Columbia University Dubbed "Kanye State" by Bill Maher on 'Real Time'

Exploring deep divides in America's political and social landscape.

by Nouman Rasool
Columbia University Dubbed "Kanye State" by Bill Maher on 'Real Time'
© Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

Bill Maher began this week's controversial episode with something of a rhetorical question: "When did Columbia become Kanye State?" That gem from Friday's HBO airing of "Real Time," a week in which he hit the accelerator on left wing critics and went all in on a national examination of campus unrest.

Maher had some sharp words on the protest culture, particularly in his "New Rules" segment. He went on to shame protestors who halt traffic for causes by telling them, "Nobody likes you." He then asked, in a repetitive manner, whether inconveniencing everyday people makes the public support your cause.

He has also criticized the motivations of activism, suggesting that for some, the spectacle of "warrioring" was more important than genuine advocacy. He compared current pro-Palestinian protests with women's rights and humanitarian crises globally, telling the activists to put their causes in priority.

RFK Jr.' s Candidacy Support

In a riveting one-on-one interview, Maher sparred with independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on an array of contentious topics, including most heatedly vaccination. But for all of their differences, RFK Jr.

did show Maher polling that does show substantial support for his candidacy, especially among the young and independent voters. For instance, the panel included NYU Stern marketing professor Scott Galloway and former CNN anchor, and current podcast host, Don Lemon, who both lamented the rise in campus protests, some of them being fueled, they say in part by misinformation on platforms like TikTok.

Lemon said activism should be informed, lamenting the "horrible anti-Semitism" that has infected some protests. Galloway, concurring with Lemon, said there are also times when faculty contribute to making campuses tense. Members of the panel together picked at the subtleties of modern activism and the impact on public discourse.

And within the ever-changing landscape of social and political unrest, "Real Time" stands as a forum that one must turn to for a deconstruction of the issues at play within the world. Running the show, Maher is at the head of the charge and encourages the free-wheeling conversation that, in turn, buckles conventional wisdom—inspiring criticism thinking.