Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Sam Harris blog post. It's like he's eavesdropping on our class.

It's actually a little depressing, but at least we're having the conversation.



  1. "These attitudes must change. The moral high ground here is clear, and we are standing on it."

    You're right, he's reading our mail.

  2. I thought this was a good article, and his point was well-taken. Actually at an MSA meeting about the upcoming Islamic Awareness Week I was trying to emphasize to people that we should directly address issues from the Qu'ran and Hadith and say "Yes, these are really problematic and seem to be very undesirable, and it's an issue" instead of glibly trying to smooth them over. Only that kind of open dialog will lead to any sort of progress.

    That said, I think this is an example of differing world-views. I found his defense of Israel in particular to be grossly historically inaccurate and lop-sided.

  3. In as much as Sam is advocating a worldview that favors representative democracies and frowns on theocracies that espouse religious fanaticism, yes, this is an excellent example.

    Are you dissatisfied with his take on Israel because he failed to list every historic injustice that all sides in the conflict have perpetrated? Hopefully, the entire conversation about Israel won't take a backseat to WWIII breaking out over there, because Iran hasn't exactly been coy about how it feels about Jews.

  4. Well, your point is taken that at this point who threw the first stone is really more of a distraction than anything and both sides need to let go of being "right", Israel consistently ranks near the bottom of developed countries for political freedoms, and is in no real fashion a representative democracy. The injustices suffered by the Mizrahi Jews alone who have been forced to "Europeanize" themselves is enough to tick off my modern sensibilities. They're also the country that has violated more UN resolutions than any other country in the world, including Iran and Gaddafi's Libya, there is also majority agreement among virtually every international treaty lawyer that their creation of the state of Israel and subsequent occupation is illegal.

    Sure, Hamas are assholes, and Iran is assholes. But this is a situation where there are no good guys, and it sickens me when people are like 'oh poor Israel, those poor widdle guys never did nothing!'

    Sam's statements basically boils down to 'The whole world was really crappy to Jews, so they totally should be allowed to take over someone else's country illegally and then function as a de facto apartheid state.'

    So my dissatisfaction with his statement isn't because he failed to list every injustice. It's that he demonstrates a clear bias by using the case of Israel as an example of how Muslims are evil fanatical aggressors and COMPLETELY ignores that Israel is at least as fanatical and militant and run by their most fundamentalist minorities. If you're going to show an example of 'nice democracies vs evil theocracies', it would be nice to pick a democracy that isn't doing the exact same thing you're speaking against.

  5. Israel is at *least* as fanatical and militant? They are in "no real fashion" a representative democracy? They rank near the bottom of developed countries for political freedoms?

    I see we have touched on a subject that has sent you sailing far from the shores of reasonable discourse. Just the three statements above are enough to make me decide to leave this one alone. We have plenty of other things to disagree about, after all.

  6. The last one at least is not an opinion, it's factual. Check Freedom House, Transparency International, the International Religious Freedom Report, Reporters without Borders, the list goes on. Israel consistently ranks near the bottom of modernized developed countries for political, press, and religious freedoms. Don't take my word for it, look up the rankings.

    As far as them being a representative democracy.... it is more of an Ethnocracy. Read anthropological work on the Mizrahi Jews in Israel, or Israeli geopolitical mappers (particularly Hilel Cohen and or Oren Yiftachel, both Jewish), or for that matter the results of the Israeli Emergency Committee in 1948. The Israeli state has made a systematic and deliberate effort to exclude Arabs from government and education, even in the non-disputed territories. Mizrahi Jews have been forced to change their names, accents, even destroy documents in order to de-Arabize their lineage.

    But hey, I suppose this is coming around to bite me since I'm the one who always says we can't be sure of "facts" right, so who am I to use them now? :)

  7. **Israel on Freedom House's site: open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civic life, and independent media.

    On a scale of 1 to 7, with one being the best, ranked 1 out of seven for political freedoms, and 2 out of 7 for civil liberties.

    By contrast, Iran is described as "basic political rights are absent, and basic civil liberties are widely and systematically denied." It ranks 6 and 6 on the same scale.

    If your argument is that having a 1/2 rating is near the bottom compared to countries that are 1/1, I am unimpressed. So unimpressed, in fact, that I don't feel the need to bother slogging through the rest of the sites you recommend.

    Honestly, I am more than willing to admit that the Israel situation is a huge clusterfuck, with plenty of blame to go around for all parties. But one of the parties involved goes out of its way to avoid civilian casualties, while the other would love nothing more than to inflict as many civilian casualties as they can. The continual rain of random RPGs would seem to speak for itself, but I guess not.