At 5:40 Christopher Hitchens destroys Zen Buddhism and Shinto. He names a mind-glowingly thoughtless action by Buddhists, which he calls a contemplative nonsense, and then says, “The sleep of reason brings forth monsters–and that’s Buddhism–the faith everyone goes to once they’ve exhausted Christianity.” Continue reading Christopher Hitchens destroys Zen Buddhism and Shinto
Hitchens being amazing as usual. It was like he was ready to fight him outside.
Kyle Kulinski is a progressive Democrat who runs a political channel on Youtube called “Secular Talk” where he gives his opinions on current news and political rhetoric. I sometimes tune into his channel and agree for a while, but except when he takes a utopian position on how we should speak kindly with dictators.
“Female Trump Voters Say Silly Things on CNN”
At 12 minutes in Kyle Kulinski says he wants to have a good relationship with Russia “to prevent world war 3.” I see this as a slippery slope, and find it rather disgusting. No matter what happens, there would still be a red telephone, just as there always has been. We can afford to take more confrontational stances than we already have, and to not appease thuggish dictators with gentle rhetoric without causing another Cuban Missile crisis.
Liberal democracies shouldn’t get along with Putin, anymore than liberal citizens should get along with fascists. I want condemnation of Putin, and I feel proud when my leaders do it. Furthermore, I consider it necessary and useful for America to lay out our ideological opposition to totalitarianism all the time, because our country believes in democracy and self-determination. It is in also in America’s geopolitical best interest to speak that way, as a voice of moral clarity, and then to strive for a liberal world order.
Appeasement can be just as dangerous of a slippery slope as saber-rattling. Our politicians can manage to criticize Russia or North Korea honestly, and even put sanctions on them without worrying that it’s going to bring about a war. Russia deserves to be credited with some trust; after all, they did possess enough rationality to not start WW3 during or since the cold war!) Kulinski doesn’t have to be so dogmatic about pacifism. He is free to position himself as an isolationist who opposes American intervention abroad, and who still expects his leaders to stand up for democracy abroad by criticizing Russia–which is the minimum liberal politicians can do.
While Kulinski has not been consistent about standing up for liberty throughout the word, he has been consistent over time about taking a cultural relativist position on liberty. I mean to say that he has been too willing to compromise his “liberal” principles for my liking, like when he had to attack Christopher Hitchens, (something I’ve already rambled about earlier.) At one point in the video titled “What’s Your Take On Christopher Hitchens?,” he accused Hitchens of “losing his mind near the end and siding with the Neo-cons,” which he emphasized as though it were a swear word. To me it sounded almost like an ad-hominem attack, and like something you’d say to appeal to partisan viewers. (The fair thing to do would be to approach Hitchens’s position in the spirit of charity, avoid cheap attacks on his association, and to more directly attack his position.)
It’s very difficult to argue against Hitchen’s idealism. You can oppose the war in Iraq for many pragmatic reasons, but Hitchens’ position is the more moral one because its foundation is universal liberalism, which Kulinski still hasn’t realized.
Sorry Kulinski, but the best interests of America’s citizens requires moral idealism, and not just fluid diplomacy and free markets. If you want there to be good countries even if America falls then you have to fight for democracy everywhere you can. I say this under the presumption that “the veil of ignorance” should be a principle guide for how all citizens on Earth consider politics.
I’m writing this for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that I don’t agree with most of Sam Harris’s fans that Islam is the largest immediate threat to the USA. The context is that right now thr [Russian] Christian white supremacist party is trying to dismantle democracy and to increase their long-term control over 3 branches of government, and are a much bigger threat than the 2 percent who are Muslims in the USA. I think Sam needs to focus on the real elephant in the room, and wait a few years before he spends most of his time attacking Muslims again. We can handle a 1% increase in Muslims if we can just save this republic and either reform or marginalize the GOP.
I think his center-left fans have largely left him to focus their resources on economic issues and opposing Russia/China, (which realistically requires retrenchment from the Middle East.) Meanwhile his circle of friends has become mainly conservatives from the “intellectual dark web,” and over time many of his fans became racist conservatives. For that reason I can no longer stand most of his fans (which includes people on the /samharris/ sub,) because I disagree too much about the best strategy for fixing the USA by popularizing enlightenment ideas.
Sam Harris’s laser-like focus on Islamists, and the vicious SJW versus anti-SJW fights on social media sites have clouded many atheists’ judgement about the most pressing dangers in the country. (For now I’ll let you imagine which problems are being neglected.)
….I think he is distracted, and distracts others by talking about the wrong things at the wrong time. He does oppose Trump the person, but he doesn’t disagree much on his general policy of limiting immigration. Too many immigrants can be a problem (illegal or Muslim), but there really aren’t that many in the population, and it’s not nearly as big a problem as the kind of conspiracy thinking that has become mainstream in conservative circles.
He also doesn’t really criticize the military-industrial complex, and hasn’t faced the reaity that it’s no longer 2002 and the unipolar world is no more because Russia and China are emergent militant powers. American influence and power has declined in the Middle-East since the Hitchens era when neocons could afford to intervene anywhere, and it’s too idealistic to continue to talk about nation-building and leading the fight against jihadists in every new country that needs help. (Right now we are fighting for limited gains in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Libya,) while own infrastructure crumbles.
I also don’t think he’s a jackass, just misguided. I think Hitchens with his more political background would have had to concede by now that we need to put the war on terror on the backburner and fix our democracy. To this day Sam Harris would still rather vote for Hillary Clinton than Bernie Sanders or someone who wants to focus on the economy. Just like Hitchens in the years of abundance, he said in 2016 that he’s a single issue voter for the war on terror. Hypothetically, unemployment could hit 30% with no wage increases, and Christian Nazis could takeover the GOP, but meanwhile Sam Harris would still be talking about voting for whoever will fight Islam.
Socialism is dead by definition (It’s now rich workers discriminating against poor workers)- Hitchens
Yeah, there’s definitely a contradiction there.
Midway through this video he also explains why we cannot accept a theocratic Iran, and justifies action in Iraq even if the occupation has messed up, and justifies action in Afghanistan as a test of will and also a transformational war.
He also talks about how Afghanistan and Iraq are our responsibilities because we helped elect the leaders we must now fight against, and we have that responsibility whether we want to or not.
I really need to start bookmarking Hitchen’s articles like this because they can be hard later to find since he was so prolific.
I won’t format this well, but I’ve finally came around to the idea that Hitchens was right about Iraq. A little background first…
Years ago I thought that since Saddam was a dangerous dictator it was a good idea to depose Saddam, but then I thought it was a mistake because the war didn’t seem to go well and we didn’t seem to have an exit strategy or a way of making the place democratic and stable. When we found out there weren’t WMDs, the liberals became pretty powerful, George Bush made the case worse by speaking like an idiot, and it was the popular thing to dislike the war and the Republican led government. (I don’t think I ever totally stopped supporting the initial intervention, but for me I questioned why we stayed there if it weren’t to gather oil, and I thought it was a grey conflict I didn’t need t care that much about.)
Anyway, I read when Richard Dawkins condemned the war like a typical European back in 2003, and he didn’t seem to have the insights of Christopher Hitchens. I think he was wrong about Iraq and that Christopher Hitchens is right. I was cautious of accepting Hitchens’ arguments since Iraq did seem to get worse after he died, but his moral convictions were right, and I think history will show his view was better than that of his opponents. (Incidentally, I tried to be charitable and understand his contrarian position by watching a few of his interviews and he gave them right up until his day where he spoke about it, and the debate he had on Iraq.)
Hitchen’s earlier views might have been wrong and blinded by Anti-Americanism of the Marxists he hung out with, but ever since 9/11 he seems to have had an epiphany and realized that America could be a force for good. Like he did, I do feel that kind of clarity again.
When you look at the counter-factuals, sooner or later we would have had to confront Iraq. The Europeans would always have opposed us because they were frankly morons and have a European guilt complex (and look at what is happening with Muslim violence in their countries now.)
Yeah it’s convenient to be right, but I did fight it for a long time and to be skeptical of it. I considered some of the conspiracy theories like it was about oil or some vendetta left over from his father. Ultimately though, we couldn’t let such dangerous people control such a vital part of the world. It might take decades, but if we can make Iraq democratic, that would be a huge improvement and might lead the Middle East upward. (I’m not so sure about Afghanistan.)
Of course, it does limit our military options when we are bogged down in the Middle East, but since the Europeans won’t help and much of NATO is useless, we have to do it, and American exceptionalism has a lot to say for it. I guess I’m onboard with the neocons as fellow travelers; the American revolution really is the only one that hasn’t been put out yet.
I can take some pride in that aspect of my American identity, because we do have a better foreign track record abroad than most countries. (Certainly better than the peaceniks in Europe.) Sure we’ve supported lots of dictatorships in fighting the Communists, but it’s pretty obvious that a lot of those decisions were forced when we were in ethically gray areas. Moreover, in cases like Iraq, we had to go in because France and Russia kept vetoing our sanctions.
(I’m not sure that I can agree with torture, but the Americans are basically the good guys compared to everyone else on the stage right now.) You see the other side beheading people in Iraq, you see the Russians poisoning spies, you have seen the ungrateful Europeans contributing nothing for decades while relentlessly criticizing the American policy in the Middle-East from under the umbrella of protection America gives them. It’s sad that they get to enjoy their socialism and get fat dumb and happy, while Americans actually sacrifice our freedoms and our lives to keep them free. China is a dictatorship; the Middle-East and Africa are a mess, and the Australians are probably just as Anti-American as the Europeans (although they send troops.)
I’m starting to think actually that although most people don’t like the neo-cons and foreigners understandably resent being forced to follow someone else, the critics don’t actually really understand how much thought the neo-cons have given to trying to make the world freer. It’s so much easier to be a bien-pensant liberal. If you don’t defend democracy abroad, you will lose it at home; just look at how the Russians tried to subvert our election.
You know, one of these days I should go to Taiwan for myself as a private citizen and talk to some of those people and make friends there, in the name of defending democracy. I know they don’t want to be part of China. I need to start thinking about how people who want freedom everywhere regardless of the language they speak or the country they live in are my fellow travelers. There’s something in all of us that wants freedom, and doesn’t want to be oppressed, and that’s why you had all the revolutions against the USSR in Eastern Europe, and the slave riots, and so forth. There are some universal rights, and contrary to what those liberals and isolationist conservatives say, they do exist.
Europe (especially Germany, France and Spain), Russia and China are off-limits! No more supporting the peaceniks or autocrats with my tourist dollars!
At the moment Carl Sagan, the director of the Cosmos series for PBS is my favorite writer. He pointed out in an hour the depth of the superstition that permeates all things, from mysticism to pseudo-science, in “Demon Haunted World.” He borrows the sense of mysticism and uses it to glorify science and progress. If only I had heard that message when I was younger, and my brain was like a sponge. But then again, this is still a terrible era to be alive if you want to be paid to use your head for science.
I find it funny how all 3 of these Atheists praise Thomas Jefferson for enshrining the separation of church and state, in a constitution so it would survive. Carl Sagan also calls 2 of the Founding Fathers from the Enlightenment Era that were willing to experiment “scientists.”