The Freedom Report podcast today takes on the struggle against radical Islam. Actor Ben Affleck flung the "racist" label at Bill Maher and Sam Harris on HBO recently after Maher and Harris accused liberals of not standing up to Islamic theocracy. Criticizing Islam is widely seen as a conservative sticking point, but this show examines why many on the Right might find themselves standing arm in arm with conservative Muslims if a certain taboo topic is approached.
Libertarians (and liberals) who advocate against bombing Syria to fight ISIS will use the talking point of how the struggle is an ideological one that can't be solved with "boots on the ground." So if that is true, then the war against radical Jihad is one of ideas. That means that liberals (classical and social democrat) must actively fight the bad ideas that Islam espouses. It will not be pleasant for liberals to be subjected to the taunts and jeers and cries of "racism" and "bigotry," that will inevitably come, but these bad ideas MUST be combated then. You must either admit that you think these radicals ought to be bombed, or that we must fight against totalitarianism with libertarian ideas. That's what Maher and Harris are reflecting, the libertarian instinct of liberalism that stands against theocracy.
Harris defended himself in a column titled, "Can Liberalism Be Saved From Itself?" In it, Harris expertly reasoned about how his fellow panelists were making his points for him: "Kristof made the point that there are brave Muslims who are risking their lives to condemn “extremism” in the Muslim community. Of course there are, and I celebrate these people too. But he seemed completely unaware that he was making my point for me—the point being, of course, that these people are now risking their lives by advocating for basic human rights in the Muslim world."
He's correct. It is a risk to confront Islamic Jihadists. And that risk will either be borne out by liberals who fight with ideas, or those who will fight with guns. Either way, the idea that some people must be killed for adultery or stoned or beheaded for any reason must be combated. Liberals and libertarians must speak out against these illiberal ideas and EXPECT to be faced with being called a bigot. Now however, liberals in America are faced with a very sincere challenge, considering that the Left's rhetoric has always included charges of racism and bigotry. They now fear their own media guillotines that hang above each and every one of their heads, ready to punish anyone who is deemed guilty of racist "thought crimes," which include criticism of another's culture.
Maher and Harris, when criticizing Islam, are channeling their libertarian instincts, not their "liberal" ones. Ben Affleck is more the model of the modern liberal, who can manufacture fake outrage at a moment's notice. The libertarian instinct is the true moral position, the one that pushes against Islam's teachings which officially sanction savage acts of violence. And libertarians themselves must struggle with the truth that if ISIS can't be fought with bombs, they must be fought with ideas.
How these ideas can be spread peacefully, and without accusations of bigotry when there is none, is the real debate.
Listen to today's episode of the Freedom Report podcast for this intimate discussion of liberalism, Islam, libertarianism and the problems with conservatives and theocracy.