Nick Cohen on Gad Saad’s podcast

December 1, 2016 • 11:00 am

I’ve now heard from two people about how interesting Gad Saad’s interview was with British journalist Nick Cohen, who’s sort of a hero of mine. (Do read Cohen’s splendid books, What’s Left?: How the Left Lost Its Way and You Can’t Read this Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom.) The full video (about an hour) is below, and it’s a shame Saad hadn’t read Cohen’s books before the interview.

I haven’t yet had time to watch it, but be assured I will. In the meantime, the artist, writer, and podcaster (and ex-Muslim) Eiynah (“Nice Mangos“), who has seen it, described the video to me (indented), and sent a link (below) that starts at an interesting time:

I don’t know if you’ve seen this video with Gad Saad and Nick Cohen, but about a half hour in it gets really good…. for once Gad is challenged tremendously on his own show, and is unable to honestly state his support for the alt right and for Trump… in fact he downplays it and pretends like he’s with Nick in challenging these guys when in fact he’s explicitly promoted and joined hands with many on the far right. Saad also tweeted about having some small part in getting Trump elected.*

CORRECTION: It wasn’t Saad who tweeted about that, but someone else who did, and then Saad “favorited” the tweet.

Anyhow.. i thought it was amazing how Nick persistently challenged Gad … I’m not sure where you land on this immigration stuff but I’ve noticed a further and further right-leaning trend in the “atheist” community ..where it’s become almost normalized to single out Muslim immigrants, a trend that may have helped give rise to the alt right/white nationalist movement.

Gad mentions he would stand against the KKK of course, but what about Paul Joseph Watson of INFOWARS or Tommy Robinson, Anne Marie Waters and Pegida? All these contribute to a strengthened far right, and Gad has promoted them.

i thought you might enjoy it. Nick is awesome…!

Here’s the video starting about half an hour in:

157 thoughts on “Nick Cohen on Gad Saad’s podcast

  1. I don’t think the discussion was acrimonious. In fact, it is to both participant’s credit that the exchange was civil with neither person grandstanding or posturing.

    It was however, very refreshing to see a robust debate when Nick and Gad had conflicting opinions on a subject.

    1. I agree too, it wasn’t acrimonious – the tone was civilized throughout and the points of disagreement openly labeled as such and discussed calmly.

      I did think, however, that it could have become more acrimonious of Gad Saad had followed Nick Cohen’s line of thinking a bit more closely and responded to the specific points he raised, instead of repeatedly veering off topic. (For example insisting that religion should only be a private matter, when Cohen was trying to discuss the problems of overgeneralizing about large groups of people.)

    2. I saw two champions of liberalism having a frank discussion concerning threats to freedom. There was no disagreement on principles.

      I think a fair summary would go like this:

      Nick Cohen: Gad there is also a danger from the right wing Nationalist sphere.

      Gad Saad: Agreed, but I’m more concerned with Islamic ideology.

      NC: So am I, but we can’t take our eyes off threats from other parts of the political spectrum.

      GS: Again, I agree.

      1. It would be interesting to know what idea atheists most commonly hold. As an ideology, atheism, like libertarianism, is pretty thin. What, in both cases, would a foreign policy look like, for instance?

        Cohen looked to be making that point. I thought his critique of Chomsky was accurate: it’s easy to criticise past western actions in imperialist meddling – a euphemism (cf. Kissinger). But what then? What would be Chomsky’s good society? I still have no real idea.

        And that was the centre of Cohen’s thoughts. Given the European crisis in Social Democracy, what is SD for, what would it do? Saad and Cohen agree on the primacy of free speech. Indeed, I suspect that is the idea that most atheists agree on. But again, it’s pretty thin as a way to run the good society: necessary, but not sufficient.

        Yet, Cohen made the excellent point that one might expect the nationalist right, now that it is so powerful, to move away from its recent promotion of free speech. I think that is a perspective we should bear in mind.

        Cohen brought to the table a more political bent. Perhaps it’s a tad parochial but he is commenting in the context of the collapse in polling numbers for the Labour Party. If you look at the psephology it’s nearly impossible to see how the LP can govern again in the UK: his overall point is that the consequential public conversation will soon take place within the European parties of the centre right and further right.

        I think that he fears, like me, that the socially liberal voter who recognizes the need for border security, and a rational, humane immigration system will have nowhere else to go but the rightist parties.

        1. “As an ideology, atheism, like libertarianism, is pretty thin.

          Let me be the first to reply,* knee-jerkily, that that’s because atheism isn’t an ideology. So of course atheists per se are all over the map politically (well, mostly the left side of the map, but still…)

          The ideology most atheists seem to embrace is some sort of humanism (as I’m sure you know), though that too comes in many varieties, which is probably, to some point, a good thing. Humanists probably should do more to organize and assert themselves politically, though. I like the traditional leftist values that Sokal frequently mentions.

          (I’ll bet, by now, I’m no longer first… 😀 )

    3. I wish more people on the left could have disagreements like this. They expressed their opinions civilly without questioning each other’s motives. I feel like both made good points and there is a good chance that they both affected each other’s opinions.

      I love Eiynah and her work, but I disagree with her assessment of Gad. If Gad says he doesn’t support right-wing extremism, but just sees Islamist extremism as a greater threat in the West. I don’t think that means he supports the alt-right. I know he did some schadenfreude about the Trump election upsetting the regressive left. I don’t think that means he loves Trump, it just means he doesn’t like the regressive left.

      Given his background as a Lebanese Jew whose family fled under real threat of death from Islamist extremists, I think he should be granted a little leeway if he differs a little in his opinion from a Jew raised in Britain about how significant the threat of Islamist extremism is compared to right-wing extremism.

      In the end, both agree on classic liberal values. They discussed their differences cogently, productively and civilly. I wish more people could disagree this way.

      1. I know he did some schadenfreude about the Trump election upsetting the regressive left. I don’t think that means he loves Trump, it just means he doesn’t like the regressive left.

        I’ve seen this same sentiment expressed several places now, that some people take Trump’s victory as a repudiation of Regressive Leftists and SJWs. A smacking down, or something akin to punishment.

        The big problem with this is it’s going to have exactly the opposite effect. Trump’s win will now serve to embolden the troll army segment of his rabid following (the MAGA centipede meme idiots). These are the folks who care nothing for actual politics, they simply want to see SJWs crying and upset. That’s their only goal, so as they ramp up their attacks, what’s the likely outcome? That Regressives and SJWs will simply fold and surrender? Not gonna happen. The Regressives will just use every example of harassment and abuse –and there will be many coming in Trump’s wake– as a rallying cry and recruitment tool. Trump is as much a gift to the Authoritarian Left as he is a “God Emperor” for the Alt-Right. It’s going to get very ugly.

        Those of us in the middle trying to maintain reason and rational discourse will be like whispers amid the maelstrom.

        1. “The big problem with this is it’s going to have exactly the opposite effect. ”

          Another effect it will have is the one it’s had on me. I’ve consistently been anti-regressive/sjw/pc, but in the aftermath of Trumps election, and witnessing the mocking, and ridicule of sjws, many of whom are also members of oppressed groups, I have a new found empathy for them. I have always supported social justice, as I think most of us have, it’s the methods of the regressives that I’ve objected to, methods that involve the stifling of speech through no-platforming, or labeling people as racists, sexists, Islamophobes for reasonable criticism. Despite these differences I’ve never doubted that their intentions for the most part are good. If I had to pick a side It would be that side over the side of insensitive @ssholes who seem to think the election of Trump is a good opportunity to mock, and ridicule them. My inclination at this time is to attempt to build bridges with them against a common enemy, and that’s where I’ll focus my energy.

          1. I feel the same way and I very much enjoyed your posts in the run up to the US election; the ones Jerry posted criticising Hillary.

            It took Brump/Trexit to shake up not the way I think but my political priorities. I still think the left needs to strongly re-evaluate* its commitment to noxious ideas like identity politics and micro-aggressions, and it needs to do so urgently, and I still don’t see much inclination to do so on, but as irritating and ugly as leftist academic lunacies and the coddling of Islamic supremacists is, the most extreme examples are minute in number, and by comparison with a nascent, nationalist, populist right-wing we can no longer afford to focus as heavily on this stuff. Not when long-dormant forces on the right are stirring not just in America and Britain but absolutely everywhere in the western world. My Czech mother can’t read the newspapers from back home; their anti-immigrant tone upsets her too much, and Czech Republic is probably one of the most, if not the most, liberal countries in eastern central/eastern Europe. All her relatives have turned towards the right-wing, anti-immigrant movement.

            I’ve never noticed a thickening of the political atmosphere like this in my life. A right-wing commentator called Douglas Murray approximated my feelings about the tactical idiocy and general complacency of the illiberal left when he said that ‘when the bombs drop we’ll all be arguing over whether to call the latest transgender public figure ‘her’ or ‘hxr’.
            It irritates me that they are reacting to Trump’s ascendance by doubling down on the identity politics and the overcompensatory racial theorising – their priorities should be to unite with centrists and liberals like myself, people who they’ve been smearing for years(eg. Cohen, or Sam Harris) as racists and warmongers, and fight the new right. That is my priority at the moment, to the extent that it makes any difference.

            *by which I mean ‘discard, with extreme prejudice’.

            1. Edit:

              “…I very much enjoyed your posts in the run up to the US election; the ones dealing with Jerry’s criticism of Hillary.”

            2. Not when long-dormant forces on the right are stirring not just in America and Britain but absolutely everywhere in the western world.


              A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
              A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
              Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
              Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.


              The left now is like those reeling desert birds; agitated but directionless.

              1. Yvor Winters wrote of The Second Coming “…we must face the fact that Yeats’s attitude toward the beast is different from ours: we may find the beast terrifying, but Yeats finds him satisfying – he is Yeats’s judgement upon all that we regard as civilised. Yeats approves of this kind of brutality.” Harold Bloom, in one of the best books written on Yeats’s work, concurs in Winters’ judgement. I have lived with Yeats for years, and find him simultaneously repellent and fascinating, particularly where politics is concerned.

              2. I’m glad you’ve been a part of the community here for so long. Your posts are something I look forward to and usually always learn from. That is fascinating; I’ll have to read some Yeats (beyond the stuff that everyone knows) in light of your take. (And then those other sources or similar to tell me what it all means. 😉 )

          2. That makes a lot of sense–but if only they’d build their end of the bridge as well. Sadly, they’ve become the Pharyngula of the left–get out of lockstep with them and you’re toast.

            1. Like Saul Sorrell-Till, I, too, liked Mike Paps’s sensible responses to complaints about Hillary Clinton & the ‘demonisation’ of Donald Trump. I was also very pleased to hear Nick Cohen, for whom I have a lot of respect, saying, more or less, that the concentration on the threat from Islam was blinding people to the far more dangerous threat from a near-fascist, if not actually fascist, right. Complaining about the often pathetic Huffington Post seems, forgive me for saying this, rather like fiddling as Rome burns. In addition to not taking climate change seriously (aided & abetted by Republicans on the House Science Committee, something about which PCC has rightly complained), Donald Trump has now stuck a large paw into a hornets’ nest by having a warm chat with the president of Taiwan (as well as warm chats with the thug now ruling the Philippines and the prime minister or president of Pakistan, I can’t remember which). I live in Japan, which now has its most right-wing government since World War II. Japan, China, South Korea and North Korea all have territorial disputes among themselves; there has been no real reconciliation, or any serious attempt at reconciliation, between any of them over the years. The nature of the North Korean government is obvious, but the rulers of China are certainly not an attractive lot. Something could very easily go dangerously wrong here. And Trump is just the man to ease – in his oblivious way – East Asia into war.

              1. My god that’s ominous!

                (I don’t understand why such communications are even on Trump’s radar at this point, let alone what the hell he thinks he’ll accomplish.)

            2. *Rereads self* –“the Pharyngula of the left.”

              Well, that came out pretty stupid. Make that, Pharyngula writ large.

    1. Gad, to me, seems like a warm, intelligent man. But I also feel as if he’s fallen into an echo chamber with bad company. His stances on freedom of speech are reasonable, but I think he’s far more willing to offer leeway to anyone who opposes “SJW” culture (I hate the phrase but it’s what every calls it). And he’s certainly once tweeted the same silly, equalizing statements about the election candidates, calling Trump the “buffoon” and Clinton the “devil” — the latter being pretty rich for a guy who lampoons the overdone and overwrought Hitler comparisons from his extreme left rivals.

      1. “But I also feel as if he’s fallen into an echo chamber with bad company.”

        That seems very likely to be the case. I see Gad as somewhat of a chameleon. He often seems to change positions depending on who he’s talking to, particularly if that person is well respected, or has a large following. I don’t know if it’s because he just wants to get alone, or whether it’s because his own positions aren’t very well formed, thus making him easilly led.
        When he’s interviewed by someone like SargonofAkkad he seems to agree with him completely, but then when he’s talking to Sam Harris he seems to agree with him completely, though in the case of his recently interview with Sam he seemed to be modifying his views on the fly, while couching the changes as “clarifying”, or adding “nuance”. My impression when he did that is that he was afraid Sam might think he was an anti-muslim bigot, or extremist.

        Oh and for people who don’t know him SargonofAkkad is considerable to the right of Sam.

        1. I’ve watched a few of Gad’s conversations over the last year or so, and find them rather frustrating.
          As with this dialogue with Nick Cohen (which is far from acrimonious – not sure how Eiynah came to that conclusion) he doesn’t seem to fully work through his thoughts/positions. So for example, after Gad summarised his concerns about immigration from Muslim-majority countries and the central conflict of values, when Nick then suggested that Gad must therefore be in favour of deporting current Muslims from the US, he simply denied it and it wasn’t discussed any further – I wanted them to follow that through and get to the bottom of what they both think about immigration in Europe and North America, pro or anti open-borders, and what we do (if anything) to prevent radicalisation of Muslim youth etc.
          Too often I find, after sitting through 60 mins of these podcasts, it leaves me feeling…well, none the wiser, not sure I’ve learned anything of any interest.
          Chris G.
          P.S. Mike – I presume you didn’t mean to imply that Sam Harris is right-wing, in general nor on any particular issue?

          1. There were a clutch of people who made the election bearable, and even emerged from the whole omnishamble with their reputations greatly enhanced in my opinion; decent, principled conservatives like Andrew Sullivan, Mitt Romney(…), Tory MP Anna Soubry, David Frum; TV anchors like Megyn Kelly, Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper; Seth Meyers,whose show I’d never watched before but grew to like a lot; Bill Maher, naturally…

            But the most trenchant and perceptive of everyone was Sam Harris, whose podcasts captured the unprecedented awfulness of Trump’s candidacy so well that they were a joy to listen to*.

            It was also a relief to hear him nail his colours to the mast like he did, because there are plenty of people in the liberal centre-ground who slid into justification and equivocation as Trump thundered on, people who were so blinded by their loathing for the illiberal left and political correctness that they lost their moral compass.
            Add to that the fact that a lot of Sam’s fans are conservatives who listen solely because they like Harris’s(justified) criticism of Islam and the left – a lot of them were furious that he didn’t support Trump and he could’ve easily adapted to the populist anti-PC thirst that’s out there by remoulding his views and his priorities in the way that people like Dave Rubin and Gad Saad have done(in my opinion).
            Not only did he stand firm, but he also posted the most brilliant, incisive and frighteningly funny commentary on Trump of anybody anywhere in the media.

            *in particular this fifteen minute takedown of Trump is a work of art:

      2. Agreed 100%, and I also think this mentality is increasingly applicable to people like Dave Rubin. As long as you’re sticking it to their increasingly broad definition of the “regressive left”, they will offer you all the leeway in the world with regards to the rest of your positions.

        I actually unsubbed Rubin on YT, because I got tired of him having some decent thinkers on (as well as a lot of objectively terrible ones), and then failing to intellectually challenge them on any of their more odious positions, in favour of yukking it up about the “regressives” and “snowflakes” every single time.,

        1. “I actually unsubbed Rubin on YT, because I got tired of him having some decent thinkers on (as well as a lot of objectively terrible ones), and then failing to intellectually challenge them on any of their more odious positions, in favour of yukking it up about the “regressives” and “snowflakes” every single time.,”

          I likewise unsubbed him for the same reason. I think Dave has overreacted to the whole no-platforming thing. It’s one thing giving people a platform, but Dave has crossed the line to giving despicable people free publicity, and normalizing their opinions.

  2. I did watch this but as a disclaimer, I am far less familiar with Nick. Though it got lively at times, when both Nick and Gad had a chance to clarify their positions, they often came closer together, without wasting time to microscopically detail their argument, a concession to the format.

    They may perceive their opposition differently but that may be because they identify different opponents. This is no Greenwald-Harris level disagreement (I see both of these gentlemen as honest). A narrowly focused defense of liberty and free speech would likely be ineffective.

    It has become increasingly clear that the definition of ‘Alt-Right” is far from settled with many insisting that self definition is all that is required. I hold the opinion that both of these thinkers of thoughts are in my quadrant, gladly. With the left abusing (for the time being), intersectionality to expand their group and therefore, influence, we centrists/center right must stop excluding each other for having different thoughts. We will never be able to stop this Marxist attack on western civilization if all we do is point out each other’s differences.

    1. If you think there is a Marxist attack on western civilization then your definition of that term is quite different from mine. Even very few on the right wing use that term, which went out of vogue after the fall of communism.

      1. identity politics, income redistribution, a leadership that praises communists, truth is no longer a defense, media blackouts and distortions, criminalized speech, equal outcome vs equal opportunity…

        if it walks like a duck…

        1. I’m with you, but the term “Marxist” is out of fashion and likely to be misunderstood. “Regressive leftist” seems to be the popular term. I have never really liked that either. I prefer “failed liberal” because it is accurately descriptive – someone who considers themselves liberal while opposing important, traditionally liberal values.

          1. Perhaps ‘marxist’ is a desperate attempt to pin the tail on the donkey. The new terms are familiar with those in the conversation but I generally find that so many people are so out of the loop and yet really, the biggest part of the problem…they don’t know these terms, but boy do they know who Marx was….spaghetti, wall. point taken

        2. Let’s see who practices Marxist principles according to you:

          Identity politics – white nationalists; the KKK; the Bundy family; Breitbart

          Income redistribution – Republican politicians whose entire goal in life is to distribute wealth from everybody else to the 1%

          A leadership that praises communists – Trump’s love for Putin comes close

          Media blackouts – Trump has stated that parts of the internet should be shut down

          Criminalized speech – Trump wants to take away the citizenship or jail flag burners

          Equal outcome versus equal opportunity – A right-wing trope; Social programs going back to the New Deal have been designed to promote equal opportunity not equal outcome

          Undoubtedly, you could create a list that identifies leftists in these categories. The point is that there is no Marxist assault on western civilization. Fidel Castro is now gone. Using Marxism as an epithet gets you nowhere and has had many definitions, none of which apply here. It generally has something to do with the state owning the means of production with the ultimate goal of a classless society. Traditional conservatives have not used the term Marxist since the last century. I am not sure how commonplace its use is among the far right-wing fringe.

          1. identity politics, BLM, 3rd wave intersectional feminism,

            Income redistribution? $20T debt, crony capitalism of bush, Clinton, Obama…that’s not capitalism either leadership,

            Putin has rebuilt the economy (somewhat) that the previous prick killed then the west came in and shot the corpse, in the name of aid of course. Now Turkey commits an act of war in Syria with U.S. nukes in Turkey? At least Putin was invited. Obama?

            Obama gave the internet away…to the UN ffs

            Marsist…anyone that is a direct descendant of the Frankfurt school, commies, regressive left, false anarchists, sjw’s…whatever you want to call it, there’s a lineage and the exact same tools are being used to weaken the west.

    2. Only someone unfamiliar with the writings of Karl Marx could call any of this nonsense “Marxist.” What does this have to do with historical materialism or the alienation of labor or class struggle or any of the other core concepts of Marxism. If anything, Marx provided an incisive “prebuttal” to regressivism and identity politics with his explication of “false consciousness.”

      I suspect you’re simply tossing out “Marxist” as an expletive because you’ve heard it used as a pejorative against the left. But, hey, feel free to cite chapter and verse from Das Kapital or Theories of Surplus Value or the Manifesto or any of Marx’s other writings, if you can, to tie anything therein to regressivism.

      1. Well said, Ken. I suspect that lots of commenters (and present-day SJWs) who ascribe ideas to Marx have no idea that Marx would have nothing in common with those ideas. (And btw. Marx never used the term ‘false consciousness’. Engels did, but not in the modern sense, and I certainly find Engels a much less subtle thinker than Marx).

        If one wants to understand Marx’s thoughts on the relationship between colonialism, imperialism and capitalism, one should read his piece for The Times (of London) on India. You won’t find the Chomskyesque or Tariq Ali-ish (imo. liberal Christian-derived) masochistic guilt-trip reminiscent of Iraq-war shaming.

        It’s all about the expansion of production, the benefits of global transportation and trade, and the reduction of religious misery and barbarity, e.g. the Hindu suttee system. Anyone who has ever read ‘The Communist Manifesto’ knows that it’s one of the most powerful and pithy paeans to capitalism we have.

        1. [Marxism is] all about the expansion of production, the benefits of global transportation and trade, and the reduction of religious misery and barbarity, e.g. the Hindu suttee system.

          I think this aligns with the views of my favorite Marxist, Christopher Hitchens. I was cheered to see Hitchens state near the end of his life that Central planning and state ownership of the means of production did not lead to these worthy goals.

          1. I think it would be more accurate to classify Hitchens as a former Trotskyist (and even more more-accurate, as a former Luxemburgian of the Spartacus-League school).

            In any event, if memory serves, Hitch compared his foray into radical socialism to a religious conversion (which is where the claim of “historical inevitability” tends to get ya).

            1. The intellectual genealogy of Hitchens goes back to Marx, and I’ve heard Hitchens claim a Marxist identity (and also call himself a Trotskyist). Luxemburg and Trotsky were on Hitchens’ side of the Marxist split that featured Lenin and Stalin on the other.

              I think Hitchens identified as a Marxist to the end, even while granting the free market and private ownership better supply the needs of the people.

              1. I’m not sure I’d put Lenin and Stalin on the same side — but then, Marxism breeds splitters rather than lumpers. Hell, that’s what broke up the band at the Comintern.

        2. “Anyone who has ever read ‘The Communist Manifesto’ knows that it’s one of the most powerful and pithy paeans to capitalism we have.”

          Great sentence!

      2. Yes, Marxist is the old ghost from the Cold War that is brought out every now and then. It doesn’t apply here and I suspect A more apt term is “totalitarian” as they exist on the left and right. Authority is everywhere!

      3. Marxism, the tools of manipulation used to externalize ones failures…”your lack of material success is not your fault”.
        Manifested in todays terms, your lack of spiritual success is not your delicate nature, it is the result of society failing to not induce a temper tantrum or emotional breakdown.
        Same evil, different target…”you have the right to not be offended”, bullshit and evil.
        They overlay quite nicely imho.

        That Marxism was not directly the political system that ultimately killed 10’s of millions and destroyed the collective spirit, without it, these things would likely not have happened.

        1. I’m not really sure what your comment means, Troy, but I take it as some sort of criticism of Marx. Yes, there is plenty to criticise Marx on but identity politics isn’t it. One may sneer at incoherently ranting SJWs with dyed hair and label them ‘Marxists’, but it’s pretty hard to see a straight line between Marx’s ideas and the current leftist zeitgeist which has forgotten about the content of one’s character rather than the colour of one’s skin.

          Let’s use an analogy. Let’s agree that the Crusades ideology is almost indistinguishable from jihad. If one forgets Luke 19:27 in which Jesus talks about slaying those who deny him, you have to expend a lot of neurons to get from hippy Jesus to the Crusades. As a matter of history, it took about 1,000 years and even then you had to have the huge ideological shift in St. Augustine and his ‘just war’ theory, 400 years after Christ. In Islam, it is virtually born with jihad: you don’t have to do introduce a lot of extra-Islamic thought to get to holy war.

          In the same way with the writings of Marx, it takes a lot of by-ways to get to identity politics from Das Kapital: in fact it’s just not there. You can blame the man Jesus for many things but the Crusades isn’t one of them. Similarly, you can hold Marx to account for a lot, but identity politics ain’t one.

          We all know Sam Harris’ low view of Marxism but they share at least one idea in common: both of them have expounded on the barbarity of the Hindu suttee system. Marx did so when it was actually widespread: and he agreed with British imperialism that it should be eradicated. This is not the world-view of an identity politics ideologue. Quite the opposite.

  3. By all means let’s abandon so-called “political correctness” (aka common decency) and return to freely calling gays “faggots” and blacks “niggers”!

    At the same time let’s make sure the right-wing bigots get to keep their safe spaces where religion and the military can’t be criticized nor Americans flags burned.

    1. By all means let’s abandon so-called “political correctness” (aka common decency) and return to freely calling gays “faggots” and blacks “niggers”!

      That’s a feeble straw man argument and an example of the Motte and Bailey.

      They say that PC is about politeness and not using abusive language (which is a defensible position on moderating behaviour) but then insist on indefensible beliefs so as there being no such thing as biological sex.

      So where do you stand on this? Are you merely arguing that we should not be using racist terms of abuse – in which case most of us here would agree – or are you arguing from a position that regards reality as a social construct and that we should all agree that your construct is better?

      1. It’s hardly a strawman argument.

        To many, political correctness does indeed mean you have to control your impulses to demonize and grossly insult minority groups. And that’s hard, depriving themselves of the pleasure that feeling superior to minorities often brings. They terribly resent not being able to engage in sexist racist and homophobic discourse anywhere they want the way they used to.

        Since Trump’s victory, the lid has been lifted and the racist, sexist and homophobic language and behavior is gushing forth. Abstruse discussions about the interaction of cultural/societal ideas and biology in the understanding of sexuality is not the pressing issue. Proudly and loudly insulting women on a Delta flight as “Hillary bitches” or assaulting an elderly gay man in Floridy “because Trump says I can” are the real problem with abandonning so-called “political correctness”.

        “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” -Lyndon B. Johnson

        Trump has tapped into this. The next 4 years are going to be very ugly indeed for most unpopular minorities as their rights and protections are under assault. The far-left wing gender theorist extremists you use as a hobby horse/scapegoat are not the problem, nor is the far-right KKK. It’s the unleashing of the middle-of-the-road renormalization of sexism, racism, anti-semitism and homophobia which is the great danger.

        1. I don’t think you answered my question.

          You might insist that political correctness is just about not using terms of abuse but I suspect many here can list several lifelong feminists excommunicated for failing to give the ‘correct’ answer to ‘abstruse’ questions.

        2. Offense cannot be given, it can only be taken. For the rest, we have laws against harassment and assault. If the nature of an individual is sooo delicate that a few nasty words destroy the illusion of themselves, then they should stop building houses out of mirrors. Vanity is one of the ugliest and most pathetic of human traits.

          1. You seem unaware that laws against harrassment and assault against unpopular minorities have a history of being weakly enforced, even today. Law enforcement has often been in collusion with the abusers.

            You seem to minimize the long-term negative psychological and physical effects of living in a society in which you are a despised minority. Depression, anxiety, and major physical health issues are much more prevalent among those populations. It’s not a matter of a “few nasty words”.

            Societal tolerance of the open bullying inherent in the “few nasty words” reinforces those sexist, racist and homophobic attitudes. It’s what teachers are now seeing in the schoolhouses since Trump’s candidacy and victory–a resurgence of widespread bullying especially against Hispanics and Muslims.

            1. Hispanics voted for Trump in a large way, so I don’t know why you think they will be oppressed, the illegals have to go or what is the point of having laws? Even legal Latino’s say so.
              As for the snowflakes? Infantilizing our youth comes at a cost. Schools are part of the problem by removing the benefits of victory and loss. Many of the victims of our education system are no longer ready for the real world. To pretend that the modern real world is a more hostile place than it was in the 60’s is beyond dishonest yet all minorities were doing much better then. How is that?
              Nobody really thinks about strangers, why would they? Anybody that takes offense from a stranger has a over inflated sense of worth, that is where the fault lies. Obviously, anybody that does take offense has no control over their emotions or themselves yet they desperately want to control the behavior of others. Externalizing personal responsibility, what would a psychiatrist say about that?

              1. Only 29% of Hispanics voted for Trump. That’s not in a big way (unless you’re using Trump metrics).

                A large percentage of those were Floridian Cubans to whom he promised a reverse of Obama’s Cuban thaw. We’ll soon see if they’ve been conned like most of his other constituents.

            2. You seem unwilling to acknowledge that runaway political correctness can be counter productive (and absurd). It has contributed to the Trump victory – and resurgence of widespread bullying against Hispanics and Muslims.

              1. And, indeed, passing the Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s contributed to the Nixon victory. Overcoming tribalism is difficult and often resented–with real political and social consequences.

        3. The far-left wing gender theorist extremists you use as a hobby horse/scapegoat are not the problem, nor is the far-right KKK. It’s the unleashing of the middle-of-the-road renormalization of sexism, racism, anti-semitism and homophobia which is the great danger.

          Worth repeating.

          What seems necessary is to separate the political correctness that decries traditional bigotry from that of the regressive left naval-gazers. Coming up with a new term and popularizing it would help a lot. Perhaps one that uses one of PCC’s frequent adjectives, civil. “Civil speech” for the anti-bigotry goal vs. “political correctness” for the snowflakes, e.g.

          And the way to encourage civil speech is absolutely not by legislation and making violations prosecutable, but rather to reward it and ignore/deplore uncivil speech. Sadly, this would take a united commitment which today’s fractured progressive/liberal/left seems incapable of. Although on the plus side, I think there would be some buy-in from the other side of the aisle as well.

          1. I agree with this line of thought. Civil speech is crucial. But, as you say, in the current polarized environment, civility is becoming an endangered species.

            Having a strong, committed, non-partisan center with braying fringes on either side should be the ideal. Instead, we have authoritarian, recalcitrant polar opposite factions, acting as counter magnetic forces that serve to lean the dwindling centrists this way or that way.

            1. ‘Civil speech’ wouldn’t be just avoiding ‘offensive’ words, it would mean addressing your opponents actual arguments, not re-imagined versions of them; not shouting them down or disinviting them but allowing them to speak, before questioning them, and then allowing them a rebuttal; and keeping the debate within the terms of argument and counter-argument rather than going after their jobs or otherwise punishing them.

            2. “Braying fringes”– love it! 😀

              Alas, the reality you subsequently describe is yugely depressing.

              I’d put a lot of blame on the press, but every time I do so I realize that that really means, on us. The press has to please their audience, and audiences like train wrecks, esp. in the internet age. Common decency (or sense, for that matter) is just so boring…

              1. Totally agree. The press has largely been abysmal. Hyperbolic headlines are the fashion of the day, even if they have almost no relation to the actual merits of the story underneath them.

        4. It was a strawman, because you’ve already subtly backed away and clarified that “to many”, that is what political correctness means, again without any further substantiation.

          I don’t even disagree completely with this modified statement – for some people, yes, being “anti-PC” really does boil down to being allowed to say offensive things without being made to feel bad about it. But there are also excesses and increasing intellectual rot to the concept of “political correctness” – examples of which have been covered extensively by our host here.

  4. Cohen may have written the excellent books sited but he has rather lost the plot of late, particularly over Brexit and Scottish independence.

    I was a Remainer but I accept that we lost and that most of those who voted Leave did so for reasons other than frothing racism. Cohen has publically broken with the Left but continues to act like everyone who disagrees with him is either a Stalinist or a Nazi.

    He gets particularly confused when discussing Scottish independence since those he regarded as racist a year or so ago also voted to remain in Europe. The concept of independence within Europe doesn’t fit into his worldview.

  5. Just listened to this and found Nick excellent and Gad Saad frustratingly ignorant.

    Nick was right to point out that right wing extremism is now a greater threat to peace and civilization in Europe than Islamic extremism. (I also said the same thing here when Trump was elected.) For some reason, Gad decides to keep challenging Nick on this issue rather than listening to and learning from Nick’s detailed analysis. Nick is an excellent political journalist who has been covering this territory all his professional life, but Gad isn’t interested, and keeps playing the “I fled Islamic extremism” card and pulling weird stunts like asking Nick which Islamic theocracy he would prefer to live in — which was entirely irrelevant to the points Nick was making.

    Nick rightly calls him out for foolishly lumping all Muslims together in one category, and Gad failed to respond to Nick’s challenge about doing the same for possible right wing extremists from countries with right wing governments. (In fact, Gad didn’t even seem to register what Nick had said.)

    Nick is right, I think, in saying many on the left still hasn’t woken up to what just hit them, and still hasn’t realized just how unimportant they(/we) are in the current political situation.

    In general, having sat through three of Gad’s interviews, I am starting to think he may be a bit like a right wing version of Cenk Uygur – convinced he already knows all the right answers (and all he needs to do is repeat them every week), but is intellectually out of his depth, doesn’t realize it, and is incapable of comprehending opposing arguments. (And his statements about his academic field of evolutionary psychology related to marketing sound to me very much like he doesn’t know what an adaptation is, and isn’t.)

    (Incidentally, I hope everyone reading this site has also been listening to Eiynah’s podcasts — I find she does an excellent job of discussing difficult topics with a light touch, often with people with whom she has considerable disagreements. She’s a fine role model for this kind of dialogue, and is always interesting.)

    1. Nick is correct to point out that secular ideas (in America) are likely to be in an unstable position, but he underestimates the ability of people to rise up.

      As Scalzi says, real Americans don’t take freedoms away from other Americans. Most of us have no idea how to define the boundary of freedom, but that’s generally a good thing. Freedom is always going to be a mixed bag of happiness and contention.

      It also appears that Nick does not appreciate the fact (*) that many Trump supporters are in love with the ‘idea of Trump’ but they are not willing to die for Trump, not even remotely. Likewise, most Trump supporters aren’t conscious of the fact that Trump can easily be substituted by someone else who represents the idea they think they love.

      (*) I did not listen to the whole hour

      1. He does explicitly address this point towards the end — that it remains to be seen how Trump’s anti-PC crowd and other supporters will react when Trump’s incursions on free speech move from rhetoric into reality.

  6. I started listening to Eiynah`s podcast (which is great btw.) after her discussion with Sam Harris where she rightly called out Gad Saad and Rubin.

    Gad seems very vindictive and holds grudges against many people for small things (e.g. against Maajid, Lawrence Krauss, Bill Nye).
    But at least he sometimes challanges his guests on some points (e.g. Milo on his christian belief) even though mostly it’s just self promoting, railing against muslims and the regressive left.

    Rubin on the other hand, who Eiynah imo rightly descibes as just an opportunist, has become a megaphone for right wingers and he promotes them in the name of “Free speech” and “let` have an open discussion”. But it`s almost never a discussion.

    People come on his show and are able to spout nonsense without getting challenged on it. Rubin only jumps in, when it` against the “regressive left” (such an overused term on his show) and SJWs.

    1. “…Rubin on the other hand, who Eiynah imo rightly descibes as just an opportunist, has become a megaphone for right wingers and he promotes them in the name of “Free speech” and “let` have an open discussion”. But it`s almost never a discussion.

      “…People come on his show and are able to spout nonsense without getting challenged on it…”

      Absolutely. His show seems to be a non-stop string of consipracy-theorists, right-wingers, hacks and fringe lunatics. With only very rare exceptions (Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Cara Santa Maria, Nick Cohen, Maajid Nawaz) he never gets on Liberals or people of the Left of which he proclaims to be part.

      It seems to me that he never does any research on any of his guests either.

      While I’m fully in favour of allowing such people a platform to say their piece, Rubin *never* challenges anyone. Without fail he’ll later state “I don’t agree with X on everything”. Well, you never questioned them during the interview Dave! What is it that you *actually believe*?

      Allowing someone else free speech to state their point does not mean it must stand unchallenged.

      I also have my concerns that Rubin uses the term ‘Regressive Left’ far more widely than Maajid Nawaz intended it.

      1. I don’t share your complaint about who Rubin puts on his show. However, that he doesn’t challenge anything is perhaps an understatement. It’s like he’s running for student body president. He doesn’t seem to realize you can ask intelligent questions without being impolite.

        And he should get a device that gives him a small electric shock every time he uses the word “stuff.”

        1. I agree with your assessment of Dave Rubin. When he started out I really enjoyed the fresh take and rational approach as a counter to The Young Turks who went off the Regressive cliff. He’s had some great shows (Sam Harris, Peter Boghossian, Lawrence Krauss, Michael Shermer). But Rubin tries so hard to present the veneer of “honest, open discussion”, meanwhile he never challenges his guests on their statements, even where he may disagree. Whenever he’s had someone on with forceful opinions (e.g. Larry Elder, Milo), Rubin gets completely steamrolled.

          Lately, he seems to have become a one-track “anti-Regressive” crusader. That’s the impression I get anyway.

      2. “Regressive” is another word that is quickly becoming denuded of it’s real meaning, like “misogynist”, through extensive overuse by people who just want to neuter positions they don’t like by stigmatizing them with a label. I actually think it’s a terrific term, but I’m using it less and less as other people continue to utterly destroy it’s credibility as a definition for a real phenomenon.

        And Rubin has become terrible. I actually unsubbed from him after being an early fan, because he was having an increasing number of crackpots on, and just giving them a free, unhindered platform, so long as they could have a chuckle about “regressive snowflakes” at some point.

        Even in his interviews with people like Sam Harris, whose work I’m a great admirer of, I was kind of put off by how he was just osculating Sam’s behind the entire time, and not offering anything in the way of real dialogue with the man. He was like the fawning groupie opposite, to Cenk Uygur’s stubborn ignoramus.

  7. I was a bit disappointed by Nick Cohen in this debate. He has a good point about the rise of the right, but instead of having a serious discussion about it he only uses common leftist talking points like “a president endorsed by the KKK”. I thought he was rebelling against that kind of tactic from the left?

    He also does not have a serious response to Gad Saad’s stance on limiting Muslim immigration. Here too he responds with the usual shame tactics instead of presenting a honest argument in favour of unlimited Muslim immigration.

    1. “A president endorsed by the KKK” is not a talking point. It is an actual fact.

      Furthermore, I saw nothing to support the assertion that Cohen favors unlimited immigration of any sort.

        1. @GBJames: That the KKK endorsed Trump is a fact doesn’t mean that it’s not a talking point. It is precisely the kind of nonsense argument that Nick Cohen used to criticise. The debate should have been about Trump’s policies or about the people he is appointing.

          @Speaker To Animals: Very few people actually support unlimited immigration, but most are unwilling to actually defend that position once you ask them to put a number on it and propose policies to limit it. Nick Cohen may not support unlimited immigration but he attacks Gad Saad for his position that he wants to limit it right now. Ok, so at what point in time would Nick Cohen want to limit it, if any, and with which policies? If you are unwilling to concretely limit immigration at every given moment in time then you are effectively in favour of unlimited immigration.

          Why not be proud and stand for that on principle? The post nation state position that you cannot refuse a person at the border just because they happen to have been born on the other side of it is much more respectable than actually being against unlimited immigration but at the same time waiting for somebody else to have to get their hands dirty and close the border to somebody who wants to cross it. Being on a moral high horse but then hoping that somebody else is going to do the dirty work for you while chastising them for it is not respectable at all.

          1. Referring to the KKK’s support for Trump as “a talking point” is a way, I presume, for you to trivialize an important fact from this election. It is hardly trivial that this particular candidacy motivated large numbers of extremists, some of whom are KKK and some of whom are neo-nazis, to come out in support. What other purpose does calling this statement of fact “a talking point” serve?

            1. The KKK is a small and irrelevant group of clowns. It is a talking point because it serves only as a distraction from actual issues. A serious person would criticise Trump on the issues that presumably caused the KKK to endorse him. Mentioning that Hillary’s mentor was a KKK member is a talking point as well.

      1. The KKK is minuscule and clownish. The Donny Osmond fan club probably has more members. I’m sure they appreciate being mentioned by you, Nick Cohen, and others in the media as it delays them fading away completely.

        See the advice of Jules below for a more constructive approach.

        1. If you think the KKK (and other extremist groups) are minuscule and clownish you aren’t paying attention. There has been a great rise in the number of people participating in such organizations.

          Klan chapters grew from 72 in 2014 to 190 last year. That’s a pretty impressive ramp in membership.

          And you miss the point, I think. You have to account for the extreme popularity of the Trump campaign among white supremacists whether they be members of the KKK, neo-nazis, or generic militia types.

          1. Yes minuscule:

            As much as I hate to quote the SPLC given recent events, I think this can be relied on since an underestimate would be a statement against interest:

            How many KKK members are there today?

            Between 5,000 and 8,000.

            Even though Ku Klux Klan membership is secret, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) estimates there are between 5,000 and 8,000 KKK members today, distributed in nearly 180 different Klan factions (or chapters). Most of these chapters are located in the southern region of the US. This hate group, organised in 1865, used to have about 4 million members in 1925.

            And it is you who miss the point. You should always be wary of “guilt by association” arguments. Direct arguments are available and more worthy of consideration.

            1. The KKK is one group of many. It is stupid to debate over the absolute membership of the KKK when they are only a single organization among many similar groups.

              There has been a dramatic rise in the kinds of activities that the KKK embodies. To pretend that this is simple coincidence, or even that it doesn’t exist, is not a serious position.

            1. Oh, Saddam’s CWMD did turn up, SoA. The NYT reported them in October 2003, US troops found some in 2007 and bellingcat is investigating the suspected use of them by ISIS at this very moment: the question is where the mustard agent came from if not from Saddam’s regime.

        2. The KKK is certainly clownish — and relatively minuscule, too. But there is no denying that there is a rising tide of nativist rightwing xenophobia and bigotry afoot in this nation now. Some parts of the conservative movement, and the Republican party more generally, have silently nurtured this element for decades. It came to the fore after the election of Barack Obama with the rise of the tea party and the birther movement (which converted Donald Trump from a run-of-the-mill schlock-tv fame-whore into as a political figure).

          This element has been unleashed by the candidacy and election of Donald Trump. Mainstream, establishment Republicans cower before it, recognizing it as the margin of electoral victory in a nation of shifting demographics. It’s as though the forces that gave George Wallace the electoral votes of five states in 1968 (and a substantial, double-digit minority in many others) are now responsible for putting a major-party candidate in the White House.

          This nativist element’s primary propaganda organ is the Brietbart News Network, which claims to have a readership of 65 million. (Even if this number is inflated by an order of magnitude, it is much greater than what any website catering to intersectional feminism can claim.) The man most responsible for making that website this element’s chief propaganda organ, the man most responsible for bringing it into open and mainstreaming it, is Stephen Bannon, our president-elect’s former campaign manager and now his “chief strategist.”

          This development poses a much greater threat to the American body politic than does the ridiculous, feckless regressive left. (To my knowledge, there’s never yet been a biological-gender denier to make a serious run for even minor political office in this nation.)

          1. “To my knowledge, there’s never yet been a biological-gender denier to make a serious run for even minor political office in this nation.”

            One of the problems with left-wing policies is that they are often implemented without having ever been voted for by anyone. E.g., as far as I know, the French never voted to make their country 10% Muslim.

            1. With the exception of an occasional referendum or proposition on state and local ballots, US citizens never vote directly on any legislation or policy. We have a representative democracy, a republic. At the national, federal level, this means we elect a bicameral congress — Senate and House of Representatives — to enact our laws, and a president to head up the executive branch charged with their enforcement.

              All our laws are made and enforced this way, not just the ones that implement left-leaning policies.

            2. “E.g., as far as I know, the French never voted to make their country 10% Muslim.”

              When did they vote to keep it entirely “French”? Was that right after the vote to colonize large portions of Africa?

              Your “left-wing policy” framing is absurd.

              1. I think that keeping one’s identity is default, and that nobody is obliged to atone for the sins of his colonizer grandfather by inviting potential colonizers.

              2. Given the history, and prehistory, of humanity, the idea of “keeping one’s identity is default” is just creative fiction. I repeat… your “left-wing policy” framing is absurd. The world isn’t comprised of isolated and culturally “pure” nations. Never was.

              3. And immigration has not been encouraged primarily by welcoming and naive ‘lefties’ anxious to extend ‘the good life’ to the formerly colonised but by governments of various complexions who encouraged immigration for largely economic reasons.

                I have just read (finishing it in tears) Philippe Sands’ brilliant book on the two men, both Jewish, who fought for the inclusion of the terms ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’ in the judgement at Nuremberg – Hersch Lauterpacht & Rafal Lemkin. Another important figure in the book is Hans Frank, who was the Nazi governor-general of Poland and who was sentenced to death at Nuremberg; he was, it seems, a cultured man and was much exercised by identity politics in his lucubrations about German music, German literature, German philosophy…

                I am sorry but I find mayamarkov’s suggestion that ‘keeping one’s identity is default’ all too redolent of the nationalisms that have racked Europe over the centuries. Some of my forebears on my mother’s side were German immigrants to England in the 19th century but my grandmother and her brothers and sisters were brought up in the belief that the family were originally Danish because of the intense anti-German feeling in Britain and its colonies (my grandmother was born in South Africa), and it was only after my grandmother and mother had died that we learned that, no, in fact the family was German. Other of my forebears were Scottish, Scots-Irish & Welsh, as well as English.

                I am thankful for the cosmopolitan atmosphere of London, where I was brought up, and of Tokyo, where I now live (though there are plenty of racist Japanese politicians such as Ishihara Shintaro, the former governor of Tokyo, who would prefer the properly Japanese ‘identity’ of Tokyo to be preserved and, in particular, all the Chinese to be kicked out – they have ‘different DNA’ he informed us at one time). I myself am an immigrant. Sands’ book is also about the destruction of the cosmopolitan nature of the city of Lviv (or Lemberg, Lvov or Lwow), now in the Ukraine.

          2. Whether Trump and his supporters are racists or misogynists was never really a crucial issue to me. I think a big majority of his support does not lean that way and concentrating on that dimension so heavily is a mistake.

            If you haven’t already, listen to the latest Sam Harris podcast with Jamie Kirchick. It’s a good reminder of the true dangers that Trump will present. (Hint: they don’t seem too worried about a Klan resurgence)

            1. The GOP has allowed an ugly racist element to fester in its ranks for sometime now. This element felt empowered enough by the Trump candidacy to come into the open and flaunt itself. It may not be huge, but it constituted Trump’s most energized and vocal supporters. It was large enough to provide his margin of victory in the swing states.

              It is undoubtedly true that the majority of those who voted for Trump were not themselves bigots or misogynists. But those voters had a high tolerance for the bigotry and misogyny of their candidate and his most vocal supporters, since those qualities were on blatant display throughout the campaign.

              I listened to the Harris-Kirchick podcast a couple days ago and found it exceptional. I certainly agree that the alt-right is by no means the greatest challenge posed by the Trump presidency. But it is a problem the Republicans have refused to face up to. The GOP may be riding high at the moment with control over all three branches of the federal government (and of most of the states, too), but it won’t be able to continue over the long haul in its role as the center-right party in our two-party system unless it purges itself of this element.

      2. It’s obviously a fact, but it’s also a rhetorical tactic to try and kneecap Trump through guilt by association, instead of dismantling his actual positions on their merits.

    1. You should definitely read [b]What’s Left?[/b] and [b]You Can’t Read This Book[/b].

      He’s good on free speech and liberal hipocrisy; it’s his grasp of geopolitics (by which I mean anything outside London) that is poor.

  8. Tommy Robinson was one of those people who were trying desperately to get attention on the problem of Pakistani Muslim gangs gang raping young girls and turning them into prostitutes. Some 1400 young girls and young women, and the official report states it’s happening in other cities still.

    Any who did try to get attention to the problem were vilified by the left, by the government, by the press, called frauds and liars. Eventually even the government had to agree it was very real and horrific problem that was actively ignored by the police and local councils for years and years. Some police even took part in sex with the girls and drugs from the gang.
    Several of the girls who went to the police for help were themselves arrested.
    The police said they declined to do anything for fear of being labelled racists and Islamophobes.

    While Tommy Robinson has opinions I do not share, that doesn’t mean he (and others) don’t occasionally have important things to say, and shouldn’t be arbitrarily written off. Each of their ideas should be taken on their own merit. I think Robinson has been widely smeared like Sam Harris, except much worse.
    I wonder how many know Robinson joined the Quilliam foundation?

  9. Please don’t take Eiynah at her word. She sees anyone who has any sympathy with the Right as evil and part of the problem. I don’t agree with Gad on everything and he isn’t always the most civil, but Eiynah is straight up an SJW who happens to have uncovered the Islam blindspot.

    She blocked me over a year ago on Twitter when I simply tried informing her her smears of Trump were not only based on false information but would backfire in the long run and help him get elected. I unfortunately can’t tell her “I told you so!” because she blocked me. Well, I hope you’re reading this. Remember all those liberals you smeared as Trump shills when they tried telling you to not buy every SJW manufactured smear?

    Jerry. You saw what happened to the atheist community when SJWs took over (the PZ Myers of our world). We all see the insanity on campuses. Maybe you should give a little more credit to someone like Gad who deals with this insidious movement on the daily. I’m also in academia, and from my perspective, the PC Left is the main cause behind Right-Wing extremism of late. We need to start talking to people we disagree with. NOT BLOCK AND CENSOR.

    So, even though I disagree with Paul Joseph Watson or Tommy Robinson sometimes… the last thing we should do is stop talking because “they’re beyond the pale” because they’re too far right.

    Give me someone I disagree with who’s curious to understand why we disagree over someone like Eiynah who happens to share similar beliefs but considers anyone who steps outside of her bubble to be permanent enemies.

    These days its important to judge people more on HOW they think rather than WHAT they think.

    Wake up and smell the divisiveness Jerry.

    1. Sorry but stop telling me to do on my own website, much less implying that I give no credit to Gad. Did you see that Eiynah wrote the post, and I hadn’t watched the video yet?

      Apologize or you’re gone.

      1. Wait… Me saying “Please don’t take Eiynah at her word” is me telling you what to do? I am simply urging you to consider my perspective on the matter, which I then fleshed out.

        I didn’t say you gave no credit to Gad. I simply said you should consider giving more credit to Gad, since he’s actually dealing with regressives on the daily (and let me tell you, as a Montrealer, it’s pretty bad up here!).

        Having said that, I was the one who initially jumped the gun by assuming you sharing Eiynah’s take meant you saw validity to it. That’s where I assumed you weren’t giving Gad enough credit… but that’s my bad. Sorry for that.

        But honestly… Apologize or you’re gone? I’m not here to tell you how to run your own site. I’m here to discuss and sometimes I may urge you to reconsider something. And yes, sometimes there will be misunderstandings. I hope we can simply put that behind us. You corrected my mistaken assumptions, and I now attempted to correct yours that I was telling you what to do.

        That’s as honest as I can be. Hopefully that’s good enough for you. If not, so be it. Cheers.

      2. I really enjoy this site and the discussions that take place. I like the civility that your rules produce.

        However, your response to Marc Aresteanu, seems extreme. It’s your web site, you can do what you want, but I have to say good bye if you can’t see banning him for this is uncalled for.

      3. “Apologize or you’re gone.” Really? How horrible it is for someone to have a different opinion. If you want your website to be an echo chamber just say so.

        P.S. Marc, I agree with you about Eiynah.

          1. + 1.
            I admire PCC very much, but his reaction here lacks equanimity, IMHO. Not that anyone should care.
            By the way, I follow both Gad and Eiynah. She has a bad relationship with him. Just stating a fact.
            While I generally like her, she has her own blind spots. She tends to be very particular with this or that quote from someone she doesn’t like and rightfully comments on the lack of pushback from Rubin or Gad when talking to presumed bigots. But she seems all too willing to forgive outrageous remarks by, for instance, Mariam Namazie when she was on Eyinah’s podcast.

      4. Gosh.. I was one of the diaspora that fled Pharyngula six years ago and found it much more pleasant to lurk here. I am a little disconcerted at the trend regarding treatment of polite disagreement here… Déjà vu?

        1. I guess we should give some props to Jerry for not banning me. And by the way, thank you and everyone else who happened to stick up for me. It’s heartwarming.

          But I have to mention your reference to Pharyngula’s demise reminds me how we essentially lost the cultural battle a while back within the Left. Instead of arguing with radicals on the Left, many of us simply took the bans and censoring campaigns and moved on to greener pastures. I did that too. And who are we to impose ourselves on another person’s platform/site? Which totally makes sense. It’s basic respect. If Jerry bans me, that’s his prerogative.

          But while we were busy arguing amongst ourselves over this or that issue sociopolitical issue, or this or that scientific or philosophical claim, those places we were banned from continued their circlejerks unabated. And whether we like it or not, the type of fallacious rhetoric we all despise, guilt by association, uncharitable mind-reading and quote mining, slippery slope fallacy, ad hominems, ad populam, etc., has taken root within the Left and spread. This isn’t to say the Right doesn’t suffer the same internal problems… it’s simply that it has become increasingly difficult to be on the Left and escape this influence. To me, Jerry jumping the gun and becoming defensive might be a sign of the times. (“Look how far the termites have spread & how long & well they have dined” – HITCH) Can we all at least admit we’re scared of being branded a racist or sexist just for simply considering the opinion of someone who many might have already branded as such?

          Having said that, WEIT’s board has been one of the few places where conversation has stayed above the fray. This has been a wonderful platform, probably owing to Jerry’s character. I would hate to see things go south here too. But I do think it’ll undoubtedly be forced to deal with some possible turmoil as the cultural war ramps us and becomes unfortunately more divisive. Some of us have partisan allegiances, some of us have allegiances to particular ideas. This clash will inevitably grow. There will always be room for debate about pragmatic ways of operating politically and intellectually beyond what we deem to be simply the facts of the matter. Things could get a little uglier… but I think we need to simply all stay above the fray as most of us here have. Let’s maintain conversation. Let’s disagree. But let’s not stop.

          Rant Done. Now back to cats and philosophy of mind.

          1. I didn’t agree with your original comment in this thread, although I didn’t think there was anything banworthy about it. (I suspect Jerry didn’t either as to its substance. But I think he thinks of this site as his living room. And if he invites you in, you shouldn’t bitch about the feng shui and tell him where to move the sofa. [Or, as the case may be, what he should “wake up and smell.”] And if you do, you should say “sorry” or move on.)

            That being said, I do agree with this comment.

            Now back to those cats and discussions of free will …

            1. I think you and Diane are probably right. My “wake up and smell” might seem condescending, but I didn’t mean it that way. A winking emoticon might have made all the difference for all I know.

              Either way. Now Eiynah and Gad are going at it on twitter. Wish one would challenge the other to come on their podcast and discuss their disagreement. Might turn into another Harris/Namazie shitshow, but the immigration issue seems to be controversial amongst people who generally agree on every other issue. Could be interesting.

          2. I’m glad you’re still with us, too, Marc. 🙂

            And let’s not forget that sometimes it’s just the impersonality of the internet that makes one man’s “wake up and smell the coffee,” which he imagines delivering with a wink in his voice, another man’s “don’t be an idiot!”

            One of the many positives I gained from Pharyngula, back in the day, was the frequent recommendation of the book, “Mistakes were made, but not by me.” I eventually did read it and it was spot on–describing how people who basically agree with one another can exacerbate small disagreements into greater and greater insults, until otherwise natural colleagues are at each other’s throats.

            It was also Pharyngula that frequently touted Hirsi Ali’s Infidel, back in the day, so frequently that I ultimately read that, too, and to my surprise found it one of the best, most inspiring testaments to the power of critical thinking I’ve ever read. Then they turned on her…

      5. Jerry, I think you may have over-reacted to Marc’s comment – threatening to ban him from this site, particularly after he’d explained that Eiynah had blocked him on Twitter, is really too much.
        I don’t follow Eiynah’s work very closely, but I did listen to her recent podcast conversation with Sam Harris; I found her to be way too whiney when complaining about other podcasters, overly criticising Gad Saad and Dave Rubin for not challenging some of their guests enough.
        We all bang-on about free-speech, but then complain when people are given platforms to speak freely.
        The discussions on this site are varied, open, and mostly constructive.
        I may not agree with everything Marc says, but I don’t think he expressed anything that would warrant banning him from this community.
        I hope you post a further comment here to resolve this,
        regards, Chris G.

    1. Putin attacked and occupied parts of Georgia under Bush Jr., and attacked and grabbed land from Ukraine under Obama. This is a string of US presidents ready to allow Putin to take over everything he wants, so I do not find it justified to lay blame squarely on a president elect who hasn’t even been sworn in.

      1. Fair points, but neither Bush nor Obama removed opposition to Putin from their policy platforms, nor openly stated admiration and support for Putin, nor suggested that NATO is worthless, nor made the break up NATO a clear if not imminent possibility.

        I accuse Liberals who voted for Trump of failing to weigh the entirely predictable and likely international consequences of a Trump presidency against their stated reasons for voting for him.

  10. I agree with Jeremy [11] on Robinson. He’s not the university educated critical thinker, so he comes out with some non-PC stuff. But listen to his appearance at Oxford union – and he holds is own in the Q&A.

    Try the Oxford Union debate with Anne-Marie Walters too. All straight forward criticism of Islam that we get from Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali – and many ex-Muslims. She was a Labour MP – hardly right wing.

    Both are as explicit as Harris in denying they think ALL Muslims are terrorist or Islamists.

    I follow Gad Saad and Eiynah. Gad does get a bit touchy about criticism, and it’s not easy to figure out where his red line is between reacting with sarcasm and being seriously annoyed. But I rally can’t see how he can possibly be classed as right, much less alt/far right.

    Both Gad and Rubin have been listening to people from the right precisely because of the failure to listen from the left. I have friends on the left who simply refuse to hear anything of what they have to say. Even if I try to point out just one point someone on the right might have right in my opinion, it’s automatically wrong in their eyes.

    This is why Rubin and Gad have given an opportunity for their followers to hear these other views. It’s not support – though he may agree with them on some points.

  11. And now Gad is throwing a hissy fit on Twitter, possibly triggered by Eiynah`s mail/reaction here.

    For an academic the guy is so thin skinned, gets enraged so quickly and reacts like a child, calling others “castratis”, ” lobotomized fools”.

    His constant whining is getting so tiresome and also sad, because on the other hand he really can be very interesting/smart.

    1. Blimey, he’s really chewed through the rope. This is how he deals with criticism: Eiynah is:

      execrable and vile, an idiot, “obsessed with me”, clown who has “endlessly taunted me, insulted me”, queen of the Jew-hating trolls”, “must have internalized Jew-hating, or possibly overweight Arab guys”, “I’m human too, a refugee. Racist!”, “Why does Plumpy Pineapples hate me so much? Is it because I am Lebanese Jew? Or does she hate overweight men?”

      And much more. This really does not look good.

    2. “For an academic the guy is so thin skinned, gets enraged so quickly and reacts like a child, calling others “castratis”, ” lobotomized fools”.”

      Nothing surprising, or new there.

  12. The absolute meltdown that Saad has had on Twitter over Eiynah’s very mild communication with @evolutionistrue is a spectacle to behold. He spent an entire day berating her to tens of thousands of followers because she dared call this interview to Mr. Coyne’s attention with the (accurate) mention that Saad is right-leaning and inconsistent. He even stooped so low as to attack her for remaining anonymous when her status as an apostate and vocal critic of Islam would put her very life at risk were she to reveal her identity. His behavior is anti-intellectual at best, and is more accurately described as narcissistic bullying bordering on obsessive. It certainly calls his judgment on pretty much everything else into question.

    1. He seems to be temperamentally as well as intellectually out of his depth. I’ve almost all of Eiynah’s podcasts, and never once heard her do anything but try her best to give people a fair hearing and spell out any differences of opinion clearly so they can be understood. No way does she deserve a response like that, even if he feels upset about what she said.

    2. And he’s stepped through the irony looking glass. For all the time the anti-SJW crowd spends railing about how Regressives are thin-skinned, snowflake crybullies, what does a fairly mild criticism of Gad get you? Total meltdown.

      Everyone just resorts to the same behavior they chastise “the other side” for. It’s all a contest/game now: “Who’s Winning?” “YOU LOSE!”

      I give up. I think I’ll go drink a bottle of Johnny Walker Black and kiss a frog, maybe it’ll turn into Christopher Hitchens.

    3. I would very much like to see Dr. Coyne do a follow-up on Saad’s nuclear meltdown over this blog post. In the last three days Saad has unleashed a torrent of 100+ tweets and counting, as well as several facebook posts, berating and smearing Eiynah with childish and baseless attacks and calling on his followers to join in. The level of abuse and misrepresentations he and his minions are piling on her is exactly the kind of no-platforming Saad decries when he sees it on the Left. Most disturbingly he is adamant that she is a coward for not outing herself as an ex-Muslim and has stated plainly and repeatedly that unless she is willing to risk her physical safety she should be dismissed and ridiculed. The hysteria on this point has risen to such a level that I have started to worry that he or his devoted followers might in fact take steps to expose her identity.

      Saad ought to have lost any credibility as a voice for rationality and ethical disagreement with this obsessive and narcissistic bullying; it would be nice to see someone with both intellectual honesty *and* clout, such as Dr. Coyne, take Saad to task for this ridiculous, tribal, and abusive behavior.

  13. I must also take issue with Gad Saad calling Angela Merkel (the new leader of the free world) “an idiot”. Certainly, there is certainly cause for criticism of the sheer volume of immigrants allowed into Germany, but the issues here are too complex to simply sum up as “idiocy”. Germany does have a history, and Germans don’t want to repeat it. And Merkel overestimated Germany’s capability to manage the situation, rather than ideologically motivated ignorance that an “idiot” might do.

    As Sam Harris mentioned in his new podcast, it is noteworthy that the only European leader Trump repeatedly attacked was Merkel. And also noteworthy that Wikileaks is now also attacking her.

  14. I too have had run ins with Eiynah. She seems to spend a lot of time berating people for giving platforms to people she doesn’t approve of to air their views. It mirrors the no-platforming trend in Universities, which is a trend I’m against.
    Eiynah also berates people for not “pushing back” against views guests express she finds objectionable. This is a more reasonable criticism if one presumes the hosts do, in fact, disagree eith their guest. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if the host isn’t “pushing back” because they agree with their guest, or are insufficiently informed to do so. As an example a recent theist guest on Dave Rubin’s show was arguing that science hasn’t harmed the theistic position. He asked Dave if he’d heard of the “God of the gaps” argument & Dave said no!! The theist also presented the “objective morality” argument & asserted the only reason atheists can be moral is because his God planted it in us. No “push back” using decades old rebuttal was offered.
    Lastly, Eiynah herself is guilty of giving a platform to guests with similar positions she has berated others for hosting. Robert Spencer was a recent guest. She also hadn’t sufficiently informed herself about his views so was equally unable to “push back” on many claims he made.
    I do think Gad’s podcast has become a bit of a stuck record, having the same conversation with many guests who appear to be invited on because they agree with him. I loved the one with Nick because they disagreed on some nuanced points. I learned something. I find Gad’s social media input quite immature & often nasty, so tend to avoid it after less than pleasant responses to my attempts to add to the conversation.
    If I can give a shoutout to two shows I really enjoy & hope they gain more prominence going forward: The GSPodcast and NoneOfTheAbove.

    1. Don`t agree with comparing Eiynah to universities no-platform trend.

      As you yourself stated, she also talks to people of the opposite site, so she isn`t against that (at least as far as I have seen=.

      She is just against not challanging interview guests and letting them spout their nonsense which is most prominently displayed on Rubin`s show, which really went downhill.

      But I agree with the rest of your post.

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