Commentary

Maher Shows His Independence

By Bill Donohue | October 12, 2021 | 1:09pm EDT
Bill Maher attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/VF20/WireImage)
Bill Maher attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/VF20/WireImage)

As our records show, no comedian has been more vicious in his remarks about Roman Catholicism than Bill Maher. Indeed, his antics got so bad I once told Megyn Kelly that I would like to put on the Everlast and get into the ring with him at Madison Square Garden. Subsequently, he told Larry King that I threatened violence against him!

Having been nothing but critical about Maher for decades, I am moved to say something positive for a change. No, he hasn't apologized for demonizing priests, but he has shown an independence of mind that is admirable. To be exact, he has not been shy about ripping the censorial ones on the Left.

It's not just the cancel culture that Maher abhors. He is resolutely opposed to the Left's obsession with race, especially critical race theory. The insane ideas that the masters of political correctness espouse—ranging from transgender politics to our open border policy—have been the subject of his disdain. The mess that Biden made in Afghanistan has also incurred his wrath. Significantly, he routinely invokes "common sense" to make his points; this is an attribute the Left totally lacks.

It would be one thing if Maher settled for a few throwaway lines, but that is not what he has done. At least since 2012, he has broken with the politics of the Left, although it wasn't until this year that he stepped on the gas. Not only are the crazies giving him much fodder to deconstruct, he is not shy about giving it right back to them. 

What Maher is doing is not only commendable, it is much needed. He reaches an audience that desperately needs to listen to his growing list of reality checks. Just as important, he is widening his reach.

"I was in Nashville about a month ago," he said recently, "and the audience was about 60-40 liberal to conservative. That never used to happen, never."

Does this mean the Catholic League is going soft on Bill Maher? No, but it does mean that his willingness to stand fast against some of the more pernicious ideas that have gripped the ruling class is deserving of high marks. Honesty demands that we take note of his courage. Let's hope others follow suit. 

Bill Donohue is president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of nine books and many articles.

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