Why does comedian Bill Maher think he can speak on behalf of Native Americans? A community he is not a member of and one he knows nothing about. Maher constantly asserts his position as the spokesperson for American liberalism. Maher condemns anyone who disagrees with his view of how liberals ought to behave.

Maher’s intellectual laziness

Maher asserts his disdain for “political correctness” among liberals. Maher is the former host of ABC’s “Politically Incorrect” and current host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. Maher’s condemnation of the behavior of other liberals as “political correctness” demonstrates his intellectual laziness.

Condemning something as “politically incorrect” is a cop-out preventing intellectual debate, but what is most frustrating is Maher arrogantly speaking for a community he does not represent.

Maher’s unscientific approach

Indian Country Today reports on last Friday’s episode of Real Time Maher claimed that most Native Americans are not offended by sports team mascots. Maher, as an atheist, asserts his view that a person should take a position on the basis of empirical evidence, not on the basis of authority or opinion. What is Maher’s evidence that most Native Americans are not offended by racist sports team mascots? An unscientific survey by the Washington Post. There are many problems with the use of a newspaper survey as evidence for a sociological phenomenon.

Maher’s ignorance of contrary evidence

First, it is the Washington Post, a news organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. where the Washington football team is located. Talk about confirmation bias! Second, it is an unscientific survey in which anyone could self-identify as Native American whether they were actually a recognized member of the community or not.

Third, an alternative survey was conducted by Indian Country Today, the largest Native American news media network in the US. One can be sure that far more Native Americans who are recognized members of the Native community read ICT than the Washington Post. ICT’s survey concluded that over 60 percent of Native Americans in the US were opposed to the Washington team’s use of a racial slur against Native Americans as its team name and mascots generally.

Maher’s ignorance of Native scholarship and activism

Had Maher done his homework he would know that there is an ongoing national campaign led and staffed entirely by Native Americans called Change the Mascot launched by the Oneida Indian Nation. The campaign, massively supported by the majority of Native Americans, led to the US Patent and Trademark Office refusing to renew the Washington team’s trademark as it is a dictionary defined racial slur against Native Americans. If Maher bothered to do any research beyond accepting a Washington Post poll he would know Native Americans have opposed offensive racial mascots and cultural theft for over 50 years.

Native scholars oppose mascots

Native American scholars like the late Vine Deloria, Jr.

condemned racist mascots in his numerous writings. Books Maher clearly has not read. If Maher doesn’t want to read, there are numerous documentaries on the topic. Native American activists have opposed racist sports team mascots since the 1960s leading to the successful retirement of racist mascots like Chief Illiniwek of the University of Illinois. Maher thinks all liberals should abide by his rules.

Maher doesn’t speak for Natives

Maher’s arrogance has led many to abandon his program. Turning to new media like The Young Turks and Blasting News which better presents Native issues. TYT host Cenk Uygur once famously condemned "liberal" Maher as a “foaming at the mouth neoconservative.” Thankfully indigenous media like ICT is also here to set Maher straight.

Maher even mocked actors Chris Hemsworth and Hilary Duff for apologizing for their racist costumes in the segment “New Rules.” Maher’s rule is liberals should “stop apologizing.” Native people have a new rule for Bill Maher. Stop speaking on our behalf.