Belmont Club

The wisdom of Bill Maher

Bill Maher at the Huffington Post is really sad that most people aren’t as smart as he is. If they were, then they would know what’s good for them, as he does. But they don’t. He writes:

Just because a country elects a smart president doesn’t make it a smart country. A few weeks ago I was asked by Wolf Blitzer if I thought Sarah Palin could get elected president, and I said I hope not, but I wouldn’t put anything past this stupid country. …And before I go about demonstrating how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness dragging down our country, let me just say that ignorance has life and death consequences. … And I haven’t even brought up America’s religious beliefs. But here’s one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That’s right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first. … Until we admit that America can make a mistake, we can’t stop the next one. A smart guy named Chesterton once said: “My country, right or wrong is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying… It is like saying ‘My mother, drunk or sober.'” To which most Americans would respond: “Are you calling my mother a drunk?”

The fundamental problem with Bill Maher’s line of reasoning is that every argument he adduces to prove the stupidity of America works against him. He says, “I wouldn’t put anything past this stupid country”. But does that include electing Barack Obama? And while he is on the subject of religious beliefs what does he call people who believe in the existence of an object they have never seen because an obscure bureaucrat emerges from a closed room and declares that it exists?

In reality what Bill Maher is really asserting is that America is sometimes smart (such as when it elects his preferred candidates or listens to him) and is sometimes dumb, such as when it disagrees with him. At all other times in between it’s in a null condition, being neither intelligent nor stupid until Bill Maher has decided his position on an issue. I think all it proves is that everyone has an opinion. Maher is entitled to think he is smart. But if he were he would understand that is not necessarily the case.

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