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Buttonstc's avatar

What are your thoughts on last night's verbal dustup between Ben Affleck and Bill Maher (with support from Sam Harris?

Asked by Buttonstc (27597points) October 6th, 2014 from iPhone

If you type Ben Affleck, Bill Maher into YouTube search it’s the first 10 min. link which comes up. (Sorry I’m on my old iPhone so no links.)

This was on Real Time on HBO so I’m surprised it hasn’t been taken down but I guess they figure the publicity is worth it.

Your thoughts?

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19 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

Maher constantly goes off and says shit like “Every Islamic person wants to behead your wife”. When he does it now I just change the channel. Generally I agree with him but I don’t on this subject.

syz's avatar

I often agree with Maher’s stance and admire his chutzpah, but I do not admire his Islamaphobia. It’s bigoted and small minded.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

That Ben Affleck doesn’t know what the heck he is talking about. he should stick to acting. also now everyone is talking about his comments which gives him the attention he wanted for his new movie “Gone Girl”. His last movie was about radical Islam. typical Hollywood people who don’t have an ounce of intelligence.

Affleck was not even paying attention to the conversation, he was more interested in throwing out the Racist Word. psst… Islam is not a Race it is a Religion.

hominid's avatar

First of all, Bill Maher is not funny, and I only occasionally agree with him – but for the wrong reasons. His show is a travesty, and it’s no better than good ol’ Hardball garbage. But I agree with him completely on this. Harris, is much more articulate on this, and I have read and listed to his position on this.

In that context, Harris had no chance of expressing his position on this show. But he has written plenty and youtube is full of his debates and lectures on everything from religion, Christianity, Islam, and meditation. What Harris started to say and what immediately followed was perfect. Affleck shit all over himself and was embarrassing. He was so ready to jump all over Harris that he didn’t bother understanding or listening to what Harris was saying. He ended up proving exactly what is wrong with public discourse – especially from liberals in this country. He couldn’t have been a better example.

Liberals have failed regarding Islam. Affleck just went ahead and provided a good example of that failure.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Who cares?

When it comes to talking about peoples’ feelings about religion and politics (separately, or together, like on TV) you’re never going to have agreement.

Maher is entitled to his point of view. Affleck is entitled to argue. Neither are all right, neither are all wrong.

But in the end, two performers pissing on each other is meaningless.

rojo's avatar

Here is a Washington Post article, with a survey of 38000 Muslims, that says they are both wrong.

I thought this comment from one viewer was pertinent:

6:35 AM CST
“some americans have been bigoted in branding all muslims as barbaric and morally backwards. the proper number seems to be about 40%.”

rojo's avatar

Then there is John W. Loftus who said in an article in 2006 “Christians think the Militant Muslims are wrong for wanting to kill free loving people in the world, and they are. But the only difference between these Muslims and the Christian Biblical God is that they simply disagree on whom should be killed. They both agree people should be killed; they just disagree on whom should die.”

Bill1939's avatar

What bothered me most about Ben Affleck’s comments was that his passion for his perspective resulted in attempts to dominate the discussion. Both Affleck and Maher views are over generalized and both failed to allow the other members on the panel to express their views.

Christianity in its first six-hundred years treated different Christian sects and non-Christians as severely as Muslim extremists are today. As @rojo‘s link to the Washington Post shows, fewer extremists exist in societies where economic and educational opportunities are better.

I wish they had let Sam Harris talk more.

hominid's avatar

It was really just a televised version of a fluther conversation about belief. Affleck propped up a straw man and played the “I’m offended on behalf of..” role. Maher cut off all of his guests with cringe-worthy bad arguments that took the conversation astray.

But I urge people to re-watch how pumped up Affleck was to immediately call Harris “racist” and “gross” for stating the fact that you cannot criticize the treatment of women, for example, in the Muslim world without being branded a racist. And criticisms of bad ideas are interpreted as bigotry and hatred towards all Muslims.

Watch Affleck’s response here. First, a side-step, as though he wasn’t really listening. Then, the “That’s big of you.” oddity, immediately followed by “It’s gross, it’s racist.”

It’s “racist” to try to separate criticism of bad ideas from bigotry towards all Muslims? The thing that gets me is that tons of atheists are the ones making this mistake. They somehow get it when we’re in discussions about Christianity. But we’re somehow unable to discuss ideas in the same way with Islam for fear that we’re somehow being racist. Islamophobia is a tactic that is being used as a conversation stopper.

Buttonstc's avatar

This wasn’t yet on YouTube when I first asked this Q, but there’s a fascinating vid, in which Cenk Uygur unpacks the whole thing one step at a time and he makes a similar point to the WP article if for different reasons.

He makes an interesting point about the distinction between religious positions vs. cultural positions. He gives specific instances where not every ass-backwards attitude or idea can be laid at the feet of Islam. Sometimes it’s due to the simple fact that this has been done for centuries before by both Muslim and non-Muslims alike in that country.

As an EX-Muslim of Turkish descent he is rather uniquely qualified to comment on the whole apostate issue and it’s punishments.

It’s about a 20 minute clip and can be found directly below the primary Affleck/Maher one. Look for The YOUNG TURKS posting (the name of his TV program.)

Just for curiosity I’d be interested to know if there are any regular watchers of his show and other’s thoughts about him and his positions on various issues.

I’m not an every-night watcher of his show, but I usually make an effort to get his viewpoint on major issues as they arise.

I find myself agreeing with him more often than not. He really does bring a rather unique point of view on many aspects of discussion about Middle East news.

Buttonstc's avatar


I agree with you about wishing they had not kept drowning out Sam Harris.

He appeared to have the most thoughtful, cogent and well balanced perspective of anyone in the room.

SavoirFaire's avatar

(1) Sam Harris being the most thoughtful person in the room is like being the valedictorian of summer school. It only speaks poorly of everyone else around. Atheists have much better spokespeople. Why some insist on sticking with this guy, then, is baffling. He’s just the Ken Ham or Kent Hovind of atheism—more of a showman than an intellectual, and a purveyor of bad argument. And in the words of Dan Dennett: “There’s nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view that I hold dear.”

(2) The reason Islamaphobia is sometimes referred to as racist is because the sentiment is almost always directed at a particular subset of Muslims: the Arab ones (and the Persian ones—though in true racist fashion, most don’t know the difference). Moreover, the existence of other Muslims is typically downplayed or ignored completely, which allows critics to portray cultural practices as religious practices (i.e., to attribute to Islam what is actually a regional custom that has nothing to do with the religion). This gets in the way of solving the actual problem, which shows that people like Harris and Maher are more interested in feeling superior than effecting real change.

hominid's avatar

@SavoirFaire – re#2 – I’m confused. Is there something in particular about what was said or not said in that debacle of a show that points to “racism”?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@hominid Point (2) was made mostly in response to comments made on this thread about it being a mistake to refer to Islamaphobia as racist. I was trying to point out why it is often not a mistake to do so (since actual Islamaphobia tends to manifest in particular ways). I haven’t watched this particular segment because I’ve long since stopped paying any attention to Maher and only pay attention to Harris as much as professional obligation requires me to. I’ve witnessed enough of their racism in the past—including comments made to me in person by Harris—that I don’t need any more data to understand what their game is.

hominid's avatar

@SavoirFaire: “I haven’t watched this particular segment because…”

If you get around it, check it out. I suspect you’ll find Affleck’s racism charge absurd. It was pure strawman and emotion.

Whether or not Harris is a racist may not be relevant here, although well worth discussing. This thread was about Maher’s horrible show, and a temper tantrum thrown by Affleck. Once you start your discussion by intentionally misrepresenting what someone is saying and calling someone’s position “racist”, there’s very little recovering. I’ve been involved in more than a handful of discussions like this, and it’s a problem. A big one. When I was in college in the early 90s, being critical or even questioning Israel’s actions was enough to wind up being immediately called an anti-Semite. It shut down the conversation completely. It’s clear to me that Islamophobia is being used in the same exact way.

Cupcake's avatar

Wow… Ben Affleck sounds like an idiot.

I wish Nicholas Kristof had spoken more. He could barely get out a full thought.

hominid's avatar

Relevant comments by Harris from his blog (cached – his site is down). He also spoke about this on WHYY today.

Aethelwine's avatar

I watched this live Friday night and Affleck came across as an arrogant douche. He kept interrupting the others, and as Cupcake said he sounded like an idiot.

—I rarely name call but I can’t stand the man.-

hominid's avatar

I’ve made the mistake at following too much of this drama online, and have determined that most people – even “liberals” who I generally agree with – are completely full of shit. The intentional misrepresentation of peoples’ positions is completely acceptable, and it appears that there is something psychologically fulfilling about destroying strawmen – even when you know that is what you are doing. The brain is a mysterious thing.

It’s also extremely frustrating to see people unable to disagree with someone and say that they’re wrong. It can’t be done. You can’t be wrong – you need to be racist. The convenient thing about calling someone racist (or sexist or an Islamophobe or anti-semite) is that you don’t need to do the work of demonstrating that the person is wrong. It’s lazy and quite destructive.

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