You're putting a lot of words in my mouth. To quote one of my favorite characters in all of fiction 'Let's take that piece at a time.'
I'm not going to speak in defense of Sam Harris, he defends himself well enough. I will say that he wholeheartedly encourages knowledge of one's enemies. And he also encourages taking them at their word.
Daesh, and Saudi Arabia are living, breathing, decapitating examples of what a Muslim theocracy looks like. That is not up for debate. They take a literalist interpretation of the Quran and Hadith, and practice it upon the people they govern, and their enemies in the field. The majority of Muslims alive and practicing today, that 99% that you quote without citation, are not radical, extremist, or fundamentalist. I am not talking about them, just like I am not talking about your average feel-good new testament focused jesus freak when I talk about fundamentalist, extremist Christianity The current hot conflict against I-Fuck-Goatsis and the ongoing cold war against Wahabism preached by the Saudi's are real, but there is no war against Islam, except in small isolated incidents perpetrated by bigots. (See, preacher who smeared shit on a Quran in front of a mosque) I completely agree that the carpet bombing of Raqqa would be a terrible terrible idea, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I dehumanize no one because of their religious identity, I dehumanize violent savages who want to impose bronze age theocracy on the rest of polite society. That group includes Daesh and the KKK. I dehumanize those who would defend such savagery from a position of 'Progressive Tolerance.' I am unashamedly Islamophobic. I'm equally unashamed of being Christianophobic, Hinduphobic, and whatever one would call the fear of Scientology. These ideas (Among others) have led to unmeasured human suffering that has been completely sanctioned by socio-culturally relevant moral authorities of their time.
Second piece, we're just going to have to disagree. Looking at Maslow's hierarchy of needs, 'The West' is good at providing air that won't kill you outright, an overabundance of calories, and a place to sleep that is comparatively safe from interpersonal violence. I finished this book recently, and it presented a very compelling and fact-based case for part of your argument of
Rather, I assert that it's the best society for serving that purpose that has existed so far in this history of the world.
Statistically, the poorest people alive today live better lives, with more food, better medical care, more knowledge about the world and more Stuff, than nobility of centuries past. I would wholeheartedly agree that we are better able to keep people alive, and at a higher material quality of life for a higher percentage than ever before. But that comes with a price, distractions.
Notice that in my original comment that I didn't say
SELF-ACTUALIZATION IS IMPOSSIBLE IN THE WEST NOW BUT WE USED TO BE ABLE TO DO IT WAY BETTER
I was trying to say (Albeit ineffectively) that our society is not set up to help young people with lots of potential self-actualize. Start with the base assumption that most people don't draw existential satisfaction from their job. Where do they get it from? For some people it's found in their hobbies (Not a lot of people I imagine) others get it from their family (Parenthood being a big factor, I think) but lots of people address their existential angst through religion. As a former near-fundie I can tell you, there's definitely a peace of mind that comes from believing that there is somebody with a plan at the wheel.
This is where I draw a lot from Harris, because of one big point, and I want you to say it out loud with me.
I'll say it again for those in the back
Why does a Christian tithe 10% of his earnings to his church? Better yet, lemme rephrase that because there are plenty of 'Social' or 'Cultural' Christians who attend services because of social benefit/community rather than any genuine belief in the supernatural. Why does a (True!) Christian tithe to his church? Because of a deep and genuine belief that his God has commanded him to do so. Sure it feels good, if your church does good things with that money, or just because charity usually feels pretty good. But the initial push is a divine commandment that the individual believes is TRUE. How does this apply to Islam, specifically the militant, extremist, radical branch practiced by Daesh?
Check this little test out, yes it came from reddit
In the Bible, the Hebrew God (Same guy Muslims worship) demands the violent slaughter, rape and enslavement of people. He is pretty graphic about how he wants this accomplished, and what is to be done with the war-bride chattel and slaves taken afterwards. Yes the New Testament pretties some of that up, but the short version is, Yahweh wants BLOOD and LOTS of it. Turns out, the Quran has a lot of similar verses. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live, calls for the violent murder of apostates, things like that. Those are in the book and I can sit here and cite suras at you if you really want, but I'll move on for now. Fundamentalist Christians and Fundamentalist Muslims agree on a lot of things. Things like 'Kill all homosexuals' among others. That's because those commandments are Fundamental to the religion. That 99% of nonviolent Muslims you cite are like the 99% of Christians who are IGNORING WHAT THE BOOK TELLS THEM. They are cafeteria Christians and cafeteria Muslims. They take the bits they like, that give them reason to get out of bed in the morning or comfort them when they are sad, and ditch the rest, or else explain it away with some theological gymnastics. Daesh is what happens when you take the whole book at face value. The Westboro Baptist Church is what happens when you take the whole book at face value.
You know who can stop angry young Muslim men from running off to join a radical Muslim movement? Their religious leadership, the Imams and lay-leadership of their mosques. It sure as hell won't be psychologists.