HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher declared, “”I think that Islam is a problem” and that people who think Syrian refugees have values at odds with US values, “may not be wrong” on Friday.
Maher stated, “I think that Islam is a problem, but I don’t think american Muslims are the problem. That is not the squeaky wheel that needs the oil, in this problem.”
After Senator Angus King (I-ME) said that while the vetting process for Syrian refugees “perhaps” should be “more serious,” focusing on them while ignoring the visa waiver program, “is like attacking Brazil after Pearl Harbor.” Maher said, “I think we all agree on that. That’s what I’m saying, it’s not the squeaky wheel.”
Maher later added, “we here in the West, experience occasional terrorism, as bad as it is. Muslims around the world, experience everyday terrorism. I’m talking about the wife whose husband can beat her with impunity. The gay person, who if he comes out, will be put to death. The maid who can be raped with impunity. The intellectuals in the Muslim world who would like to speak out, but they see bloggers getting killed, or the artists who would like to paint what they want, and they can’t. I don’t know why liberals can’t stand up for those people. Those are the Muslims on whose side you should be.”
He further stated, “56% of Americans believe that the Syrian refugees have odds that are at values — their values are at odds with our values. That may not be wrong. If you are in this religion, you probably do have values that are at odds. This is what liberals don’t want to recognize. You may be from a country, as there are many, many Muslim countries that either have Sharia law or want Sharia law. Those values are not our values.” After reading a quotation from British Prime Minister David Cameron, Maher argued, “this idea that somehow we do share values that all religions are alike is bullsh*t, and we need to call it bullsh*t.”
After Canadian Minister of International Trade and MP Chrystia Freeland objected, “it is incredibly important, particularly now, after the Paris attacks, particularly now, with ISIL raging around the world, to stand up for real diversity, and to say our diversity is our strength.” Maher objected, “So keeping women as second-class citizens is just diversity?” Freeland said she wasn’t saying that, but Maher maintained she was and she couldn’t have it both ways.
Freeland then said, “We in Canada are not going to say Muslims are worse than Christians, or are worse than Jews, or are worse than atheists.” Maher responded, “Not as people, the ideas are worse.”
Freeland objected to this, adding, “we also appreciate that ISIL does not represent Muslims, and it’s now more important than ever to say that, and to stand up for diversity.” After Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist, argued there’s a “portion, that does number in the millions” of Muslims who agree with ISIS, King pointed out that even if the number of Muslims who agree with ISIS is .1%, it’s 1.6 million people, and Domenech cited a poll that showed six million people in Turkey agreed with ISIS Maher said to Freeland, “you’re telling me it’s the same as our culture?”
Freeland responded, “Our culture is a very diverse one and I think now, it is incredibly dangerous, and very wrong, to persecute Muslims, and to say there is something wrong with being a Muslim.”
She later asked, “Are you guys saying the Muslim faith is by definition worse than other people’s?” Maher answered, “Yes, the ideas. If six million people, in a supposedly moderate country, agree with ISIS? I read this article recently, who was attacking me about my beliefs on such things, and they said, oh Bill, you paint with too broad a brush. What about Indonesia, the moderate country of Indonesia, which most of it perhaps is? And then they went on to say only 18% believe in honor killings. Really? So, one out of five people in the country that you’re holding up as the moderate country believes if a woman is raped we blame and kill her?”
Freeland then said that Maher spends most of his show “pointing out the dumbness of Americans.” Maher cut in that “dumbness is a little different,” to which Freeland said it’s “very, very wrong to demonize a religion.” Maher countered, “I’m not demonizing, I’m just reporting. You are making it a demonization.” Freeland also accused Maher of saying that “Muslims are bad,” to which he countered he was only arguing “ideas need to be changed.”
After Freeland asked, “You’re saying their ideas are bad?” Maher responded, “Uh, killing women for being raped, I would say is a bad idea. Yeah, I do. Hang me for it.”
Freeland then stated, “the Bible says an eye for an eye.” Maher then countered, “Well, we don’t listen to the Bible.” Freeland responded, “And very many Muslims don’t listen to to these extreme positions.” Maher pointed to the previously cited numbers that showed “an alarming number do.”
Freeland then stated, “You went through opinion polls.” Maher asked her, “So, they’re all lying to the opinion poll?” Freeland said she wasn’t, and “we don’t need to say an entire religion, and the people who believe in it –.” Domenech then cut in to maintain that no one was attacking the entire religion, but rather the “radical portion” of Islam.
Freeland responded that the need to squash the radical portion is true, adding, “it is really important, now more than ever, for us to be standing up for moderate Muslims.” Maher then cut in, “That’s what I’m trying to do.” He continued, “I mean, there are a lot of Muslims who agree with me. I had one on last week, Asra Nomani, and she says the exact same thing. She said people like you are the problem, because they close off a debate that we need to have. … I’m for her. Who are you for?” Freeland responded that she is for Nomani in this case.
Later in the show, Maher argued, “bigotry is not asking Muslims to do more. We seem very shy — you mentioned a few minutes ago, why don’t they fight their own wars? Why don’t they? It’s like treating them like children. To me, that’s the real bigotry, is that we never seem to ask them to do anything. Why can’t they fight ISIS? Why are Muslim armies so useless? They have the troops.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett