How Liberal is Liberal Enough?
Unfortunately, I do not have a subscription for HBO. Oh, I’ve been told countless times just what a mistake I am making by failing to do so, as I am informed of show after show that my friends and colleagues are convinced I would appreciate. But to be perfectly honest, I don’t like watching that much television anyways, and when I gave Game of Thrones a try a few years back I ended up squeamishly crying myself to sleep after only ten short but agonizing minutes of horrific violence. Needless to say, I have opted to eschew The Sopranos. But I must admit that I have always been big fans of John Oliver and Bill Maher. Fortunately for me, Real Time with Bill Maher is available for free in podcast format, and HBO does a free weekend just often enough to let me binge watch all the episodes I haven’t yet seen of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. I often end up listening to Maher while riding my bike, and I find his humor to generally be edgy and poignant. I don’t always agree with him or his guests, but that’s exactly the point, a point liberals seem to be missing these days: We don’t always have to agree.
Just this past week Maher has been barraged by Whoopi Goldberg amongst many others on the left for what she labeled as his “flippant” remarks on the current Covid situation. Those comments, to be specific, were as follows, “I don’t want to live in your paranoid world anymore — your masked, paranoid world. You go out — it’s silly now. You know you have to have your mask, you have to have a card, you have to have a booster. They scan your head like you’re a cashier and I’m a bunch of bananas. I’m not bananas- you are.” Airing a frustration many Americans are beginning to echo as we now embark on a third year of Covid protocols even as a majority of Americans have been fully vaccinated, Maher went on to explain, “Some people can’t help that they’re not in good health. We should, of course, protect the vulnerable, but it was mostly a disease of the very old, which every disease is a threat to, and people who have comorbidities, which mostly is due to lifestyle….Now, I’m not saying they deserved to die. Don’t twist my words, please. I’m just saying that is a lifestyle, you know? So, the fact that America, the medical establishment, never even attempted to get people to live a healthier lifestyle as a response to this pandemic is a giant scandal to me.” So just what has Maher said, even though he is generally a champion of the liberal agenda, that now has him on the verge of ex communication from the Holier Than Thou Ministry of the Left?
Maher was intentional in highlighting that he was in no way minimizing or invalidating the 860, 000 deaths due to Covid, but his statement about comorbidities playing a significant role in the majority of those deaths is absolutely factual. True to point, 60% of Covid deaths have also been tied to some form of comorbidity, with old age leading the way and being trailed by obesity and smoking. In fact, 80% of Covid deaths have occurred in people over the age of 65. Meanwhile, even though 64% of the United States population has been fully vaccinated and 77% have had at least one dose, 81% of current Covid deaths are amongst the unvaccinated. And while the Omicron variant certainly has spread like wildfire, it has proven to be much milder in most cases, especially in people who have been fully vaccinated. In other words, the data bears out exactly what Maher was suggesting- that thanks to the vaccines rolled out earlier this year, this has largely become an epidemic for the old, obese, or unvaccinated.
That by no means invalidates or takes away the sorrow of those passings, but it might be understood if someone that does not fall into one of those categories might want to start going back to normal life after two full years of this. After all, that is why most of us, including Maher, decided to get vaccinated in the first place- so that we could go back to seeing our friends and families and interacting with the world again without needing to wear a mask everywhere we go. At no point did he suggest that vaccines were not a good idea or that we should push back against scientific data confirming their efficacy. In fact, his whole point was that it was exactly the efficacy of the vaccines that should be allowing us to get back to something closer to normal, especially given the mounting evidence of the significant toll that prolonged Covid protocols are having on our mental and physical well-being. Maher was simply expressing his frustrations, a point of view that did not fall squarely within the proscribed liberal talking points on the matter, and the liberal lynch mob jumped all over him.
Now, first of all, let’s remember that Maher is, first and foremost, a comedian. His job, by its very nature, is to be flippant. If you tuned in to listen to stoic political commentary, you are watching the wrong show. But what I have always appreciated about Maher is that rather than adhering to the tribal allegiance of the liberal agenda, he speaks his own mind. As one who also generally subscribes to most of the ideas and underpinnings of progressive thought, I often find myself disagreeing with him, but since when has that become an unredeemable sin? Since when have we, the side of the political aisle that is supposed to support and endorse free thinking, become so close-minded that we feel the need to banish and exile all those who stray, even remotely, from the rutted, well-established path of purported liberal ideology? Oh yeah- when wokeism started.
Bill Maher has spoken out on this topic as well, centered as it is in the cancel culture that has ravaged American intellectualism. No longer are we allowed to differ on any issue and maintain our liberal name tag. Even someone whose liberal street cred should be as verifiable as anyone out there in media today can be turned upon by the pitchforks of a liberal Lynch mob just waiting to get their hands on those who beg to differ. And it is just that Mean Girls, “holier than thou and everybody else” aspect of wokeism that sends middle of the road folks running to the right. Liberals should have the high moral ground, but it is shit like this that pisses off the very centrists we need to win elections and gets them to vote for Trump and his ilk. Bill Maher is no Joe Rogan or Fox News spreading false information and deliberately misleading propaganda. He is a dude who has an opinion, and he had the unmitigated temerity to voice it. Back in the day, oh say ten years ago, that didn’t use to be a crime. Apparently, now it is.
After writing this, I’m guessing that I’ll be next.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com