[[Dhimmi]] and rational criticism of Islam

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Thank you for offering your improvements to my recently created article on Dhimmi, in particular bolstering the "historical" section. I hope my initial write was appropriately snarky.

We can take this discussion to the talk page for the article, but I wasn't sure how to best get your attention. I want to ask you about what you disagree with with regards to Harris's and Hitchens's criticisms of Islam. I'm looking for a discussion on how we can include some solid examples of what constitutes valid criticism and what is simple fearmongering. I considered their viewpoints more reasonable than not, especially in the discussion Sam Harris had with Glenn Greenwald. Thoughts and critiques are appreciated.

Curmudgeon (talk)02:22, 13 July 2014

Thanks. I think the current article is a good start.

As for Harris and Hitchens, I won't address Hitchens because I haven't read his book, but my impression is that the only major difference of opinion between the two was that Hitchens overtly supported neocon policy. As far as Harris goes, he lost all credibility when he advocated racial profiling and then got trounced in the debate with Bruce Schneier. Even before that, Harris' work was still dubious. Having read some of the research on terrorism, his armchair theorizing seems to have little to do with the reality on the ground. For one, there is Robert Pape's Dying to Win, which analyzes hundreds of terrorist attacks and ties them to American military occupation. Though this book does not address Harris directly, there is another very good one that does. There is Scott Atran's Talking to the Enemy, which I would recommend very highly not only for its insights on terrorism, but also on the general recent findings of cognitive science of religion. He has a brief chapter that directly addresses Harris and systematically refutes him. One of the most interesting findings by Atran is that religious education is inversely correlated with suicide bombing. Atran argues that social networks are the most important component, and the best predictor of joining a terrorist organization is having a friend involved with one. Unfortunately, I cannot find a preview or excerpt of this chapter. I did find a a lecture he gave on this book, but I don't know if he addresses Harris specifically in this.

Nebuchadnezzar (talk)02:55, 13 July 2014

Actually, I did just find a video where Atran confronts Harris directly here. It is a bit soundbyte-y -- Atran's arguments are fleshed out in very great detail in that chapter of the book I mentioned. (Also, bonus Neil deGrasse Tyson.)

Nebuchadnezzar (talk)02:59, 13 July 2014