It’s been nearly a month since Ben Affleck went on Real Time with Bill Maher and attempted to defend Islam from the sharp teeth of “New Atheism,” and in doing so he opened up a powder keg.
Sam Harris and Bill Maher caught a tremendous amount of shrapnel as they tried to hold their own, but as is true when terms like “Racist” and “Bigot” are being thrown around – no one wins, everyone gets covered in muck and someone out there lets loose a single tear – this time for Islam.
There was a parallel issue running in the media at the nearly the exact same time, one that might surprise you… but first, a word from our sponsor. Oh wait, I’m not a sponsored blog, guess I’ll just tell you what the fuck happened and why it’s important.
Harris, choosing one of them for examples purposes was dragged through the streets, of media town, destroyed by Reza Aslan, and fundamentally wrong about the beliefs of islam and accused of being as damaging and dangerous as Sarah “god-damned” Palin.
The problem is, they are misrepresenting the views in question, misquoting and in the situation of Reza Aslan being a complete shit about it. I am definitely not the guy to be propping up Sam Harris or patting him on his back, he can speak for himself far better than I can for him, but it goes to show a clear issue the media, and by extension society at large, has in understanding nuance and association.
Sam took some time out of his schedule to go over to sit down with Cenk Uygur to try to clear the air, so to speak, and try to address the above vilification. Do be aware that the interview has ads on it.
Sam Harris, known and beloved for his drive to put Atheism behind us along with popularizing religious views doing the same, bringing us books like Lying – which makes a pretty significant case for never lying under any circumstance, and Letter to a Christian Nation – an attempt to get the moderates of Christianity to stand up and stop letting fundamentalism be the voice in the press, and The Moral Landscape – which argues that Science can indeed determine human values, or morality. This is the man that has such absolutely well thought out positions on practically every single thing he says that we flock to his talks and watch them over and over when they finally land on the internet.
In light of that, we think that he has arrived at a decision about Islam without thinking it through or by some misguided and bigoted route?
He couldn’t possibly be drawing conclusions from all of the ridiculous and overly aggressive actions that have taken place over the last 2 decades by Islamic/Muslim extremists. Certainly, not every Muslim is a fundamentalist, nor is it fair to state that all Muslims do anything or hold any belief beyond the central tenets. Many similar questions are asked of modern Christians, and there is an equal amount of dissension, because really – who actually believes all the tenets of Christianity? I bet you can’t even tell me what they are. The truth is, there are a lot of different opinions about what they are, some contradictory.
Why wouldn’t we think that the Muslim beliefs are any different? At this very moment the shia and sunni are at each others throats in a number of nations, committing genocides, along with the other things that we have all come to expect to be coming out of these areas – roadside bombings, suicide bombings, night raids, raping and pillaging…
I find it odd that we are so quick to argue that the behavior above does not represent all Muslims, thus any criticism of Muslims is unwarranted – Aslan’s point above. The issue with Islam is that its quite easy to justify ridiculous behavior because of doctrine due to the nature of how it was written. The problem with Islam is that the moderates are not doing a good enough job policing the fundamentalists.
Lets talk games
About the same time as these ridiculous views about Sam Harris and Bill Maher flared up #GamerGate flared up in our national consciousness with what can only be called a harassment campaign against women existing, unless you look beyond the shallow views of the media. The origins of GamerGate are being expounded upon and I’m not going to do you any injustice by suggesting that I can summarize the arguments and issues. By far the most agreeable and concise piece written to date comes from a games critic we can all get behind, because he embodies the movement in a way that no others have, and for what its worth – in a way that few others can.
Do I agree with all of the actions of these people? No, I don’t. As usual when dealing with people, this idea of black and white, good and evil does not exist. You can agree with something someone says without that being a tacit or express endorsement of everything they’ve said. If you asked me how much I agree with on the site Brietbart, the answer would be “well I can count the number of articles on the fingers of one hand”. This is something that many people including the media seem to have forgotten and indeed, some of my critics too. They believe that by appealing for calm and supporting the following expressly stated ideals “I condemn harassment, I support women in gaming, I am against biased and corrupt games journalism”, that I am a part of a movement of harassment and misogyny. I have repeatedly called for dialogue. I have used my influence to attempt to get prominent people to the table to talk about ethics in this industry. I put out an open call to host a panel on my channel about this. Not a single mainstream gaming journalist would agree to participate. The only people who have ever been willing to talk to me publicly about this issue are firmly on the “Gamergate” side and yes unfortunately some of them have done and said unpleasant things.
TB – Whose “side” am I on?
Please do note that even in this summarized response to the criticisms being levied at #GamerGate there are some things glossed over, and others missed entirely. Here we have a consumer revolt/summed up in a quote that could very well be an entire blog entry on most sites, by length alone. Think about the efforts that one must go to in order to not be lumped into play with the terrible and abusive group of angry trolls on the internet. When a games critic the power and weight of TotalBiscuit feels that he has to take a side and still expound as this, we must all admit that the politics of this situation are not so simple.
As I mentioned above, Islam is not a group of one specific set of tenets by which to lump everyone who accepts its label, likewise #GamerGate is not one thing to rule them all. This statement does not by any means, however, ignore the fact that both have problems, both are ungoverned titles able to be run up anyone’s flag pole for whatever view they choose, and both have perceived enemies, and both have demagogues at the helm, and neither should be thrown out root and branch. Clearly there is, at the very least, a perceived issue being brought to light in the games journalism media, and I think we can all agree that popular media is clearly drawn towards sensationalism and leery of investing the time to uncover fact or truth. It is possible that the issues here are tied to transparency and impropriety in the media, and that the loudest screaming lunatics are the ones on stage trying to hash out their contradictory positions, while the rest of us are stuck gawking and trying to grab them with very, very, long hooks.
Please take a few minutes to think about the above before you go labeling someone a god-damned misogynist, or before deciding that an entire group deserves to be nuked (no, you fuck face, Sam Harris does not believe we should nuke all of Islam. You are a fucking fool.). Life is far too short and complicated to be able to accurately sum up any person by any given label – except for the fucking fool that believes that Sam Harris wants to nuke all Muslims, he is a fucking fool.
Life is nuanced and complicated. Start acting like it.
Me – Just now, here.