Sam Harris on Donald Trump

End of Faith Discussion Group
A few days ago I listened to Sam Harris give vent to an anti-Trump rant, albeit a very articulate one. Sam thinks Trump is an ignoramus who has no idea of his own ignorance or his unsuitability to become American president. Though Sam dislikes Hillary Clinton almost as much as he dislikes Trump, he thinks she at least is competent, experienced and knowledgeable regarding matters of statecraft. While having a conniving, lying, overly-ambitious woman at the helm of the world’s most powerful country is not ideal, what would be worse for Sam would be to have a buffoon in charge who simply had no clue as to what he was doing, nor any inkling that he had no clue. Trump is so self-unaware that he might constitute a classic case of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. In such a scenario, Sam reckons Clinton is clearly the lesser of the two evils.

Without knowing much about Trump other than what I have read in the media, I am inclined to largely agree with Sam. In his speeches he whips up an easily whipped up crowd though says very little of substance. There is lots of boasting and very little talk of exactly how he intends to ‘make America great again’. At the same time I wonder just how stupid a successful businessman can be. It’s not like being born a monarch. You actually have to achieve things in business. Either way I disagree with Sam on who is the lesser of the two evils, probably because all Trump’s and my intuitions are conservative while all Sam’s are leftist. Whether Hillary Clinton has any intuitions other than the intuition to advance her own interests and enrich herself is a moot question.

Whereas Sam prizes competence above all else, I am less bothered about competence and more interested in a candidate’s intentions. For example, I am sure that Adolf Hitler was a more competent politician than say, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor who opposed him, but I think the latter would have been a better Kanzler for Germany. Hitler’s competence was actually a bad thing; I’m sure the world would rather have faced a complete idiot than an evil man who was good at what he did.

I feel the same way about Hillary Clinton. Her disastrous record as Secretary of State doesn’t point to her being very competent but even if she is, so what? That competence will help her move America towards the kind of society she desires, not the one I want. Clinton and Obama both want more immigration from low IQ populations that will provide more future Democrat voters. They want more pandering to Black Lives Matter activists, more pretence that women are victims of the patriarchy, more lies that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with Islam and no moratorium on immigration from Muslim countries. Clinton will continue Obama’s program of transferring wealth away from the productive class to the unproductive class and under Clinton there will be at least as much dishonesty as there has been under Obama. In a nutshell, there will be more progressive leftism and more political correctness.

Donald Trump, for all his ignorance and self-glorification wants none of those things. Even if he proves to be completely incompetent at least he won’t be acting against the interests of the kind of Americans I sympathise with. In fact I don’t view Trump merely as ‘the lesser of the two evils’ but as the only person around with a thick enough skin to stand up to leftist bullies and soppy conservative cowards. Someone with more self-doubt and greater skills of self-monitoring would have thrown in the towel long ago. I see Trump supporters as being essentially decent yet I can’t say the same about the Mexicans who commit violence at Trump rallies, or about the progressive leftists who want to turn America into the cultural Marxist state their 1960’s teachers taught them to want.

Then there is Sam’s stance on illegal immigration. He has often stated that he doesn’t think open borders is a viable policy yet he rails against Trump for wanting to send back illegal immigrants, a policy which would involve ‘breaking up families’. Yet surely if you are happy for people who have entered your country illegally to stay then you are in favour of open borders? After all, if both legal and illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay, that accounts for pretty much everyone. I don’t see the point of a border policy, or even borders, if you aren’t going to enforce laws that defend them.

This accusation that Trump wants to break up families strikes me as dishonest. After all, in refusing to take with you the child you had after illegally entering a country, precisely who is breaking up the family? Is it the border police who enforce the laws or is it you, the father who won’t take his own child back with him to Mexico because he views him as a bargaining tool to a better life? I mean, if my imaginary wife and I enter Japan illegally and two weeks later she gives birth to a healthy English baby in a Japanese hospital at the expense of the Japanese tax payer, would it be unfair of the Japanese immigration officials to ask us to return to England once my beaming wife leaves hospital? Would it be the Japanese who ‘break up my family’ or would it be my wife and I for refusing to take our newly-born with us? The choice, after all, is ours. It is like saying a judge is responsible for the break up of a family for sending a burglar, who also happened to be a father, to gaol.

Then there was Sam’s take on the recent Trump University court case. Trump claimed he wouldn’t get a fair hearing from a Mexican-American judge who belongs to a pro-Mexican organisation, the California La Raza Lawyers Association. Strangely Sam didn’t actually mention this last part. Instead he made it sound as though Trump objected to the judge on racial grounds. It thus appeared that Trump was impugning the impartiality of all non-white Americans to treat their white brethren fairly. Sam then went on to claim that this attitude alone demonstrates how unsuitable Trump is to be president of a multiracial country. Yet as far as I can tell, Trump was objecting not to the fact that the judge was of Mexican-American heritage but that he belongs to the California La Raza Lawyers Association. Given Trump’s previous comments about Mexicans, it is not unthinkable that a judge belonging to such an might indeed not give him a fair hearing. So there was no impugning of the impartiality of all non-European Americans and thus no lack of joined-up-thinking in regard to what such an accusation would mean, given America’s mixed racial make-up. Sam not only made none of this clear but actually muddied the waters in the first place.

While belonging to the California La Raza Lawyers Association is not the same as belonging to La Raza, the latter being an organisation that seeks the demise of white people in America, the name of the lawyer’s association that judge Gonzalo Curiel belongs to is still rather unfortunate. Why not distance yourself completely from the racist beliefs of La Raza and call your organisation, say, the California Lawyers Association of Latinos? Why tarnish your name with that of an anti-white group unless you share some of its goals? It would be like a white judge belonging to an organisation called the California Ku Klux Klan Lawyers Association but protesting that this group had absolutely nothing to do with the KKK.

Sam failed to mention any of this and I’m disappointed that he didn’t. He is usually scrupulously honest and he doesn’t need to resort to such tendentious opinionizing in order to make his anti-Trump case. The fact that Trump’s ‘university’ has, according to Sam, conned poor and elderly people out of money for what was apparently fraudulently described as ‘an education’ would have been enough. He had no need to place his thumb so obviously on the scales.


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