Two videos on Islam: Bill Maher and Hitchens

Here are two videos that deal at least partly with the claim that violent Islamic radicals aren’t “really Muslim.”

The first is a new video from Bill Maher’s show taking as a starting point the Pennsylvania kid recently arrested for posting with a Jesus statue in a compromising position (see my post here). What I didn’t realize, but Maher did, was that although penalizing the kid for that act was wrong, doing something similar in a Muslim country would inevitably result in your death. Maher then decries cultural relativism and adds a few harsh words for the Yale atheists who objected to Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s talk at their school.  I have to say, I’m a big fan of Maher when he talks about religion, for he speaks the truth.

And here’s an old clip of Christopher Hitchens on Islam and the Caliphate. At 5 minutes in, he takes up the claim that jihadis and extremist Muslims don’t represent the “real Islam.” Clearly very ill, having lost his hair to chemotherapy, he had lost none of his fire.

h/t: John, Malgorzata

25 Comments

  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 28, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I was right there with Maher until he started moving toward decrying complaining about sexism in the US when there are women who suffer so much more in other countries. Whether he intended this or not, it implies, “oh gone on with ya! You got it better here than those other countries – equal pay for equal work! Sheesh – you know we spoil ya here, right?”

    • Posted September 28, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Since we’re already putting words in Maher’s mouth, I think his point was while the US is sexist (abortion rights and being paid less than men being just two examples), it’s not equivalent to not being allowed to work, drive, vote, and being subjected to genital mutilation. Going back to his original topic of mockery of religion, I, as an atheist, don’t feel spoiled by Christian majority or the openly Christian elected leaders here, but I feel lucky to live in the US where atheism is at least officially legal.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 28, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t put words in Maher’s mouth and if you read carefully what I wrote, I mentioned that intended or not, this is the impression he makes when he says those things.

        If he wanted to ensure there was no confusion, he could have stated that it’s actually okay to be outraged by both things.

    • Benjamin
      Posted September 28, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      I thought this too, and I see your point.

      But after reflecting on it, I don’t think that Maher is saying that we shouldn’t fight against discrimination on all fronts, major and minor.

      I think he’s just expressing his frustration at the disproportionate response of liberals to (relatively) minor issues in the western world compared to the massively underwhelming response of many of those same liberals to truly terrible and horrifying things that happen in some parts of the Middle East, Africa etc.

      I think it’s more of an attack on cultural relativism than anything else, and Maher (like me) just wishes that liberals were consistently and truly liberal about everything.

      • Filippo
        Posted September 28, 2014 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        Right, don’t gripe about the status of things here in the U.S., and leave it at that, and avoid critiquing Islamicist/Islamophile abuse/torture of women for fear of offending their delicate sensibilities.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 28, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it probably is what he was intending to say but I think he could have tightened it up a bit and made that intent more clear.

        • Benjamin
          Posted September 28, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          Agreed.

      • Marella
        Posted September 29, 2014 at 1:01 am | Permalink

        That’s how I saw it too.

    • Posted September 28, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      The way I heard him — and, granted, I could be inserting my own perspective — is that, if we’re going to be upset about a “sugar tits” slur or “suck my dick, faggot” or the like (and we should), then we should be absolutely furious with those who enslave women and murder homosexuals…and, yet, so many who display horrified outrage at the former examples stand proud and tall with the perpetrators and promoters of the latter.

      Again, that’s my personal take. How can you be upset when American “culture” causes girls to face discrimination in math classes at home, and then turn around and link arms with those who violently sexually assault foreign girls for “cultural” reasons, and turn on those foreigners trying to reform their own culture?

      Something is very rotten at the heart of American liberalism.

      b&

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 28, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I think that was most likely his intent. I also just read a pretty good article on Vox that talks about the female Saudi fighter pilot who bombed ISIS targets and how condescending public comments are about this. I suspect this is what Bill Maher was going for but he left a bit too much open for interpretation. Like when you turn in a paper to your English professor, you get marked down for not being clear enough and when you argue that you meant to say that, you get the “it doesn’t matter if you meant to say that; you didn’t write that”. I think that sentence whether said to me or my peers made me always question what I was saying.

        • Posted September 28, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

          Like when you turn in a paper to your English professor, you get marked down for not being clear enough and when you argue that you meant to say that, you get the “it doesn’t matter if you meant to say that; you didn’t write that”.

          Hmmm…good point. Still, it’s a quasi-improvised comedy routine, not a peer-reviewed journal. This might be a good case to give him the benefit of the doubt, even while suggesting he might want to edit the schtick the next time he uses it.

          b&

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted September 28, 2014 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

            Yes, and I give him the benefit of the doubt only because I’ve heard him speak favourably for the other US issues.

    • Ralph
      Posted September 28, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      I the “Dear Muslima” flashbacks are understandable, but mistaken. His target here is cultural relativism.

      The “Dear Muslima” formulation is
      “X is much worse than Y, so stop whining about Y”.

      Here he’s saying:
      “In the U.S., our liberal values tell us Y is wrong. X is much worse than Y. So why in hell would a supposed liberal tolerate X just because it’s happening abroad within a different culture?”

    • Posted September 28, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Yep. He should have made it clear that he was using those examples for comparison, not saying we shouldn’t also speak out about such transgressions. (That’s assuming that he did in fact mean it like that, which, I fear, is an unsafe assumption.)

  2. francis
    Posted September 28, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    //

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 28, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      //

  3. Filippo
    Posted September 28, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Re Hitchens video – “Who is to say who are the true Muslims”?

    Apparently Karen Armstrong and her ilk.

    • Posted September 28, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Yeh, it’s a strange form of neo-neo-colonialism to set oneself up as an adjudicator of the “true” Islam.

  4. rickflick
    Posted September 28, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Christopher Hitchens was a true artist of the podium. In a way, given Youtube, he still is.

    • Benjamin
      Posted September 28, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      It’s a real tragedy that someone like Christopher is no longer with us, and can no longer give speeches or take part in debates.

      However, we’re extremely fortunate that such a large proportion of speeches he gave, and debates in which he took part are available for use to view and review.

      Even now, a new recording of Hitchens will occasionally appear, or I’ll stumble across a video I haven’t seen before, and for a short while, it’s like he’s still with us.

      • Todd Steinlage
        Posted September 29, 2014 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

        I was just thinking the same thing watching the videos. Then I thought, how lucky we are to have the written thoughts of people like Russell (or anyone else). Now I’m just glad to be able to read, and have the freedom to read anything I want to (Banned Books week was just a few weeks ago). Lucky indeed.

  5. Kurt
    Posted September 28, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting.
    Maher really hammers home the issue of cultural relativism where getting excited by rather minor transgressions in one’s local culture “transcends” the far greater atrocities in other places.
    Hitch was brilliant and eloquent as usual.

  6. Amy
    Posted September 29, 2014 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    it’s sad to see Hitchen speak when he is really really sick.

  7. Mobius
    Posted September 29, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Even deathly ill, Hitchen’s eloquence and intelligence comes through.

    I did not agree with many of Hitchen’s post 9/11 views but his ideas were always worth considering, even if you didn’t agree with them in the end. He was a very deep thinker and he is definitely missed.

  8. Bob J.
    Posted October 2, 2014 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Bill Maher video taken down. And I was just going to forward it to a friend.


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