Why did Ben Affleck lose patience when Sam Harris was so composed during the debate with Bill Maher?

Apparently Affleck had come to the show somewhat prepared to attack Harris. He started interrupting and seemed agitated by Harris from the get go, before the topic of Islam was discussed. This is according to Harris on his website: Can Liberalism Be Saved From Itself?

If you follow Harris as I do, you will likely come to the conclusion that he is one of the most composed speakers you will ever encounter. He communicates ideas in crystal clear form and “unpacks” complex concepts so eloquently. So the fact that he is composed in this interview isn’t out of the norm for him; I have never seen him distressed.

Affleck however, while a liberal, is severely uninformed about the subject of Islam. Harris is factually correct in stating that we are led to believe that the percentage of “moderate” Muslims is bigger than it really is. Affleck is emotional because he views the issue as the equivalent of stating that all blacks are criminals.

That, however, is inaccurate. It is true that many black communities in the United States are plagued with poor conditions and lack of education that sucks many into a vicious cycle of  crime. However, the reason for that is obvious: centuries of slavery and segregation. So, when someone states something so outrageous about African Americans, suggesting that crime is intrinsic to them, rather than an external societal cause, it’s only reasonable to get emotional; that is racist.

Alas, a similar case for the Muslim world cannot be made as easily. First, Muslim countries are not all Arab and many of them have fundamentally different cultures and traditions, and indeed practice Islam very differently. Second, those countries vary in wealth as well. Countries like Kuwait or Qatar are considerably wealthier than Sudan, for instance, and those are two Arab states only a four hour flight apart! The divide becomes larger and larger as you factor in countries like Pakistan and Indonesia. To make matters worse, there are vast numbers of Muslims in non-Muslim Western countries as well, and those obviously share little with their Middle eastern, Asian and African counterparts.

It is therefore very difficult to make any generalizations about Muslims as people. They do not share culture, race, food, nothing. And yet, a quick look at each one of them will yield similar results: jihadists, oppression of women, discrimination towards homosexuals, and lack of freedom of speech.

So, it’s either one big absurd coincidence, or it’s the one thing they do share: Islam. Anyone with a shred of objectivity and knowledge about Islam will pick the latter. That’s what Harris means when he says that “Islam is the Mother lode of bad ideas”. Islam does act like the mafia. It will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing or write the wrong book. And people do risk their lives to criticize Islam.

In fact, there is a similar “downvoting/reporting” mafia here on Quora. Just look at any answers that speak against Islam, mine included. You’ll find that they often need almost twice as many upvotes to rank higher than pro-Islam ones, even when written or upvoted by top writers (who have more weight in the ranking algorithm). I personally, however, am happy to take downvotes over death threats.

Cue the downvotes.

Edit 1: Note that the “blacks analogy” is Ben Affleck’s analogy, not mine; watch the video. Some commenters either objected to the use of that analogy, or seemed to think that blacks are actually intrinsically criminal…

Edit 2: Please actually watch the video I’ve linked to above. Just sit back and carefully note what each person said. I make it a point to respond to criticism or debate in the comments, but much of that debate could’ve easily been averted had people watched the video.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s