Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bill Maher’s atheist values: Why progressives must defend enlightenment, critique religious extremism

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/10/08/bill_mahers_atheist_values_why_progressives_must_defend_enlightenment_critique_religious_extremism/

"Real Time" fall-out illustrates a debate between theocracy and rule of law and reason. Liberals must choose a side

Wednesday, Oct 8, 2014

Bill Maher’s recent monologue on “Real Time” excoriating self-professed liberals for going soft on Islam — hotly debated again last Friday with Ben Affleck and Sam Harris, and expounded on in this exclusive Salon interview — might well serve as a credo for atheist progressives the world over.  He began by introducing a photo, originally posted on a social media site, showing a teenager in Pennsylvania mounting a statue of Jesus Christ in such a way as to create the impression that Jesus was fellating him.  Noting that it “may not be in good taste,” Maher declared that “there’s no picture that makes my heart swell with patriotism quite like this one.”

Why?  He explained that in the United States, with separation of church and state enshrined in the Constitution, the youth, on account of his sacrilegious prank, would not do jail time or face violence because “liberal Western culture is not just different, it’s better. . . . rule of law isn’t just different than theocracy, it’s better.  If you don’t see that, then you’re either a religious fanatic or a masochist, but one thing you are certainly notis a liberal.”

(In fact, Maher proved too sanguine about the supposedly religion-free workings of the U.S. justice system.  As punishment for the irreverent post, a court ordered the teen to do community service, observe a curfew, and stay off social media for six months.  Hardly comparable to facing a fatwa for drawing a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad, but indicative nonetheless of the worrisome pro-faith bias infecting at least courts of law in our supposedly secular republic.)

Maher included Barack Obama among those unwilling to talk straight about Islam, and rebutted the president’s repeated statements that ISIS is “not Islamic” by pointing out that “vast numbers of Muslims across the world believe . . . that humans deserve to die for merely holding a different idea, or drawing a cartoon, or writing a book.”  This means, said Maher, that “not only does the Muslim world have something in common with ISIS, it has too much in common with ISIS.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/10/08/bill_mahers_atheist_values_why_progressives_must_defend_enlightenment_critique_religious_extremism/

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