Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fuck Bill Maher

Bill Maher recently donated $1 million to a pro-Obama super PAC called Priorities USA Action.
Around New Year's Eve, Obama signed the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) for 2012. The NDAA provides that as long as the Secretary of Defense (who happens to be the former director of the CIA) submits to Congress a written certification that such a detention would be in the interest of national security, the President may authorize the Armed Forces to detain U.S. citizens – without a warrant signed by a judge, without trial, and indefinitely – pursuant to the Authorization of the Use of Military Force, which has been used to help justify the detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo. Such a person must be suspected of having – at least – directly supported hostilities against the U.S. and / or its coalition partners.
Ron Paul supporters see this law as a blatant violation of the 4th Amendment, and Ron Paul is the only major presidential candidate who has expressed opposition to it.
Obama has also used his power to have three U.S. citizens assassinated. Attorney General Eric Holder has even stated that terror suspects – even if they have been acquitted – should be held as enemy combatants. We now live in a country where the president can assassinate and indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without charges, trial, or legal representation.
Even though many prominent politicians have expressed the sentiment that the Constitution affords special legal immunities to U.S. citizens over non-citizens (it doesn't), even the immunities of citizens are beginning to be broken down in the aforementioned manners.
What's more – despite a total lack of hard evidence that Iran's nuclear energy program is being used to develop nuclear weapons – Obama has not ceased to annually promise AIPAC (the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most influential pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.) that the U.S. will do whatever it takes to stop Iran from developing or obtaining nuclear weapons, and the media are playing up self-defensive rhetoric from Iran as aggressive, and all this at a time when we have never been closer to a possible Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, which carries with it a strong likelihood of U.S. involvement.
Many Americans are concerned that U.S.-Israeli offensive action against Iran could provoke Russian, Chinese, and / or Pakistani retaliatory action, and may even set off a (potentially nuclear) WWIII.
As much as the entertainment industry, as well as rational and secular segments of American culture, have benefited by Bill Maher's ridicule of the Christian religious right, his documentary "Religulous" – aside from its treatment of Christianity – (in my view) shows a characterization of Islam and Muslims as violent, and of Iran and its president as madmen bent on the destruction of Israel and the West.
I feel that Maher’s promotion of this effigy plays on the worst kinds of racism and fear ingrained in the American mindset, and justifies the long-standing knee-jerk support of Israel, and of the U.S.-British-Israeli wars-for-oil which have been destroying the Muslim world, killing American soldiers, and crippling our economy for decades.
“Religulous” spent all of two minutes discussing Judaism, and I feel that Maher deliberately chose the most controversial figure he could find (Rabbi Yisroel Weiss of the ultra-Orthodox activist group Neturei Karta). Not only did Maher cut-off that interview prematurely, but he blocked (not even glossed-over) any serious discussion of the lack of religious justification for the creation of the State of Israel; selectively edited from the interview to make it appear that the rabbi would accept the genocide of his fellow Jews; repeated the oft-heard, distorted line that the leader of Iran wants to “wipe Israel off the face of the Earth”; and cast Neturei Karta’s having made peace with – and expressed gratitude to – the Iranians as treasonous and suicidal.
I feel that Maher is being very callous in choosing what to discuss on his show and in his film. He clearly has an agenda, and could be described as a member of what some call “the controlled left”. He (rightfully) bashes “the controlled right”, but this false dialogue – which is set up by the media and the political and intellectual elite – is no honest replacement for serious, genuine political discussion.
While I would admit that – even though many Americans get their news from comedy news programs – Maher, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert do not technically have any obligation to behave with journalistic integrity, their politically-motivated “comedy” is inciteful and reckless, and promulgates a binary, all-or-nothing dialogue in our political culture, in which the economic left is cast as the omniscient, omnibenevolent torch-bearer of intellectual progress in our society, and any inkling of honesty or creative solutions among the right is cast as old-fashioned, hateful, and dangerous.
My problem with Bill Maher is not primarily that he doesn’t attract attention to issues and views that I would like him to, but that he pretends to welcome an open dialogue with figures whose views are worth examining in-depth, and proceeds to ridicule them, and pass the exchanges off as “entertainment”, while his viewers are distracted with laughter long enough to delay their examination of the issues until after a potential full-scale international military conflagration.
The Israel / Iran issue is coming to a head this summer or fall, and it is an issue that deserves to be treated very gently. The notion that it is acceptable to laugh-off and ridicule controversial, thought-provoking figures in the mounting Israel-Iran conflict as religious nut-jobs is very offensive and frightening to me, not just as a peace-loving, politically-aware person, but also as a young person who is still eligible for selective service.
I do not want to die at the age of 25 fighting innocent Iranians (80 million inhabitants), Russians (140 million), Pakistanis (180 million), and Chinese (1.4 billion), and others (amounting to 15% or more of the world’s population) in a nuclear WWIII because taxpaying supporters of the Democratic establishment think Bill Maher is funny, and I don’t want my younger friends to either.
For Bill Maher – who has expressed support for non-interventionist presidential candidate Ron Paul – to give $1 million to a PAC supporting a president who has done nothing to curb the power of this military-industrial-complex police-state which I am ashamed to call my country borders on a kind of treason against his fellow citizens, and all this at a time of widespread citizen outrage at the effect of large amounts of soft money being hurled at elections in order to procure privileges for special and foreign interests.
I hope you will bear all this in mind the next time you watch “Real Time”, and especially when Maher discusses foreign policy and defends the president.

For more entries on Judaism, the State of Israel, and the Israeli-Arab conflict, please visit:

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