Since his highly controversial exchange with Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristof on October 3rd, Bill Maher has insisted that he's simply stating the unpleasant facts about the Muslim world. But there are two particularly noxious myths that need to be debunked.
Freedom of speech is an exceptional American value, indeed, that is what separates us from the rest of the world. I urge the University not to ban free speech, let Bill Maher speak, and let students bring Reza Aslan or myself to speak against Bill Maher's non-sense talk.
Expressive activity of any kind should be considered part and parcel of free speech, and thus deserves protection from viewpoint-based censorship. And just because students won't be allowed on stage to debate Maher point-by-point doesn't mean he isn't participating in an exchange of ideas.
It's nothing new to feel like our intelligence is being questioned. There has always been a sense that we're being talked down to and that most of what is said is gibberish to placate and appease us without really saying anything of substance.
Maher is right that we should stand up for liberal principles everywhere, but it does no justice to our principles if our arguments are stacked on a foundation of stereotypes.
The day liberals confuse real talk and passionate debate with bigotry is the day Bill O'Reilly and Fox news shape the narrative of our nation.
Fifty years ago this month, the school became the vanguard of the free speech movement when left leaning Mario Savio led a movement to challenge campus restrictions on free expression. This week's attempted revocation of HBO Real Time host Bill Maher's invitation to deliver the fall commencement threatened the institution's proud legacy.
Let us put this to rest once and for all. This is not a struggle between radical Islam and the West. It is between radical Islam and the rest of us, Muslims and non-Muslims. Freedom is not a Western value. It is a universal value.
Are you really interested in knowing that I am as appalled by the extremist beliefs as you are, that there are other Muslims who think like me? You say you want us to condemn the extremists' thoughts, but when we do, do you even hear of it?
If the answer to this question is "no," a case can still be made that the cable news network is on track to rival Fox News in promoting the worst Islamophobic stereotypes. The latest controversy involving an interview with Reza Aslan raises serious concerns about CNN's willingness to tap into and reinforce widespread prejudices against Islam in order to generate ratings.
Ben is talking about Muslims who aspire to the same things that all people of genuine good will aspire to, aspirations widely shared by most Americans. Hard work. Raising a family. Giving to charity. Practicing our faith. And the opportunity to do so free of judgment -- certainly free of fear or violence.
As Election Day approaches, the backers on both sides of the ballot initiative for legalizing Medical Marijuana in Florida, otherwise known as Amendment 2 are really getting fired up. It's a battle of wits, money, compassion, money, politics and money and of course, the people who are donating the money.
As the fight against ISIS/ISIL continues, and so do our campaigns to fight terrorism around the world, we are bound to be reminded that we are not in a war against Islam. But why is it that when I turn on the news, listen to people discuss Islam or look at images of Muslims in popular culture, it damn sure feels like we are.
It feels good for many people to look at Islam without looking at the bigger picture of geopolitics and foreign policy, but doing so allows us to repeat the same mistakes, while focusing intently on only part of the problem.
What Bill Maher, Sam Harris and many others like them fail to realize is that religion as it is practiced is a product of a wide array of factors, the official texts being only one of them. People of any faith are more shaped by the norms of their cultural context, interpreting their religious texts to comport with those norms rather than the other way around.
While Maher's points were vastly generalized and his analysis incomplete, there was still some validity to them. In modern America, we are so wed to the ideas of fairness and sensitivity that we can sometimes become blind to the obvious.