“We Americans should really get some perspective on where we live,” Bill Maher declared in his show’s conclusion. Definitely true, although don’t count on the woke Left waking up to that truth any time soon. After about 90 seconds of obligatory slams on conservatives for their patriotism — including one on John Boehner’s weepiness that’s about as relevant now as the Macarena — Maher turns to his real targets.
The real lesson from Afghanistan, Maher argues, is that Americans are working overtime to find things wrong here. That’s certainly one lesson from Afghanistan, although the collapse there was hardly necessary to notice that:
“We’re not the bad guys. Oppression is what we were trying to stop in Afghanistan. We failed, but any immigrant will tell you we’ve largely succeeded here. And yet, the overriding thrust of current ‘woke’ ideology is America is rotten to the core, irredeemably racist from the moment it was founded and so oppressive, sexist and homophobic we can’t find a host for the Oscars or ‘Jeopardy!’” Maher exclaimed.
“And this is where your new [Afghan] roommates that you took in will prove so valuable because they’ll turn to you and say ‘Have you people lost your f—ing minds?!?… Have you ever heard of honor killings, public beheadings, throwing gay men off of roofs, arranged marriages to minors, state-sanctioned wife-beating, female genital mutilation, marriage by capture? Because we have.’”
“What’s the lesson of Afghanistan. Maybe it’s that everyone from the giant dorm room b—- session that is the internet should take a good look at what real oppression looks like,” Maher continued. “Ask your maid, ask your Uber driver, ask the Asian woman giving you a massage. … America may not be the country of your faculty lounge and Twitter dreams, but no one here tries to escape by hanging on to an airplane. No, we wait ’til we get inside the plane to fight – and only because they cut off the beverage service.”
Maher takes the easy slams on conservatives’ expressive patriotism and the obligatory audience-pleasing shots at Donald Trump — and George Bush, for just criticizing him almost two decades ago — which tend to undercut his own argument on perspective. The Trump lawsuit is much more recent and had to be a legal headache (and certainly is worthy of Maher’s scorn here), but criticism from one of your frequent targets is part of the job, no? And on that score, why bring up Bush in 2021 if you’re arguing for perspective? Why bring up Boehner at all? Couldn’t Maher and his team find an example of excessive patriotic fervor from sometime over the past ten years? If not, maybe that’s not a point worth making.
The same goes for ripping Kristi Noem for riding on a horse to celebrate a major cultural event — the Sturgis rally. Maher didn’t include that as a criticism of her participation in the event during the pandemic, which has been a point of controversy, but merely for holding an American flag while riding the horse. Perhaps that’s overweening patriotism in Maher’s eyes, but even so it hardly equates to the witch-hunt atmosphere that pushed Kevin Hart out of an Oscars hosting gig. To quote the famed philosopher Jules Winnfield, that “ain’t the same f***ing ballpark, it ain’t the same f***ing league, it ain’t even the same f***ing sport.” It’s a rhetorical reach that should have resulted in emergency rotator-cuff surgery for Maher.
Otherwise, I agree wholeheartedly with Maher here, even on his general criticism about blinkered love of America. He’s doing good work in pointing out the destructive and absurd impact of the woke movement. Wokery is essentially Utopian nihilism; it’s not just that the perfect is the enemy of the good, but that fantasy is the enemy of everything else. Maher has been clear-eyed about wokery all along, although he seems incapable of addressing it entirely on its own without trying to frame it with crowd-pleasing Republican-bashing elements.
Nevertheless, Maher undertakes a Sisyphean task. We didn’t need the collapse of Afghanistan and the resurgence of Taliban control to grasp Maher’s point. The world is filled with such examples; Maher mentions oppression in China and Saudi Arabia, but we saw it in Iran and Syria for decades too. The genocide of the Rohingya, the tribal wars in Africa, the oppression in Venezuela — all of these are ongoing examples of what real suffering means. And it doesn’t mean cataloguing all of your microaggressions.
Maybe the woke Left will shut up for a couple of weeks, but even that’s an optimistic take. They’re not going to learn any lessons from it, no matter how hard Maher tries and how sincere he is in pushing the message. The best we can hope for is that everyone else wakes up to the nihilism and insanity of the woke Left. To the extent that Maher contributes to that, kudos, seriously.
Addendum: The real lesson from Afghanistan is the warning Barack Obama reportedly gave his aides. “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*** things up.”