Friday on HBO’s Real Time, host Bill Maher, one of the rare liberals who has the intellectual independence to occasionally come down on the right side of an issue, said of author Salman Rushdie’s attacker that he thinks the suspect “probably isn’t Amish,” and then conceded that “Islam is still a much more fundamentalist religion than any of the other religions in the world.”
“We don’t know the motivation yet, but Sal did have some enemies in the past, as I recall,” Maher stated, referring to the death fatwa Iran issued against Rushdie in the late 1980s for the purported blasphemy of his novel The Satanic Verses. “So, I’m guessing Hadi Matar is not Amish. Sal…was giving a lecture — how about this for irony — about how the U.S. is a safe haven for exiled writers and other artists under threat of persecution. And making that speech itself is unthinkable in most Muslim countries. Salman Rushdie living in most Muslim countries without getting stabbed every day is unthinkable.
“So, don’t come at me with ‘[that’s] Islamophobic,’” he continued. “‘Phobic’ means fear, right? Well, Sal had a good reason to be fearful, and when you say ‘phobic,’ it’s just a way to shut off debate: transphobic, Islamophobic. And we should have a debate about this. Sorry, but these things don’t go away. Islam is still a much more fundamentalist religion than any of the other religions in the world, and that means they take what’s in the holy book seriously and that has been dangerous for a long time. It’s still dangerous.”
Correct, and bravo to Maher for having the courage to tell his largely Progressive audience the inconvenient truth.