Maher & Sam Harris: We are not going to reform Islam if we can’t talk about it

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Sam Harris and Bill Maher discuss the problem of radical Islam, and the religion itself, on Friday’s broadcast of Real Time on HBO. Harris, a critic of Islam and religion in general, said the travel ban is a “terrible idea.” However, Harris criticized the left of allying themselves with “Islamists and closeted Islamists.”

“You don’t have to be a fascist or a racist or even a Trumpian to not want to import people into your society who think cartoonists should be killed for drawing the prophet,” Harris told Maher.

“In the immediate aftermath of Orlando we have Clinton talking about gun control, only, and then admonishing the whole country the whole country not to be racist,” Harris said. “Now, you can’t said that jihadism has no relationship to Islam. So, people like Asra [Q. Nomani] (a Muslim against radical Islam who supported Donald Trump for president), who are fed up with this and there are millions of them said, this is too galling. And [former President Obama]has been lying for 8 years about this.”

Harris pointed out while President Obama wouldn’t talk about radical Islam, he certainly hasn’t been bombing the Amish. Harris said there is a reason why President Obama wasn’t just bombing jihadists or the fringe, it’s because the religion of Islam itself presents a problem.

“Presumably, he’s not been bombing the Amish. So he knows that this has some relationship with Islam,” Harris said Friday.

Maher said it is not just about the “fringe” of Islam if you are taking out large numbers of radicals.

“He said we’ve taken 10,000 terrorists, and I’m sure most of them if not all of them are the ones who believe in the Koran. That seems like an awful lot if you’re just talking about the fringe,” Maher posed to Harris.

“The fringe are people who are actually just violent,” he added.

“Again, the last time we were here, and this is where we will begin saying things that will piss people like Batman (Ben Affleck) who were here, who will call us racists. But, there are jihadists who will use violence immediately and who are expecting to get into paradise when they blow themselves up in an airplane,” Harris said.”

Maher said people need to stop equivocating the Ku Klux Klan to radical Islamic armies.

“And again, size matters,” Maher said. “There are entire terrorists armies — ISIS, obviously, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda. People talk about the KKK like it’s an equivalent. The KKK is not seeking nuclear weapons.”

“When you take jihadists and Islamists who want Sharia law, they just want to use the leverage of a state that are not committing violence immediately, and then you have a larger subset of conservative Muslims who may not have any alliance to jihadists they still have attitudes about free speech and the rights of women and the rights of gays that are deeply at odds with our own and we have to win a war of ideas with these people. This is not — we don’t fly drones to solve this problem. And so this is why we need to empower real reformers.

Harris admonished Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American who often appears on MSNBC and spoke out the D.C. Women’s March, for defending Saudi Arabia for giving women work leave for pregnancy, defending Sharia law, and attacking “a real feminist hero” like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, telling her she needs an ass-whipping. Harris said Sarsour is a “theocrat.”

“I know you were having a bit of a Twitter spat sometimes with this woman Linda Sarsour,” Maher said to Harris. “She was at the march and you mentioned that she tweets things that are semi-supportive of Saudi Arabia because they give women maternity leave more than we do.”

“This is a problem,” Harris said. “The left has allied themselves with Islamists and closet Islamists. She’s not too closeted. She has an hijab and the hijab was promoted as one of the empowering symbols of feminism in this march and she was in the march.”

“That’s not the full burqa?” Maher inquired.

“No,” Harris replied.

Maher then showed a picture of the full burqa. He commented on Sarsour’s wearing of the hijab. He said there is another oppressive uniform Muslim women must wear in some countries — the burka.

“This is what I want liberals to understand,” he began. “There are some countries, I think France, that have banned this. I’m not for banning. I think that’s not the right approach, to tell anybody how they can dress, but also, stop saying that’s normal.”

“That’s not normal,” the Real Time Host said of the burka. “if you think that is normal, you have a problem.”

“If you think that is normal, you are so part of the problem,” he said to audience applause. “There is a human being in there that might want to feel the sun on their face, or might want to make eye contact, or register a smile.”

“And most are not there voluntary, that’s the thing,” Harris remarked.

Maher wondered why there are liberals who would defend such ideas. He asked, what is up with the culture that “we’re just as bad” and asked “is it self-loathing?”

“Why are they covering women like that? Because, otherwise, men might get aroused. She they are blaming women for the men’s horniness. I mean, you couldn’t create in a lab an idea that should be opposed by liberals that we cover the women and blame them if men get horny.”

“And we have one of these women that you mentioned, Linda Sarsour,” Harris said. “She’s one of the organizers of the women’s march. She has people like Bernie [Sanders] tweeting, ‘I Stand With Linda.’ But she is someone who has gone after Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is a real feminist hero, and she’s tweeted absolutely defamatory things about her. Like, ‘she doesn’t deserve her vagina, she deserves an ass-whipping. She’s a theocrat.”

“Why is it that liberals here seem to just really want to from the gut level want to jump immediately always to, ‘we’re just as bad.’ Because we’ve been bad, we’ve done a lot of bad things, but on this issue, especially right now, at this point in history, not every culture is equally as bad. What is that? Is it self-loathing,” the HBO host asked.

“Well, there are two things,” Harris responded. “One, let’s just take that claim. Take our corky religions. If the Scientologists were practicing suicide bombings in dozens of countries, if they were killing people for drawing pictures of L. Ron Hubbard. Tom Cruise would have more to answer for than he does, right, and he has a fair amount to answer for. If the Mormons were trying to kill Trey Parker and Matt Stone for their broadway play we would lose our patience for Mormonism.”

The discussion then turned to you are a bigot or a racist if you have concerns about assimilation and adherents of Islam not wanting to join the melting pot of America. The duo also addressed the liberties Muslim women and gay Muslim men enjoy in the U.S. that they would be punished for or killed in Islamic countries.

“But also, you’re not automatically a racist for having concerns about assimilation. Those are the ideas that we are talking about. There are sometimes assimilation problems. I don’t think we have a lot of that in America,” Maher said. “It’s America, if a Muslim here in America wants to take off the thing, she can and she can do that without fear of someone beating her for it. I mean, if someone wants to come out of the closet here in America, if someone wants to marry a non-Muslim. These are not options available to vast amounts of Muslims in the world.”

“You don’t have to be a fascist or a racist or even a Trumpian to not want to import people into your society who think cartoonists should be killed for drawing the prophet. That’s a totally irrational thing not to want. And the left has been demonizing anyone who will talk about this,” Harris concluded.

“We are never going to defeat terrorism if we are not going to reform Islam,” Maher ended on. “And we are not going to reform Islam if we can’t talk about it.”

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