So, who do you think was right last night?
Ben Affleck, Bill Maher, Nicholas Kristol, Michael Steele, and author Sam Harris got into what could only be described as a tumultuous continuation of Maher’s comments on Islam from last week, with Maher and Affleck tearing into each other over the influence of fundamentalists in the Muslim community.
‘We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where criticism of the religion gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people,’ Harris began. ‘It’s intellectually ridiculous.’
‘Hold on — are you the person who officially understands the codified doctrine of Islam?’ Affleck, on the show to promote his movie Gone Girl, interrupted, and argued that criticizing Islam, as Maher and Harris were doing it, was ‘gross and racist…’
What follows is a few minutes of Affleck and Maher going at each other and yelling over each other, with the occasional interjection from Kristol and Steele providing intelligent perspective on reformers in the Muslim world, smart statistical analysis from Harris about the spectrum of fundamentalism, and then another few minutes of Affleck and Maher yelling at each other.
I guess that one’s view of Maher’s remarks depends on whether one thinks he is singling out Islam for abuse, or if one thinks his remarks have to be seen in the context of his long-time criticism of organized religion in general. I’m in the latter camp, but your mileage may vary.
UPDATE: More from Think Progress.