Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz discuss their book, Islam and the Future of Tolerance, with Tony Jones on LATELINE.
I hesitate to promote this interview, because it shows me at the end of my patience (and I stay there for 2 hours). However, I did manage to express almost everything I think about the “regressive Left” in general and about my least-honest critics in particular. I stand by everything I said here, but I’d like to apologize to the interviewer, Kyle Kulinski, for all the interruptions.—SH
If you have ten minutes to spare, I recommend watching the above video, because it encapsulates better than most how difficult it is to even discuss the threat of political Islam.
Mark Riebling has been an architect of post-9/11 “intelligence-driven policing,” co-founding and serving as research director for the Center for Policing Terrorism. He received his degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and is the author of Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA. His latest book is Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler.
Harris: Previously, you’ve written about problems of intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism. What inspired you to write about the papacy in the Second World War?
Riebling: Well, I was raised Catholic, and one of the things I learned before I left the faith was that nuns could nail me if I said something heterodox, because they had an awesome system of informants! So I didn’t find it implausible, or uninteresting, when I later heard from one retired spy that the Vatican ran the world’s oldest and perhaps best intelligence service. Or when another retired spy told me that the Church was so skilled in clandestine operations that the NSA couldn’t crack the pope’s codes. And I like the challenge of writing secret histories of powerful institutions—maybe because my academic training is in philosophy, and I’m interested in how our background theories come to bear when the data are severely limited but the stakes are high. I’d like to think I write about these things as exercises in mindfulness, not unlike what philosophers from Epictetus to Foucault have recommended—a self-check of my own intellectual hygiene. Less abstractly, I just thought that much of what had been written about the wartime Church was crap!
Harris: There’s a large literature implicating the Catholic Church generally, and Pope Pius XII specifically, in Nazi atrocities. You argue that this literature needs adjustment, because the wartime pope actually conspired, you say, to remove Hitler and the Nazis. On what evidence do you rest your case, and how did you uncover it?
This panel discussion was held at Harvard’s Kennedy Forum on September 14, 2015.
Neuroscientist; Co-founder and Chief Executive, Project Reason; Author, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, among others
Author, Radical; Founding Chairman, Quilliam
Juliette Kayyem (moderator)
Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs, US Department of Homeland Security
By Maajid Nawaz and Sam Harris
It’s time to confront Islamism head on—without cries of Islamophobia. Holding Islam up to scrutiny, rationally and ethically, must not be confused with anti-Muslim bigotry.
Ours was an inauspicious first meeting. Nawaz a former Muslim extremist turned liberal reformer, had just participated in a public debate about the nature of Islam. Though he had spent five years in an Egyptian prison for attempting to restore a medieval “caliphate,” Nawaz argued in favor of the motion that night, affirming that Islam is, indeed, “a religion of peace.” Harris, a well-known atheist and strident critic of Islam, had been in the audience. At a dinner later that evening, Harris was asked to comment on the event. He addressed his remarks directly to Nawaz:
Harris: Maajid, it seems to me that you have a problem. You need to convince the world—especially the Muslim world—that Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by extremists. But the problem is that Islam isn’t a religion of peace, and the so-called extremists are seeking to implement what is arguably the most honest reading of the faith’s actual doctrine. So the path of reform appears to be one of pretense: You seem obliged to pretend that the doctrine is something other than it is—for instance, you must pretend that jihad is just an inner spiritual struggle, whereas it’s primarily a doctrine of holy war. Here, in this room, can’t you just be honest with us? Is the path forward for Islam a matter of pretending certain things are true long enough and hard enough so as to make them true?
Nawaz: Are you calling me a liar?
Nawaz: Are you calling me a liar?
Read the rest at The Daily Beast…
Sam Harris talks to Dave Rubin about free speech, religion, foreign policy, and other topics.
Supporting the Blog and Podcast
SamHarris.org is supported by the generosity of its readers and listeners. If you find my essays, interviews, or podcasts useful, please consider becoming a sponsor of the website. —SH
You can also become a member by supporting one-time in any amount.
Get Sam's Newsletter
Joining our email list is the best way to hear about Sam's upcoming books, articles, podcasts, and public talks.