Maher began by stating that, in reference to the threats levied at South Park, the developing world’s “religious wackos are a lot more wacko than ours.” What Maher failed to point out is that the group on whose website “Islamists” made the threats is based in Brooklyn, New York, that the threats were made by 20-year-old Virginia-native Zachary Adam Chesser (a recent covert to Islam who now goes by the name Abu Talhah al-Amrikee), and that the group itself was founded by “American-born Jew formerly known as Joseph Cohen who converted to Islam after attending an Orthodox rabbinical school.” According to journalist Maidhc Ó Cathail, in 1998, Cohen moved with his wife and family from Brooklyn to the ultra-Orthodox Israeli development town of Netivot where he was a supporter of the ultra-racist Shas political party of Mizrahi Haredi Jews. After he became “disillusioned with Israeli secularism,” Cohen apparently embarked on a two year “theological dialogue” in a Jewish internet chatroom with a persuasive sheikh from the United Arab Emirates and was duly transformed from being a staunch Zionist to a “sudden admirer of al-Qaeda and Hamas” and changed his name to Yousef al-Khattab. Perhaps Maher didn’t feel this information was relevant.
Maher continued by urging his audience to “think about the craziest religious wackos we have here in America…take the worst, the worst is the Christians who bring their ‘God Hates Fags’ signs to soldiers’ funerals. Can’t get worse than that. Now multiply that by infinity and give it an army, that’s the Taliban.” Here, Maher’s comparison is spurious at best. While he rightfully condemns the recent suspected actions of the Taliban involving the poisoning of schoolgirls in Afghanistan, he claims that it’s closest Western analogy is some ignorant bigot holding an offensive sign?
Maher chose not to mention that there have numerous instances of Jewish settlers poisoning water supplies and grazing grounds of Palestinian towns, resulting in the deaths of livestock and illnesses such as liver infections in children. While Maher warns of the tactics of the Taliban, which at its height of power in 2001 boasted a strength of about 45,000 troops, including the elderly and children (a level which has been cut in half in the past decade), there are currently over 400,000 heavily-armed Jewish settlers, subsidized by the Israeli government (and therefore US tax dollars) living in illegal fortified colonies and garrison-outposts all over Palestinian land in the West Bank. These messianic settlers have repeatedly been known to burn Palestinian crops and mosques, throw rocks at Palestinian children on their way to school, and murder Palestinians in cold blood (and sometimes have monuments erected in their honor).
Incidentally, the number 400,000 is applicable elsewhere. The new Quadrennial Defense Review published by the US Department of Defense in February 2010 states, “Including operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, approximately 400,000 U.S. military personnel are forward-stationed or rotationally deployed around the world.”
Furthermore, Maher’s claim that Christian fundamentalism only goes as far as waving stupid banners and pales in comparison to Islamic extremism is absurd. Perhaps his team of writers should have reminded Maher of Jim D. Adkisson who, on July 27, 2008, walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church with 76 rounds of buckshot and a shotgun in a guitar case, opened fire on the 200 member congregation as they watched a child performance of Annie, killing two. His stated motive was that “he hated the liberal movement” which, along with Democrats, African Americans and homosexuals, was destroying American institutions. Maybe Maher’s mention of anti-abortion, right-wing Christian Scott Roeder, who murdered doctor George Tiller in the lobby of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas on May 31, 2009 because he felt “preborn children’s lives were in imminent danger” (and whose actions elicited praise from other American fundamentalists) was cut from his script due to time constrictions. Doubtful.
Additionally, Maher failed to address the fact that George W. Bush was a born-again Christian who often claimed his imperial foreign policy agenda was divinely inspired. Five days after the September 11 attacks, as plans to invade and occupy both Afghanistan and Iraq had already been drawn up, Bush declared that “This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.” Five months later, as he addressed American soldiers in Alaska, he spoke again of “this incredibly important crusade to defend freedom.”
In 2003, Bush even declared to then-Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath, “I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.”
And what about the reports that Bush’s top-secret daily briefings, the Pentagon’s Worldwide Intelligence Update, prepared by US General Glen Shaffer, and delivered by hand by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, routinely had images of American military might and warfare juxtaposed with inspirational verses from the Bible?
But Maher was just warming up. He continued,
“Now, I’ve been known to make fun of Christians, but I have the perspective to know that they’re a lot more evolved than people who target girls for going to school…And that’s because Muslims still take their religion too seriously.”
It can only be assumed that Maher didn’t mean the “enlightened” Christians who subscribe to “biblical discipline,” a form of corporal punishment intended to “train” children to be more obedient to their parents and God, which recently resulted in a Montana couple beating their adoptive children to death. Obviously, Maher also meant to exclude “enlightened” Mormon fundamentalists like brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty who committed double murder or Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart, all in the name of God.
Naturally, Maher also didn’t feel like telling his audience about the more than 280 kindergartens, schools, and universities that the “enlightened” Israeli military deliberately destroyed during the 22-day assault on Gaza or about Palestinian children like Abir Aramin who are murdered by “enlightened” Israeli soldiers on their way to school.
Maher also makes sure to clarify that he wholly endorses painting all 1.2 billion Muslims, one quarter of the world’s population, with the same brush, by declaring, “It should, in fairness, be noted that in speaking of Muslims, we realize that, of course, the vast majority are law-abiding, loving people who just want to be left alone to subjugate their women in peace.” With this statement, Maher reveals his true agenda. He is not simply talking about a fundamentalist approach or extreme interpretation of a religion; he is stating, quite plainly, that all those who practice that religion are themselves fundamentalist and extreme. (Perhaps Maher would think it fair to claim that all Catholics are child molesters or all Jews are Ariel Sharon?)
This narrow-minded approach to Islam and its followers proves Maher’s bigotry. Apparently, in Maher’s view, all Muslims are misogynistic men and a poor, brainwashed, and beaten women. To Maher, all Muslim majority countries are oppressive dictatorships and Muslim culture is a monolithic entity that remains identical across thousands of miles, different geography, countries, ethnic backgrounds, races, and traditions.
He seems to think that all Muslim women are forced against their will to wear burqas and veils by their domineering and repressive husbands and fathers. Disproving this assumption hardly seems worth the time; nowhere in the Qur’an does it say that women must cover their hair or wear a veil, only that women (and men, for that matter) should be modest in their dress and actions. Incidentally, both Judaism and Christianity preach the same. Some Orthodox Jewish women shave their hair and wear wigs. Depictions of the Virgin Mary invariably show her in hijab. Does Maher feel that Catholic nuns are unjustly subjugated?