Comedian Bill Maher, better known for his condescending recitals of leftist talking points than his sense of humor, showed us just how much he hates middle America in last week’s episode of his HBO program, “Real Time.” For providing first-hand insight into the mindset of the effete coastal elite, the monologue is worth watching.
The funniest part of this attempt to paint middle America as a bunch of culturally and cognitively impoverished buffoons is the way he exposes himself as a philistine in the process.
We have a problem in America called spatial-geographic inequality, which means that the most affluent and educated people are clustered in a few cities. Last year, Hillary Clinton said, “I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.” Yes, you did. And maybe that’s why voters have such an obsession with “owning the libs.” Because the libs own everything else. The blue parts of America are having a big prosperity party while that big sea of red feels like their invitation got lost in the mail. And they still use the mail.
Still hung up on Hillary, huh?
Maher might be right that a few extremely rich urbanites own just about everything, but the idea that urban centers are full of universally “optimistic” people is laughable. While it’s true that rural Americans have slightly lower median household incomes than urban households, people living in rural areas actually have lower poverty rates than their urban counterparts.
Yes, urban centers have more rich people, but they also have a lot more poor people. Maher points out urban-rural income inequality while completely ignoring intra-urban income inequality because, of course, it’s more convenient for him to frame it that way. Leave it to a celebrity to overlook the tent cities of the homeless on his way to the Oscars.
As for the cheap shot, imagine thinking that snail mail is anything less than charming. For Bill Maher, the fact that heritage America, these rural bumpkins, might exchange handwritten notes with friends and loved ones is . . . laughable? Then again, Bill Maher chose to embrace a, shall we say, cosmopolitan bachelor lifestyle into his 60s. He long ago liberated himself from all kinds of oppressive and anachronistic social pressures like thank-you notes, emotional intimacy, and being remembered after he’s gone.
Maher’s entire soliloquy is littered with these kind of resentful and incoherent jabs. “We have Chef Wolfgang Puck; they have Chef Boyardee,” Maher quips. What? Bill, the last time celebrity chain restaurants were considered cool, sodomy was still illegal in New York. It seems this Baby Boomer missed the memo that farm-to-table, locally owned cafes are the only place the popular kids hang out anymore. I suppose he wouldn’t know. Bill doesn’t have any kids.
In Maher’s view, middle America is made up of distasteful fools who cling to their Bibles and guns simply because they don’t know any better. Meanwhile, genderfluid internationalists make urban life fun and fabulous, because “yoga,” “karaoke,” “solar panels,” and the Real Housewives of wherever apparently are the key markers of high culture.
Beyond these nonsensical insults, Maher attempts to make a moral point. He believes that Jeff Bezos should overcome his greed and put the new Amazon headquarters somewhere in a red state, imagining that the intellectual rubes in, say, Lubbock, can be redeemed through corporate wage slavery. The point is not that Middle America receives a bump in income, but that through the cultural and demographic change Amazon brings, middle America loses itself in the process.
Maher despises red state voters especially. But in the end, that contempt is merely an extension of his attitude toward human beings generally. For Maher, good coastal liberal that he is, man is nothing more than an atomized economic unit deriving meaning only from material pleasure, capital gains, and diversionary sex. To the demographic that Maher represents, human beings are infinitely malleable consumers who can be drawn away from God and country with a little “anal bleaching” and “legal bud.” Yes, if only country folks had more stuff, sex, and drugs, they would all vote blue. What an accidentally hilarious acknowledgement that the Left is the party of decadence and degeneracy.
How strange that he would purport to help the people he hates. Well, “help” sounds a lot better than “replace.” For rich liberals yearning for a permanent underclass of immigrant service-workers, the obstinate middle class is a serious inconvenience. This is a matter of culture. Middle America prevents the Left from throwing out the Constitution and completely dispensing with the Christian social mores which once allowed liberty to thrive in the country. Middle America does “cling to their guns and Bibles,” not because they are relatively less wealthy but because they embrace personal autonomy and objective standards of morality. They know better than to dance along to the siren song of leftism.
Maher and his comrades want to pump the flyover states so full of artisanal ice cream and marijuana that, in their overstuffed stupor, they begin voting for the party of infanticide. “Helping Middle America”, i.e. making them liberal, means changing their culture fundamentally. It means watering down their basic unity by exposing them to the divisive wonders of diversity and multiculturalism. It means “educating” their children through Drag Queen Story Hour in the public library. It means destabilizing the nuclear family through the introduction of liberal city dwellers’ sexual mores. It means turning Mississippi into “Amazippi”!
Unbeknownst to Maher, superficial material and sexual gratification do not amount to meaningful human fulfillment. It does not occur to him that some Americans might prefer the clean air, home-cooked food, regularly attended churches, and gosh darn peace and quiet of bucolic red states to the incessant noise, yoga studios, and authentic halal carts that dot the modern metropolitan hellscape. (Until it comes time to retire, of course. Then, Maher’s buddies can relocate to clog traffic in Charleston rather than Brooklyn—without leaving their snobbery behind!)
Bill Maher is a spiritually destitute clown who has lost the pulse of this country. “They don’t hate us. They want to be us,” Maher tells himself. Ah, the delusional fantasy of the urbanite. No, Bill. Deep down, not even you want to be you.
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Photo Credit: HBO