South Carolina, USA – Republican Primary Result and Analysis

Donald Trump has been way ahead in the polls in South Carolina for some time, and in reality the battle there is for second place between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. That place belonged firmly to Cruz earlier this week, but exit polls from before the polls closed showed that 30% of late deciders were choosing Rubio, so he may have gained some momentum in the last few days. Another exit poll question asked voters what candidate they thought ran the “Most Unfair” campaign. That was won by Trump (41%) with Cruz the runner-up (33%). The next highest result was only 7%, scored by both Bush and Rubio. I would imagine that the battle between Trump and Cruz since the CNN/GOP Town Halls has many voters looking for someone they feel can both win and unite the party.

The Courageous Conservative super-pac supporting Ted Cruz had two controversial robocalls trying to turn evangelical voters from Trump to Cruz. The first is showing that Trump isn’t sufficiently anti-LGBT:

Interviewer: When President Trump is in office, can we look for more forward motion on equality for gays and lesbians?

Trump: Well, you can. And look – that’s your thing, and other people have their thing. We have to bring all people together.

Super-pac Voice 1: It’s about transgender bathrooms in your child’s school. It’s about tearing down our Judeo-Christian values.

Super-pac Voice 2: It’s about tearing down our America. Ted Cruz for president – now, before it’s too late.

Starting yesterday, the same super-pac also put out a robocall saying among other things:

Trump talks about our [confederate] flag like it’s a social disease.

This is, of course, a racist dog whistle. Cruz says he opposed the “tone” of the second robocall. (As far as I’m concerned, these calls are yet another reason Cruz needs to be kept out of the White House.)

Trump’s response to these robocalls on Fox and Friends Weekend:

You could call him a serial liar. And I personally – and I’ve been in business with the best of them – I have never met anybody that lied as much as Ted Cruz.

I have to go along with Trump here. I’ve just seen Cruz interviewed by Bret Baier on Fox New’s Special Report; Cruz said Trump said he would put his sister in the Supreme Court because she is a strong supporter of partial birth abortion. Trump has specifically said he wouldn’t put his sister on the Supreme Court, whether she was qualified or not for reasons of nepotism, and that he has no idea what her views on abortion are. I was disappointed Baier didn’t challenge Cruz on his statement; he is one of the few Fox News hosts that is usually better than this.

The South Carolina exit polls conducted by Fox News gave the following results:

SC Exit Polls

Jeb Bush, his super-pacs and other supporters spent US$15 million in South Carolina, he brought out his brother and mother to stump for him, and the Bush family is popular in the state. Despite that, he isn’t showing up as popular is any of these categories. Trump spent only US$1.5 million – a tenth of what Bush did. Most candidates would probably drop out at this point, and that’s what Bush has done, tearing up as he did so. That leaves only one remaining Republican candidate – John Kasich – who is actually capable of being president.

I expect Carson will drop out too, and if he doesn’t he should.

Pundits called the South Carolina Race for Trump even earlier than they called Nevada for Clinton in terms. With 88% of the vote counted the results were:

SC 88%

At this point, Rubio is slightly ahead of Cruz, but that may not last.

One of the most interesting things about the result is that Trump and Cruz are splitting both the evangelical vote and the military vote. It seems to me that those who support Trump see whatever they want to see in their candidate. In that way he’s a bit like a religious figure where a god is a very different thing to different people, depending on their own wants and needs.

It will interesting to see where the Bush (and Carson) votes go in the next few polls. I presume the Bush votes will mostly go to Kasich, but the Carson ones could go anywhere.

46 Responses to “South Carolina, USA – Republican Primary Result and Analysis”

  1. Ken says:

    Somehow I missed the fact that Fiorina dropped out. Still picking Rubio, Heather?

    • I’m not sure. I said in the Town Hall post I thought Trump might get the nomination, but that depends how long others stay in. I’m thinking it could come down to Trump/Rubio now, but I think the best one left is Kasich and I’m hoping the electorate will come to its senses. He’s less likely to excite voters, but he’s also less likely to do anything majorly stupid that will see his candidacy getting stopped in its tracks.

      The problem is I don’t really understand the Republican electorate. They picked Michelle Bachmann for Congress for years ffs. How does that happen? How does Cruz get so many votes?

      In NZ, whether I agree or not, I can recognize the qualities a candidate has and why people like them. I’m often mystified when it comes to US politics – which is what makes it interesting I suppose.

      • j.a.m. says:

        Kasich still has as good a shot as anyone. A ticket with both Kasich and Rubio in either order would tie up the two most crucial swing states. But Rubio will be strong in any scenario.

        Trump isn’t a Republican and they’d cancel the convention before they’d nominate him.

        In the general election Clinton will perform about as well as Jeb. The Democrats will rue the day they decided to have a coronation.

        • paxton marshall says:

          jam makes a good point, that due to the US electoral system, whoever wins Florida and Ohio has a good shot of winning the whole thing. Kasich and Rubio would be formidable.

          • I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I got an e-mail from Rubio’s campaign (it showed up as actually from Marco Rubio, so it’s not a super-pac one, and specifically says “paid for by Marco Rubio for President”), asking me for money, which seems to have been sent to all supporters following the SC primary. (I’ve had one from Carson in the past too.) It’s illegal to get donations from overseas, and my e-mail address is obviously overseas – – so I assume they have another way of blocking me if I tried to donate. I remember trying to buy an Obama t-shirt in 2008, and I couldn’t.

          • Ken says:

            Probably when you put your address into their website. I managed to get a Kucinich t-shirt in 2004, but had to convince them I was a yank first. Free postage too, so doubt it was much of a donation 🙂

          • Except I’ve never put my address into their website. Or Carson’s. I’ve looked at their sites for research (and just about every other campaign site), so they must have software that picks up my e-mail from my IP address, but that should also pick up where I am.

            I’ve got a US postal address I can use now if I want to buy stuff, but I don’t want a Clinton or Sanders t-shirt. 🙂

          • paxton marshall says:

            I’ve started getting email solicitations from Rubio also, and I’ve never been to his site. I’ve probably googled his name a few times. I do get daily feeds from a few right wing sites, like Townhall.

        • I agree – Kasich and Rubio would be a strong ticket.

          As for the Dems, I think they’ve really stuffed up their succession planning and damaged the party as a result. I’ve been saying since 2008 that it would have been better for Clinton to be the nominee then, and for them to get Obama more experience – perhaps even a governorship – then, given the changing demographics of the country and his own ability, he could have taken the presidency for the Dems for another eight years. Because Clinton has been the presumed nominee for the Dems for 2016 since 2008, no-one else has been properly developed. There are talented people there, but none of them are coming forward at the moment, and it’s a bad look for the party.

      • Ken says:

        Many are saying now that they’ve all left it too late to deal to Trump. We’ll know a lot more this time tomorrow, but I don’t agree the Republicans will have a brokered convention. If Trump goes in with an overwhelming majority, the calculation they have to make is whether nominating someone without support and therefore easily painted by the Dems as illegitimate, would do less damage to the Party than Trump as president. And if they decide it would be less, they have to find someone who would be willing to take the fall, which is probably not Rubio or Kasich.

        None of this is impossible, but neither is Trump winning against Hillary as others have said. This article puts it well:

        “Every one of Clinton’s (considerable) weaknesses plays to every one of Trump’s strengths, whereas every one of Trump’s (few) weaknesses plays to every one of Sanders’s strengths. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, running Clinton against Trump is a disastrous, suicidal proposition.”

        • That all depends on people voting on facts rather than emotion, and if this election is about anything, it’s not facts. Most of the polls show that head to head, Trump can’t beat Clinton or Sanders. I heard a Trump speech yesterday where he was saying EXACTLY the same thing about pharmaceutical companies and the cost of drugs as Sanders does in his rallies. Even down to the detail of how much USians pay compared to the UK, Canada etc.

          Also, Fox News viewers are not being shown things like the situation yesterday, which I even saw on One News, of people being kicked out of and assaulted at Trump rallies. Ted Cruz is complaining that Fox’s Chris Wallace is taking his questions from Trump campaign talking points. However, Wallace is one of the few fair interviewers on the network, and he was equally tough on Trump in an interview a few minutes earlier.

          Did I say there’d be a brokered convention? If so I was wrong. I no longer think that will happen if I did. I do think a Trump candidacy could destroy the party. Fox are reporting none of the opposition to Trump by voters, but CNN are finding plenty of Republicans who say they’ll never vote for Trump, and polls back up the anecdotes.

          • Ken says:

            No, I was reacting to jam who said the Reps won’t nominate Trump no matter what. That could happen, but will become ever more unlikely to if his lead keeps growing. If Trump does well today, with so many super Tuesday states being in the south including Texas, we’ll know it’s his, I think. If Cruz comes third in Texas, or distant second?, he’ll likely drop out.

            I don’t see how people voting on emotion makes a difference. The polls now don’t mean much when the candidates involved aren’t running against each other. People have talked about how Trump would clean up Sanders, but Sanders can fight back because he’s proud of his positions and doesn’t have the sort of baggage that Clinton does. I think Trump is capable of making Hillary look very bad indeed. He won’t have any cross over power, as I’ve said before, but he doesn’t need any if disenchanted Dem voters just stay home. Or the emotions could work the other way and with Hillary being given a pass for everything because of how bad Trump is. Not saying I know, just saying we can’t predict this with any confidence. It will be interesting to see what mainstream right-wing media do with such a choice. That could be decisive. Fascinating!

  2. paxton marshall says:

    Jeb’s failure to attract any support is a direct result of his brother’s disastrous Presidency, and especially the failed Iraq invasion. Otherwise he was the most reasonable and electable candidate. Few will say is as forthrightly as Trump did, but even people who personally like W realize he screwed up big time. Kasich might be a formidable opponent for either Hillary or Bernie, so I’m rooting for Trump. Cruz is too horrible to consider. Christie pegged Rubio pretty well.

    • I always thought Jeb was the more capable brother, and I feel like the reason he’s missing out is because of his name, which is pretty tough for him. I feel a bit sorry for him. I think he’s a genuinely decent bloke too, whatever I think of his policies, and I think if there has to be a Republican in the White House, he would have been one of the better ones.

      Christie had Rubio pegged, but every politician has speeches they say over and over again. Since I watch it so much, I’ve heard every politician give the same speech when asked about particular topics over and over again. Rubio just didn’t have the experience to hit back at someone like Christie, which is a concern in someone who wants to be president. He could cope with VP – but he’s not up to pres yet.

      Kasich would be a strong opponent, but as non-USian, I could live with him in the White House.

      Trump would be the easiest to beat for the Dems, and most polls are showing that at the moment.

      The idea of Cruz anywhere near the presidency scares the sh*t out of me. I think it’s time to post this video, which I’ve already put on the Heather’s Homilies Facebook page:

      • paxton marshall says:

        Yeah, it’s hard for a rational person to understand how Cruz has any support. I think this video captures part of it, but it is interesting that Trump is getting as much of the evangelical vote as Cruz. But the other side of Cruz, not addressed, is his willingness to do the bidding of big money donors, like the Koch brothers. Of course that is the traditional GOP coalition, business conservatives and social conservatives, that GW Bush tapped into so well. Rubio and Kasich are competing with less extremist versions of the same awkward marriage. But both of them are intense with their religion also.

        The Republicans have reaped what they have sown. They have become the party of obstruction by whatever means necessary, and so have raised up candidates like Cruz. Trump has them flummoxed though. He epitomizes the kind of man that they celebrate, but he won’t toe the party line. He defies the most sacred conventions, such as that you don’t criticize the last President of your party. Trump is ruthless. I still can’t see him being elected, but he won’t go down easy. Not like “low energy” Jeb!

        • Ken says:

          “Low energy” is spot on. He always seemed about to fall asleep whenever I saw him. Never had a chance against Trump.

        • The problem with the GOP is that they have consistently over-promised to their base. They make promises to pander to their electors that they know they can’t keep, then those people get angry when they don’t get what they thought they were getting. If Cruz is nominated it will happen again – he insists he’s going to shut down the IRS. It gets his supporters cheering, but there’s no way that’s going to happen. Evangelicals may be deluded, but they’re not stupid, and I suspect they recognize that Cruz’s policies aren’t credible. I think they see Trump as someone who, because of his personality, might be able to institute his policies. He won’t though. The Congressional Budget Office has costed his tax plan as leading to something like (iirc) $20 trillion in deficits in ten years. Cruz and Rubio aren’t much better btw.

        • j.a.m. says:

          He funded bona fide clinics and health departments in lieu of subsidizing the abortion industry with taxpayers’ hard-earned money. Sounds pretty darn reasonable to reasonable people.

          • Ken says:

            That’s bullshit. Ohio was not funding abortions to start with. Kasich is just targeting Planned Parenthood and doesn’t care who he hurts on the way. Mojo reports:

            “The new law targets specific Planned Parenthood programs for services such as HIV and STI testing, as well as cancer screenings, rape prevention programs, and sex education for youth in foster care and the juvenile detention system.

            The cuts will also affect the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program, a neighborhood outreach effort by Ohio’s Planned Parenthood that offers support and education to high-risk African American women in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. These women receive in-home visits throughout their pregnancies and for the first two years after giving birth. In these impoverished areas, African American women are twice as likely to give birth to a baby with a low birth weight than the population at large. Ohio ranks 45th nationally for its infant mortality rate, and has one of the highest rates of infant death for African American mothers in the country.”

            Just fucking brilliant.

          • j.a.m. says:

            Planned Parenthood is the biggest cog in the abortion industry, and money is fungible. So long as both of those statements are true, it should never get a dime. The people of Ohio quite reasonably decided to have publicly funded health services delivered by legitimate providers, of which there are more than 600.

          • Ken says:

            And that’s more bullshit. Abortion is legal and Planned Parenthood is legitimate. Why not just admit that you don’t actually care about the law or woman’s health, since it’s so obvious.

            Coincidently and with perfect timing, John Oliver just dumped the dirt on what jam’s people are really up to with their idiotic and deadly anti-abortion laws:

          • j.a.m. says:

            Just for a sense of perspective, the abortion industry has claimed orders of magnitude more innocent lives than people you label war criminals.

          • Ken says:

            That’s perspective in the same way that Fox News is fair and balanced. Not at all. But I’m not surprised that you would attempt to draw such a false moral equivalence.

          • j.a.m. says:

            The victims are equally dead, but you’re right, there’s no moral equivalence. In the case of the abortion industry, the killing is direct, intentional, and avoidable.

          • I’ve got no problem with you being anti-abortion. The problem I have is with those who are anti-choice. You can do whatever you want, but you don’t have the right to force other people to live their lives according to your beliefs. Being pro-choice doesn’t necessarily mean being pro-abortion, it means that a woman has the right to choose what she does with her body. Further, it’s appalling that even when a woman has a perfectly legal procedure she has to hide it from the world, even those who support her in case the info gets out, and is made to feel guilty and ashamed for the rest of her life, no matter what the circumstances of her pregnancy. Rarely, if ever, is any such approbation is attached to the man concerned.

            If you believe abortion is murder, I can understand you being opposed to it. However, you also have to remember that not all cultures consider it murder; even Europeans didn’t consider infanticide murder until fairly recently. A baby that was sick, or deformed, or unable to be looked after, was simply left outside to die.

            In many cultures there were myths created around the practice to make it more acceptable, in much the same way as religion is created. In the Highlands and Isles of Scotland, for example, if a baby wasn’t well, it was believed that the real baby had been exchanged for a fairy baby, and thus was a changeling. The real baby was thought to be having a good life with the fairies, and the replacement was then left on a fairy dun (hill), and the fairies took it back if they wanted it (i.e. it got eaten by wolves or boar or something) or they just left it if they didn’t (i.e. it died and wild animals didn’t find it).

            Most people have stopped believing in folk magic now, and terminations are a much better way of dealing with a child that can’t be looked after than infanticide. Of course, effective contraception is better still, but that’s not always an option and doesn’t always work, especially in places where religion gets in the way of government and forces their beliefs about contraception on the public. The Bible Belt has the highest rate of abortions in the country because of the sick attitudes to sex and contraception taught in many parts of it. It also has the highest divorce rates for the same reason.

          • Ken says:

            You neglected to note that it’s also legal and that’s because we realised the state can’t tell women what to do with their bodies.

            I know you believe the law is wrong, and no one will challenge your right to hold that opinion. So I don’t understand why you don’t have the courage of your convictions to say so from the start rather than feed us the lies above.

          • Ken says:

            Yes, Heather, if jam’s people actually cared about terminating fetuses and even mere blastocysts, they’d do everything humanely possible to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Instead, their actions lead to more pregnancies and more terminations. What’s worse is that they know this. Their goal is not to save lives, but to control women, and they are happy to use the power of the state to do so by any dubious means. That’s why it’s so crass to compare abortion to the deaths caused via the military in foreign lands.

          • j.a.m. says:

            Krugman calling somebody a “fringe crank” is like Liberace calling somebody a snappy dresser. (This from a guy who admits he’d be content if politicians controlled half the economy.) On the other hand, they’re not his own words anyway. He’s the stenographer.

            Give Hillary’s people credit for enough savvy and focus to recognize what they’re up against and to start shoveling the malarkey.

          • Ken says:

            The Republican’s economic programme, jointly implemented by spineless Democrats, has created the obscene inequality we have now and brought us the GFC to boot. Krugman doesn’t need to be fed lines. He’s just stating what is obvious to anyone not blinded by ideology: both party’s politicians are owned by their donors and serve them extremely well.

          • j.a.m. says:

            Funny, that’s exactly what Trump says. He certainly is not blinded by ideology, and he’s beholden to no one. There’s your guy.

          • Ken says:

            How droll. Trump is right about the Iraq war too. I’ve never met anyone I didn’t agree with about something. That doesn’t mean I’d vote for them. See how that works?

  3. paxton marshall says:

    I know this is off topic, but since we’ve already strayed, I’m hoping Heather will not find it unacceptable.

    I just listened to the Sam Harris interview with Maryam Namazie:

    I’ll let people draw their own conclusions, but it was clear that Namazie is not in sympathy with Harris’ anti-Islamic rhetoric.

    Of considerable interest to me was how she brushed off Harris’ attempt to get her to whine about being deplatformed or censored by those who oppose her. She essentially said that is part of the territory when you talk about controversial topics. I think the ideal of freedom of speech and the destructiveness of censorship have been cheapened by people claiming to be victimized when they are not given a platform to speak. Recently it reached the absurd length that a speaker who withdrew from a talk because she opposed the views of another speaker, was herself accused of deplatforming and even censoring the other speaker. He spoke she didn’t. He was hardly deplatformed.

    Freedom of speech is a primary value. It shouldn’t be cheapened by claims that it is under assault every time an invitation is withheld or withdrawn, when the person “deplatformed” is still free to speak his or her mind in any number of venues. Censorship is a real concern, but should be reserved for actual restrictions on freedom of expression as is common in many undemocratic countries and we are now seeing in some European countries:

    People who invite, or don’t invite, or disinvite speakers are also exercising their right of free speech. If Namazie doesn’t consider herself victimized, her western islamophobic defenders, who misconstrue and distort her message, should drop the victimization/censorship whining.

    • Ken says:

      Thanks, good to hear Namazie stood up to Sam’s extremism. I’d planned to listen to this interview this weekend, so will be sure to do so and comment more then.

      Ok, I’ll bite one more time. I’ve never thought there was much issue with who gets invited or not to conferences and the like, though their reasoning for doing so or not is certainly open to critique and is often very weak. I seem to be in the minority here in thinking that Dawkins deserved his dis-invitation, for instance. What I can’t support is the practice of preventing a talk from occurring. No issue with protesting the talk, but a speaker should be allowed to speak and the people who show up specifically to hear them be allowed to do so. This just seems so basic. To claim it’s ok because the speaker may be allowed to enjoy open debate with some other groups of people, just not these ones, just totally misses the point. I’m surprised to hear Namazie is now ok with it happening to her, but that doesn’t change the principle for me. If that makes me pedantic and anal, so be it.

      And no, it’s not the biggest issue we face in the least, but I also don’t think our expectations of what open debate looks like should be lowered in western countries just because other countries have it worse. We wouldn’t make such an argument in other areas, say poverty or police corruption, and I can’t see any reason to do so with open debate either. That is not meant to excuse those who play the victim card way too easily, such as in your admittedly bizarre example.

  4. Ken says:

    Heather, this is long and off topic as Paxton says, but hopefully useful to people. Perhaps you could consider employing open mic posts that other blogs use to provide a free space for such commenter-led discussions. Something to think about. It might keep Paxton out of trouble 🙂

    Ok, this discussion between Sam Harris and Maryan Namazie ( was quite interesting for a number of reasons. One is that, for two hours, Sam and Maryan largely talked past each other, making the whole experience rather awkward and not easy to listen too. (I took notes while I listened and wrote that they were talking past each other very early on. Sam said the same at the very end, partly blaming his own interviewing skills, but also skype for frequent delays that made the conversation that much harder.)

    Though my overall views lie much closer to Namazie than Harris, I did have some sympathy for Sam as the host, as Maryan would often not answer his questions directly and often spoke over him with very long winded dissertations that ranged far and wide. Not that she was incoherent, but there were times I also wanted her to just slow down and take it step by step as Sam was begging her to do. It’s also fair to say that Sam often missed that she did eventually answer most of his questions. I believe the intention was that they talk for an hour, as is usual for Sam’s podcasts, and that this goes for double that time is largely due to Maryan’s domination of the discussion. Anyway, she had no intention of letting him control the interview and this was also kind of refreshing, as often his framing is overly narrow, even though she overdid it at times. Sam is clearly not happy with how it all turned out, but I’ll give him credit for sticking with her to the end and not letting his frustration turn into anger. Confused? You’ll just have to listen yourself and decide. And I recommend you do, as there is plenty to think about here.

    Paxton, having now listened, I don’t see how you concluded that Namazie was not unhappy with attempts to stop her from speaking, or that Harris goaded her about it. He mentioned that it had happened to her many times and that they’d cover it later. They never got back to it, such was the nature of the conversation, so she didn’t say directly how she felt either way. Did I completely miss something?

    What she did react strongly to was Harris’ view that the pre-judgement of speakers made them victims in any way. I got the impression she was just resigned to it. She said it happened equally on both sides and they just had to get over it and just keep clarifying themselves. (That may be just a reality of modern, Internet enabled discourse, but I still don’t think it’s ok, as it really impedes people understanding each other and just seems cheap and unnecessary too.) So Maryan gets called a bigot by the “regressive left” all the time, a term she doesn’t shy away from at all, despite being very far left herself. She is a communist or nearly so (workerism, I read elsewhere, though I don’t know exactly what that is), so in many ways not at all like some others she gets compared to like Ayaan Hersi Ali. This leads her of course to very different analyses which I think is part of what Harris had difficulty with. As her political analysis is the main driver of her views (more below), I had to wonder whether her NA supporters, Dawkins and others, realise just how much she disagrees with them, particularly about the role of religion in terrorism. Dawkins tweeted with approval an editorial by Kenan Malik about the Goldsmiths Uni attempt to prevent Namazie from speaking ( She also speaks very highly of Malik in this discussion and expressed similar views to his on the importance of letting everyone be heard, no matter what their views are.

    As I said, she is not phased about being called names, she embraces the term “regressive left”, agreeing she had to deal with them more than most. For her these are leftists who, very similarly to the right-wing, want to lump all Muslims together for the purposes of their narrative, whether it be entirely about the threat of terrorism for the right, or entirely about imperialism for the left, both overly simplistic in her view. If she had a central message, it is that all assertions of homogeneity are wrong and dangerous, that the Muslim community is as diverse, active and changeable as any other community. An example of this is the huge difference in countries like Afghanistan between 30 years ago and now. That this difference is not due to something fundamental to their culture like religion, but due to an Islamist political movement that as swept all else aside. She made the strong point, made by some in this forum, that Islamism was very fringe not so long ago and that there are distinct political reasons that have enabled it to flourish, including the “green belt” the US sought to surround the Soviets with. Yet people forget this history (like Sam) and now want to hold normal Muslims entirely responsible, as though the recent extremism is fundamental to their culture rather than imposed on them.

    This plays out in her views on immigration too. She feels very strongly that, within the confines of the extensive vetting that is already in place, all countries should accept as many people as want to enter. She calls this “open boarders” and when Harris protested that some too high percentage of these people will be Islamists or jihadis and that is a threat to western society values that should make a difference to her views on the matter, she said firmly no, that you can’t beat a political ideology by targeting individuals, but only by targeting the actual political movement. They went back and forth a bit on whether movements were just made up of people and therefore we end up in the same place, but she squarely put the priority on dealing with the spread of the ideology by dealing with it’s funders, like Saudi. She abhors anything that amounts in effect to collective blame on groups of people and is committed to an individual’s rights no matter what. This includes supporters of jihad who haven’t yet committed a crime. Harris, not surprisingly, would not accept this last point and pressed her on it repeatedly.

    While I largely accept what Maryan was saying, she wasn’t entirely convincing in parts, and this part of the conversation drove Sam mad. In a discussion on profiling, which she is dead set against, she said we never target all white people in the States to catch those who bomb abortion clinics, but that we should target the political movement that leads to such acts. Sam pointed out that possibly 100 million people in the US had such sympathetic political views and that surely to target a group that large would cross her line regarding collective punishment. She said it did not. Harris was desperate to get to the bottom of this issue, but they’d already spent half an hour on it and he reluctantly gave up and moved on.

    Harris believes in “anti-profiling”, which he says is not wasting time on those obviously unlikely to be a threat, as a means of using resources effectively and therefore maximising safety. His example is an airport, that it is silly to target some people as possible jihadis when the likelihood was vanishingly small. She was totally against this idea, but wouldn’t answer what should be done regarding airport security, which didn’t really help the conversation.

    Most interesting was that Harris didn’t challenge Namazie on her claim that all just about all these problems were political in nature. I thought sure he’d have a go at her with his meme that certain beliefs lead directly to certain actions. In fact, they didn’t really speak directly about religion at all. Perhaps it was clear to Sam that he already had her answer, though it is very unlike him not to at least drive this stake into the ground somewhere.

    At the end, Namazie gives Harris quite a history lesson about imperialism as the fundamental cause of terrorism. My pessimistic expectation is that Harris will once again pay lip service but then ignore this, and his cover will be the other parts of the interview that he can justifiably take some issue with.

    I hope I’ve done some justice to their debate here. Do have a listen if you have time, as despite the awkwardness, it is just the sort of discussion that needs to happen. I didn’t know much about Namazie before listening to this. What I can say now is that she seems fairly unique among the more high profile contributors to this debate in being both a staunch secularist and champion of individual human rights, but entirely comfortable taking head on all the perceived causes of terrorism raised by both the left and the right. Most importantly, she also (imho) gets the priorities right by understanding that political causes and the west’s involvement needs to be in the forefront of the discussion of what action we can take to make a real difference. While this debate wasn’t entirely satisfying due to how it was conducted, I’ve developed a lot of respect for Namazie and intend to seek out more of her work.

    • Ken says:

      Apologies, just realised I’ve spelled Maryam’s name wrong throughout.

    • I found the conversation to be difficult, mainly because it wasn’t really a conversation. As Sam said, they spent a lot of time talking past each other. Maryam often didn’t answer Sam’s questions, and she assumed hostility that wasn’t there I think.

      Through most of the podcast I was doing other things, so I can’t claim that my comments are that representative. Early on, I made a note: One of Maryam’s reasons for opposing Sam is that right-wing bigots are using Sam’s positions to justify them, and so he shouldn’t say them. I have a major problem with that. How other people use Sam’s words and opinions is not Sam’s fault, and he shouldn’t have to not express himself on that account.

      I also don’t agree with Maryam’s open borders policy – I think she’s being a bit of an idealist in her reasoning. She’s right that when we have people in our own countries that have extremist views we deal with them, but I don’t agree that that means we should take those same people from other countries and have to deal with them too. Quite apart from anything else, it all costs money. I’d rather my taxpayer dollars went to the health and education of the people who are already here rather than security services to deal with new problems.

      I’ve no problem taking vetted (by the UNHCR) refugees and asylum seekers – they will contribute to our country in the same way as most children already here will. We can’t be expected to take on everybody else’s problems because other governments have failed their people. I think we should make an effort to help those other countries develop so that they can give their people the sort of lives all human beings deserve rather than just have them export their problems to us. In an ideal world where all governments were more like our own, then open borders would be fine. At the moment, although it’s a nice idea, it’s just not practical. We would soon be overwhelmed and we would not be able to maintain our system.

      We should be spreading quality systems outwards to envelop others, not drawing all people into the systems that work imo.

      • Ken says:

        Just to be clear, Maryam said only well vetted people should be let in. What she was saying in effect is that there should be no quotas on such people given they are fleeing for their lives. She wouldn’t discriminate against economic migrants either, though I’m not sure that they’d get through the vetting process anyway.

        • Yeah, she did say that at one point, but she was talking about the people that come in through a proper process. In that part I agreed with her. She’s also said elsewhere that anyone should be able to go anywhere, and it doesn’t matter if people come on who are jihadis because they already exist and we’ll deal with them the say way we deal with those who are already here. That’s where I had a problem. Sam tried to pin her down, but she refused to answer and kept talking about other stuff when he did that.

          I don’t have a problem with Sam’s view of profiling either. I think people hear the word “profiling” and get their knickers in a twist, but all he’s doing is being practical. An issue many (especially younger) people is they forget (or don’t accept) that there is a limited pool of funds, and they should be used in the most efficient way possible. It is a waste of money to do a full body search of a 90 yr old Amish women just to prove you’re being fair. There are things like age ranges, travelling alone, criminal history etc that make someone far more likely to be a terrorist. And you are more likely to be a terrorist if you’re a Muslim than if you’re a Catholic. That doesn’t mean all Muslims are bad and all Catholics are good, but if it’s a choice between two people who are equal in all other categories, then screen the Muslim more closely.

          • Ken says:

            Heather, who are the people who don’t come in through a proper process? Namazie spent a good bit of time discussing how she’d worked with the processes in Europe and the US and how tight they both were and that they were very effective screens for undesirables including those who had committed criminal acts. At no point did she say just anyone should be let in unscreened. She said there should be no quotas and that people shouldn’t be screened out because they held conservative religious or political views. And yes, she also said jihadi views, but not who have committed violent acts.

            I think I agree re profiling at airports too. My hesitation is that I’ve read where many security experts say it doesn’t work. Harris has debated one of them. But I haven’t investigated it to form a definite view.

            Profiling gets a bad name because it has become associated with police harassment of blacks and there’s plenty to be said for actual racist drivers behind that. I agree it’s different in airports and should also be in the FBI, which they also discussed, and which doesn’t patrol street crime.

          • I was thinking of all the people who are coming into Europe at the moment. If they register, they’re go through a proper process, but those who don’t, don’t. And it’s those who don’t register who are the ones more likely to be denied entry. That’s less likely to be a problem in the UK of course, because of the problem getting over the channel.

            It sounds like we heard what Maryam said differently. As I said, I was doing other stuff so I concede I’m the one who’s more likely to have got it wrong. I understood her to say that in principle, anyone who wants to come should be let in. She did talk about screening but it felt to me like it was something she was saying as an aside, and not what she thought should happen. Besides, once people are there, it’s difficult to find them, let alone send them back. At the very least, there are the Human Rights implications of sending anyone back to a war zone – it’s not something I’d wish on my worst enemy.

            I agree with why profiling gets a bad name – we have the same issue in NZ (which is another thing you probably know about better than me), though it’s improving, with Maori more likely to be stopped by the Police, and receiving tougher sentences for the same crimes.

            Profiling, by its very nature, is an imperfect science. It’s rare for any correlation to be 100%, so it’s never going to pick up every problem. The terrorists are constantly losing their battle with law enforcement, but they only have to succeed once for law enforcement to be considered the failures. Profiling imo does work, just not 100% of the time. As far as I’m concerned, those who say it fails expect it to succeed 100% of the time. I haven’t listened to Harris debating the issue, and that’s something I should do because I feel like I need to be better informed about it.

            As I’ve even said in a post, NZers and USians have nothing to worry about. We have ocean privilege when it comes to refugees from the ME, and they’re all screened via the UNHCR.

          • Ken says:

            Here’s the link to Sam’s email debate with Bruce Schneier:

          • Thanks Ken. I appreciate it. 🙂

      • paxton marshall says:

        I’m on the same page as Heather and Ken regarding the Harris-Namazie interview. I agree with Heather that Namazie’s open border argument is unrealistic, but I wish she had made a stronger point that a major cause of the refugee crisis is the west’s meddling, and that therefore we have a moral responsibility to alleviate their misery somehow. I agree that accommodating them in safe camps over there until peace is resolved, is the best plan, but the US/UK in particular have a responsibility to those whose lives our invasions upended.

        I really don’t have a problem with Sam’s profiling policy either. It makes sense to focus our security resources on the cohort most likely to commit terrorism. This would include young men of all races, ethnicities, and religions, and not just Muslims.

        But Harris has a larger agenda than just emigration and profiling. Namazie recognized this and was determined not to let Harris draw he into blanket condemnations of Islam.

        Ken said, “Namazie gives Harris quite a history lesson about imperialism as the fundamental cause of terrorism” I wish I had a transcript to check this claim, but I’m afraid it’s overstated. Yes, she made some comments along those lines, but that should have been the primary focus of the discussion. She let Harris focus the discussion on what Muslims have done and might do to us, instead of what the west has done and might do to Muslims.

        But just as reform of Islam is unlikely to be facilitated by westerners like Harris pointing out its flaws, reform of American military policy will not be accomplished through the criticisms of Muslims. It’s only when Americans speak out about our role in promoting radicalization of Muslims, and the current chaos in the middle east, that reform will happen. Donald Trump made the clearest statement I’ve heard yet in one of the Republican debates, but his proposals will only make things worse.

        Ken, without a transcript I can’t address your claim that “Paxton, having now listened, I don’t see how you concluded that Namazie was not unhappy with attempts to stop her from speaking, or that Harris goaded her about it.” I think what I was trying to say was more like your following statement: “What she did react strongly to was Harris’ view that the pre-judgement of speakers made them victims in any way. I got the impression she was just resigned to it. She said it happened equally on both sides and they just had to get over it and just keep clarifying themselves.” My point exactly.

        • Ken says:

          Paxton, Maryam’s history lesson is at the end as I said so it’s not hard to find if you want to. I agree she could have said more about it during the two hours, but I think she was very forthright and clear when she did (and I think Sam was exhausted by then and put up no argument). As for not controlling the discussion, Sam got away with less with her than anyone ever has, so she didn’t do so bad.

          I will always think that emotive name calling is meant to distract from the real matters being debated and in fact does so very effectively, which is why children do it and adults do it too. We may not be able to end it any more than we can end actual racism, but that’s no reason to ignore it.

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