This is an amazing bit of video from Friday’s Real Time with Glenn Greenwald really taking Bill Maher to task on his anti-Islam rhetoric. Greenwald is making a kind of Some People Push Back argument. He is saying that it is outrageous for Americans to be shocked at the violence in the Middle East when we have been by far the most violent player in the region. But as is often the case, Maher pushes the argument in a religious direction and really shows off his ignorance. For one thing, he notes that Islam has been around long before America became a country. I guess the implication is that Islam was very violent then, but that isn’t the case. Then he states that for the last 200 years, Christianity has been violent. That’s almost too ignorant to be believed.
Maher is demonstrating the biggest problem I have with the New Atheists. They all have a strong tendency to be apologists for Christianity and Judaism. This isn’t so much because they defend these faiths. It is just that they lose all perspective when it comes to Islam. It is the usual mechanism by which racism justifies itself. When a Christian bombs an abortion clinic, they don’t tar all Christians with the act: Christianity is most clearly not the reason for the attack. But when a Muslim blows something up, it most clearly is because of the religion. It is madness. And it is very often explained by quoting evil things in the Koran and nice things in the Bible. But it could just as easily be the other way around. It isn’t, because Bill Maher and other neocons know a priori their conclusions.
What I find most amazing is how parochial people like Bill Maher and Sam Harris are. They think themselves anything but. However, they attack what is foreign and forgive what is close by. Sure, Christians may be silly, but they aren’t violent. So everything is seen from a western or American point of view. The Christians can’t be terrorists because they are part of us, attacking another part of us. But when young Muslims attack the Boston Marathon, it is an attack of them against us. All of this thinking leads to neoconservative policy. And as much as Maher and Harris might claim otherwise, it is really nothing more than racism.
Greenwald is right and Maher is wrong: