Bill Maher was one of the few late night hosts to comment on the terror attacks in Paris, and the only one to be live with some discussion of the events. His main question for his panel: Why do they hate us? It led to a string of strong answers from Michael Steele and Dylan Ratigan, and some attempts at jokes with Jay Leno. Maher pointed to the recent bombings as the point of contention for this round of attacks and stumped his panel by asking the same question he claims many asked in the days following 9/11:
“When the Charlie Hebdo thing happened the week after everybody said ‘Je suis Charlie.’ But not really. They didn’t really stick with them… I’m gonna ask you this question that people asked after 9/11, because I don’t think we really know the answer: Why do they hate us?”
After a pause where a laughing Maher said “I stumped the panel,” Rattigan laid the blame on the U.S. presence and financing of the regime in Saudi Arabia that allows them to “oppress the the population that does not have power in Saudi Arabia.”
Michael Steele pointed to the Bush doctrine of spreading democracy as another source of fracture, noting that many of the countries involved had rejected it. And while each of the people on Friday’s show had an answer, it may be an open-ended question at the end of the day. One could point to foreign policy of the last 50-60 years, someone else could point to The Crusades, and another might go all the way back to the foundations of Islam itself. It is clear that the groups who carry out these attacks have perverted ill feelings of some type into these violent acts, and the solution to it doesn’t come easily either.
Preceding this segment on Real Time, Maher sat and talked with feminist Muslim author Asra Nomani. It’s an interesting cross section to look at on one show, especially given Maher’s stance in the past and his head butting with guys like Ben Affleck.