This weekend, UC-Berkeley honors its graduates and Bill Maher’s Anti-Muslimism, together.
Unlike Harris-Maher-Affleck-Gate, a very peculiar comment from Bill Maher recently flew completely under the journo radar. Sally Kohn of Vanity Fair said to him:
“The religious scholar Karen Armstrong did an interview with Salon and talked about what you and Sam Harris said. And she said that your comments fill her with despair because this is ‘the sort of talk that led to the concentrations camps in Europe. The sorts of things that people were saying about Jews in the 30s and 40s.’ That’s gotta sting, especially coming from her.”
To which he replied:
“It doesn’t sting because it’s beyond stupid. Jews weren’t oppressing anybody. There weren’t 5,000 militant Jewish groups. They didn’t do a study of treatment of women around the world and find that the Jews were at the bottom of it. There weren’t 10 Jewish countries in the world that were putting gay people to death just for being gay. It’s idiotic.”
Here, we see that Maher disagreed with the comparison between American Muslims in concentration camps and European Jews in concentration camps by listing off “reasons” for why the latter did not deserve it (and the former would?). The big fat realization staring us all right in the face is…did Bill Maher just justify the mass murder of American Muslims? What the hell did he just say?
Let’s go through this again, for the sake of clarity. The scholar Karen Armstrong says she is fearful that if anti-Muslim bigotry (like Maher’s) persists in this country, one day American citizens will get targeted based on whatever classifies as “Muslim”, will get illegally picked up one by one, and will get forcefully placed in 21st century concentration camps where a Muslim Holocaust may or may not be happening. Instead of laughing her off as hyperbolic or the idea off as preposterous (which I thought was going to follow after his “it’s beyond stupid”), or instead of giving liberal assurances to assuage such fears, Bill Maher instinctually accepts the notion of a Muslim genocide in America and proceeds to contextualize it by blaming Muslims themselves. Armstrong validated.
According to Maher’s response, the entire spectrum of American Muslims then are at fault for matters outside of their control, involving people that they’ve never met. For actions that they don’t condone, by subcultures that are different from their own. For mentalities that they don’t share, by groups whose names they can’t even pronounce. All because they happen to fall under the same category of religious identity. This is extreme bigotry against a people that Maher has been able to professionally masquerade as rational critique against a religion…a maneuver only popular, self-identified “liberals” can get away with if they keep saying the words “free speech” louder than others are saying “hate speech”.
In the same interview, Maher proudly claimed “way more people came over to my side” after the exchange with Ben Affleck. He’s right. And he loved that racists, homophobes, illegal Mexican blamers, Anti-Semites, climate-change-denying crackpots, White-supremacist nut jobs, and all the other groups of people that he’s been ridiculing for decades jumped the fence and hi-fived him on this one. This is where they join forces, where their bigotry circles intersect to form that Anti-Muslim vesica piscis in the middle, where they’re brothers in discrimination. After all, Sean Hannity praised him. Yeah…take a moment if you need to.
Maher claims he has “two” “Muslim” “friends” but after all he’s spewed about Muslims over the years, we don’t really know what that means. Maybe they enjoy his impossible ignorance, gross generalizations, warmongering, misinformation, and chronic out-of-context taking. In the interview, he made it a point to say that Reza Aslan considers him a friend instead of the other way around, despite Aslan trying to publicly make a case for Maher not being a bigot. My guess is he didn’t make the cut as the third official Muslim friend because he doesn’t do the whole former-Muslim-pet-for-
Congratulations UC-Berkeley, this Saturday, December 20, you’ll be on the wrong side of history.