I have mixed feelings about comedian Bill Maher. But he got it dead right about the way the hard-left refuses to deal with the reality of progress on social issues.

On the one hand, Maher almost perfectly captures my own politics: liberal, but willing to take on political correctness when it’s called for. On the other hand, Maher can come off as smarmy and brutally unfeeling to other people’s deeply held beliefs. For example, while I’m not religious, I find some of his rants against religiosity to be unnecessarily harsh. I know a lot of deeply religious people who are not crazy and who are not hypocrites. They’re good people for whom their religion helps them make sense of the world. They don’t deserve to be mocked.

Comedian Bill Maher

Still, Maher is at his best when he takes on wokeness, as he did again in his monologue on “Real Time” on June 11th. It’s worth watching the whole thing here.

Here are some excerpts.

“If you think that America is more racist now than ever, more sexist than before women could vote, you have progressophobia. Even something like bullying. It still happens, but being outwardly cruel to people who are different is no longer acceptable. That’s progress. Acknowledging progress isn’t saying, ‘We’re done,’ or, ‘We don’t need more.’ And being gloomier doesn’t mean you’re a better person.

“In 1958, only 4% of Americans approved of interracial marriage. Now Gallup doesn’t even bother asking. But the last time they did, in 2013, 87% approved. An overwhelming majority of Americans now say they want to live in a multiracial neighborhood. That is a sea change from when I was a kid.

“In a country that’s 14% black, 18% of the incoming class at Harvard is black. And since 2017, white students are not even a majority in our public colleges. Employees of color make up 47% of Microsoft, 50% of Target, 55% of the Gap, as companies become desperate to look like their TV commercials.

“The ‘Friends’ reunion we just had looked weird, because if you even suggested a show today about six people all of whom were straight and white, the network would laugh you out of the room and then cancel you onTwitter. And yet there is a recurrent theme on the far left that things have never been worse.

“(The comedian Kevin Hart) recently told the New York Times, “You’re witnessing white power and white privilege at an all-time high.” This is one of the big problems with wokeness, that what you say doesn’t have to make sense or jibe with the facts, or ever be challenged, lest the challenge itself be conflated with racism.

“Saying white power and privilege is at an all-time high is just ridiculous. Higher than a century ago, the year of the Tulsa race massacre? Higher than when the KKK rode unchecked and Jim Crow unchallenged? Racism is unfortunately still with us. I understand best as I can how racism singes a person’s soul so much they might see it everywhere. But seeing clearly is necessary for actually fixing problems, and clearly racism is no longer everywhere. It’s not in my home, and it’s probably not in yours if I read my audience right, and I think I do. For most of the country the most unhip thing you could ever be today is a racist.

“Here’s the thing, kids. There actually was a world before you got here. We date human events A.D. and B.C. but we need a third marker for millennials and Gen Z: B.Y. Before you.

“There are a helluva lot of Americans trying really hard these days to create a new spirit of inclusion and self-reflection, and this progressive allergy to acknowledging societal advances is self-defeating. . . . Having a warped view of reality leads to policies that are warped—blacks-only dorms and graduation ceremonies, a growing belief in whiteness as a malady and [that] white people are irredeemable. Giving up on a colorblind society—only if you believe we’ve made no progress does any of that make sense.

“Where progress has been made it’s not a sin, and it’s certainly not inaccurate, to say, ‘We’ve come a long way, baby.’ Not mission accomplished. Just a long way.”

Maher nailed it. There is — and has long been — a part of hard-left DNA that is resistant to acknowledging any good news at all. Progressives who deny progress. In that world, to even suggest that things are improving is to invite derision and suspicion. You are certainly naive and you may be less than zealous in your commitment to the cause. At the very least we need to keep an eye on you.

To the extent that people like Maher keep blasting away at hard-left silliness and intolerance, we may be able to start defusing the terror that keeps too many liberals silent when they hear those on the hard-left say things that are simply flat-out ridiculous.

Welcome to the 124th consecutive day of posts here at YSDA.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

4 thoughts on “Progressophobia

  1. Part of the problem with the hard left is that the overwokeness of “all whites are racists,” and exaggerated CRT claims is that the left shames White people, and otherwise makes the claim that if you’re not superwoke, you’re a racist. What this accomplishes in the negative is twofold: 1. it arguably enrages actual racists by shaming them, further creating anger and retribution against Black people, 2. and the shaming of decent White people simply further stigmatizes and discourages people from associating, valuing, and loving one another based on the content of their character, the appropriate test that Dr. King employed. In other words, the hard-left is aggravating the problems of racism, while smugly believing they alone are solving these issues.


  2. Never thought I would be doing this, and you probably never thought it would happen, but I offer a link to a report on Fox News about a North Korean woman who defected to S. Korea and made it to the US. She studies at Columbia University. She says that the level of indoctrination is worse at Columbia than it is in N. Korea.

    Long-ish quote:
    “To her dismay, she quickly discovered that her American ivy league college participated in the same behavior. After stating that she enjoyed Jane Austen and classical works, her teacher quickly corrected her for adoring books written by authors who were “bigots” with a “colonial mindset.” Students cheered for communism and socialism without regard for past events, such as the millions of lives lost under Mao Zedong’s rule. “They are dying to give their rights and power to government…they take it for granted. They don’t know how hard it is to be free,” Park stated. She failed to understand how students paying tens if not hundreds of thousands for education could cry oppression.

    The most confusing part for Park is that Americans, unlike North Koreans, have access to the internet, books, and a plethora of information, yet they “choose to be brainwashed.” She concluded by determining that education is designed to prevent people from critical thinking. “The future of our country is as bleak as North Korea’s if we don’t rise up right now,” Park warned.”


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