“I think I’d rather tell the truth and say what I believe in and make people unhappy than sort of pretend to think something else to accommodate them and try to be liked. That’s just the way it goes and I don’t think I’m any great champion of anything, but if they’re going to put me on a show, I’m going to say what I think.”
-- Ben Affleck
Affleck's a good guy and, as he says, he should be expected to speak his mind on a show like Real Time, which encourages such things. But if he somehow believes that what he said during his now infamous row with Bill Maher and Sam Harris amounted to taking an unpopular stand -- one that would "make people unhappy" in the circles in which he runs -- he's out of his mind.
By now you almost certainly know the details of what went down a few weeks ago, with Maher and Harris demanding to know why liberals refuse to criticize Islam despite its disturbingly illiberal teachings and the violent, misogynist acts often committed in its name, and Affleck responding with a burst of outrage, accusing Maher and Harris of racism. Maher and Harris asked a tough question, one which has of course been misinterpreted by liberals programmed to believe that any perceived insult against a minority is an act of racism and all must be met with swift condemnation (because that's what you're supposed to do if you're a decent liberal).
But it's this very fact which proves that Affleck has plenty of company in his righteous indignation. A substantial segment of the American left believes that any criticism of the outdated, often barbaric, and arguably dangerous tenets of Islam is little more than an expression of racism and "Islamophobia." Oh, liberals will knock the shit out of Christianity -- an easy target seeing as how it's widely interpreted as the dominant and therefore most oppressive and privileged faith in the world -- but suggest that they turn an equally harsh gaze and acid tongue on Islam and most of them demur out of a sudden sense of respect or even guilt. If you're going to criticize religion, particularly from the point of view of an atheist, you've got to be willing to criticize all religions -- cognitive dissonance and the demands of a multiculturalist philosophy be damned.
By saying that Maher's and Harris's views on Islam were racist, Affleck didn't put himself way out on a limb. Sure, maybe he risked making a point that two other people at the table didn't agree with, but his opinion is still the opinion of a huge number of liberals. And they really liked what he had to say.