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You know nothing Bill Maher

The comedian and TV host's rant against liberals was ignorant and Islamophobic

Needless to say I miss Game of Thrones, but let’s waste a little more time on Bill Maher just to set the record straight.

Female Genital Mutilation is not a “Muslim” problem, it’s an African problem. Doesn’t make me over proud that Senegal (where my family’s from) still records 20 percent of FGM, but it’s a regional problem, that affects Christian countries and Muslim countries alike. There are more Muslim countries in that region, but its an old tradition that religion got infused with, just as many aspects of African animism have infused with Islam as you would expect to happen anywhere. Is it ugly? Yes, it is. Strictly speaking Muslim? Go tell a Syrian father he should mutilate his daughter, or an Indonesian farmer for that matter. They will cut you.

Second class treatment of women happens a lot in the Muslim world, but not the same way in every country, some countries have female leaders (Bangladesh) and still have a high level of child marriage and abuse of women, and Bangladesh neighbors India where women are very much second class citizens, unless Maher missed the gang rape debates that are shaking the country, the child marriages, the beatings, the murders because girls are less valuable than boys. There are one billion non-Muslim Indians, and the same thing stands in China, where infant girls are routinely killed, and until recently Chinese women had their feet bound for esthetic purposes, I don’t imagine Bill Maher berates every Indian he meets, or screams bloody murder when he orders take out, even though he is actively consuming and paying for services from people who espouse non-liberal principles. But they’re not Muslim so they’re not the problem.

Anti-gay laws in Muslim countries: You may have a liberal push for gay rights in the west, but there is a massive Christian backlash against it in the United States, and every western country except the Netherlands who got over it a long time ago. Unless he’s missed out completely on the Supreme Court debate. Christian non-liberal intolerance is less of an issue for Maher. Furthermore countries in Africa (Uganda and Liberia) who have recently voted anti-gay laws have done so under heavy US Christian Evangelical influence. Liberia is one of the US’s closest partners in Africa and with good reason, yet we support these anti liberal non-Muslims, just as the US supports non-liberal Muslims like the Saudis.

Bill Maher hits the mark and doesn’t realize it when he mentions the separation of church and state. If it wasn’t for that separation, Christian countries would be just as anti-gay, and repressive against women as they were not that long ago. Perhaps Maher doesn’t realize that Swiss women couldn’t vote until 1980. But that’s the problem; Bill Maher is scared of Muslims (Islamophobic) and rationalizes his fear by associating all Muslims with ISIS atrocities because some Muslims hold some of the above beliefs, some of which are shared by roughly two billion Indians and Chinese, a significant chunk of Maher’s neighbors, most likely a good chunk of his relatives and they probably all get along fine at Thanksgiving.

I’ve lived in Muslim countries Senegal, Niger and Bangladesh (and France LOL). If you’re amazed that none of these countries are Arab you shouldn’t be reading this blog. But most people aren’t out to chop your head off because you are not Muslim. I am not surprised at a poll among self-avowed Muslims stating that the penalty for leaving Islam should be death, no more than I’d be surprised if Christians told me gays were going to hell. But I wouldn’t expect the Christians or the Muslims to go out and make that happen faster for anybody, although some fringe elements will. There is a profound difference between a belief based in a system and acting on that belief. Many Americans believe in the death penalty, but every American doesn’t go and shoot a criminal he thinks deserves it, although it happens sometimes. But not for Bill Maher. To him, its all one and the same. Perhaps Maher is a closet vigilanty, but there are few tough guy comedians out there, and tough Bill Maher is not.

Just because you beat your wife and don’t allow your daughter to go to school doesn’t mean you would agree to have them sold for gang rape by European jihadists, no more than you support beheading or crucifixions. You wouldn’t be a great guy, but you are not a terrorist. Neither are you a liberal, and so what? Any American who believes in creationism is not a liberal either. That’s the problem with Maher’s discourse. He is right to say that Liberals have somehow perverted dialogue about Islam, but just because that is true doesn’t mean he can run his mouth feeding prejudice and hatred.

America bombs the Middle East and Muslims think the average American is a Muslim hating Islamophobe. A few thugs wreak havoc and Maher thinks that’s the average Muslim.

Ignorance always wins, a hundred percent of the time. Especially when it’s funny to some people.

And that’s the problem, Bill Maher knows nothing about human rights, nothing about anti-gay laws, nothing about FGMs, and even less about religion. He’s a mouthpiece for Islamophobic rhetoric, not in the sense of hating Islam but of spreading fear of it (phobia) through half truths and gross generalizations.

About the Author
Mame Bougouma Diene is a civil servant on permanent vacation even when he works 70 hours a week, who also blogs for the Times of Israel in French. He's French-Senegalese American, loves Israel and the Middle East, would really like to see an end to this intractable mess in his lifetime.