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Bill Maher Gets Owned by Glenn Greenwald


This nine minute exchange between Bill Maher and his guests: Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, Joy Reid of the Miami Herald and Charles Cooke of the National Review Online is very telling.

There’s a lot to say about how ideology and partisanship can prevent one from a fair analysis of events and contemporary issues.

It’s bizarre to see Charles Cooke telling Joy Reid that her point about slavery and by extension indentured servitude, Jim Crow (and much more) was a “cheap” point to make–he is just plain wrong that these “imperfections” were only 18th century problems.

I also wonder if Cooke recalls how European imperialism, including it’s British variant, conquered and colonized much of the world and did so with the Bible in one hand and a gun in the other?

On the “Arab Spring” and Islam Maher sounds like the neo-fascist Geert Wilders (maybe he agrees with his pal Sam Harris that ‘unfortunately the fascists speak most sensibly about Islam’) or the extremist Christian right-wing he is all too happy to berate as “intellectual inferiors.”

Where is the nuanced discussion regarding “Islamism?” Is Islamism the same in places such as Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt?

The show that Bill Maher himself produces, VICE, aired a segment showing the intense and daily opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) led government in Egypt by groups such as the “Black Bloc,” a group devoted to sabotaging what they view as the fascist right-wing MB, claiming as its adherents, “liberals, secularists and moderate Islamists.” The revolutionary situation is plainly more complicated than a simple Islamists vs. democrats dichotomy.

Finally, Glenn Greenwald came through as he usually does, not letting Bill Maher get away with his silly, blinkered boogeyman narrative that it’s all PC liberalism to not say Islam is an inherently and uniquely violent religion causing the most horror and violence in the world. Greenwald gave the example of the West Bank and the extremist Jewish settlers who justify land theft and persecution of Palestinians based on a perceived divine mandate. Greenwald also pointed towards the Crusade against Iraq that George W. Bush stated as having been the directive of God.

There are other examples that Greenwald could have added as well: the Serbian genocide against Bosnians, the intense Islamophobia of fundamentalist Hindu nationalism that accompanies the occupation of Kashmir and other areas of India, the horrific campaign against Burmese and Sri Lankan Muslims by Buddhists, etc.

It is an open question however if Greenwald will be asked to return to the show again. In the past when individuals have intelligently and effectively pushed back against Maher’s Islamophobia they usually haven’t been called back.


Violence has no religion: New rules for Bill Maher on Islam

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  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    @Solid Snake Good points. I also agree that the primary reasons for starting most wars is not religious. Religion can provide a veneer, a cover for war however religion I do believe it can also exacerbate conflict.

    In Iraq it certainly did.

  • Solid Snake

    The only thing missing was the media calling it a “Holy War”. It had all the hallmarks of a ‘religious’ war (according to the definitions applied to Muslim extremists by the media and politicians) its just no one wanted to say it was. There were stories of soldiers etching bible verses on the iron sights of their rifles, the mass printing and distribution of Arabic Bibles in Iraq, among other things.

    To be clear, I don’t believe that Religion is ever the primary reason that wars start. Wealth, resources, and control of strategic areas are usually the main cause of wars. Religion is what gives the rank and file the ability to tough it out (whether interpreted rightly or wrongly).

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    There’s a couple of caveats here that are missing from your analysis: Bush’s statements to world leaders in private that “God directed him to ‘liberate’ Iraq” certainly matters. The Evangelical lobby (CUFI, etc.) were full fledged supporters and lobbyists of the war which is in their messianic eschatological scheme part of ushering in the End Times and had the added dividend in their view of opening up Iraq to the “Good Word.” There were many sermons with patriotic fervor, telling the tale of the emergence of “Gog and Magog” and the “antiChrist.” There’s also the US military, assorted generals and their views of “our God is bigger than their God.” There were the daily memos to Rumsfeld that were prefaced with quotes from the Bible. There is also the small fact that the war was outsourced and contracted to an avowed radical largely Christian private army whose leader believed he was on a mission from God to eradicate Islam.

  • Indeed, it was a war by a secular nation state, in the name of liberal western democracy, which is a sect of what I call the deen of secular modernism, which is a deen like Islam or Judaism.

  • Stoned Gremlin

    If they were on youtube things may have been different.

  • I recommend the book “The Myth of Religious Violence” by William T. Cavanaugh. To paraphrase one of the conclusions of the book, the myth of religious violence is a discursive tool used to justify violence against members of “religions”, especially Muslims. I wrote “religions” in quotation marks, because Cavanaugh proves that the very concept of religion was invented in the early modern period and matured during the so-called Enlightenment. The secular-religious division was also concocted in the same period. Christianity, Islam and others were designated as the violent enemies to be subdued and tamed by the glorious forces of the secular nation-state.

    The Latin word religio, and later religion, meant something very different until well into the early modern period (it meant either public duty or worship). The current concept of religion didn’t exist anywhere in the world, not even in Christendom, before John Locke and some other early modern pundits invented it. Islam, for instance, is defined in the Quran as a “Law” rather than religion, as it couldn’t be defined as something that didn’t exist. Yes, the word deen in the Quran and in Classical Arabic, did not mean religion. It means Law, of course the type of Law regulating not only social and public affairs but much of the private life too. Judaism and Christianity were likewise. As for traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, they were even more complex, so let me not delve into them.

    Moreover, I would add that when you calculate the death toll, the number of killings by secular leaders such as the early Soviet leaders and in the hands of the liberal nation states far exceed the death toll in the hands of pious people at any period in history…

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    My soul is not for sale
    Traditionally there is only one buyer for such transactions and I dont think he has a good rating on ebay
    Sir David
    If you dont get the joke read Faust or Dorean Grey

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    On the left of whom …..
    Maybe Hitler ? the Tea Party ? David Duke ?
    Stalin ?
    Ok ok they may not be much room to the left of Stalin but you get the point .
    One does wonder where the centre ground is in the USA compared with Britain or France? I just see a rightwing party , a very rightwing party and a bunch of ;;;”oh my God they are allowed to vote?”
    Sir David

  • Sam Seed

    ” I don’t know why people on the left (in fact especially on the left)
    ally themselves with the enemies of enlightenment and civilization”

    Do you now the meaning of the word ally? Is Greenwald running some kind of Muslim charity? He just happens to be a man who is not afraid to speak the truth, and for that I admire him. And pray tell, what does it mean ‘to be on the left’?

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    It’s run by the military industrial complex.

    Why you can buy some at you’re local corporation.

    It only cost all the principles you believe in.

  • Glenn Greenwald for president.

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    Very funny, enemies of enlightenment equals enemies of the USA.
    Remind us all who runs this global freedom?
    Where can we buy some?
    What will it cost?

    Sir David

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    And please explain how Glenn is allying with the “enemies” of enlightenment and civilization? By calling out the double standards and the fact the civilized nations have supported the most illiberal and violent dictatorships for decades, not to mention the coups and invasions, sanctions.

  • Tanveer Khan

    And his name uses alliteration.

  • Heinz Catsup

    Though I agree with Bill Maher on the health system and how we both have a disdain with Big Pharma, our political and religious views are unfortunately too differentiating, even if I myself am anti-religion. I remember watching when Mos Def and Cornel West were on his show, though. That was a good debate.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    There is a policy Ali, as pointed out by Arundhati Roy in her book “Field Notes on Democracy,” inspired by Hindutva nationalists that provides cover to the inhumane militarization and occupation of Jammu Kashmir and it is a toxic combination of fundamentalism and extremism. I will be doing a write up on it soon.

  • Glenn Greenwald is completely wrong on this subject. I’m glad to see Maher call him on it and am disappointed we didn’t get to hear Cooke rebuke him. I don’t know why people on the left (in fact especially on the left) ally themselves with the enemies of enlightenment and civilization. Yes, Bush was a dummy, but we need to grow up. The US is not the top enemy of global freedom, the Islamic theocrats and extremists are the bigger threat to our society.

  • Ali Baba

    Bill Maher was left mumbling in response to Glenn. However, I just want to point out one small flaw in the article in reference to HIndu fundamentalism and Kashmir. There is no Hindu fundamentalism taking place in Kashmir. There is Muslim fundamentalism that killed and kicked out most of the Hindu Kashmiris from Kashmir. Hindu Fundamentalism threatening Muslims is in Gujarat. Let’s not mix the two.

  • Sam Seed

    Glen Greenwald is awesome.

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    Islamophobia Watch: U.S. right-wing columnist Diana West Appears on Racist Anti-Muslim EDL Program

  • mindy1

    🙂 love debate

  • Yausari

    Good one.

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