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Let’s listen to Bill Maher: On Paris, religion and race, Maher walks a fascinating and tricky line

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by AroundTheWorld, Nov 17, 2015.

  1. AroundTheWorld

    Supporting Member

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    http://www.salon.com/2015/11/15/let...ce_maher_walks_a_fascinating_and_tricky_line/

    Bill Maher has made his mark as the comedian who refuses to toe the party line—any party’s line. He has come under attack by both the right and the left for his positions. This week’s show exemplifies his unflinching desire to muddy the waters of extremist thinking and get viewers to ask tough questions and refuse pre-packaged scripts.

    He hit the spotlight after September 11 when he rejected the idea that the 9/11 attackers were cowards. Talking with conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza, Maher stated: “We have been the cowards. Lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building. Say what you want about it. Not cowardly.” The comment cost him his ABC show. But he soon landed back on his feet with HBO for “Real time with Bill Maher.”

    This week’s show, which tackled both the Paris attacks and campus protests over racial discrimination, reminds us why Maher is a comedian we need to watch. In the wake of the crises on the campuses of University of Missouri and Yale and on the heels of the Paris attacks, Maher rejected the fundamentalist thinking that often tends to frame these issues. With regard to the student protests, he attacks racism, but defends free speech. And in connection to the Paris attacks, he asks why liberals refuse to condemn the oppressive fundamentalism connected to the version of Islam practiced by terrorists.

    While we might disagree with his positions, Maher makes some provocative points. Even more important he asks viewers to resist intellectual extremism and dogmatic ideologies. This means that we can condemn Islamic extremism without condemning all Islamic people. And it means that we can fight structural racism while also wondering if the student protesters’ demands are reasonable.

    Let’s be clear. Bill Maher can say some outrageous things. He once compared his dogs to “r****ded children.” But it would be a mistake to dismiss his interventions because they come from a comedian known for being caustic and controversial. Again and again Maher is willing to ask the questions no one wants to ask. And one of his key themes is frustration over simple-minded responses to complex issues.

    After opening with a sign of solidarity with the French people, he asked: How can we respond in a way that allows us to forcefully condemn the attackers while avoiding a full-scale condemnation of Islam? In an interview with Asra Nomani, Maher wonders why liberals “will not stand up against Sharia Law, which is the law in so many Muslim countries, which is the law of oppression?” Discussing extremist thinking with Nomani, he states, “I am absolutely sure that ISIS thinks that everything they do—every horrific crime, every atrocity—is an act of justice, and an act for god.”

    Maher’s point it that there is an Islamic extremism that is real and the left has lost the vocabulary for speaking about it meaningfully. In an effort to avoid demonizing an entire religion, he argues, there has been silence on the very real threats of Islamic extremism. It is an issue that drives Maher nuts and it’s one that will immediately get him called out as an Islamaphobe.


    Listening to Maher rant about liberals who are soft on terror, it might even seem like he is on the side of right-wing nut jobs like Ann Coulter. But he’s not on her side at all. The trouble is that in moments of crisis such nuance almost inevitably gets lost.

    He has an unfailing ability to stick his finger in our wounds and ask us why we are surprised that it hurts. Speaking about University of Missouri, Maher reminded viewers that the university’s president was “a clueless white guy” but “not a war criminal.” “The question I’m asking is, do we purge clueless people from their jobs. Is that where we are with the battle against racism? Maybe the answer’s yes.”

    For what it’s worth, the panel concluded that, yes, the firing was the right outcome.

    He then turned to the Yale case. After quoting from an op-ed that said students were losing sleep, not going to class, skipping meals, and not doing homework as a result of the controversy, Maher characteristically asked, “About an email over a Halloween costume that doesn’t even exist? Over an email? Who raised these little monsters?”

    When Maher takes the free-speech position on instances of hate speech, racism, and intolerance he always excites the right. Right-wing outlets like Breitbart will cite him as evidence that the struggles for social equality are a cover for intolerance.

    But they will only cite part of what he says. They will omit mentioning the part of his show where Maher explicitly goes after the idea of the white male as a victim. In a rant on rising suicide rates for white males Maher stated: “It’s hard out there for a wimp, and that’s why tonight I’d like to remind white people of something very important they may have forgotten: You’re white, cheer the **** up. Jesus, look at history. It’s always a great time to be white.”

    He went on to list examples of white privilege: “Cops don’t shoot you for having your hands in your pockets. When people follow you around a store, it’s because they want to help you find something. Major party presidential candidates aren’t proposing to deport you. You can walk through an entire wedding reception without anyone trying to order a drink from you. And how about this perk? If you’re white, you’re much more likely to be not in prison.” That’s the sort of thinking we will never see from Coulter.

    In the same show Maher criticized some student protesters, praised others, and called out white privilege. In the same show he called liberals extremists for not going after Islamic extremism. It’s tricky terrain for comedy and it’s likely to get misunderstood. But Maher doesn’t care. If there is one ongoing passion in his work, it is that he won’t back down and he won’t make things easy.

    Maher’s trademark comedy refuses to be channeled easily into ideological silos. And whether we agree with him or not, his desire to ask tough questions and derail fundamentalist positions is a welcome intervention in a media landscape dominated by extremes.

    Sophia A. McClennen is Professor of International Affairs and Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University. She writes on the intersections between culture, politics, and society. Her latest book, co-authored with Remy M. Maisel, is, Is Satire Saving Our Nation? Mockery and American Politics.
     
  2. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    I've been enjoying his show on HBO of late. Definitely don't agree with him on everything. He's very much the non PC left. He'll attack Islam as much as he attacks Christianity.

    Seems to have legit conversations with both sides. Don't see that too much anymore.
     
  3. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

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    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PzusSqcotDw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
  4. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    Reza's argument seems to be #NotAllMuslims. He's right, not 100% are terrorists or subjugate women, but Maher is right in his critique as well that the way Islam is practiced in many places is from the middle ages
     
  5. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost clean your room bucko

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    That Maher article is pretty lame but Reza is an absolutely morally and intellectually bankrupt fraud who deserves no one's time or attention.
     
  6. Mr. Clutch

    Mr. Clutch Contributing Member

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    Why do you say that?

    I feel he doesn't really address the point
     
  7. Nook

    Nook Member

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    Interestingly enough Reza would not be considered a Muslim in many areas of the Muslim world and would face prison, torture or death.
     
  8. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

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    Where did you derive that opinion? I see his discussions as topical, on point, and very accurate, as a rule. He certainly understands religion a great deal more than Maher does.
     
  9. AroundTheWorld

    Supporting Member

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    Absolutely not. Reza Aslan is a fanatical ideologue, very angrily "defending Islam", disguised as some kind of "darling of the leftists pseudo-objective expert". Maher nails it. Aslan is an asshat.
     
  10. B-Bob

    B-Bob my celli weighs a ton

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    I agree with this. I know a few friends on the left who just cannot talk about it in any depth. It's generic terrorists, on the one hand (where Tim McVeigh (sp) and Osama bin Laden are two peas in a non-religious pod), and 100% nice peace-loving, please-don't-criticize-them-in-any-way muslims on the other. There really aren't shades of gray for the leftists I'm describing, and if you try to talk with them about islamic extremism, you will definitely get shouted down or called names, etc. Ugly. Don't even get me started on the other end of the spectrum.
     
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  11. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Contributing Member

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    Of course you do.
     
  12. Honey Bear

    Honey Bear Contributing Member

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    Yup, but keep this in mind. When people in the west start talking about it, you have death threats that are actually carried out like Charlie Hedbo.

    The oppressive and violent aspects of Islam are all that outsiders see as a result, because they themselves refuse to take accountability and begin dialogue on vital issues.
     
  13. ipaman

    ipaman Contributing Member

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    Reza isn't wrong but he's a pompous smug little ****

    -edit-
    And so is Maher. They can both go **** themselves for all I care.
     
  14. ChrisBosh

    ChrisBosh Member

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    Both these guys are not exactly the brightest individuals, especially Maher, he's a comedian, no offense but that makes you an expert of nothing. Problem is the Middle East is a melting pot for absolute garbage, the culture, religion, and politics are all ugly in certain regions. With cheap oil playing a big role of screwing that society into an even bigger ugly mess. Some got too rich too fast, without the education and hardwork that helps develop a foundation of a society. I'm sorry anyone who identifies one particular reason for the problem that exists is an idiot. Problem is people in general find the different dynamics in play too confusing. As humans we are programmed to simplify complicated sheit into a few easily digestable reasons. Too end this rant, my general consensous is that most people are idiots.
     
  15. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Insider Newsletter™ 2X Diamond Member

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    This is the problem that needs to be addressed.
    imo, there's pride and self determination among the moderates, but at the institutional level there is no counterbalance that sets an example for people on the ground to goto their governments and demand better.

    It's a culture ingrained deeply in common sense and the status quo, where if you stick your head out for pointing out a legal wrong, then it's your fault if the consequences are severe.

    Having said that, it's these same corrupt, despotic, anti-democratic institutions that we prop, back up, and support on all channels, so just as there's a disconnect between the populous and state in Muslim nations, there's a deep one here inside the United States.

    We can't get any change until the public acknowledges what our government is doing there and make it an issue for politicians to take seriously rather than deferring to moneyed interests.

    The simplest thing for change is just to know what the hell we're doing there beyond the snapshots, sound bytes, and abstracts then work from there. People can either start to care or continue to live in their prisons of fear.
     
  16. fchowd0311

    fchowd0311 Contributing Member

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    I really don't like this guy. 99% of his rhetoric stems from an argument from authority. "Bill Mahr is wrong because I have a PhD in theology".

    For a self professed highly educated man this guy is either an idiot or disingenuous as ****. I'm sorry Reza, just because a country has a female head of state doesn't mean woman rights issues don't exist. I guess racism towards black people in the US is over since we voted for a black president. His example of Bangladesh infuriates me. My family is from Bangladesh and to deny that woman rights issues don't exist in that country because of a former female head of state is asinine. **** you Reza.
     
    #16 fchowd0311, Nov 18, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2015
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  17. fchowd0311

    fchowd0311 Contributing Member

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    I don't think even ATW would state that there only is ONE problem. Bill Mahr no where suggested that Islam is the only problem. That is a straw man argument. It's just many have a reluctance of saying that Islam inherently promotes violence out of fear of offending.

    BTW, I always find it odd that when Islam is criticized, many shout terms such as 'bigot, 'insular' or 'close minded' and point to 'culture' being the problem. No one else finds that ironic?

    Now go through what Mahr stated again, and explicitly show me the parts where his observations and conclusions were wrong. Just stating that he is a comedian and isn't an 'expert' is pulling the ol' Reza card.
     
    #17 fchowd0311, Nov 18, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2015
  18. ChrisBosh

    ChrisBosh Member

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    My post wasn't in response to the op's post, it was to Maher's messaging in general, he always says what do these terrorists have in common, and then he says they are extremist Muslims. Very simpleton thinking. Reza chooses to ignore the problems. Not here to discuss just rant.
     
  19. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

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    Wow, I haven't seen any interview with Aslan where he appears "angry" in any way, shape, or form. Your anti-Muslim bias is coloring your opinion on this man, perhaps you should consider opening your mind a bit.
     
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  20. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

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    Care to comment about why you see his discussion as anything but on point?
     

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