Andy Kindler Doesn’t Know What (Or Who) He’s Talking About

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I wouldn’t know the name ‘Andy Kindler’ had I not noticed his bizarre Twitter obsession with Ricky Gervais some time ago. It appears Andy has a problem with vocal critics of religion and is unable to separate dislike of ideas from bigotry towards actual people. He’s also a comedian, I’m told.

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It seems Sam Harris has also been on the receiving end of the same sort of treatment for quite some time too:

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As you can see from the linked twitter search results above, ‘a lot of energy’ may be an understatement.

Podcast host Josh Zepps, having previously hosted both Sam Harris and Andy Kindler on his show separately, extended an invitation to both men to discuss this ‘spat’ together on his show. Neither men were interested in this endeavour, but Kindler was available to appear solo to outline his ‘criticism’ of Sam Harris. You can listen to the full episode here:

As you can hear, this was a master class in confusion and ignorance from Andy Kindler and would almost be unlistenable were it not for the likeable nature and valiant attempts of Josh Zepps to make sense of the situation.

It would take far more time than I’m willing to waste in order to highlight every misguided utterance from Kindler, so I’ll just make one or two quick observations from my listen through. It’s also possible a few of Kindler’s comments may have been in reference to me personally, but before I get to that:

Reza Aslan

Kindler attempts an appeal to authority in the form of Reza Aslan a number of times in this discussion. Kindler says: “Reza Aslan knows way more, he’s an actual religious scholar. I would see him before I see a white neuroscientist atheist [Sam Harris]”.

Is Reza Aslan a ‘religious scholar’ in the sense he would like you to believe though? Aslan is well known for talking up his credentials when challenged, but those stated credentials have come under serious challenge themselves, as you can see below:

 

Kindler also cites Reza Aslan’s comments on Female Genital Mutilation to declare that the issue is “about countries” rather than Islam.

I had a conversation with Sarah Haider, co-founder of Ex-Muslims of North America a while back in which she thoroughly debunked Aslan’s misdirection and duplicitous sleight of hand on this issue:

 

Also, I’d be very keen to hear Kindler explain how it’s ‘bigotry’ to say “FGM is an Islamic problem” but it’s all well and good to declare “FGM is an African problem”, as Aslan does.

At one point in the conversation, Kindler actually says ”I don’t know enough about these [things] to make arguments with people”. Quite.

Asra ‘Romani’ and Maajid Nawaz

Kindler bemoans that “some white guy [Harris] is going to interpret the Qur’an for you” then proceeds to throw non-white Muslims Maajid Nawaz and Asra ‘Romani’ (he means Nomani) under the bus in the very next moment for attempting to champion a more liberal interpretation of Islam.

And why does Kindler dislike Asra Nomani so much exactly?

“You have this Asra Romani [Nomani], who basically voted for Trump. If at the end of the day you’re going to vote for Trump, you are the enemy to me. She Hates Obama. Why does she hate Obama so much?”

Kindler then offers up “hidden racism” as an answer to his own question (of course).

I’ve interviewed Asra Nomani myself. She may be one of the most gentle and compassionate people I’ve ever spoken to. Asra has explained at length in the Washington Post why she voted for Trump. If these are the words of an enemy to you, then your battles are ones of comfort.

I completely disagree with Asra’s decision to vote for Donald Trump, but it’s clear to any thinking person that racism and bigotry were not the motivating factors for her decision.

What Kindler fails to realise is that it’s his brand of bigoteering on the topic of Islam that has played a significant role in the election of Donald Trump.

Kindler (falsely) accuses Bill Maher of making “blanket generalisations about people” then goes on to label 62 million Trump voters as “the enemy”.

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In the above Tweet, liberal Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz let’s Kindler know that his inflammatory hyperbole makes the job of Muslim reformers like his much more difficult.

It seems Kindler doesn’t care for the opinions of non-white Muslims either:

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I’ve no idea what Kindler understands the word ‘reform’ to mean, or why he considers such a process to be unconstitutional.

When pressed by Zepps for an explanation for his dislike of Muslim reformers, Kindler answers: “that’s the smell I get from these people, that’s the stink I get”.

I suppose this remarkable insight can be directly linked to the following declaration from Kindler on this episode:

“I’m not a historian, I’m not an expert on anything except, what I believe in – I believe in very strongly”.

Completely Oblivious To The Problem Of Islamic Extremism

Kindler proclaims “..there’s not one person I know who is a fan of al-Qaida, who doesn’t hate terrorists”.

Thankfully, Zepps is able to provide an explanation for that: “Andy, the reason you don’t know anyone who supports sharia law and who supports jihadists is because you’re a Jew who lives in Los Angeles. Trust me, there are lots of people around the world who do”.

And Zepps is correct. Extreme and deeply conservative, illiberal beliefs are not in short supply in the Muslim world, as the data will attest.

These deeply illiberal beliefs are precisely the things Maher, Harris, Nomani and Nawaz are standing in opposition to. They do this whilst all the while being careful to distinguish between different types of Muslims as not to tar them all with the same brush. They do this at great personal risk to themselves and their loved ones.

On Bill Maher

“Bill Maher is a fundamentalist atheist. He’s as bad as anyone else”. – As bad as anyone ‘who’ exactly? Can anyone point to an increase in armed security and road blocks in response to the threat of ‘atheist fundamentalism’?

Defamation

Sam Harris describes Kindler’s comments about him as ‘defamatory’, which of course they are. Kindler cannot see beyond the legal use of this word and continually accuses Harris of “threatening people” for using the word ‘defamatory’ to note that he is being defamed.

“Stop threatening people. Claiming they are defaming you. I’ve listened to you speak, I’ve read what you’ve said. You are a bigot!”

“He’s also saying he’s [being] defamed. This idea that he threatens. Sue me Sam Harris! You are racist! Well… I don’t know if you are racist but you are a bigot. That’s my opinion of you”.

The slip of the term ‘racist’ coupled with the instant retraction goes to show how freely and unconsciously that term flows from the mouths of people like Kindler.

Other arguments from Kindler include: “Dear Sam, Blow me”.

This accusation of bigotry against Harris, as far as I can see, appears to stem solely from his comments on the Bill Maher Show where Harris describes Islam as “the mother lode of bad ideas”. If you can’t tell if someone is talking about people or ideas, when the person in question actually uses the word ‘ideas’, I’m not sure what else can be done. Ideas cannot be subjected to bigotry.

As you can see, Kindler has not actually read any of Harris’s work either:

 

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Me?

A few people have have told me they think the following exchange during the conversation is in reference to me:

Kindler: “I’ve never seen more disgusting people in my life than the people who follow Sam Harris. The people people who follow Sam Harris and Trump and Dawkins, the guy who…this hideous guy who’s like uh…I can’t even think of his name…he’s like uh…’God’ something or other”

Josh Zepps: “Gad Saad?”

Kindler: “No, it’s like a God….umm….he was actually banned off of Twitter once, but these people are so hateful”.

I am the Godless Spellchecker I suppose, and it is true that Twitter has (unjustly) banned me before. But I cannot be certain he is talking about me and since I’m blocked by Kindler on Twitter, I’m unlikely to receive confirmation.

Speaking of Twitter, during this conversation Kindler states that he dislikes the social media platform because people often ask “can you please supply your evidence?”

I honestly do not know how to respond to that.

Please chime in with 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.

30 comments

  • Can i suggest you listen to last weeks “Room 101” on BBC iPlayer with Frankie Boyle where he and Frank Skinner took a pop at Celeb Atheists. Really layed into Stephen Fry and Richard Dawkins.

  • I’ve got to go and see this guy’s act. He sounds as funny as Dean Obeidallah.

  • Bigotry is the symptom of a weak mind. What Kindler doesn’t realize is that he’s simply a bigot living in a liberal world, so his views are acceptable. He doesn’t believe Islam has anything to do with terrorism because he doesn’t know any muslims that like terrorists. If he accidentally met 5 muslims that like terrorism would he think all muslims like terrorism? He demonstrates throughout this podcast his shocking levels of idiocy, that ironically are exactly the same types of generalizing, hyperventilating hysteria that leads to actual bigotry in the world. And, for the final act of irony, he is acting this way while decrying people like Sam, Maajid and Asra who have come to their conclusions through discipline, statistics, and, in the latter two cases, full life long experiences (and not simply a Hollywood funhouse mirror experience of the world).

    • It’s funny: A century ago people were taught racism and zealously defended the idea. Now people are taught anti-racism and zealously defend that idea. I won’t argue against the anti-racists, of course, but I don’t respect the moral claims of those who haven’t constructed a coherent moral philosophy to rationalize their beliefs. Kindler is precisely this type of moral imbecile.

  • My thoughts are that Kindler is an excellent comedy writer with a fantastic portfolio of brilliant work in his wake.

    I think he spoke well and is clearly a super smart guy.

    Sadly for him many don’t much care what comedy writers have to say about religion (including @glinner) especially if it’s not backed up with any kind of evidence.

    The muting and blocking on Twitter is concerned – it’s a huge problem. I know because I’m blocked by the author of this article.

    • Isosceles Kramer

      Andy Kindler is a hack.

    • I don’t know anything about Kindler’s portfolio or writing, so I can’t comment there. If you thought the above-quoted nonsense was an example of him acquitting himself well, I suspect you and I get off on different floors.

      He does my favourite “Being an Idiot 101” thing, and passes detailed judgment on people, while AT THE SAME TIME openly stating that he can’t be bothered to read what they’ve actually said. This is the definition of being a mindless blowhard.

  • Andy’s biggest contradiction (and there are many in interview with Zepps) is that in his opinion Sam Harris is a bigot, of that there is no doubt according to him and Josh Zepps (who I thought conducted a great interview with Andy) is a nice guy (and not a bigot) even though Josh Zepps agrees with Sam Harris on the subject of religion, including Islam.

  • Could this “comedian” actually be worse than CJ Werleman? Well, probably not, but he’s up there, along with a load of other dishonest, abusive, Islamist apologists.

    • That’s the thought I had too – he’s CJW Mk II and that’s pretty much the comment I wrote when I posted this to Facebook before I started reading the comments.

  • Jen Clingenpeel

    I just discovered your blog thanks to twitter. I am an Old psych nurse and after listening to Mr. Kindler, it is clear he needs some help. I found myself feeling pity rather than scorn, though he is clearly ridiculous. He needs some professional help. I think until he gets it, he should simply be itnored

  • I don’t know much about anything, don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, not really any kind of expert on anything, not interested in learning and listening, not interested in arguing with people who know better than me…but you’re all racist!

  • I thought perhaps he was talking about Godfrey Elfwick, but it was probably you now you mention it.

  • Great summary.
    I couldn’t finish the Zepps podcast. Kindler’s maniacal and ignorant ravings were too disturbing.

  • Kindler’s irrational hatred of Maher, Harris, Stephen etc stems first from his problems with Atheism…Once you check off the Atheist box for Kindler that’s it he hates you and he hates your friends and then throw in his problem with Trump and it escalates from there. Frankly he’s so terrified of anything he can’t understand he just literally resorts to the verbal version of Male Gorilla threat displays..trying to make himself as big and loud and threatening as he can…flat out fear response.

  • Andy KIndler is a “useful idiot”. He thinks he’s helping muslims when what he is really doing is throwing reformers,and ex-muslims under the bus with his virtue signaling BS.

  • Chester Winslow

    Kindler states his problem pretty clearly about halfway through when he says, ” …I’m not an expert on anything, except what I believe in, I believe in very strongly.” That’s how Trump got elected – by an army of people who don’t know anything except what they believe, and they have no interest in listening or engaging in thoughtful discussion. It’s that sort of knee-jerk dogmatism that is central to religious belief and that Harris, Krauss, Dawkins, Hicthens, Maher, Gervais, etc. have been speaking out against. On the left it takes the form of Andy Kindler. On the right it shows up in people who think that Mexicans are flowing across the border to take their jobs and rape their children; that members of ISIS are are lining up in Syrian refugee camps to infiltrate America. It’s not any specific ideas that made the space for Trump to get elected, it’s intellectual dishonesty.

    • The IS-infiltrating-Europe-as-refugees story is true. At least two of the Paris attackers came through the Greek island of Leros. German police last year arrested a 17 year-old who had returned from IS training in Raqqa, the Caliphate’s capital, on the Turkey-Greece refugee route. IS would be fools not to use refugees as cover, especially after Merkel’s unilateral opening of the borders.

      So Trump actually has a point based in fact that IS does use the Syrian refugee crisis as cover: in fact ex-members of Assad’s Shabiha, the rape-and-death squads, have turned up in Sweden and the Netherlands. They presumably use the refugee route as well.

      The US in this case is lucky as there is an ocean between it and Syria. But everyone who knows anything about IS’s relations with what AQ called the ‘far enemy’ knows that it is happy to advise remote atrocity-baggers like Omar Mateen and the San Bernadino 2 and to honour them as their ‘soldiers’. That was their strategy even before they started losing ground in the Caliphate. Indeed it was their MO even before they had a Caliphate. The first IS UK attack was in 2007, the Glasgow airport attack. Their first foreign attack was in Jordan in 2002.

      It’s imaginable but almost completely impractical for them to get into the US as Syrian refugees: at least one extra hoop to jump through.

      • Perfectly true that Europe has a problem with IS and immigration. It is not the same in the US – because of the ocean and because the vetting procedures are apparently more robust, but in concept it is a valid concern. That’s why there is an uncomfortable overlap between the rational, nuanced opinions of someone like Sam Harris and the bellicose rantings of Donald Trump. Sam has made the point many times, however, that if the goal is to reduce jihad-ism and violence related to Islam, then it’s a good thing to allow immigration of Muslims who are willing to adapt to western ideals relative to free speech, women’s rights etc. – that has never struck me as the point of view of a “bigot”. Andy Kindler has a very black and white point of view, however, and he is clearly not interested in nuance. Trump supporters share the same deficiency on many topics.

  • Listening to the podcast, I couldn’t quite put my finger on who this guy reminded me of. Then it hit me. Trump! The way he tries to blag his way through difficult questions with bluster, the way he views requests for evidence to back up his claims as petty annoyances and responds to them with either extreme vagueness or complete irrelevancies, the way he paints everyone who disagrees with him (his “enemies”) with a broad brush, the way he so clearly hasn’t the first clue what he’s talking about, the unlettered Twitter rants, his hyseterical paranoia (acting as if Harris is threatening to sue him. WTF?). I could go on. I defy anyone to re-listen and not see the similarities.

  • I could say I don’t care about this at all.

    And I do wonder why the likes of Sam Harris bothers with inconsequential podcasts, bloggers and some You Tube Channels.

  • During the podcast Kindler days he doesn’t know anything about Harris and has tweeted that he won’t read anything Harris has written. Yet he’s willing to publicly make claims about Harris’ beliefs which he cannot know. Wouldn’t that make him a bigot?

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