I am preparing to treat this incident on the Maher-Harris-Affleck-Kristof dust-up on Maher’s show from October 2014, in my book: They’re so Smart/Deadly because We’re so Stupid.
I discuss this in terms of Affleck’s performance. Now, given that Affleck was way out of his league both intellectually and informationally on this panel, we can’t judge his argument purely on his emotive ejaculations. On the other hand, given how little he knew, his attempt to dominate (close down) the discussion is all the more striking.
The exchange and its aftermath offer a good example of the dynamics of LCE (liberal cognitive egocentrism) dupes and dishonest demopaths, and the virtue-signaling involved in Affleck’s moral indignation at Harris and Maher. For a more poised and informed presentation of the “liberal” position, see bibliography below. Reza Aslan comes closest to demopathic dishonesty in his defense of Islam, the others on Affleck’s side seem pretty clearly dupes of the discourse.
I think the issues raised there and in subsequent discussion, deserve close scrutiny, because, better understanding and weighing the evidence and arguments – precisely what Affleck’s intervention was designed to stop – could represent the point at which the conversation changes, and people start talking about real problems, realistically.
We cannot afford to operate in this denial based community that continues to lose a cognitive war with global Jihad that we should be winning handily, a war whose loss would be catastrophic for civil society and progressive principles the world over.
Below is a preliminary bibliography of subsequent discussions about the exchange, crudely divided into pro and con. I welcome other suggestions of material and categories, as well as comments on the various pieces. Interested in pieces that analyze Affleck’s electric response (and performance). He is, I think, a good example of that form of Islamophobia that is afraid to criticize Islam. Indeed, he’s an enforcer.
In favor of Affleck:
Did anyone enjoy watching an impassioned @BenAffleck on Bill Maher as much as I did?
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) October 5, 2014
H.A. Goodman, “Why Ben Affleck Is Right, Bill Maher Is Wrong, And Sam Harris Is Jaded About Islam,” Huffington Post, October 6, 2014.
Nicholas Kristoff, “The Diversity of Islam,” NYT, October 8, 2014
Peter Beinart, “Bill Maher’s Dangerous Critique of Islam,” Atlantic, October 9, 2014
Ben Child, “Ben Affleck: Sam Harris and Bill Maher ‘racist’ and ‘gross’ in views of Islam,” Guardian, October 7. 2014.
Reza Aslan, “Bill Maher Isn’t the Only One Who Misunderstands Religion,” NYT, October 8, 2014
In favor of Maher/Harris
Jerry Coyne, “Maher, Harris, Kristof, Steele, and Affleck squabble about Islam,” Why Evolution is True, October 4, 2014
Mark Tapson, “Maher and Harris Educate Affleck about Islam,” FrontPage, October 6, 2014.
Adam Corolla, “Carolla Defends Maher In Brawl Over Islam: Affleck Not Used To Sitting There And Eating It,” RealClearPolitics, October 7, 2014
Sam Harris, “Can Liberalism be Saved from Itself?,” Sam Harris Blog, October 7, 2014
Andrew Bostom, “From Obscenity to Clarity: A Factual Understanding of the Maher-Affleck Islam ‘Debate’,” Dr. Andrew Bostom, October 10, 2014
Robert Spence, “Five Ways Bill Maher Is Right and Reza Aslan Wrong About Islam,” PJ Media, October 17, 2014
Muhammad Syed and Sarah Haider, “Reza Aslan is Wrong About Islam and This is Why,” Friendly Atheist, October 5, 2014