FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Nasty Piece of Work: the Unreal Politics of Bill Maher

shutterstock_83139061 (1)

Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock.com

I have a writing prompt on my blog’s dashboard reading: “Bill Maher’s latest repulsive comments.”

It’s a perennially useful prompt, even though most of what I write about him doesn’t see print.

The nominally liberal comedian uses his weekly discussion show on HBO, Real Time With Bill Maher, to pretentiously preen to a reliably sycophantic audience and spread xenophobic hate speech, barely veiled racism, and dismissive misogyny. It’s a nasty piece of work that enjoys a substantial influence in mainstream liberal circles.

Maher’s base is expanding out of the liberal mainstream, though, thanks to his virulent hatred of Islam and its adherents. Much like evangelical atheist Richard Dawkins, whose views on Islam and the Global South have won him fans across the rising right wing in Europe, Maher is enjoying something of a career renaissance as he garners praise from the American hard right.

Maher’s speechifying last week was at its most inspired when he was speaking with his new buddy Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA. Hayden came on the show to promote his new memoir/torture apologia. Maher had a lot of fun squawking to one of the architects of the modern surveillance state about how Apple should give the FBI the tech to unlock the iPhone- tech the company claims it has specifically not designed in response to consumer concerns over privacy.

Bad enough, but the real horror show came, as it often does, on the internet-only post-show discussion called “Overtime.”

During Overtime on February 26, Maher and his guests debated the efficacy and wisdom of closing the extralegal Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp which houses upwards of seventy men who have never been tried for any crimes. Most men in the prison were scooped up in the aftermath of the immediate US invasion and destruction of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.

Now, Maher is on the right side here- he believes the prison should be closed and the prisoners given trials- but for the wrong reason. Maher thinks the US should give the Guantanamo Bay prisoners trials because “it works.”

“It works.”

This sounds reasonable enough. It’s not.

What constitutes the judicial system “working” in trying terror suspects in Bill Maher’s world? Why, it’s the fact that the trials have a 100 percent success rate.

That success rate is not necessarily an indication of guilt.

The trial process is heavily weighted towards the prosecution. Much of the evidence that is presented at these trials is deemed far too sensitive for the public and a threat to national security. The deck is so stacked against the defense that the entire process functions more as going through the motions; a military tribunal rather than an actual trial.

This is the system that Maher believes works- a system that is designed to maintain the power of the state to the detriment of the powerless, irrespective of their crimes- because it reliably returns the result he believes it should.

It’s the same logical fallacy that maintains inequality of power, access, and justice, promoted by the same kind of person the fallacy requires: An ignorant, well-to-do blowhard, untouched by the reality of the inequity, all too ready to trumpet it to his receptive audience.

Like Bill Maher.

I couldn’t fit the rest of Maher’s comments from this week into the story, but they can be found here.

More articles by:

Eoin Higgins has a master’s degree in history from Fordham University. He lives in New York.

December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail