Sam Harris on Bill Maher

February 5, 2017 • 11:30 am

This video, published two days ago, features Sam Harris on Bill Maher’s “Real Time.” The conversation, about Islam and Trump’s orders on immigration, is wide ranging, centering on the need for moderate and ex-Muslims to help effect the taming of invidious Islamic theology. For those who call Sam an “Islamophobe,” this video is required viewing; but of course nothing Sam says will dispel that smear.

Sam also lauds Asra Nomani, a moderate Muslim who’s fought tirelessly for women’s rights under Islam. I used to admire her greatly, and still do in some ways, but I was distressed to see Asra announce her vote for Donald Trump. I cut her some slack because I attributed that to my notion that she was a one-issue voter and was thinking that Trump would deal with Muslim extremism more effectively than would Clinton. However, she also said this:

But I am a single mother who can’t afford health insurance under Obamacare. The president’s mortgage-loan modification program, “HOPE NOW,” didn’t help me. Tuesday, I drove into Virginia from my hometown of Morgantown, W.Va., where I see rural America and ordinary Americans, like me, still struggling to make ends meet, after eight years of the Obama administration.

If she thinks she’s going to get a better healthcare deal under Trump, or that ordinary Americans will be better off under Trump, I have a wall on the border I want to sell her. Nomani also came out in favor of Trump’s executive orders banning immigration. Yet she still describes herself as a “liberal,” which stymies me.

Writing at The Hill, in a piece denouncing the alt-left, with which I largely agree, she nevertheless said this (my emphasis):

In fact, while the Trump administration must of, course, lead from a place of compassion and moderation, intolerant tolerance-loving people are threatening the very safety of Americans, fomented by irresponsible Democratic Party leaders who refuse to accept the election results of 2016, fear-mongering “social justice warriors” who behave as if they are on the set of the “Hunger Games,” the movie about a “resistance” against a tyrannical dictator, and reckless social media outlets, media companies and alt-left “fake news” sites that amplify the “agit prop,” or agitation propaganda, of these political leaders and activists.

. . . Appropriately, Trump responded this morning with the following tweet: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

If she thinks the Trump administration is going to lead from a place of compassion and moderation, she’s sorely misguided. As is her claim that Trump’s threat to withhold money from Berkeley because of violence caused by non-student agitators is “appropiate”. Taking federal money from UC Berkeley for something they didn’t do (their Chancellor supported Milo’s right to talk, a talk led to the violence) is wrong: that money goes not only to support indigent and foreign students, but also to support scientific research. It’s not Berkeley’s fault, for their police tried to keep things peaceful.

As for Linda Sarsour, one of the leaders of the recent Women’s March, she’s beyond the pale. A hijabi who promotes sharia law, supports the BDS movement, and touts the repressive regimes of the Middle East, she also emitted a disgusting tw**t saying that she wished the vaginas of Brigette Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali should be “taken away” (see below) I presume Sarsour’s aware that, having experienced female genital mutilation, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has already lost part of her genitals. Sarsour later removed that tweet, but it gives you an idea of where she’s coming from. Beware of her: she’s admired by the regressive left simply because she’s a hijabi. Her values certainly aren’t progressive!

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35 thoughts on “Sam Harris on Bill Maher

  1. I loved that Sam mentioned “Batman” in his discussion with Bill Mäher about how what he was saying would probably not be met with support from the far Left.

    And the implication that Saudi women are more free than American women because Saudi women get more maternity leave is ridiculous. You don’t see American women clamoring to live there, do you?

    1. Yes, Linda Sarsour is the worst sort of “gaslighter” out there. I can’t fathom why anyone thinks she is a the sort of person worthy of rallying behind. My best guess is that their ignorance works in her favor.

    2. Which reminds me, two leaders of the MRA movement have even argued that KSA women are *privileged* because they get a free chauffeur service from their husbands. Provided, of course, the husband permits the wife to *ever* leave the house.

      And check this out Afghani women lead lives of *privilege* and *entitlement*.

      I really wanted to give the MRM a chance, but in opposing feminism they have become it’s mirror, weaving their own fanciful “just so” stories.

      1. Ugh. Privledged. Through that on he like labelled “Men of treat the women like goddesses.

        I don’t want to be othered as a goddess; I want to be treated like a regular human.

  2. Sarsour, holy goodness. She might try taking the blanket off her head. It could help her see how her fellow American women live, let alone Saudi women, whom she is completely out of touch.

  3. Sam is in good form here and is careful to make his main points even while Maher occasionally gets side tracked. Given the need for cultivating moderate voices in Islam, it’s clear that Trump’s ban is completely counterproductive.

    Nomani is hard to understand. The only thing I could think of to account for her recent attitude is that she has become deeply disappointed with how her liberal efforts have failed seemingly to make an impact. As if she feels isolated in her attempts to influence affairs. Combine this with possible disappointments in her personal life. But, that’s just a wild guess in an attempt to make sense of her rants.

    1. Some of the folks who very reluctantly voted for Trump are now among his ardent defenders. I guess it’s a “sunk cost” sort of rationalization.

      1. No, it’s a reaction to the Democrat freak out, the riots in Berkeley, etc. When the democrats walked out of hearings rather than asking questions that expresses contempt for the process, and suggests they believe votes for their opponents are illegitimate. That won’t win the hearts of those who reluctantly plumped for Trump.

        1. I agree. Much of the anti-Trump reaction reflects more badly on those reacting – throwing tantrums – than on Trump in my eyes.

          This doesn’t make Trump any more appealing though. It just makes it harder to sort out the facts.

        2. The Republicans have had nothing but contempt for “the process” for decades now. At some point the Democrats have to stop playing Charlie Brown to the conservative Lucy. Here’s a breakdown of how people voted on Trump’s cabinet picks

          Democrats have hardly been a wall of obstruction even when they should be. The Berkeley brouhaha was stupid on the part of the rioters but has nothing to do with Congressional Democrats. It’s not clear what will win the hearts of Trump supporters but we shouldn’t feed their stupid narratives.

  4. I found this hard to listen to: Maher rarely lets Harris complete a sentence, which is not only rude but also frustrating for the viewer.

    1. I thought the same thing. Maher clearly had his pre-written points that already he knew he wanted to make, and spent the segment looking for opportunities to butt in and make them.

      This was most obvious when Harris mentioned that Linda Sarsour wears a hijab, and Maher interrupted with something like “the hijab’s not the same thing as a burka, right? Get the picture of the burka up”, then proceeded to rant for 2 minutes about how terrible the burka is (during which time Harris kept trying to butt back in and finish his point, but never succeeded.) I agree with Maher’s thoughts on the burka, but ffs, you’re the interviewER, let Harris finish his point!

      And because of that, I’ve now seen people online saying that Harris attacked Linda Sarsour purely because she wears a hijab, which proves what an “Islamophobe” he is. Except he wasn’t attacking her for wearing a hijab, he just never got to finish his point because Maher wouldn’t shut up. What an own goal.

  5. I find that intellectual laziness is entrenched in most public discourse. That is, if people voice one opinion on a topic (or make a case for an idea) that pigeon holes them under some heading, be it SJW, Alt-Left, Alt-Right, liberal, conservative…

    Is it so hard to believe that people can develop a multitude, or spectrum, of ideas? People are complicated & many factors affect their thinking & how they express themselves. Labeling them seems to force everyone into a pre-conceived box so as to rip their arguments apart based on a label rather than what they actually said or have written.

    I agree with much of what Sam says & Bill says. However, if I disagree with something they say I don’t cast aside every other argument I have heard them make. Each should stand on its own merits. I simply take issue with that comment/view (i.e. Maher’s views on vaccines, utter bollocks.)

    In the case of Linda Sarsour, that the Women’s March Organizers are blindly defending her, without regard to her abhorrent comments on Ayyan Ali or Brigitte Gabriel is the epitome of blind faith & intellectual dishonesty. It is exactly the kind of false loyalty that has us in this mess in the first place. Abhorrent ideas are simply that. They need to be called out, irrespective of who makes them.

    The blindness to one’s own biases also exacerbates the partisan debates. Many are condemning Sam’s views expressed on this episode of Bill’s show. They claim, again, that he is an anti-Muslim bigot and that he supports the ban. However, they all seem to miss his comment on how America should embrace & welcome moderate Muslims and those attempting to reform Islam, most likely since it doesn’t support their narrative.

    Critical thinking is sorely lacking in many debates and public discourse. It needs a more prominent place. It is really the only means to push through through the horrid bluster, views & actions of Trump.

  6. I need say nothing about Sam since I agree with just about everything he says. One of the often missed tricks of Trump and his crew is just how much they fabricate and push false stories and ideas. They are able to boldly make up shit and feed it to us when interviewed by “news” people without any counter argument. This is due mostly because of incompetent news interviewers but also by many who have been bought by this crew. Everyone on Fox news would be the bought part. Just one little example would be when Trump was being interviewed by ORielly about his statement concerning voting fraud. Any reporter worth an ounce, would have jumped all over Trump for such garbage coming from the mouth but not Bill. Such a gutless wonder to behold.

  7. There is something special about Sam Harris. He has a combination of intelligence, honesty, and equanimity that makes him stand out from almost any public figure I can think of.

    Watching this short conversation, I immediately wondered if “batman” would publicly apologize and eat his words from the prior appearance on Bill Maher’s show. I wish he would so I could stand to watch his movies again.

  8. Bill Maher is in full voter shaming mode (no surprise here). He’s got immediately pwned on Twitter: Hillary’s “lesser of 2 evils” campaign almost worked. Let’s do it again!

      1. Thanks, that was very enlightening. Next time I’ll make sure to consult you about what to watch and for whom to vote.

  9. Ayaan Hirsi Ali wants Trump to go further than he has. Why only seven Islamic countries? She wants Trump to wage total war on Islam – on the ideological battleground of Sharia law. She describes Obama as an ideological appeaser of Islam who presided over an “explosion” of terrorism. Her only criticism of Trump is clumsiness in the way he has gone about things.

    Source: Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Donald Trump’s immigration ban and counter-terrorism strategy on RN Breakfast

  10. Linda Sarsour has a point – not that Saudi Arabia is great (it ain’t) but the US is backward. To quote Wikipedia “As of 2012, only three countries do not mandate paid time off for new parents: Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, and the United States.”

    In fact SA’s 10 weeks is a bit below average (see the table on

    They get 14 weeks in frickin’ Chad, ffs! And 20 weeks in Russia.

    I think Ms Sarsour has been carefully trawling through the statistics to find something – anything – that would demonstrate how enlightened the land of walking black sacks is.


    1. USA does not give maternity leave? I’m appalled! Oh wait, It doesn’t have a national health service free at point of delivery, so why should I be surprised.

      If Trump wants to make “America” great again, there’s a couple of places where he could start.

      1. My cousin in California had 2 weeks mat leave when she had her baby and was shocked that we have 1 year in Canada. I always thought that to get a year off, without having a child, I could feign a pregnancy then when I came back to work just announce that after having the kid for a year, I decided motherhood wasn’t for me so put the kid up for adoption. 🙂

        1. I’ve always wondered about things like that. For example, the letter of the law (so speak) on my collective agreement at work would allow me to give some of my benefits to an arbitrary Canadian, or so I read them. I have not yet tried this, but I had a friend who needed extra dental care, so I wondered …

  11. Given that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has written about her experience with FGM, I find that second tweet extremely tasteless.

  12. I’d say Sam was, once again, the voice of reason. Bill still doesn’t seem to have a full handle on the intricacies of the Muslim religious situation, but he’s at least critical and honest about it.

    Concerning Trump vs Clinton; I don’t see how anyone could possibly believe that we would be in the same situation domestically or internationally with Hillary as president. It simply isn’t so. Every shred of credible evidence disproves it.

    Re, bombing terrorists and letting moderate Muslims into the country; I fail to see the conflict there. I think Sam would agree.

  13. Does Asra Nomani really think that working families will have it better if companies are allowed to dump coal ash into their streams, oil pipelines can be built near their waterways, the minumum wage shouldn’t be raised and overtime rules shouldn’t be implemented and that Obamacare should be replaced with…what? I could go on and on. Aside from the TPP, there isn’t a single thing a liberal could agree with.

    I think that Asra has fallen victim to what a number of liberals, atheists, and reformers who criticize the Islamic religion have fallen victim to. They’ve been attacked so harshly by the Regressive Left that they get pushed into the arms of right wingers.

    For example, I agree with a lot of what Glenn Greenwald says, but there is no question that if you disagree with him on ONE issue he will do or say anything about you to impugn your character. Some of his arguments are so unhinged that you might question the things you agree with him on. It’s hard to find common ground with someone screaming you are a racist. That said, I agree with 90% of what Greenwald or the Young Turks or Bill Maher or Sam Harris say, but my disagreements with them on a wide arrays of subjects isn’t going to drive me into the arms of the nutcases on the right.

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