Sam Harris speaks out about "Real Time" debate: "Affleck was gunning for me from the start"

The atheist author wrote about his experience debating radical Islam with Bill Maher and Ben Affleck

Published October 9, 2014 12:05PM (EDT)

Sam Harris           (Simon & Schuster/Ray Garcia)
Sam Harris (Simon & Schuster/Ray Garcia)

Sam Harris wrote a blog post responding to the kerfuffle, which happened on Friday night's "Real Time with Bill Maher."

By now, you may have heard about the heated exchange between Ben Affleck and Bill Maher and Sam Harris. The argument started during a discussion of liberalism's response to radical Islam. (The video can be found below.)

During the debate Affleck called Maher and Harris "racist" and Harris stated that Islam is the "mother lode of bad ideas."

On Tuesday, Harris took to his blog to write about the experience. (Maher sort of discussed the exchange with Salon earlier this week.)

During a majority of the piece he addresses the animosity that he felt from Affleck, and seems to think that Affleck had something against him. ("I suspect that among his handlers there is a fan of Glenn Greenwald who prepared him for his appearance by simply telling him that I am a racist and a warmonger," Harris wrote.)

Part of the blog is below:

"The most controversial thing I said was: 'We have to be able to criticize bad ideas, and Islam is the Mother lode of bad ideas.' This statement has been met with countless charges of 'bigotry' and “racism” online and in the media. But imagine that the year is 1970, and I said: 'Communism is the Mother lode of bad ideas.' How reasonable would it be to attack me as a “racist” or as someone who harbors an irrational hatred of Russians, Ukrainians, Chinese, etc. This is precisely the situation I am in. My criticism of Islam is a criticism of beliefs and their consequences—but my fellow liberals reflexively view it as an expression of intolerance toward people."

If anything, the response is just a rehashing of the initial argument, and the disagreements among liberal minds. The entire post can be read here.

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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Atheists Ben Affleck Bill Maher Islam Radical Islam Religion Sam Harris Video