The comedian Bill Maher has, throughout his career, been a darling of the Left. His smug and odious schtick has for years consisted of taunting and ridiculing conservatives, Republicans, Christians, and pretty much anyone who represents American traditional values. (That he chooses to do so in the coarsest and most vulgar terms imaginable only serves to increase his appeal, it seems.)
Mr. Maher is not, however, a stupid man, and it seems that the contradictions, cognitive dissonances, and general denial of reality that modern liberalism imposes on its true believers are at last too much for him, and so he has begun to dissent. In particular, he has begun to assert that Western culture — the very culture that gave rise to the secular liberalism his fans so piously profess — is in fact not only different from, but better than, Islam.
This, however, is crimethink — and so, quite suddenly, he is swimming against the current that had for decades wafted him along to celebrity and success, and feels its frightening power. You’ve probably heard about the dust-up he and Sam Harris had with Ben Affleck and Nick Kristof on Maher’s show a few weeks ago; now a petition is being raised to keep him from speaking at Berkeley.
What should stand out here is that Mr. Maher was doing just fine until he picked the wrong target. Catholics, rednecks, gun owners, the Bushes, Dick Cheney, the Tea Party — he gleefully slandered them all, and his star ascended. Even when he called Sarah Palin a “cunt”, and her child a “retard”, the cultural Politburo — who would surely have seen to it that a conservative commentator making such remarks about a female Democrat was boycotted, disenfranchised, hounded into retirement, and shunned by all of the faithful — gave him a pass. No longer.
Voltaire once said: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Mr. Maher is now finding out.
There is no shame in changing our opinions as life’s lessons bring us, often against our wishes, to a deeper understanding of the truth of the world. Were Mr. Maher to undergo a reactionary transformation, and repent of his folly, I have no doubt he’d find a warm welcome over here on the Dark side.