Bill Maher and guests point the finger at “Us” on Friday’s “Real Time” on HBO

Walt Kelly’s cartoon character Pogo is best remembered for his line, “We’ve met the enemy and he’s us.”

This sentiment was Bill Maher’s main theme Real time on Friday, as the comedian and his guests explored the various ways America remains divided, often by our own hand.

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BJ Novak’s The office he was first. His new comedy, Revenge, has overtones of the social struggles that are tearing America apart. Maher played on that angle, asking about the red-state/blue-state divide and how it’s possible to love those who don’t share your views.

What divides us, Novak said, is more emotion than argument. He suggested we stop “picking at the scabs” of things we disagree about and focus on comedy, sports, art “or sitting down to dinner. This is a start.” He added: “There is no separation. We are stuck.”

Gatekeepers worry too much about hurting the public with controversial views, Novak said. “The public can be trusting,” he added later, “people worry that other people are too sensitive.”

This week’s panel discussion featured Catherine Rampell, columnist for the article Washington Post and political and economic commentator for CNN, and Noah Rothman, associate editor for Journal Commentary and its author The Rise of the New Puritans: Fighting Back Against Progressives’ War on Fun.

Maher mentioned on his panel that the left seems to be hammering away at the type of things that were once right-wing.

Rothman agreed, saying “it’s been right wing for most of our lives.” But now, the left aims to “stress its own moral code. “

Rabel wasn’t entirely buying it, noting, “We just had a vice president who couldn’t be alone with a woman.” He said he was “more concerned about the initial proof than the progressives.”

The people who have the power to control the culture now “aren’t the right ones,” Rothman countered.

Maher claimed that “it’s not the government that is Big Brother. It’s social media.” He later added that there is a “quiet discontent” caused by people who are afraid to speak out in an era of cancellation culture.

He discovered the recent shutdown of a Shonda Rimes production due to a word in the script. “It was like a reactor leak,” Maher said.

Such actions, Rampell said, are “coin to show that they are offended.” Maher agreed. “The only permissible reaction now is an overreaction.”

Rothman added that such actions are “how you communicate your zeal for the cause, by pitting yourself against the most zealous for the cause. It gets you a lot of points…but it deprives us of something pleasant.”

In his “New Rules” editorial, Maher proposed making America great again with a more modest goal: “Let’s make the mall great again.”

Online shopping, Maher argued, “is killing us psychologically.” In the mall’s Golden Age, it was referred to as “America’s Town Square.”

Not only does online shopping exacerbate loneliness and isolation, it’s an ecological nightmare, with excessive packaging and the idea of ​​making people ride your pants across town a waste of resources.

Only 14% of packaging is recycled, Maher said. So his message to the under 30s was simple. Just because a phone app makes ordering easy “doesn’t make it good.”

“It came at a cost,” Maher said, citing child labor, wasted fuel and other disadvantages. “I hear a lot about my generation destroying the environment,” Maher said. “I don’t think it’s my generation.”

“Go out and play,” Maher said at the end. “Go to the mall. Our social skills are atrophying. Amazon is in its prime, but you’re not.”

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