Ben Affleck may have won over fans with his casting as Batman in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel, but he hasn’t won the debate over Islam, at least not to atheist Sam Harris.
Harris was a target of Affleck’s ire on a recent episode of the Bill Maher show Real Time. (So was the host.)
In a recent blog post, Harris addressed the hostility of Affleck for calling him “gross” and “racist” and “bigoted” towards Muslim people.
He said he “was a little thrown” by the animosity Ben Affleck had for him and “it was clear from our conversation after the show that he is totally unfamiliar with my work.”
Harris then retread what he’d actually said that got Affleck up in arms.
“We have to be able to criticize bad ideas, and Islam is the Mother lode of bad ideas.”
Harris then compared his comments to someone in 1970 saying the same thing against Communism.
“How reasonable would it be to attack me as a ‘racist’ or as someone who harbors an irrational hatred of Russians, Ukrainians, Chinese, etc. This is precisely the situation I am in. My criticism of Islam is a criticism of beliefs and their consequences — but my fellow liberals reflexively view it as an expression of intolerance toward people.”
Harris also pointed out that Ben Affleck and his ally in the conversation — Nicholas Kristof — proved his point.
“Kristof made the point that there are brave Muslims who are risking their lives to condemn ‘extremism’ in the Muslim community,” Harris said. “Of course there are, and I celebrate these people too. But he seemed completely unaware that he was making my point for me — the point being, of course, that these people are now risking their lives by advocating for basic human rights in the Muslim world.”
Here’s the initial exchange if you haven’t seen it yet. It does get pretty heated.
Harris’ full take can be read at this link.
Real Clear Politics posted a breakdown reflecting Harris’ viewpoint.
“When Maher and Harris pointed out how widespread retrograde attitudes are in the Muslim world, Affleck said they were ‘stereotyping.’ But the data doesn’t stereotype. Especially in less-developed countries, it is appalling,” wrote RCP’s Rich Lowry. “
Lowry noted that according to that data, “the percentage of Muslims in Middle Eastern and South Asian countries who say that honor killings are never justified is shockingly low (31 percent in Egypt, 45 percent in Pakistan).”
“Support for the stoning of adulterers is more than 40 percent in Bangladesh and 80 percent in Afghanistan,” he added. “The death penalty for leaving Islam is almost, although not quite, as popular as stoning.”
Do you think Ben Affleck was wrong in his defense of Islam? Share your thoughts in our comments section.
[Image via Real Time, HBO, linked above]