Sunday, March 18, 2007

Kudos to Bill Maher

I want to expand on my congrats to Bill Maher in my last post for stepping forward and challenging people about what exactly is going down in his Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO this week (Friday, March 16, 2007 episode). In his final closing remarks he said this (the transcript and podcast for that episode aren't yet online):

"So Bush went to Plan B, pissing on the Constitution and torturing random people. Conservatives always say that the great thing that Reagan did was make us feel good about America again. Well, do you feel good about America now? I’ll give you my answer and to get it out of me, you don’t even have to hold my head under water and have a snarling guard dog rip my nuts off. No, I don’t feel very good about that. They say that evil happens when good men do nothing. Well, the Democrats proved that it also happens when mediocre people do nothing."

Declarations such as this are exactly what need to happen. It is precisely what people in the public eye and people who have leadership roles in society (such as intellectuals and religious leaders) need to do more of. Too many people who have this kind of standing in society have either withdrawn in fear and/or out of denial (by failing to come to grips with the dramatic changes actually happening). This has had a disorienting effect on the broad ranks of the people because they depend so much on opinion-leaders for direction and orientation.

People in leading positions and ordinary people both need to declare which side they're on here - are you for torture or against it? are you for unprovoked attacks on countries that pose no threat and have not attacked you or against it? What? It's too hard? Please - it's no goddamn secret that this country is torturing people. The Democrats who claim to represent the people and who haven't come out and condemned the Military Commissions Act of 2006 as tyrannical and barbaric deserve utter infamy. And anyone, any citizen, who is silent in the face of this is complicit.


The reason that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have been such hits, among especially the young, is because they are doing such a great job overall of speaking to what's going on and exposing the glaring contradictions between what our government says (and their apologists in the media like Fox) and what the government does. The heart and soul of humor involves contradiction, after all, so there's all kinds of raw material out there to expose these yawning, gaping, glaring discrepancies. Maher, Olbermann, Stewart and Colbert are speaking truth (what a subversive act!) and the people who hunger for truth are eating it up. The contrast between this and loud mouth bullies posturing as journalists and gutless mainstream journalists who rather party hardy with the rich and powerful than speak truth to power couldn't be sharper.

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