Thank whatever deity you want to for Young Turks host Cenk Uygur’s courage in pushing back against Bill Maher’s unhinged rant on the September 18 edition of his HBO program Real Time about the Ahmed Mohamed racial-profiling case in Texas:
Having defended Maher in his infamous 2014 dispute with Ben Affleck, I felt embarrassed and ashamed watching Maher defend the harassment of a fourteen-year-old Muslim child. Does Maher even realize that the arguments he advanced in that segment are the exact same arguments used to justify racist policies such as “stop-and-frisk”?
Maher’s defense of Mohamed’s mistreatment was repugnant for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that Maher is forever denouncing the phenomenon of “smart stupid people” such as Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, who are well-educated but who believe arrant nonsense. By defending racial profiling, Maher reveals himself to be the sort of person who’s guilty of the same crime he accuses others of.
It’s heartbreaking that a man who has been so right on such issues as Republican Party extremism could be so very wrong on this issue. Last November, as the controversy surrounding his dispute with Affleck and his criticism of Islam and Muslims continued to grow, I encouraged Maher to focus more aggressively on the real threat to our future–the one that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s chief science advisor, David King, once called “the most severe problem that we are facing today-more serious even than the threat of terrorism.”
As Bill McKibben recently noted, there is a threat from Texas–a growing political, cultural, economic and ecological threat–that has nothing to do with the adolescent clockmakers Maher fears:
The big news of the day on social media came from Irving, Texas, where the police handcuffed a young Muslim boy for taking his homemade alarm clock to school; all day people tweeted #IStandWithAhmed, and rightly so. It’s wondrous to see the power of an Internet-enabled world shining the light on particular (and in this case telling) injustice; there’s a principal and a police chief in Irving that will likely think differently next time. But we badly need the same kind of focus on the long-lasting, underlying abuses of corporate might. As it happens, Exxon is based in Irving, Texas too.
While Maher is complaining about clocks, time is running out.
UPDATE: More from Salon.