Bill Maher: Trump’s allies are 'playing with the kind of fire' that 'made Northern Ireland a living hell'
On Friday, March 17 and the weekend that followed it, the streets of U.S. cities were full of people wearing green and celebrating St. Patrick's Day. But Bill Maher's mood was not light or celebratory during a sobering commentary that he delivered on St. Patrick's Day 2023. Maher, who hosts "Real Time" on HBO, used St. Patrick's Day 2023 to compare the United States' bitter political divisions to The Troubles — the violent conflicts that rocked Northern Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s.
Ireland is two different countries. The Republic of Ireland in the southern part of the island is an independent country that uses the euro as its currency and is part of the European Union (EU), while Northern Ireland is on the pound and is part of the UK along with England, Scotland and Wales.
During The Troubles, unionists (who were mostly Protestant and loyal to the UK) bitterly fought with Republicans (who were mostly Catholic and wanted to unify with the Republic of Ireland). Belfast, the largest city in Northern Ireland, suffered considerable violence during The Troubles. Although the violence in Northern Ireland decreased after the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, the tensions remain and sometimes flare up. This journalist visited Belfast in 2007, including the Shankill neighborhood (a hotbed of unrest during The Troubles).
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"Since it's St. Patrick's Day," Maher argued, "let's recognize that as great a country as Ireland is, you can't really think about the Irish without thinking about division. And I can't help thinking about us right now when I think about that. The Irish island is still not whole, and Northern Ireland — the part that is still part of England despite its majority Catholic population — went through a period where political hatred born of religion turned into something called The Troubles, which meant the hatred got so bad it could not be contained by the usual means of disagreement. So, people lived with bombings and sniping and urban warfare."
To illustrate his sobering point, Maher showed old black-and-white photos taken in Northern Ireland during The Troubles — photos of bombings and other violence — followed by a photo of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. And he warned that the United States, if it's smart, doesn’t want to go down that road.
"In America, our warring factions aren't Catholics and Protestants," Maher explained. "But that same level of hatred, of otherization, is happening between Democrats and Republicans. We've grown less religious, but that's because politics has become our religion…. On one side, the church of woke wants to cleanse us of our past. And on the other, the cult of Trump wants to resurrect it. (Former President Donald) Trump is often depicted as some kind of religious warrior; now, he's talking like an end-times religious nut. He speaks about an epic battle against sinister forces and says, 'I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.'"
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan), one of Maher's guests, listened as he humorously added, "Oh, Jesus. Thanks, Batman." And the “Real Time” host went on to slam far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) for calling for a "national divorce" and for red states and blue states to go their separate ways.
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"That's where we are: your fellow citizens who support the other party aren't just wrong, they're heretics who have to be destroyed," Maher warned. "Political identities have become stronger than religious ones — stronger even than racial…. America's national leprechaun, Marjorie Taylor Greene, she didn't invent our country's polarization any more than she could spell it, but she's playing with the kind of fire that made Northern Ireland a living hell for so long when she says, 'We need a national divorce. We need to separate by red states and blue states'…. Just voicing this idea is dangerous, because it reinforces the idea that you can't even talk to those people — you just have to somehow nullify their very existence."
Watch the video below or at this link.
New Rule: No National Divorce! | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)www.youtube.com
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