Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Enemy of My Enemy

My friends know I'm a big Sam Harris fan. I generally find him a thoughtful, open-mined individual who isn't tied to or limited by dogma.

Also, I am appalled at how he and his views have been misrepresented by "the Left" regarding Islamism (e.g., saying he wants to nuke the Islamic world). But in my humble opinion, this dishonest vilification has left Mr. Harris with a soft spot -- even a blind spot -- for others who are vilified by "the Left."

This has led him to hitch his star to the loathsome Fox News commentator Jordan Peterson, who has claimed that feminists have “an unconscious wish for brutal male domination.”

But nowhere has Sam's understandable hatred of the "politically correct" Left blinded him than his otherwise unimaginable determination to promote The Bell Curve author Charles Murray.

Ezra Klein at Vox has a new discussion of this bizarre bromance, which I learned about via an angry email from Sam Harris. Ezra's entire article is worth reading, especially the emphasis on history. But Ezra also gets at my main reaction to Sam Harris' podcast with Charles Murray: Why? Why write a book that, for all intents and purposes, claims blacks are simply dumber than whites? Why write a book for all the neo-Nazis and white supremacists?

Why?

Sam asked this of Charles three times in his podcast, and each time the answer was awful. Ezra quotes the transcript twice in the section "When questions about IQ become recommendations about social policy." I challenge anyone to read Murray's answers there and think he is an individual committed to human flourishing. To me, it reads of a white guy who doesn't like being taxed to try to address historical injustices and inequality.

If Murray isn't an actual overt racist, he's just another selfish white man who tries to "scientifically" argue that we should just let him keep all he's "earned" because trying to help disadvantaged groups is "futile."

And Sam: I think we should be careful about embracing and promoting someone so utterly beloved by avowed racists, even if that person happens to be attacked by the same people who attack you.


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