Real Time was already playing with controversy by inviting Tomi Lahren to sit on Friday’s panel — and by announcing an invitation for Milo Yiannopoulos to a future show — but that wasn’t all for Bill Maher. To kick off the show, Maher invited back New Atheist icon Sam Harris to the show to discuss Islam and Trump’s ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The last time Harris was on the show, the pair had another discussion about Islam and managed to draw the ire of Ben Affleck who was sitting on the panel that night.
If you’ve forgotten what happened, here’s a slight refresher:
“We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where criticism of the religion gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people,” Harris began. “It’s intellectually ridiculous.”
“Hold on — are you the person who officially understands the codified doctrine of Islam?” Affleck, on the show to promote his movie Gone Girl, interrupted, and argued that criticizing Islam, as Maher and Harris were doing it, was “gross and racist. It’s like saying, ‘Oh, you shifty Jew!’…
It goes on from there and gets pretty heated. The confrontation went viral and prompted Harris to address it in a lengthy blog post, claiming that Affleck came with Harris already in his crosshairs before the topic of Islam even hit the show. And while Harris might be right, he couldn’t help but get a slight jab in at Affleck on Friday’s show and what he’d probably think about his latest discussion with Maher:
“If Batman were here, he’d call us racist,”
Affleck wouldn’t be alone in that feeling and some have called Harris brand of criticism, “Islamaphobia.” Both offered a defense of their point of view on Friday, with Harris claiming that ““You don’t have to be a fascist or a racist or even a Trumpian to not want to import people into your society who think cartoonists should be killed for drawing the prophet.”
Their thoughts on refugees from Syria are made pretty clear, though, and spark a round of applause from the audience: