Comedian Bill Maher’s surprisingly classist monologue on the Friday edition of his HBO show “Real Time” wasn’t funny, but it was revealing. He unintentionally showcased his blue-state contempt for the poor and revealed the new political battle lines: white progressives versus the white working class.
Maher said in the monologue that America suffers from “spatial geographic inequality,” which was a multisyllabic way to say that all the smart, rich people live in just a few East and West Coast cities. Far from being a rallying cry for more economic equality — maybe what you would expect coming from liberals who constantly talk about such issues — Maher sunk his teeth into this economic disparity and revelled in it.
First, he mocked their buying power. “Maybe that has something to do with why Trump voters are obsessed with ‘owning the libs,’” he said. “Because the libs own everything else.”
He bragged that he and his “blue state” friends were having a “prosperity party,” while the rest of the nation wears cheap clothing and eat inexpensive food. Mississippi is so poor, he said, liberals should buy it and “recolonize” that state.
He said that in Wyoming, people dress in non-designer clothes, opting instead for Target. He said red-state residents don’t eat well, either. “We have chef Wolfgang Puck, they have Chef Boyardee,” he said.
Normally, bragging about how much money you have is considered impolite. However, this economic disparity is considered fair game in today’s politics. Reihan Salam wrote about this phenomenon: “It is almost as though we’re living through a strange sort of ethnogenesis, in which those who see themselves as (for lack of a better term) upper-whites are doing everything they can to disaffiliate themselves from those they’ve deemed lower-whites.”
But Maher resorted to gross stereotypes of red-state Americans even before Donald Trump was a real political player. In 2011, New York Times columnist David Carr was a Real Time guest when he said people who don’t believe in evolution, were conducting the “dance of the low, sloping foreheads, the middle places, right.” (Maher agreed, pointing out that it’s fine if red states believe this, but “don’t f–k with the smart states.”)
We’re supposed to believe that Maher’s most recent hostility, supposedly, was coming from a place of — ahem — benevolence. He was insulting the socio-economic status of his fellow Americans to shame Jeff Bezos into putting a second Amazon headquarters in an economically depressed place that really needs it.
“Bezos, you’re worth $130 billion,” he said. “Take one for the team! … help a dying [place] come back to life.” These new jobs bring people from the “outside.” Maher said that as an added benefit, Nebraska residents will realize homosexuals and minorities won’t murder them. (The implication, of course, is that middle Americans are xenophobic rubes.)
Though his guests are probably be the type of people who pride themselves on progressive attitudes toward class, they laughed, nodded, and applauded him the entire time. Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist responsible for Evan McMullin’s presidential campaign, seemed delighted. Donna Brazile looked downright moved by Maher’s words. Claire McCaskill and Bernard-Henri Lévy slow clapped their appreciation. One can almost imagine this clip being used in a high school Sunday school class to decry peer pressure.
Salam described this mockery of certain segments of society as a psychological “way of establishing solidarity: All of us in this space get it, and we have nothing but disdain for those who do not.” And that’s exactly the vibe that these laughing pundits emanate. We’re in on the joke, and it’s really funny.
Maher has firmly established the new battle line in American politics. White progressives will double down on their hatred of working-class whites.
Hopefully, some liberals will finally have the guts to stand up to this bigotry.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.