Bill Maher: My left-wing hero

Mar 16th, 2017 | By | Category: 2016-2017, Opinions

By Philip Amur
Staff Writer

It is an undoubtable truth that all too frequently, we as humans naturally find ourselves contained in our own little information bubbles. While this is the case in most of the world’s issues, this proves especially true with regards to politics.

I will admit that while many of my colleagues get their energy rush from MSNBC and CNN, I am tucked away in the warm words of Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. Even so, there is a man from the other side of the aisle — the aisle with which I hold few associations — who I have come to admire and respect with uttermost sincerity over the years. He provides entertainment as well as thoughtful insight through a lens which makes sense in the context of rationality and traditional liberalism. This liberal, my favorite one for that matter, is Bill Maher.

For those unfamiliar with who he is, Maher is the host of HBO show “Real Time With Bill Maher,” and serves as both a comedian and a political commentator. The reason why I am so interested in his work — and why I would encourage people of all political creeds (especially those from my camp) to hear him out — is that he creates a political front defined by classic liberal principles accompanied by rightful criticisms of both the republican AND democratic parties.

Though I don’t feel inclined to agree with everything he says, I still admire many aspects of this man.

Maher is known as an activist for equality under the law, marijuana legalization, free speech, marriage equality, secularism, reduction of income inequality and sensible gun control. One might ask, “But Philip, aren’t you supposed to be opposed to this?”

I am not, and I understand Bill’s support of these things as they were intended. He supports the notion that people of all races, religions and sexual orientations should be equal under the law, something that most of us would agree with. However, he has never shied away from (and has in fact built a significant amount of his career on) attacking religion and the suppression of secularism. He has called out Christianity and Islam in ways no other liberal on T.V. does, for fear of being labeled as intolerant.

He sends the message that there shouldn’t be waivers for what you can and can’t say in a free society. While “proper liberals” are supposed to defend the First Amendment like conservatives defend the Second, they are the ones who, all too often, remain complicit in the suppression of free speech on college campuses, nationwide news stations and social media.

Another thing I love that he discusses is the prevalence of outrage over petty issues like cultural appropriation, white privilege and safe spaces, things which reinforce the stereotype that American millennials are overly sensitive.

Finally, he actively calls out and sometimes makes comedy out of members of my party for some of the reckless and irrational stances that they have upheld, especially in this century. This has to do with basing all moral judgement on the will of God as opposed to common sense, which is especially pertinent to issues like their completely incomprehensible reasons for denying a woman control over her own body.

Historically, Bill has called out the Republicans on how they seem to want to cut the national debt while at the same time financing wars overseas in the name of spreading so-called democracy. Finally, it is admirable how he isn’t afraid to discuss, in a blunt way, how most Americans are shockingly uneducated. If you watch his show, you’ll be surprised to learn that only a small minority of native-born U.S citizens can name all three branches of government, a single supreme court justice, basic historical facts or the economic system we use in the U.S.

In conclusion, Maher is an individual from whom we can all learn something, and with whom we can all agree on certain matters. I was glad to discover a liberal that I genuinely enjoyed listening to, and with whom I can leave my bubble. Therefore, I encourage all people, especially my own party comrades, to get out of the shell and see the magic of “Real Time.” You never know what you might learn.

 

pamur@willamette.edu

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