Wednesday, February 28, 2007

David Mamet on Real Time

Last Friday on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill interviewed writer/director David Mamet. Mamet has made some really awesome movies. He also wrote an excellent op-ed piece for the L.A. Times (no longer available online) where he compared politics to poker. He argued that the Democrats were weak because they never raised the pot (which is the only way to win at poker).

However, it also seems that he's a hardcore Jew and he's written a book lambasting moderate Jews for not getting with the program. Bill Maher asked him about this and here was his reply.

BM: I'm curious how somebody who is such a freethinker wants to herd people into the collectivism that is religion?

DM: Oh my goodness gracious! Here's the thing, Bill. Bob Dylan said "You gotta serve somebody." ...

I don't know about the "collectivism that is religion." I disagree with you; I get a lot of good out of religion, and so does my family, and so do a lot of people I know who happen to be religious. (applause)

Curiously, this is—and the Republicans discovered this—a religious country. And it's always been a religious country. It was founded by people who wanted to worship the way that they felt was correct. And they didn't like people putting them into a herd. Thomas Jefferson talked about "freedom from religion." America was, right or wrong, founded by people who wanted "freedom for religion." It's always been a religious country.

What I'm talking about in my book is for my particular people, who've been undergoing a tough time for the last 2000 years, I'm saying "Get hip to the fact. Get in or get out!"

"Feel free to be Jewish if you're a Jew; feel free not to be Jewish if you're a Jew. But if you have some of the following problems, these may be the seven danger signals of you're missing a great experience—you're missing your tribe. And that larger polity that you think you might belong—the American public at large—it may exist, but if you're a Jew, it don't exist for you!"

That's what I'm saying in the book. (applause)


Okay. Let's break this down.

Oh my goodness gracious! Here's the thing, Bill. Bob Dylan said "You gotta serve somebody." ...


And Lesley Gore said "You don't own me!" I don't think Dylan was right. But I know if I had to serve sombody, it sure as hell wouldn't be an imaginary sky-daddy.

I don't know about the "collectivism that is religion." I disagree with you; I get a lot of good out of religion, and so does my family, and so do a lot of people I know who happen to be religious. (applause)


And I know people who get a lot of good from their regular visits to the nail salon. So what! He didn't address the collectivism issue at all.

Curiously, this is—and the Republicans discovered this—a religious country. And it's always been a religious country. It was founded by people who wanted to worship the way that they felt was correct. And they didn't like people putting them into a herd. Thomas Jefferson talked about "freedom from religion." America was, right or wrong, founded by people who wanted "freedom for religion." It's always been a religious country.


Sigh! Maybe he should read Susan Jacoby's Freethinkers. Yes, there were founding fathers who wanted "freedom for religion," but guess what? They were siding against Jefferson, and Jefferson's side won.

What I'm talking about in my book is for my particular people, who've been undergoing a tough time for the last 2000 years, I'm saying "Get hip to the fact. Get in or get out!"

"Feel free to be Jewish if you're a Jew; feel free not to be Jewish if you're a Jew. But if you have some of the following problems, these may be the seven danger signals of you're missing a great experience—you're missing your tribe. And that larger polity that you think you might belong—the American public at large—it may exist, but if you're a Jew, it don't exist for you!"


"You're either with us, or you're for the terrorists!" -- George W. Bush
Get in or out? You're missing your tribe? You don't belong to the American public at large? What kind of absolute, divisionist credo is that? It seems to me that he just vindicated Maher's "collectivism" assertion.


PS---The real star of that episode was Ayaan Hirsi Ali; just watch.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Agree with your analysis bigtime. I think Maher let him off the hook waaay too easy.