1. Chomsky on cruelty
2. Greenwald on the new atheists
Yesterday I wrote about sadism as a part of
the explanation of many social events, from concentration camps to
modern health care and the treatment of the poor.
Today I found Chomsky has been writing about cruelty recently, and I
had missed that, so I have a little on that. My other subjects is about
Glenn Greenwald on Sam Harris and other new atheists, such as
Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, and a parallel I see with the
late Theo van Gogh.
And there would have been more today if my sore
eyes had been a bit better.
1. Chomsky on cruelty
Yesterday I wrote about briefly the role
sadism plays in human society, and did not mention much I do know that
is relevant, such as the 400 years of Roman circuses, and also, no
doubt, a lot I do not know that is relevant.
Today I found a small bit of the latter large class, namely the text of
a speech Noam Chomsky gave in March of this year, published on April 2
under this title and link
This is mainly concerned with
the situation in Gaza, but applies to much more, since, as Chomsky
2. Greenwald on the
Journalist Amira Hass
writes that "(..) the goal of torture is not only to convict someone,
but mainly to deter and subjugate an entire people."
The means are
humiliation, degradation and terror – familiar features of repression
at home and abroad.
The need to humiliate those
who raise their heads is an ineradicable element of the imperial
Contempt for the worthless victims is no small part of the barrier to
achieving a settlement with at least a modicum of justice and respect
for human dignity and rights.
I am an atheist
and have been so all my life. My parents were atheists, and my
mother's family have been atheists since the 1850ies. For me, it always
seemed the natural position, and my studies of philosophy and
psychology, and much else besides, only strengthened that conviction.
Having been raised in it, I also never felt any strong desire to defend
it or to attack religion,
because opposing religion never was important in my life. For others
this may be quite different, and I can understand why someone who was
raised in a religion and lost the faith may feel
strongly about both religion and atheism.
I don't and I also never have been able to feel much sympathy for
people like Dawkins,
(a supporter of Geert
Wiilders) who have gotten quite well-known throught their
opposition to religion, even though I agree with them on atheism, or
more so than not.
It so happens that Glenn Greenwald
in his latest column in "On
Security and Liberty" finds much to disagree with in Sam Harris'
position, who got to be well-known for being an atheist, and whom
Greenwald finds to be anti-Islam in a way that seems quite fanatic
against them, and quite aggressively in favor of the "war against
terrorism" waged by the American governments since 2001, that has
in fact been styled by both Hitchens and Harris as "wars against
Islam", which Greenwald disagrees with for what seem to me quite cogent
and moral reasons, that you can check out here:
I mostly agree with Greenwald,
but I will here only write about anti-atheism, and a parallel I notice
between Harris and Hitchens and the late Theo van Gogh.
To start with atheism. The last link is to my brief discussion of
that subject in my Philosophical
Dictionary (also see: God and religion there),
and perhaps it helps understanding my position that I call myself an
atheist rather than an agnostic or a
skeptic because I am also not agnostic or skeptical about the
non-existence of mermaids, dragons and elves. I do not have a
definitive logically valid proof from premisses all known to be
certainly true that there are no mermaids, but that logical possibility
seems to me to be about as unlikely as the thesis that Winston
Churchill was a werewolf.
It is in the order of my throwing 1000 successive heads - (1/2)1000
- with a fair coin to win a bet that I can: It is logically possible,
but extremely unlikely, and if asked whether I could or would accept
such a bet I also would say "No" without any hesitation.
Next, Harris, Hitchens and Dawkins.
In the past nearly four years that I have fast internet I have several
times watched videos with these men, but never watched all of the
videos, in each case because I got rapidly bored: I agree with them,
more than not, on the subject of atheism, but I find the arguments I
watched not interesting, and the same goes for their persons and books.
 Perhaps this says as much about me as
it says about them, but that is the fact.
Also, while I don't know about Dawkins in this respect, I do know I
disagree with both Harris and Hitchens about their position about
the Islam, that Hitchens called "islamofascism", which was a term Theo
van Gogh also liked - and he got murdered by an Islamic fanatic in
As it happens, I spoke out against this in 2003, before Theo's murder,
in Dutch, reproduced here:
and also in English in 2005,
Dutch readers may be
interested reading in an interview I made with Theo van Gogh in 1989,
when I was befriended with him
and in charting my description
of his murder in 2004, that starts here, in Dutch:
I am sorry most of this is only
available in Dutch, but the bit about Ayaan
Hirsi Ali is in English,
and explains quite clearly why I disagree with her and her position,
that seems to be quite close to that of Sam Harris. Ms Ali since has married, and made a career
in the US at the American Enterprise Institute of Dick Cheney.
P.S. Apr 6, 2013: Corrected a typo, and did the same
in the above linked text about Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
I get easily bored, and
there are many
others who have the same effect, including "well-known philosophers"
like Daniel Dennett who, like Dawkins, often seems subtly wrong to me,
for reasons I can explain, but that usually will be quite boring and
uninteresting to my readers.
(that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate
search machines) which
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: