In one of the most reprehensible statements to come from the Left in this Year of the Left Behaving Reprehensibly was spoken on Friday by the famous atheist Sam Harris, who claims to be a “rationalist.” During an episode of his Making Sense podcast, Harris said: “Osama bin Laden, as a person, is far more understandable to me and far less reprehensible, personally, psychologically, than Trump.”
This was no gaffe or momentary slip-up. As outrageous as it is, this is a statement that Sam Harris has said before. In a February 18 audio clip, Harris declares: “I find Trump more despicable than I found Osama bin Laden… With Osama bin Laden, it’s just obvious to me that he could have been a mensch in some sense, right? He’s making serious sacrifices for ideas that he deeply believes in. He’s committed to a cause greater than himself.”
Harris, apparently oblivious to the fact that he was making a world-historical ass of himself, continued: “I don’t doubt he” – that is, Osama – “had real ethical connections to the people in his life that he cared about. He’s a real person, right? And in some ways, he is kind of a moral hero in a very bad game. And so therefore, he’s kind of prototypically evil when viewed from my game. He’s a person of actual substance — he’s just committed to the wrong ends, whereas Trump is the negation of all those things.”
Harris here he demonstrates that the Left’s hatred for Trump can race far beyond all the bounds of rationality and become cultlike in its perfervid intensity.
This has been a long time coming. A few years ago, Harris became one of the very few high-profile figures on the Left to break ranks with the Left’s general denial of the jihad threat and willingness to ignore or even excuse the most inhumane Sharia oppression. His calling Islam “the mother lode of bad ideas” on a famous appearance on Bill Maher’s show with Ben Affleck was only the most notorious of many criticisms he made of Islam and jihad, to the fury of many of those who had previously admired his work. Indeed, the reaction was furious from what his friend and coauthor Maajid Nawaz dubbed “the regressive Left”: Glenn Greenwald and others skewered Harris as an “Islamophobe,” and Reza Aslan, with his typical dishonesty, misrepresented statements Harris had made in order to portray him as a racist, genocidal maniac.
Harris held out, but he was clearly stung by the tidal wave of negativity he received from people whom he had previously counted as friends and allies. He went out of his way to demonstrate that the straw man charge that he “hated all Muslims” was false: he coauthored a book with Nawaz, a Muslim reformer, and obediently shunned those who had been smeared by the likes of Greenwald and Aslan in exactly the way he had been, but who were identified with the Right — including me.
That was where the fatal weakness in Harris critique of jihad and Sharia began to manifest itself: just as three-time presidential election loser Henry Clay averred that he would “rather be right than President,” Harris was showing that he would rather be Left than counter-jihad. He began to make it clear that, despite his strong words, he wasn’t opposed to jihad terror and Islamic supremacism in any meaningful way, and Leftists were making sure that he couldn’t be. And so during the 2016 presidential campaign, he came out strongly for Hillary Clinton.
Then in 2018, Harris called on Twitter to ban President Trump for supposedly issuing “credible threats of war” against Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran had been issuing credible threats of war against the United States for years, and Sam Harris said nothing. As I show in my book The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran, for years, Iranian leaders have engaged in extremely bellicose rhetoric against the U.S.
That was apparently fine with Sam. But Trump responding? A bridge too far! And in reality, Trump was not issuing “credible threats of war,” he was responding to them. And he was responding by demonstrating that the Obama era of appeasement of the Islamic Republic is over. But apparently Sam Harris and his ilk would rather have continuing appeasement of this brutal, bellicose, rogue regime that has oppressed its own people for decades, rather than a strong stance for freedom.
In light of all that, Harris’ latest revolting dive into the most fetid dumpster of Trump Hatred, and awe-inspiring example of moral myopia that he has now provided, is not altogether unexpected. But that doesn’t make it any less disgraceful.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.
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