In response to the newly released film American Sniper (which I have not seen but hope to), Bill Maher hosted a discussion in which he flatly reviled Chris Kyle – the person on whom the film is based – as well as anyone who liked the film. Citing carefully selected quotes from Kyle regarding his experiences in war, Maher presents him as a “psychopath patriot” who supposedly just loved killing people. Maher particularly liked the fact that Kyle referred to the people he killed as “savages”. (Of course, there is the question of whether or not he meant that all Iraqis or all Muslims were savages, or just the ones who were running toward him with bombs strapped to their chests. But such minor points are not convenient enough to be important for Bill Maher.)
Here’s the thing, though. While I was hearing Maher read Kyle’s quotes about Muslims, I couldn’t help but think: “Isn’t this exactly how you want people to see Muslims, Bill?” In Maher’s own words:
What it comes down to is that there is one religion in the world that kills you when you disagree with them. They say, ‘Look, we’re a religion of peace and if you disagree we’ll cut your fucking head off.’
And, perhaps more poignantly:
[Islamophobia is] a word created by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons.
The fact is that Bill Maher hates Muslims – even more than he hates people who follow other major world religions. He thinks they are savages, in no uncertain terms. To say that Muslims are characterized by their desire to cut people’s heads off or that the worldviews that are often labeled “Islamophobic” are completely justified is to say that Muslims are savages and that they should simply be killed. The feeling that he says Chris Kyle had toward Muslims is exactly the kind of feeling that Bill Maher wants the rest of us to have. In response to this accusation, Maher might say something like: “But I am not violent. I have never killed a Muslim and would never think of doing it.” However, I am sure the same could have been said of Chris Kyle before he went to war. It is clear that, if Bill Maher had ever been brave enough to put on a uniform and pick up a rifle, he would have become exactly the kind of man that he wants us to believe Chris Kyle was.