Luke Savage Doubles Down On Dishonest Hackery. @LukeWSavage
The rate at which dishonest hacks are popping up on the topic of atheism of late may necessitate a hall of fame on my blog.
One such hack is Luke Savage who wrote this squalid little piece in Jacobin back in December 2014. It’s the usual collection of misrepresentation and smears – but fortunately the excellent Jerry Coyne took the liberty of unblocking this particular sewage pipe on his blog – entitled ‘Luke Savage’s vicious (and misleading) atheist bashing’.
At the time, I asked Luke whether he intended to blog a response. He appeared to indicate he would:
Well, where is it then? Several months have passed. You see, sometimes people genuinely misinterpret the words of others, especially if they are taking them second-hand from another critic – but when they have their mistake pointed out, this affords them the opportunity to correct their misleading errors for the sake of their readers. Turns out Luke Savage is just a dishonest hack though. Several months passed without a response, so I decided to ask the question again. A laughable backtrack and calamitous attempt at doubling down followed:
I love the concept of a detailed response to complex ideas and criticism in 140 characters or under.
What’s worse is – in the time he’s had to consider the criticisms of his piece since December – he’s settled on the ‘continue to lie’ option. Let’s play a quick round of ‘What Savage Said’ followed by a journey to the planet earth.
‘What Savage Said’ (about Sam Harris):
@InternetUsrname He wants liberals to wake up and be as illiberal as the fascists they’re supposed to ideologically oppose.
— Luke Savage (@LukewSavage) February 17, 2015
Let’s journey to planet earth and read what Harris actually said:
Increasingly, Americans will come to believe that the only people hard-headed enough to fight the religious lunatics of the Muslim world are the religious lunatics of the West. Indeed, it is telling that the people who speak with the greatest moral clarity about the current wars in the Middle East are members of the Christian right, whose infatuation with biblical prophecy is nearly as troubling as the ideology of our enemies. Religious dogmatism is now playing both sides of the board in a very dangerous game. While liberals should be the ones pointing the way beyond this Iron Age madness, they are rendering themselves increasingly irrelevant. Being generally reasonable and tolerant of diversity, liberals should be especially sensitive to the dangers of religious literalism. But they aren’t. The same failure of liberalism is evident in Western Europe, where the dogma of multiculturalism has left a secular Europe very slow to address the looming problem of religious extremism among its immigrants. The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists. To say that this does not bode well for liberalism is an understatement: It does not bode well for the future of civilization.1
Does this sound like a call for liberals to abandon their liberal values and embrace fascism? It’s clear to anyone with a rudimentary level of reading comprehension that Harris is bemoaning the fact that fascists are the only ones speaking up against Islamic fascism. He’s clearly concerned that to allow fascists to dominate this discussion will ‘not bode well for the future of civilzation’. I’ll leave you to judge whether Savage’s interpretation is an honest one – given he’s had the context pointed out to him in Coyne’s piece already. Speaking of which.
‘What Savage Said’. (About Jerry Coyne this time)
Let’s journey to planet earth and read what Coyne actually said:
If Savage really read Harris’s book, then he has willfully distorted the last quotation. Did Savage somehow miss that Harris thinks the involvement of right-wingers in criticizing Islam was a bad thing?
Sam was of course bemoaning the unholy alliance between New Atheists (most of whom are liberals) and right-wingers when it comes to criticizing Islam. He wants to change that situation and help liberals recognize that Islam is a danger, despite their misguided tendencies to sympathize with Islam as the faith of the underdog. Harris was not being sympathetic to fascism!
Does this resemble anything like Coyne defending a position that ‘liberals should be more like fascists’?
What we see in Savage’s ‘writing’ and responses are the results of an ideological agenda rather than integrity, journalistic or otherwise. And it’s because of this – no amount of pointing out his wilful dishonesty will cause them to admit their mistakes. This is one of the reasons people will be unable to take any future scribbling of his seriously.
- Dear Fellow Liberal, SamHarris.org – http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/dear-fellow-liberal2 ↩