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Wake Up and Oppose Theocracy: Bill Maher, Rula Jebreal and the Urgent Islam Debate

November 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Jeffrey Tayler, Salon

There is a pressing need for frank talk about Islam and Christianity. Liberals should be on the side of real debate.


Since he delivered his “Real Time” monologue against liberals who treat Islam with excessive deference a month ago, the comedian Bill Maher has suffered all sorts of ill-informed censure aiming to set him on the Straight and Narrow about the faith of 1.6 billion Muslims the world over. Reza Aslan, a frequent guest on “Real Time,” chided him for coming from “a place of complete amateurness on religion” and using “facile” arguments against it. In an emotional confrontation on the show, Ben Affleck pronounced Maher’s (factual, poll-based) statements about Islam “gross” and “racist.” Yet another “Real Time” invitee, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, declared in print that those (including Maher) who “generalize” about Islam are tantamount to bigots and racial profilers.

Pundits are paid to opine, of course, and at times err, and few expect that actors will think straight about issues such as politics and faith as well as they perform on screen. But one might imagine that at least university students would always come down on the side of the Enlightenment and seek to keep their minds open. One would, however, be wrong. In one of the most stupendously incoherent betrayals of the progressive cause in recent decades, more than 5,000 people signed an Internet petition demanding that the University of California, Berkeley — long a beacon in the history of the American free-speech movement — rescind the invitation to Maher to deliver the fall 2014 commencement ceremony address because of his “blatantly bigoted and racist” comments about Islam. The university administration has declined to cede to this babyish online tantrum, at least for now, and Maher is still scheduled to speak.

Yet Maher’s fiercest rhetorical assailant spoke out only last week, and, as has become the custom, did so on his show. After Maher had delivered his monologue denouncing the petition against his upcoming appearance at Berkeley, one of his guests, Rula Jebreal, a hard-hitting Palestinian-Italian journalist, took …read more


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