Sunday, January 31, 2016

Open Letter to Sam Harris

So a couple of weeks ago, I sent an email to Sam Harris, hoping to get some clarification on his views and recent support of Douglas Murray. It was a long shot, it's a complex issue and an uncomfortable one, but it was worth a try. I tried to approach him directly, but by now I assume I won't be hearing back (I get it, he's a very busy guy!) -- so I'm releasing my email as an open letter. These are important questions that need to be raised in an environment of increasing hostility in the online atheist scene. The 'heads' of the scene can do a lot more to build bridges than they do, imo. 

In this fight against radicalization the world will need all the liberal, progressive, ex-muslims they can get. Between the apologia/denial of the illiberal left and anti (im)migration sentiment of the right there needs to be a reasonable middle ground. Alienating secular immigrants is not helpful or productive at all. 

I know, I know, taking a stand against Douglas Murray's awful views on immigration is not going to go down easy with many of you. Since he's so excellent at taking on the regressive left/islamists.

I get plenty of hate from all sides any way, i'll manage if you send a little more my way. But know that it's pretty ridiculous to expect a person of Muslim immigrant background to accept generalizations and anti immigration views. It's just not going to happen. My bar isn't so low that anyone good at critiquing islam is automatically on my list of favourite people. And yours shouldn't be either.

(Screenshots, links, videos added later for the purpose of this blogpost)


Dear Sam,

I’m an ex-Muslim (atheist) Pakistani-Canadian blogger and illustrator who receives much hate mail, death and rape threats from Islamists for my work. As a woman, of Muslim background who took on the task of writing about sexuality, politics and religion I am subject to a lot of internet abuse. The islamist abuse - I have sadly accepted as part of the territory, but what shocks me every time is the abuse I receive from a certain strain of fellow atheists. I have been meaning to write to you for a while, but have been putting it off since it seems a mammoth task to explain my difficult position. After seeing parts of your exchange on Twitter with Maryam Namazie, regarding ‘collective blame’, I thought to finally sit down and do it.

I’m saddened to see an increasing rift, especially since the refugee crisis, between 'Western atheists' and ex-Muslim atheists, and I wish for it to go no further. So here I am. Maryam and you both are voices I admire greatly — I see a growing tension and I wish to offer my perspective on why this may be occurring.

You may remember me from my ‘Letter to Ben Affleck. I understand and relate to your positions on religion especially the unique problems that Islam is posing today. In a world where the left has completely abandoned liberals such as myself who stand firmly against the religious right, no matter what religion (and especially the one I was born into), I am glad to see you as an ally…as someone who stands in my corner and starts conversations which many like myself from muslim backgrounds have sacrificed their lives for. You start these conversations on a larger scale than I thought was possible, and you bring awareness to many people. For that I thank you, sincerely. I have interviewed and heard from several ex-extremists in Pakistan who say they were changed by watching your debates on YouTube.

I have personally seen the value of your voice and I will always have your back when people accuse you of being an anti-Muslim bigot. I believe your criticism of Islam is coming from a good place, a compassionate place and from a desire for betterment of the situation for all affected by it. It’s a rarer perspective to come by, as more and more people are attracted to this discussion.

There are charges of bigotry and racism being thrown around at almost anyone who dares to criticize Islam. I myself (as a Pakistani woman) have been accused countless times...of 'white supremacy', racism and other ridiculous things for opposing my own oppression. For writing a, what I thought was, polite and gentle letter to Ben Affleck and other defenders of the faith, I was even accused of ‘assisting genocide’. For writing a letter!

It’s a world gone mad.

I can personally relate to the frustration you and many others experience at this false charge. Not only are these accusers of bigotry at every instance of legitimate criticism adding to the confusion...but they are effectively diminishing it’s meaning and watering down instances of actual bigotry…till they are almost unrecognizable to those who aren’t immersed in the topic. Crying wolf too many times never did anyone any good.

Because so many false accusations are hurled at critics of Islam, we tend to take them less seriously, as we should. However, this has turned into a new problem where actual instances and bigoted stances are better camouflaged….and anyone speaking out against actual anti-Muslim bigotry is regarded as a 'social justice warrior', or 'regressive leftist’ - which was not the original intent of the terms, I’m sure.

I am a harsh critic of Islam - anyone that knows me or my work or follows me on twitter can see this, yet when I oppose blatant-anti Muslim bigotry I am accused of being an apologist for the religion I risk my life to oppose, by a certain type of atheist. On the flip side of the Islamophobia-shriekers there are those who think that people who make clear distinctions between people and ideas are apologists. These are the people who seek to demonize Muslims as a whole, who actually think its ok to generalize a large, diverse group as savages and rapists. I know these are charges hurled at you, and me, and Maryam….and they are false when directed at us but they are completely true for a growing number of far-right sympathizing atheists.

In between these two extremes you will find liberal Muslims and ex-Muslims battling both Islamists who wish to silence our critique and anti-Muslim bigots who wish to demonize us and our families. There is constant abuse from both sides, and it gets harder and harder to walk the tightrope of productive discussion and rational critique.

I am explaining this, because I know you may not deal with both sides of this abuse on as great a scale as many who are personally discriminated against for having a muslim background do. I just wish to show a bigger picture…with people’s paranoia and anti-refugee sentiment coming out, this is enhanced. The gap between immigrant ex-Muslim atheists and ‘western' atheists grows. And we should be natural allies.

While there are obviously fair concerns about large numbers of people migrating to any country who may not share values or who may hold extreme beliefs, we see those who are minorities within this group further marginalized. Just as they are by the left’s refusal to address the problems posed by Islam. The blanket hate and lack of compassion towards people who want a better life, or are fleeing, drowning to get away from the same extremists we also loathe, detracts from any legitimate points being brought up in regards to immigration/migration.

At a time when we should be discussing values and things like behaviour towards women, we have people either trying to disassociate or hide the backgrounds of actual criminals and rapists (as seen in the recent incident in Cologne), or we have people trying to use such news to demonize immigrants as a whole. Its a vicious cycle pushed further to the extreme from all angles, where the reasonable middle ground is drowned out.

We should be discussing better screening processes, how to change bad ideas that may be carried over when migrating, into good ideas…we should be discussing the values we should not compromise on simply because people arriving are members of minority groups, we should discuss the physical limits of absorbing people, so we don’t cause towns to be overtaxed, we should discuss problems and methods around integration, especially the problematic attitudes towards women - but instead too many are busy denying negative effects all together *or* discussing the fact that we shouldn’t bring 'these people' in at all, or that we should prioritize Christian refugees over Muslim ones. Yes there will be no jihadis among Christians, but by simply making this statement we are refusing to acknowledge that many Muslims who don’t practice the hardline version ISIS demands are also at great risk. As an immigrant who was given the chance to leave a religious country and enter a non religious one, I can’t in good conscience support denying that chance to others (with reasonable precautions and vetting of course). It is not an easy issue to navigate through, as there are valid points to be made for and against, but its one we must tread on carefully and sensitively to ensure that important points are not being silenced by blind support or blind hate on either side.

While you may criticize Islam from a place that is in support of those who seek to change it, better it, leave it…there are many, many who would rather close their borders and have nothing to do with people of Muslim background at all. (In fact many of us are under constant accusations of being secret islamists, myself, Maryam, Maajid - “once a Muslim, always a Muslim" rhetoric is used to silence our opposition of anti-Muslim bigotry). Sure they will cheer liberal/ex Muslims as they criticize Islam, but will turn their backs on us or go silent the second we oppose the demonization of people who look like us, our families. This is not about brown skin, but bigotry against perceived adherents of a faith. Ex muslims, even Sikhs face anti-Muslim bigotry. This is simply not opposed enough in the so called ’new' atheist scene. And by the descriptions I hear of it, I am apparently a ‘new’ atheist myself…because I refuse to sit silent in the face of religious injustice.

When you partner up with someone like Douglas Murray to do a podcast specifically on migration and the refugee crisis, there are some mixed messages being sent. While he is not an open bigot like Trump or Carson, and he is eloquent, makes many excellent points in his criticism of Islam & the failures of the left, he does reside somewhere on the spectrum of people who otherize and generalize Muslims. As his story about Jews in Malmo being 'chased out' (1:39:05 on your podcast) by increasing numbers of ‘Muslim' populations indicates, as his saying things like “why would you allow an increasing number of Muslims into your society” (1:40:15 on the podcast)  indicates…this is not to deny that there aren’t clear problems with Muslim populations, this is to say that he makes no effort to make a distinction between marginalized liberal muslims who oppose this hate and intolerance, and the majorities who support it. The label ‘Muslims’ tars all kinds of Muslims…not just Islamists. He is not entirely wrong, because Muslims are causing these issues certainly, but we must not forget about the Muslims that are also victims of such intolerance, misogyny, homophobia. We are the ones who suffer the anti-Muslim backlash from Murray’s generalizations…where people less intelligent and less nuanced than him spit on us and tell us we are scum.

It was not without your prompt in the podcast that topic of future Ayaans and Maajids being amongst these refugees was brought up. It was you who said these people deserve to be given citizenship…these are not the points Murray is concerned with. His simplistic view is that "Europe doesn’t owe anyone anything"…as if he wouldn’t do the same if him and his family were in such a desperate position. His position seems to be not one of compassion. And this takes away from some very valid, important questions he does ask, "would Europe be able to take in millions of Syrian refugees? What will we do once they are here? Do we have any jobs for them or places for them to live?"

Murray is not the bigot that Trump is or that Tommy Robinson is, but he is certainly an apologist for such bigotry (such as that of far right nationalist group EDL’s), and downplays its harmfulness. He is someone who thinks Robert Spencer of Jihadwatch is a brilliant writer and scholar. This is where it gets muddy (around the 4:50 mark).

Yes, absolutely the left fails and I call it out time and time again, you’ve even shared work of mine that calls out the left for it’s failings on your twitter.

But just as the far right is emboldened by the failures of the regressive left, the regressive left is emboldened by the bigotry of the far right….it is people like me, Maajid and Maryam who are stuck in the middle of this, between a rock and a hard place.

Murray’s apologia for Christianity is frankly off-putting, that he assumes no religion other than Islam is really worth discussing. It is a small picture he sees, if he can’t see the harm caused by other religions and the necessity to discredit them all. Just because Christianity is largely disempowered in Europe, doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful elsewhere, or that faith schools are ok. It is that insistence that we must *only* discuss Islam and excuse away the rest that indicates to me some form of residual attachment, some form of toxic tribalism. I understand that there are harmful beliefs to varying degrees and Islam is undeniably at the forefront of it today, but I make no mistake of excusing the rest. Certainly we can prioritize and emphasize, but we can’t devolve into apologists for other harmful beliefs simply because of our dislike for one that is currently more harmful.

Murray on Religion's place in the world, granted this piece is from 2013,
but I heard this sentiment on Sam's recent podcast with him too.  *cringe*
Let's not forget what the world was like when Xtianity held power. It's only because it's defanged
that it is less harmful now. I do not wish to empower it again in any way.

I consider myself a reasonable person and always willing to change my opinions based on evidence, I listened to your podcast with Murray a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding him. I listened to more of his talks and appearances, and found him to be excellent when taking down opponents like Asghar Bukhari, but its his tribalism, apologia for Christianity, compassionless stance on immigration, refugees that I can’t reconcile with. To hear you being ‘honoured’ to speak with someone who time and time again demonizes immigrants like me, was disappointing. Also your point regarding Ben Carson...I know it was twisted and misused against you by all the usual suspects. I get what you were doing with that comparison, you were trying to highlight the extent of regressive left’s failings. But still, I found that way of framing the issue very odd…to put it so that you have to pick Ben Carson in this pairing, a known anti Muslim bigot - when you yourself are charged with this by so many confused people. So I must respectfully disagree. I’m no fan of Chomsky, let me add. But having the US run by a creationist would be harmful in all sorts of ways…and I’m not sure I can accurately measure the harm both of those hypothetical candidates would do to make this comparison. In an environment that is highly confused and emotionally charged, this message was unclear for those who may not be so knowledgable about the topic or about your views.

Criticism of Islam is bound to attract those who wish to hear it taken apart for tribal reasons, not secular, rational reasons. It happens to my work all the time, my ex-muslim voice is hijacked by far right lunatics to further their own xenophobic agendas…and it happens to your voice too, through no fault of your own. But with such bigots who hitch their wagons to fair, rational criticism of Islam, there needs to be encouragement to unhitch. There isn’t much currently.

There needs to be an effort to distinguish your position and that of Murray’s, rather than the conflation I see (or at least I’m hoping to hear there is a clear distinction) …which is why i think criticism of islam has to be done along with criticism of anti muslim bigotry, in detail and often…to create a less hostile environment for ex Muslims…and for liberal Muslims, so that productive critique can happen. So that we can be true allies without feeling there is little room for us. When I hear from toxic atheists every day, I despair - and i am not comparing them to islamists…there are no atheist death threats…but there r people who call me arab scum, tell me our food is dirty, that we are savage for dipping our hands in our ‘hummus', that everyone of muslim background should be sterilized because they can’t be trusted….that the pew polls should be enough evidence to convince me that it is ok for people to discriminate against my family, because they are likely to be intolerant and savage… after hearing those things all day (along with the usual Islam apologia) - I am emotionally drained, and incredibly disappointed when I hear people like Douglas saying it’s a terrible idea to allow more muslims in. If there was ever a time to separate your stance from Murray's…this would be it….this era of Trumpian nonsense.

This is perhaps the third version of this email I’ve written. It’s been difficult to write to someone I admire like yourself, and say I disagree. I do so with the utmost respect, but I felt this was a point that needed to be discussed. I have just started a podcast, which was banned and taken down from youtube by people (islamists) who constantly target my social media presence. My first guest was Maryam Namazie, I am not someone important or famous, and this is a long shot, but I would be incredibly honoured if you would at some point consider coming on for a chat about immigration/migration with an ex-muslim immigrant.

I will never misrepresent your positions, but since it’s happened to you so many times, I can understand if there is hesitation. Please know that I am an ally and a fan…who wishes to bridge gaps rather than see them increase. My sincerest apologies for such a long email!





follow up questions:

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  1. Some other things about Murray could have been included here. He previously called for all immigration from Muslim countries to stop and insisted that 'conditions for Muslims in Europe must be harder for Muslims across the board'.

    In a 2013, article he believed that Britain had become a 'foreign country' because 'white Britons are now in a minority' in 23 of its boroughs; that white Britons are being 'abolished' and that they are 'losing their country' because of the growth of the non-white-British population.

  2. Can you explain how liberal Muslims deal with all the truly awful aspects of the koran & hadiths? Paedophilia, decapitations, etc.

    Please don't answer with "the bible also". Two wrongs don't make a right. I won't let my 8y.o. get away with that.

    1. Most liberal muslims in my experience are either ignorant abt the awful violent bits of scripture, many don't read the Quran or Hadith --- or they deny it, 'reinterpret it' in some (dishonest) way to rationalize the cognitive dissonance caused by being a liberal and a muslim. I will fault them for intellectual dishonesty, but I can't fault them for the vile bits of scripture they clearly choose to ignore.

      Sorry if u came here expecting some apologia for Islam or tribalism that shifted blame onto the bible... i fear i may have disappointed you. Perhaps you missed the part of the letter where i said i was a *harsh* critic of Islam.

    2. Would preventing such willingly blind people from entering your country be a bad thing, then?

    3. Ridiculous that u have to ask. Most western ppl of religion are also blind to the vileness of their scripture, this makes them better ppl, not worse.

    4. To Anonymous -- they pick and choose which parts to follow and which parts to ignore. In order to do this, one must place secularism above the faith..If you ask them, they probably won't see it that way or admit to doing that, but that is exactly what they are doing. I've also heard things like "well that was a long time ago, it doesn't apply anymore" -- perfectly logical to take that position, except you must realize that not everyone feels that way (just go to Saudi Arabia for example...).

  3. Can you name a country that hasn't suffered because of Muslim immigration at the hands or 2nd or even 3rd generations?

  4. Great letter. I look forward to Sam's reply.

  5. I appreciate you taking the time to articulate these nuanced points, Eiynah. This was an interesting read. I would love to hear an exchange between Sam and yourself.

  6. Thanks for writing this excellent letter, Eiynah!
    I'm an admirer of Sam's work myself and have listened to his podcast conversation with Douglas Murray with very much the same sentiments you described here, thinking: "Surely Sam doesn't agree that the EU should close its doors to (muslim) refugees, right? Right??" Very much looking forward to Sam's reply!

  7. This is a great letter, and I share your concerns, but as far as addressing anti-Muslim bigotry, it can be a mistake to put it in easily polarized black and white terms. As long as someone isn't a raving xenophobe like Donald Trump, you can be accused of misrepresenting their position, for suggesting they aren't exactly being liberal, either.

    There's a grey area of sorts, right? Where someone can be entirely tolerant of Muslims like Maajid Nawaz and Maryam Namazie, but still harbor bigotry against most others. It gives them an easy way out, to say they're fine with Muslims, as long as they're *that* liberal and well-adapted to western culture.

    That sets an unrealistically high bar, when we're talking about average immigrants. When it comes down to it, they are effectively opposing a very broad spectrum of people, and think that's an important part of what you're trying to address?

  8. Fantastic letter, your sane, calm, rational voice is a necessary one in today's climate. I very much hope that Sam takes you up on your offer to appear on your podcast, or invites you on to his, you deserve to be heard by as wide an audience as possible.
    Sending love and thanks from Australia.

  9. The hour is very late for Europe. As much as I loathe the bigotry of many on the far Right, frankly, at this point for the continent, the feelings of secular Muslims and ex-Muslim atheists are now entirely secondary to the safety and welfare of European citizens, women and girls especially. Every single day there are more reports; the whitewashing and outright denial of this by the mainstream European press, police, & politicians is absolutely outrageous. With millions more on their way come spring, it's not just the European Union which is threatened but the whole European way of life.

    While we still have the luxury of having these types of discussions in America and Canada (i.e., of minorities within the minorities), I believe the situation is far more dire across the Atlantic. Europeans are going to have to make some difficult decisions about open borders,
    mass immigration, easily exploited asylum laws, and free movement of people within the continent (schengen) if it wishes to avoid bloodshed in the coming years.

  10. I'm in agreement with the sentiments of most of the others who commented. Hope Sam Harris agrees to a podcast.

  11. I found this article really really interesting Eiynah.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've gathered, you're frustrated that Sam Harris didn't take more of a stance against (what you perceive to be) the generalising and (perhaps even) bigoted views against Douglas Murray.

    As someone you admire, it pains you to see Sam not rail against anti-muslim bigotry as fiercely as he rails against Islamism and other religious extremism.

    I've also listened to the podcast a couple of times and I think I might have an observation that will shed some light.

    Listen to the tension in Sam's voice - he's clearly uncomfortable with a lot of what Douglas is saying.

    Granted, he doesn't express his discomfort as opposition, but that doesn't mean he agrees with everything Douglas says.

    Sam puts a great deal of emphasis upon the importance of free speech and the necessity of hearing people's views in full (long form).

    So what I think Sam Harris was trying to do, is give Douglas Murray a platform on which to express his views in long form without the constant challenges he is usually subjected to in his live debates.

    For me, this is the latest in a long series of intellectually-valid but politically-ill-advised blunders that Sam's made.

    He steadfastly refuses to speak in soundbites because he feels it hinders depth of understanding. He also consistently uses thought exercises - like the Ben Carson example you gave or his much misquoted thoughts on nuclear deterrents or profiling - which are more politically astute person would avoid.

    These are his greatest strengths and his greatest weaknesses. He's adored for taking time to understand, explore and explain issues; and he's exploited for taking time to understand, explore and explain issues.

    So while the audible 'tension' in Sam's voice might not sound like decent empirical evidence for this proposal, in the light of (what I perceive to be) Sam's character and views on free speech, I think it speaks volumes.

    The mere fact that Douglas' words caused ANY tension in Sam AT ALL (we're talking about someone with a superhuman capacity for calm here)... I think it's worth considering.

    I also look forwards to hearing Sam's reply; I personally can't imagine him NOT getting round to this.

    Thanks for writing and sharing :)

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I am struck by the latent tribalism of Cenk and TYT as well... i prefer to call both sides out on this, not just one. I dont agree that maryam falls into that category. And AMW ... really...well.. i recommend you look into that more.

      I agree that douglas isnt explicitly, openly saying BAN ALL MUSLIMS, or that they are all rapists , jihadists... which is why i make a distinction between him and tommy/trump. But he does reside on the spectrum where people like me wouldn't make it to Canada if ppl like him were in charge. Especially because i didn't 'flee' from anywhere, im just a regular immigrant. And my family has not caused any harm or brought any awful dangerous values with them, in fact the whole reason they left is because they are secular. Ppl like us are ignored and made invisible by Murray. And his fixation on 'white Britons' is really disturbing tbh.

      "We long ago reached the point where the only thing white Britons can do is to remain silent about the change in their country. Ignored for a generation, they are expected to get on, silently but happily, with abolishing themselves, accepting the knocks and respecting the loss of their country. "Get over it. It's nothing new. You're terrible. You're nothing."
      For what it is worth, it seems to me that the vindictiveness with which the concerns of white British people, and the white working and middle class in particular, have been met by politicians and pundits alike is a phenomenon in need of serious and swift attention." - yes this article is a couple of years old and i hope he's changed his stance from then, but there were echoes of this in the recent podcast too.

      However, even though we disagree, i appreciate your respectful comment. And thoughtful disagreement, rather than the blatant hate i've been getting for this. Cheers.

    2. I'm Canadian, too, and we just aren't facing the same kind of issues with immigration as Europe is. Accepting a family like yours into Canada isn't a problem when immigration is at normal, manageable levels and wouldn't be a problem in most of Europe were that the case. But if Canada was suddenly faced with millions of immigrants, some refugees fleeing war zones, some feeling persecution, some looking for better job opportunities, and some from each of these groups holding hostile views towards Canadians then, yes, a family like yours might have a tougher time getting in. But this isn't a personal dig at your family, it's a country dealing with a crisis the best it can, trying to manage unmanageable levels of people, while trying to protect itself and its own citizens, a monumental task.

      I think if someone like Murray were in charge of present day Canada, you and your family would have no problem getting in because he is a reasonable person and Canada is not in crisis. After all plenty of Muslim immigrants got in under Harper and he seems to me a lot more extreme than Murray. But reasonable people must deal with a crisis in a more aggressive way than they would handle a normal or relaxed situation. If you go to the emergency room with a broken leg and there was just a major accident and there are a hundred people now pouring into the hospital with worse injuries and some of those people are violent criminals, the fact that you become lower on the priority list is nothing personal against you, it's that an immediate crisis needs to be dealt with and contained first, before it goes spinning out of control.

      To be honest, I get the sense here that you might be taking a lot of what Murray says personally and this might be clouding your objectivity on him and his views. You are seeing him as someone who would deny you and your family access to Canada instead of seeing him as someone speaking specifically about an unprecedented crisis that affects his own country and his own continent in ways we fortunate Canadians can't yet imagine.

      I actually think it's likely Murray is taking the immigration crisis personally as well, which is why some of his rhetoric can be on the harsh side. He is gay and as a gay man has a lot to lose if significant numbers of religiously conservative people become citizens of his country. I get this. As a woman I share a lot of those concerns. They are legitimate and we should be able to voice them and talk about them without being shouted down as bigots.

      I'm really uncomfortable with how easily people are willing to lay the charge of bigotry. This is a very serious accusation and should be only made with utmost care. Because you think someone might be on the "spectrum" of people who are vaguely bigoted is, to my mind, not enough evidence to level the charge. Wouldn't it be better to give each other the benefit of the doubt in these cases, to assume we and our opponents have good intentions even if we disagree with them unless there is significant and blatant evidence to the contrary?

      Honestly I think Murray represents a lot of concerned people who are not bigots at all and his voice is important, not least because there are so few people willing to say the things he says and take the risks he takes. You may not feel personally represented by what he says, but that doesn't mean he sees you as a target or that he sees people like you in anything other than a favorable light, he is just speaking from a specific point of view and one that has a right to be heard just as much as yours. If you want people to have empathy for where you're coming from, maybe you should have empathy for where other people are coming from, even if those people are privileged white British guys with posh accents. Shutting people down with vague charges of kinda-sorta-maybe bigotry is not helpful.

    3. He is most certainly not a reasonable person in my eyes, because of the reasons i mentioned in length above. YEs i am not comparing the situation in Canada to the situation in Europe, its very different. However, the way Murray paints muslim populations does include all of us... not just the muslims that migrate to europe. Its his word choice and arrogant expression that need to be revisited. There's a reason i don't put him in the same camp as Trump, because he's not there.... but he is part of the problem. Sorry.

      "there are so few people willing to say the things he says" - yes most people are not so concerned about white culture being eradicated and white britons being erased... because thats nonsense. That's why most people don't say the stuff he says... He's great at taking down islamists...and that creates a blind spot for many atheists unfortunately.

      "I'm really uncomfortable with how easily people are willing to lay the charge of bigotry. "

      Yes, and im really uncomfortable with how u expect me to just excuse away the demonization of people like me. The fact that he said we shouldn't be let in ffs.

      "he is just speaking from a specific point of view and one that has a right to be heard just as much as yours."

      Hold it there SJW, im not silencing him.... im not censoring him...But i have a right to criticize his terrible views.

      "If you want people to have empathy for where you're coming from, maybe you should have empathy for where other people are coming from, even if those people are privileged white British guys with posh accents." Just read this stupid sentence to yourself again. I am a reasonable person who doesn't judge people for their identities, but moreso for their ideas....I have no empathy for blanket anti immigration stances, because they lack empathy...

      Your first comment was reasonable, your second one has descended into apologia.

      "Shutting people down with vague charges of kinda-sorta-maybe bigotry is not helpful." - That's not what i do at all... hugely ignorant to say that...look up my work.

  13. Thanks for writing this. I would say that you have put your finger on the sore spot: the "otherizing" of Muslims.

    But here's the issue: traditional Islam is the king of otherization, no matter how you point to liberal and universalist traditions in Islam (and here surely are such traditions) they are a minor voice in the modern world. It isn't just this Islamists. So it is a bit of a dilemma.

  14. With that open letter you show me again that I was right to become a patrons of your work. Eiynah, You are my voice. Don't give up.

    Pierre Nolet

  15. You live too far from UK and Europe to have enough cred to battle Murray

  16. Murray is perfectly reasonable in that video. I don't see it as evidence in your favor at all. Did you assume people wouldn't bother watching it? As an apostate of Islam, Douglas Murray is your ally whether you choose to admit it or not, and a damn good one to boot. Your ire is misdirected, but don't take my word for it, Sam Harris has said he will reply to you.

  17. I wonder if Eiynah would be OK with profiling? to profile here; is like only accept Muslims with liberal thinking and rejecting the Orthodox ones.

  18. With immigration being as crazily high as it is and Muslim reproduction rate (full women's focus on it) probably at least 3 times as high as non muslims, some European countries will be Muslim majority countries in a generation.

    Yes, most Muslims live peaceful and don't know or ignore how rotten Quran+Hadith are, but they are still brainwashed throughout their childhood. If they live happy+balanced lifes (but might have a bad conscience not to follow the quran), most will not act on Quran+Hadith, but they will more and more stifle free speach and democracy, while an estimated 15% will feel they need to be more "pious" and will get radicalized, carrying the flame of current majority muslim countries in the Western future. In a short time it will be too dangerous to fight against the fascist totalitarian ideogy that is Islam just like in the country you came from, which you had to flee as it was too dangerous to stay!

    And most people in the West don't even know yet that Quran+Hadith are rotten and evil - any reformation is impossible (as we have seen in the last 1000 years) bringing misery whereever it takes hold.

    How should we check and control those 1 Mln migrants a year (more if we let them) - not just take the ones from Syria, Iraq, Afganistan, but also everyone else fleeing as you say: should we ask them "do you mean well?" "will you adjust to the western values?" "yes? Ok, then come in"....Right!

    It is a fight for survival of the world as we know it in Europe!

  19. One can search your entire open letter for word "poverty" and one would be disappointed to see it absent. Like religions, poverty is created by people and, imho, it is at core of much human activity. Omission of poverty in serious discussion about discrimination and bigotry greatly diminishes value of result.

    Please include poverty in this discussion. For example, one can read about connection between climate change and refugee crisis.

    1. Ek, this is a different conversation about a specific aspect of the Islamism argument. It's not a conversation about all bigotry or all discrimination. No one else here is disappointed with poverty not being discussed.

    2. "... this is a different conversation about a specific aspect of the Islamism argument."
      - Thank you for reply. I will show that the "specific aspect of the Islamism argument" being discussed by author is relevant to poverty. Poor people have fewer identities than rich people. Once they are uprooted from place where they live, they become refugees in foreign land and culture. Identities related to land and geo-specific culture are lost but religious identity remains. Where refugees are isolated, one can plausibly argue that some turn inward to one of few remaining identities, namely religion. Too much religion causes ideology like Islamism to rise and attitudes like acceptability of death to apostates. In reaction, mainstream society hosting refugees will include bigots of all types. Author is stating in many parts of blog about such bigots, as she believes them to be. Her discourse must be taken in narrowest terms if it excludes poverty, therefore.

      Imho, solution is to have less poverty everywhere. More wealth gives better chance for rationality and reason to flourish.

    3. I think the scenario you propose here is likely accurate for some people, and some religions; but, I think it ignores some critical facts, Ek.

      The first is that the attitudes you are lumping together as 'Islamist' are fairly universal in the regions of origin. (We'll know for now that I'm not even sure of the percentage of refugees who are coming from Syria or Iraq, and use broader data from the middle east.) There is no reason that the broad acceptance of such principals as 'death to apostates, or amputation' may be attributed to the social reaction, or to cultural isolation when the vast majority of Muslims from the region have been demonstrated to have already these beliefs. The fact that many immigrants are expressing them the minute their feet hit the soil of Europe gives even less credence that this is a reaction to their experience of, and the isolating nature of, European culture. The best information we have is, that eight out of ten from the region hold to these ‘Islamists beliefs,’ because these are not Islamist beliefs. These fall into the Islamist range, and the fundamentalist, and to the basic everyday Islam range, in the vast majority of people from the region.

      I see a lot of thoughts expressing poverty as a driver; and, many good arguments that it is not. I believe, that it remains a great challenge that we all face, and a worthy cause discussion. However, I think that the application to this situation might be preceded by somehow determining the number of Refugees Vs. The some economic immigrants. If we are just to take it as a general case, it’s not a clear driver.

      The other point, or the social dynamic parameter, would also be hinged on determining numbers. Did most of the women and children stop in Turkey, a more familiar Culture, as has been reported? Of the people reaching Europe, how many arrived with the intention of never becoming part of their new cultural surround? What part has that to play in the future economic success of immigrants who willingly go and get jobs and embrace their new culture, as opposed to those eschewing that culture for some separatist religious identity, and choose to form enclaves where the indigenous population is unwelcome? Lastly, as we are safe to assume that a migrant from the Sahel has had a substantial economic boost from the benefits of arriving in Sweden, and how do such significant economic improvements in the destination alter the attitudes in contrast to those formed in regions of greater poverty, and greater cultural/religious uniformity?

      I see that you guys as motivated by the concern for a real and damaging poverty, a nearly universal problem, except, perhaps, in some of the northern European countries up till a few years ago where the country’s wealth and social net are so well developed. I respond, however, because it is a bridge that is always offered, between a set of beliefs that already exist, and a conclusion regarding their application, when too many contrary data points are in evidence. I think it is a subject better left to a direct discussion of where people are originating, and what countries they are aiming to enter. Until then, it is a bridge which upon closer examination is missing far too many of its mid-stream supports, one that too many people who want to explain this phenomenon in any other terms beyond the preexisting culture and religion are crowding onto with too much abandon. The prediction is pretty straightforward.

    4. "The first is that the attitudes you are lumping together as 'Islamist' are fairly universal in the regions of origin."
      - Thank you for reply. I agree that these attitudes are universal and will even give example of Ahmediyya Muslims (self-appointed reformers; love for all, hatred for none) embracing kafir-non-kafir worldview. Given this, however, one must look back at progress of secular values before 1980 in Muslim-majority countries. Rise of poverty in context of rise in income inequality created breeding ground for Wahabbism to spread. Author is from Pakistan and she will attest to rise of fundamentalism with massive foreign funding of madrassa system after 1980. More than 60% of Pakistan population is rural, where incomes are lower than urban areas. Madrassa education is norm in rural areas, where education is is given at all. In Syria, trigger of current refugee crisis, Islamist attitudes were less prevalent before conflict, imho, and wealth distribution was better.

      More wealth in society gives better chance for rationality and reason to flourish but it does not guarantee Islamist attitudes go away. Poverty, therefore, is at heart of issues related to bigotry, imho. If author cannot address poverty in a discussion about anti-Muslim bigotry with influential public figure, then her points are to be taken narrowly and less seriously.

    5. Any pressure that increases suffering on a population, including poverty, creates a breeding ground for religion. The Catholic Church very seldom builds mission schools in places like Beverly Hills. We are agreed that poverty is a problem. I also think that Eiynah was correct in indicating that the poverty issue is not at the heart of the issue she is pointing out, which she perceives as questioning when a criticism crosses the line. I completely disagree on where that line is, but I have immense empathy for position, and her inability to escape from that sliding scale.

      Americans and Westerners do not react with bigotry in general to people suffering poverty. The income inequality that I see is in oil rich Saudi Wahhabiya export. The result has much in common with workers for old cotton mills, living in mill owned housing and shopping at mill owned stores after being paid with boogaloo dollars in some truck system. If I had given the speech that Chump, sorry I mean Trump did, It would have gone along the line that our first step must be to find if there is a way under the first amendment, to prevent Saudi Wahhabism from buying its virulent way Into our universities, installing departments and professors who are an assault on everything worthwhile in our culture.

      But, Ek, I think that bridge idea, strained though I presented it, is apt. Forgive me if I’ve missed something (and please try to remember that I agree with you on poverty), but you seem to want at the heart of your argument to make a connection that isn’t really the central issue. In the bridge metaphor, you seek to link a demonstrable problem with Islam via a conclusion that isn’t all that easy to get to, for all it's 'obviousness' to some. You say yourself that it is independent (see below), and there are billions of people in poverty who do not undertake jihad against innocent people. I’m merely saying that from the bridge’s roadway, it looks wide and smooth, but from the different perspective of examining it from other angles, it simply will not hold the number of people trying to use it.

      “More wealth in society gives better chance for rationality and reason to flourish but it does not guarantee Islamist attitudes go away. Poverty, therefore, is at heart of issues related to bigotry, imho.” Your argument does not support the opinion. Islamist attitudes, and Islam, are best confronted with reason and rationality, with stable and prosperous societies. That is the problem that spans this issue - not poverty – but the irrationality and inhumane nature of Islam. I agree, however, that poverty and about six billion too many people on a planet that cannot support them, and who’s societies cannot enrich all of them, is a problem that needs to be addressed, realistically.

      Eiynah reacts viscerally to Douglas Murray. I think that is because he speaks so effectively, but that is something that only she can really answer. When he speaks of problems that may fairly be analyzed as being caused by the mere existence of some people who as individuals may have done nothing wrong, that’s hard for any thinking person. However, the behavior compelled by Islam, and the reactions of the world when faced with those, are the central problem. That is one support that must be in place, as we attempt to deal with real bigotry and poverty, because to ignore Islam does not clarify the problems, but rather confuses them into an amorphous and insoluble mass. That is why when you present that argument in a discussion about bigotry, I and other like me will react in our viscera to see it as a deflection of blame from Islam.

    6. I’m going to add something else here, too, I think. It is something with which I struggle.
      If someone says to me “You know, not all Muslims are terrorists,” I dismiss them immediately as not being intellectually, morally, or educationally prepared to engage in the conversation in any meaningful way. Jumping over the merely obvious, and stating the excruciatingly painfully obvious that no one has actually voiced, puts them out of their depth. It’s like trying to explain the diffraction of light in the atmosphere, and having that person constantly and only pointing at the sky and sighing ‘pretty.’ If someone says that they are proud to be a Catholic, I think it’s fair to ask them if that includes the policies and problems engendered by the Church, and the ideology, and the treatment of indigenous peoples… The list is endless. If they are content with the history and the status quo, then I’m sorry, but they share part of the blame. If a person is proud to be a Muslim and tells me that Muhammad was peaceful and never harmed anyone… Then even if they are the nicest people you’d ever want to meet, they share part of the blame.
      On the surface, it may not be fair to expect that someone say ‘I’m a Muslim, but…’; but, to remain ignorant of, or in denial of, such an awful problem is not to anyone’s credit. I just try not to condemn them too much for it, because as has been said so many times, most religious people are totally and blissfully ignorant of what their religion says. (Oh, I just have to. Sorry.) Thank God. Poverty fertilizes the fields of religion, but ignorance and credulity are still the primary movers. Knowledge, reason and prosperity work, because in their presence people tend to want to grow crops in fields instead.

    7. Thank you for replies. You and I agree that poverty is an issue. I believe it to be central and you argue for it to be less so, perhaps even peripheral. That Islamism has a core problem in doctrine is true. One can forgive isolated peoples knowing Islamic principles as moral guide because they have never seen anything else but those Muslims who stick to dogmatic attitudes (like kafir worldview), after having seen or knowing modern societal structures, should be held to same standard as rest of us. So it means that Mohammed as role model has to be respectfully questioned. If reformist Muslims are today saying that Wahabbism is main problem, then everyone else should support this and insist that core problem in doctrine remains after eliminating Wahabbism. Also, one must remember that some evidence suggests British hand in promoting Wahabbi strain of Islam some 250 years back. It is an enterprise that seems to have deep-seated interests in West. I am bringing this up to demonstrate magnitude of problem at hand. Forces to be fought are in Western and Arab worlds, imho.

      Douglas Murray may have crossed line in criticising Muslims, according to author, but he has to test boundaries because he is, in part, speaking for native peoples of UK. So many (tens of millions, imho) low-income people there have nothing to do with policies of their government and they have right to protect their culture. And, as homosexual, he has every right to speak loudly because of widespread homophobia in UK Muslim population.

      "Islamist attitudes, and Islam, are best confronted with reason and rationality, with stable and prosperous societies."
      - I read this as supporting my original view of poverty being central to issue of bigotry. But I accept that we differ on question of centrality. The time of reason and rationality within Muslim-majority countries, imho, was between 1945 and 1980. Secular ideas going back 150 years are in works and speeches of al-Afghani, Abduh, Rida, Ataturk, Jinnah and Nasser. Regression to religious societies after that was norm, imho. What interests me more is that such ideas and people are close at hand and less that most of them (like Jinnah) hold a kafir worldview. They can rid us of Wahabbism, which greater evil than bigoted kafir worldview.

      I am asking author to be more nuanced in discussing bigotry by including poverty. To me, less poverty generally leads to less dogmatic religion.

  20. Great read Eiynah. I agree that some of the Facebook atheism forums are a bit absurd at times, and definitely cross that thin line between reasonable criticism and blanket statements of ignorance. I cringe every time I see a meme which simply uses the word "Muslims" instead of having some sort of qualifier ahead of it. It is absolutely a problem. And unfortunately, some of these legitimate bigots have found their way into Sam Harris and The Future of Reason, among other forums.

    On the other topic of immigration, I wish that what you posit were even remotely possible. Surely the best solution would be a standard vetting system. However, I just cannot see how this is possible. How can you accurately vet millions of people? Neither the time nor manpower exists to execute this in any meaningful manner. So I think from people like Murray's perspective, since they realize that it is impossible, it's all or nothing for them. The rose-colored lenses through which a comprehensive vetting process looks possible begin to lose their tint when the facts on the ground come into play. That's shitty and I wish it were different. It makes me sad. However, maybe you have an idea on how this could be possible? Please let me know what you think.

    Again, fantastic article regarding a highly important topic. We cannot let true bigots appropriate "new atheism" to satisfy their confirmation biases. -M

  21. Eiynah:

    I liked your letter to Ben, but I wished that it included something along the line that he didn’t have a clue. I like this one as well, even though I think you are wrong about something very important. What I want to say at the outset, though, is that the next time I find myself in a discussion with one of the usual suspects, I will likely have much of what you’ve said here in the back of my mind. I appreciate that.

    I’ve written this twice before, and each time it has been all but impossible to do so without including a catalog of heinous acts and ideologies, committed by Muslims and from the canon of Islam, and I did not want to do that this time. I’ve also cut out the statistics. It’s my hope you’ll already be familiar. Instead, I’ll just ask a question. How much intellectual kinship do you think you share with these immigrants? I don’t think it’s very much. And… I don’t think that the causes of the resistance to their admission are as deeply or as fully rooted in bigotry as you seem to believe. I think that has led you into significant error. Murray does not need Christianity, or tribalism, or bigotry, to make his arguments.

    You recognize some of the challenges pertaining to these groups, such as the very real limits on economies in taking in hundreds of thousands of immigrants of any stripe. You hopefully recognize that many among them are likely invaders because ISIS promised exactly that, economic and cultural warfare in this form. You must also recognize the behavior exhibited by far too many of them as an impediment, and the large percentage among them who freely express contempt for, and a desire to destroy, the very nature and cultures of the countries taking them in. Then, you immediately dismiss these genuine issues as subverted to bigotry against the migrants. You go even further to suggest that such concerns are a lack of empathy. I’m sorry, but it seems to be the inflated Islamophobia meme under another narrative.

    If I want people like you to immigrate, and you are exactly the person I want to come here and help and enrich us, am I also a bigot because I don’t want to take in another ten thousand who openly express that I as and infidel should be subjugated or killed, or that my constitution must be destroyed? Sorry, but I accept no compulsion by you or anyone, to accept people who loudly proclaim that they will work to end precious civil advances, who, though willing to stand on a freedom of religion for themselves, would deny it to all others as the sacred requirement of their cannon. Far too many of these poor refugees say that they would do so because of an equality of all persons before the law is repugnant to their view of all women, and all nonmuslims is enough.

    As an atheist, and an anti-theist, I don’t believe that religion has earned a place in future moral constructs. I think eliminating them from that effort is our best way to proceed. Likewise, as an atheist, my greatest hope is, that the morality of most people is far superior to that in their books. (Thank God.) However, I strongly disagree with your statement on the calls to favor Christians because tribalism motivates it. Yazidi and Christians are undergoing a genocide, as ordered by Muhammad, and undertaken from time to time, for the last fourteen hundred years. Their only real relief has been that when Europe accepts a hundred thousand Muslims, they are probably removing from the mix about eighty thousand who would gladly see that continue. (Their numbers, not mine.) The OIC at club UN seems to be working on the idea that since the Muslim populated areas are under threat by their government’s forces, and thus they are genuinely defined refugees… while the Yazidi were stopped and attacked at the border by Turkey. In short, I think there is a big bigotry motive here that you’ve ignored, and it’s not you, nor I, nor Sam, nor even Mr. Murray.


  22. I just wanted to give my opinion I am actually pretty tired (jetlagged) a few years back, I used to post on a well known ex Muslim forum, and occasionally, I used to get criticized by some ex Muslims (btw I am an ex Muslim male) when I used to say, you know what I have decided to take my money elsewhere and I have stopped reading, and buying Christopher Hitchens books, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's books, and I think I might have called Sam an idiot, and some ex's laughed at me thinking I was crazy or something, (admittedly I'm a huge fanboy of Dawkins though) or even trolling, I don't remember exactly why I was mad with Hitchens, but I could sense an undertone which I frankly I didn't like or felt was getting addressed properly, and to be honest my position hasn't changed, I'm simply not going to buy their books unless someone lends me a free copy. I honestly don't think many Ex Muslims actually even read the books cover to cover, I read the anniversary edition of the Selfish Gene, and that is seriously one of my favourite books, up there with Ayn Rand's Fountainhead and Anthem. But until these guys start coming out like Maryam Namazie and saying they don't want bigots/racist of any kind supporting their work, I will struggle to give them support. It comes down to this like it or not many of the folks who I love dearly and respect are Muslims, I might be an Ex Muslim and have strong opinions about Islam, that does not mean morons can come and cheer me along just because I am opposing Islam, and their agenda is completely different to mine. I can't really monitor my twitter account like a hawk all the time as usually I give the benefit of the doubt but, I make a conscious effort, not to follow those who are attacking Islam for completely the wrong reasons. I just wish someone like Dawkins, or Harris would come out and say, something the deter the some of the loons who are supporting them for the wrong reasons. I'm so tired right now I don't even know if I make sense, but I just wanted to give my personal opinion on this.

  23. Doug doesn't seem to like the Roma either.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Should we support the EDL?

    You would think the answer would be 'no', but not to Doug.

  26. Great letter, I've gone down a Douglas Murray youtube rabbit hole in recent days and one of the things I find so fascinating about him is how close he comes to changing my mind on positions I've held for years - but not quite. As someone, somewhere once said "Douglas Murray writes so well that when he is wrong he is dangerous" I feel that your criticism of him here was very fair and reasoned. Having watched and read many speeches and article by him spanning about 9 years, I've noticed some changes in his, if not beliefs, at least his approach to matters concerning Islam and Muslims. I believe his association with Maajid Nawaz has managed to reel his extremism in a bit. I've seen Maajid take him to task once or twice and Douglas listens. He's slow to admit when wrong on these things but he seems to get there eventually. I believe that his heart is in the right place and with the right influences around him and with further education he will land on the right path.

  27. Thanks for writing this excellent letter Eiynah. I'm an admirer of both yourself and Sam, and I also despair at the rift within the atheist community that you describe. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to listen to either your's or Sam's podcasts on this yet, but am looking forward to them.

    I too am concerned about Sam aligning himself with someone like Douglas Murray. There are too many who unfairly attack Sam, making things up about his views even. This alignment gives such people ammunition. I wonder also if those people have in some way driven Sam towards the Murrays of this world because they give him greater acceptance. Those who should be supporting Sam are often too ready to criticize him.

    Anyway, keep up the good work. I appreciate your always sensible, balanced views.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment :) "I wonder also if those people have in some way driven Sam towards the Murrays of this world because they give him greater acceptance. Those who should be supporting Sam are often too ready to criticize him." - yes, this is my fear too.

  28. Hi Eiynah,

    I just discovered your YT channel and blog a few days ago through Sam Harris and am impressed with your passion, arguments and integrity. Your conversation with Maryam Namazie was fantastic and I was embarrassed for John Semley, you shattered his arguments so badly.

    I am going to disagree with you on the point of Douglas Murray and hope you don't think it is meant as disrespectful or dismissive of the reasons you feel the way you do about him. I also do not agree with everything that Murray and Harris say so it is not some dogmatic defense of either one of them, just my own opinion.

    I hope Sam will have you on his podcast and it will be interesting to see what his response is to your concerns about Murray. Good luck!!


  29. I think Murray's "compassionless stance" on immigration is one of necessary pragmatism, in contrast to Maryam Namazie whose policy is wide open borders. You gave her a chance to mitigate her position on this during your conversation with her, but it sounded to me like she didn't wish to. It is untenable to allow everyone into Europe who wants to come as this surely numbers in the tens or even hundreds of millions of people who are only inhibited at the moment by borders. A line has to be drawn somewhere, no matter how heartless that sounds. Destabilizing Europe (economically, politically or socially) by pushing immigration levels beyond what is absorbable is going to create more conflict between muslim and non muslim populations or established and migrant populations.

    The resources and tolerance of Europeans is finite and it is totally unreasonable to ask them to sacrifice of themselves beyond a certain point. It is not tribalism or bigotry, it is the justifiable self-interest that almost every human possesses and is not willing to abrogate to strangers. My willingness to give someone $100 is going to change substantially depending on whether I have $1 million or $101 in my bank account or whether that person is a total stranger or a neighbour who I feel would help me if the circumstances were reversed.

    As you and Sam have said, helping vulnerable people - gays, apostates, people who just want to live in a secular society instead of a theocracy - is of paramount importance. But the indiscriminate policies of Germany, Sweden, et al have jeopardized this. Murray and more far-right activists are blamed for anti-migrant sentiment, but they are the reaction to the problem, not the cause of it. When millions of non refugee migrants have entered Europe with no proper screening, they are taking the places of people whose lives depend on it.

    I understand your concern at Murray's references to white Europeans and white culture, but again I think this is the reaction to a problem and not one he has created. It is governments, islamists, the left wing media who are constantly telling white Europeans to STFU. Making it clear that they are not allowed a say in immigration policy and that it is shameful for them to value their culture because it is responsible for Nazism, imperialism, Palestinian oppression, etc. That they must accept sharia courts, halal meat in their schools and restaurants, increasing erosion of rights of privacy and free speech so that the government can fight radicalisation and anti-muslim sentiment. People are getting visits from police for tweeting that their government's immigration poilcy is a "bad idea" or arrested over a Facebook post.

    I totally understand your position as someone escaping a theocracy and wanting to give others like yourself a chance to escape as well. As someone who's been told that apostates deserve to die you want to speak out for atheists. As someone who is the victim of anti-muslim bigotry you want to speak out against bigots. As someone who lived in a society that denigrates women you want to speak for women's freedom.

    I think that white Europeans also have reasons to stand up for themselves and the survival of the hard-won aspects of their culture and freedoms that cannot all be reduced to bigotry and tribalism. I can imagine that for the average European a nuanced position on immigration (as Canada has, for example) feels like closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. That when their governments have been lying to them about the criminal behaviour of migrants and have made bad policies during the migration crisis, that they have legitimate reasons not to trust these governments to look after their interests when it comes to immigration policies. That since their governments refuse to address the existing problems in any other way, they would prefer to just close the door to immigration rather risking their own quality of life.

    (tbc...sorry for the length...)

    1. It is Murray's reaction to the problem that is concerning. I'm not saying he's caused this whole mess... just that his reaction is irrational and worrying. I understand the differences between Canada and Europe both are not experiencing this crisis at the same magnitude at all. In either case... blanket bans on specific populations are not ok by me, and not a reasonable response. I understand the frustration towards the regressive left and that they have very much contributed to this sentiment. I am also not an advocate of 'open borders'.

  30. (Pt 2)

    I have lived in Canada and the UK and my positions on this issue are totally different for each country. I voted Liberal in the last election in order to give the government the mandate to bring in Syrian refugees. Canada is a country of immigrants and I am all for continuing this tradition as long as we can sustain it.

    But the UK is not Canada. They have built their culture, laws and government over the past 1000+ years. They have sent men off in their millions to fight and die and endured bombings on home soil to protect their way of life from white European fascists. I support their right to also protect themselves from islamists and the shocking rights-abusing policies their government has implemented in order to placate and control islamists and terrorism. I think you would get the same reaction if there was a similar threat coming from other white Christian Europeans, as we have already witnessed in the 20th century.

    It is terribly, terribly sad and unjust if refugees are denied a chance to start a new life in the UK because of the political climate and fear in the UK, but I place the blame squarely on Islamists and the people who are forever trying to defend, accommodate and placate them, rather than the people who are standing up against it like Murray. You may be right that he could choose his language more carefully, but I am not going to dismiss what he says as invalid because of bigotry or any other accusation that can be thrown at him.

  31. I want Salafists kept out of the West. In terms of the current flood of refugees, some are secularists, some are religious minorities and liberals. They should be at the top of the list for acceptance.

    If immigrant status were far more conditional, then if immigrants showed signs of extremism and could be deported summarily, it would be far easier to contemplate accepting them on a probationary status..

    Conditions for a genuine long-term acceptance would be the following: having small families, tolerating with good humor criticisms of Islam, an absence of misogynist behavior and a genuine embrace of liberal secularism.

    Our failure to create a bond with Middle Eastern liberals while allowing drool-flecked fanatics to enter, some of them controlling mosques, is a scandal.Islamic-world liberalactivists should be able to come and go from the West at ease. It should be a refuge. Sometimes things get to hot for them in MENA and finding refuge in the West allows them to survive until the insanity dies down back home.

    Never the less, we can't take all of the more desirable immigrants from MENA so the whole issue of partition in MENA should be on the table. Some groups are more tolerant than others and should consider an in dwelling and autonomy or statehood. Most notably that would involve a Kurdish state, but a Druzistan? A Berberistan?

    As it stands, religious minorities are finding refuge in Kurdish-controlled areas. This should be lesson for the future.

  32. This is a great post, but I must admit I am a little confused about the intention. I don’t know if this was timed around Sam’s conversation with Douglas or after the one with Maryam. Personally I think it’s important and often more useful to hear from people you don’t agree with, it will either change your mind or crystallise your own argument. So on that basis I dislike the idea of deplatforming anyone unless they truly are a bigot/racist and I really don’t feel Douglas fits that mould…

    "indicates to me some form of residual attachment, some form of toxic tribalism"
    Would you not concede, this is your interpretation of his views?

    I wanted to highlight this because much of the conversation around Islamism is all about interpretation and how we shouldn’t completely discount say the Qur'an based on other people’s interpretation?

    “incredibly disappointed when I hear people like Douglas saying it’s a terrible idea to allow more muslims in”

    From listening to multiple talks from Murray, my ‘interpretation’ of his views are he is deeply worried about letting more *people* (not necessarily Muslims*) in, at the level we are currently allowing throughout Europe. He raises interesting points about how do we decide how much is too much? *but he does often conflate this with Muslim migration into say Sweden, again I think he raises an interesting point about mixing of values and how do we assimilate? The discussion he raises on how multi-culturism should not be directly confused with pluralism and that in its current application leads to segregation I find deeply interesting and again points worth raising, because none of us should want segregation, whether its imposed by state or self. I would agree that sometimes he could (and if he were more of a diplomat should) be more careful in this conflation, but I don’t think it comes from true malice. Do I sometimes perceive him as someone who has a bad taste in his mouth when discussing Muslims…I must concede I do, sometimes I think perhaps his brain has linked Muslim and Islam too strongly (again this is my ‘interpretation’ others will differ) but I don’t think this comes from racism, I think this is because in an effort to help with the problem he has spent too much time in bad places, in effect having to spend so much time in the negative and perhaps possibly doesn’t have enough Muslim friends (and as he wasn’t Muslim himself) isn’t challenged on that enough. But does my interpretation make me feel that fundamentally mean he should not be given any form of platform? Absolutely NOT, how could we ever start to correct the balance without discussion? I think a podcast between yourself and him on what you disagree with would be great, but I suggest you have a coffee with him before and after; not discussing controversial topics, a friend you can disagree with is much more useful than an enemy you try and silence imho. (p.s. I know there are some parts of this that could be seen as making excuses, but they would be accurately described as doubts, I have never met the guy, never sat down with him, never drank with him, never heard him say anything concrete one way or the other, I have doubts that he is squeaky clean on this matter and doubts of the opposite, so fundamentally I don’t know, and so I feel he is still worth listening too).

    We also have to remember that Free speech is not limited, but intent is, if his intent was to incite violence or racism then I would have a problem with him, but I don’t feel that *is* his intent, if his speech does incite either, that was not his intention and therefore he is not at fault, other than in diplomacy….

  33. Which leads to my final point; we have the question on whether Sam/yourself/Douglas should be more careful about what they say or who they say it with. This boils down to diplomacy vs philosophy imho, and that is always going to be a mixture of feelings. You might *wish* someone like Sam would be more diplomatic, more political so that he could help tackle the problem of say: Islamism more effectively, but then we are asking him to take a role that I don’t think he either wants or would be the most effective at. I think Sam wishes to stay at the side-lines, cheering Moderate Muslim Speakers on, while being a contrarian on the issue to raise more conversation. And ultimately as both a none-Muslim and a very much anti-theist he is never going to be the perfect diplomat to turn Islamists into moderates (he’s more of a straight to atheist kind of convertor �� ). The other point is some of us want him to stay more a philosopher then a diplomat, prodding issues we feel uncomfortable with for the very reason I raised at the beginning, having Sam rattle my moral cage on issues from Violence to Religion to A.I is what I enjoy most, because as I said at the beginning he either changes my mind or crystallises my views, making my own argument more morally complete and therefore all the better to tackle people with ��

    As I said at the beginning I was confused about the intention of this post, and this is very much written from the viewpoint that the intention was to tell Sam not to associate with Douglas, apologies if this is wrong.

    1. Eiynah wrote the open letter to Harris after his conversation with Douglas Murray. Harris saw this open letter and intended to address the points raised in it by talking to Maryam Namazie. Harris' discussion with Namazie then went off the rails because he didn't realize she wanted him to be more careful with his wording. Eventually, Harris went on Eiynah's podcast to address her concerns about Murray. Listen to Polite Conversations #17.