THE WAY WE ARGUE: Ben Affleck just kept repeating his script!

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2014

Part 3—Fundamentalists, here and abroad:
The bombs were dropping, thick and fast, on the October 3 Real Time with Bill Maher.

For yesterday’s post, click here.

Maher and Sam Harris were trying to lodge some sort of complaint about liberals’ reaction, or lack of same, to “illiberal” behavior and belief in the Muslim world.

Before they’d spoken for two minutes, the bombs had started to fall.

In the course of a ten-minute segment, Maher and Harris were compared to white racists on two or three occasions. They were also compared to the ugliest kind of homophobes and to the grossest anti-Semites.

Ben Affleck did the bulk of the bombing this night. At one point, he was assisted by the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof.

Was the bombing of Maher and Harris justified? We’ll try to address that question below. For starters, let’s notice this:

Affleck made some perfectly sensible observations in the course of this failed discussion. At the 87-second mark, he broke in on Harris with a perfectly sensible question.

To watch the whole segment, click here:
HARRIS (10/3/14): Well, liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy. They’ll criticize white theocracy. They’ll criticize Christians. They’ll still get agitated about the abortion clinic bombing that happened in 1984.

(Maher chuckles)

But when you want to talk about the treatment of women and homosexuals and free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us. And the crucial point of confusion—

(Audience applauds)

HARRIS: Yes. Thank you. The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry toward Muslims as people.

MAHER: Right.

HARRIS: And that is intellectually ridiculous.

AFFLECK: So hold on! Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam? You’re the interpreter of that, so you can say, “Well this is—”
Already, Affleck seemed angry. But he had asked a perfectly sensible question.

Harris had suggested that there were problems with “the doctrine of Islam,” whatever that meant. In a somewhat hostile way, Affleck asked if Harris had the background to expound on that subject.

“I'm actually well-educated on this topic,” Harris humbly replied.

As the bombs began to fall, the disputants never really returned to the question of what Harris meant when he referred to “the doctrine of Islam.” Soon, Affleck was making the first of many statements which showed the difficulty he seemed to have in listening to, and actually hearing, what other people were saying.

Instead, he kept returning to a script—to a mandated bit of dogma. Increasingly, that is The Way We Argue, for better or for much worse.

Affleck seemed to have a great deal of trouble hearing Harris this day. Before two minutes had elapsed, he offered his first mistaken account of something Harris had said.

This was the fuller exchange from above, complete with mistranslation:
AFFLECK: So hold on! Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam? You’re the interpreter of that, so you can say, “Well this is—”

HARRIS: I'm actually well-educated on this topic.

AFFLECK: I’m asking you! So you’re saying, if I criticize— You’re saying that Islamophobia is not a real thing. That if you’re critical of something—

MAHER (ironically): Well, it`s not a real thing when we do it.

AFFLECK: Right.

MAHER: It really isn’t.

HARRIS: I’m not denying that, that certain people are bigoted against Muslims as people. And that’s a problem.

AFFLECK (sarcastically): That’s big of you.

HARRIS: But the—

MAHER: But why are you so hostile about this concept?

AFFLECK: Because it’s gross, it’s racist.

MAHER: It’s not. It’s—but it’s so not.

AFFLECK: It’s so—it’s like saying, “You’re a shifty Jew.”
“You’re saying that Islamophobia is not a real thing,” Affleck said to Harris.

In all honesty, Harris hadn't actually said or implied that. For the first of many times, Affleck was misinterpreting what had been said. This led him to drop the first of his several bombs.

People! Harris hadn’t said or implied “that Islamophobia is not a real thing.” He had said something quite different—he had said that people are accused of Islamophobia every time they criticize the doctrine of Islam (whatever that is).

Harris hadn’t denied the existence of Islamophobia. Inevitably, though, here’s what happened next:

In response to Harris' statement, Affleck effectively accused him of Islamophobia! He accused him of behaving in a racist way, like the crudest anti-Semite.

For the first of many times, Affleck seemed to have a hard time hearing what Harris and Maher had said on a sensitive “racial”/religious/cultural topic. This led him to drop several bombs.

Increasingly, this is The Way We Argue, especially in our struggling liberal world.

In that first exchange, did Affleck misunderstand what Harris had said? For ourselves, we’d say he did. But then, he did so throughout the ten-minute segment, perhaps in ways which will be more obvious.

Throughout the segment, Affleck kept insisting that Harris and Maher were playing the classic role of the stereotyping bigot. As we noted yesterday, he made this claim for the second time around the three-minute mark:
AFFLECK (angrily, excitedly): How about more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, pray five times a day—

MAHER: Wait a second! Wait a second!

AFFLECK: —and don’t do any of the things you saying all Muslims do? It’s stereotyping!

HARRIS: I’m not saying all Muslims say that.

AFFLECK: Some of them do bad things and you’re painting the whole religion with that same brush.
We were now three minutes into the segment. By now, Harris had made a statement which, in our view, should have been left unsaid. (“Islam, at the moment, is the mother lode of bad ideas.”)

In our view, such florid language is unhelpful when discussing such sensitive subjects. But in truth, Harris hadn’t said that “all Muslims” engage in the offensive behavior in question. He hadn’t “painted the whole religion with that same brush.”

“I’m not saying all Muslims say that,” Harris explicitly said to Affleck. In this way, Harris explicitly said that he wasn’t accusing all Muslims.

But alas! No matter how many times Harris stated this point, Affleck seemed unable to hear him. Throughout the ten minutes, he kept insisting that Harris was sliming all Muslims.

Consider what happened when Affleck calmed long down enough to let Harris lay out his views and his claims. Starting around the 4:15 mark, Harris explicitly stated his case—his view of the current state of affairs in the far-flung Muslim world.

In this passage, Harris started stating his case. Eventually, his statements seemed to occasion a lot of agreement from Affleck:
HARRIS: Just imagine some concentric circles here. You have, at the center, you have jihadists. These are people who wake up in the morning wanting to kill apostates, wanting to die trying. They believe in paradise; they believe in martyrdom.

Outside of them, we have Islamists. These are people who are just as convinced of martyrdom and paradise and wanting to foist their religion on the rest of humanity, but they want to work within the system. They're not going to blow themselves up on a bus. They want to change governments. They want to use democracy against itself.

That, those two circles, arguably, are twenty percent of the Muslim world, OK? This is not the fringe of the fringe.

AFFLECK: What are you basing that research on?

HARRIS: A bunch of poll results that we can talk about. To give you one point of contact: Seventy-eight percent of British Muslims think that the Danish cartoonist should have been prosecuted—78 percent. So I’m being conservative when I roll it back to twenty percent.
At this point, Harris was explicitly talking about “twenty percent of the Muslim world.”

Can we talk? Twenty percent is not the whole Muslim world! Whatever you think of Harris’ analysis, he manifestly wasn’t accusing “all Muslims” of belonging to the groups he had described.

As he continued, Harris added a third concentric circle. Manifestly, though, he still wasn’t talking about all Muslims.

As he spoke, he identified Muslim victims of the behavior in question. He explicitly praised those Muslims who are seeking reform:
HARRIS (continuing directly): But outside of that circle you have conservative Muslims, who can honestly look at ISIS and say, "That does not represent us. We’re horrified by that." But they hold views about human rights, and about women, about homosexuals that are deeply troubling. These are not Islamists, they’re not jihadists—

AFFLECK: Those views are anathema to ours.

HARRIS: But they also keep women and homosexuals immiserated in these cultures and we have to empower the true reformers in the Muslim world to change it. And lying about the [unintelligible] doctrine and behavior is not going to do it.
Might we make a simple point? If so, here it is:

You may think that Harris’ analysis is all wet. You may think he’s overstating the number of people who qualify for inclusion in the three groups he identified—jihadists, Islamists and conservative Muslims.

You may have some other objection to the portrait he has drawn. But manifestly, he isn’t criticizing all Muslims. He isn’t seeing “some [Muslims] do bad things,” then “painting the whole religion [or population] with that same brush.”

By now, it should have been plain. Harris had explicitly said, several times, that he wasn’t criticizing all Muslims. He had commiserated with Muslim victims of the conduct in question. He had praised those Muslims he described as the true reformers.

He had used terms like twenty percent. And twenty percent isn’t “all!”

How many times must a person say it? If Affleck’s around, many times! Around the eight-minute mark, the aggrieved star exploded again.

Once again, Affleck dropped several bombs and repeated his scripted assessment. By now, it was abundantly clear—there was only one song he could hear:
MAHER: We’re not convincing anybody—

AFFLECK: It’s not that. I’m simply telling you that I disagree with what you think, Bill.

MAHER: I know. I know. And—and we’re obviously not convincing anybody up here.

AFFLECK: I don’t understand it. Yes.

HARRIS: You don’t understand my argument?

AFFLECK: Your argument is like, “You know, black people! You know, they shoot each other. They’re blacks!”

MAHER: No it’s not! No it’s not. It’s based on facts. I can show you a Pew poll of Egyptians—they are not outliers in the Muslim world—that say like 90 percent of them believe death is the appropriate response to leaving the religion. If 90 percent of Brazilians thought that death was the appropriate response to leaving Catholicism, you would think it was a bigger deal.

AFFLECK: I would think it’s a big deal no matter what.

MAHER: OK, but that’s the fact.

AFFLECK: But what I wouldn’t do is say, “It’s all Brazilians.” Or I wouldn’t say, “Well, Ted Bundy did this. Goddamn these gays, they’re all trying to eat each other!”

HARRIS: OK, let me just give you what you want. There are hundreds of millions of Muslims who are nominal Muslims, who don’t take the faith seriously, who don’t want to kill apostates, who are horrified by ISIS, and we need to defend these people, prop them up and let them reform their—

AFFLECK: ISIS couldn’t fill a Double-A ball park in Charleston, West Virginia, and you’re making a career out of “ISIS, ISIS, ISIS.”

MAHER: No, no, no—we’re not!...I think that’s the opposite of what we’re doing.

AFFLECK: There is those things. There’s ISIS, there’s global jihadists. The question is the degree to which you're willing to say, “Because I've witnessed this behavior, which we all object to, on the part of these people, I'm willing to flatly condemn those of you I don't know and have never met.”
Nothing could stop this Hollywood liberal from shouting the one thing he was hearing inside his single-track head.

No matter how many times he was told that Harris wasn’t condemning all Muslims, Affleck kept returning to that claim and suggestion. He kept returning to ugly pictures in which all members of a group are condemned for the actions of some.

Affleck broadcast ugly images involving blacks and gays. As he did, he evoked behavior in which all blacks and gays are crazily attacked for the misdeeds of some.

He imagined all Brazilians being attacked for the misdeeds of some. Even after Harris “gave him what he wanted”—explicitly cited the “hundreds of millions of Muslims” who are “horrified by ISIS”—Affleck kept suggesting that Harris and Maher were “willing to flatly condemn” all Muslims.

Affleck was hearing a voice in his head. No matter what he was told by the people around him, he kept repeating what the voice said all through a ten-minute discussion.

Affleck was able to hear his truth. He seemed able to hear nothing else. There’s a word for people like that.

They’re known as “fundamentalists.” Increasingly, this is The Way We Argue. Can a floundering modern nation really function this way?

Tomorrow: Nicholas Kristof’s column

79 comments:

  1. Well, to push-back on Bob a bit ... when Harris gave Affleck "what he wanted," he described the "hundreds of millions of Muslims" as only "nominal Muslims, who don't take the faith seriously." That sounds to me like Harris is saying you can't be a real Muslim who takes his faith seriously if you don't subscribe to "Islamist" or "jihadist" philosophy.

    Maybe Affleck could have handled himself better, but it reads to me as if both sides were talking past one another.

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    1. Harris attempted to address Affleck's complaint. Affleck did not attempt to address Harris's statements -- he ignored them and continued asserting his own opinion. It sounds to me as if only one side was talking past the other -- Affleck. Harris listened to Affleck but Affleck did not listen to Harris.

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  2. The old dodge for anti-Semites was to say "Some of my best friend are Jews."
    The new dodge for anti-Muslims is to say that while not all Muslims are Jihadists, they all can be herded around the Jihadists in concentric rings, because "Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas."

    Bob Gardner
    Randolph, MA

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    1. Harris was talking about who holds jihadist beliefs within Islam. He was not suggesting that such beliefs are the heart of the Muslim world around which are arranged other Muslims.

      Islam has a lot of bad ideas. So does Christianity, in my opinion, and Buddhism, while we're at it. Don't forget that Harris is an atheist. What other opinion would you expect him to hold? You have to work extra hard to make that statement Islamophobic.

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    2. When Harris groups Muslims around a center of violent extremists in concentric rings he certainly is "suggesting that such beliefs are at the heart of the Muslim world."
      The alternative would be to suggest that Jihadist beliefs are at the extreme edge of that world, more or less like we like to do when we describe people we don't agree with politically as extreme left or right wingers.
      Harris and Maher want us to think that this is conflict is a great battle of ideas between the mother lode of bad ideas, Islam, and the enlightened liberal Western world.
      We don't have to examine any of our motives, or question the violence that we've engaged in because once we've opposed "the mother lode of bad ideas" we have defined ourselves as being on the right side.
      Once we have organized all the Muslims as more or less connected with that mother lode, we've completed the process of defining all of them as inferior. A core of them completely evil, surrounded by people who are not quite separate from this evil, and never quite up to our standards.
      Racism is precisely what Harris and Maher are pushing.
      Bob Gardner
      Randolph, MA

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    3. No, when you draw concentric rings around a center, it can be a diagram illustrating any number of things. It only represents the "Muslim world" if that's what Harris says he was describing. He was describing extremism of views and the rings show the percentages of people, decreasing as you go away from the center (most extreme in the center, less extreme as you go out). The rings do not depict adherence to Muslim belief or representativeness of Muslim theology or participation in Muslim religion or any the things you want to ascribe to it.

      Harris and Maher do not think the Western world is any more enlightened when it comes to religious belief. Maher mocks Christianity just as much as he does Islam (see his film Religulous).

      You need to look at what people actually say and not be putting words into their mouths that they did not say. In that, you are not different than Affleck.

      There are people in many parts of the world who are actively resisting the influence of Western culture, science and modernization. This is not caused by their religious beliefs but does result in their being Fundamentalists in whatever religious tradition they adhere to. The Amish are a Christian example.

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    4. "Harris and Maher do not think the Western world is any more enlightened when it comes to religious belief. Maher mocks Christianity just as much as he does Islam (see his film Religulous).

      You need to look at what people actually say and not be putting words into their mouths that they did not say. In that, you are not different than Affleck."

      This is ridiculous, of course Maher was singling out Islam as being extreme in comparison to other religions. That was the whole point of the argument.
      Agree with him or not, but at least try to understand what he is saying.

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    5. The whole point of the argument is that liberals won't call out anti-liberal policies when they come from a religion like Islam.

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  3. I agree that the argument over what percentage of Muslims is evil is futile. I get that.

    But the operative statement that Harris made was “Islam, at the moment, is the mother lode of bad ideas.”

    For Ben Affleck to accept that as true would mean that everyone who is a follower of Islam is tainted by it, or soon will be. I think Affleck was right to take issue with that. I'll let Reza Aslan fill in the rest.

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    1. I just finished reading "The Underground Girls of Kabul" by Jenny Nordberg. It describes girls who are raised as boys to circumvent overvaluing of males and restrictions on females in Afghanistan. What struck me was that the situation for such girls remained unchanged through several changes in government, from occupation by USSR, to occupation by the Taliban to occupation by the USA. There was no change because the cultural traditions remained the same, even despite efforts to promote rights for women by the USA and efforts to suppress them by the Taliban. Culture trumps all of that. Islam is implemented differently in different cultures and many of the traditions precede Islam and were incorporated into it. These are manifestly bad ideas, so bad that people invent contortions of nature (turning girls into boys) to escape them. Blaming Islam is a distraction. I think the ideas and practices need to be addressed directly, not religion. Religion will change and reflect changes in practice, not vice versa.

      Girls are turned into boys not to pursue education or to have greater freedom (that was a reason why some girls continued being boys), but to (1) increase the likelihood that a son will be born into the family next, fulfilling a superstition; or (2) increase the status of the family in the community because it has a son (or more sons). Changing the status of men and women in Afghani society is needed, not changing Islam.

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    2. That gender bias is with us as well. Witness Maher chuckling at the thought that people find abortion clinic bombings offensive.

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    3. The operative term here seemed to be "1984", as if to say liberals tend to be very selective and self-serving wih their alleged outrage. He accused you of being a hypocrite.

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    4. Yes, what was that about?

      It has been suggested that jihadist groups are an outlet for young men with pent up energy who cannot find wives in cultures where there is an imbalance between the sexes (because poor families cannot afford to raise girls). I think societies should be taking more seriously the possible link between violence and sexual frustration, and the extent to which some social practices exacerbate it.

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    5. Well, as long as it only seemed to be about something as if, then clearly it was an accusation of me.

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  4. Bob, you may be over-analyzing this. The problem wasn't Affleck -- it's the format of the show. Maher's groups don't always produce thoughtful discussions, especially when 3 or 4 people who are not experts on a topic are put on the spot, and have to talk past each other to be heard.

    Sam Harris has made a career of getting people riled up by bashing religion. Regardless of the validity of his arguments, it's an easy way to piss people off. On top of that, the host (who is essentially the Alpha of the group) was completely on his side, so it put the rest of the guests on defense. People don't make rational arguments when they're pissed off and defensive.

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    1. Sam Harris has made himself an expert on those religions in order to bash them. Although the host was on the side of Harris, Affleck had support from Kristol, so it was a fair fight. Affleck got pissed off very quickly, before he heard anything Harris said. Note that Harris was being repeatedly attacked and yet did not get pissed off. There may be a lesson there of some sort.

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    2. I get that Maher and Affleck are liberal leaders because they are TV and Movie personalities.
      Kristof is a known guild members whose leadership failings are well documented by Somerby.

      I asked before and I'll ask again. Who the Sam Harris is Sam Harris?

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    3. @ October 15, 2014 at 1:54 PM. You want to learn about Sam Harris? Read his definitve biography/

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    4. @ 1:54, he is a leader in the atheist movement. Your question is kind of like asking who Rick Warren is. You might not know if you weren't interested in that discussion but that doesn't make him less important.

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    5. It would be helpful if TDH were more descriptive.

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    6. How can he be under descriptive and over analytical?
      Too me the balance is just right. Some people just like to tear him down. Whose interests are they serving?

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    7. Thanks @ 2:15. I enjoyed reading about him. @ 2:24 seems not to know what he is talking about by caling him a leader in the "atheist" movement. Who is Rick Warren?

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  5. Better framed arguments coupled with attentive listening will do much to slow melting of the ice caps.....er, our liberal intellectual
    culture.

    Only when liberal leaders like Ben Affleck learn better argument can we expect them to have an impact on making our most corrupt elite, the liberal media guild, accountable for what happened in 2000. Then it will be safe to move forward in 2016, except that most of the liberal tribe is dumb, too.

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    1. Ben Affleck is a liberal leader? I thought he was a movie star.

      There are some arguments that can be resolved by better listening. There are other conflicts that become worse with listening because there is a real difference in values at the heart of the conflict. Resolving these requires more than just learning to listen better.

      For example, many atheists know a great deal about various religions. It hasn't seemed to make them more religious. For myself, the more I know about religion, the more convinced I am that it is not a force for good in the world and should not be encouraged, whether Islam or Christianity or any other faith. And I dislike calling any strong belief "Fundamentalist" as if there were similarities between someone who is passionate about preventing climate change (for example) and someone who believes the Bible is literal truth because it is the word of God.

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    2. It would be helpful if TDH were more descriptive. I am unfamiliar with Affleck and assumed he was a leader of some sort or he would not merit three posts, none of which described his profession.

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    3. Affleck is a liberal leader when it suits Bobs purposes.

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    4. Digby reacted like Affleck. She is a liberal blog loeader.

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  6. I could tell from the outset Affleck was edgy. Harris just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I truly believe Affleck has been itching to get back on the show. He has, as I have, observed Maher's distaste for Muslims. In the recent child-killing in Gaza, Maher basically said 'Ha Ha. They shouldn't have brought their kids to a battle'. He's swinishly arrogant about the excellence of his own opinions.

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    1. I don't know if he basically said "Ha Ha." He did audibly chuckle about that abortion clinic bombing. Or at least he seemed to or the official transcript would not have shown him doing that.

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    2. It was a reference to the infamous 'collateral murder' video.

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    3. It was a reference to the difference between saying someone basically said something and someone actually saying something.

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    4. ...said the blog fly.

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  7. Ben Afflect and others may think he is a liberal leader but he is not. He does not speak for me. I believe that Maher and Harris were absolutely correct in what they were saying. Affleck clearly did not listen to what they were saying. The Muslim religion, along with many others is about as anti-liberal as you can get yet Affleck refuses to speak out about them but he probably condemned the Christian Bakery for refusing to make a gay wedding cake,

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    1. How do you make a cake gay?

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    2. You put the figures of two men atop a wedding cake, instead of figures of a man and woman. Did you really not know that?

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    3. There are liberal and conservative versions of Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Are there similarly liberal versions of Islam with their own mosques? Does anyone know the answer to this question?

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    4. So the wedding cake is the same. It is still heterosexual. That is reassuring.

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    5. There is really no way a truly Christian baked cake can be gay no matter how many guys in funny hats in Rome tell you differently.

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    6. You can't make a cake gay -- they're born that way. Duh.

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    7. @3:02. Here you go. http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1912091,00.html

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  8. It is astonishing how often people egregiously repeat their scripts.
    Thanks for the heads up, TDH.

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  9. I think anyone interested should watch that show and decide for themselves.

    My take, I thought it was strange seeing a bunch of guys who aren’t Muslim discussing exactly how bad Islam is, or isn’t.

    I remember about half way through saying to my wife “It’s got to be embarrassing when Ben Affleck is making more sense than you in a debate.”

    I thought it odd that they’d be discussing Muslims views, without referencing the 100+ years of constant western interference in much of the Muslim world. Take your pick: making up international boarders after WW1, overthrowing elected leaders in 1950s Iran, general bombing and mayhem (ongoing and endless), to more recent death-from-the-sky drones in Yemen and Afghanistan. If you check the polls, the more irrational believers tend to be in the nations the west has most f*cked with.

    Is that surprising and worth discussing? Does fear cause people to adopt irrational beliefs, having nothing to do with religion? Ask Sam Harris, the spiritual but athiestic humanist who after 9/11 began defending torturing prisoners.

    As an athiest of Jewish heritage, I’m maybe a bit touchy when know-nothings demonize people of a different faith, a lot of the show had me pretty upset, and but it wasn’t anything Mr Afflack said.

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    1. I think it odd you left out the Crusades. That was the one that started it all.

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    2. Do you think Muslims are going to sit around discussing how bad Islam is?

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    3. What do you suppose started the Crusades?

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  10. 4:55, sure. I think there "real" (as opposed to "nominal") Muslim pundits who would have happily been on that show to participate in that discussion. Don't you?

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    1. Really? Reza Aslan wouldn't have come on to clarify things?

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    2. He said today that Maher is not a bigot.

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    3. Here's what Aslan wrote in the NYTimes soon after the show.

      "Bill Maher is right to condemn religious practices that violate fundamental human rights. Religious communities must do more to counter extremist interpretations of their faith. But failing to recognize that religion is embedded in culture — and making a blanket judgment about the world’s second largest religion — is simply bigotry."

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    4. And then he said that Bill Maher is not a bigot.

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  11. Robert Spencer & Pamela GellerOctober 15, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    Perceptive an insightful post! We couldn't have framed the issues any better.

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  12. Affleck also attempted to enlist the Declaration of Independence claiming that it says '...we are endowded by our forefathers (sic) with cetain inalienable (sic) rights...'

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  13. Pretty good work here breaking down this much noted exchange.

    But here's what Bob won't notice or won't tell you. A few months back Vietnam War supporter Maher had on filmmaker Errol Morris, plugging his new movie about Donald Rumsfeld. Rather surprisingly, Maher suggested that Rumsfeld might, in an anything's possible sort of way, turn out to be correct about invading Iraq, just as he tended to go against the grain thinking the U.S. war in Vietnam was a very good thing. So a key point Affleck makes but isn't mentioned here is that good old enlightened, rational, 21st century Americans have done a lot more killing than ISIS, who weren't in the news yet when Maher tried to paint a happy face on W's Folly. On "Realtime" Maher will occasionally speak out again't Military Waste, but he never did on his previous programs, he has been repurposed for a more leftish audience that is not all that far apart from The Chris Matthews facelift.
    Long story short: What Maher says about Islam is probably true, and a modicum of context renders it pretty meaningless. Throw in a bit of real world complexity ( The Kurds have a genital mutilation problem too) and your about finished.
    Finally, the fact that Daily Howler never critiques coverage of The Military suggests he's not really going to put Maher in any kind of context. Yes, a lot of liberals like Maher (I find his shows worthwhile), but a lot of liberals used to like an obvious reactionary dolt like Dennis Miller too.

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    1. A lot of liberals don't like Maher too.

      Dennis Miller used to appeal to college kids who thought they were clever because they caught most of his cultural references. I don't know why he shifted right, but even Bob Dylan had a conversion experience.

      There are lots of issues Daily Howler never covers. The military is important but far from the only important neglected issue here. I think he covers whatever he personally finds interesting without attempting to be comprehensive or systematic. It is part of his charm because it reflects his personality -- like having a conversation with a friend.

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