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Sam Harris: Trump is a worse person than Osama bin Laden, who ‘demonstrated many virtues’

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Sam Harris said much the same thing back in 2020. Visceral hatred for Trump has robbed him of whatever small reservoir of decency and common sense he may still have had.

Of course, Harris is making a nuanced argument here. He would dismiss as facile an observation that Osama bin Laden engineered the murder of 3,000 people and Trump never engineered anyone’s murder. He is saying that Osama bin Laden lived by a moral code, even though he acknowledges that code as odious, whereas Trump is, he claims, committed to nothing beyond his own self-interest.

Sam Harris should have the sense not to fall for, much less propagate, this odious caricature of Trump, which completely ignores the fact that this billionaire bon vivant never had to enter politics or run for president in the first place. It lost him money, it lost him friends, it lost him his reputation, all because he saw America was going in a negative direction and wanted to turn it around. Trump actually sacrificed far more to be president than any other modern president, and may have to give still more, as he may soon be arrested and could even be imprisoned in this new atmosphere of authoritarianism and the Democrats’ determination to destroy him. But as far as Sam Harris is concerned, that demonstrates no integrity, generosity, or compassion on Trump’s part. He is so committed to his Trump caricature that he can’t even consider for a second what it must be like to be Trump, and to find oneself up against the all-powerful and all-encompassing machine that pumps lies around the world before the truth can get on its shoes.

If the criteria are integrity, generosity, and compassion, I’ll take Trump over Sam Harris in a heartbeat.

“Sam Harris says Donald Trump is ‘worse’ than Usama bin Laden: 9/11 terrorist ‘demonstrated many virtues,’” by Lindsay Kornick, Fox News, August 31, 2022:

Podcaster Sam Harris doubled down on his attacks against former President Donald Trump, suggesting that he is “a worse person than Usama bin Laden.”

The prominent atheist argued on his “Making Sense” podcast last Thursday that the claim is a frequent statement he’s made to grab attention and continued to defend it.

“I’ve said on several occasions that I think Donald Trump is a worse person than Usama bin Laden. The statement is obviously meant to get your attention. I get that it’s surprising, but it’s not meant to be hyperbolic. I can defend every word of a statement like that. What I can’t defend are people’s misunderstandings and erroneous extrapolations of a statement like that,” Harris argued.

He went on to argue that bin Laden, despite the harm he caused, was “a more or less normal human being psychologically.”

“But within the framework of his [bin Laden’s] odious beliefs, he demonstrated many virtues. He was a man who certainly seemed to be capable of real self-sacrifice and he was committed to ideals beyond his narrow self-interest. He was by all accounts personally quite courageous. I don’t claim to know that much about him, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was generally a person of real integrity and generosity and compassion in his dealings with his fellow Muslims. None of these things can be said about Donald Trump. Trump is without question one of the least honest and malignantly selfish human beings I have ever come across,” Harris argued.

This response followed a controversy Harris faced on Aug. 17 after defending social media censorship of the New York Post’s coverage of the Hunter Biden laptop story. While Harris acknowledged it was a true conspiracy to limit the story to help President Biden in the 2020 election, he claimed that the effort was justified.

“At that point, Hunter Biden could have literally had the corpses of children in his basement, I would not have cared,” Harris said, claiming the laptop story was “infinitesimal compared” to Trump’s corruption….

“The seeming paradox is that if Trump were a better person he would be worse in many ways. If he were brave and self-sacrificing and idealistic, if he were capable of being strongly committed to something beyond his self-interest, he would be capable of creating much greater harm in the world. But he’s not. He is a child in a man’s body. He lies as freely as he breathes and just as compulsively. He can’t even put the interests of his children above his own, much less commit himself to any ideal that requires real self-sacrifice,” Harris said.

He concluded, “When I say that wherever you are on earth, you could probably walk 1000 miles in any direction and not meet a less admirable being than Trump, I mean it in the terms I just described. The man is almost completely lacking in personal virtue. If he weren’t funny, and I admit he can be funny, he might actually be the least admirable person on earth.”…

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