Bill Maher Was Right - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Bill Maher Was Right
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Bill Maher was right. And where is Ben Affleck now? But first: here we go again. This time with ten journalists and two policemen killed in Paris by Islamic gunmen shrieking “Allahu akbar!” And, but of course, this is the fault of the twelve scribblers — not the Islamic gunmen.

The editorialists at the Financial Times wrote yesterday (via Mediaite):

This is not in the slightest to condone the murderers, who must be caught and punished, or to suggest that freedom of expression should not extend to satirical portrayals of religion. It is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo, and Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.

The FT subsequently had a change of heart, writing this editorial essentially rebuking the earlier piece. Note also that the FT has a paywall, so most of its content can only be read by subscribers — but that the paywall vanished for this editorial.

Back in 2011, when the same French paper attacked yesterday, the satirical Charlie Hebdo, was firebombed by Islamists, Time magazine sniffed:

Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile. Baiting extremists isn’t bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well. And within a climate where violent response — however illegitimate — is a real risk, taking a goading stand on a principle virtually no one contests is worse than pointless: it’s pointlessly all about you. So, yeah, the violence inflicted upon Charlie Hebdo was outrageous, unacceptable, condemnable, and illegal. But apart from the “illegal” bit, Charlie Hebdo’s current edition is all of the above, too.

Or listen to what then-White House press secretary Jay Carney had to say about Charlie Hebdo a year later. As Mediaite reports:

Flashback to September 2012, and we reported about how Charlie Hebdo was under fire from the French and U.S. governments for publishing controversial cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed. In response, the French government beefed up its security at embassies worldwide and issued travel warnings to French citizens in Muslim nations.

At the time, the White House was involved in a controversy over whether it was right to originally blame the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya on an “offensive video” that portrayed Islam in a negative light. And so, bearing that in mind, the Obama Administration believed the Charlie Hebdo controversy warranted a response. Then-Press Secretary Jay Carney questioned “the judgment of publishing something like that” and said there is much “potential to be inflammatory.”

Meanwhile, former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean jumps in to say that this latest attack has nothing to do with “what the Koran says.” As NewsBusters’s Mark Finkelstein put it, “Dean’s denial of the obvious puts him in the company of many liberals, most notably including President Obama, who after the beheading of James Foley declared that ISIS ‘speaks for no religion.’”

This appalling political correctness is not simply idiocy, it is lethal idiocy, as the attack in Paris shows for the umpteenth time. As retired General Tom McInerney said yesterday morning on Fox and Friends

Political correctness is killing us, this is a prime example. Look, our own president says that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is not Islamic. Please! Until we hold the Arab world and the Muslim world accountable for letting this radical Islamic ideology — which as I have said before is as evil as Nazism, Fascism, and Communism, it is not a religion — until we hold these people accountable and in their own environment as General al-Sisi of Egypt said a few days ago when he chastised the imams for preaching this kind of radical ideology. So the west, the entire world, must hold Islam and the Muslims accountable.

Exactly. Over at National Review, Andy McCarthy — who learned the hard facts of Islam when successfully prosecuting Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called “Blind Sheikh” who was behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — writes:

What Charlie Hebdo has satirized is a savage reality. That reality was visited on the magazine again today. As night follows day, progressive governments in Europe and the United States are already straining to pretend that this latest atrocity is the wanton work of “violent extremists,” utterly unrelated to Islam. You are to believe, then, that François Hollande, Barack Obama, David Cameron, and their cohort of non-Muslim Islamophiles are better versed in sharia than the Muslim scholars who’ve dedicated their lives to its study and have endorsed such scholarly works as Reliance. [Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law]

Let me repeat what I have detailed here before: Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State did not make up sharia law. Islam did. We can keep our heads tucked snug in the sand, or we can recognize the source of the problem.

McCarthy has been writing about this now for a very long time. And yet all kinds of American elites — not to mention foreign elites — want to pretend that what’s plainly happening isn’t happening.

So let’s go back to Bill Maher in October of last year. As written here — as discussed all over the place — there were pyrotechnics when actor Ben Affleck appeared on Maher’s show with writer Sam Harris. The discussion turned to Islam and the fireworks began, as immortalized on YouTube. 

Memorably, Maher said this, which launched the furies. Islam is “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f–king kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.” Affleck protested, saying that to even suggest this was “gross” and “racist.” 

Today, ten French journalists are dead because they ran insulting cartoons of Mohammed. Ironically, Charlie Hebdo is in its own way a print version of Bill Maher’s style of comedy. The paper has famously insulted every religion on the planet, notably mocking the pope. Maher, an atheist, has made this kind of thing his stock in trade. He can by turns be crude, insulting, and satirical in search of humor. One doesn’t have to agree with him, or for that matter even like him, to understand that he is but one example of free speech at work in a society that cherishes free speech as a right central to human freedom.

So the world has witnessed yet again a murderous terrorist attack, this time on a French media outlet whose stock in trade is satire. I generally disagree with Bill Maher on most subjects — but most certainly not on this one. He was right to say what he said back there in October. And sadly, the events in Paris yesterday are exactly proof — if in fact any more proof was needed — that Maher was 100 percent right in his assessment.

The now famous response to the earlier threats on Charlie Hebdo from its editor Stéphane Charbonnier was: “I prefer to die standing up than live on my knees.” Yesterday, he did. Will the world — will American elites from the White House to Hollywood — finally wake up?

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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