I know it’s not exactly the most popular stance to take, but I agree with much of what Bill Maher has said recently about liberals and their hypocrisy when it comes to criticizing Islam. It’s like I’ve said before, I can criticize Christianity – or organized religion in general – and I’ll hardly hear any objections from liberals. But if I ever dare to share my opinion on Islam, that’s often when the hate emails start flowing. Many liberals get heated very quickly.
Which is exactly what happened Friday night when Bill Maher, Ben Affleck and Sam Harris got into a fairly heated debate about how liberals often view and discuss issues related to Islam.
The video of the segment is just over 10 minutes long, but it’s well worth the time to watch. From start to finish, it’s an interesting back and forth debate.
Though I will say Ben Affleck, in my opinion, came off like an immature jackass who was unable to control himself. His body language, gestures and the way he more or less rejected anything he heard with which he disagreed came off childish. Even if much of what was being said was being done so by someone who knows much more about Islam than he does (Harris). He continually cut people off, went off on ridiculous (and sometimes incoherent) rants where he seemed more concerned about being outraged rather than having a rational discussion on the issue.
And where I think Affleck, and people who might agree with him, seem to be missing the point is that in the broad scheme of Islam we’re not just talking about the radicals like ISIS or al Qaeda. In fact, that’s not really what Maher was talking about either. Though they’re clearly part of any discussion about Islam.
It’s like Harris said, if you remove the percentage of Muslims who support these terrorist groups (because these groups don’t represent the majority of the Muslim religion), Islam still has a huge problem when it comes to every day Muslims who oppose basic rights for women and homosexuals. Which are two groups of people liberals are often defending here in the United States.
Sure, it’s easy to slam Christian conservatives for being bigots, sexists and racists. But let’s not pretend as if Islam, even outside of the radical fringes who often make the headlines, doesn’t have an issue when it comes to equality, equal rights and basic human rights overall.
Take for instance this chart that shows every country around the world and how their laws treat same-sex couples. There’s a clear pattern when you get to Eastern and Northern Africa, the Middle East and parts of Southeast Asia. In nearly every country located in these areas, homosexual couples could either face imprisonment or the death penalty for their relationship. And what do those countries almost all have in common? They’re mostly populated by people who follow Islam.
But it’s not just gay rights. Women in many Muslim countries struggle to even enjoy some basic human rights. Such as in Saudi Arabia where they’re not even allowed to drive or Yemen where women are seen as “half a witness.” Meaning that a woman’s testimony in court isn’t taken seriously unless it’s backed by a male.
But a point that was mentioned during this segment that I feel is important to emphasize is that there’s a difference between being a bigot, simply hating any and all Muslims (which some people do), and objectively criticizing parts of the religion (like any other religion that treats certain demographics of people unfairly).
Though these discussions often turn out just like I witnessed last night during this debate where even the calm Harris, who was not trying to be bigoted or confrontational at all, was unable to make this point because Affleck was having no part of it. Affleck’s reactions were very similar to what I’ve seen from other liberals who’ve jumped on things I’ve said for criticizing certain aspects of Islam as I would any other religion.
The point I believe Maher was trying to make, and Harris was supporting, is that the issues with Islam shouldn’t just lie in the percentage of Muslims who support radical terrorism. Because while those are the stories that make the headlines, groups like ISIS represent a fraction of the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. And while I fully believe it’s unfair to say something ignorant like “all Muslims are terrorists,” I see absolutely no problem criticizing Islam (or any other religion) for its unjust treatment of any group of people. Though many liberals do seem to have a problem with it. Just like we saw last night with Affleck.
But, as liberals who claim to be the defenders for gay rights, women’s rights and human rights in general, we can’t simply turn the other cheek when it comes to objectively criticizing the non-radicals who follow Islam. Millions of Muslims who aren’t Islamic extremists, or associated with any kind of terrorism at all, are still people who treat women, homosexuals and other groups with which they disagree like second-class citizens.
And true equality for every human should be something liberals, conservatives, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, men, women and people from all races, backgrounds and ethnicities should support. And anyone, or group, who opposes that should never be shielded from criticism for doing so.
Watch the segment below via HBO:
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