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The Bright Line Between Good And Evil

Good morning…

I have been down the rabbit hole the last month as I learn more and more about Hamas and Jihadism.

Yesterday I listened to Sam Harris’ podcast on the enduring problem of jihadism and I learned so much. It is titled ‘The Bright Line Between Good and Evil’. You can and should listen right here.

It is REMARKABLE. Please share it with your children and your children should be sharing it with their friends and their teachers/professors.

If you do nothing, just read this clip from the transcript for just a taste of education:

Now, there are many things to be said in criticism of Israel, in particular its expansion of settlements on contested land. But Israel’s behavior is not what explains the suicidal and genocidal inclinations of a group like Hamas. The Islamic doctrines of martyrdom and jihad do.

These are religious beliefs, sincerely held. They are beliefs about the moral structure of the universe. And they explain how normal people—even good ones—can commit horrific acts of violence against innocent civilians—on purpose, not as collateral damage—and still consider themselves good. When you believe that life in this world has no value, apart from deciding who goes to hell and who goes to Paradise, it becomes possible to feel perfectly at ease killing noncombatants, or even using your own women and children as human shields, because you know that any Muslims who get killed will go to Paradise for eternity.

The podcast and transcript should be in the hands of every high school and college professor as well as our local and national leaders.

It is glaringly obvious that too few Americans have even a basic knowledge of jihadism and the understanding that jihadist groups like Hamas are the permanent enemies of civilization.

Pure evil is being shrugged off right now and that needs to change as the problem of Jihadism is not going away.

I have cut a last few paragraphs of the transcript to give you a sense of the importance and urgency at hand.

It’s important to point out that not only members of Hamas, but ordinary Gazans appear to have taken part in the torture and murder of innocent Israelis and the taking of hostages. How many did this? And how many ordinary Gazan’s were dancing in the streets and spitting on the captured women and girls who were paraded before them after having been raped and tortured? What percentage of Palestinians in Gaza, or the West Bank, many of whom are said to hate Hamas for their corruption and incompetence and brutality, nevertheless support what they did on October 7th with a clear conscience, based on what they believe about Jews and the ethics of jihad? I don’t know, but I’m sure that the answers to these questions would be quite alarming. We’re talking about a culture that teaches Jew hatred and the love of martyrdom in its elementary schools, many of which are funded by the UN. 

Of course, all of this horror is compounded by the irony that the Jews who were killed on October 7th were, for the most part, committed liberals and peace activists. Hamas killed the sorts of people who volunteer to drive sick Palestinians into Israel for medical treatments. They murdered the most idealistic people in Israel. They raped, tortured, and killed young people at a trance-dance music festival devoted to peace, half of whom were probably on MDMA feeling nothing but love for all humanity when the jihadists arrived. In terms of a cultural and moral distance, it’s like the fucking Vikings showed up at Burning Man and butchered everyone in sight. 

Just think about what happened at the Supernova music festival: At least 260 people were murdered in the most sadistically gruesome ways possible. Decapitated, burned alive, blown up with grenades… And from the jihadist side this wasn’t an error. It’s not that if they could have known what was in the hearts of those beautiful young people, they would have thought, “oh my God, we’re killing the wrong people. These people aren’t our enemies. These people are filled with love and compassion and want nothing more than to live in peace with us.” No, the true horror is that, given what jihadists believe, those were precisely the sorts of people any good Muslim should kill and send to hell where they can be tortured in fire for eternity. From the jihadist point of view, there is no mistake here. And there is no basis for remorse. Please absorb this fact: for the jihadist, all of this sadism—the torture and murder of helpless, terrified people—is an act of worship. This is the sacrament. This isn’t some nauseating departure from the path to God. This isn’t stalled spiritual progress, much less sin. This is what you do for the glory of God. This is what Muhammad himself did. 

There is no substitute for understanding what our enemies actually want and believe. I’m pretty sure that many of you listening to this aren’t even comfortable with my use of the term “enemy,” because you don’t want to believe that you have any. I understand that. But you have to understand that the people who butchered over 1400 innocent men, women, and children in Israel on October 7th were practicing their religion, sincerely. They were being every bit as spiritual, from their point of view, as the trance dancers at the Supernova festival were being from theirs. They were equally devoted to their highest values. Equally uplifted. Ecstatic. Amazed at their good fortune. They wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone. Let this image land in your brain: They were shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) all day long, as they murdered women and children. And these people are now being celebrated the world over by those who understand exactly what they did. Yes, many of those college kids at Harvard and Stanford and Cornell are just idiots who have a lot to learn about the world. But in the Muslim community, and that includes the crowds in London, and Sydney, and Brooklyn, Hamas is being celebrated by people who understand exactly what motivates them. 

Again, watch “Hotel Mumbai” or read a book about the Islamic State so that you can see jihadism in another context—where literally not one of the variables that people imagine to be important here is present. There are no settlers, or blockades, or daily humiliations at check points, or differing interpretations of history—and yet we have same grotesque distortion of the spiritual impulse, the same otherworldliness framed by murder, the same absolute evil that doesn’t require the presence of evil people, just confused ones—just true believers. 

Of course, we can do our best to turn the temperature down now. And we can trust that the news cycle will get captured by another story. We can direct our attention again to Russia, or China, or climate change, or AI alignment, and I will do that on this podcast, but the problem of jihadism and the much wider problem of sympathy for it isn’t going away. And civilized people—non-Muslim and Muslim alike—have to deal with it. As I said in a previous podcast on this topic: We all live in Israel now. It’s just that most of us haven’t realized it yet.

Indeed…as Sam says calmly at the end of the podcast…’we all live in Israel now…it’s just most of us have not realized it’.

Thanks for reading and sharing .

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