“Why We Fight,” declares another poster, featuring the Statue of Liberty draped in a burka. In the matching essay, Maher’s politically incorrect credentials shine the brightest.
“We are in a Clash of Civilizations, and nowhere is that more clear than in the treatment of women. I sometimes look at pictures of women covered with tarps like the infield at Fenway Park, and I think: What if these were black men in some white country? Black men being beaten for showing an ankle or a wrist? Black men starving to death because they weren’t allowed to work or stoned to death for having sex? There would be protests, riots, U.N. boycotts. Jesse Jackson’s head would explode. Al Sharpton would call a press conference.”
“Isn’t it time,” Maher asks, “we stopped ignoring the elephant in the living room and let go of our fair-minded fantasy that all religions are basically the same and that other cultures that suppress human rights aren’t inferior, they’re just different? Excuse me, but primitive is primitive.” Can you imagine even the toughest-talking Republicans in Congress saying that?
While Maher supplies plenty of condemnation of the government’s approach to fighting terror, he also suggests strategies that are positive and inspiring—and so obvious they should be no-brainers. If, as this administration never tires of telling us, the vast majority of Muslims living in the U.S. are brimming with patriotism and love for America, why not tap into that invaluable resource? Featuring the classic Uncle Sam in the “I want you” pose beneath Arabic script, with drawings of three Arab-looking men—one as a speaker, one as a translator, one as a spy—the bottom of the poster reads, “YOU can be a hero in America!”
For those Muslims who have created uproars over the most minor of inconveniences at a safety check, Maher has these words: “Is this the time for Muslim and Arab-Americans to be grousing over profiling and tolerance? Or is it a time to stand up and be counted as among those patriots uniquely qualified right now to render service to their country?” Maher tells the story of Texas-based Saudi national Dr. Al Badr al-Hazimi, who, on 9/11, was arrested and taken to the east coast for a week of interrogation, mainly because he had the same last name as two of the hijackers. After he was cleared, Dr. al-Hazimi said, “Given the circumstances and the unusual situation, my treatment was fair.”
Compare Dr. al-Hazimi’s attitude to that of the Arab-American Secret Service agent who was temporarily stopped from boarding an airplane. He got a lawyer; he held a press conference; he demanded an apology. The president backed up him all the way. As Maher says of the agent: “He was an Arab with a gun, and he took exception to being pulled aside while his credentials were checked. He’s willing to take a bullet for his country, but a flight delay is apparently out of the question.”
Maher also recognizes the absurdity of the “American abuse of power” charges: “No country with comparable power ever trod so gently on the rest of the world, something foreigners [and many Americans, he should add] often pretend they don’t know…. Name another nation that could conquer the world, but chose not to.” More than that, he explains why he loves America. “As I’m sure you know by now,” he tells readers, “I’m not much for tradition or sentiment—but America doesn’t need sentiment to make its case as the greatest nation on earth, right now anyway, and that’s good enough for me. I’ll deal with the Ming Dynasty later, and perhaps stop there for lunch.”