Commentary: Blacks have given white liberals like Bill Maher license to say racist things

Commentary: Blacks have given white liberals like Bill Maher license to say racist things

By Anthony L Hall

Comedian Bill Maher is known for his politically incorrect schtick. He knows better than anyone that nothing guarantees viral attention in this age of social media quite like a snarky point, sick prank, or salacious photo.

Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant – headquartered in Washington DC – who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at

Moreover, it’s self-evident that the aim of most points, pranks, and photos is not to provoke enlightened thought or stimulate informed debate. Rather it’s to attract mindless YouTube views, Twitter followers, Facebook and/or Instagram likes, etc. — all as a testament to one’s own popularity or in service to one’s own narcissism. Granted, in some cases, easy money motivates too (as the Kardashians would readily attest).

Except that the fallout from comedian Kathy Griffin’s sick prank shows that one can go too far. No doubt you’ve seen the viral image of Griffin holding up a dummy of Donald Trump’s blood-soaked, severed head … ISIS style.

The (viral) outrage was such that TV stations and concert venues began canceling her gigs, making her as bookable as Michael Richards. Remember him? “Seinfeld’s Kramer Unleashes a Racist Tirade on Stage! Why the surprise?” November 21, 2006, explains why he got the infamous “you’ll never work in this town again” treatment.

In any event, now ballsy, wanna-play-ISIS Griffin is crying me a river about Trump and his sons bullying and breaking her. But, as much as I despise Trump and pity his kids, I feel no sympathy for her.

Which brings me to Maher. He too just went too far. His (latest) outrage stems from an exchange he had on Friday with Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) on his HBO show Real Time. The offense came when Maher lamented the folly of grown-ups dressing up for Halloween:

When Mr. Sasse said this did not happen in his state, Mr. Maher said, ‘I’ve got to get to Nebraska more.’

Mr. Sasse replied: ‘You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us.’

Mr. Maher said: ‘Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house [nigger].’

(New York Times, June 3, 2017)

I’ve been calling out white liberals for racist quips like this for years. Here, for example, is how I did just that with former President Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, and Obama’s putative successor Hillary Clinton, in “VP Biden, Stop Your Dog-Whistling about Race … Now!” August 12, 2012.


Vice President Joe Biden set Republican tongues wagging on Tuesday for injecting the following not-so-subtle dog-whistle about race into a speech he delivered that day before a predominantly black crowd in Southern Virginia:

‘Romney wants to let the, he said the first 100 days he’s gon’ let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchaaain Wall Street … they gon’ put y’all back in chains.’

(C-SPAN, August 14, 2012)

I feel obliged to begin by noting that Republicans decrying racism in this context is rather like prostitutes decrying promiscuity. … This is why I have no regard for the feigned outrage Republicans are venting over Biden’s remarks.

That said, I find what he said insulting. Far too many blacks react to racist remarks by white Democrats [or liberals] by simply pointing to racist remarks by white Republicans [or conservatives]. I do not. Here, for example, is what I wrote when Hillary Clinton declared that (white) Republicans were treating (white) Democrats in Congress like slaves:

This … demonstrates the insidious entitlement white liberals have been granted — by politically compromised black leaders — to make all kinds of racial jibes with impunity; so long as those white liberals are celebrated supporters/members of the Democratic Party.

And, in this case, it only added insult to the racial offense that Hillary made these remarks in the front of an ‘Amen’ crowd at a black church in Harlem — where she ‘came back home’ like a proverbial prodigal daughter.

(“Hillary: Republicans Treating Democrats like Slaves,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 23, 2006)

Just as it was with Hillary’s, what added insult to Biden’s remarks was the way he exaggerated his intonations and broken English to, gasp, sound more black (i.e., ignorant). Yet in each case, instead of jeering, blacks cheered.


It just so happened that I chastised Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton many years earlier in “US Senator Calls Bush’s Black Female Judicial Nominee an Ape,” June 7, 2005. The white liberal involved in that case was no less a person than “liberal lion” Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA).

Frankly, I lost what little respect I still had for them when neither Jackson nor Sharpton, both putative civil rights leaders, failed to utter a word of condemnation against Kennedy. But you can imagine their outcry if he were a white conservative, especially considering that Kennedy hurled this sub-simian slur during a public hearing on Judge Janice Brown’s nomination.

This is why I am less outraged by what Maher said than by the apparent license influential blacks gave him to say it. They should have joined me years ago in condemning white liberals who say racist things. What’s more, we should condemn them with even greater indignation than we show when we condemn white conservatives for the same. After all, we expect more of our so-called white liberal friends.

That said, I am heartened that at least some of these blacks are coming to their senses. Because here is how Sharpton led a (still-too-small) chorus in condemning Maher:

‘Bill Maher decided to get on television last night and sanitize and normalize the n-word,’ civil-rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton said in his Saturday sermon in New York. ‘Just because Bill Maher is liberal and our friend, you don’t give him a pass … you never get the right to use that term.’

(Reuters, June 3, 2017)

It’s almost as if I wrote that for him, no? Except of course for the glaring, self-subjugating fact that nobody has done more to “sanitize and normalize the n-word” than ignorant and misguided black folks, especially in the hip-hop community.

Unsurprisingly, Maher hastened to apologize. But I suspect that, if he were a conservative, Sharpton would have demanded his head; that is, for him to suffer the same career-ending fate Richards suffered, and which Griffin is now suffering.

And so the double standard persists. Regrettably, this not only undermines the moral authority of influential blacks on Race Matters, but also affirms the self-righteousness far too many white liberals display when it comes to the lingering scourge of racism in America.

Related commentaries:
Seinfeld’s Kramer…
Social media…
VP dog-whistle…
Sen. Kennedy calls black judge ape…

*This commentary was originally published at The iPINIONS Journal on Sunday, June 4. If, like far too many people, you think I should have written about the Comey testimony, I did: Comey testifies … with all the suspense of yesterday’s news…