It was a very strange week, Bill Maher noted at the top of his Real Time show on HBO Friday night. There was a lot of good news, he said. “But it came too late to prevent Democrats from getting their ass kicked all over the country.”
Perhaps sensing the shifting tide, Maher started out the night mocking the Virginia gubernatorial triumph of Glenn Youngkin, noting the name sounds like “The scotch you buy at Costco.”
But he couldn’t joke too much during the rest of the show, pushing back strongly on one guest during a discussion about Critical Race Theory, and knocking down some of the arguments made by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar during her opening interview.
In her segment, Klobuchar kept falling back on her talking points of politicians trying to help real people with real life problems. But when she launched into blaming Republicans for blocking abortion and people’s right to vote, Maher cut her off. “Those arguments will never work on people.”
Still, he soaped her by calling Klobuchar “an honest broker” for the moderates in the Democratic party, even while conceding that a moderate to the Dems “is still pretty far left.”
Far more interesting were college professors Michael Eric Dyson and Glenn Loury, who engaged with Maher in a conversation on racial issues.
Loury is a professor of economics at Brown University who hosts “The Glenn Show” podcast, while Dyson is a professor at Vanderbilt University and author of Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness in America.
Dyson tried to argue that the Virginia gubernatorial race turned on the opposition to teaching black history in schools.
Maher shut him down. “They’re not objecting to black history being taught,” and said the backlash stemmed from the reaction to teaching Critical Race Theory, which some say has a penchant to separate children by race, resulting in traumatizing some children.
Loury agreed that CRT was too separatist. “It’s American history. Blacks don’t have a separate history.” He also gave an eye-rolling reaction to that notion and the calls for defunding the police while crime was going up.
When Maher brought up the trend of black segregated dorms on campus, Dyson admitted, “We should all sample each other’s culture.” But he added, “Let’s not pretend that the black students are carrying the water for segregation.”
The talk then turned to the defeat of a referendum in Minneapolis on defunding the police. Loury said that people who live in high-crime neighborhoods want to be protected. “The police are not a panacea, but they are definitely on the right side of the equation,” he said.
Dyson supported that idea. “Black people call the cops more than anybody,” Dyson said. “But they want the cops not to mistake them for the criminal and not kill them.”
Asked by Maher to back up his book quote where he described police as having an “unyielding appetite for Black subordination,” Dyson said he still blamed “the system itself” for underserving Black people.
Loury pushed back strongly. “I think we have to keep the scale in perspective There are bad police and they have cost black lives.” But he added that amounted to “a few hundred people” in a country of 300 million.
“There will inevitably be conflict,” he said, adding, “Twice as many whites are killed by police each year. This is not a threat to the black body, that is hyperbole. Once you go down this road, you invite in the mind of citizens a calculation on how many crimes are being committed by blacks. Because quite a few crimes are being committed by blacks.”
Maher concluded his night by taking on the crass materialism of younger people. He pointed out that model and cultural influencer Kylie Jenner has 28 times the number of online followers that climate activist Greta Thunberg has amassed.
“The cognitive dissonance is breathtaking,” Maher said of people who blame the older generation for ruining the planet, but still obsess over the shoe closet of Jenner. He pointed out that cryptocurrency, which is mostly held by Gen Z, is created using more energy than Facebook, Apple, and Google combined. Similarly, mobile phones are powered by huge banks of servers, which are also energy eaters.
“I know it would be fire to live like Kylie and save the planet, but you can’t do both,” Maher admonished. “Kids, you have to make a choice – you’re either progressive or excessive.” He added, “I wish your generation was better than mine. But we’re completely the same. Lots of talk, but at the end of the day, pigging out on convenience, luxury, and consumption.”