Bill Maher.

Lately, the mention of his name results in an instant cringe. To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of him, mostly because his focus on being “real” or “blunt” just comes off as rude and arrogant. However, that one episode of his show that blasted Islam, and the one where Ben Affleck defended Islam, really escalated my apathy to disdain and dislike.

My main issue with Maher is that he is a self-proclaimed liberal.  He believes that he stands for the minorities and helps those who do not have a voice, yet he commits microaggressions against non-white males on his show.  He cuts them off during their arguments, but freaks out when someone else interrupts him.  He arrogantly proclaims his progressive values, that he doesn’t believe in any religions, and that religion itself is a crutch and for the weak minded or uneducated.  But Maher makes a clear distinction.

The usual Islamophobic suspects are generally laughable in how ridiculous their views or “facts” are, but what makes Bill Maher’s Islamophobic tendencies worse is that he believes he is being “progressive” and objective.  It is his proclamation of being liberal that contrasts with those that are willing to state they are being discriminatory.

According to Maher, there are no such things as “moderate Muslims.” He says this not in a way that could actually makes sense, where moderate Muslim is a Western normative term, but instead he suggests the idea that any Muslim is a ticking time bomb ready to unleash their inner terrorist. Unnamed sources of information apparently gives Maher license to declare what “the majority of Muslims think.”  Does he secretly live in South Asia, Indonesia, the Middle East, Africa, or any other areas with large Muslim population?  Did he actually study Islam extensively? We know he isn’t Muslim, because he loves to proclaim how he’s so atheist. The fallacy is all too apparent- one can never truly state what majority of Muslim think. How can you categorize over a billion people?

Another favorite topic is Muslim women, another section of society in which he has zero experience.  During an interview, Maher argues against other liberals, stating that women (mainly discussing Afghanistan) who wear burka or niqab are merely brainwashed into thinking they want to wear it.  He doesn’t acknowledge any difference of opinion in religious or cultural garb, nor does he acknowledge these women having any agency over what they wear. Simply put, his views promote a Western normative view on how women should and shouldn’t dress, despite his so-called “liberal” values.

It is quite unusual for a liberal to sound like something off of a FOX News segment, which should have been a clue to Maher that his prejudices against Islam are not only misplaced but brews hate against a largely marginalized segment of society (especially in the West). For Bill Maher to truly consider himself liberal, as well as be progressive for better recognition of minorities, he needs to listen to others’ opinions and respect their choices.  Personally, I think he would benefit from a social etiquette class.

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  • Aurora Walchak-Varndt will be graduating Michigan State University this December. Besides studying abroad in Dubai, UAE and Cairo, Egypt, she has presented at the annual Muslim Mental Health Conference.