UC Berkeley Students Don't Want Bill Maher Delivering Commencement Address
UC Berkeley students are signing a Change.org petition to remove Bill Maher as the December commencement speaker, citing the Real Time host's views towards Islam and Muslims.
Bill Maher Commencement Speech Petitioned
The petition, drawn up by sudent Khwaja Ahmed, reads, "Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for. In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment."
Ahmed adds, "Bill Maher's public statements on various religions and cultures are offensive and his dangerous rhetoric has found its way into our campus communities. Too many students are marginalized by his remarks and if the University were to bring this individual as a commencement speaker they would not be supporting these historically marginalized communities."
Ahmed goes on to cite a number of examples of Maher making disparaging remarks against Islam, including one he made during his explosive debate about the religion with Ben Affleck. "Islam is the only religion that acts like the mafia that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing," Maher had said. Affleck had replied, “What is your solution? That we condemn Islam? We’ve killed more Muslims than they’ve killed us by an awful lot, and we’ve invaded more Islamic nations. But we’re exempted from this things?”
Other examples of Maher's views include him stating, “Talk to women who’ve ever dated an Arab man. The results are not good," and "The Muslim world has too much in common with ISIS."
At this time, the Change.org petitiion has 2,422 signatures, including that of third generaltion Cal alumna, Julie Gettle. "It cuts me to the core to think that my beloved alma mater would open its commencement podium to an infamous bigot," Gettle wrote under the petition. "Maher's attempts to couch his Islamophobia in 'liberal,' 'rational' terms legitimize a discourse of racism and hate that has plagued American Muslims for over a decade, promoting the idea that anti-Muslim vitriol is socially acceptable and indeed laudable in mainstream circles. These are not the 'liberal values' that Berkeley stands for. Hate speech should not be rewarded with a keynote platform at the world's best public university."
Maher has yet to comment on the petition. UC Berkley's University Relations will have the final say on whether or not Maher stays on as the commencement speaker.