Activist Cornel West pushed back against Real Time host Bill Maher’s criticisms of Islam on Friday, arguing that Maher should not treat it as a cultural monolith.
“Based on brother Bill’s argument, the history of Christianity killing Jews, or the history of American Christians lynching Black people would be the only statement for Christianity,” West argued. “That’s simply not true.”
Maher told West and his panel that he did not want to revisit the topic following his argument with Ben Affleck earlier this month, but felt pulled back in “like Michael Corleone” following the attacks by Muslim extremists in Canada and New York City this week.
But when Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon said people should better distinguish between peaceful Muslims and the “virulent strain of radical Islamism,” however, Maher accused him of missing the point.
“You’re talking about this vast group that is peaceful,” Maher argued. “But are they that peaceful if vast numbers of them believe you should die if you leave the religion or marry the wrong person? I would say no.”
“You’re talking about the right-wing version of Islam,” West said in response, a statement Maher seemed to dismiss.
However, Maher found himself taking West’s side when West criticized American foreign policy for helping destabilize the Middle East.
“Let’s get real,” Maher told the panel. “Colonialism — including American colonialism — does have something to do with the problems in the Middle East. As does poverty. As does education. I’m just saying, don’t throw religion out of the mix.”
Watch the discussion, as posted online on Friday, below.