CRITICAL THINKING: “What Ben Affleck Missed in the Islamophobia Debate with Bill Maher and Sam Harris” / Andrew L. Seidel

Andrew L. Seidel

            Andrew L. Seidel

There’s an interesting video making the viral rounds. Bill Maher on his excellent show, Real Time, had on author Sam Harris, actor Ben Affleck, writer Nicholas Kristof, and political operative Michael Steele as guests. The discussion, debate is a better term, was about Islamophobia.

Maher and Harris argued that criticizing Islam is necessary and is not bigotry or discrimination. As is the tendency when accusations of racism and intolerance are flying, the debate got a bit heated.

Affleck said that Harris’s “argument is, ‘You know, black people, they shoot each other'” and “gross and racist.” Kristof said that Maher’s criticism of Islam has “a tinge of how white racists talk about African-Americans and define blacks.”

It is a bit frustrating to watch because the two sides are talking past each other. Maher and Harris are clearly correct. Affleck, Kristal and Steele are making valid points, but not against the arguments Maher and Harris raised.

Continue reading at Freedom From Religion Foundation

ANTI-THEISM: “Can Liberalism Be Saved From Itself?” / Sam Harris

My recent collision with Ben Affleck on Bill Maher’s show, Real Time, has provoked an extraordinary amount of controversy. It seems a postmortem is in order.

For those who haven’t seen the show, most of what I write here won’t make sense unless you watch my segment:

So what happened there?

I admit that I was a little thrown by Affleck’s animosity. I don’t know where it came from, because we hadn’t met before I joined the panel. And it was clear from our conversation after the show that he is totally unfamiliar with my work. I suspect that among his handlers there is a fan of Glenn Greenwald who prepared him for his appearance by simply telling him that I am a racist and a warmonger.

Whatever the reason, if you watch the full video of our exchange (which actually begins before the above clip), you will see that Affleck was gunning for me from the start. What many viewers probably don’t realize is that the mid-show interview is supposed be a protected five-to-seven-minute conversation between Maher and the new guest—and all the panelists know this. To ignore this structure and encroach on this space is a little rude; to jump in with criticism, as Affleck did, is pretty hostile. He tried to land his first blow a mere 90 seconds after I took my seat, before the topic of Islam even came up.

Continue reading . . .

ISRAEL WAR CRIMINALS: “Examining the ‘Israel Has a Right to Defend Itself’ Narrative” / Chris Hedges / Linda Sarsour