Can a Martial Arts
Theocracy Strengthen Liberalism
Are Liberals Too Tolerant of Islam? Ben Affleck, Bill Maher,
Sam Harris, Nicholas Kristoff Debate
LECTURE ARTICLE FOR APRIL 23, 2015
BY GOSEI YAMAGUCHI
On October 7, 2014, on Bill Maher’s Show, “Real Time”, Sam Harris collided in a
discussion with Ben Affleck, provoking an extraordinary amount of controversy.
Sam Harris is a neuroscientist who is labeled as part of the “New Atheism.”
For those who haven’t seen the show, I have included a couple of links to videos at
the end of this synopsis. Most of what I disclose here won’t make sense unless you
consider that the paradigm Harris represents differs from the theocracy Harris is
accusing. Harris appears to believe his value contains absolute justice, and
therefore, the value built on any other theocracy he considers as filled with “bad
The most controversial thing Sam Harris thinks he said on the show, according to
his blog, was “‘We have to be able to criticize bad ideas, and Islam is the Mother
lode of bad ideas.’ This statement has been met with countless charges of ‘bigotry’
and ‘racism’ online and in the media.” Harris continues to justify himself, “…
imagine that the year is 1970, and I said: ‘Communism is the Mother lode of bad
ideas.’ How reasonable would it be to attack me as a ‘racist’ or as someone who
harbors an irrational hatred of Russians, Ukrainians, Chinese, etc.”
Harris states “This is precisely the situation I am in. My criticism of Islam is a
criticism of beliefs and their consequences—but my fellow liberals reflexively
view it as an expression of intolerance toward people.”
The statement Harris made, “Islam is the Mother lode of bad ideas” is, in fact, his
judgement of Islam. Harris does not agree with the values accustomed by the other
Harris flatters himself that he is a neuroscientist who believes in atheism and
therefore he wants to represent liberalism. He is a very outspoken scientist and an
intellectual individual who is uniquely positioned to be a thought leader in the
global society of our time. And yet, he could fail if he were to establish his own
theocracy as a cult just as many evangelists have attempted from time to time. I am
afraid he might have created his own Ark of the Covenant to prove his points.
Harris, in his blog, continues to accuse the Muslim world.
“…take a moment to appreciate how bleak it is to admit that the world would be
better off if we had left Saddam Hussein in power. Here was one of the most evil
men who ever lived, holding an entire country hostage. And yet his tyranny was
also preventing a religious war between Shia and Sunni, the massacre of
Christians, and other sectarian horrors. To say that we should have left Saddam
Hussein alone says some very depressing things about the Muslim world.”
After 9/11, in general, among the American citizenry, a fear was planted whereby
Islam represented terrorism and terrorism represented Islam. Was Saddam Hussein
really “one of the most evil men who ever lived”?If we talk about terrorism, one
cannot convince the Muslim world that the Christian Crusaders were the holy
heroes. As far as Muslims are concerned, the crusaders should be considered as
troops of terrorists just like current Westerners perceive ISIS. When one’s national
experience of a culture is negative, this results in racism.
We must consider that it could be reasonable to perceive that the formation of ISIS
could have been created by the void left when the Americans destroyed Saddam
Hussein’s leadership, his government and banished his loyal supporters.
In our political environment, it is an absolute necessity for a citizen to value
tolerance, a key anchor of liberalism, for a multicultural society to function well.
Liberalism is therefore a basic discipline we all must practice. The US is a
multicultural society and as such, we are a microcosm of the world.
The karate instructors, in Okinawa, refer to the purpose of learning the art of karate
through the phrase, “hitoni utarezu, hitoutazu, kotonaki, kotowo, mototosuru.”
Translated, this means “...thus no one can harm you nor can you harm anyone,”
and as such both parties survive without hurting or eliminating others.
I stated this during the April 24, 2014 lecture. They earned their vision from their
history of heritage.
Many have understood the principle behind karate as a discipline of self defense.
And yet, this interpretation has been mistakenly used to justify an act that could be
used against the offender who would punish them, and if necessary, fatally harm
them. In some Christian societies, there is a sentiment to justify an act of violence
if that violence was a result of defending one’s self or family.
On the other hand, ethnic cultures who are a minority within the community or a
host nation, develop a wisdom in order to survive - they have learned that it is not
advantageous to harm a member of the authority class or a member of the majority.
Within a ghetto or minority commune, the legal and civil rights of the minority
may be poorly protected by the host state or authority, therefore, their acts of selfdefense
will not be protected.
Ryukyu or Okinawa once was a colony of the Satsuma clan of Japan and
consequently became a prefecture of Japan during the 19th century. While the
islanders are now Japanese citizens, they have maintained their traditional social
ethics as reflected by their cultural heritage.
That phenomenon among people’s society has not changed since. Our current
international political society is a group of nations comprised of different mother
tongues and people of different genetic make-up. Thus our sociological
environment in the globe now strongly suffers from a situation in which a growing
immigrant minority reside in many nations. If the host nations’ citizenry were to
adopt the principle of “your concern is my concern”, many of the acts of violence
against these minorities would cease.
I posit that the Okinawan concept of the art of karate will be effective as an
educational tool to establish a common sense of global citizenship. Every citizen
needs to develop a mentality that is disciplined by valuing the ideology that helps
us to coexist with the different groups of people in a multicultural society. To
prepare our children for that society, we need an educational tool with an ideal
model of this mentality.
The traditional hierarchical society, has groups of minorities who suffer and are
victimized by the hosting majority people and the authority the majority possess.
Some of those victimized have experienced many generations of anger, regret and
envy. As quoted by scholars of sociology, there is a significant sociological and
psychological tendency for a member of the minority community to feel some
degree of hostility towardthe majority. The French term, “ressentiment”, is thus
applied (“ressentiment” in French).
The late August Wilson, an African-American playwright, wrote a Pulitzer prizewinning
play, “Fences”. The play presents a significant example of the Black
American society’s resentment toward the hosting majority.
We all could be part of the minority at some point in our lives. Language, race,
gender, physical appearance, financial status, political leaning, education and
career status, community, and even religious beliefs are all factors that could lead
someone to be a minority.
In this lecture today, I would like to point to how the Okinawan concept and its
principles of tolerance and liberalism will strengthen our world and enable us to
build a healthy multicultural commune.
Therein lies the Martial Arts Theocracy.
***************************************************** Copyright © 2015 by Norimi Gosei Yamaguchi and Goju-Kai Karate-Do, U.S.A.
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本稿の著作版権は、著者Norimi Gosei Yamaguchi の名義で、
Norimi Gosei Yamaguchi
c/o Goju-Kai Karate-Do,