Luke Savage Doubles Down On Dishonest Hackery. @LukeWSavage

Image Credit http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/dgreenfield/life-in-post-truth-america/

Image Credit http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/dgreenfield/life-in-post-truth-america/

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):

 

 

— 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.

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  1. Dear Fellow Liberal, SamHarris.org – http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/dear-fellow-liberal2

10 comments

  • I’ve always assumed that this sort of stuff was dishonesty. But it occurs to me that it may just be stupidity. Or maybe it’s ADD – they see a sentence… “The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists” and just go off on one – truly not understanding that there is a context.

    The stupidity theory dovetails with the observation that many of these people seem to buy into some variety of post-modernist rubbish.

    I’m sure there’s a way to tell the difference between dishonesty and stupidity – but I’m just back from the pub – so not thinking too clearly myself!

    • Stephen Knight

      I’m not always quick to judge something as dishonesty – but when the individual has their stupidity and selective reading pointed out to them a number of times and continues to promote their lies, then I’m comfortable questioning their honesty.

      You’re right though, difficult to tell a lot of the time!

      • I’m not sure dishonesty or stupidity are the only two choices. I’m also not sure whether to believe this is a real “condition” (for lack of a better term) but if it is it would go a long ways to explaining the Greenwalds, Aslans etc. of the world.

        Note that “right-wing” doesn’t refer to political ideology, someone that confused me the first time I read through it.

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-wing_authoritarianism

  • It is so easy to stake out an ideological or irrational (the two often go together) position and just flat ignore, deny or deflect reasonable discussion and criticism. I’m reminded of the scene in Lord of the Rings where Gollom, being faced with his alter ego, says, covering his ears, “Not listneing. Not listening.” That’s very much like Savage and Aslan and the rest who don’t want to engage in discussion, and “heaven” forbid, the possibility of changing their minds and opinion. The sad part is many people will read, or listen, to moron like that and just take it in without the context and analysis needed to see what it is. “Twaddle” comes to mind.

  • Well said!

  • Seconded! Luke Savage is clearly just as disingenuous as I thought. Thanks for following up on this!

  • “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.”

    Whilst it’s touching that you wish to defend your hero, I’m afraid you are completely deluded about this. He does not say fascists are the only ones speaking up against Islamic fascism. He says they are the people “who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe” and in LTACN talks of their “courage to speak honestly about the threat that Islam now poses to European society”.

    From Harris’ vantage point, fascists have the right idea about Muslims in Europe. It’s evident that he thinks this when he spouts utter trash like this:

    ““Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe. The demographic trends are ominous: Given current birthrates, France could be a majority Muslim country in 25 years, and that is if immigration were to stop tomorrow. Throughout Western Europe, Muslim immigrants show little inclination to acquire the secular and civil values of their host countries, and yet exploit these values to the utmost—demanding tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques. Political correctness and fears of racism have rendered many secular Europeans incapable of opposing the terrifying religious commitments of the extremists in their midst.”

    Conspiracy theorist rubbish.

    Elsewhere (in the Moral Landscape) he talks of the need for more illiberal policies to ‘keep the barbarian beyond the city walls’

    “When I search my heart, I discover that I want to keep the barbarians beyond the city walls just as much as my conservative neighbors do, and I recognize that sacrifices of my own freedom may be warranted for this purpose. I expect that epiphanies of this sort could well multiply in the coming years.”

    • Mr. Dumpling: First I can establish that I have more than an elementary level of reading comprehension being a college graduate, member of Phi Beta Kappa and a published author. It is clear that you cannot lay claim to that level of comprehension. Second, your polemic reminds one of the tale of the Emperor’s new clothes in which you are a gaping member of the crowd, deluded by the desire to not respond to the facts, but to join in with your fellow apologists in praise of the imaginary.

      Conspiracy theories do not rest on fact. Unfortunately for you, and in a different context, for the rest of us, Sam Harris’ arguments do so rest. If you believe that the non-Muslim world is not threatened by the fundamentalists, the yearners for the next world caliphate, then you are certainly avoiding dealing with the bare facts of recent events.

      As Mr. Harris has eloquently pointed out, these fundamentalists bowing to the basic tenents of Islam (they aren’t extremists in that sense, but bedrock faithful Muslims) are attempting to force the Islamic law of apostasy on the rest of the world under threat of violence and death if the world does not comply.

      Perhaps it is time to grow up, Mr. Dumpling, shed your soft and doughy nature and get a backbone.

    • Stephen Knight

      I’ve no desire to work through Harris’s back catalogue of writing with you in order to correct your distortions and the leaps made in your ‘interpretation’. A few points on your comments that actually relate to my piece however:

      ‘He does not say fascists are the only ones speaking up against Islamic fascism. He says they are the people “who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe” and in LTACN talks of their “courage to speak honestly about the threat that Islam now poses to European society”.
      From Harris’ vantage point, fascists have the right idea about Muslims in Europe’

      And what is that idea? As Sam Harris makes clear
      (emphasis mine):

      ‘I was referring to the terrifying fact (again, back in 2006), that when you heard someone making sense on the subject of radical Islam in Europe—e.g. simply admitting that it really is a problem—a little digging often revealed that they had some very unsavory connections to Anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, neo-Nazi, etc. hate groups’

      The simple fact remains, as my piece argues – that to say these comments are a call for liberals to embrace fascism, as Savage argues, is dishonest hackery of the highest order. It is as clear then as it is now. I stand by my comment about reading comprehension. Seems Savage isn’t the only one afflicted.

  • Despite being in agreement with most of these so-called liberals and secularists when it comes to the majority of social issues, their apparent laziness and dishonesty when it comes to the Islamist threat to secular life, is increasingly leaving me unsure as to even label myself a liberal or not at this point, through fear of being associated with this type of appeasement/appeasers (Reza Aslan, Glenn Greenwald, the rest of the Chomsky-bots, etc).

    Greenwald in particular has been behaving disgustingly toward Sam Harris. After finding out he was co-authoring a book with Maajid Nawaz, a former Islamist, he’s quick to deride Sam Harris on Twitter for “having a Muslim friend”. His behavior has been pretty sad to behold for me, as I was largely on side when it came to his work on the Snowden leaks.

What do you think? Leave some comments!