Bill Maher, a prominent liberal television personality, has frequently critiqued Islam, believing that it promotes violence, irrationality, and chaos. Bill Maher, has also gone on the record as saying “All religions are stupid and dangerous” but “Islam is the Most Violence These Days.” In an interview with Keith Ellison, the first African-American Muslim congressman, Bill Maher jokes, “You were not raised in the Islamic religion. You were raised Catholic; I didn’t even know you went to prison.” This ‘joke” against former congressman Keith Ellison plays upon a common social phenomenon in which African-American convicts convert to Islam in prison.
What Bill Maher is not cognizant of is that this social phenomenon he jokes about regarding Black prisoners turning to Islam is actually is an indictment of the very liberalism that Bill Maher extols, and it calls into question the validity of his Islamophobic fears. Indeed, this joke of Bill Maher trivializes the very serious social epidemic of the mass incarceration of Black people. Bill Maher giggles as though the systemic hyper incarceration of blacks is simply a laughing matter to be taken lightly when it emanates from the very liberal values that Maher glorifies.
The hyper incarceration of black males is a product of them having no place within the liberalism of white American society; the prison system functions as a warehouse and a new peculiar institution in Wacquant’s analysis for blacks who serve no economic utility.
In Sohail Daulatzai’s analysis, Blacks convert to Islam in prison as an empowerment tool that challenges the panoptic and disciplinary logic of the state. Malcolm X, for example, who did become Muslim behind bars, stated that “months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.” Through Islam, despite being incarcerated, Malcolm X reports a feeling of freedom that Islam gave him, and that liberalism deprived him of. A fact that is rooted in a historical fact and is completely ignored by liberals is that liberalism actually developed with a social contract theory that nonwhites were excluded from!
In his critique of Muslims, Bill Maher asserts that liberals need to defend liberal principles such as “equality for minorities,” the question for Bill Maher is: why are the original inhabitants of the United States, the Native Americans a minority within their own land, why are black descendants of slaves a minority on land they were forcibly taken to, and why are white people a majority?
It’s because of liberals like Thomas Jefferson, who supported the Indian Removal Act, believing that Native Americans should be exterminated. Jefferson’s worldview stemmed from one of the most foundational philosophers of liberalism, John Locke, who invested in companies that partook in the transatlantic slave trade of black Africans. The liberal notion of “equality for minority” has never significantly challenged the white supremacist power structure of America.
John Locke is credited with pioneering the liberal principles which Bill Maher widely promotes. At the core of these liberal principles is the belief that human beings have a natural right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
However, what appears as a major contradiction in John Locke’s political philosophy emerges clearly, when we see for example that Locke was a major investor in the Royal African Company. In addition to this, John Locke was an active secretary in the Council Trade and Plantation. These two organizations played an active and integral role in the transatlantic slave trade which robbed Africans from their homeland.
Far from believing in the right of life for Africans, political scientist Dr. Andrew Valls notes that Locke in fact believed that slave masters had,”Absolute power over their slaves, and thus the right to kill with impunity.” In light of this, how exactly does one reconcile the fact that one of the western world’s most revered philosophers justified anti-black slavery whilst simultaneously believing that human beings had the right to life and liberty?
Simply put, Locke did not believe blacks were humans and argued that the failure of Africans to establish a civil authority to preserve their rights through entering into a social contract meant they were not entitled to natural rights. John Locke utilized liberal principles to fully endorse anti-black slavery. Additionally, this pioneer of liberal thought would not have seen a contradiction between the enslavement of black people and liberal principles.
The “Islamic Boogeyman” is utilized to white wash the continued atrocities against the non-white world and allows for a violent absolution in which the aggressor plays the victim. Bill Maher’s inability to see the mass incarceration of black people as a form of terrorism is because anti-black terrorism has been normalized into the American political and social system.
The reality is, white liberalism is the most violent religion on the planet today. Black Dawah Network challenges Bill Maher to an open debate. If you believe what you say about Islam is truthful,