torturous debates

Ben Affleck and Bill Maher Get Into a Shouting Match Over Islam

Bill Maher, who has been more than vocal (and sometimes sexist) about his views on Islam, dove back into the fray — this time with Ben Affleck as his opponent on Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher argued that “liberals need to stand up for liberal principles,” like equality for women and gays and lesbians, but said they’re reluctant to denounce Islam: “But if you say, in the Muslim world, this is what is lacking, then they get upset.” One of those liberals, Ben Affleck told Maher that conflating Islam as one entity was “gross” and “racist.” Affleck went on, “Or how about the more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, and don’t do any of the things you say all Muslims do?”

Maher courted controversy last week when he towed the same line on his show, saying the Muslim world has too much in common with ISIS, including the practice of female genital mutilation. Religion scholar Reza Aslan said Maher’s argument was “not very sophisticated” because many Christian countries also practice FGM, and many Muslim countries do not. Aslan argued that he should be saying it’s a Central African problem rather than a Muslim one.

This time around, Affleck was joined by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who pointed out that there are multiple Muslim reformers like Malala Yousafzai, whereas neuroscientist Sam Harris sided with Maher. You can watch the debate below. There’s a lot of shouting, and Affleck does a lot of face-palming.

Ben Affleck and Bill Maher Tussle Over Islam