Monday, September 22, 2008

Sam Harris on Sarah Palin

Sam Harris, 'Provocateur'In a crass shot at most controversial post ever, I present atheist Sam Harris on politics, religion and elitism (but mostly attacking Palin).

I know we're skyrocketing past our Palin quota for all our lifetimes, but Sam Harris got in late in the game, and he's really fun. No other writer quite drowns their arguments in a such bath of vitriol. For example, he skewered Palin's interview with Gibson, wondering if she would have the same "unblinking" response to questions of her credentials for other positions requiring expertise:

"Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"

"Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."

He uses that swipe to draw you into his argumentative rope-a-dope:

Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence.

Also note how Newsweek tried to defang the piece by labeling it with the joke "When Atheists Attack" and by calling Harris a provocateur, as if they want to publish the piece, while simultaneously distancing themselves from it. They should've just included it in their new column, "Isn't Sam Harris as cute as a button?"

I promise a chaser post devoid of politics and religion.

Updated the quote about neurosurgery for clarity.