Tuesday, 29 July 2014


Going on from what I said yesterday, and taking a slightly different tack, due to a couple of comments that arose in discussions in various venues, including privately, I'd like you to read this:


Depending on your perspective, you may or may not agree with Sam. I disagree with him on several key points there, but it's a worthy read, if nothing else than it spells out very well, I think, one side of the argument.

Sam Harris is an interesting and erudite man, and although I almost always disagree with him in some way, I always enjoy listening to him. That, I think is the mark of a great speaker or writer. That you can enjoy them even if you don't agree with them. I think I would be able to sit across a table and debate anything with him, we could disagree and shake hands afterwards.

I think he has made some assumptions there, based on his hostility towards Islam, which he makes no secret of. I do not share those assumptions or that hostility and this is where I usually find myself in disagreement with others on the topic.

Oh no, I don't like Islam. By which I mean, I don't share their beliefs, and I would never be willing to follow them. Above all I don't like the patriarchal aspect of it, and no assertions by Muslim feminists will ever convince me that women are protected by Shariah.

And I find Muslim extremists to be very frightening and dangerous people, because they cannot be reasoned with, and their objectives are not rational.

I even agree with Bridgitte Gabriel that in debates about the dangers of Islamism, that the moderates are not part of the equation, although I think she could have chosen her words better than calling millions of people irrelevant.

But I don't see Islam as some great evil. That is to say I don't see it any differently to any other religion. Yes, I have read the Quran, thank you. I've read almost every holy book out there, and I find them equivalent. They all talk about peace, they all end up at war. They can all be powers for good, and they can all be destructive. They are what people use them to be.

So, my position is very simple. All extremists, especially religious ones, have the potential to be dangerous, by definition - it matters not which religion it is. Because of history, because of economics, and also because of western attitudes, right now the danger just happens to come from Muslim extremists.

In other words, while Hamas is a dangerous, Muslim extremist organization, and no doubt about it, that's not the central issue here. And while Hamas probably do have in their own minds the desire to kill all Jews, that's not the central issue here either. Just as Harris points out that if Israel had wanted to obliterate Gaza it could easily have done so, if the Muslim world had wanted to obliterate all Jews, trust me, it would have happened by now.

So, while he put it very well, I don't accept his argument that it's correct to side with Israel here. I personally believe in taking the side of peace, and of civilians. What I see are two groups of people being badly led by leaders with agendas roughly equivalent.

So, there's that.

But what I do agree with Sam Harris on, is that the modern state of Israel should never have been created in the first place, including all the reasons he gives, but there are others. I believe the real problem here is Zionism, and always was. There are groups among Jews, even within Israel, who oppose Zionism and all that it leads to. Perhaps that is the real hope for the future. We have to have hope. But I am not hopeful for any solution any time soon, Zionism is not suddenly going to go away. It has been tolerated and pampered and enabled.........and it's all too late now, we cannot change history. Israel exists, is home to millions of people, and to reverse that would be as great an injustice as any other.

I do wish people could remember that. That what is done is done, and all we can ever do is move forward. Yes, we must learn from history, but to keep churning it over and over is just picking at a scab and wondering why it won't heal. Explaining things due to history? YES. Vital. Tearing our clothes over what has already happened? No.

And there's the problem. That's not what humans do, is it? Humans don't sigh and move on. That's what's different about us. Our ability to remember everything, and indeed record it, which allows us to be so amazing, also allows us to get bogged down in grudges and vendettas. It's hard to blame anyone wanting revenge, too. It's understandable. But that is what is holding us back from improving our lot as a species. With all our skills and technology, we always end up killing one another because of history.

Gah. I'm going gardening.


  1. As an atheist myself, I find the so-called New Atheists a despicable, intolerant, bigoted, fascist clique cloaking their racism and Islamomisia in pretended "rationality". Harris is by far the worst of the lot but Dawkins and the late Hitchens aren't far behind.

    A couple of articles about Harris you might want to read (copy and paste links in your browser ):




  2. Thanks for the link to Harris. How refreshing to see a nuanced thinker for a change. It all boils down to The fact you're paranoid dpesn't mean they are not out to get you. I am sick, physically affected, by Gaza. I am spending too much time on it. Adding my voice to the many Jews around the world who are saying NOT IN MY NAME! If we want to go back to history we can also blame the Ottoman empire which was in possession of Palestine when Zionism first started. Land was sold to immigrants without regards to tenant farmers. It was a sparsely populated backwater. Early advertised as "A land without people for a people without land." Except of course it was not empty, no more so than the Americas were. Then to complicate things there is the Fundie factor who wpould like to encourage Armageddon, so Jesus will come back sooner. I am going to flee to the garden....except today I have to do Reflexology. Also a sanity saver.