November 18, 2010

The Death of Meaning, Part Four: I Will Say One Thing, Then Its Opposite, and Then Pretend That Not Only Do the Two Mean the Same, But It Proves Me to Be a Brave Genius in Today's Silly, Weak Media Climate

So, is Islam the problem?

I am, as always, ambivalent about all religions, including Islam.  I wonder where the fatal flaw lies in the way religion encodes itself into culture.  Specifically, Islam is problematic beyond the revolutionary impulses that lead to a martyr fetish: Islam holds sway in some of the most backward, savage cultures in the world.  And yes, I know there are "good" Muslims, just as there are "good" Christians, but the savage patriarchy engendered by many of the followers of Mohammed needs to be held to the cold light of judgement (in exactly the same way that imperialist Christianity must be judged, by the way).

So this guy, Sam Harris, steps up to do that.  And not as some self-righteous Christian, mind you, but as a tried-and-true media liberal.  His point is, very simply, Islam is the problem . . . not religion in general, not culture in general, not the economics of repression and desperation, but Islam, plain and simple:

Well, now wasn't that a ball of confusion.  He insists that Islam is the problem, and that violence is endemic to Islam in a way it is not in other religions.  But, go to the 3:45 mark and watch it again from there . . . first, there is the usual "there are good Muslims" dodge: "I should be clear: in criticizing Islam I'm not criticizing all Muslims".  Why the hell not?  If Islam is a code of death and repression, then there are no "good" Muslims, are there?  "Good" Muslims are the smiling secret agents of destruction, either wittingly or not.  If Islam is a bad religion, then Muslims are bad. YOU DON'T GET TO HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.  He seems to be trying to dodge the paradoxical "good Muslim" problem by saying that moderate Muslims are moderate precisely because they don't take their religion seriously, which is ridiculous and would be refuted by every devout Muslim who believes that the culture of violence, from the stoning of women all the way to the jihad against infidels, is a sin against the prophet.  Either Islam is evil or it's not.  You don't get to waffle with the "good Muslim" dodge when you are trying to make the specific point that Islam is evil.

"But Islam is at a very different moment in its history, and it's as though we're encountering the Christians of the fourteenth century . . . "  Yes, precisely . . . a very good point which, by the way, UNDERMINES YOUR ENTIRE FUCKING ARGUMENT.  There are direct parallelisms between Islam and Christianity . . . hell, at the end of the day, the religions aren't fundamentally different . . . so if Christianity does not contain the seed of death, then neither does Islam.  Conversely, if Islam does, then so does Christianity.  If Christianity has moved beyond its stage of "evil", then so can Islam, which means the "good" Muslims practice the true Islam, not that they're "good" because they don't take the religion seriously.  And it's not really the case that Islam is evil, just that it's not evolved . . . all which means that Islam itself is not the problem, but just some of those who practice it, which is EXACTLY the point he was trying to argue against.

There's a lot of other stuff here that's just ridiculous and wrong (once again trying to separate Islam from other "sane" religions: "The crime of apostasy is punishable by death in Islam" . . . yeah, and Deuteronomy 13:5 says "And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, because he hath spoken to turn you away  from the Lord your God" - how is that not apostasy punishable by death?), and a lot more that is beside the point.  At the end of the day, it all just turns into the white noise of non-credible language that clogs our brains every day.

Sam Harris, co-founder of "Project Reason", you wasted six minutes and four seconds of my life.  But further, your self-satisfied and self-contradictory blathering lingers in the air like a rancid fart.  You really just need to shut the hell up.


Angie said...

At last, someone is as annoyed with Sam Harris as I am.

Have you seen his "Science can answer moral questions" talk?

I'd love to know what you think of THAT mess.

Sam Harris: can science answer whether or not we SHOULD scan the brains of Muslims to see if they love their daughters? Just because we could potentially do something some day, does not mean we SHOULD.

In the hands of the Sam Harrises of the world, our beloved science becomes more dangerous than any other system yet.

Bill Zink said...


You've had an encounter with this tool before? Why is it that fucks like him are on television and publishing books and I'm selling appliances for a living?

I think I'll pass on that other video, at least for the time being. Life is too short.