Bill Maher questioned if "xenophobia" really exists if there is actually something to be afraid of, referring to the growing danger radical Islam poses to the West. Maher and his panel were discussing the reasons the U.K. voted to leave the the European Union on the Friday edition of his HBO show Real Time.
"I hear a lot of talk today about xenophobia. Is it really phobia if you have something to be afraid of?" Maher asked.
When Maher brought up more than half of British Muslims think being gay should be illegal, Democratic operative Paul Begala responded, "What percentage of American Republicans also believe that?"
"Can we deport them?" Begala asked after just rejecting a ban on Muslims as "bizarre and stupid."
Moments prior Begala cited convert Muhammad Ali as proof that Muslims and Western civilization are compatible.
Maher suggested an Islamic reformation but said that would take moderate Muslims rising to the call and that just won't happen. Transcript:
MICHAEL STEELE: What are you seeing and hearing from him that makes you think and understand him in that way?
BILL MAHER: But that's a different issue than voting for someone who wants to deport 11 million people, who wants to ban all Muslims, who is for torture, who is for birtherism.
STEELE: So how do you answer the poll that came out during the middle of the primary. The question was asked: Is Islam compatible with the values of America? How many Americans answered that question in the negative?
MAHER: I'm the one who answers that question honestly.
STEELE: And it was 56% of Americans that [said] Islam is not compatible with America. It is the same person who is looking at Donald Trump and saying "he's one of us." So you have got to figure out ---
MAHER: But the answer isn't to ban all Muslims.
PAUL BEGALA: But these are the same people who honored Muhammad Ali when he passed away as an American icon. And he was an American icon and an American Muslim.
MAHER: What does that have to do with 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, Paul?
BEGALA: Because it's bizarre and stupid to try to ban every Muslim from America.
MAHER: I agree.
BEGALA: It's insane.
MAHER: But his point was also not wrong.
I mean I hear a lot of talk today about xenophobia. Is it really phobia if you have something to be afraid of? Fifty-two percent of British Muslims think being gay should be illegal.
BEGALA: What percentage of American Republicans believe that? Can we deport them?
STEELE: Not just American Republicans.
MAHER: How many?
STEELE: Not many.
MAHER: They think it should be illegal?
MAHER: No. That's bullshit, Paul.
STEELE: Stop it.
MAHER: Just stop it.
There certainly is a hard right wing in this country. But they have no power. It's a lot different. Do you really think if America had radicalized ghettos of Muslims like London and Brussels and Paris where a woman who would walk down the street in a short skirt would be hassled because it was anti-Islamic? What would Americans do if that happened in this country?
BEGALA: We would not put up with it. We're a pluralistic society. We have Muslims here -- I don't really know Britain, I don't know France -- but they're integrated here very wonderfully. They really are...
MAHER: Can we all agree on this because even the people who fight me on this issue usually agree that Islam needs a reformation. Do we all agree on that?...
Every time somebody says 'Islamophobia' it gives the people who are intimidating cover.
Bill Maher and panelists Betsy Woodruff, Paul Begala, Michael Steele, and Larry Wilmore discuss the latest effort by congressional Democrats to move gun control legislation forward in this clip from the June 24, 2016 broadcast:
Wilmore called it "problematic" that the government can create lists that decide who is not allowed to do something.