Tag: bill maher

In this image released by HBO, host Bill Maher, left, appears with actor-rapper Ice Cube during a broadcast of "Real Time with Bill Maher," on Friday, June 9, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Janet Van Ham/HBO via AP) ORG XMIT: NYET663

After “niggergate” last week, Bill Maher did little on his show this past Friday to convince me that he learned anything. I saw Maher, a political commentator, try to hide under the shield of comedy and throw himself on the altar of, “I made one mistake.” Maher never wrestled with the simple truth that white supremacy and indifference to black suffering are the American norm and that is what brought about this whole thing.

It matters. The world is not a dangerous place for black people because the Klan patrols the streets of our cities. The world is dangerous because although black suffering exists, from the White House to the trailer parks of America, there are too few human responses of compassion. Policymakers have shown the ability to respond to white opioid users in their suffering and they should. Yet black people suffering with addiction are met with law and order. Indifference is dangerous.

I never see (non-Jewish) comedians dare try or get away with Holocaust jokes. I haven’t seen anyone bold enough to joke about 9/11. Yet slavery, somehow, is a subject for white liberals to joke about. How, Sway? It is understood that the suffering of 9/11 and the Holocaust are no laughing matters but Maher was quite comfortable invoking references of house slaves in his attempt at humor last week. The use of the n-word was an obvious offense but the reference to slavery in the most casual and irreverent manner is, on its own, deeply offensive. How is it that the death of millions during the Middle Passage, the raping of women and children, the decimation of families and untold horror over centuries are laughing matters? Only when those who suffer are black.

As I watched this week’s show, it was clear that Maher doesn’t think he, like most Americans, suffers from some deeper condition. Maher continued to insist on this week’s show that he made one mistake, one bad joke and that not rooted in any racist sentiment. I’m sure most members of Congress and state legislatures honestly believe they hold no racial animus either but their indifference to black suffering still yields policies that often have a disparate, if not targeted impact on black communities. From the War on Drugs to the disparities in funding HBCUs receive, many lawmakers who think themselves well intentioned do actual harm to black people. Maher seems unable to connect his actions to this larger machinery of white supremacy and that is unfortunate. That Maher is a liberal, one of the “good guys,” is frightening.

Symone Sanders and Michael Eric Dyson made the point on this week’s Real Time show that slaves in the house were also subject to terror. Still, the message that slavery along with the n-word are off limits was not pressed. Further, Dyson challenged his friend (Maher) to see how his actions as a “good guy” speak to the danger in the world that exists but did not press the matter, choosing rather to highlight some mythical record Maher has fighting for black liberation. Perhaps Dyson did not want to eternally wound a friend or perhaps he sensed Maher’s unwillingness to do more than navigate the bad PR from last week. Who knows? I only know Maher seemed agitated when his guests tried to delve into the matter, repeatedly throwing up his wonderful liberal credentials.

Maher blew it. It is clear he simply wanted the matter to be over, the storm to pass. Maher probably believes in his heart that he is truly one of the good guys and that any energy spent correcting his “one mistake” or other white liberals is better spent on the really bad people in the world. Then again, if my roommate showed signs that he was capable of harming me, I’d probably pay more attention to him than the “n-word” down the block.

 

In this photo provided by HBO, Bill Maher hosts the season premiere of "Real Time with Bill Maher" Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/HBO, Janet Van Ham)

Over the weekend Bill Maher got into some trouble for saying the “N-word” on his weekly HBO show. I’ve written on the n-word rules before and I see no need to rehash them here. Point blank: white folks must get over their innate desire to own everything, including the black experience. It’s that simple. If white folks can understand why straight men can’t use the word “faggot” and why non-Jewish people can’t joke about the Holocaust, certainly they can understand why, under no circumstances, they can’t say nigger, nigga, my nig, my nigga, my niggas, nigs, nigguh, niggah, niggaz, nigz or any other derivative of the word. This is not hard and I will not have my intelligence insulted by pretending to give the subject much thought. The end.

LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 19:  Actor Bill Maher and Donald Trump attend the 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium September 19, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Donald Trump is anti-Muslim but more disturbing is the degree to which white liberals share his ideology. Rooted in white supremacy, it lives on the political left, trumpeted by thought leaders like Bill Maher. It views brown terrorists as especially scary and worthy of scrutiny but is incapable of treating whites in the same way. It cannot see that my (black) people still live in fear of white Christians, not ISIS. It extends white privilege to slavers and the Klan, insisting they were exceptional and not representative of Christianity yet regards every Muslim attacker as a perfect ambassador of Islam. It dismisses Timothy McVeigh and the IRA as ancient history while 9/11 dictates our national course daily. It fails to fully appreciate that although the Klan is not lynching black people today, Dylan Roof, police and James Harris Jackson are. White supremacy blocks conservatives and liberals from seeing the issue of terror clearly and we cannot afford blurred vision in this moment.

On this past week’s episode of Real Time, former UK Parliament member Louise Mensch highlighted that Khalid Masoon, the London attacker, was born in Britain and the tragedy should not be exploited to fan anti-Muslim flames. Maher, predictably, insisted that Islam itself was the issue. When Maher’s guests pointed out that we do not attribute terror to Christians in the same way, Maher cited false equivalency. When Maher asked whether there were in fact Christian terror groups today and his guests furnished modern examples, Maher excused them as being in the past. The only terrorists of interest to Maher are the brown ones. Unwittingly, Maher provides intellectual cover to overt racists, those in the Trump camp. As a liberal, Maher’s fixation on Islamic terrorists and broad condemnation of Islam as a religion only serves to empower bigotry, not halt terror.

As a black man I have great difficulty following the logic of Maher and the bigots he empowers because history lives for the oppressed. When there is an unwillingness to treat white extremists with the same urgency as brown ones, there is pause. When there is a dismissiveness of crimes in the past, as though they are not still present in our memory, trust is broken. As a nation we never dealt with the issue of white terrorism in the past, especially when Christianity was a motivating force. In the present we are told it is inappropriate to discuss white terrorists groups like FEAR because they somehow do not represent the same kind of threat as Islamists do. It would seem as though the time is never right to discuss white terror and for those who have suffered at the hands of white terrorists, we are unable to engage in a genuine discussion on the topic until these scores are settled.

To be sure, Dylan Roof and James Harris Jackson do not belong to groups seeking nuclear weapons. Still, white terrorists have demonstrated the ability to kill en masse and yet the hysteria is just not there. Timothy McVeigh and the IRA did not explicitly attack in the name of God. Yet it is undeniable that the Klan and the many extremists who have attacked abortion clinics have drawn from holy texts but Christianity manages to escape broad condemnation as a violent faith that produces such terror. It should also be noted that extremists often have a cultural association with Islam, much in the same way Timothy McVeigh was raised Catholic but not particularly devout. While we tend not to stress the link to Christianity in such cases, Muslims are not extended the same privilege.

I have been a huge fan of Maher since childhood. It was my greatest joy as a teenager to stay up and watch Politically Incorrect and Real Time is still my weekly obsession! My aim is not to takedown Maher so much as to point out the flaw in our national reasoning, which white supremacy enables. Terror is a serious issue and as such, our lenses must not be flawed when we view it.