This exchange between Sam Harris and Gad Saad raises important issues regarding “Islamophobia” smear propaganda and its effectiveness even among people who are its subjects and should not be susceptible to it. This excerpt comes from the Harris/Saad conversation, “The Frontiers of Political Correctness,” which you can hear in its entirety here. This excerpt starts at the 35 minute mark. As will quickly become clear, the “someone” to whom he is referring in the first line is me:
Sam Harris: What I’m picturing here is talking to someone who you really should challenge on specific points because they have said crazy, divisive, irrational things in the past, but they’re just not saying them on your show. So you get them there, and it turns out this person’s a Grand Dragon in the KKK, but you don’t know that, and you’re talking about racial differences in IQ or something in a good-natured, academic way, and you don’t realize that this person’s interest in this topic is just the tip of the iceberg, and the iceberg is horrendous.
I think that’s a situation one could be in. Obviously I think that you could have an interesting, a potentially interesting conversation with anyone. You know, I would be willing to go into a prison and talk to a serial killer, because I think that would be a fascinating conversation. There are many questions I would want to ask someone who has killed many people. But at least in that situation, I would understand who I was talking to. And what I worry about with many of the people you name, someone like Robert Spencer, he comes so fully stigmatized that unless you’ve paid enough attention to the kinds of battles he’s fought to be confident that you know that all of that opprobrium is unwarranted, well then you just don’t actually know who you’re talking to.
Gad Saad: Well, one of the ways that I handled specifically the Robert Spencer case is, as people started writing to me saying, “Hey, why are you speaking to this Nazi?” and so on, I said, “Look, the comments section on my YouTube channel is open, why don’t you share some manifestations of some nefariously racist, horrible things that he’s done, and then at least I could be educated?” Guess what: I didn’t see it.
Sam Harris: Hmmm, yeah.
Gad Saad: So I think that’s one of the ways by which you could, I think, take their concerns seriously. I mean, you’re exhibiting that you’re open to having the opinion that they’d like you to have of him, you’re open to that possibility, but the onus is on you to share that information. So I won’t accept that he’s simply a vile, Nazi, Islamophobe at face value and then not bring him on. And I’ve had this even with guys who are less toxic. People said, “Why are you speaking to Paul Joseph Watson on the Alex Jones network?” You know, Alex Jones is this kind of bombastic guy. Do you know who that is?
Sam Harris: I know Alex Jones. I don’t know Paul Joseph Watson.
Gad Saad: The reality is, that to me, I was very pragmatic about it. It’s a forum, it’s a large forum that would allow me to share ideas, and probably a bunch of people who otherwise would have never heard of me now know of my work, precisely because I went on that show, so I think it’s difficult to always run away from folks that come with a dangerous appellation, because then it’ll be just you and I talking to each other all the time.
Sam Harris: Yeah.
Gad Saad: Although, from my perspective, maybe speaking to you is gonna get a lot of hate on me now.
Sam Harris: You never know. (Laughter)
The gist of Sam’s point appears to be this: so many negative things are said about me and some of them may turn out to be true, thereby tarring him by association, whereas with a serial killer he would at least know with whom he is dealing and wouldn’t have to worry about anyone thinking he approves of what the interviewee has done.
Now, whether or not Sam Harris actually ever has a public (or private) conversation with me is immaterial. The point is this: what he says here reveals a great deal about the effectiveness of the “Islamophobia” smear campaign, and illustrates why Leftists and Islamic supremacists generally resort to ad hominem attacks against those whom they hate and fear, rather than engaging them intellectually: because it works. Harris is saying that I am so stigmatized that he would be wary of talking with me unless he had the time to check out the veracity of all the charges against me, and he doesn’t — as he put it on Twitter, it’s a “bandwidth problem.”
In saying this, Sam Harris has unwittingly invited the “Islamophobia” smear machine to step up its campaign against him, until he becomes, as he says of me, “so fully stigmatized” that even fellow critics of Islam and jihad will want to keep their distance from him, and he will be a total pariah. What he says about being wary of speaking with me here is tantamount to his telling those who charge him with “bigotry” and “Islamophobia”: “If you hit me with enough mud, it will be perfectly justifiable for people who share my concerns and talk about issues I discuss to shun me. After all, they just won’t have time to check up on all your charges. It will be a ‘bandwidth problem.'”
Saad, meanwhile, points out that “maybe speaking to you is gonna get a lot of hate on me now.” Harris laughingly agreed, but he doesn’t seem to have grasped Saad’s point. Saad may get hate for speaking with Harris because Harris has been “so fully stigmatized” — because he has been and is subjected to the same campaign of defamation from the same quarters as I have, and he has now signaled to them that if they just keep issuing more charges, however false or outlandish, they will succeed in marginalizing him completely, and be justified in doing so. Sorry, Sam. It’s “bandwidth.”
In an age when the truth is at a premium and false charges and social opprobrium are primary tools in the hands of the authoritarian Left to silence those who tell unwelcome truths, this is extraordinarily short-sighted and self-defeating of Sam Harris. Not to mention extremely disappointing coming from someone who is generally a rigorous thinker.