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LA Times: Liberal Denial

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by basso, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-harris18sep18,0,1897169.story

    --
    Head-in-the-Sand Liberals
    Western civilization really is at risk from Muslim extremists.
    By Sam Harris
    SAM HARRIS is the author of "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason." His next book, "Letter to a Christian Nation," will be published this week by Knopf. samharris.org.

    September 18, 2006

    TWO YEARS AGO I published a book highly critical of religion, "The End of Faith." In it, I argued that the world's major religions are genuinely incompatible, inevitably cause conflict and now prevent the emergence of a viable, global civilization. In response, I have received many thousands of letters and e-mails from priests, journalists, scientists, politicians, soldiers, rabbis, actors, aid workers, students — from people young and old who occupy every point on the spectrum of belief and nonbelief.

    This has offered me a special opportunity to see how people of all creeds and political persuasions react when religion is criticized. I am here to report that liberals and conservatives respond very differently to the notion that religion can be a direct cause of human conflict.

    This difference does not bode well for the future of liberalism.

    Perhaps I should establish my liberal bone fides at the outset. I'd like to see taxes raised on the wealthy, drugs decriminalized and homosexuals free to marry. I also think that the Bush administration deserves most of the criticism it has received in the last six years — especially with respect to its waging of the war in Iraq, its scuttling of science and its fiscal irresponsibility.

    But my correspondence with liberals has convinced me that liberalism has grown dangerously out of touch with the realities of our world — specifically with what devout Muslims actually believe about the West, about paradise and about the ultimate ascendance of their faith.

    On questions of national security, I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right.

    This may seem like frank acquiescence to the charge that "liberals are soft on terrorism." It is, and they are.

    A cult of death is forming in the Muslim world — for reasons that are perfectly explicable in terms of the Islamic doctrines of martyrdom and jihad. The truth is that we are not fighting a "war on terror." We are fighting a pestilential theology and a longing for paradise.

    This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims. But we are absolutely at war with those who believe that death in defense of the faith is the highest possible good, that cartoonists should be killed for caricaturing the prophet and that any Muslim who loses his faith should be butchered for apostasy.

    Unfortunately, such religious extremism is not as fringe a phenomenon as we might hope. Numerous studies have found that the most radicalized Muslims tend to have better-than-average educations and economic opportunities.

    Given the degree to which religious ideas are still sheltered from criticism in every society, it is actually possible for a person to have the economic and intellectual resources to build a nuclear bomb — and to believe that he will get 72 virgins in paradise. And yet, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, liberals continue to imagine that Muslim terrorism springs from economic despair, lack of education and American militarism.

    At its most extreme, liberal denial has found expression in a growing subculture of conspiracy theorists who believe that the atrocities of 9/11 were orchestrated by our own government. A nationwide poll conducted by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University found that more than a third of Americans suspect that the federal government "assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East;" 16% believe that the twin towers collapsed not because fully-fueled passenger jets smashed into them but because agents of the Bush administration had secretly rigged them to explode.

    Such an astonishing eruption of masochistic unreason could well mark the decline of liberalism, if not the decline of Western civilization. There are books, films and conferences organized around this phantasmagoria, and they offer an unusually clear view of the debilitating dogma that lurks at the heart of liberalism: Western power is utterly malevolent, while the powerless people of the Earth can be counted on to embrace reason and tolerance, if only given sufficient economic opportunities.

    I don't know how many more engineers and architects need to blow themselves up, fly planes into buildings or saw the heads off of journalists before this fantasy will dissipate. The truth is that there is every reason to believe that a terrifying number of the world's Muslims now view all political and moral questions in terms of their affiliation with Islam. This leads them to rally to the cause of other Muslims no matter how sociopathic their behavior. This benighted religious solidarity may be the greatest problem facing civilization and yet it is regularly misconstrued, ignored or obfuscated by liberals.

    Given the mendacity and shocking incompetence of the Bush administration — especially its mishandling of the war in Iraq — liberals can find much to lament in the conservative approach to fighting the war on terror. Unfortunately, liberals hate the current administration with such fury that they regularly fail to acknowledge just how dangerous and depraved our enemies in the Muslim world are.

    Recent condemnations of the Bush administration's use of the phrase "Islamic fascism" are a case in point. There is no question that the phrase is imprecise — Islamists are not technically fascists, and the term ignores a variety of schisms that exist even among Islamists — but it is by no means an example of wartime propaganda, as has been repeatedly alleged by liberals.

    In their analyses of U.S. and Israeli foreign policy, liberals can be relied on to overlook the most basic moral distinctions. For instance, they ignore the fact that Muslims intentionally murder noncombatants, while we and the Israelis (as a rule) seek to avoid doing so. Muslims routinely use human shields, and this accounts for much of the collateral damage we and the Israelis cause; the political discourse throughout much of the Muslim world, especially with respect to Jews, is explicitly and unabashedly genocidal.

    Given these distinctions, there is no question that the Israelis now hold the moral high ground in their conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah. And yet liberals in the United States and Europe often speak as though the truth were otherwise.

    We are entering an age of unchecked nuclear proliferation and, it seems likely, nuclear terrorism. There is, therefore, no future in which aspiring martyrs will make good neighbors for us. Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Dick Cheney, they will be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies.

    Increasingly, Americans will come to believe that the only people hard-headed enough to fight the religious lunatics of the Muslim world are the religious lunatics of the West. Indeed, it is telling that the people who speak with the greatest moral clarity about the current wars in the Middle East are members of the Christian right, whose infatuation with biblical prophecy is nearly as troubling as the ideology of our enemies. Religious dogmatism is now playing both sides of the board in a very dangerous game.

    While liberals should be the ones pointing the way beyond this Iron Age madness, they are rendering themselves increasingly irrelevant. Being generally reasonable and tolerant of diversity, liberals should be especially sensitive to the dangers of religious literalism. But they aren't.

    The same failure of liberalism is evident in Western Europe, where the dogma of multiculturalism has left a secular Europe very slow to address the looming problem of religious extremism among its immigrants. The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.

    To say that this does not bode well for liberalism is an understatement: It does not bode well for the future of civilization.
     
  2. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    Hate to burst the bubble, but conspiracy nuts who believe that the federal government conspired to make 9-11 happen are not a "liberal subculture".

    Frequently, they are right wing libertarian types, of the kind that bomb abortion clinics and federal buildings and are eagerly awaiting the Rapture.

    e.g:

    http://www.patriotsaints.com/News/911/Conspiracy/index.html

    Talk about denial...........what's denial is the fantasy that nobody but you cares about terrorism or national security. I'd say it's insulting, but I guess its expected so it's really not.

    Te fact that I care about those things is precisely why the Bush Admin's hideously counterproductive policies are distressing to me, and finally the majority of Americans.
     
  3. rodrick_98

    rodrick_98 Contributing Member

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    this is correct... if the dems could actually get a leader that was strong enough to lead, and a yankee/cali ultra liberal, they would take back the house, the senate, and every other office. until the party decides to show some backbone rather than tolerate everything, this fall will look fairly simialr to 2002, 2004.
     
  4. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    agreed. sam's post, attacking the messenger, is part of the problem. this is why i think that "most" modern conservatives, are actually infinitely more liberal than those that lable themselves as such.
     
  5. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    Are you as big a moron in real life as you looked like with that post?

    Now that was attacking the messenger.

    I looked at an example by the author of the supposed "liberal subculture" of denial, and it melted into nothingness after the slightest observation.

    If I said "the author of this piece is nearly as dumb as basso" that would be attacking the messenger. Rather, his assumptions are invalid, like most of your reasoning for the last 5 years, and like your wistful and wishful fantasies about the moderate conservative movement -- now that ***-bashing season is done.
     
  6. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    are you really as obtuse as you looked like with that post? the messenger in this case is the author of the piece, and you took one quote out of context, and ignored the rest of the article, which i doubt you even read.

    and i have no truck w/ moderate conservatives, any more than i do w/ moderate liberals- the times call for recognizing the dangers radical islam poses to our society, and doing something about it. if you can't even acknowledge the problem exists, or insist or treating osama and w as equally evil, then you're part of the problem, as your post exposes when you implicitly equate conservative opposition to gay marriage (opposition i don't share, btw) w/ islamist pitching of homosexuals off cliffs.
     
  7. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    I hope you don't drive a truck, considering your knowledge of them.

    If Osama is so dangerous, and he certainly is, to put it mildly, why haven't I seen any criticism of your Hero Who Can Do No Wrong, George W. Bush, for invading and occupying Iraq, with the man himself finally, finally admitting that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, after years of babbling the opposite. He had to pull troops and intelligence assets from Afghanistan for his Iraq Adventure, so Osama is still running free. His organization is still in operation and a threat to the US and her allies. Afghanistan is falling back into chaos due to a lack of troops, etc., with the commanders screaming for more troops and assets to fight with. Commanders in Iraq are screaming for more troops and assets, having never had enough to begin with. The complete fool who is Secretary of War, Donnie Rumsfeld, is still receiving praise, and remarkably still has a job, from this Hero of yours, George Bush. No consequences for failure.

    God in heaven, basso... what does it take for you to stop sucking at the teat of George Bush and criticize the man for the ****-up that is his waging of his "War on Terror?" I say his war on terror, because George deserves full credit for his policies, instead of excuses from people like you, as he runs away from yet another failure. And where is the criticism from you for George cutting taxes, for the first time in the Nation's history, during a war, and primarily for the wealthy and Corporate America? Where is the call for sacrifice?

    Is there nothing the man can do, besides being a homophobe, that you are willing to criticize? Nothing? Too busy attacking those who are calling him out for what he is, an abject failure as President? Is Colin Powell on your enemies list now?



    Keep D&D Civil.
     
  8. GreenVegan76

    GreenVegan76 Contributing Member

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    Liberals may be unfocused in our outrage at the terrifying developments in the last five years, but it's because there are more reasons than voices. Three thousand people died while Bush sat in a classroom, so Republicans have since scared us into destroying our integrity, our credibility, our international alliances, our Constitutional rights, and our safety. This is really happening. Right now.

    They sanction widespread torture, indefinite detention of American citizens, unprovoked war on sovereign nations, rollbacks of 230-year-old liberties and unabashed fear-based citizen bullying. Worse, they're doing it with Republicans' blessing.

    Liberals aren't out of touch. We're just pissed that our pissant employees are stealing what is rightfully ours. And we're going to take it back.
     
  9. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    Perhaps you don't know the defintion of "out of context" either. I know exactly what context was when he tried to illustrate the "liberal subculture" -- it was in the context of a standard, tired "Liberals love terrorist" bullsh-t implications that I've heard a 1000 times whenver poll numbers drop.

    Of course, it sounded stupid when he wrote it to a well educated person (gov't conspiracy theorists = liberals? LOL, tell that to your local militia) and proved so on further inspection. As for the rest of it, what am I to argue with? That terrorists are bad? That the Bush Adminstration is not "shockingly incompetent"? (do you agree with this part basso? I disagree with the "shocking" part.) I guess I'm not willing to jump on the praise Israel for their "moral high ground" train, since I generally feel that both sides in that debacle are living in moral latrine ditches, perhaps the israelis ditch isn't as deep though.

    No way basso, terrorism is a problem? Thanks for reminding me, I had no idea, but I agree. The second part of your equation, automatically we should do whatever you say no matter what, no matter how bad your track record of overwhelming failure over the last five years is, is where I differ, given the presidents tendency to play right into their hands.
     
  10. rodrick_98

    rodrick_98 Contributing Member

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    those 3000 would probably have died if bush was in washington, or in crawford... also, regarding the patriot act, it took the dems in congress to push that thing through. you can't put all the blame on bush and the republicans. although, he is the one with the legal/not-so-legal wiretaps.

    they're going to have to come up with a plan, more than red faced attacks, to do this. like i said in my first post, you guys need a true leader to step up, show some backbone, and have a plan rather than sending another stiff like john kerry out to say "who among us does not love nascar?"
     
  11. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    I don't entirely disagree, rodrick, certainly about that buffoon Kerry, who I voted against in the primaries, and who, despite his obvious faults, would have still been a better President than Bush. (yes, you should see that as "damning with faint praise.") We have leaders in the Democratic Party worthy of support. Of course, they have to win in the primaries to get on the ballot in '08, and in some cases, have to decide to run, like Obama.

    The focus is on Congress, though, in this part of the election cycle, and people like John Murtha, who is talking about running for Majority Leader, if I'm remembering correctly, are certainly strong and capable people. Ultimately, this election is about reining in an out of control President. Losing control of one, or better yet, and possible, IMO, both branches of Congress would do a lot to save the country from further blunders by the man. As for "plans," Democrats have plenty. Do a little research. You'd be surprised at how well Democratic stands on issues, and their proposed policy changes sound compared to what we have seen from the White House and the GOP Congress.

    Governing is more than sound-bites and attack ads, the specialty of the Rove GOP. America has figured the Republican Party out. Grab a surfboard and ride November's Democratic wave. It's going to be fun! The only red faces will belong to those clinging to a bankrupt GOP trying to run away from a failed President, and losing seats. In my opinion. :)



    Keep D&D Civil.
     
  12. GreenVegan76

    GreenVegan76 Contributing Member

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    You're absolutely correct. Excellent points. If Democrats had shown any sac at all, it wouldn't have come to this. They were so scared to be seen as "unpatriotic," they rolled over like little biatches. They're supposed to be the opposition party. Not the capitulating weenies. We need a leader who will stand up and say, "You know what? This shiat ends now. We're Americans dammit. We don't live in some third-world banana republic dictatorship. We don't give anything away, much less our freedom."

    It's scary what Republicans are getting away with, but they couldn't have done a lot of it without Democrat support. And they have failed Americans.
     
  13. two-sandwiches

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    FOR ALL PEOPLE THAT SAY AMERICA IS NOT READY FOR A WOMAN PRESIDENT OR A BLACK PRESIDENT I SAY....Hilary could be a very candid leader that I personally would love because it would show all of the hateful chaeuvanism in this world and expose alot of discrimination in this country as well as this world and I feel the same about Obama.

    ITS NOT AMERICA THATS NOT READY FOR THESE KIND OF CANDIDATES but the people whose stupidity is threatened by them!

    Don't believe the media when they say the DEMS don't have leaders...I heard with my own ears last election on Christian radio stations that a vote for Kerry was a vote against God. The Dems have been put in a precarious position where they are afraid to stand up against the masses until they get elected and the conservatives know this.

    THE HEARTLAND IS FULL OF DINOSAURS THAT ARE FACING EXTINCTION and not at the hands of liberals but as the result of their political affiliation using them to get elected, lying to them and getting their children killed, and for weeding out the middle class.

    WAKE UP AMERICA, NOW, IS AS GREAT A TIME AS EVER TO CHANGE IN THE NAME OF HUMAN PROGRESSION.

    I personally feel that any person that agrees with every single thing a certain political party says is perhaps not a free thinker. There has to be atleast one thing you can agree with the other party on and if you are afraid to stick up for what you believe you are merely a weak FRATBOY. These parties have set up our government where you support one or the other and American values and ideas are used to further political agendas and not to genuinely help AMERICANS.
     
  14. rhadamanthus

    rhadamanthus Contributing Member

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    Well done Deckard. Well done.
     
  15. rodrick_98

    rodrick_98 Contributing Member

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    aight, so i'm gonna have to retract my previous statement about not having a plan. well, this isn't a full plan, but i heard oregon senator ron wyden on the ed schulz (sp?) show on air america (GASP!!! i was listenin to that station?!?!) and he had some pretty definative answers regarding iran. this is what will be needed for any sort of democrat takeover.

    and speaking about running for president, i don't think hilary will be able to pull enough red state votes to win. i do like obama's demeanor, i'm just not sure of all his policies. one guy i'd like to see run is gen. wesley clark. i'm haven't seen all his views, but i liked what i heard out of him regarding the whole security issue.

    the dems are going to have to field some good candidates in '08....
    for the reps, i don't see giuliani getting the nomination due to his gun control and abortion views, but i don't see any of the "inside the beltway" guys getting it either.
     
  16. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

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    Believing these things does not make one a liberal. The most prominent voices to come out against the drug war lately have been conservative (even the National Review had astrongly worded article lately) and over 60% of the country is currently criticising Bush. Whenever I hear someone talk about their "liberal bona fides," I immediately know that they are a conservative who is trying to look like he has inside knowledge of the liberal movement in general or the Democratic Party specifically. This guy sounds more like a Libertarian than a Democrat and as such, I doubt he has any groundbreaking insight into the workings of the party or the mindset of Democrats.

    "The truth is that we are not fighting a "war on terror." We are fighting a pestilential theology and a longing for paradise."

    This quote says it all. He disparages the entire Muslim world as having a "pestilential theology" and then goes on to make claims as to the imagination of liberals. One of these claims that he passes off as "imagination" is that American militarism is not creating terrorists, which is a false view based on several studies done lately. Further, the only people who seem to be claiming that liberals believe that terrorism is the product only of economic despair and lack of education are the conservative blowhards putting words in the mouths (and now imaginations) of liberals.

    As has been pointed out, the people who believe this are not mainstream liberals, they are people on the fringes of both the left and the right. The biggest thing that this survey proves is that there are a lot of people who believe very bad things about this administration. Attributing these views to liberals exclusively is intellectually dishonest.

    Our enemies in the Muslim world are indeed depraved, but this writer has intimated in this article that the ENTIRE Muslim world of over 1 billion people have a "pestilential theology." The reality is that the VAST majority of the Muslim world is not radical and does not want "death to America." They want to live their lives in peace, but when the President of the United States disparages the entire Muslim world, attacks Muslims without provocation, and skirts around (or breaks) international treaties against torture, it is easy to see why so many become radicals.

    I agree that we need to fight the radicals. However, we need to embrace those Muslims who want to live in peace rather than alienating them. That is how we will reduce the number of terrorists in the future.

    The US and Israel definitely occupy the "moral high ground," but I like Sam's description of that high ground, in the case of Israel, being a shallower latrine ditch. Unfortunately, the US is busy digging our own ditch.

    We are definitely higher up on the "moral high ground," but through actions like defending torture as an acceptable action, we are losing our footing there.

    Duh. Everyone knows that and claiming that liberals do not is intellectually dishonest and maliciously false. Again, this guy proves that he is nothing more than a disparaging a$$clown who deserves to be on Faux News.

    Yes, they are. The fact that the author doesn't know this is indicative of his lack of knowledge of liberals.

    So now he is claiming that fascists are the "sensible" ones. Wow. Just wow.
     

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