Friday, November 05, 2010

Maher's "Mohammed" Moronicism

I like Bill Maher, I really do.  His humor usually gives me a chuckle, and he tends to make some very cogent and incisive political observations.  That said, he's also one of those guys who when I agree with him, I completely agree with him, and when I disagree with him, I really disagree with him.  Last Friday's episode of his HBO skein Real Time saw a whole lot of the former, and one big example of the latter when he and his guests discussed this story out of the UK that "Mohammed" has supposedly become the number one boys' name in England.

While I simply chalked it up to the changing demographics of the region and left it at that, Maher chose to see it as proof positive of Islam's takeover of the West -- one name at a time!  It might have been jarring to see the one-time Politically Incorrect host trotting out a talking point straight out of the Fox News playbook, but he's shown numerous times in the past that when it comes to religion in general and Islam in particular, he's got a pretty wide blind spot.  And that's fine.  But as writer Jim Emerson explains, that blind spot isn't an excuse to abandon reason, and he lays waste to Maher's alarmism with point-by-point precision.  Here's just one:
Maher has not seen fit to express concern over the alarming popularity of Judeo-Christian names in England: "Joshua, straight from the Hebrew Bible, is the 5th most popular. No. 6 is Thomas, after the apostle. The most popular after Mohammed is Jack, from John -- again, one of the apostles. No. 9 is James, from Jacob. No. 10 is Daniel."
Also, a name itself is hardly predictive of future behavior -- or even religious belief. I think we all know plenty of non-practicing Johns and Daniels and Jacobs whose parents were religious. My mom, on the other hand, is a Mary Frances and there were no Catholics to be found anywhere in her family.
Seriously, Bill, sometimes a name really is just a name.  Anyway, more at the link.

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