. It may be in vogue in certain circles, but hardly in the population as a whole. Therefore even the politically most objectionable atheists are still dissidents in some ways.

    • CigarGod
      CigarGod
      October 8, 2015, 7:49 am

      When every single candidate in a presidential debate has to openly declare a belief in god, we are a long way from freedom.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        October 8, 2015, 8:15 am

        Like when any candidate for POTUS responds to a question directed at US best interests, the candidate always includes Israel in his or her response? You know, what Anne Coulter tweeted about?

      • eljay
        eljay
        October 8, 2015, 8:18 am

        || CigarGod: When every single candidate in a presidential debate has to openly declare a belief in god, we are a long way from freedom. ||

        At least as disturbing is the fact that every single candidate in a presidential debate has to openly and fervently declare a belief in and undying support for a “Jewish State”.

      • just
        just
        October 8, 2015, 8:29 am

        Amen, CG.

        (Especially when they are only professing this belief rather than living it.)

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        October 8, 2015, 8:36 am

        Exactly.
        Love One Another = Bomb One Another.

  11. mijj
    mijj
    October 8, 2015, 6:21 pm

    i find the idea of the Devout Atheist confusing. They specifically believe the non-existence of “God”. But, that presumes they have a specific meaning for the word “God” which they belive isn’t valid. However, the word “God” is used in innumerable ways by all sorts of different people.

    Do Devout Atheists go out of their way to disbelieve all possible meanings of the word “God” no matter what is meant by the word, even though they cannot be possibly be aware of all possible meanings?

    /this referst to the Devout Atheist who enthusiastically argues for the non-existence of “God”, not the the-subject-doesn’t-interest-me Atheist.

    ps. if i named my cat “God”, would a Devout Atheist refuse to believe in its existence?

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      October 9, 2015, 6:59 am

      Yes, that’s why I’m an agnostic by default.

    • Bill R.
      Bill R.
      November 10, 2015, 11:07 pm

      Presumably they use “God” in the sense of “any supernatural being”, which includes all deities. You can name your cat or anything else “God” if you want to, it would be irrelevant unless you claim that this thing you call “God” possesses supernatural properties. But you make a good point, anybody who uses the word “God” should define it, this goes for theists and atheists alike.

      • mijj
        mijj
        November 11, 2015, 2:51 am

        “presumably”

        .. but “God” is a word. And that word will have different meanings depending on who you ask. And who is to say if they are right or wrong? (This assumes there is not a God of Words who is the supreme supernatural authority for all word meanings) They may not align with your presumed meaning.

  12. biggerjake
    biggerjake
    October 9, 2015, 6:05 am

    Phil,

    Publishing trash like this article does nothing to advance the discussion of the problems in the Middle East.

    The things that Sayeed says about the work of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens is so far from the truth that it is absolutely stunning.

    Just because this guy supports Palestinians rights does not mean that he deserves space in Mondoweiss. It’s just the opposite in fact. Giving such ignominious blather an outlet under your banner detracts from the otherwise very high standards that you maintain.

    • ASBizar
      ASBizar
      October 11, 2015, 7:25 am

      “”The things that Sayeed says about the work of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens is so far from the truth that it is absolutely stunning.”
      I would go with no?! because he has quoted Harris in length in every one of his articles. Hitchens and Harris are both fascists disguised as atheists. But as usual, Harris apologists talk about misrepresentation

  13. jayn0t
    jayn0t
    October 9, 2015, 8:34 am

    This article amalgamates Harris and Hitchens. Harris opposed the Iraq war. Hitchens supported it. As for Islam, I’ve just finished reading Harris and Nawaz’s “Islam and the Future of Tolerance”, a discussion between an atheist and an ex-Muslim extremist. It is discussions like this which will lead to peace, not the denunciations of p.c. apologists like the author of this article and the author of the book it reviews.

    • zaid
      zaid
      October 9, 2015, 2:01 pm

      This is your Sam Hariss

      “Some form of benign dictatorship will generally be necessary … But benignity is the key and if it cannot emerge from within a state, it must be imposed from without. The means of such imposition are necessarily crude: they amount to economic isolation, military intervention (whether open or covert), or some combination of both.”

      ” In late 2004, he wrote in the Washington Post, “civilized human beings [Westerners] are now attempting, at considerable cost to themselves, to improve life for the Iraqi people.””

      https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/12/new-atheism-old-empire/

      you say:
      ” a discussion between an atheist and an ex-Muslim extremist. It is discussions like this which will lead to peace,”

      Exactly , muslims are going to reform their religion because an Athiest and an ex-Mulsim told them to.

      http://harvardpolitics.com/harvard/sam-harris-maajid-nawaz-illusion-knowledge/

      • jayn0t
        jayn0t
        October 9, 2015, 8:39 pm

        ‘zaid’ – first, I think you misunderstood my phrase “ex-Muslim extremist”. Nawaz is not an ex-Muslim who is an extremist, he is a Muslim who used to be an extremist!

        Second, neither Nawaz nor Harris are telling Muslims to reform their religion. They are politely suggesting it might be a good idea.

        Third, I don’t recommend this book because I agree with every single thing Harris has ever written.

        Finally, civilized human beings did, at considerable cost to themselves, attempt to improve life for Iraqis. Of course, they failed, because, though civilized, they are idiots.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        October 9, 2015, 10:03 pm

        B.S.
        Those civilized western helpers decimated a nation.

      • zaid
        zaid
        October 9, 2015, 11:54 pm

        Jayn0t

        I hope that i misunderstood this statement of yours:

        “Third, I don’t recommend this book because I agree with every single thing Harris has ever written.”

        I am sure you dont agree with him regarding palestine,torture,nuclear first strike against muslims,profiling muslims…etc

        Please clarify, sine i found your comments to be supportive of Palestinians or maybe i misunderstood that.

        Your friend Sam says:

        “We are not at war with terrorism. We are at war with Islam.”

        Please tell me what is the difference between sam’s statement and what ISIS/ALqaeda says about war with the Infidels/West, and do you really want to support someone who have this dark views of Islam.

        Your other friend Nawwaz was a former Hizb Tahrir radical which represent .00000001% of muslims , so pardon me but moderate Muslims who were never radicals do not need to be lectured by someone who has.

        I recommend you read these two article:

        http://harvardpolitics.com/harvard/sam-harris-maajid-nawaz-illusion-knowledge/

        https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/12/new-atheism-old-empire/

        Finally you said:
        “Finally, civilized human beings did, at considerable cost to themselves, attempt to improve life for Iraqis. Of course, they failed, because, though civilized, they are idiots.”

        are you talking about the decade long starving of iraqis or about the destructive war that they launched after the starvation decade.

      • Kris
        Kris
        October 10, 2015, 9:53 am

        @zaid: “are you talking about the decade long starving of iraqis or about the destructive war that they launched after the starvation decade.”

        jayn0t may be referring to the “Highway of Death” operations in 1991, when U.S. forces massacred retreating Iraqi military forces as well as Iraqi soldiers who had surrendered.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highway_of_Death . jayn0t said “improve life for Iraqis.” He didn’t say “improve life for all Iraqis.”

        The U.S., at considerable cost to ourselves, has been trying to improve life for some, not all, Afghanis, too.

        Over the past eight years, news reports gradually revealed that Afghan soldiers and police officers allied with US military forces are sexually abusing young boys held against their will—sometimes on US military bases.

        Last month, Joseph Goldstein (2015) published a front page story in the New York Times under the headline “US Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies,” which opened with the disturbing story of Lance Corporal Gregory Buckley Jr., who was fatally shot along with two other Marines in 2012.

        Buckley was killed after he raised concerns about the American military’s tolerance of child sexual abuse practiced by Afghan police officers on the base where he was stationed in southern Afghanistan. Buckley’s father told the Times that “my son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.” http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/09/the-use-and-abuse-of-culture-and-children-the-human-terrain-systems-rationalization-of-pedophilia-in-afghanistan/

        The U.S. is always, at considerable cost to ourselves, trying to improve the lives of some people. That’s not a very good excuse, though.

      • diasp0ra
        diasp0ra
        October 10, 2015, 1:13 pm

        @Jayn0t

        “Finally, civilized human beings did, at considerable cost to themselves, attempt to improve life for Iraqis. Of course, they failed, because, though civilized, they are idiots.”

        Ok, this is the sentence that made me not want to interact with you or take anything you read seriously anymore.

        Civilized human beings?

        Is this the 1700s all over again? Are we debating the white man’s burden?

        Your “civilized human beings” are the biggest perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity history has ever known. The American Empire, through direct and indirect means is responsible for more deaths than any single regime in history, albeit over a longer period of time.

        You think “dicussions” will bring peace?

        You remind me of liberal Zionists that obsess over “dialogue”. As if the problem is miscommunication, and not that of a history of colonialism and imperialism and injustice.

        Also, it figures that you’d be a person to throw around the term political correctness.

      • Donald
        Donald
        October 10, 2015, 7:45 pm

        The New Atheists are proof ( not that it was needed) that almost any ideology or belief system can be twisted into a reason for dominating, conquering or killing other people. What’s interesting here is that self- proclaimed advocates of reason end up making the same sort of arguments for Western war crimes that you’d hear from a Christian Zionist.

    • ASBizar
      ASBizar
      October 11, 2015, 7:31 am

      “Harris opposed the Iraq war”
      Wrong,
      “Zakaria has persuasively argued that the transition from tyranny to liberalism is unlikely to be accomplished by plebiscite. It seems all but certain that some form of benign dictatorship will generally be necessary to bridge the gap. But benignity is the key and if it cannot emerge from within a state, it must be imposed from without. The means of such imposition are necessarily crude: they amount to economic isolation, military intervention (whether open or covert), or some combination of both.” End of Faith

      “As for Islam, I’ve just finished reading Harris and Nawaz’s “Islam and the Future of Tolerance”, a discussion between an atheist and an ex-Muslim extremist. It is discussions like this which will lead to peace, not the denunciations of p.c. apologists like the author of this article and the author of the book it reviews.”
      So by definition whoever criticize your master is an apologist? Interesting. Harris is dangerous not because of criticizing Islam but because of call for actions against Muslims and being an apologists for Israel. You wanna ignore what he said about torture, profiling, or imposing dictators, killing people for beliefs or about justifying Israel crimes? go ahead. do it, but don’t expect others to ignore it and don’t think by ignoring, they go away. If not ignoring these make us apologists, so be it. I am more than happy to be an apologist for pointing to fascism and bigotry of Harris

  14. traintosiberia
    traintosiberia
    October 9, 2015, 10:26 pm

    Is Hinduism or Buddhism any better..?
    What happened in China before the arrival of Mao? Between Opium war and communist take over religious violence did occur on a regular basis in China.
    India has been hit hard and would have been worse if the Hindu religious party were prevented from taking power in 1990 onwards .
    Mynamaar is basically throwing Muslim out and is waging war against Christian in north
    Sri Lanka has eliminated Tamil Christian as threat and is now targeting Muslim. If their religious political aspirations were dashed by western or Muslim nation ,the fate of non Buddhist wouldn’t be any different than from the fate of Christian in Arab countries.

  15. Atlantaiconoclast
    Atlantaiconoclast
    October 10, 2015, 12:09 am

    I have never understood how people like Harris can pretend that Christianity and Judaism have no influence on our incredibly violent and interventionist foreign policy. Anti Muslim attitudes are spread by a whole lot of both Christians and Jews, feeding the War on Terror, and preventing Americans from caring about our own sins. For some reason, many Christians and Jews overlook or are ignorant of some of the pro-violence and hate filled statements in both the Old Testament and the Talmud. The Koran does not have a monopoly on troubling verses.

    I have come to the conclusion that Sam Harris must believe that Jews and Christians to a lesser extent, are inherently superior to non Jewish Semites. Otherwise, he wouldn’t overlook the incredibly cruel actions of our Western militaries and the vile people, always either Christian (some only nominally) or Jewish (and disproportionately so), who shape our Western foreign policies and give our militaries their heinous orders.

  16. Atlantaiconoclast
    Atlantaiconoclast
    October 10, 2015, 12:22 am

    I have never understood how people like Harris can pretend that Christianity and Judaism have no influence on our incredibly violent and interventionist foreign policy. Anti Muslim hysteria feeds the War on Terror, and prevents Americans from caring about our own sins. I have come to the conclusion that Sam Harris must believe that Jews are inherently superior to non Jewish Semites. Otherwise, he wouldn’t overlook the incredibly cruel actions of our Western militaries and the vile people, always either Christian or Jewish(and disproportionately so), who give them orders, not to mention the masses of Christians and Jews who make excuses for them.

    • CigarGod
      CigarGod
      October 10, 2015, 9:22 am

      Sam can’t help it, because he can’t see it, so he can’t admit it.

    • jayn0t
      jayn0t
      October 10, 2015, 9:48 am

      Obviously, “Christianity has no influence on our incredibly violent and interventionist foreign policy”, because it prescribes non-violence. Judaism is a different matter. However, I don’t think it’s the influence of Judaism which leads Western countries to follow Israeli violence in the Middle East. The pro-Israel attitude isn’t religious – some religious Jews argue that Zionism is incompatible with Judaism.

      Atheists don’t ‘overlook’ the stupidity of any religion, but they do sometimes think one is worse than others. At one time, they generally thought that Catholicism was the worst. Then they discovered Islam.

      • zaid
        zaid
        October 10, 2015, 12:28 pm

        ” some religious Jews argue that Zionism is incompatible with Judaism.”

        So do Most muslims. Stop finding excuses for non-muslim violence.

        The main problem with Harris writings is that he actually believe that the cause of violence in the muslim world is religious texts. and not Soci-economic factors, he is so naive to belive that the violence in palestine or lebanon or Chchneya is not related to the decades long oppression of muslims living there , and that the occupation is just a coincedence.

        I cannot believe why people take him seriously.

        why dont people follow an actual expert on the subject like Robert Pape who actually collected data and analysed it.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-Dd6mtZA5k

        ” but they do sometimes think one is worse than others.”

        The new atheists never actually gave a reasonable explanation why Islam/Quraan is worse than other religions/Bible. and that’s why i (a person who read both the bibe and the Quraan ) dont take them seriously.

    • traintosiberia
      traintosiberia
      October 10, 2015, 10:27 am

      He Harris can believe and talk openly because that the way world run. Dominant narrative of any given time is the dominant power’s prerogative. It is screened,filtered,added,redacted,or not depending who the speaker and what the speaker is telling .

      So the religious belief of Blair,Bush,Boykin,Graham,S Baptist,Evangelics underpinning soft pervasive under the radar of consciousness ,deranged antimuslim hatred have nothing to do about the war ( or the creation of those pervasive feeling of hatred by Zionist) or about the comments GOP hopefuls make during presidency election ( or the condoning of the attitude by the media and downplaying of the hatred by the Zionist media) have nothing to do with religions – that’s what Harris will say . He will add that the war,911, terrorism,and Muslim hatred have created this mindset and it is a blip ,an ephemeral phenomenon,a distraction,a temporary moral outage ,a temporary loss of conscience that could be blamed again on Muslim’s behaviors .

      The day neocons combined everybody from Algeria to Pakistan ,from Philipnes to Sudan as target ,the day the neocons helped coin the term Axis of Evil, the day Wolfowitz thought of the opportunity of attacking Libya Iran and all countries in between, that day religious wars were born against Muslim for simply being Muslim.
      Atheist Zionist like Harris supports this war and this false reasonings and dismisses the facts because that’s what his Zionist fellowtravellers would expect,honor,and amplify .Thats what Zionist media would allow to remain as dominant narrative in media,townhall meting,Sunday Talk,and in election season.

  17. jayn0t
    jayn0t
    October 10, 2015, 4:02 am

    Zaid – I am not obliged to defend any of the things Sam Harris has said in the past. I just recommended “Islam and the Future of Tolerance”.

    I meant “although I recommend this book, I don’t agree with much of what Harris has said in the past”. I’m against all Western intervention in the Middle East, including support for, or even recognition of, Israel.

    Harris may have said all kinds of outrageous things in the past, some of which which confirm al Qaeda’s view, but this book does not.

    The phrase “do not need to be lectured by” is a modern leftist tactic, switching attention from the content of the argument to the persons involved, in particular, how oppressed they are. It doesn’t matter who’s doing the “lecturing”, or to whom it’s directed: is it true?

    The fact that the Americans invaded Iraq DOES NOT IN ANY WAY contradict the statement that they “did, at considerable cost to themselves, ATTEMPT to improve life for Iraqis”. That statement is about their INTENTIONS. And the costs are obvious – billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and a less stable Iraq.

    This response also applies to “Cigargod”, but I doubt if she/he can understand it.

    • CigarGod
      CigarGod
      October 10, 2015, 9:16 am

      Oh right, dude.
      It was all about their attempt at good intentions.
      Neither you nor they get to disquise or mitigate their brutality behind your delusional understanding.

      • jayn0t
        jayn0t
        October 10, 2015, 9:41 am

        As I predicted, ‘Cigargod’ has difficulty with logic. “Attempted” is about intentions. That’s what it means. Results are a different issue.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        October 10, 2015, 10:24 am

        Oh, you predicted I’d call B.S. on your lack of understanding of the justification timeline?
        You sir, have special powers.

      • zaid
        zaid
        October 10, 2015, 12:11 pm

        “Intentions”

        Every body claims good intentions including ISIS .

        stop fantasizing about how moral are western violence and how bad are Islamic one.

        “The fact that the Americans invaded Iraq DOES NOT IN ANY WAY contradict the statement that they “did, at considerable cost to themselves ATTEMPT to improve life for Iraqis”. That statement is about their INTENTIONS.,”

        No , It does contradict , since the invasion itself was a crime based n a deliberate lie.

        If someone raped and killed a woman and then went to her funeral and gave some money to her family, that doesnot make him a nice guy with good intentions.

        You remind me of those who attack BDS saying that settlements factories hire palestinians.

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer
        October 10, 2015, 1:01 pm

        @jayn0t

        I don’t doubt for a second that many americans, both left and right, believed that was the intention but it doesn’t pass the smell test.

    • traintosiberia
      traintosiberia
      October 10, 2015, 10:52 am

      ” considerable cost to themselves”-jayn0t

      What cost Bush,Cheney incurred. What cost neocons incurred?
      What cost Wolfowitz,Kagan,Wurmser,Perle,Feith,Abrams,Luty,Shulsky, Kristol,Krauthammer incurred ?
      What cost Rosd and AIPAC are going to incur?

      Yes poor lost limbs and lives . Yes tax payers lost money .
      None getting life or limb back . Tax payer didn’t get money back
      Bush Cheney got job back
      Neocons got new jobs . Neocons also perched within both parties themselves again to get same job backs
      Kagan has told he won’t mind a Clinton presidency provided the neoconservative agend( in Middle East is followed)

      Now lets expand on this again. In a better world,these people will be prosecuted ,the victims ( Iraqis,Libyan,Somalian,Iranian) would be compensated . Instead anybody challenging neocon gets the label of antisemitism and thrown out of job or shunned or ridiculed . Abroad anybody saying the truth ( Jack Straw , Corbyn , La Pen, Chirac, a whole host of other leaders) get pummeled and thwarted and dumped

      . So the Muslim see that there is no justice . There is no path to justice and reconciliation . Now hurt and damaged and maimed citizen of Somalia or Iran or Phillipines have nothing in common excepting the faith . Faith in Islam. The binds the victims . Nothing else . So they rally using the faith,using the religion.
      Now out of the dark alley, Harris emerges and blames the faith of the victims as instigating violence against peaceful Zionist and their stubborn servants

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      October 10, 2015, 11:32 am

      “Intentions”? That a thing?
      Sam Harris theology again, with “intentions”, an unprovable construct akin to gods and angels.

    • diasp0ra
      diasp0ra
      October 10, 2015, 1:01 pm

      Are you seriously one to believe that there is such a thing as good intentions in international relations?

      It’s all about power and interests. Literally nothing else.

    • ASBizar
      ASBizar
      October 11, 2015, 7:41 am

      “The fact that the Americans invaded Iraq DOES NOT IN ANY WAY contradict the statement that they “did, at considerable cost to themselves, ATTEMPT to improve life for Iraqis”. That statement is about their INTENTIONS. And the costs are obvious – billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and a less stable Iraq”

      This is delusional. Any doctrine by any American president in recent decades has pointed to Iraq as a place for the interests of the US. Saying they were there to help people is not only factually wrong and unsupported by evidence but also is outright narcissistic. Who the fuck do you think you are that you allow yourself to go to another country and kill and maim and displace millions of people and then lecture people about civilized behavior? A sociopath? a narcissist? a supremacist?
      Even more, he is an outright apologist for imperialism,
      “Zakaria has persuasively argued that the transition from tyranny to liberalism is unlikely to be accomplished by plebiscite. It seems all but certain that some form of benign dictatorship will generally be necessary to bridge the gap. But benignity is the key and if it cannot emerge from within a state, it must be imposed from without. The means of such imposition are necessarily crude: they amount to economic isolation, military intervention (whether open or covert), or some combination of both.” End of Faith

      See? military or sanctions! 500,000 Iraqi children died as a result of sanctions, and you are talking about “ATTEMPT to improve life for Iraqis”?????? You are out of touch.

      Oh I see where you are getting at, the “intention game”, yep. I hope you have the same idea about the civilized behavior of Nazis toward Polish, and Japanese fascists toward Chinese, and Americans towards Vietnamese, and Stalin towards his own people. Because they all had good intentions.

      • Kris
        Kris
        October 11, 2015, 10:42 am

        Great comment, ASBizar. I can’t understand how any adult human being can look at U.S. behavior even in the short period since WWII and fail to understand that “improving life” for people of color is always the pretext used to mask the actual goal of U.S. control of all resources, everywhere.

        In human history, has there ever been a large group of people, other than Israeli Jews and German Nazis, who committed mayhem against other groups and was honest about about why they were doing it?

        BenGurion was up front about his goal of getting rid of the Palestinians, as was Hitler about the Jews, but I can’t think of another case in which “good intentions” weren’t used as a pretext.

        You really do know the tree by its fruit.

    • mijj
      mijj
      October 11, 2015, 10:47 am

      the ironclad fact-in-hard-cold-reality of the deliberate planned targetting and destruction of life-supporting infrastructure (Iraq and Lybia alike), as well as being a war-crime is somewhat at odds with the projected mask of “good intentions”.

  18. traintosiberia
    traintosiberia
    October 10, 2015, 11:10 am

    Why do UK and US support Kuwait,Qatar,and Saudi Arab? Is it to maintain all those bases? Is it to get them supply Jihadist against Syria,Libya,Russia? Is it to allow them as quid pro extreme fanaticism and repression at home against migrants,against Shia,against political opponents? Is it to sale billions dollars weapons every few months ? Is it to stop the development of more productive powerful,and effective identity of Arab nationalism?
    Is it for controlling flow of oil to other countries like India,China,S Korea,and Japan ? Is it to keep the dollar as reserve currency ?
    What do these Arab countries get in return! 1 Maintain monarchy2 Maintain dynasty
    3 Maintain absolutism
    4 maintain vile sexual exploitation
    5 Maintain regressive religious policies
    6 maintain control of mind of millions of Muslim
    So America gets a lot . Possibly without the control on Saudi , America would be aowerful just like Russia or China or UK

    What does the future of west and Saudi point to?
    America has dumped the tyrants . It will dump them . What reasons West will provide? Same reasons, or antagonism against same behaviors that it allows,promotes,and protects now .
    Already those very Saudi type of behaviors underlie the hatred and animosity among GOP hopefuls and rank and file conservatives .

  19. traintosiberia
    traintosiberia
    October 10, 2015, 6:33 pm

    Another badly damaged atheist good in market still trying to get sold is Maher

    http://www.alternet.org/media/why-bill-maher-irrational-religious-fundamentalists-he-loves-hate

    His cavorting consorts include Harris and Dawkins

    “Last summer Harris read a widely circulated statement on his podcast titled “Why I Don’t Criticize Israel” in which statistics, history and facts seemed to matter far less. Harris said that “Whatever terrible things the Israelis have done, it is true to say that they have used more restraint against the Palestinians than the Americans or Europeans have used in any of their wars” and that “the Israelis are surrounded by people that have specifically genocidal intentions towards them.” However, unlike his convenient statistics about the wacky things he claims Muslims in the U.K. believe, he doesn’t have any evidence to back up these allegations. But if Sam Harris were a rationalist, he would realize that Israel’s democratically elected leaders frequently call for genocide against Palestinians. Within only a few months of Harris’s infamous podcast, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for disloyal Arabs to be beheaded; Moshe Feiglin, the speaker of the Knesset, called for the deportation of all Palestinians from Gaza; and the current Minister of Justice of Netanyahu’s coalition, Ayalet Shaked, has said that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and called for the demise of “its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”)

    Again the reference to ” intention” as if were less problematic than the reference to other psychological mechanism like faith or belief or less dangerous of a weapon in the hand of the settler- protecting -IDF than the faith bolstering the Islamist in their effort to challenge the settlers .But Harris wants the world to accept his wisdom and reject the realities that eye could see and ear can hear

    • Donald
      Donald
      October 11, 2015, 1:46 pm

      For the Harris apologists, here is a link to the essay you mention, ” Why I won’t criticize Israel”

      http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/180808/sam-harris-why-dont-i-criticize-israel#undefined

      There is lip service to his disbelief in Zionism, but the entire thing is textbook shooting and crying, an amalgamation of every morally stupid argument ever made in behalf of Israeli war crimes. Some of it is on a level so unbelievably dumb it’s painful to read. So Israel never kills children deliberately because they could kill all Palestinian children if they chose.

      American culture is amazingly stupid– guys like this are supposed to represent reason and rationality? Frankly, I prefer John Hagee. You know what you are getting with people like him.

  20. traintosiberia
    traintosiberia
    October 11, 2015, 1:04 pm

    Violence that we see today is rooted in the philosophy of the sectors that thrive in America and not in the muslim religion. Harris won’t understand this . Appreciating the complex dynamics of these two sectors -Evangelic and the Neocon will undo his house of cards
    1999 polling by NEWSWEEK found 45% American believed in Armageddon and EndTimes . Also was their belief that AntiChrist was alive and was on earth. Since the break up of Soviet Russia,evangelical Christian have substituted Islam for Communism . Prophetic faith healers and preachers and pulp fiction religious writers of the genre of the type of the Left Behind came to articulate,spread or insinuate that dark illogical hatred by associating Saddam later Taliban with anti Christ or with evil. Jump to Islam was not a mental feat impossible anymore .( July 17 2007 American Conservative Kevin Phillip ) and that what has exactly happened . Then using this psychological,religious manhole among the Christian, neocon pushed them straight down that black hole after 911 to gather their own tribal identities , ensure creatures comfort and project themselves ( Israeli ) as victim who should be heard while going down that dark manhole .
    Recently Nial Fergusson penned an article in WSJ ridiculing Obama’s Ian deal and highlighting the Muslim violence or terrorism throughout the world.
    Here he dismisses the plan of bringing Shia and Sunni together by pursuing the deal as Obama put it so that ” Sunnis ans Shias weren’t intent on killing each other” . But Ferguson’s main worry is alienating the Sunni and Israel . He doesn’t mention that the former are autocratic terrorism supporter and the later is occupier ,expansionist,and warmonger.
    It is not surmising that he wouldn’t like Shia and Sunni coming together . Wasn’t the idea if perpetual Middle East violence between Iraq and Iran,between Shia and Sunni and between Arab and Kurd one of the constant among the mindset of the brilliant strategists and intellectuals from Ben Guiron through to Kissinger,Yoded Yinon,Sharon,and PNAC luminaries?

    Violence in Middle East contributes possibly 90 percent of the world wide violence . I may be wrong but not far off.
    But the violence or Muslim terrorism N Ferguson mentions – “the percentage of fatalities attributable to Muslim groups rose to 92% from 75% ” between 2006 and 2013 ( WSJ July 25 ,2015) is the product of Iraq war,destabilization of Lebanon,Syria and Gaza along with the abuse of those victims by many players from that area as well as by neocon – he conveniently forgets the fact.
    As expected he doesn’t touch upon the role of the Evangelic,Iraq war,Israeli machinations,and the co option by the medieval monarchist in the genesis of the violence but rails against even against faint possibility of peace breaking out, between US and Iran that has positive domino effects on the rest,on the chance of reconciliation and safeguarding the fate of the minorities in that part of the world- a minority that includes Shias,Kurds in Arab and Sunnis in Israel and Christian in entire Arab.
    The real problem that America faces from talks show host,curbside self styled experts,academics and frightened politicians is the over abundance of one kind of narrative that easy,safe,profitable ,heuristic,and soothing but largely baseless ,internally inconsistent and dangerously harmful .But for this uniquely positioned sector of academic,TV fixtures, and fiction writers , it is good business model that never stops meeting the expectation .

  21. ASBizar
    ASBizar
    October 12, 2015, 11:24 am

    I think everybody should read this article:
    https://theintercept.com/2015/10/12/columbus-day-is-the-most-important-day-of-every-year/
    it sums up Sam Harris’s logic pretty well.

    From the same article, these are Hitler words:

    “There’s only one duty: to Germanize this country by the immigration of Germans, and to look upon the natives as Redskins. If these people had defeated us, Heaven have mercy! But we don’t hate them. That sentiment is unknown to us. We are guided only by reason. …

    See Harris apologists? He was “guided only by reason”

  22. inbound39
    inbound39
    October 14, 2015, 6:49 pm

    In my own life there came a time many years back where I needed to seriously address my thinking and behaviour. At that time I more or less thought I was God and that people all thought like I did,did as I did and if they didn’t they should. I considered the law applied to others and not me…..I could do no wrong because I was Iain Almighty. Needless to say I ran out of track. During my rebuild I became aware I really had few morals or ethics left if any. I needed those I figured in order to function like a healthy human being. I read a lot of religious texts and spiritual thoughts and during that I arrived at a phrase on a page that said…”Religion is for those who want to go to Heaven and Spirituality is for those who have been to Hell”. I consider I had lived in Hell for long enough so chose a spiritual path…one where I definitely was not God. I largely embraced one general rule. I could do what I like in life as long as I do no harm to myself and/or others. It works for me.

    On that journey I came across an article about the Conquistadors and the Aztecs and found it quite interesting. The Conquistadors were Catholic and deeply religious. They had orders to give an ultimatum to the Aztecs. That they accept the King and Queen of Spain as their rulers and that they cede their land to Spain and that they convert to Catholicism. Failure to do so would mean death.

    A lot of the Conquistadors had a problem carrying out this order and their was many discussion held between them and their priests. The argument was that the Ten Commandments told them they could not kill another human being and they had seen the Aztecs as humans…they showed community and love and care for their children and relatives and generally lived a peaceful and happy existence so how could they kill such people. The clergy thought for some time and then hit upon the answer. The Conquistadors were told the Aztecs were Savages and therefore not human so it was okay to kill them.

    What do we see and hear in Israel today. Palestinians have been dehumanized by the Zionists. To them the Palestinians are not human beings….they are savages. We hear it in the Zionist media and Political statements and certainly the ultimatum has been given…accept our beliefs….give all your land to us or you will be put to death.

    Any nation supporting the Zionists in carrying out this intent and this action is morally and ethically questionable. Particularly if they opposed Nazism,Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot,Taleban. Zionism cannot possibly be supported if you are morally or ethically sound.

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