[Content Note: Islamophobia; misogyny.]

As you may have heard, last Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher had an interesting, ahem, segment, during which movement atheist Sam Harris and Bill Maher were engaging in some of their entirely typical Islamophobic generalizations, and actor Ben Affleck called them out on their rank bigotry.

(If you'd like to see the segment, it's here.)

After a few days of Affleck being congratulated for angrily challenging them, Harris has responded, and I'll set aside his embarrassing defenses of his broad characterizations of Muslims, because I don't know that I could even convince someone otherwise who views that shit as acceptable discourse, and because I want to focus on his petulant little tantrum about Affleck's criticism:
I admit that I was a little thrown by Affleck's animosity. I don't know where it came from, because we hadn't met before I joined the panel. And it was clear from our conversation after the show that he is totally unfamiliar with my work. 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.

Whatever the reason, if you watch the full video of our exchange (which actually begins before the above clip), you will see that Affleck was gunning for me from the start. What many viewers probably don't realize is that the mid-show interview is supposed be a protected five-to-seven-minute conversation between Maher and the new guest—and all the panelists know this. To ignore this structure and encroach on this space is a little rude; to jump in with criticism, as Affleck did, is pretty hostile. He tried to land his first blow a mere 90 seconds after I took my seat, before the topic of Islam even came up.

...At one point Affleck sought to cut me off by saying, "Okay, let him [Kristof] talk for a second." As I finished my sentence, he made a gesture of impatience with his hand, suggesting that I had been droning on for ages. Watching this exchange on television (his body language and tone are less clear online), I find Affleck's contempt for me fairly amazing.
So: Affleck is a Glenn Greenwald puppet who couldn't possibly have his own convictions; Affleck was not judging Harris on his actual words, but on hyperbole that Harris is a "racist and warmonger" with which he'd been brainwashed; Affleck's tone was hostile; Affleck was contemptuous of Harris personally, not his ideas.

And worst of all—oh the humanity!—Affleck interrupted Harris to criticize him.

Hey, remember when Sam Harris said this shit a couple of weeks ago?
I also asked Harris at the event why the vast majority of atheists — and many of those who buy his books — are male, a topic which has prompted some to raise questions of sexism in the atheist community...

"I think it may have to do with my person slant as an author, being very critical of bad ideas. This can sound very angry to people. People just don't like to have their ideas criticized. There's something about that critical posture that is to some degree intrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women," he said. "The atheist variable just has this – it doesn't obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men."
Oh dear.

Sam Harris, this is what being a woman who is "criticized" looks like. This is what it looks like. This is what it looks like. This is what it looks like.

Having Ben Affleck be righteously angry at me for a couple of minutes would be my best day ever.

But, listen, if it felt bad for you, that's okay. I'm not saying you're not allowed to feel bad. What I'm saying is: Maybe you can keep the garbage about women's delicate constitutions to yourself.

Because if you can't handle Affleck, you really can't handle what this atheist woman deals with every goddamn day.

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