Maryam Namazie on Sam Harris’s Waking Up Podcast


Earlier this week, I released a podcast interview with a Muslim convert from Boston. In nearly two hours of discussion, I was unable to get them to reveal why they converted, or what they believe about Islam. It was a truly fruitless experience, but I took comfort in the knowledge that I had a strong claim for the most frustrating podcast ever inflicted on the universe. Then Sam Harris released his discussion with Maryam Namazie, as you can hear below:

What the hell happened there then?

I’ve interviewed both Sam and Maryam, and I’m truly grateful for their work. In a world where many think they can just slap ‘activist’ in their Twitter profile and call it a day, Maryam is a true activist in every sense of the word, whose compassion and concern for human rights is palpable.

One of the reasons I enjoy Sam’s output so much is because it covers a huge range of topics, from religion, self defence, violence, meditation, airport security, gun control and more. I always learn something.

I was aware of the shots fired between them (namely over the issue of profiling) before going into this conversation and I was looking forward to some common ground finding, or some opinion changing.

It seems two different conversations were taking place here though. Sam wanted to speak about specific issues and Maryam responded by talking generally about Human Rights. I find this particularly disappointing considering Maryam uses terms like ‘bigot’ and ‘racist’ to describe views like Harris’s, yet doesn’t seem keen to detail the reasons that led her there.

This feels like a missed opportunity. I’m also seeing some bizarre tribal side taking (and abuse) online in response to this discussion. Which is very silly (and unnecessary). I for one see no issues with acknowledging the differences between them, yet continuing to support the great work they are both doing in the fight against theocratic fascism.

I’d be keen to get your thoughts in the comments.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.


  • Like you (but presumably with lesser insight) I admire Maryam’s work. I first heard of her when she faced down Islamists at Goldsmith’s and was deeply impressed by both that and what later I learned of her campaigning.

    This was deeply unimpressive. It was impossible to know whether she had any but the most cursory understanding of Sam’s work. Worse, I don’t think she knows how to debate, feeling each disagreement required expansive, rambling speeches often – in my small view – riddled with internal inconsistencies. It appeared ill tempered, hectoring and on occasion rude.

    I’m more than content to hear someone I disagree with make a point, provided the logic underscoring that point is clearly expressed. The frustration was an intelligent, formidable woman broadly on my side of the religion debate could not do that.

  • I came away with a much less favorable opinion of Maryam after listening to this. Similar to what happened to you last week, many of her responses to simple yes or no question were long winded rants about human rgihts, changing the topic half way through those rants, and finally punctuating them with accusations of Sam’s rudeness for interrupting her. Sorry, but you don’t get to go on a five minute tangent about something totally unrelated to the question being posed and not get interrupted. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

    I don’t know if she simply lacks the cerebral horsepower to stay on message here or if she is deliberately trying to obfuscate the issues, but she speaks often in vague generalities, displays an absolute insistence on disagreeing with Sam, and seems to have a truly utopian view of the world that is totally devoid of any sense of pragmatism or even understanding of Islamists’ devotion to Islamism.

  • Hi Stephen,
    I too thought it was awful and agree with you on both Sam and Maryam and their contributions. There’s an element of psychology at work here which I will just refer to as Maryam’s stubbornness. A certain amount of ‘sunk cost’ driving her responses (I think) given that she’s been so adamant in sticking to her claims of bigotry towards Sam. It’s not entirely coherent and it does feel like two different conversations going on. What I’m left with is the knowledge that Sam came prepared while Maryam chose to saunter about in humanitarian land for the better part of 2 hours. It was very disappointing and I do wish the interview hadn’t been released. If Sam’s decision not to release the interview with the Yale law student was because of a breakdown in their conversation, this attempt could easily be thrown in the bin with it. I do blame Maryam for the degenerate nature of the talk they had. She seems vague, off topic and generally evasive.

  • I’m still making sense of it all. Very very disappointing.

  • Got to agree with Oscar. This interview should have just been dumped with the failed Salon interview. It was a painful listen and Namazie came across highly irritating and with dreadful conversational skills. I see now, despite Sam’s heroic levels of patience and calmness in that discussion, she is now smearing him as far-right bigot like the Regressive Left do. That is simply poor form.

  • I think, being charitable to Maryam, that she meant to say something like this:

    Human rights are, by definition, universal. Therefore, they apply to everyone, even Islamists. Freedom of speech and all those other Enlightenment values apply to them as well. Anyway, you can’t tell if someone is an Islamist just by looking at them or asking a couple of questions at the border, so you assume innocence until guilt is proven (another Western, “Liberal” thing to do)… and so you let them in. Once they’re in, you hold them to the same (secular) rule of law everyone else is held to, and rotten apples will get plucked out by police and intelligence services. If, on the other hand, you assume everyone is an Islamist (or potential Islamist) until they prove otherwise, you will necessarily leave genuine refugees stuck at the border or worse. (Maybe?) This is what she refers to as collective punishment.

    That said, I cringed throughout the entire conversation and ended up with a massive headache. The broader, general point that Sam was trying to make, but somehow didn’t state plainly, is that even mainstream Muslims are already a problem as far as integration goes, and we’ve seen the results of that over the last 30 years of multiculturalism. European-born Muslims are killing over cartoons, antisemitism is way up, honor killings, FGM, separate courts, etc. So the issue is this: what happens to a tolerant, democratic society when you import millions of intolerant, undemocratic people? How many Arabic or African freethinkers, secularists, feminists, or gays will make the Cologne attacks “worth it”? For every refugee, or descendant of refugees, that turns into an Ayaan Hirsi Ali, how many end up turning into one of the Kouachi brothers? Even the Islamists that regularly harass Maryam herself… did they just come from nowhere?

    Anyway, I’m looking at this from Latin America, where there the Muslim population is zero (we have plenty of other problems, don’t worry). So maybe I’m missing something.


    • “The broader, general point that Sam was trying to make, but somehow didn’t state plainly…”

      The most frustrating thing about the interview is that even if Sam didn’t put a given question as clearly as he potentially could have, it seems clear it wouldn’t have made a difference if he had. It became clear Maryam was determined to avoid going down any road that might shake the stance she’s decided to take. Highly immodest and very disappointing as I have such an appreciation for a lot of the work she’s doing and was so sympathetic toward her after her treatment at Goldsmiths.

      Her response to the Podcast on Twitter has been no better. Repeatedly claiming it was an issue of Sam trying to “Force me to agree when I didn’t.” Hard to see that as anything but disingenuous and it makes it difficult to support her in her more admirable endeavours going forward…But I guess I’ll just have to do my best.

  • Yesterday I listened to Stephen’s torturous conversation with the US convert to Islam, and was immensely frustrated with her inability to answer the simplest of yes/no questions. This morning, I enjoyed (endured?) Sam’s conversation with Maryam – and feel even more frustrated!
    But I think Sam was right to publish this podcast; it’s a perfect example of how hard conversation can be, even with folk on the same team. Although Maryam didn’t seem to agree with Sam labelling recent Twitter criticism as ‘friendly fire’, rather seeing him more like the enemy. I think the podcast is also a prime example of how easy it is, even unwittingly and undesired, to provide ample rope for others to hang themselves.
    I’d summarise Maryam’s performance in three points: 1) Resorting to ‘You keep interrupting me Sam, let me finish!’ is a cheap shot. I’m sure if Maryam listens back on the 2 hours, she’ll realise she interrupted just as much. 2) She rambles far too much, at times seemed to be all over the place, far less articulate than Sam (I’d say far less ‘thought through’ too. 3) She refused to answer very simple yes/no questions, even when posed multiple times in different ways.
    As Sam said at the end: “I’m not sure we understand each other any better”. Which is a real shame. But I think the blame clearly falls on one side of the conversation.

  • It seems Maryam hasn’t understood Sam’s anti-profiling view when he talks about profiling. Sam got close to helping her understand, but alas the mood had already deteriorated so that conversation was abandoned.
    If I understood Maryam’s view on immigration correctly it appears she wants criminals stopped at the border, but for the border to be open to everyone else. She claimed any Islamists that make it into Europe could be dealt with by having their bad ideas challenged. She also doesn’t appear to think there are sufficient economic reasons for not accepting everyone who meets her open border criteria, despite acknowledging millions are on the move.
    I was reminded of a video I watched of Maryam talking in Dublin in 2011. She was challenged in the Q&A by an iERA Islamist. Her response decried the influence of Islamists citing the suburb of Tower Hamlets having been taken over by Islamists & academia infiltrated by Islamists too. I would love to know how she thinks a larger number of Islamists would have their minds changed by challenging their ideas, when the current numbers are proving resistant to integration and have so much influence already.
    I looked forward to this conversation as I genuinely thought her ideas about people like Sam and Douglas were just the result of misunderstanding. I don’t think that any more. I think Maryam does believe she understands Sam & Douglas. I don’t think she does. And worse than that I thought I understood Maryam, but now I’m not sure I do.

    • Yes spot on. Have watched and listened to Maryam for a long time, as with Sam. She lost me here & just seemed..well rude.

  • I didn’t feel Maryam came across as well as she did in your interview, but I actually put that more with Sam and his interview style than with Maryam. I think if Sam let Maryam talk for longer she could have articulated herself properly, instead his interruptions put her in what felt like a defensive position.

    I love Sam’s work and I am disappointed by this interview and a little with Sam. My biggest disappointment came about through the Tommy Robinson Pegida section. Sam knows about the importance of reading around any controversial figure, such as Robinson. But it appears from his own admission he knows little about him and his history except for the Dave Rubin interview, which I also thought was pretty poor. I love the Rubin report but that interview was poorly done. Robinson went off on many tangents about refugees / immigrants unchallenged. It really felt like Dave Rubin had not really done his homework. I am all for free speech and letting people speak, but if you are doing it as a progressive and in the spirit of debate, an actual debate has to be had and peoples ideas need to be articulated and challenged otherwise it just ends up either one sided like the Rubin/Robinson interview or a train wreck like Sam’s interview with Maryam.

    Stephen I liked your recent interview, even though your guest was “enigmatic” in her answers (best word I could think off) you did not keep interrupting her or try and forcibly push her into certain areas. Sam seemed hooked on the “Bigot” label, which is understandable but he could have done that so much better, and how on Earth he got himself into a situation in which he and Maryam were arguing over such and such does not behead people so they are a lesser threat than Islamists is beyond me.

    I really like Sam but this interview was a mess and I personally put more of the blame on to him.

    I would love to see a moderated debate between Sam and Maryam, maybe Maajid Nawaz is the best man to be in the middle.

    • I have respected Sam’s work and Maryam’s work, but the fault in this interview does not lie with Sam. He pressed her to clarify her statements, to clarify some of the (many) contradictions she made. She was rude and I am disappointed with her in this podcast.

    • Your concept of “interview” is loaded. There are various different approaches to interviewing. Dave’s a lot less combative than Sam is. There’s no mandate on any interviewer to do their research or come up with a prior understanding of their guests. You might prefer that as a style, but it’s not inherent in the idea of interviewing. Alternatively some people think it’s better if you don’t know much about your guest, as it means you’ll treat them with less bias.

      • I think the whole problem hinges on whether this was supposed to be an interview (where one interlocutor asks the other questions), a debate (where both parties present their case in order to convince the other or the audience) or indeed a chat (where both parties share ideas and attempt to find common ground). Namazie seemed to be expecting to be interviewed and felt she got debated, Harris was hoping to have a chat and ended up drowned out in a rather one-sided debate.

        If Harris is to be blamed for the breakdown of communication here, I feel it is insofar as he failed to set out the terms beforehand, and pave the way for a constructive chat. Of course I have no idea to what extent he did or did not attempt to do that.

        • I agree 100% if Harris laid out his desire to debate rather than interview from the outset it may have helped.

          Possibly his attempts to get to first principals and to interrogate the why as opposed to the what would have been more fruitful. Instead he ran into the immovable object of one very determined and single-minded person.

          I get the sense that Namazie may have had some media training in her time, she artfully (or blatantly) dodged any attempt the explore the underlying ideas or any internal inconsistency in her stances, for example on open borders.

          • I definitely don’t think the fault is 100% Sam’s, not even close. He humbly said (either at the beginning of the podcast or at the end, I don’t remember) that he would work on the way he does his podcasts with his guests, but since I’ve been listening to him, he has made it clear that his podcasts are not interviews in the traditional journalistic sense, and he does not even call himself a journalist. He says his podcasts are more like discussions and conversations, because he talks almost as much as the guests he interviews. I have a hard time believing that he wouldn’t have told Maryam that upfront, but if he hadn’t, yes, that is a concern.

            But regardless, the behavior between the two is starkly different. Maryam was petulant and Sam was incisive – it was clear who was trying to have a meaningful discussion and who was not. Also, in terms of the aftermath of the podcast, I am impressed that Sam has told his followers on twitter to be respectful to Maryam.

        • You’re right in that it seems Maryam thought she was going to be interviewed and Sam thought they were bound for a friendly exchange. Neither of them did enough of their homework though. Maryam apparently has never listened to his podcast other than the one with the guy (name escapes me) that raised her ire and assumed Sam’s chumminess was a reflection of Sam’s approval of the man’s ideas. Sam should not have brought up Tommy Robinson, that, for Maryam, was like receiving a grenade.

  • So, profiling based on being “muslim” is not good, but profiling based on being “salafi” is OK. So “salafi” is behavioural but “muslim” isn’t. I’m not sure she has thought that through.

    Her description of “open” borders is clearly not based on the definition of the word “open” and is more restrictive than anything I’ve heard anyone else propose. The use of “economic refugee” suggests she doesn’t know the meaning of “refugee” either.

    This has me concluding that Sam was probably correct about the misunderstanding, but he could have handled it vastly better, if only by staying quiet, his interruptions rarely did any good.

    I was pretty much on Maryams side for the first hour, if only to hear what she had to say. Moving through she seemed to engage less with what Sam was actually saying. Perhaps he was saying so much it wasn’t actually possible. This is a general criticism I have of Sams podcasts, although the discussion format can be very good.

    Towards the end she was almost defiant. I can’t decide whether that is down to her frustration with the process, not understaning Sams point or just not engaging.

    Challenging ideas at borders!!! Thats just too funny.

    “You can’t prosecute an Islamist”. Well feck me, at the 3rd time of stating it I think that one finally got through, despite the subsequent waffle.

    Evidently criticising her is easy, but I would rather point out that she is one of the very few in this country who are willing and able to directly and publicly challenge islamists (and despite Sams final snide comment, a nude protest covered in Arabic script, may be effective). Until our elected leadership find the courage to do so in a more authorative and consistent manner she should be amplified, protected, and admired as she goes about it.

  • I could be wrong but this could be a left (Namazie) vs right (Harris) thing. Neither of them are extreme in their outlook but they are from opposite political sides so to speak – albeit both close-ish to the centre line. This is where the ‘racist’ & ‘bigot’ vitriolic slurs against Harris come from (the US left) despite these slurs being most inaccurate of course.

    Don’t know but just a theory. A bit disappointed in Maryam if I’m honest.

    • Wow, those are some rather bizarre claims!

      A woman who openly declares herself to be a communist is close to the center whilst a man who holds liberal positions on, as far as I can see, every major issue except the ‘war on terror’ – where I would describe his position as pragmatic – is on the ‘right’. I would be curious to see just where you think ‘the center’ is.

      Do you work for the BBC per chance?

      • When you opened with ‘wow’ I was turned off replying till now. It’s a bit passe – a bit like saying ‘not’ after a sentence a la ‘Waynes World’ – didn’t think anyone did that anymore. But I’ll explain my theory anyway.

        I didn’t know she was a communist – I’m not disputing this at all but I’ve never read that before? Where can I find that out to verify? Sam Harris is centre right if you look at it from a UK perspective as all US politics sits to the right of our centre line (bar the anomaly that is Bernie Sanders). That is where that part of my theory comes from. And it is possible of course to hold liberal views from the right – same sex marriage, living wage, prison reform all being introduced by the current Cameron Government.

        But no doubt you’ll reply with ‘wow’ again ….. you know …… just to assert your superiority on this matter.

        • She said she was a communist near the beginning of the exchange. I’ve heard her say it several times in other recordings.

          • Thank you Guy. I must say I find her delivery difficult to listen to at the best of times but this was just annoying. It’s a shame because I respect what she does normally.

        • As far as I am aware, the word ‘wow’ is merely an expression of surprise with no arch connotations. Whether or not it is a word that can be used to signify ‘superiority’ is unknown to me and I have not yet received the memo informing me that the word is now archaic and sniffed at by the ‘in crowd’. Perhaps you are right or perhaps your understanding of this petty little matter is as well informed as your understanding of the political position of a woman who during the course of the interview, the one on which you ostensibly were commenting, stated clearly that she considers herself to be a communist.

          I suspect that Sam Harris would be extremely surprised to find that he is of the right but, of course, I do lack your incisive analytical skills and up-to-date knowledge of linguistic trends so my notion can probably be ignored and you can get back to your, no doubt, wonderfully fulfilling search for three letter micro-aggressions.

        • Will you be writing to djhttweets to let them know about the ‘Wow’ thing too?

          • 1/ The ‘wow’ thing. You knew exactly what you were doing. You can play as innocent as you like but you knew. I’ve seen it on social media thousands of times before – albeit this is the first time anyone has had this approach with me. Its a sign of arrogance, a sign of ‘I’m right’, and it prefaces any debate with an air of superiority from one side. It’s a ‘playing to the gallery’ thing & I don’t think it is an attractive approach. All I would say to you when you enter into debate on a blog is tone it down a little from the outset as you might get a better response. Guy – who followed up your initial remark – was much more civil in pointing out my mistake regarding Namazie – you should take a leaf out of his book. Now I will move onto the point I was making …

            2/ You are right about Namazie – I accept that I was wrong & I confess I found the exchange so painful to listen to very soon into the recording that I shut it down before picking up her Communist leanings. Admirable though her extrication from Islam is, now I know she holds these political views I can feel less guilt at the disdain I felt when listening to the initial part of this exchange. If I’m honest which I feel I can be, I have found lectures by her in the past rather tedious in the delivery – despite agreeing with much of the content. This is why I turned off I guess.

            3/ Sam Harris holds liberal views of course he does – but I repeat it is quite possible to hold those views from the centre right (I do & so do several current politicians), which is where I believe Sam Harris sits. He regularly bemoans ‘the regressive left’ in his written work. Sam Harris is not a Republican – I never stated that although his parents were – so lets assume he’s a Democrat for the purpose of this discussion. If he is a Democrat then (in UK parlance) he sits on the centre-right. The Democrats are far closer politically to our current Conservative Government than they are to Corbyn’s Labour Party, for example. Therefore my central point (that Harris & Namazie) were political opposites still holds. As you have quite rightly pointed out the political chasm between them is much wider than I first thought – but if anything that supports my theory behind the discord in their exchange even more does it not? Somebody else on this thread theorised that it was a ‘man vs woman’ thing – a Venus vs Mars if you will. Surely that theory is no less or more speculative than mine?

            You were right to point out my error regarding Namazie & ultimately grateful that you did, I just didn’t like the way you did it. I stand by my view of Harris however & equally I’ve not seen a constructive response from you criticising the main premise behind the theory that I offered. That is that they differ politically & this is where the discord was born. I would be interested to know your alternative theory also.

            The biggest insult of all you made of course was suggesting I worked for the agenda-ridden BBC. I was horrified that anyone would think that – this was actually worse than ‘wow’ ……. :¬)

  • I never thought Namazie would be so rude to anyone. Sam’s patience was commendable – as is both their work but communism aside, I now have some doubts about Maryam Namazie’s capability of winning hearts & minds in this world war of ideas.

  • I think their priorities are inversed: Maryam thinks bigotry and practices that promote it (intentionally or not) have to be avoided at all costs, even if this means islamists being let in, Sam thinks that letting islamists in has to be avoided at all costs, even if it means that some practices that can lead to bigotry towards whole populations are used

    Sam fails to admit though that the practices he is describing are being used in bigoted ways by resorting to theoretical edge cases, rather than acknowledging that there is a real problem that in its scale is more important than the problem of (potential) islamism infiltrating the west

  • (not finished listening, just over an hour in….) I feel there is an aspect of 2 different conversations, both running on parallel tracks.
    Made for very frustrating listening – it felt like Maryam was expecting to be “attacked” or would be “made to” defend her position. To me, it was crystal clear that Sam Harris wanted to either clarify HIS (and those in similarly attacked…) position, or wanted to understand exactly how, or why, someone found their position.
    There were points of – almost – the “po-tay-toe/po-tah-toe” debate in aspects (“no, no, no….don’t profile Muslim looking people, you should be looking for Jihadists”??) and where Sam tried to steady the chat, he was either attacked for not letting her speak (no! he was valuing your time, or pulling you back to the point!) or she just didn’t answer – at all.

    It is a shame – I feel there is a LOT of respect for Maryam, but she stamps her point about that she ends up stamping on people’s points. I think a lot of people will look twice, or put under extra scrutiny, those people and groups she attacks and suggests are spouting “bigoted/racist/hate-filled/etc” attitudes and beliefs. – Tommy Robinson is a prime example.

    I watched that Rubin Report interview – and I have to say, I agree 100% with what Sam Harris said.
    I listened to the Godless Spellchecker podcast the other day, and I feel the 2 of you nail exactly how I feel about Tommy.
    My opinions on the guy wasn’t pleasant – and was influenced by media. But that Rubin Report made me look deeper, and I have to say, I don’t see what I was led to believe was “Tommy Robinson” to what he actually appears to be…. listening to Maryam here, I feel that understanding where that unfair image of the guy has come from.

    I still like her – I still have respect for her and what she does (exmuslimbecause etc) – maybe not the “meeting of minds” that one might have hoped this COULD have been, but it felt very much like “learning something from what isn’t the case”?

  • She seems to think Sam, and others, shouldn’t point out the individuals who may have Islamist/Jihadist beliefs because they can’t help that a huge political movement has influenced them their whole lives. The solution to the problem of suicide bombers is not to stop potential suicide bombers, but to stop the political movements that create them. If that’s what Maryam is arguing I would like to know how she knows that strategy works better than any other.
    Additionally, what does this say about Maryam’s conception of personal responsibility and agency? Is the Jihadist responsible for their actions in the name of their Jihadist beliefs? According to Maryam, either not at all responsible or not entirely. I would like to hear her response to this line of questioning.

  • I haven’t listened to this podcast yet. Might need a liberal splash of whiskey first from the sound of things.

  • I thought it was very unfortunate that Maryam continued to state generalities and then attempt to get off the topic when some actual back and forth appeared to take place. She also continually complained of being interrupted but my view was that she was given a large amount of time to talk (I would like to see the time she was talking vs. Harris for a better objective measurement).

    Now two things are happening that always happen on twitter:
    (1) A bunch of jerks like Atheist Roo and others are being horrible to Maryam;
    (2) in response, she is retorting in a very unintellectual and, frankly, embarrassing way. This seemed to be a very similar response that Cenk Uygur had when he was, in my view, beaten up verbally a bit by Sam Harris.

    I disagree with some of Harris’ opinions but one thing I do not hear from him is direct misrepresentation of another person’s views purposefully. In Maryam’s case, I actually don’t think she meant to misrepresent what Harris said, I think she didn’t want to defend her opinion to a great degree so she stated general viewpoints and then attempted to get out before the specifics. Essentially, she talked past him in an attempt to avoid confrontation, which is purposeful, but is not malicious in ascribing certain viewpoints to Harris directly.

    One particular part, most would view it as a small part, that I didn’t like was when Maryam stated something to the effect that she can’t articulate as well as Sam. That wasn’t the issue at all. There is a big difference between articulating properly and omitting the requisite nuance.

    Maryam is exceedingly brave in many respects. I encourage people to divorce themselves from black and white views on people due to some examples of shifty or evasive actions.

  • Wow! The section on immigration was the first time ever I found myself actually – literally – shouting at my phone, and yes, I did sit through the whole episode of Miss “I converted to Islam but I’m not going to tell you why”.

    I felt Namazie was unreasonably impatient with Harris’ attempts to state/clarify his position, and I did feel most of Harris’ attempted interruptions were quite justified because they came as she’d been rambling quite a bit, typically attacking some very weak straw men. A particularly outrageous example was: “What is this hatred of young men? … There is this sort of thing like ‘Oh if you’re a young man, you should go and fight and you should go and die.'” Sure, she did accept that Harris doesn’t say this [“oh my goodness Sam, I didn’t say…”], but would anyone listening to this conversation say something as preposterous as that? Also (I paraphrase:) “I see refugees as individuals, not as a single group.” Well, good luck reclaiming any semblance of a moral high ground after that!

    All that said, I did see her comment on Twitter that she thought the interaction was an interview and not a chat, which I suppose makes her unwillingness to hear Harris’ side of the conversation more understandable, though it still seems needlessly counterproductive to me.

    One final peeve: it always strikes me as extremely patronising when one conversation partner keeps addressing the other by name, at least when it’s done as frequently as Namazie does in this podcast. It rather sounds like she’s addressing a small child – Christopher Hitchens’ indignant “Sir!” comes fondly to mind as an alternative for adults (although that would probably signal rather more hostility than warranted here). Not wanting to draw any other parallels with the guy, but she really reminded me of Cenk Uygur in this respect – if it wasn’t guaranteed to make my blood boil, I might sit down and tally the number of times he said “Sam” in that condescending way of his during those three awful hours of alleged “interview”. Yes, we all know whom you’re talking to, thank you very much…

    Anyway, I still feel like Lorimer above and others that Namazie’s is an important voice that should be amplified, and that she does extremely brave and important work, but I was honestly disappointed with what feels like an unwillingness to engage fully in this conversation.

    • Rereading my own post, I find myself worried that my comment about Namazie continually addressing Harris as Sam may sound uncharitable. In fact, I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she’s doing it unintentionally, without meaning to sound condescending. Either way, I personally still find it irritating, but of course that may well be just me. (Incidentally, I am fairly convinced Uygur does do it consciously and deliberately, as a means of talking down.)

  • This was very frustrating to listen to. Maryam seemed either unable or unwilling to go into detail on any topic, nor did she ever give a clear answer to a question. That by itself is annoying, but what makes it particularly frustrating is the fact that she, as Harris mentioned, is quick to accuse people of bigotry. I find it very difficult to respect people who throw out such labels but are completely unable and/or unwilling to back them up when asked for clarification. I also found her to be rather rude throughout the two hour talk.

    Her current responses on Twitter, where she is again completely misstating Harris’ views, are frankly embarrassing. They are also in stark contrast with the seemingly civil way she ended the podcast, which makes her seem quite dishonest and like a keyboard warrior who is very nasty online but refuses to engage with others in a normal conversation.

    Unfortunately, I come away from this questioning and reconsidering my perception of Maryam.

  • Some people are being very generous to Maryam Namazie on here. All I will say, is that as a result of her performance in this dialogue I’ve seen quite a few people now view Tommy Robinson or PEGIDA more positively. There is no way she has come out of this in a good light and appears to have actively turned people who wanted to support her off her views. Honestly, this interview should have just been dumped.

    • No, it shouldn’t. It was a real conversation in which Maryam showcased her conversational abilities (poor), her understanding of simple issues (lacking) and snide, condescending behavior toward an intelligent, focused and probing questioner. She showed little ability or inclination to participate like a reasonable person. Everyone needs to know that.

  • That was indeed uncomfortable to listen to.

    I think Sam Harris was right early on in suggesting that Maryam is needlessly making enemies where none need exist. She is obviously very passionate and principled in her stance against bigotry, but throwing the term around so loosely, at seemingly anyone who sees things from a different perspective, is very unhelpful. Her unwillingness to give a direct answer to the concerns raised be Sam regarding open borders was an example of just this way of dismissing everything not seen through her own world view.

    As I rarely have trouble understanding Sam’s points (or his frustration), perhaps I’m being unjustly biased against Maryam…

    Sam’s efforts at having challenging conversations are sometimes just a lesson in how difficult conversation can be… a lesson also to be drawn from other podcasts this week…

  • This frustrating podcast can be summed up in Douglas Murray’s comment to on his interview with Sam. ” It’s politics Sam, it’s politics!”

    • Kristina Andström

      Indeed. Or maybe “It’s ideology, Sam, it’s ideology”. This is a sad example how ideology makes rational discussion impossible. To me it seems Maryam Namazie has made human rights a dogma, not a practical tool for improving the human life.

  • I’m a fan of both Sam and Maryam. However, that was a very odd conversation. It was not a discussion or an interview despite Sam’s efforts. There were several points where Sam could have used Maryam’s exact language to gain common ground. One example, Maryam suggested profiling for “Islamists” instead of Muslims and Sam went further saying “Jihadists” rather than accepting her word. I’m sure Sam would love to profile for Islamists, but they refuse to wear signs. How this could be executed never got the chance to be discussed. Even if Sam had used “Islamists” I’m not at all confident that the conversation would have improved.

    Maryam’s refusal to see “Open Boarders” as a misguided term when she a moment later makes it clear that careful screening is required is also frustrating.

    As a side note, Maryam’s claim that Sam never let Maryam finish a thought is ludicrous! I’d bet she spoke for 75% of the time. She refused to allow any form of discussion.

    The bottom line for me is that both Sam and Maryam are doing a great job overall. Forcing them to agree on terminology and one another is not that important. Let them each fight the good fight on separate stages.

  • This was simply clarity of thought and a genuine approach to a difficult conversation met with childish unfocused waffle. The gulf between these two in terms of ability and quality is huge. One should be ashamed.

    You all know which way round the above applies, this should tell you everything.

  • I was actually a little worried about this podcast since Sam (excuse the first-name usage) announced it. My impression of Maryam is that she is no debater, and I didn’t think she would do well. Successful debaters seem to be quite specialized. Their thoughts are organized, they are rational and manage to maintain emotional distance from the subject being discussed. Not everyone can manage this.
    My impression of Maryam is that she is more of an “activist”. She is emotional, and can be easily flustered. I also get the feeling she came into this with her defences up.
    As others have said above I do believe she has an important role to play in this drama, in spite of this rather poor performance.

    • Maybe you have something there. Many subtle variations in these comments make for an interesting discussion on the disappointment. This is what occurred to me:

      Agree mostly with the Knight’s move on this frustrating mutual checking against any possibility of mating, and especially on the subsequent tribal mud slinging. Maryam Namazie appeared unwilling or unable to engage with Sam Harris, and left me wondering once more about the overuse of the “bigot” word by so many people. Accusing others of bigotry without proper recourse to open discussion strongly suggests judgemental silencing by, well, bigots! Maybe this is the failure of politics, that ultimately tribal prejudice reinforces personal blindness to a genuine call for unifying acceptance of difference in nuance, for gods’ sakes! Excessive naming of “bigots” suggests the age-old urge to identify scapegoats, which ultimately boils down to a deep psychological fear of becoming said scapegoat, as we all know. Being identified as a supporter of either party of this non-discussion is obviously a liability according to each tribe calling the other “bigot”. Also had me thinking that there are not that many stumbling blocks between Maryam and the so called regressive left: but that just naively exposes my own lack of understanding of what’s actually going down, probably. I have just remembered seeing a Maryam Namazie tweet that she quickly saw sense to delete, referring to “secular bigots” – signalling a default mechanism of the head surely, and therefore it must be time to remove “bigotry” from the brain, it has been rendered relatively meaningless anyway. Real bigots and real racists are real and abusing their meaning is
      categorically not helpful; in fact, it’s a load of old nonsense.

    • I understand what you say concerning Namazie’s approach: that she is more emotional, not a seasoned logical deabater. OK. However, she presumably wants to be taken seriously when she talks or writes about issues which concern her and she must therefore be prepared to defend her views in discussion if she is to be considered worthy of listening to.

      She has accused Harris of bigoted attitudes- this is a very serious claim. Her complete inability to defend this claim cannot be wished away by appeal to her different presentational style.

  • Sadly, Maryam’s clay feet are showing. I had a lot of admiration for her once, but her performance in this podcast has just confirmed my growing doubts about her ideology. I think her inability to be consistent in her views demonstrates how firmly-held ideological beliefs – whether religious or not – can distort your perception of reality. What came across most strongly in the podcast was her determination to impose her preferred view on things regardless of the evidence. She wants to believe that there’s no such thing as a culture clash, so she won’t consider it as a real possibility; she wants to believe that European governments can somehow weed out all the Islamists among a chaotic sea of immigrants, so she thinks people with less faith in bureaucracy are just being racist. This is dangerous thinking.

    And I’m left wondering if she really thinks we can overcome the Islamists just by challenging their ideas. I found that stunningly naive for someone who’s much more familiar with the Islamist mindset than I am. And I also wonder how she thinks we – as a people – can effectively challenge the Islamists by dismissing most of the people who recognise the threat of Islamism as ‘far right’ and therefore beyond the pale.

    I’ve noticed the occasional snidey remark from Maryam about various people and organisations over the last few years, and I’ve often felt she’s too free with labelling people ‘fascist’ or ‘far right’ which are terms she seems to use very loosely. In fact, I’d say that her use of ‘fascist’ or ‘far right’ labelling is similar to the way Islamists and Islamist/apologists use the term ‘islamophobe’. She seems to apply it to anyone whose critique of Islam or Islamism includes expressions of concern about uncontrolled immigration.

    Back in 2011 she co-authored a report called Enemies Not Allies: The Far Right, which was painfully thin on solid evidence and woefully rich in ad hominem arguments. It came across as slightly ridiculous, claiming that groups such at that motley crew of street protesters, the EDL, had some nefarious hidden fascist agenda. Any expression of patriotism or a desire to preserve their way of life was interpreted as a form of racism. To be fair the report did include the BNP, which I’d agree is a racist far-right organisation. But the other groups covered are all single-issue groups concerned about the threat of Islamisation of their countries; granted, they had differing solutions to the problem, some of which you may not agree with, but that doesn’t make them fascists. Fascists want to control society by establishing a dictatorship; these people just want to preserve their secular democracies and certain values such as free speech.

    Maryam has done amazingly good work over the years, especially in championing the rights of women in muslim countries and in getting the debate about Islam and Sharia on the political agenda and I know she’s a tough, courageous and strong woman, so I still think she’s somebody to admire – but maybe a little less wholeheartedly than I did in the past.

  • I was at INR5 in Vancouver last year and Maryam was there and gave a lecture about how “New Atheists” need to stop generalizing about all Muslims, which I think the general reaction from the crowd was “huh?”. So I can’t say I was too surprised by how the interview went, she clearly had some preconceived notions going into it and wasn’t going to let mere facts get in her way. I still completely support what she does, but lets just say I’m not sure I’m going to go out of my way to listen to interviews she does in the future.

  • A Herculean effort at patience by Sam Harris as Maryam launched into long diatribes in response to Sam’s attempts at specific and clarifying questions. Maryam’s definitions of Muslims as a victimized group versus Salafists as a behaviour was self-contradictory and mystifiying. I found her rude in that she kept chastising Sam for interrupting her whenever what should have been a short and clear answer was instead a rambling diatribe that needed to be cut short for the mental health of the listeners.. Yet, when Sam was trying to make a point she would interrupt him more frequently.
    It is my hope that Maryam is more effective in confronting Islamists than she was in this disappointing interview.

  • Having listened to both of them go at it for over 2 hours, lead me to understand that this is how a conversation sounds like when two people don’t entirely agree, and given that most of us admire both of them, makes it all the more feel like a lost opportunity.
    When the conversation got around to Muslims arriving in Europe, It seemed that Maryam was talking short term (the concern for refugees) while Sam was talking long term (the concern for Europe). So yes, definitely a lot of talking past one another but also talking from different positions which made things difficult if not impossible to bridge.

  • Unlike GS’s interview with the adult converter to Islam, I just couldn’t make it through the whole Harris/Namazie conversation.

    I stayed until Sam decided it was time to move on to the topic of immigration.

    I felt sure his cool, analytical approach would have Maryam suddenly declaring, “Ah – I see where there’s been a misunderstanding now!”

    I, too, had a headache by the time I called a halt to listening. This was partly induced by the number of times I found myself yelling at Maryam because I was so frustrated with her intransigency.

    Profiling is essential. It happens all the time. It shoud and must happen.

    I live in Australia. Let’s suppose I’ve been walking down a crowded Australian city street and someone snatches my phone from my hand. I tell the nearest Police Officer I’ve been robbed. What information can I give her/him before someone labels my description as racist/sexist/genderist/bigotted?
    Can I say the phone snatcher was young/old, male/female, fat/thin, tall/short?
    That I’d heard the thief’s voice and it sounded English/German/Italian/Aboriginal/Kiwi/Canadian/Arabic?
    Can I call the thief white/pink/yellow/brown/black?
    Can I say they looked Caucasian/Indian/Asian/African/Arab/Chinese?
    Can I say they looked a business person? A lawyer? A hippie? A bag lady?
    All of these descriptors are ‘profiling’.
    Can I really expect the Police to chase after just ANYone in case they have my phone?
    Or do I need to make the description of the person as accurate and detailed as I possibly can so the thief can be more easily identified and apprehended?

    I hope that those in charge of security in my country gather as much information about potential terrorists as they can. And if, as Sam correctly points out, all Jihadists are Muslims, then I want that descriptor to be included in profiling that helps narrow down who’s a potential terrorist. This is NOT islamophobic or racist. It’s rational. I don’t want those charged with preventing terrorism pfaffing around investigating people who clearly pose no threat to my country.

    I don’t see all Muslims as terrorists just as I don’t see all American Christians as potential abortion doctor murderers. I’m more suspicious of the Christian fundamentalist who possesses an automatic weapon and who has already ranted, online, about abortion being murder.

    This is the goal towards which Sam Harris was trying to lead Maryam Namazie. But she wouldn’t be lead. Her wriggling was defensive and utterly unhelpful.

    I think Harris’s long term commitment to meditation is what enabled him to stay so calm and focussed in such a provoking situation. I certainly lost my cool! He is an analytical and rational thinker whose ability to cut through to the nub of the matter has impressed me ever since I first heard him speak. Conversely, Maryam seems to be an intuitive, emotional thinker – probably very useful in certain circumstances but not in this conversation. It’s the style that somewhat predisposes to consipracy theories. It did not serve her well. Having only heard of her very recently I’m now much less inclined to accept what she says at face value.

    I had a mental image of these two interlocutors walking down a road – the road to the goal of understanding – and Maryam persisting in trying to duck off down long and winding sideroads, insisting Sam go with her and getting annoyed when he tried to steer her back on the road to the goal. Her resentment was palapable and it lead her to be less than civil and it wasted a lot of valuable time.

    I’m glad Sam released the recording. I feel far more informed now of both parties’ views.

    I have always thought of myself as ‘of the Left’. My family has been ‘of the Left’ for generations. If Sam is ‘of the Right’, then I must be turning down the volume on those political convictions in order to agree with him on what seem to me to be completely rational ideas. It’s a refreshing place to find myself. I think I share Harris’s analytical and rational style of thinking although admitting I am far less adept at it than he. But I see, from the beginning of this comment, that Maryam’s intransigence meant I couldn’t match Sam’s ‘cool’.

    • I feel that the pro Enlightenment universalist left have shrivelled under 40 years of continuous growth of post modernism and critical theory.

      • Namatzie forgets that conflict has been going on in ALL cultures pretty much forever and its actually rather better now than ever – though if we allow ourselves to be dragged back this will not be so. Enlightenment values ended slavery. And evil as they were the Western slave ships and the slave owners never actually capture slaves (John Reader, Africa: Biography of a Continent). Capitalism started in the enlightenment period but it is NOT per se part of the Enlightenment. There were hundreds of Enlightenment thinkers over 100 years. Adam smiths ideas were very muddled on social issues but his idea was “progressive” at its time in that it was much less corrupt, much more efficient and fair than mercantilism, though it became rapacious in its time it was less attuned to overt colonialism. Smith didn’t see contrast between his moral philosophy and the obvious temptations of an unregulated market where people with money pursue their own interests. Like all human institutions capitalism is very imperfect, different models suit different times and it needs periodic intervention and adjustment (from Society and state) and it doesnt suit all societies, but its generally better than alternatives.

        Europe was a vast refugee zone 60 years ago, and we don’t want to return there. Maryam Namazie believes the refugee convention means the West is responsible for ANY conflict that occurs in the world and should to take Everyone Anywhere fleeing conflict. Thats absurd. We have an obligation to take some refugees – as many as we think will not substantially disturb the wellbeing and security of the existing population and its overall mode of social survival in the world or culture, because our culture is actually worth preserving these days and Islam today is uniquely intransigent in a way that other religions aren’t.

        However in the rational world people require resources and territory to *live* Religion in the Muslim world reflected a pastoral tribal norm with a tribal state superimposed – a situation that never existed in the West and reflected the desert and steppe land that have always been the heartland of Islam. The Sunni Shia sects have literally been fighting each other since a couple of decades after the death of the Prophet. The religion is also a form of government in a way that no other is (e.g. Patricia Crone “God’s Rule”, but also pretty obvious in the hadith, the role of Muhammed, and Books explaining the principles of Islamic Jurisprudence.) Judaism may have laws about marriage, ritual etc but they have long since ceased to be political. The great bulk of Christianity and Judaism are also far moderated from what they were in middle ages and interpret scriptures historically, whereas the Quran is conceived as the uncreated emanation of God.

        I can’t say Ive been a refugee and it is truly a terrible situation but I just can’t agree on this. Namazie is a wonderful person but on this question she falls into the ideological or abstracting trap that is the norm in social questions the world over. Another argument for taking all refugees is the assumption that they have historically been a bonus- assuming they are like migrants who are largely selected on the basis of skills including speaking the language of the host country and many have a job lined up with an employer to vouch for it. The vast majority of refugees are unlikely to speak the language, most won’t have relevant skills for the economy they are going to , and if not given a lot of well planned assistance, may not do well in the society. This is much exacerbated if the attitude towards the host culture is largely hostile which frankly evidence shows in the Muslim world today it largely true. Admittedly this is not helped by the likes of George W Bush, but then the thank you for helping the Mujihudeen kick out the Russians and the brutal puppet dictator before that was an attack on the US. If the parents don’t do well and/or don’t identify at all the children will be resentful. Its not helped by rising far right anti Muslim behaviour which had been in abeyance.

        By pro Enlightenment universalist values of the left thats been shrivelled over post 40 years I also mean Rationalist values. But not rationalist in the positivist or determinist sense – rather rationalist in the sense of broad assessment likelihood. That is assessing evidence and options in light of ultimate constraints of social and individual situation, history and environmental constraints. Then deciding what is possible and best to reduce human subordination and exploitation – or not add to it overall. The universalism is in accepting the validity of all individuals to have a life as free from want and oppression and with all opportunities possible and aim to keep improving this material HUMAN and not dogma oriented aim always. As Peter Tatchell said recently aims need to be worked at collectively but are always to benefit each human Individually. this is not the individualism of laissez faire capitalism,nor is it totalitarianism or tyranny. This is altruistic, pragmatic humanism, and it does NOT mean accepting pie in the sky notions that you can aim at sweeping objective by completely ignoring the actual situation.

        I think I’ve mentioned earlier – I have a problem with the Western (and human) inheritance of metaphysics in thinking about social issues – too much philosophy is like this and thinks human issues can be reduced to grand abstractions or mathematics. I would posit that human issues just can never approach the certainty of the natural sciences so we should go for making sure our arguments are consistent with science, grounded in material realities and constraints and history/archeology/sociology attested by good evidence and (if any) data extrapolated from this, good lab experiments done without abstract assumptions. Also the components of our argument should be consistent and not jump from the very particular to the very general with no levels of intervening explanation.

        • Also Maryam started the interview saying she is against regressive left which she said were Post Modernists and Critical Theorists. Yet a lot of her assumptions are classics of Post Modern and Critical Theory thinking. The refusal to give objective categories to anything except certain minorities of concern or certain groups deemed uniquely oppressed.
          Her arguments do not acknowledge physical constraints to anything …. there are limited resources in society but apparently we don’t need borders and we don’t need a secure patch of land or sea to access resources or to live and run a society, an economy and a culture that codifies this “way of life”. However the supposed reason for advocating a borderless world that we have a globalised world doesn’t change this one jot – there has to be order at the local level – things have been globalising since humans walked out of Africa – and although its sped up globalisation is an ongoing process. Advanced technological and industrial plus tertiary service societies are highly complex and interdependent on many services so relatively fragile compared to traditionalist ones. They have a limit before they break down, and they can be stressed by a range of global and domestic factors – including of course global warming. And why is a growth mentality suddenly good? Alright, as Maryam points out we have an ageing population but this is a temporary problem and no one can sustainably increase population indefinitely (Prof Robert Wyman of Global problems of population growth course run by Open Yale courses) points out that for the poorer countries whose populations increased most in post WWII period it will take 150 years for their populations to stop growing. Even in western countries it would take a few decades even without immigration. Muslims are increasing their population at a faster rate than adherents of any other religion.

          Unlike say Hinduism which is just as patriarchal and has an oppressive caste structure, or even Chinese Confucianism, Islam is an evangelical universalist religion with those ambitions – moreover it combines revelation and government. The other religions fit a specific national boundary or caste environment and do not claim to have a universalist law that should apply to all people. (its in the Quran in many places – about Mohammed being a warner sent to all nations that they should heed the Islamic message, about Jews and Christians having been sent Islamic revelation by their prophets but then utterly corrupted it). For a thousand years Islamic law mandated continual warfare against unbelievers in Darul Harb on the frontiers of Islamic lands (eg doctrine developed from the Quran and Hadith by the early Muslim scholars and reiterated by many famous medieval scholars, and to be found the medieval Hidaya Commentary of the Islamic laws, substantial parts of which are used to this day in South Asian jurisprudence Vol 1 Part 2, Book 9 (Institutes or Al Siyar, Chapters 1-10 ) , Z. Baintner edition. The division of the world into Muslim ruled lands termed Dar al-Islam or Pax Islamica and the abode of war ruled by non-Muslims (Dar al-Harb) came to be regarded as part of Shari’ah or sacred law from the early tenth century AD. This actual terminology is in the Hidaya. ttp:// The Islamic Paradigm Of Nations: Toward A Neo-Classical Approach, Amr G.E. Sabet, Patricia Crone, God’s Rule: Government and Islam, 362-385

          Cultures and religions are not completely relative – some are just much More conservative than others and YES the percentage of that culture’s population that are conservative DOES matter in real terms. However this does not obscure the fact that the culture is composed of individuals who have been brainwashed by a theology and history when there are now opportunities to encourage individuals to reform the religion and join the scientific world and more peaceful modes of being. The fact is they are dominant and determine the character of life in Muslim societies, even if the society itself is much more diverse than this this is the fact of life. This does not mean people are bad — LIFE is evil until we find ways to improve it. Just denying that doesn’t help. Going with righteous mindset doesn’t help. Steven Pinker’s Better Angels of our Nature argues that the Enlightenment – science, secular thinking and humanism HAS drastically reduced violence and oppression continuously especially in the west but also world wide – using history, statistics, neurobiology although Pinker’s conclusions about the reasons including capitalism etc as a major reason for this I find weak and largely based on philosophical theories. Likewise Pieter Spierenburg’s, The Broken Spell marks this historical decline in violence (tho it only covers Europe) Marxism is like a religion, its metaphysical not scientific. The west was vile 300 years ago and has committed many crimes but so has EVERY culture and there are things that happen to have evolved in modern times that are really worth defending. Acknowledging this is not a “Clash of Civilisations” as Namazie asserts – such a clash is naked aggression such as invasion – like the Iraq war and the damage wreaked by Neocons who I’d always criticise. However, maintaining borders and a majority culture within a broadly but not ruinously pluralist multicultural state is just basic defence, not “a clash of civilisations”. As Maajid Nawaz has noted Western actions fuel some of the resentment in the Muslim world , but Muslims cannot continue to blame their problems on the West and Israel – The Muslim world has to address it own problems and they Are to do with the need for real modernisation of the religion. The West cannot shoulder the cost of endless religious feuding within the Muslim world, and it has to find ways to deal with the dysfunctional shift in its social thinking during the twentieth century from arrogant imperialism to social democracy or else fabianism but then onto the full flowering of Post Modern self extermination in the twenty first. The regressive left also have to be countered because they help to fuel the Muslim narrative of being the moral chosen ones in all things, and everyone else being evil – especially in the Western world. This is part of the reason why a significant section of young second and later generation Muslims don’t really identify with the country they were born into. Which is not to say a lot aren’t marvellous – but the reflexively aggrieved stance of far too many Muslim community leaders and the left’s equally reflexive support for them illustrates this.

          For multiculturalism to work it has to accept an overall dominant culture. There is this myth that the old Islamic empires were multicultural in an egalitarian sense but that’s just not true – non muslims were legally second class citizens who could not be witnesses or represent themselves in court, had to pay additional tax and had various legal restrictions such as obligations to live in lower houses, wear particular clothing etc. They could only escape this by changing their religion to Islam. In Western multiculturalism, the great majority of cultures and religions are happy to fit in with the pluralist liberal democratic norm and will adapt to broadly liberal values – even if it takes one or two generations in some cases. For reasons already mentioned Islam is more assertive, and also has something of an anti west animus – it is supposed to be the one true religion. Unlike other communities, there are constant demands that the broader society accept Islamic orthodoxy and require no liberal adaptations and too many community leaders excuse periodic Muslim violence against Western targets – sometimes publicly, sometimes brought to light by other parties. The pressure behind this operates from the traditional status of Imams as community leaders, from Islamic expectations of obedience within the family, from extended families or even the tribal structure where large settlements of the same sect from the same given original regions exist as in patronage relationships between Kashmiris in the UK. Of course individuals differ but that doesn’t affect the overall outcome. Consequently the Muslim immigration and refugee intake has more impact on the society for each percentage of the population than other immigration and refugee intake.

          Moreover, societies with advanced technology, high quality, diverse services, social security and meaningful democracies will have layers of complex institutions and regimes and even norms such as impersonal contract dealings on merit not kin relations, that aren’t found elsewhere. There will be many key institutions and regimes that are essential to maintain the character of social democratic pluralist democracy, and this combination of mandatory requirement and interdependence also makes Western societies somewhat fragile. If in Western populations you keep increasing the relative percentage of people of a culture that is very illiberal, exclusive, resistant to change and unenthusiastic about the norms of the majority culture you will stress the whole society to the point it starts to spiral away its prosperity and stability under the conflict and unproductive obstruction. To stop the free fall of stability, both the minority percentage polarise and the rest of society becomes much more religious, right wing and intolerant such that there are two laws. The society divides into hardline religious camps and eventually ceases to be liberal democratic, secular humanist, prosperous or stable.

          As indicated earlier Maryam proposed completely open borders for both economic migrants and refugees around the world because in a globalised world people should go where ever they want and fulfil their ambitions. The only application criteria for the migrants and refugees from all places and cultures would be absence of a very serious criminal record such as murder and presumably security threats though how any international agencies would gather and maintain credible records in such a very fluid world is anyone’s guess. In this case western societies would collapse almost immediately under the economic and cultural strain

  • So I finally listened to most of it. Wow. I found my frustration level and volume level, as I shouted at my car radio, increasing. Maryam seemed to come prepared for a BBC style round table where she had to speak in long general political statements to drown out her far right (for need of balance) opponent. Maybe Sam needs to accept some blame “if” he failed to clue her in on the fact that his podcast attempts to be a “directed” converstation. I love Sam’s attention detail and his insistance on nuance. I don’t feel that suited Maryam and I don’t think she was honest about it. Instead she kept trying to derail his attempts at nuance with generalised political ideology and hand waiving arguments. To concede a point of agreement would be to dilute her political stance, in her mind I think, and that killed any chance at drilling down in the way Sam likes to. Unfortunately this is going to be common I think whenever Sam wants to talk to people who are too close to politics. There’s is a world of generalisations and adherence to political idealogies because they think that is the path to communicating a clear and consistent “message”. Too often this means “truth be damned”.

    • You are right. This was a conversation between someone with a political agenda to espouse and another whose approach was that of intellectual enquiry. Dogmatic loud-hailers are never going to make nuanced discussions..

    • For those confused by Maryam’s incoherent stance on open borders it is understood when you look at it from her Communistic standpoint. (This will also let you understand the seeming craziness and contradictory stances of the regressive left)

      Her ultimate goal is the destabilisation of the Capitalist system.
      She sees the current upheaval as an opportunity to bring it down. She believes/hopes that allowing open borders will bring about such eventual chaos that the system will collapse and the left will be able to take advantage of it to bring about a new socialist regime with a power grab.

      Whilst I also hold out for a socialist future and the end of dog eat dog capitalism I think it can be brought about without the need to start a civil war and the anarchic breakdown of society and the inevitable bloodshed and carnage it will bring.
      Another problem with this is that their is no guarantee that the outcome of civil strife will not lead to something much worse than we have already.

      One need only read up on Iran to see how the leftist revolution against the Shah brought in the current Theocratic totalitarian regime.

      • That’s rather a lot you’re claiming there about Namazie’s “ultimate goal”. I haven’t heard or seen her express anything like that – can you point to a direct source? Rather sounds out of character to me to be honest…

  • I only made it about half the way through it. Really didn’t expect it’d be so bad cos I liked them both separately.

    The main thing I came away with was that Maryam was just incapable of a live debate, seemingly regardless of the subject. There was no space for even gradual convergence towards anything because she insisted on these long soliloquys. You just can’t make progress in a discussion that way. If you say something incorrect on line 2 of a 50 line argument, the other person NEEDS to interrupt you or it just throws the efficiency of the discussion right off. You’re going to feel like you’ve put a huge amount of effort into something and then they’ve just casually dismissed it. Well they DID. Because they knew they disagreed by line 2 so didn’t listen as carefully for the last 48.

  • I’ve yet to finish. I just had to stop after 56 minutes, where she insists that Muslims shouldn’t be more susceptible to profiling, or basically being considered potential Jihad suspects, than the Amish (!), because of…’WHY MEEE?!1!’. Seriously. Taking things personally because of her Iranian relatives. Yeah, that’s not a childish argument at all.

    Keep in mind Sam always said he HIMSELF should be profiled because he would fit the profile of a potential Jihad suspect, and he has no problem with that. Compare and contrast. (I’m an Egyptian with a Muslim name (so was Mohamed Atta on 9/11, no?) and also think the same about myself, even though I’m a freaking atheist. It’s not personal, geez!)

    I’m going to finish it, but just wanted to point out that while Sam tweeted urging people to be respectful to Maryam and demanded no insults to her, she’s been retweeting and liking tweets attacking Sam and calling his fans “morons” and “don’t seem much brighter than Sarah Palin’s or Trump’s” (this’s only one example that came my way; I didn’t even go check her awful behavior, which I was expecting). Speaks volumes, really.

    • Americans of all races and religions get goosed and body Xrayed all the time at international airports thanks to Osama Bin Ladin. There are all kinds of jokes about NSA procedures.

    • Okay, I haven’t gone back to finish it yet but just checked Maryam’s twitter profile, and WOW.
      Please do the same. Go check the stuff she’s been retweeting about Sam, and the “Likes” tab in her profile, since the podcast was released. Seriously, do it. Your respect for her is likely to take a massive beating.
      Shocking even to me who always thought she’s a regressive incoherent smearing machine, with no substance other than some tired slogans (which was horribly exposed whenever Sam tried to get into more complex areas. No idea why so many didn’t see that before, but seems many are now beginning to).

      Then feel free to check Sam’s as well where you’ll find “Please be respectful to Maryam ….”.

  • I’m appalled at how Maryam behaved in this interview. 30 minutes in (ten minutes more than your interview with Leanne, Stephen) and I stopped listening because I was irritated by how she was refusing to let Sam talk and then accused him of doing the exact same thing to her. She also called him a defender of Tommy Robinson, even though he clearly said he’s not all that familiar with him.

    I honestly believe that Maryam came in to this interview determined to write Sam off as a bigot, without letting him explain his views or listening to what he has to say. She’s fallen for a dangerous trap. I was hoping for her views on open borders to be scrutinised and challenged as well as backed up, but I couldn’t listen far enough to hear her views. What I did hear only paints her as naive to me, and this is painful to say because she IS an important voice in the war of ideas.

  • I commend Sam for putting up with two hours of that. I was frustrated for him.

    It was disappointing to only get the first question answered of what could have been a truly interesting discussion. Maryum was clearly inconsistent with a lot here and bizarrely avoided direct questions. She seemed stuck in a place where she didn’t want to say “yes” to what she repeatedly agreed with throughout her ramblings (can understand this if she was playing politics to avoid negative sound bites but no idea if she was or not?).

    The saddest part was toward the end when she finally took a position: she would let an avowed Islamist immigrate into Europe barring crimes, to consistently apply human rights as she saw them she would have to. I would love to have heard a two hour discussion about that idea. In my head closing the boarders to avowed Islamists even ones who have not committed crimes seems obvious but maybe that’s just putting up an ideological Trump-like wall with Mexico. Is the only way to win this fight of ideas to truly live those ideas without concern for safety? As Sam alluded probably not as people can just not integrate but still it is a bold position to take to put oneself in harms way for an ideological stand. Alas we will never hear it as poor Maryum would never let a simple “yes” or “no” get in the way of the opportunity to ramble for 15 minutes.

  • Sam: I agree with everything that you just said there.
    Maryam: OK
    Sam: So we agree on that?
    Maryam: No, I disagree with you on every detail.

  • Maryam was awful, I’m afraid. And the shame is she’s normally such a powerful voice. As soon as someone says: “You shouldn’t take it so personally”, you know they’ve given up on constructive debate.

  • If you’re talking profiling at airports I think there has to be a random auto scan that can’t be turned off so that there’s always element of uncertainty which I think is what happens – plus occasional manual scan activation by judgement which I assume also happens. Surely shouldn’t be such a general group as Muslims, understand this is insulting but on people that reasonably might warrant – e.g. Salafi like dress say at a certain frequency, or of course people who reported by intelligence on watch list but not actually on any warrant or high alert.
    However profiling is much broader than airports. Its a technical area. We live in an era of connected technical things we just have to be realistic about this. I personally no problem with automated scan for key words phrases often repeated and analysed which anonymous to anyone unless problem – wealthy repressive governments have overt censoring of the internet – and sometimes tracking of individuals – like China. I think Im on side with Apple tho in the mobile dispute – because this is an entirely new area for all govts that allows them to track wherever anyone goes and who they know and I suspect for nefarious activity really the deep net is where the action is – not something used by average citizens or even the great majority of political dissidents.
    Re profiling as in people intelligence (not the electronic kind) by monitoring and interviewing. Well I think unfortunately given recent history and attitudes in a still significant section of the Muslim community they may require more of their fair share of it than others but any good people intelligence officer would have familiarity with the culture. Terrorism is not quite analogous to ordinary criminal crime because it doesnt just aim to hurt individuals it ultimately aims to undermine structures of the state and state itself – its expressly political in a destructive sense so it has to be treated to some extent Strategically. The ordinary justice system is not strategic. However Justice must ALWAYS be balanced with this – but what I’m saying is that the length of detention without bail or release for questioning may sometimes need to be longer then usual, sometimes for people younger than usual – as long as there are safeguards like a magistrates approval must be obtained and intelligence leading to this gathered before hand by relevant specialised agencies or branch.

    obviously this should go with positive messages to the community but the minority community needs to see that positve messages include the opportunities in the majority community and how they can attain them, what services are available, and why these opportunities are good. Endless complaint is not an argument

    • Re para one on Profiling response – A Random auto scan built into the system ensures the scan team can’t be stacked by terrorists. Plus of course theres a manual scan on top of this I understand this is what’s done and its necessary. Theres no point in just specifically targetting Muslims by name and appearance and that would be offensive. Plus occasionally there are converts or other types of political extremists.
      Re paragraph two Im talking about internet scanning done in the US. I think given the intensity of the threat, the hostility to US as world power and the threat to installations and transport its warranted, besides which oppressive governments will do worse and this is a fact of life. Some degree of military spying is a fact of life since society began unfortunately .. again ideals are not helpful here. And again its a balance between whats absolutely necessary and how it can be done and the US can do it better than other big powers which are spying their pants off and actively persecuting dissidents. I just draw the line at mobile phones at least for now and commend Apple holding the line (corporations are not usually great but good on them for this).
      Re paragraph three profiling of individuals and communities by old fashioned intelligence gathering – Muslims may not like it but it has to happen but of course there needs to be some sensitivity about it as in cultural training. But some communities reflexively complain even when investigations reveal arms or are of known extremists who call for or have engaged in violence against the host country – like complaints by CAGE or hardline sheikhs and islamist activists (who sometimes veil their agendas with POMO speak)
      Leftists typically argue that the criminal law procedure should not be modified in any way for investigation of potential terrorism conspirators or perpetrators. I don’t agree because this crime is of a totally different nature from ordinary criminality. I don’t accept torture is ever justified however because that is a moral and behavioural slippery slope, the victim often gives wrong answers or else it comes to be performed for reasons of pure pleasure in domination and mutual signals of terror between the sides. Thus it is ultimately self defeating because it encourages more of the same and it is wrong in itself. The incidence of cases where it might forestall an attack because the person is considered likely to reveal (in time) where the bomb can be located and deactivated just before a bomb is about to go off would be just vanishingly small. Also violence can be fed by a spiral of resentment, if violence is your first line of response – there are some grounds for resentment in the Muslim world its just they love to ignore their own misdeeds and insist that dominance is a virtue and their culture makes them completely unreflective about it because I would argue the tribal pastoral culture is obsessed with dominance. Dominance is not a virtue in any society and that includes any western society, though it is still considered so in many. Self defence however is.
      Regarding legislation to somewhat extend length of legal limit of time for terrorist suspect detention for questioning and even repeat/extend time and even include some reduction of legal age for questioning – i explained I think this is acceptable (which already passed i think in anglo countries certainly in Australia and Britain and US) because of the strategic and political nature of terrorism – but needs to be done via magistrate approval (as it is at least in Australia and Britain) The left of course complain because they think Western culture is bad blah blah but my point is Society does need to be physically defended.

      Re final paragraph re sending positive messages to the Muslim community – they need to see opportunities in the host society but complaints about need to adjust to host society and insistence this is fixed by more Islam is just bull and we need to stop pandering to it. Yes we are liberal democratic societies that are accepting for example of people wearing islamic dress but not in public office or where its in public school teaching or where it imposes this view on host community. Multiculturalism can not be understood as balkanisation – it has to accept a dominant culture operates in most spheres for the society to function because culture is about the social means of survival including laws, political system and institutions if there are such, mode of economy, mode of family interaction, values, customs, religion if there is one, arts, language, skills, tech knowledge. Maryam doesnt come near to accepting this and again i note she doesnt seem to be keen on Quilliam. Instead we just all function on high morality and context free ideology, but where we refuse to address changing and complex sets of particular constraints or to see societies as ultimately physically and environmentally bounded or initially invested with culture from a particular geography or model of eco/social survival – then domination oriented traditional values ultimately take over – by a polarisation between rival communities that have become very conservative, normally religious, very sexist, and highly stratified or poor.

      Muslim “community leaders” and Islamist activists or naive Muslim activists too often insist that problems in the Muslim society must be addressed by being supportive of what is in effect islamism or else a mythical version of progressive humanist Muslim orthodoxy which the clerical scholars can presumably identify even though these will be the same community leaders who are usually part of the problem. This will supposedly enable the Muslim community to embrace the host country. Its always an evasion of what Maajid is calling for – a real self reflection by the community. Thats why Majid is so important

  • Unfortunately, it was a classic gender impasse. Harris, in male mode, is logical, analytical, laser-focused, drilling down recursively, while digressing to make a colorful example or quotation. Namazie, in female stereotype, hears the digression and interrupts, mistaking the digression for the main point. She then bounces away on a tangent and rambles emotionally for five minutes. Harris tries to steer back to the original point and gets a complaint about interruption. Rinse and repeat a few times. Finally, she wants to move on since the topic is ‘burned out’ while Harris says they haven’t even addressed it yet. Classic!

    It would have been nice if she’d had the self-awareness to understand that she is using the term ‘open borders’ in a completely non-standard way. Also would have been nice if she could admit that, despite Muslims in Europe not being homogenous clones, it is still possible to notice average statistical patterns about groups. She reminds me of someone who seens a tall man next to a short woman, and then a tall woman next to a short man, and concludes (because she sees individuals only) that men and women must have the same height distribution, and that anyone who disagrees is a bigot in need of re-education. Harris has the patience of a saint.

    • No gender impasse. Maryam is a person of very strong opinions and is absolutely opposed to Sam’s view on these things. She didn’t waffle. She just laid out her view to each question and she’s not prepared to demur one jot to Sam’s side of things, which is fair enough, at least we get to see each person’s point of view.

      Unfortunately she has the Male habit of ideological attachment to Communism which in is a prime example of the male fashion of big grand abstraction about social matters. Marx’s Das Capital is sprinkled with little algebraic formula, like you can pretend your assumptions are a grand theory of spatial and unitary bull that pretends to be about “dialectial materialism”. Whateva the hell that is since everything in the universe is apparently reducible to units of industrial workers labour and then Non Workers Non Labour when the State withers away some time after the Revolution and the bodies dissolve in Socialist anti naturalist Nirvana.

      The frustrating thing is that Namazie and Harris so starkly and utterly clash. Maryam is such a hero on confronting theocracy and Islamism and Im saying this from the comfort of my home but I think this ultimately gets undermined by failing to accept that religion is an integral part of culture and the religious community and you have to address that. Ive heard an interview on Polite Conversations with Nice Mangoes where Maryam is really quite critical of the Quilliam foundation too. I understand she doesn’t like Tommy Robinson but I’m a bit disappointed by the black and white communist ideology. Cant there be a better alternative between fundamentalist belief in religion and belief in messiah Marx?? Moreover despite identifying herself as Communist and denigrating Post Modernism and the Regressive left (she said in those terms) for their defence of Islamism she then goes on to use and repeat classic Pomo and Critical Theory tropes through the interview, namely; a) The refusal to give objective categories to anything except certain minorities of concern or certain groups deemed uniquely oppressed (which for the last 20 years has mostly been Muslims). b) The refusal to acknowledge physical constraints to anything and to see evidence as some form of insulting objectification. Marxism does of course contain seeds of this, although it does tend to be friendly to industrial workers and accepting of industrial society and technology its just post the Cold War we have to pretend non western cultures and religions are the new workers of the world!

    • Oh no you dint.

      You did not just go there.

      • I did go there. Of course I’m not saying all women argue like Namazie did, but when that style does occur, it’s typically a woman doing it. I could read the transcript of the discussion, without knowing who is saying what, and easily identify the genders of the participants.

        Wow, just wow, you literally can’t even… better head off to the safe space til the triggering dies down.

        • Wow, look at you proudly doubling down on your sexist remarks. You could not be more wrong.

        • Kristina Andström

          Sad to say, but I have a similar experience. All women don’t have this kind of discussion style but it’s very rare to hear men discussing in this way. I don’t actually know why this is.

          I appreciate clarity, precision and logic in discussion. That’s why I enjoy so much listening to people like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

          And, by the way, I doubt if propositions about empirical facts can be proved using simple catchwords like “sexist”.

  • I found the conversation between Maryam Namazie and Sam Harris very illuminating and extremely valuable. It very clearly demonstrated a clash of two epistemologies: Views based on rational and empirical inquiry (Sam) clashing with views based on political ideology (Maryam). For Maryam rock bottom seems to be an emotional attachment to a particular political ideology. Sam threatened to expose the irrational foundations of her ideology by asking very precise and probing questions. He in effect threatened to undermine and even invalidate that ideology by eliciting clear contradictions and inconsistencies in her thinking. So I am afraid I cannot agree with Stephen, that it is just a question of acknowledging the differences between them as if their approaches are on a par and the whole thing is just a matter of differences of opinion. Sam threatened complete aporetic exposure on key political points, points with which Maryam are completely identified and, therefore, unable to revise. No wonder Maryam became very emotional, indeed panicky and in fact displayed the fawn response. As the result of this conversation, to me, Maryam Namazie appears a very diminished figure.

  • Just to pick up on Maryam’s ‘blame’ point in relation to airport security. Just because you have been searched, bag-checked, swabbed or questioned does not assume that blame for a crime or potential crime is being assigned. If you were being blamed you would be detained or arrested. Are Muslims really being collectively detained and/or arrested? This is a far cry from racially motivated police brutality we’ve all seen the videos of and which, to me, is a true manifestation of bigoted collective blame.

    For years whilst traveling I would be stopped, searched, my intentions for travel questioned, and this would happen without fail in every airport. Perhaps young, male backpackers had a higher likelihood to be drug mules. I don’t know, but if statistically true then guess what? I’d stop me. If these tools to protect travelers exist, and as Sam correctly stated are a finite resource, then they should be utilized strategically and directed appropriately according to facts and available evidence.

    A lot of commentary in this thread has correctly identified Maryam’s inability to move from her generalized idealist political position, one most people seem to agree with, to its real life application. Each time Sam would attempt to run scenario, bring it down to its granular form, Maryam would halt the discourse through various means.

    This was painfully disappointing for those of us who want to see common ground forming and the conversation moving forwards.

  • If you are a committed Communist and have been since childhood I can’t see how you can move grand ideals to what is possible in given contexts. I really wish there was less ideology floating around and less equation of human problems with grand theories or mathematical models or the assumption that all societies have the same morals. My position is that this ideological versus conservative religious thinking impedes our ability to address global post Cold War crises. Rising superpower tensions, rising Islamism, and future global warming crises will together drive human societies into traditionalism, and much less technologically advanced mode of life, and possibly intervening with dreadful war because in protracted crisis humans tend to revert to the evolutionary social norm of scarcity which is dominance behaviour and subordinating family and gender relationships that produce violent competition for resources between societies, regulation of resources within it, and maximal population output. Only the technological breakthroughs of the past century (including worldwide slashing of historically drastic infant1-5 yrs mortality rate and artificial reproduction control) or so has broken this scarcity and this means to adjust our biological constraints had never existed previously for our species.

    Non mathematical empirical evidence is always relevant in social fields (abstracted mathematical modelling of theoretical assumptions about broad aspects of human social behaviour is never this). Human social and mental abilities are hugely beyond chimps (our core social groups are around 150 people which is way above chimps and our neocortex is hugely more developed and this element of evolution within human society using our brains gives another dimension. Again our mental abilities are always directed by and subject to the constraints of physical – which is largely chemical – resources and environment our biology depends on) Eg Prof Robert Wyman of Global problems of population growth course run by Open Yale courses; Nick Lane, Life Ascending, Robert Winston, The Human Mind)

    Morals match culture – its desirable to build humanist culture which is offensive to traditionalist culture. Sometimes the ends justify the means – but the means has to be undertaken for a humane, not an exploitative or dominating reason. Its necessary also to realise that in anything there are conflicting interests and conflicting well being where its necessary to judge what is feasible and what interest needs to be protected, promoted or changed in a given situation. Its complex and multi layered and never a matter of just referring to an ideological template or metaphysical philosophy or some history of thought or dogma. Its about reducing or removing material want, reducing exploitation or traditional relations of subordination wherever feasible (i.e. this does not impede key material well being and survival imperatives), and increasing opportunities. Science is obviously key to this but so is promotion of social understanding that grounds us in physical realities. Where there is a measure of economic and political stability institutions such as impartial merit and contract and democracy counter or stop exploitative corrupt relations between unrelated groups, although when ineptly superimposed by powerful external forces in negotiation with indigenous elites they can become another vehicle for corruption.

    • That’s very condensed. By today’s standards, I’ sure you could get at least one 300 page book out of all that. But more seriously, if you would care to unravel that somewhat, I’d really love to listen.

  • I think its important to note the response to the initial instance of “friendly fire” that preceded the podcast. Maryam had been inundated with tweets from Sam’s supporters, and she took a very firm stance against them – basically affirming her right to disagree with Sam (whether there was basis for the disagreement or not). Therefore, heading into the podcast, I feel like she was almost “sticking up” for her right to dissent, and wanted to make a point of their differences. Sam is entirely interested in breaking down the pure logic for any contention, and discussing the notions within a theoretical framework. Maryam, on the other hand, seemed entirely disinterested in breaking down her views logically, or exploring the theoretical components inherent to the views they were discussing. She kept falling back on the idea that they should “agree to disagree” – which Sam – reasonably in my opinion – refused to do, as he genuinely could not understand the precise basis for their disagreement.

    Finally, I am disappointed with Maryam’s attitude following the discussion. She has made a lot of generalizations about Sam’s “fanbase”, and continues to point to the idea that “we” won’t tolerate anyone who disagrees with our “dear leader”. I was so excited about this podcast, BECAUSE she disagreed with Sam. That is exactly what I wanted to hear! So to assume that my disappointment in her performance is purely due to the fact that she holds opposing views to Sam is ridiculous.

    • Kristina Andström

      Marym Namazie’s need to disagree seemed to be almost obsessional. When Harris tried to interrupt her saying “I think there is a misunderstanding here”, she promptly said “No. it’s not a misunderstanding. We disagree” She did it several times.

      How could you know if you disagree if you don’t know what your opponent’s position is? It was almost Monty Pythons “Argument Clinic”.

  • I found the conversation valuable because Sam & Maryam mirrored the cognitive dissonance going on in my own mind over these issues. The liberal, humanitarian side saying ‘ It’s never OK to ascribe collective blame. People are individuals who should never be prejudged. We’re in a position to help & that’s what we should do’ warring with a more practical view ‘Yes, that’s all very well but we do need to think statistically. We’re a democracy and if we welcome unlimited numbers of people from cultures which have a much higher percentage of the religious right, the rights & freedoms we take for granted will be at risk.’

    At the end of this podcast, the second voice was stronger because it had become clear that the first has nothing to say to reasonable & realistic concerns. It is just reiterating the ideals of a liberal democracy which risks becoming a minority view and ultimately being outvoted if we open our borders to everyone. If we get to a place where gender equality, LGBT rights, reproductive freedom, the right to apostatise & freedom of speech are not supported by a majority, we will lose them. I was hoping Maryam would offer an argument that would enable me to support her but she just kept saying that she saw only people as individuals. This was clear. She spoke of arguing with someone who opposes abortion but failed to consider what will happen if a majority does in a democracy. Sam was more reasonable because he thought statistically at the same time as agreeing that it’s vitally important to welcome those individuals whose ideals are compatible with human rights & equality. Sam thinks that the discussion was a waste of time but, in fact, seeing the idealistic stance next to one that thinks statistically & consequentially was very useful. I have the greatest admiration for Maryam but don’t think she addressed this issue realistically.

    It is unjust for anyone concerned about the consequences of mass immigration to be labelled a bigot and this needs to stop. We need to be able to discuss this. It is also unjust for anyone to accuse Maryam of being anything other than sincere and well-motivated.

  • Definitely gone off Maryam due to the whinging and moaning. On the other hand, Sam hasn’t got a clue when it comes to the technology of encryption as shown in his way off to the right remarks about FBI vs Apple and other tech companies before he started talking to Maryam.

    Seems to have been a war of egos to a large extent.

    Not keen on her open borders ideals even though I can understand it is due to her working with some of the refugees on the ground level of the problem. It is a Trojan horse problem with Islamists coming in with the refugees. That’s why they have to be processed properly, photographed, finger printed and maybe even DNA taken. A small price to pay for coming to the west and getting protection.

    Have to applaud the western governments for being prepared to help them. Saudi doesn’t seem so keen to help fellow muslims. With a humanist view there can always be more done to help people in true need. We all all from planet earth and effectively the same race – human…

    What is holding back the Middle East and their ability to join the civilised 21st century. Could it be that backward Islam religion and the wilful ignorance required to be a part of that tribe? It is such a shame to see the video clips on the TV of the Syrian towns bombed so there is nothing left. These countries are so much better at turning their lives to shit and breaking anything they have managed to build. As the Scotsman Abroad might say…. I blame religion for a lot of it.

    • “What is holding back the Middle East and their ability to join the civilised 21st century.”

      Islam is a large part of it, but the other component that doesn’t get as much discussion is consanguinity– cousin marriage and the resulting tribalism. The West, for historical, religious, and social reasons, has had low consanguinity for ages. So there is high non-kin, outgroup social trust, low nepotism, and a bedrock of large-scale social organization… interest-based clubs rather than family clans, etc. If you look at somewhere like Afghanistan, with high consanguinity, it’s Hatfield & McCoy everywhere… no sense of ‘the nation’. Effective democracy is a non-starter.

  • At one point in the discussion Harris did say something like – who’s side are you on? Indicating that there are sides to take.

    In terms of freethinking and progress of civilisation, we all need to be able to think freely and exchange ideas that aren’t necessary in agreement with each other, this is part of the process.

    Do we want an authoritarian system where we are obedient to those in charge, or a system where the best ideas rise to the top regardless of who get’s to be in charge of what.

    Harris seems to be backing the idea that we in the west have not only a right to human rights, but a right to privilege of that also. And others don’t have a right to human rights so long as our privilege is threatened. This I think is the crux of Maryam’s argument for open boarders.

    Sure, we’re going to loose privilege, but considering that no one human is or should be more worthy of human rights as compared with another isn’t equality a desirable goal?

    The other issue of concern is lack of integration. You’re not going to fix lack of integration by preventing more of the same people coming into the country. And any solution to the lack of integration can be applicable to all such situations.

    There is no conflict between addressing human rights, addressing a lack of integration and promoting the values that have lead to the success of secular democratic societies.

  • Wow. There is apparently no tighter border than the one around Maryam’s preconceived notions. NO new ideas were getting through, that much was clear from the beginning of this conversation. I’m quite certain a high school debate student with less background knowledge and unquestionable experience than Maryam’s would have provided more substance to this conversation. It was baffling how she would not, or could not, directly answer one question – repeated several different ways in apparent attempt to help her understand (or listen, at the very least). In the end, the only thing Maryam made clear was that she had a preconceived (mis)understanding of Sam’s positions, decided she disagreed with them, and had zero interest in listening to the fact that she actually did not understand his positions at all. More than an hour in, with an exasperated tone, she continues to circle back to her soundbites (thank you for defining “refugee” twice) that were just rambling, punts unrelated to important questions that could have received thoughtful, sensical, forward-moving explanations.

    Maryam passionately argued against her own points. For example, that we need to use politics to solve problems presented by Islamism, which she acknowledged initiated her own migration, yet not caring if open boarders could lead to Islamism becoming a majority in her own country. How do you explain with disgust how Islamism changed the culture in Iran over the last 30 years, yet not think that the same could occur if a majority of radical Islamists populates another country? I’m confused. When pressed on how we fight extremists with politics, or how that becomes a reality, punt. She says “of COURSE” migrants should be vetted, but aside turning away (or prosecuting, as she suggests – in what reality/country/circumstance, I’m unclear) someone carrying a “Hi, I’m a jihadist” card, I’m not sure what point her vetting process would serve. It might be difficult to fight Islamism politically if it eventually makes up the majority of your country’s majority of voters.

    This conversation would have benefitted from a moderator. I thought, wow, Maryam is going to be shocked when she realizes how laughable her whining, “I’m tryyyyyyyying to explain to you, Sam, but you keep interrupting me….” will sound she hears how long he let her go on and on and on – I was wondering if she would have ever stopped talking had Sam not tried to reign her back into the conversation. I don’t think so. It was like she has her eyes on the Nobel Peace Prize and the campaign has begun. The way she spoke made it sound like she believes she’s the only one out there who considers food a human right. I mean, come on.

    Simply, Maryam was either not going to (or was unable to) discuss the details that must be scrutinized when attempting to truly address the issues surrounding profiling and migration. When Sam mentioned that she was being filmed during their conversation for a documentary or something, it made perfect sense why should wouldn’t deviate from her soundbites. I respect Maryam’s dedication to causes about which she feels passionately – she has put herself out there, taking risks by using her voice. I just wish she didn’t insist on painting herself as the leader of some small, radical group of humanists. She flat out refused to acknowledge Sam’s insistence that they AGREED on many things.

    Best line of the podcast – the last one. Sam, happy nude protest.

    • I couldn’t agree with Maryam at all but fair enough making clear that she has different views from Sam, who i find somewhat right wing on some things,but he did get her to clarify her stance on the issues well. I didn’t hear the last few lines of the podcast

      There’s currently nasty tweets to Maryann on her twitter account showing her nude over this interview and its not on

  • One of the examples of Namazie ‘refusing to be lead’ was when they got to the topic of Muslim immigration to the West… whether asylees, refugees, or economic migrants (she didn’t want to make much distinction). She said more than once that of course we can vet them. I don’t recall Harris hammering on that, probably because it was tiresome and chaotic by then. But what if he had clarified what ‘vetting’ involves… some border guard or bureaucrat makes a decision, based on statistical profiling, a checklist or scorecard of criteria, a gut instinct. There will be some process problems: bribes, strict/lenient checkpoint variation, false positives, clerical errors. Ultimately, some people will be told no, you can’t come in.

    When explained this way, of course Namazie will scream bloody murder– Islamophobia, ‘othering’, bigotry. In reality, she wants no vetting, but will claim she is fine with it to appear reasonable. Her real policy would be ‘open the gates, bend over, and let them all in’ in the hopes they will all be nice secularizers like Namazie herself, and if they aren’t, well the police can clean up the body parts afterward.

    • I think there’s many other elements to the tribalism besides arranged marriage skewed towards marrying people with some blood relation. But there’s definitely an element of it e.g. maps of average marriage by degrees of relatedness for 2015 (first link) 2009 and 2007. Arab and Muslim world is a standout

      • From what I’ve read – and generally anywhere – people in the cities in the Islamic heartlands are considerably more liberal than in the country because they have to be more cosmopolitan. The heartlands are harsh places and I imagine in pre modern times tribal solidarity helped survival.
        Islam started as a unification of the tribes under a religious “state” headed by Mohammed unified by its opposition to the non Muslim world and in the pre modern world with limited means and slow communications not requiring (or capable of) all the layers of governing institutions, and regulatory institutions and services you find in a modern advanced country state. In the old days Non Muslims or converted slaves performed a lot of essential governing tasks to create a buffer between the ruling clan that provided the Caliph or sultan and other tribes/clans that might otherwise seize power. The ruler had pretty absolute power but the capabilities of the State were much less than today what could be achieved was achieved by some laws with no intervening institutions and no real police, and occasional use of brute force from the centre – and that applied as much for the Roman empire as for Muslim civilisations, which still produced a sophisticated culture. Its just that the religion only allowed this to go so far.
        The customs of tribal loyalty and arranged marriage – underscored by the religion – help to maintain tribal norms in aspic, but the consequences of it (a tendency to produce warlord strongmen and dictators, constant shifting alliances and conflict and on the religious level endless sectarianism which usually follow tribal lines but not necessarily) are so dire now for the Muslim world that lets hope the modernising voices eventually start to be heard there instead of blaming the West and Israel for everything

  • I think a great deal of it was simple overcompensation on Maryam’s part. After being accused of Islamophobia and racism and being a neo-con by various fatuous illiberal leftists this was a chance to distance herself from Harris – who’s regarded as the offspring of Dick Cheney and Satan by the aforementioned fuckwits. And I’d imagine that Maryam still hangs around with some pretty left-wing people, so their opinions still mean something to her..

  • It’s like watching Mum and Dad fighting, or the spat between Dawkins and NECSS. It’s such a shame to see someone so worthy of admiration so needlessly disagreeing with someone they should be working with. You just wish they could realise they’re on the same side, make up, and join forces. But that is not to say that both Sam and Maryam were or are equally to blame for what transpired. They were not. The lion’s share of blame, in my opinion, has to lie with Maryam and it does need pointing out.

    As a group of skeptics and supposed champions of reason and rationality, we may disagree on some points, but we should handle those differences far better than most. We have to to argue honestly, without prejudice and without resorting to name-calling, and we have to constantly reevaluate our own positions and check ourselves for close-mindedness and motivated reasoning. I’m sad to observe that Maryam failed in all those respects and she does so at some cost to all our shared causes. Watching her online behaviour since the podcast came out, she also seems to be totally unwilling or unable to see any fault on her part whatsoever. As usual, I can’t fault Sam, but perhaps I’m just a Sam Harris ‘fanboy’ without a valid opinion of my own.

    In the podcast, Maryam just wouldn’t listen. She repeatedly and seemingly deliberately misrepresented and misunderstood, and she also interrupted far more than Sam did, and when Sam did it, he was just trying to reroute unfair damaging misguided assertions that she was making about his views. She doggedly clung on to disagreements with views he wasn’t expressing, and when he tried to clarify, she wouldn’t let him. And when he invited her to clarify her views, she evaded or didn’t let him finish his valid questions. Sam was attacked unfairly by someone he correctly thinks he agrees with on many things, and he tried to build bridges. But she smashed to bits each one with every logical fallacy at her disposal.

    I would add that I don’t use or really follow the celebrity-stalking, spat machine that is Twitter. So was it took me a while to see some of the unpleasant treatment that Maryam was receiving there. I understand why Maryam might be encouraged to use the insulting term ‘fanboy’ against those agreeing with Sam’s take on their collision, but I still think such name-calling is beneath her and such an ‘otherizing’ slur is a bit childish. Maryam of course does not deserve any attack that is personal and rude in nature. No one does, let alone someone that often does great work despite horrible attacks from Islamists. Anyone attacking her personally in a troll-like manner should worry very much about the company they are in, and how much their behaviour would be applauded by her misogynist Islamist detractors. But with so many enemies that deserve intellectual defeat, I just wish that Maryam could recognise an incredibly useful colleague when she sees one. I still live in increasingly faint hope that, like NECSS did with Dawkins, given time to quietly reflect, Maryam might yet revisit some of her views and statements about Sam and learn to view and treat him as an ally. I wish too that some of the more fervently vitriolic of Sam’s fans would take a look at themselves too and radically improve their behaviour.

  • I’m not sure what you mean by “Tribal side-taking”. I know some abuse has happened, but otherwise, given the frustrating nature of the conversation, all I have seen is people trying to unpick it. It that contains criticism of how Namazie approached it, then so be it. Criticism is ok right? On her Facebook page, I have seen a vast number of replies along the lines of “I support you, but in this case…” and she has taken that badly, and called any dissenters, “Fanboys” of Harris.
    And don’t forget that this conversation happened because of accusations of bigotry towards Harris. At that point, if you listen to the conversation, agree with Harris, can’t quite get why Namazie is so against him, then you yourself could be in line for those same accusations. Maybe that is why some have either got upset, or are making valid challenges to her position.

    • The tribal aspect I was referring to was the number of people saying they would no longer follow Maryam, or support her after this. Yes, criticism is fine. I even had some of my own.

  • Oh. Some others saying the source of the discord between Sam Harris & Maryam Namazie being political differences (as I suggested earlier). Also others saying that Harris displays some right-wing tendencies (as I also suggested). Just where is ‘Steve’ when you need his incisive wit & dissection of those ridiculous theories ……… (wow!)

    • Golly Peter, still winding yourself up with narcissistic persecution fantasies? You really do appear to have the mental faculties of an imbecile. However many people suggest here that Sam Harris is a right winger, he clearly is not, even if his views on the narrow issues around what to do about Islamist terrorism stray away from his usual impeccably centre left habitat. But even if you were right and Sam is, in fact, a closet small c conservative, this position would absolutely not, by any reasonable assessment, be the ‘opposite’ of Communism.

      Peter Florentsen puts it rather well above. In more crude language, the conversation was between a pragmatist (Harris) and an idealogue (Namazie). In that sense it could be argued that they are opposites. Like most idealogues, Namazie is incapable of re-examining her preciously held beliefs, even when their naivety is exposed by the cold light of reality. The resulting tantrum which followed Harris’s gentle probing was pretty inevitable; most idealogues behave like toddlers when the shallowess of their dogmas is exosed (pace college campus behaviour over fascist speakers like Greer, Hirsi Ali, Maher etc.). Idealogues of her sort are really no different than religious fundamentalists and debating with them is just as pointless.

      I find it a little odd that so many people here are so keen to excuse her behaviour here on the basis that her views are generally acceptable. She shows absolutely no inclination to offer the same respect to Sam Harris or anyone else with whom she has locked horns. If she is prepared to trash people over minor differences why offer her this courtesy?

      • Cant you make your points regarding Peter without going out of your way to insult him. He’s modified his earlier stance and not indulged in such rudeness.

        • Rose, randomly re-hashing an imaginary smear, a day and dozens of posts later is small-minded, petty &, IMO, extremely rude and came after he claimed that my original expression of surprise was some kind of evil supremacist sneer.
          Further he has not modified his stance one bit. He was forced to concede the communist point either by actually listening to Namazie or by having the fact of Namazie’s communism pointed out to him by somebody else. He, nevertheless, continues to insist that Sam Harris is ‘right wing’, a claim that could only be made by an idealogue or an ignoramus. I was going to ignore him, his point is really too absurd to address, but he just couldn’t help coming back with another random, un-warranted and un-solicited nasty little side-swipe…

        • Thank you Rose.

          I think I shall exit this blog. I have been a follower of Stephen Knight for some years on Twitter but if Steve is typical of the contributors to his blog then it is not a place I wish to spend much time. I will take my ‘absurd’ theories elsewhere.

          I must confess I did engage in some mild & light-hearted baiting but Steve now seems to feel it appropriate to descend into crass personal insults and a complete & dishonest misrepresentation of the theory I have been suggesting regarding Harris & Namazie. And to think I even tried to be reconciliatory in an earlier post with Steve – he didn’t reply to that one of course. You can read back & make your own mind up of course.

          Still an ‘imbecile’ such as myself can only dream of reaching the Olympian heights of Steve’s colossal intellect. However it does leave one wondering that it must be very very cold up there ….

          • Yes Steve seems to respond to disagreement with rudeness.

          • Actually – the wow backlash from you was overworked and Steve dropped the issue days back, so there wasn’t a need to bring it up again. Understand the name calling was a bit much … hope you both continue to blog on this site …

          • I accept that Rose & I’ve admitted when in the wrong. Although I was the one to attempt reconciliation – which was ignored.

          • Kristina Andström

            Peter, Steve, please be adults! You both have so much interesting to say it’d be pity to loose you.

  • What the ‘critics’ of Sam Harris just can’t seem to understand, is that Sam approaches these topics as a philosopher; he is always looking to have a discussion about ideas at their root, fundamental level. Maryam seems to be interested in the purely political side of the discussion of these ideas, and that’s why she wasn’t actually engaged in the conversation. They seemed to be operating on completely different levels, and that’s why this podcast was so frustrating. She saw this exchange as just another podium behind which to stand and deliver her political lecture, whereas I think Sam meant this, as is usually the case with his chats, to be a sort of Socratic dialogue to arrive someplace where they could either come to agreement or at least discern the specific point at which their opinions diverged. Though my impression of her was pretty positive going into this, I didn’t know a whole lot about Namazie before this conversation apart from that she seemed to be doing some good work fighting back against Islamism, but after what I just listened to I’m pretty sure she’s carrying around with her some rather unfortunate political dogmas. Maybe it speaks to my own narrow-mindedness, but I really don’t know how seriously I can take someone who identifies as a communist in 2016.

  • I follow both Harris and Maryam and agree with the general sentiment that this was a painful exchange in which Maryam cam off worse. I felt that she avoided specific questions and seemed to have made up her mind about the questions very quickly. I believe that Sam always carefully questions to make bot the interviewee and Harris himself, think about the topic. But Maryam didn’t seem up for that. Disappointing but I won’t stop following either of them.

  • I was disappointed with Maryam in this podcast, but not entirely surprised, which is also a bit disappointing as I was really hoping to have been wrong about her. I started following Maryam around the time of the Goldsmiths incident, in which she really impressed me. But I was decidedly underwhelmed by her on Twitter; too much obsessing over Tommy Robinson, EDL, Pegida; too many accusations of opponents being right wing; generally a lack of any sort of incisiveness. So I stopped following her.

    So to the podcast. I was hoping she would prove me as having been too hasty, but she was far far worse than I had anticipated, in the ways that lots of commenters above have already described. Maybe there’s something in her just not being good in this format, but I just don’t think she’s up to Sam’s intellectual level, and I say that as someone who often disagrees with Sam.

    Say what you like about Sam but you have to admire the way he invites people onto his podcast that he’s disagreed with in the past in an attempt to have a constructive dialogue. Unfortunately Maryam’s attitude prevented this from being constructive.

  • Unlike most of the commenters I’m not going to say anything nice about Maryam. Communism is responsible for about 100 million deaths. Anyone who calls themselves a communist is dangerous to the extent they have power, and let’s be frank: lacking the caliber of mind required to be trusted to have good judgement on important issues. She evaded when asked clear questions about helping refugees vs. economic migrants. She is willing to throw around toxic labels like bigot without having done the requisite fact checking — a sign of her low moral standards and her immaturity. She was hostile, whiny, rude, and inarticulate. She may well be a fighter against Islamism, but then again Stalin helped defeat the Nazi’s so let’s not get carried away with praise of everyone who fights some forms of evil while pushing another. Consider what her statements imply about her ethics, her intellect, her emotional maturity, etc. If you are honest you will lower your opinion of her. If you are serious you will stop praising her except in the most tepid and qualified way for very specific good acts — even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    • Exactly. Her worldview is quite tainted by her political extremism. As if it’s not worrying enough that she’s a leftist (with all the accompanying fantasies) but a communist too. That’s a deal breaker. I don’t think making a common cause with such quibbling ideologues is wise at all.

      Have you noticed that the worst irreligious people, or significantly irreligious countries, tend to be communist, or with a communist past? This ideology is simply the closest equivalent of religion to exist among irreligious people ever, right?

      Communism is an acknowledgement of failure. Kinda like when survivors of a plane crash realize they can’t produce resources sufficiently; therefore they ration (“redistribute”) them.

      Also, communism has too much in common with the worst religions:

      • Dogmatism: How many communists welcome honest criticism, or think they could be wrong?
      • Sanctimony: If you oppose them; they get all like “the wheel of progress” “the march of history”…
      • Delusions: They really think collectivizing most (or even all) industries is sound economic policy
      • Determinism: “We’ll prevail eventually, not necessarily now, just wait for it”
      • Hypocrisy: I’d bet my life they can’t stand spending a week under the system they preach

  • I think part of this, for lack of a better word, “hostility” on Maryams part, can be understood already at the beginning, when Sam more or less defends Tommy Robinson and wash away any stench of bigotry from the man. TR might be very little bigoted (I’ve read a few interviews with him, and saw him on RubinReport, and found it hard not to agree with him). But if Robinson is lacking in bigotry, he does choose (poorly) a stage for his activism. He shares his stage with some of the worst bigots you’ll find today. Pegidas founding history is steeped with links to well known neo-this-and-that, and attracts many of that kind. Robinson is not stupid, and must know this. Why he then still choose the platform he does, discredits him as someone purely interested in universal human rights etc. In his case, it really is a bit of guilt by association. Many of his associates are as much of a problem for a free and egalitarian society, as those jihadists he oppose.

    When Sam then airs his support for TR, he indirectly lends credibility to an organization that is indeed far right and full of bigots. To discuss the contents of Tommy Robinsons views, is not fruitful, no matter how “right” Robinson might objectively be. What Tommy has to say, can and is uttered from far better locations in the public discourse, than from where Tommy stands.

    I love Sams calmness, the way he’ll explain his positions and clarity of thoughts on almost any topic, especially morals. What I do miss from him though, is a more holistic view on how something like Islamism can get such a foothold in parts of the world. Sure, the doctrines of Islam, coupled and intertwined with stone age patriarchy, does have it’s clear effect. But religion is in no way the only factor that drives millions into this kind of thinking. Of all the multitudes of factors, I think one very important one (at least in terms of recruitment into fascism like Islamism), can be found in the way we prop up nasty regimes like KSA with our double standards for what we deem as the evils of this world. Our weapons keep that scumbag regime secure, and is strongly participating in creating opposition to the secular values we seem to hold so dear. We loose legitimacy. To then focus so heavily on how scripture might influence young minds, is at best simplistic. Although Sam acknowledges this to some extent, I think he is not vocal enough, or maybe doesn’t think it as important, as the way scripture might influence thinking. A bit utopian, but if western countries were completely honky dory in our dealings with this world, we’d still have Islamism (our patriarchal craving would see to that). But I think we’d have faaar fewer of them. Thus, I suspect he might seem a little bit too myopic for someone like Namazie.

    • To me, what you’re doing here is part of the problem. You use the word ‘bigotry’ to describe someone, then make no attempt to qualify it other than by guilt by association. These words are important. This accusation is serious.

      I don’t see it as Sam lending his support, what I heard is him asking Maryam to qualify her charges of bigotry, like I’m asking here.

      I too don’t think Robinson should be the go-to guy for anything, but I think people should be careful with charges of bigotry

      • Stephen, you’re reading something I didn’t intend/mean, though I see my first sentence about TR is not well formulated. I was trying to argue that it doesn’t really matter if Robinson holds bigoted views (and I clearly stated I had trouble faulting him myself on this – he sounds as sensible as anyone else on the topic of islamism). The problem is he is tightly associated with a group that was founded by a bunch of people whom some where well known neo nazis and far right activists, and which attracts members that are well known neo nazis. As such, TR himself chooses the wrong platform for his campaigning. In my view, this makes him and his organization a factor in this, that is troublesome.

        The only ones I called bigoted, are the de facto bigoted neo nazis and racists that are members of the same organization as Robinson. I assume you’re not of the opinion that Pegida was founded by, and only carry members, that are regular concerned citizens.

        I agree with Edward who also commented, that SH used TR as an example of how difficult this landscape is. But, SH is in no way confused, or at least he shouldn’t be, about what Pegida is, what people it welcomes as members and supporters, what kind of people they attract, what happens again and again at their rallies, etc. IMO Harris should have recognized his own mantra from before, the one about “the far right is talking most sensibly about Islamism”, and on those grounds questioned why TR chooses the platform that he does. Regardless of whether TR himself is a bigot or not.

        The post by JK above here is incorrect. Pegida was founded by Lutz Bachman, a person who incriminated himself with hate speech, showed admiration for KKK, Adolf Hitler, etc. The same kind of story goes for others of the original founders of Pegida, also among it’s affiliates in other countries. To post a video that somehow clears the name and intent of some of Pegidas members, or worse, it’s founders, is dangerously silly. There’s numerous documented accounts of Pegida meetings in many countries, where hate speech is rampant, talk of how unfortunate it is that gas chambers are not in use anymore, what a strong and swell country Russia has become, etc. This is not a kosher organization, even if some of their members are articulate and well meaning. If Pegida in the UK are all fine people, then I accuse them of endless stupidity in choosing the name for their organization.

    • Sam didn’t say he supported Tommy Robinson. He was using TR as an example to show how confusing this space is. He heard one interview where Robinson was lucid and rational on a topic. Yet he was told time and again that Robinson was a racist bigot. Given that he himself had been branded a bigot by elements on the left, how could he know what to believe?
      Listen to that part of the podcast again. He’s not making a judgment on the whole of Robinson or his character. He’s talking about a specific case of how to know whether someone truly is bigoted or whether they have been brandished a bigot.

    • If you think the world’s approach to Saudi Arabia is problematic; then what do you suggest?

      • Place sanctions on it? Then we’ll face the same nonsense we face over Iran (i.e. The sanctions hurt ordinary people, they strengthen the regime, they’re imperialist in nature, blah blah)

      • Pummel it into a parking lot? Then brace yourself (to an almost certainty) for the worst wave of Islamic frenzy and mayhem to ever engulf humanity in modern times (Remember Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali, Libya, Bosnia and Herzegovina, etc? Just think what will happen if it’s Saudi Arabia; the country with the monument praying Muslims face at least five times a day)

      • Do business as usual? Then we’ll be called hypocrites, enablers and monsters, blah blah

      See? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t..

      • What a brilliant analysis of our dealings with KSA. Damned if we do…etc.

        Your arguments would hold for any kind of regime, anywhere on the planet.

        There’s a multitude of effective actions that can be taken against those that transgress on other people and other nations rights. Travel restrictions, assets- and economic sanctions directed at their leaders are effective. There’s your start. It would also be quite effective if we didn’t happily arm them.

        • The west has done some bad things in the middle east – especially re colonialism in dividing up the former ottoman empire and carving up the region, Suez, the whole Mossadegh episode, then later flooding the region with arms. But the ME and North Africa only briefly lost independence (esp the ME) and the Russians have always been a worrisome player. Not to say the west hasn’t often been destabilising and caused resentment HOWEVER All these conflicts are overwhelmingly between Muslims and overwhelmingly feature sectarian differences. There is a Problem here. Moreover historically Islam has never had democratic governance (e.g. Patricia Crone, God’s Rule, or histories Ottoman empire etc) and as I argued earlier in various places in this threat the religion supports the pastoral tribalism of the original pre Islamic Arabs. The religion just needs modernisation – you can’t just blame the West

          • ….. “and as I argued earlier in various places in this – thread” it should be Thread! not threat!

          • Rose: I really wonder how you can read what I wrote and conclude that I “only blame the west”? No need to strawman. If you have difficulties comprehending what I argue, then ask and I’ll try again.

            I’m fully aware of the detrimental effect Islam has in the region. What I’m arguing is:

            When we prop up theocratic regimes with our weapons, defensive support and other trade, we come across as hypocrites, we feed the Islamist narrative and we are participating in creating the environment where more sectarianism flourish.

            I also really wonder what you and Faisal here think will have any effect? Sitting here on the net and vent your disapproval of Islam, moan about how much stone age thinking we find in the ME? That’ll do? Any suggestions on how to encourage more secular values, tradition, laws,etc? Do you think we should keep arming the likes of KSA?

  • What a train wreck that podcast was. Painful & frustrating, especially because I’ve been a longtime supporter of Maryam Namazie and her work with the One Law for All campaign. But perhaps I should have seen this coming, with her habit of turning against people who should have been (or used to be) natural allies. She has similarly gone after Anne Marie Waters, another person I admire, an anti-Sharia, anti-FGM, secularist activist. But Waters recently became one of the co-chairs of the new PEGIDA UK movement and perhaps that was too much for Namazie, and triggered her attacks.

    My main takeaways were:
    1) Vagueness
    Instead of concrete ideas, she offered an endless stream of platitudes and exhortations against profiling and “collective punishment”.

    2) Ideological purity
    She kept warning against doing things that might “feed into the right-wing narrative”. First, who cares if it’s a right wing narrative if the narrative happens to be true? Truth doesn’t care what wing it is. Secondly, I’ve heard this argument so many times before from regressive leftists about why we can’t talk honestly about Islamism, migration, Cologne sexual attacks, the complete disaster that is Malmo, Sweden, Rotheram muslim sex grooming gangs, and many other things, all because “it would feed the right wing narrative”. This problem is as bad as it is because of LEFTIST FAILURES, so using the right wing as a bogeyman against having an honest conversation seems completely backwards to me. She’s done this before. I saw her in a panel discussion that included Douglas Murray where she said we can’t work with “far-right” groups. Murray criticized her for unfairly smearing and dismissing many decent people who happen to have more conservative views.

    2) Dangerous migration policy.
    I was alarmed by her advocacy of open borders, and even more alarmed by her rationale – that people have some inalienable human right right to move to whatever country they feel like, for any reason. War refugees. Political asylum seekers. Economic migrants. Opportunistic freeloaders. Anyone for any reason. Because they have the right to a better life. No. People absolutely do not have the right to simply go wherever they want and suck up the host country’s hospitality and financial resources, especially if doing so puts the host country at risk of waves of islamists sneaking in.

    I used to admire her greatly and while I still support her goals against islamism, against UK Sharia courts, etc., I can’t go along with many of her other views or tactics, including her smearing of Anne Marie Waters, Tommy Robinson, PEGIDA, etc.

    Speaking of PEGIDA, that’s another movement that’s been unfairly smeared as “far-right”, “fascist”, “neo-nazi” by the mainstream press. And I say this as a liberal. Below are some videos that may be of interest to people:
    PEGIDA UK announcement:
    PEGIDA UK Birmingham speeches (Anne Marie Waters, Tommy Robinson, others):

    Tommy Robinson’s speech at the Oxford Union:

    • I’ve sort of replied to this already further up – but it needs repeating. When you claim Pegida is not a far right organization, you’re in obvious disagreement on that point with several of Pegidas founders and current members. I doubt you have more knowledge of this than those involved, regardless of what you’ve dug up from the university of youtube.

      I’ve already mentioned Lutz Bachman further up. Bachman resigned after admitting to posting nazi shit on his FB. This is public record and can easily be verified. He founded Pegida together with, among 5 others, Tatjana Festerling. Festerling is considered even too far right and extreme for Adf, a well known populist right wing political party in Germany (who by the way consider Pegida an ally). The first members of Pegida where by far and large well known football hooligans (Dynamo Dresden) steeped in right wing and neo nazi shit.

      German neo nazi groups, who do not in any way try to hide their views, are merging with Pegida in demonstrations, with absolutely no objections from Pegida themselves. Many of them are also registered members of Pegida. So are anti EU groups that hail Putin as Europes strong man. So do people like Karl Heinz Statzberger, a convicted terrorist who make no attempt to hide his right wing extremist views. So do well known gangs of football hooligans. Etc.

      All this happens with the rest of Pegidas members, who might not be as extreme in their views, not making any fuzz about it. This also doesn’t happen exclusively in Germany. Pegida demonstrations more or less everywhere attracts the exact same type of followers and participants.

      You have the founders, you have many of the current members, and you have the followers and sympathizers. What on earth more do you need to recognize Pegida for what it is? If they are being unfairly smeared in your view, I really wonder what it takes to make a “fair smear”? Swastikas? Well, they’re already there.

      Some Pegida organizers, or members, in other countries might be far less extreme in their views, or even only concerned with the influx of refugees and immigrants, concerned about preserving their culture, whatever. But, to establish an affiliate of Pegida, with the same name even, is at best irretrievably stupid and ignorant if you view yourself as the opposite as what the “mother organization” is.

    • Although she seems to denounce the regressive left; she’s peddling a few regressive leftist narratives herself:

      • The Green Belt:
      The notion that the West (in its anti-communist world campaigns) theocratized (by accident or design) Muslim-majority countries. That’s patently false and easily refuted. The American-led Western fight against communism (by empowering the anti-communists by all means, military, economic, logistic, etc) took place also in South America, Eastern Europe, the Philippines, Vietnam, France, Italy, Mozambique, etc. where are the theocracies in those parts of the world or countries? See? That blows this myth out of the water. This is just a lame excuse desperate Muslims and regressive leftists use to exculpate Islam and ameliorate the largely self-inflicted horrors in Muslim-majority countries by blaming external powers. Muslim-majority countries quite often don’t have genuine moderates. That’s why in dealing with them non-Muslims always have to choose between the terrible and the nightmarish.

      • Open borders:
      No functional state has “open borders”. You want open borders, Maryam? Go to the Congo, Iraq, Syria, Chad, Somalia, the Central African Republic, etc. and witness the magic yourself. Open borders subvert sovereignty. A key component of maintaining a cohesive society and basic order, let alone a liberal democracy.

      Now regressive leftists will surely “misinterpret” that as a call to close off completely before going full North Korea, Angola, Eritrea or Turkmenistan, etc.

      That’s what they do. If you’re not an anarchist; then you’re a fascist. If you’re not a communist; then you’re a social Darwinist. Specious leftists can’t grasp the difference between “too little” and “too much”

    • Muller pointed out the far right nature of Pegida. It is also associated with firebombing of refugee shelters. The New York Times 26 Feb 2016 r reported that experts in Germany say there has been an escalation violence against refugees – including a number of recent firebombings against refugees and refugee shelters – since the formation of Pegida there in late 2014. The Telegraph 23 October 2015 reported from Der Speigel the German Justice Minister accusing Pegida of using Nazi language and at least inciting the fire bombs also Telegraph 21 October 2015

      Also, the EDL may have a sikh wing, a LGBT wing etc but that’s because its main focus is Muslims, not race per se – nonetheless it has targetted Muslims as people
      e.g. What’s it like to be Britain’s most hated man? Ask Tommy Robinson
      By Jamie Bartlett

      Moreover, since leaving EDL, Tommy seems to have made quite an effort to
      a) approach Hindutva and Sikh groups to speak about the iniquities of Muslims – evidence of this can be found on the Sunny Hundal twitter site – he is a journalist and has links there to show this
      b) denigrate Muslims online who criticise his stereotyping of Muslims as pedophiles etc. (Sunny Hundal showed an example of this – since which Tommy changed his twitter handle)
      c) at the same time as he has approached atheist groups to engage them in dialogue – criticising Islam (rather than Muslims) and the immigration situation in a more reasonable manner to gain sympathy, but meanwhile being instrumental in forming UK Pegida. Of course Tommy wants No immigration.

      Problem is some groups feel completely excluded by the political system (which doesnt want to talk about the problem, which disproportionately affects working class people) and the Left. However I think thats addressed by confronting regressive thought – including unreality about borders.

      Far right groups like EDL tend to be tumultuous so Tommy no doubt did a good move leaving and turning his attentions to dividing minorities against each other and seeking to garner sympathy in a wider audience. I can well understand why Maryam Namazie is nervous about this and doesnt want Tommy to be given attention (I think he should be given minimal attention) – problem is loudly asserting we have no right to borders is the sort of thing that feeds extremist backlash.

  • Harris is on the spot here, Muller. He focuses on Islam because it is actually the prime factor in all of this brouhaha. Also you focus too much on “the West propping up regimes” as if Saudi Arabia has no power at all and no friends outside the West. Actually the Saudis strong-arm many countries quite often; usually by using its money and religious significance.

    Recently, Pakistan vowed to “only intervene” in Saudi affairs “if the Holy Mosques become under attack”. No Muslim-majority country on Earth dares to question, let alone defy, the Saudi master without paying some hefty price (usually in the form of direct military action; proxy wars or incessant sectarian incitement)

    The Saudis can spin any opposition to them in Islamic terms (e.g. These Western kuffar or those Shia rafidhas are attacking the birthplace of the Prophet and the Land of the Two Holy Mosques, etc) and then Muslims around the world (for the obvious religious reasons) will probably fall for it, and go apeshit one way or another. There we go, back to religion all over again.

    As long as Muslims around the world are committed to certain Islamic delusions and taboos (e.g. they must make pilgrimage to Mecca at least once if they’re able-bodied. Muslims are one body; hurt one part; and the rest will suffer, aka the Ummah, etc) Saudi Arabia will continue being the de facto head of the Islamic snake.

    Do you know why Muslims are so fanatical right now? Because there was a time when the Ottomans were in charge, and Muslims back then generally resembled Turks/Ottomans. Then there was a time when European colonists were in charge (mainly the French and Britons) and Muslims back then generally resembled the French and Britons.

    What happened after Muslim-majority countries gained independence? They became free to govern themselves. And what happened? Islamic revivalism is what happened (and Arabic revivalism in Arab countries)

    For instance, the Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel-Nasser (who wasn’t propped up by the West, and who is usually viewed by Arab standards as “secular” and promoted as such by regressive leftists) sent Arabic teachers and al-Azhar sheikhs to the newly-independent Algeria to help “Arabize” the largely Francophone country, and “reconnect it with its Islamic roots”. Few decades later; Algeria descended into a largely religious civil war. I guess ditching the French colonial influence and replacing it with the “authentic and quaint” Islamic and Arab culture worked out very well for them.

    • As I replied to Rose further up – no need to strawman (“…you focus too much on the west propping up regimes…”). You’re in no position to make that assessment, Faisal. I highlight some factors that you yourself seem ignorant about.

      History is not your strongest suit. Nasser and his socialist tendencies was considered a threat by Eisenhower back then. As a result, the US propped up King Saud as a counterweight.

      If you want to go back through history to explain why we see so much radical Islamism in the ME and in Arab countries, then I think you should recognize that the main source of Wahabiism does not come from the likes of Nasser. It originates, is funded and is spread, mainly from KSA. Nassers ideology was not an islamic one, it was a socialist and pan-arab ideology. Thus the reason he was feared by us in “the west”, cold war going on and all that.

      While we’re using our way-back-machine: Todays theocratic Iran (the other of the 2 main sources for todays islamism) would probably not exist, if the UK and US had not help eliminate the democratically elected and secular Mohammed Mossadegh, to pave the way for a more dictatorial Shah. That’s me playing your silly game.

      However, the history is not particularly important, unless we try to learn from it. What should be blatantly obvious, is that fighting Islamist extremism, is an impossibility as long as we don’t fight it’s main instigators.

      • Muller, in response to your earlier comment I think the main problem is Islam and regarding history you would need to go into Islamic history and historic Islamic theology – which I don’t have room to do here. Im quite aware of western interventionism in the ME and I have said this feeds into the problem. I find it pretty disgusting how we suck up to Saudi and think we must also stop getting oil from them
        you’ll note I mentioned Mossadegh. Actually I did mention to you and earlier that western foreign policy has fed into this. My point is that the left use this as an excuse for Islamism and we must not make excuses for it. Why did Afghanistan (backed by Pakistan) turn on the West after it helped them to dislodge the Russians – and a dictatorial regime that they installed prior to invasion??

        The fact is the religion does need to modernise.

        • Rose, you’re replying to my answer to Faisal – the one where he seems to think there’s no need to change our policies towards KSA. I know you mentioned Mossadegh.

          I also don’t understand why you feel the need to repeat that regressivism must to be fought? I haven’t said anything that implies I disagree, nor that I am of that creed myself. I’ve highlighted a few factors that seems to get lost in the not so thorough analysis of how to tackle the problems with Islam in general, and Islamism in particular, adjunct to the Namazi-interview. This is what I’m of the opinion of when it comes to SH. He’s right, but he only describes part of the problem. I’m happy that he himself has said his views were somewhat shifted towards Maajid Nawas’ views. I think he still has a way to go. You do that yourself here IMO, in your description of the religion. You fail to recognize that there are nominal muslims, muslims who only use that handle as a cultural mark, etc. Sure, nominal muslims will be cherry picking scripture just as much as nominal christians. But your description of what needs to be fought there (Islam is bent on conquest), does not apply to all muslims. Would you use the same description if we talked about nominal christians? That religion is also quite focused on expansion, luckily mostly in the form of relatively “harmless” proselytizing. Your medicine applies to many patients, doctor Rose, but in no way to all of them.

          I do notice though, that even the blog owner thinks it borders on regressivism to point out the bleeding obvious in facts like Pegidas affiliation with nazism, fascism, racism etc. To point this out, in the context of TR, has got nothing to do with unjust branding and smearing. It’s a fact that TR has chosen to represent a branch of an unsavory organization. As an extreme example; If I start the local branch of the NSDAP, it doesn’t matter much if I’m a decent feller who speak thoughtfully about taxation of bankers. The views on bankers, held by my fellow party members, does play into how you should approach what I stand for. If TR had started an organization from scratch, and then advocated views adjunct to Pegida or something like that, now that would have been guilt by association. In his case, there is more than just association. There’s membership.

          In that, there’s some of the same things to be found here, that most of the commenters in this thread has criticized Namazi for. Anyone who disagrees, must be regressive? Pot meet kettle.

          I’m going to round of with a thought: Most factors in this kind of discussions, are IMO best viewed on a spectrum. So, to keep on topic, Namazi has been rightfully criticized on form. But is she as culpable on content? I’m not so sure. On the guilt by association bit, that was very present in her talk with Sam, a feller named Mark Steyn came up. Just like TR, where on the spectrum do we find Steyn? Steyn is affiliated with The Heartland Institute (where he puts on his faux-expertise in a scientific field where’s he’s in no way equipped to have an informed opinion – in that capacity, he witnessed in a congressional hearing, whipped together by Ted Cruz, in an attempt to discredit a NASA scientist). Heartland is an alleged think tank that pushes whatever agenda that originates out of David and Charles Koch, among them advocating for creationism in public schools. Steyn is eloquent and describes parts of the issues surrounding Islamism and regressivism quite well. However, his affiliation with an organization that pushes the agenda of two evangelical knobheads, is troubling. The same force is advocating a neo-conservative view on the ME. I’m not by default antagonistic to everything associated with neo-conservatism. I think military intervention is an option that should not be dismissed by default. But, I still believe that it’s essential that we know where good arguments come from. In Steyns case, I’m uncomfortable with him as a bedfellow in the fight against Islamism, because of his other views and because of his affiliations. Guilt by association? You can say that. You can also say it’s important to try to understand where people are coming from, what their motivations are, etc. Not to be dismissive, but to factor that into the equation. There’s a difference when Harris says X, and when someone like TR says exactly the same. In the same way that there’s a difference when Medicins sans Frontiers says X, and Cage UK says the same.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if this was what Namazi tried so badly to convey, and I’m pretty sure she has more knowledge into this than the twitterati that is currently having it’s field day in 140 characters at a time (plenty petty shit being dished out, righteous and petty at the same time, kind of like the same way the dreadful SJWs are operating, ain’t it?). Namazi is not doing herself any favors either, but that’s no news to this blogs readers.

          • I hate neoconservatism and the extreme right. Of course they are going to try to use this agenda. My point is that the nature of Islam is the main problem. Im not approaching from the neocon angle of a threat to go out and attack – the founders of neoconism are traditionalists who want to return western civilisation to the past. We live in an age where enlightenment is threatened with extinction altogether by the end of the century by the combination of reemerging great power tensions, Islamism and global warming. I want to defend enlightenment values.

            Yes there are a spectrum of Muslims and muslims are people. My point is Islam has features that are unusually resistant to change and it is more aggressive than other religions. Other religions have undergone change or don’t have an evangelical and law bound character. islam hasn’t and does. Also its history is different. The more moderate muslims tend to be dragged along by the community structures around them to be silent – the community is still dominated by overall traditional Islam its pretty plain.
            Ive said earlier where I disagree with Sam on many issues, my position is more a defensive one of maintaining our culture but not being intrusive abroad.
            What Im saying is we have a right to control our borders and there are reasons why we have to be careful about overall percentage of Muslims in the populations so long as the religion remains unreformed.
            If you think the main problem in Muslim countries and problems with Islam in the West is something other than the nature of Islam and its need for modernisation then sorry I just don’t agree with you
            As I said earlier we have a duty to take some refugees but we need to balance this against how we are going to provide for them and how well they will integrate and to what degree this impacts the overall population, and my argument is immigrants we pick are more likely to fit in and not become a resentful underclass – although we still have of course a duty to take some refugees. The point is we must have borders and we must be able to control them in the interests of the population as a whole. Otherwise we will create rival populations and impoverish everyone. Not politically correct but just the truth.

            Sorry I just can’t agree with you – I’ve covered all this in earlier posts on this thread under name “Rose” (the earlier icon is different) Im not going to belt on about this any more

          • Rose -> Your last reply.

            – There’s hardly anything there I’d disagree with.
            – You’re for the most part not arguing with anything I said. I never mentioned refugees, how many we should accept, or anything like that.
            – The one point that is relevant to what I’ve been saying, is the one about what is the major driving force behind Islamism. I agree with you, the doctrines themselves are an important factor.

            But, what I’m trying to convey is that we’ll get absolutely nowhere if the extent of our engagement in this is limited to echo chambers like this, where we moan about the ills of that religion. We can talk all we want about the need for reform within Islam, but it has no effect on anything, other than serving as a backslap to ourselves for how splendidly enlightened we are.

            I’m also of the strong opinion that the one thing we can do, which will have impact, is to not have policies that actively function as recruitment tools for Islamists. You talk about wanting to be somewhat isolationist in this. Fine – but you should recognize that we are really far from being just that. As of now, we are actively helping Islamist recruitment, through selling arms, propping up corrupt regimes, putting our own economic interest first, etc.

      • The ME and much of the Islamic world is a complete tribal mess now. Syria itself is divided many ways. The Turks would be quite happy to smash the Kurds and install Isis. Re the war in Syria, everyone has a different agenda and the regional powers all hate each other or have rivals in the region with opposite aims but the consistent thread is the sectarian war (and that Has been going on and off since the death of the prophet) Plus we’ve got a nuclear superpower involved now.
        The fact is we can’t change the fact that people think righteously except incrementally but one of the main drivers of this today is traditionalist religion – some being more traditionalist than others.

        The way we fight this war is Not getting involved in these countries AND confronting regressive left views and ideal ideology and any other reflexive righteous thinking generally.

        Islamists in the west use the Left to justify and hide from majority plain view what they do. And current Islam overall simply is hostile to the West in a way that no other religion is …. I mean why do Hindus fit in and (usually) liberalise so well and have no animus towards us despite the fact that they have fare more reason to do so … milliions were starved to death in the 19C and 20C by the British Raj after all. Islam is not only evangelical but has a legal underpinning that existed well over 1,000 years, and the religion moreover doesnt just encourage extended families and arranged marriage (most cultures do) it encourages and sustains actual tribal networks and allegiances with law structures and ideology that (unlike say Hinduism) transcends local boundaries or dependence on a local caste structure.
        Again I can’t explain in a thread response, you could read Patricia Crone, God’s Rule, or Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence
        We need to attack abstract ideologies of all kinds – whether its

        The universities many decades ago had a mainly imperialist agenda. From the 60s on this changed to ever more left. Last 20 years completely dominated by POMO critical theory which is so idealistic and so dismissive of concrete reality its actual agenda is to completely destroy the west and the humanist values it thinks it upholds. Islam though is frankly based on conquest and subordination. In the West the Realists recognised the aggressive intentions of other great powers but quite often exacerbated these and actually wanted western domination as an eternal norm failing to recognise both the selfishness and the ahistoricity of this, and the tendency to fuel cycles of resentment. Realists pretended its assumptions were a science – (like Marxism in a different way) and that states are simply power seeking political entities in which zero sum is somehow “rational” and desirable. I adumbrated in earlier posts on this thread/topic my alternative to this … we need to move beyond the philosophy we’ve inherited, which remains semi religious and metaphysical in many respects, to something more practical and context driven. Im currently writing something about this but its inappropriate to push that here.

        Like I said earlier I think Maajid Nawaz is a good model of the way forward for the great bulk of what Ive said. People will retain religion in most parts of the world but in the west at least, we need to not only keep religion sane but reform our humanities/philosophical tradition or we’re doomed.

What do you think? Leave some comments!