Excellent in-depth article from Jeffrey Taylor at Quillette.:
Free Speech and Islam — In Defense of Sam Harris
The controversial atheist needs a fair hearing
“It’s gross! It’s racist!” exclaimed Ben Affleck on Bill Maher’s Real Time in October 2014, interrupting the neuroscientist “New Atheist” Sam Harris. Harris had been carefully explaining the linguistic bait-and-switch inherent in the word “Islamophobia” as “intellectually ridiculous,” in that “every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry toward Muslims as people.” The result: progressives duped by the word shy away from criticizing the ideology of Islam, the tenets of which (including second-class status for women and intolerance toward sexual minorities) would, in any other context, surely elicit their condemnation.
Unwittingly, Affleck had confirmed Harris’ point, conflating religion with race. In doing so, the actor was espousing a position that can lead to a de facto racist conclusion. If you discount Islamic doctrine as the motivation for domestic violence and intolerance of sexual minorities in the Muslim world, you’re left with at least one implicitly bigoted assumption: the people of the region must then be congenitally inclined to behave as they do.
There was a disturbing irony in Affleck’s outburst. Few public intellectuals have done as thorough a job as Harris at pointing out the fallacies and dangers of the supernatural dogmas of religion, for which far too many are willing to kill and die these days. An avowed liberal (who plans to vote for Hillary) Harris is the author of, among many books, the groundbreaking The End of Faith. Yet Affleck seemed predisposed to regard him with hostility, possibly because Harris, at least for some on the Left, has acquired a toxic reputation — one stemming from what amounts to a campaign of defamation involving, by all appearances, a willful misrepresentation of his work, plus no small measure of slipshod “identity politics” thinking...