Are We Tolerating Intolerance? In Defense of Bill Maher, a Known “Islamophobe”

Alex Gross '17

Contributing Writer

If I were to tell you that 32 percent of Israelis supported the slaughter of Palestinian families including children, you would be outraged. Well, that’s not the case, but that number does represent the proportion of Palestinians who support the slaughter of Israelis. That’s not all. 68 percent say that suicide attacks against civilians are justified in the name of Islam. But this isn’t just about Palestine. According to The Religion of Peace website, one in three Muslims in Britain think a person deserves to be killed for leaving the religion. 58 percent of Muslim-Americans believe that criticism of their religion should not be protected as free speech.

Now, before you scream Islamophobia, hear me out. Why is it that it is okay in this country to criticize any religion but Islam? If I talk about my disapproval of the Catholic Church, no one so much as bats an eyelash. Why the double standard?

Usually, at this point, someone would say that Muslims are a marginalized group whereas Christianity is a majority religion. While it is true that the number of Christians in the world is higher, it’s not exactly by a huge margin. Muslims make up 23.2 percent of the world’s population –1.6 billion people. To give you a comparison, .2 percent is Jewish, which is a meager 14 million.

Now, if you’re wondering what my point is, it’s not that I hate Islam or its practitioners. It isn’t even really about Islam. All I am asking is why is it that a person can’t raise an issue about Islam without being branded as an Islamophobe?

I bring this up because I think the most important thing we have is our freedom of speech. If we lose that, we’ve lost all ability to make any difference in this world. Do we really want to live in a world where Bill Maher is petitioned out of a commencement invitation at U.C. Berkeley? Since when is having a difference of opinion justification for something like that? Did he kill anyone? No. What has he done? Well, he donated a million dollars to Obama’s campaign because he cares about changing the country for the better. Earlier, Maher got sued by Donald Trump because he had made a joke about Trump being the offspring of an orangutan. This just goes to show that we take comedy way too seriously and way too literally in this country.

Now, I implore you, fellow millennials, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.