Tuesday, September 19, 2006

PastorDan on what's wrong with Sam Harris' approach

Street Prophets - Faith and Politics: "Let me be even more clear: violence is not the answer. Neither is intolerance. The war in Iraq is the primary reason we are less safe than we were before the Twin Towers fell. The useless bloodshed there has poured gasoline onto the fire of terror. If we are not to face an ever-growing problem, we must seek an assymetric solution.

That's why intolerance isn't the answer, either. I have no sympathies for fundamentalists of any stripe. I don't like Osama bin Laden, I don't like John Hagee, and I don't like Sam Harris. What all share is an arrogant disposition and an inclination to believe they have the sole right answer. But while they can kiss my grits, I won't allow them to drag me down to their level by making me intolerant. For the solution to violence and intolerance is not more - or smarter - of the same, but justice. It is corruption, violence, and political repression that keep Muslim extremism burning, not the fundamentalist ideology by itself. To say otherwise naively overlooks political realities and airily dismisses very real suffering. More to the point, by ramping up an unnecessary 'clash of civilizations,' it only gives extremists that much more incentive to defend the identity they see besieged by the West and its allies. (It's also an tacitly racist slur against the Europeans, with the unspoken assumption that if they'd just beat down the fellahin like civilized people, we wouldn't have such problems.)

If Sam Harris had the morals he imputes to himself, he'd understand that if you want to reap peace, you must sow justice. Islamic terrorism will persist as long as many Muslims feel politically oppressed, economically marginalized, and culturally adrift. But as it is, Harris is a hater, and he'd rather take the easy path of blaming those he perceives to be weak. What he winds up accomplishing, then, is not a rousing call-to-arms against religious literalism, but an exposing of just how intolerant and bloody-minded he really is. He belongs on Townhall or Little Green Footballs, but they wouldn't have him."


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