Sunday, 27 May 2012

"To Profile or Not to Profile"? Sam Harris and Bruce Schneier debate

Sam Harris: I share your concern about not alienating the Muslim community. But we desperately need moderate Muslims to stop pretending that Islam is just like every other religion at this moment in history. As bad as Christianity and Judaism have been in the past (and may yet be again), only Muslims reliably work themselves into a killing rage over the mistreatment of a book; only Muslims murder their critics and apostates; only Muslims can be counted upon to riot by the tens of thousands over cartoons; and only Islam, with its doctrines of jihad and martyrdom, is perfectly suited to spawn a global death cult of suicidal terrorists.
We need moderate Muslims to admit that some of their coreligionists currently pose a danger to civil society unlike any other on the religious landscape. One would think this might be easy, as the effects of Muslim barbarism have so far been visited mostly on Muslims themselves. In fact, we need more people like Asra Nomani, whom you singled out for criticism as an otherwise intelligent person who mistakenly favors profiling. It seems to me that you have lost the plot here: Nomani has taken a remarkably courageous stand for honest self-criticism, in a community that tends to be violently opposed to it. This is yet another reason why I don’t think we can discuss the issue of profiling at the airport in isolation from our other efforts to combat the forces of jihad. Admitting that we know what we are looking for—Muslim extremists rather than generic terrorists—could oblige the Muslim community to truly come to terms with the problem.

A robust, civil and very informative discussion of the pros and cons of profiling at airports.