One and a Half Cheers for Bill Maher

by Michael Potemra

Comedian Bill Maher has elicited outrage by posting the following tweet: “Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who’s trying to kill u – u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her.”

I applaud Maher for telling the truth about the conflict between Israel and Hamas. This is not a struggle between those who favor rights for Jewish Israelis and those who favor rights for Arabs in the disputed lands; it’s a battle between terrorists who deliberately target civilians (and use them as human shields) and people who are defending their own civilian population from deliberate murderous assault. Maher is standing up to stupid and narrow-minded bullies on his side of the partisan divide — which is exactly the sort of thing that gutsy and principled liberals and conservatives alike should do. But I do bridle at his decision to specify in his joke that the attacker is a woman. That part hints at misogyny, the same way that, if he had specified that the attacker was a black guy, that would have hinted at racism. I have tried to come up with a plausible justification for having that woman specification be a part of the joke. The best I can come up with is the idea that women generally have less upper-body strength than men, so it’s easier to restrain them by holding their wrists than it is to restrain men in this manner. Which is a stretch, and, in my view, inadequate. (He could also possibly have been trying to demean Hamas by comparing it to a woman: You fight like a girl! Which would be both misogynistic and juvenile, more demeaning to women than to Hamas – so still no good.)

PS. Man, if you want to see some real combox dumbth, check out some of the comments on that Blaze story I linked to. One guy even says that Maher is Jewish, and therefore his views should not be taken at face value because he “has a dog in this fight”; and goes on to complain that Israel “always has to be the victim.”