There has been a great deal of discussion about the exchange between actor/director Ben Affleck and Bill Maher over Islam on his HBO program over the weekend. Although Maher took part in the discussion, the main conflict was between Affleck and neuroscientist and Athiest Sam Harris. Like Maher, Harris doesn’t have much use for any religion. But, as with Maher, he doesn’t sugarcoat the problems within Islam and the threat they represent to other Muslims and the West.
What got Affleck going was Harris’ assertion that liberals have failed us on Islamic theocracy. Affleck responded by questioning Harris’ credentials and characterizing his position as “gross and racist” and an “ugly thing to say.”
There is nothing demagogic in Harris’ presentation. Harris calmly and carefully distinguished between Jihadists intent on murdering innocent civilians, Islamists who support the Jihadists but wouldn’t take up arms themselves and “conservative” Muslims who reject the actions of ISIS, al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, but support such things as death for those who leave Islam. But Affleck would have none of it and just called it “a lot of talk” and accused Harris of trying to condemn all of Islam. Maher did make reference to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I would love to see Hirsi Ali go one on one with Affleck.
Affleck said two revealing things. The first of which was his statement “We’ve killed a lot more Muslims than they’ve killed us by an awful lot.” Given that he and his childhood friend Matt Damon were reared on the writings of their neighbor, the late Howard Zinn in the People’s Republic of Cambridge, this sentiment is hardly surprising. It is also intellectually dishonest. Surely there is a difference between Muslim terrorists who deliberately set about to kill innocent civilians and American soldiers who end up killing Muslims in an effort to protect Muslims from Muslim terrorists. If Ben Affleck cannot discern between soldiers deployed from Fort Devens and the Boston Marathon Bombers then a significant portion of liberal thought in this country is outright suicidal. Hell, Rosie O’Donnell just endorsed Affleck for President.
The second revealing thing Affleck said was that ISIS “couldn’t fill a Double-A ballpark in West Virginia.” Well, there are no other Double-A teams in West Virginia, but there is the West Virginia Power, the Single-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Their stadium, Appalachian Power Park, has a seating capacity of 4,500. It’s been estimated that ISIS has anywhere between 30,000 and 50,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria. So not only could ISIS fill a minor league ballpark in West Virginia, it could fill Fenway Park.
But even if Affleck was right about ISIS only being able to fill the capacity of a minor league ballpark in West Virginia let him consider the following. Let him remember how much damage one former Army psychiatrist turned Soldier of Allah did at Fort Hood? Let him remember how much damage two Chechen refugees did at at the Boston Marathon last year? Last but not least, let him remember how much damage 19 al Qaeda hijackers did on September 11, 2001.
Imagine what kind of damage 4,500 ISIS members sitting in a minor league ballpark could do.
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