At least no one can accuse Bill Maher of singling out Islam. On last Friday's Real Time (the one where Zach Galifianakis smoked weed on live TV), the politically incorrect host remarked that he was "alarmed" that the most popular name for boys in the United Kingdom was "Mohammed." The host, an outspoken critic of all religions (see: Religulous), then clarified by stated that he didn't want "the Western world to be taken over by Islam in 300 years."
What Maher meant, as he explained further to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, was that he is a "proud Westerner" who cherishes the values that Western secular society has to offer, including the separation of church and state, equality of the sexes, respect for minorities, free speech and the like. In many, though not all, Muslim societies these rights can't be found and he would like to "keep those values here":
If Muslim people are in these societies having babies at a rate like, you know, I don't know, six or eight times what the other people are having, you know, you can project ahead and say in 200 or 300 years, you know, if Mohammed is the most popular name now I don't want England to lose those values.
Blitzer had little in response other than to ask Maher if he would have been fired if he had worked at NPR (like Juan Williams). He just chuckled off the question, saying that's why he's happy to work on CNN's sister network, HBO. Partly due to his status as a comedian, Maher's comments haven't seen nearly the amount of blowback that greeted Williams just weeks ago. The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan underscores why:
Opposing Sharia law is not the same as assuming that every devout Muslim might be a terrorist; and everyone knows that Maher's just as vicious about Catholics and Jews and Buddhists and anyone with a religious mindset. So it's not prejudice against a specific religion for him, but for all of them. It's anti-faith; not anti-Muslim as such.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.