Bill Maher vs Ben Affleck Battle over Radical Islam ‘They Will F*cking Kill You!’

Ben Affleck, Bill Maher, Nicholas Kristol, Michael Steele, and author Sam Harris got into what could only be described as a tumultuous continuation of Maher’...

I'm interested to see thoughts on this discussion. Just from a quick viewing, I would say that the issue that was never resolved was mainly that the criticism of a belief and the resistance against those who hold the specific belief under criticism is equivalent to bigotry against all people who follow the religion that contains it Alternate site for video. It appears the one posted originally was deleted

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Comment by Davis Goodman on October 5, 2014 at 4:12am

I'm torn between the ruggedly beautiful and tall broad shouldered scruffy and devilishly cute Ben and the please stop talking you're hurting my ears Ben. False-liberalism. 

I just really hope he doesn't make a movie in the near future painting Islam as the happy religion of peace. 

Comment by Davis Goodman on October 5, 2014 at 4:20am

Yes Cameron...I think you characterised the clip well. The problem is...most people really believe that homophobic, misogynist and violent punishment is a fringe view in most of the muslim world. It isn't. I spent over a couple years in total in Iran, Muslim India, the Arab world and Malaysia. I had to keep my mouth shut all the time (even with moderates) It's difficult to convince false-liberals that this is the case. No matter what research and polls you show them. I think that Ben in this environment was simple unable to listen to a nuanced presentation of the evidence. He was also extremely angry if not hostile to opposing views, as most false-liberals are.

Comment by captain kingsway on October 5, 2014 at 4:46am

Hi guys, as a non religious or atheist looking at this argument the whole thing is nonsense. Let us look at the chance of the ISIS getting hold of a nuclear weapon or Saran gas to use on us.

Comment by Adam on October 5, 2014 at 4:57am

I am very happy to someone shut that moron Harris up. That douche has no understanding of Islam other than the nonsense he has learned from western post 9/11 view of Islam and thinks he is actually some expert spokesman for Ex Muslim Atheists against Islam.

He should just stick to writing against Christianity.

Comment by Davis Goodman on October 5, 2014 at 5:50am

@Adam: After spending months in the muslim world...I totally beg to differ. I rarely met a man who would allow his wife to walk around without a headscarf even if the laws changed (in Iran, Saudi Arabia). Few would let their wives get work without a good explanation for it. Even tliberal men I met said they would want to kill their brother if they found out they had gay sex. Women who are raped are charged with adultery and even in democratic muslim countries people don't vote for parties who would want to change those laws (it's hard to find such parties).  Few people I talked to saw anything wrong with executing a Muslim who turned Christian. Of course...they always stressed that they thought these laws shouldn't apply to me and that they were horrified by 9/11 and that westerners should be (to an extent) respected for who they are and feel welcome in their countries. That doesn't change the fact that the prevailing view in the majority of muslim countries is that women should be covered up and not allowed to walk alone or have a job without permission, that fags should be beaten to a pulp (by law) and that apostates should be executed (and that little girls vaginas should be chopped off in a majority of these countries as well). This is not a fringe view. This is the overwhelmingly prevalent view. Even amongst the highly educated. This is backed up by polls, surveys, ground, anthropological research, voting behaviour and to an extent...common sense for anyone who has spent time in the Muslim world. I have met several extremely modern families living virtual western lives in Tehran, Beirut and Istanbul. That is the utter exception.

His problem is (and he is right to have it) he is attacked for criticising how prevalent these problems are even when it's backed up by research. He's labelled a bigot for standing up for the rights of extremely oppressed people (say half a billion women for example). Does Harris go to far labelling Islam evil? Yes. Is he right to criticise the prevalent attitudes towards defenceless people in Muslim societies? Absolutely.

Comment by Adam on October 5, 2014 at 6:54am

Half of the things you said, are not because of Islam, but because how culture is fused in those parts of the world and ingrained in society. Just like even with highly educated America, racism is prevalent in America. It is not a "religious" thing per say but rather how the society in USA was formed from the start on the backbone of racism and bigotry, including rich whites discriminating against poor whites.

Now if there was a version of Sam Harris in the Ex Muslim world who thinks he is a spokesman for Atheists worldwide, they would just say "Oh all that stuff exists in USA because of Christianity". Which would only be a gross generalization.

Some of these stuff that you see in Islam, was a just a convenience for Muhammad to add on and make it seem like god is the one who commanded it, are nothing but culture things that were already going on in the Arab world. Look at the Mormon religion. It has doctrinal references stating that dark skin is a curse from god and stuff. These racist ideas are a product of its time that were conveniently put into scripture and made it out to seem that they were true words of god/religion. Meaning that racism was already rampant in US when Mormon religion was being created and if you remove Mormonism from society, it wouldn't just magically take racism away.  Now this is just one small example.

I am sick and tired of these white Atheists d-bags like Harris making over the top generalizations about a situation he doesn't understand and end up delegitimizing the real issues at hand and holding back the debate that Ex Muslims are trying to bring up against Islam. 

I understand that Harris needs to bring up examples of violence in religion and Islam currently is the easiest target, to make his argument that is religion is bad to the white western Christians and all, but him and others like him just need to stick to Christianity. That's the problem, he sounds all gospel like truth speaker to the Western Christians but he is actually disliked by most Ex Muslim Atheists.

Comment by Davis Goodman on October 5, 2014 at 7:47am

Adam...Islamic countries cover a variety of cultures from the Philippines to East Africa. They cover multiple language families, extremely different histories and traditions. The culture of a Bengali is very different to the culture of an Egyptian. They have little in common except their faith. It is no coincidence that the only countries that execute gay people are Islamic. It is no coincidence that the only countries that execute for apostacy are Islamic. Even within the same countries where culture is rather silimar religion divides opinions and beliefs. Take Iran for example. The cultures that make up Iran are very diverse (Persian, Arab, Azeri (Turkish), Pars, Kurdish, Armenian, Turkoman, Baluch). Of them all, the only culture that is predominantly Christian is the Armenian. It is the only culture that allows women to be without covering and be in proximity of single men (within their community). Or take Bosnia. They share the same culture as Croatians and Serbians, the same food, the same songs, the same humour, literature. In predominant Muslim communities in Bosnia you are more likely to see women with far fewer rights, extreme persecution of homosexuality and violence against people of the same religion threatening to leave.

Muslim women in Malaysia walk around covered up and are under strict control of their father or the men in their family. Christian women do not cover up and experience significantly more freedoms. It is the same in India. It is the same in Sri Lanka. It is the same in Kyrghistan. It is the same in Nigeria. It is the same in Djibouti. It is the same in Chechnia. Your argument that these problems boil down to culture and not religion doesn't pass the muster.

Comment by Free_yourmind on October 5, 2014 at 10:50am

@Adam. I'm guessing you're an ex-muslim. So am I, and I'm livein Algeria, a country that's not highly conservative; I don't agree with you in portraying Islam as tolerant and peaceful. I haven't announced to anyone that I have rejected Islam and I will probably never do. If not for myself, i fear my family will be persecuted by fellow muslims because their son who's left Islam. Do you currently live in a muslim country? I'd be surprised if you do but still believe muslims are tolerant. 

in my country people with diabetes can't eat in public during Ramadan because they will be judged and questioned by by-standers to say the least. our societies are totalitarian and intolerant, part of it is cultural but most of it is because of the strict rules of islam and rejection of differrence and free choice. ISIS is the first Jihadi group to have been rejected by moderate muslims who supported Al Qaeda despite all the wrong things they did. The situation in Syria and Irak is deeply complex, you can't claim to know what's going on there as much as Harris can't. The interestting part is that ISIS seems to be the only group applying the rules of Islam and the verses in Quran that urge to kill and strike the necks of infidels without compromise. 

I think it's time for the muslim world to have a reality check and analyse all the horror that's going on. One example would be to have general discussions with the religious elite in muslim countries (especially in the middle east) and discuss what's going on really. There is a total absence of a model of tolerant and peaceful Islam. I think things have gotten this rotten because that very religious elite has resigned from the role of guides and correctors of false bahaviors; and that's because they lost their credibility after the Arab spring revolutions and how they failed to lead in suh a decisive moment of Arab history. 

You can't just raise the flag of moderate Islam and blame people for not seeing it, Islam has become the single most violent religion on earth and that's not always due to external factors; You can't have verses in the Quran telling you to kill, besiege and enslave non believers and still hope for euthopian tolerant Islam. Extremism is here to stay and it's far from being a minority. 20% was actually quite conservative.

Comment by Biomirth on October 5, 2014 at 3:08pm

As is so often the case in these shows the issue is never defined, nor are the terms. The arguments went all over the place and never resolved a thing. And by resolve I mean simply they never agreed on terms. Real and productive discourse often has to have the boring bits too, and that is never good enough for TV. Unfortunately it's the same in most RL conversations about difficult topics. I thought Maher had a chance or two to rein in the conversation but he slipped off the topic like the rest of them.

Harris started out well, but got quickly sidetracked by Affleck's needs. After that he couldn't compose himself and derailed things further by throwing wood on the fire with general statements.

It's too bad because the issues raised need public discourse, and need a lot of it.

1. Can you dislike religious teachings without disliking religious people?

2. Can you dislike behaviors without disliking the person?

3. What role does religion actually play in ISIS?


I thought the initial argument regarding multiculturalism vs. assertive liberalism was the most important. It is, as I understand it, very pressing in Europe, but mostly under the radar here in the USA.

I do agree with Maher that a "true" liberal will say to a group that treats it's members unequally and violently (based on some minority attribute such as homosexuality or gender) "I condemn your treatment of women and minorities, for all human beings have equal rights to protection under a just state. If you justify your mistreatment via religion then I say your religion is wrong on the matter. If not, then your state is wrong on the matter".

However, there are few people I've met who are willing to actually take any such stand, and I do think Maher is right to point this out. There is room for a rich discussion there and Affleck's overreaction and sense of being offended just highlights this. Affleck isn't alone, not at all. I would say his offense is the more common position here in the states: It's o.k. to hold values as long as you don't offend anyone with them. Pragmatic, but potentially ethically dishonest and frankly dangerous.

The struggle with racism here in the USA is still huge and has reached a sort of plateau with no resolution in sight. The civil rights movement got us very far along but we never finished the job. And multiculturalism is part of this plateau wherein the idea that "Intolerance of Intolerance" has become bugaboo because criticism is conflated with racism. We need to fix this.

Comment by Davis Goodman on October 5, 2014 at 5:54pm

@Biomirth What do you think Maher could do to make his show both accesible to the average viewer but still hold the show to a reasonable level of sober and in depth debate? Is this even possible? Is it very poor judgement on Maher's part hosting Harris and Affleck together?


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