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.