Bill Maher welcomed Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse to be his interview guest on last night’s episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher was being his usual witty self, and Sasse was holding his own by out-charming and out-smarting the HBO host.
Early on in the interview, Sasse jokingly invited Maher to come to Wisconsin to “work in the fields” with the locals, and what has followed thus far is why I sometimes have a difficult time staying positive about things to come.
For complete disclosure, here’s where I stand with each of these gentlemen:
- Along with Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, Mike Lee, Tulsi Gabbard, and maybe one or two others, he’s one of few congressmen I genuinely like, trust, and admire
- Politically, I align with him more closely than anyone in congress with the exceptions of most of the Liberty caucus and their closest constituencies in the Senate
- I hate most of his politics
- I watch his show regularly and have literally just begun recording responses to the “Overtime” segment on my podcast (my first “Talking Over Overtime” segment will be published within a few days)
- I think he is a spin-doctor of the extreme variety, and I don’t care for him as a person
- I would put his head on the Mt. Rushmore of Free Speech; he has long been a hero to me in that regard
So, as I said, Sasse invited Maher to work in the fields in Wisconsin. Maher then made an unforced error that could wind up costing him his show. He responded by joking that he is a “house-nigger,” implying that field work would not be his thing in Sasse’s slave state of Nebraska.
Bill Maher does not genuinely think the people of Nebraska are racist.
But Bill Maher, like so many on the left, has reprogrammed himself to be hyperaware of potential racism and similar discretions. While Maher, honorably, would never call for a political opponent to be fired for making a so-called insensitive remark, he would certainly blow it out of proportion in a hackneyed smear attempt.
Maher’s joke was a self-inflicted wound resulting from an autonomously uploaded impulse. In a certain sense, it was the chickens coming home to roost. You duplicitously assume racism when others slip, and you put yourself at higher risk for pitchfork-welding wrath when you wind up slipping yourself.
Bill Maher should not be fired for his mistake. People can call him whatever they want, but HBO would be hypocritical to let him go. With the free reign HBO gives Maher to harshly criticize Islam, call Americans stupid, and joke about every minority group under the sun (and I applaud them for allowing him that space), cancelling his show now for ethical reasons would be ridiculous.
But they haven’t done that, but it’s only been a few hours. Complaints from advertisers could result in a warranted release of Maher if enough people call to complain.
The fact that this story keeps telling itself makes me feel ill.
Maher’s racial Tourette’s syndrome and potential firing are not the only things that give me doubt about the future. The reaction that has immediately followed in the online media is far worse.
Several websites, namely Raw Story and The Daily Beast, have not only tattled on Maher, but are also implicating Senator Sasse.
After Maher’s ill-advised quip, Ben Sasse sat silently, cringed, and chuckled nervously. As reasonable and level-headed a man as you’ll ever hear from, Sasse neither scolded Maher nor did he permit a courtesy laugh. Expressing awkwardness instead of outrage or amusement was the right way to go for the polite and gregarious senator. He showed his true colors, and they shined brightly.
Raw Story, The Daily Beast, and countless social media users have not responded quite as appropriately. Raw Story published an article titled “‘And Ben Sasse laughed’: Internet furious at Bill Maher for calling himself a ‘house n***er’” while The Daily Beast went with “Bill Maher Drops the N-Word on ‘Real Time,’ Sen. Ben Sasse Laughs.” The content of the pieces doesn’t matter. The headlines will be seen by enough eyes to leave mud stains all over Sasse’s name.
On Twitter, an unlikely duo has united to try to take Maher and Sasse down. In something out of a psychological horror flick with a devastating twist ending, the Alt-Right is pushing the same rhetoric as the Social Justice Warrior Left.
Each group is motivated by different factors.
Senator Sasse is a principled, well-liked, and independently-minded Conservative Republican who has yet to utter a positive word about Donald Trump. Beyond the Jeb Bush’s and John McCain’s of the world, Sasse is respected, and deservedly so, across the board. This combined with his unwavering disapproval of Trump makes him an intolerable nightmare to the Alt-Right.
Sasse vouches for states’ rights, school choice, a scaling back of environmental regulations, and other typically Conservative policies. This makes him a White Supremacist Nazi to the Regressive Left.
Bill Maher is a loud-mouthed Liberal who viciously bashes Trump, Middle America, and the alternative media. This makes him an Anti-American, beta-male cuck to the Alt-Right.
Maher openly criticizes Islam and advocates ferociously for free speech. This makes him a White Supremacist Nazi to the Regressive Left.
The Alt-Right, through cynicism and political hack tactics, are seizing on this moment to banish Maher’s platform and associate Sasse with racism.
The SJW Left, through genuine Anti-Free Speech advocacy and political hack tactics of their own, are doing the same.
My reaction to what happened on Maher’s show was to stick up for Maher in reciprocation of his willingness to call out his own side for their snowflake attitudes towards ideas they disagree with. I tweeted “Bill Maher defends everyone’s right to speak freely, whether left wing or right wing. Let’s do the same for him.”
I hoped that some consensus would form around that cry to uphold the most fundamental tenant of Americanism. But my cry appears to have fallen on many deaf ears thus far. Search “Ben Sasse” or “Bill Maher” on Twitter if you want to see what I mean.
I still believe a reasonable and dictionary-definition Liberal America exists somewhere and transcends party lines. But with each and every potentially offensive utterance, unreasoned affinity with certain policies, and hypocritical tribal witch hunt, I am losing hope.