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Fri Oct 17, 2014, 06:16 PM

Maher v. Affleck: One Giant Distraction for Progressives

(Note: This is a status update I just posted this to Facebook.)

I have followed the recent Bill Maher/Sam Harris v. Ben Affleck/Reza Aslan debate over the nature of Islam (a debate that has become something of an internecine war among progressives) fairly closely, and I gotta say that, while I think both sides have made some valid points, I think the entire debate serves as one giant distraction from the debate we should be having -- indeed, a debate we have needed, yet have steadfastly refused, to have since 9-11. That question that we should be discussing is that of the role 70+ years of disastrous U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has played in fueling the rise of religious extremism and terrorism in the region. As Pulitzer prize-winning Journalist Chris Hedges recently pointed out, nobody simply wakes up one day and decides to become a terrorist; it is something people are driven to out of desperation, when they no longer have any real political agency. The fact is, we have been the author of many of our own troubles in the Middle East. Once we admit that to ourselves, then, perhaps, more of us will come to see the utter folly of thinking that yet another round of military action in the region will accomplish anything that is at all constructive.

There were those, of course, who, in the wake of 9-11, did attempt to make this very point. It was the point former ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill, then of the University of Colorado Boulder, was trying to make, how ever inartfully, when he stated that "there were no innocent victims on 9-11" -- a comment that eventually had the effect of ending Churchill's academic career. It is the point President Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was trying to make in his "God damn America" sermon, which was seized upon by conservatives as proof that Wright, and by extension, President Obama, hated America, and which, in an act of utter political cowardice, was ultimately renounced by President Obama. That sermon stood in the highest and best tradition of prophetic preaching of the African American church, but most Americans were too caught up in the political horse race to be bothered with considering its substance. There were others as well who attempted to get America to take an honest look at itself, but to a person, each was met with some variant of the obtuse, "Why do you hate America," or were otherwise shouted down. And thirteen years later, we still wonder why we can't seem to get it right.

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Reply Maher v. Affleck: One Giant Distraction for Progressives (Original post)
markpkessinger Oct 2014 OP
Rhinodawg Oct 2014 #1
markpkessinger Oct 2014 #5
Marr Oct 2014 #2
markpkessinger Oct 2014 #6
stevenleser Oct 2014 #3
markpkessinger Oct 2014 #4

Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Fri Oct 17, 2014, 06:43 PM

1. I knew it ! Its America's fault!! Its ALWAYS America's fault !!

 

whew...thx.

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Response to Rhinodawg (Reply #1)

Fri Oct 17, 2014, 08:40 PM

5. Another variant of "Why do you hate America" n/t

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Fri Oct 17, 2014, 07:10 PM

2. I don't think any liberal-minded people deny the fact that we've created

 

many of our problems in the Middle East ourselves. But that doesn't change the fact that as of today, gays, women, free thinkers... and lots of other people are harshly repressed in the Muslim world. I'm not supportive of wars to address it, but I'm not going to pretend it isn't so either, or suggest that a bunch of authoritarian theocrats have righteous dominion over those people.

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Response to Marr (Reply #2)

Fri Oct 17, 2014, 08:56 PM

6. I'm not suggesting anyone "pretend it doesn't exist" . . .

. . . I am simply saying that at a time when a President (who happens to have a "D" after his name) is doing a "lather, rinse, repeat" on an approach to the Middle East that hasn't worked regardless of what letter follows a President's name, this is not the debate we should be having.

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Fri Oct 17, 2014, 07:12 PM

3. I'm willing to bet if you were Muslim, you wouldn't downplay it as a "distraction"

 

It's pretty insensitive to characterize a discussion about whether a group should be discriminated against as a "distraction", particularly considering that the political right in this country very much wants to discriminate against them.

Let me guess, you have never been discriminated against in your life, right?

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Response to stevenleser (Reply #3)

Fri Oct 17, 2014, 08:39 PM

4. As a gay man, I have experienced my share . . .

. . . thank you very much. And for the record, my sympathies lie with the Affleck/Aslan side of the debate. I still see that debate, in the context of current events in the Middle East, as a distraction.

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