Sometimes it’s just so easy. I mean if I really wanted to, I could find all the material needed to expose the folly of the far left just by watching Bill Maher every week and picking apart the claims he offers as “fact” while urged on with hosannas by his trained seals in the Real Time audience.
The comedian/pundit is a legend in his own studio–and it appears that his embarrassing stint at the big people’s table on This Week a while back, where he was dissected by George Will wielding the carving knife of the Socratic method, did little to humble Maher into questioning his own command of the issues. “Facts are stubborn things,” said John Adams. Of course, Mr. Adams never met a left-wing zealot with a worldview for whom reality is often an inconvenience to be waved away like curling pot smoke in a back grotto at the Heff mansion.
Okay, okay…I realize that picking apart Maher isn’t even sporting. After all, making up his own historical narrative on the fly to support his far-left delusions is fast becoming his hallmark. Still, let’s have a look-see at a recent Real Time discussion between Bill and two of his panelists, Newark mayor Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a devout Baptist, and fellow atheist S.E. Cupp–although Cupp, a conservative commentator, is as respectful of believers as Maher is openly contemptuous (which is another topic). With hackneyed predictability, and a shameless shortfall of historical grounding, Maher once again goes off on a rant against his favorite bogeyman: religion. This time about the nexus between past wars and spirituality. But as we will see, when Maher speaks of “religion” he quickly gets flummoxed about what he even means by the term.
Maher: [Religion] causes most wars: The Crusades, the inquisition, 9/11, honor Killings…”
Cupp: “No that’s factually not true.”
Booker: “Humans…humans cause war.”
Cupp: “Religion doesn’t kill people…people kill people.”
Booker: “We’ve been known to start wars over everything from natural resources to land, to religion–”
Cupp: “Colonialism, tribalism.”
Booker: “–we start wars.”
Maher: “The justification for most of that is religion.”
Cupp: “No it’s not.”
Maher: “Of course it is…What gets normal people to think it’s okay to kill other people is religion…very little else….”
Cupp: “Or colonialism, or land power grabs, or nativism…”
Maher: “Mostly religion. Ethnic cleansing, honor rape…”
Cupp: “Hitler, Pol Pot Mao, Stalin, not in the name of religion.”
Maher: “Were state religions. [Puzzled looks from panel] Of course they were.”
Cupp: “Communism is a state religion?”
Maher: “Absolutely. You never heard that?”
Cupp: “I think we’re talking about different things.”
Maher: “We’re not. We’re just talking different labels.”
Bzzzz! Time-out, Bill. I thought religion, as you have so condescendingly referred to it in the past, is a deluded belief in a “magical man” who makes things happen? But suddenly when cornered with the historical record that refutes your indictment of religion as the chief culprit in most wars and instead places the blame on some decidedly baser human expressions be they communism, Nazism, nationalism, conquest, raw materials, etc. you suddenly switch gears to re-categorize such a secular socio-economic concept as communism as religion, too?
Really Bill? Really?
So to be clear Maher considers Sino and Soviet communism–ideologies which seek to replace God with The State–to be their own religions? Gee, wouldn’t even a casual observer conclude that their codified atheism as the very antithesis of religion? His is a conveniently elastic definition of the word to say the least. By Maher’s logic then secular humanism, of which he is an outspoken devotee, is a religion as well because it exalts man. Man as god. Is capitalism then a “religion” because it exults profit? Money as god? Heck, in Maher’s little mind, are not the fans at Yankee Stadium in reality a congregation in a temple worshiping Jeter and A-Rod?
You get the gist. Still so unaccustomed to cross-examination by the learned, the satirist offers up to Cupp a line of argument to back up his ad hoc thesis of which Clarence Darrow would have been proud: “You never heard that?” Well said, sir. Well said indeed.
So here we can see that, when called out once again on one of his ready-shoot-aim inanities our cock-sure pontificator simply dodges and weaves in a pathetic attempt to wriggle out of a fundamentally inaccurate statement by re-defining “religion” on the spot.
Phew! Dodged that bullet eh, Bill?
Well, not really. Let’s look closer at his argument that religion is the cause of most wars. According to the ol’ encyclopedia here, some of the bloodiest wars in the last century were World War II, World War I, the Second Congo War, Korea, Vietnam, the Iran-Iraq War. Raise your hand if you can tell me the religious zealotry driving these conflicts. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Maher? Anyone?
Unfortunately for Maher’s proposition, the causes of these wars were as earthly as they come: land, power, profit, raw materials, conquest, balance of power, regional domination. The closest intrusion of theology into these many conflicts may be a hint of honoring a deity in the case of the Japanese reverence of the ceremonial Mikado…but that was just a façade as the hegemonic Japan’s true motivation was a quest for fuel, rubber and ore. As for the Iran-Iraq War, sure sunni/shiah tensions helped fuel the flames, but the real engine driving this conflict was crude oil.
So perhaps Bill should have said:
“Religion causes most wars with the following minor exceptions: (Deep breath) The Second Congo War, the Gulf War, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War II, the Russo-Finish War, the Sino-Japanese war ,World War I, the Russo-Japanese War, the Boer War, the Spanish-American war, the Spanish Civil War , the US Civil War, the Napoleanic Wars, etc, etc.”
There is a marked difference between going to war explicitly for one’s God and hoping that God is rooting for you as you go off to war to fight for something else. As the old saying goes: “There are no atheists in foxholes.”
Has religion been the cassis belli in past conflicts? Of course it has and to deny that is to ignore history…which is Maher’s forte, not mine. But “some” or “one of many” as opposed to most is in terms of meaning and implication about as yawning a chasm as exists between the minds of C.S. Lewis and Bill Maher. But this concept is beyond the funny-man-turned-left-wing-crusader for commenting on war and its complex antecedents requires a rudimentary knowledge of the historical record from which opinions should emerge…not the other way around.
I don’t know what happened to Maher during his life to turn him so caustic on religion — a subject about which he demonstrates week after week he has only a child-like understanding. But I would recommend that if he is going to speak with such conviction about the causal relationship between belief in a higher power and the world at war, he should at least crack open a history book first before opening his mouth — preferably one written by someone other than Noam Chomsky. Otherwise this man will just continue to make himself to look more and more the fool…his howling enablers in the stacked peanut gallery notwithstanding.