Brief Review of Sam Harris Podcast

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Harris recently posted a podcast, “What Do Jihadists Really Want”.[1] His message is extreme Muslims, like soldiers of ISIS, ruthlessly kill people because of their religion. This, he insists, is an obvious truth liberals deny because of political correctness.

I’m sure there are liberals who won’t call a spade a spade because it is “insensitive” to do so, but from my experience liberals object to Harris for two different reasons. 1) Blaming Islam only neglects a whole set of factors, including an entire history of American and European geopolitics in the Middle East, that allowed extreme religious sects to emerge. 2) Harris and people with similar doctrines, on purpose or otherwise, tend to brush all too many Muslims as religious extremists. Islam has a billion followers around the world, most of whom actually live in Asia, not the Middle East, and has split into hundreds of sects over the centuries, like Christianity.

Harris sure likes to bash Noam Chomsky, which is silly because US foreign  policy played a major role in creating extreme Muslim sects like ISIS,  and still does. Adam Curtis’ documentary Bitter Lake gives an in-depth  history of how a century of Western foreign policy molded Middle Eastern countries and doctrines like Wahabism. Chomsky himself stated bin Laden’s strategy was to drag America into a mess of costly wars, which only creates more jihadists.

Harris makes a mistake when he insists ISIS and other sects fight only for religious reasons and none political. When your goal is to unite all the Middle East under one caliphate, then your reasons are political. Religion and politics have been bedfellows since forever. But I do agree with Harris that extreme Muslims (like extreme Christians) cannot be reasoned with. Hateful and intolerant doctrines (no matter the religion or ideology) can turn ordinary people into murderers. But Harris’ answer, which seems to be “bomb the hell out of them”, won’t work. It hasn’t worked for thirteen years and won’t work now.

If Harris wants to continue the “war on terror” he should know a few things. Invading the Middle East is what extreme Muslims want. It creates more jihadists and thrusts the region into more chaos, giving them more chances to battle to seize power for themselves. It benefits the big business executives, who we call the one percent, who rely on American’s fear of Muslims to carry out the wars they profit from.

[1]https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/what-do-jihadists-really-want

 

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