In a rare moment on television something actually intellectually interesting happened. It was on the recent Bill Maher show “Real Time” and it involved a debate between Maher, Sam Harris (author), Ben Affleck (actor), Nicholas Kristof (columnist for NY Times), and Michael Steele (former Republican National Committee Chairman).
Below is a link to the video I play and discuss on the podcast.
Due to a short week and my very limited work time (it’s more Jewish holiday stuff), I am writing a very short show notes post.
The ultimate issues today are about how arrogance, naiveté, idiocy, denial, and wishful thinking can be fused together into a tragic and destructive force. In the 10 minute segment linked above, is evidence of how these things can combine in someone’s thinking, rhetoric, and behavior. Because their arguments are horribly flawed (relying on emotion and wishful thinking rather than fact), they only make ad hominem attacks on those with whom they disagree.
Unfortunately Ben Affleck is the prime example of someone almost solely utilizing several of the S.I.X.H.I.R.B. arguments (ad hominem attacks that are primarily based on calling their opponent “sexist”, “intolerant”, “xenophobic”, “islamophobic”, “racist”, and/or “bigoted.” Dennis Prager came up with acronym which accurately describes the typical arguments coming from the left.)
While I do not agree with Bill Maher’s presumptions that equality, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion are “liberal beliefs” (they are also conservative beliefs, and American beliefs… We just may not agree on what those terms really mean. Just as an example, historically it was the Republican party that fought to abolish slavery, and years later it was primarily the Republicans fighting for civil rights.) But for now let’s put that incorrect implication aside, this video is really stunning because of the level of arrogance, naiveté, idiocy, denial, and wishful thinking employed by Affleck and Kristof specifically.
To their credit, Bill Maher and Sam Harris (two men I typically do not agree with) stayed on point and argued the ideas and did their best to defang the feeble ad hominem attacks and logical fallacies offered by Affleck and Kristoff.
That an actor would say such irrational dribble is not remarkable, but when New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof remarks:
“The great divide is not between Islam and the rest. It’s rather between the fundamentalists and the moderates in each faith.”
WOW! What color is the sky in his world? I suppose a more intellectually dishonest statement could be made… I just can’t think of something right now. Maybe, “There is no difference between walking, riding a horse, driving a car, or flying in a spaceship. They are just faster and slower forms of transportation.” No… Kristof still wins.
Really Mr. Kristof? The great divide is NOT between Islam and the rest? Do they (100’s of millions of fundamentalist Muslims) know this? What Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or Jewish fundamentalist promotes beheading people who don’t believe exactly as they believe? Does Mr. Kristof believe all (or most, or many) fundamentalists, regardless of religion, approve of murdering apostates (those who leave the faith)? Or maybe one religion in particular has a particular problem with beheading the opposition, murdering girls for going to school, and capital punishment for apostasy. Which could it be if you were forced to guess?
This reminds of a quote from Einstein.
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”~ Albert Einstein