I don’t have much of an opinion on Jordan Peterson. I know that he’s incredibly popular with people who also tend to like InfoWars and that he’s a huge target of the left (apparently for some conflict he’s had with LGBT activists). Some call him a “self-help guru” for young and frustrated men. He’s reportedly a clinical psychologist. The excitement and controversy that surrounds him has me waiting for something groundbreaking in his philosophy but I’m always left underwhelmed. His appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher this Friday was no exception.
One clip from the Overtime segment of Maher’s show stood out to me. While taking questions from the audience, Maher turned to Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti and asked if he had any info he’d like to reveal regarding dirt on President Trump, which prompted Peterson to chime in.
“I’ve been listening to all of this about Trump and watching how these conversations go in the U.S., and I have one question about it,” Peterson started out. “There all these people in the U.S. on the conservative side who are aligned with Trump for all sorts of reasons, and there’s all this tension around his presidency and attempts to pull him out of his office for various reasons.”
“What do you think will happen if that comes to pass?” he asked. “What do you think will happen to those people that have identified with Trump?”
Peterson continued: “Because it looks to me from an outsider’s perspective that your country is polarizing in a way that’s not good.”
So far, Peterson has shown he has an astounding knack for stating the obvious. His comments almost seemed to suggest that he’s just now catching on to the Trump phenomenon. He went on to say that despite the low opinion some liberals have of Trump voters, “you need to have respect for the rest of your citizens” or else the country is going to “pull itself apart.”
It’s a nice sentiment that would have struck a menial chord back in 2015, but a remarkably simplistic take on the divide between Trump’s most dedicated supporters and those who have some sort of deference to the truth.
Earlier on in the show, Maher presented himself as a fan of Peterson’s, as both of them share a special distaste for lefty identity politics. But Maher’s answer perfectly illustrated the blind spots that so many Trump apologists have when it comes to debating the political divide. Maher told Peterson that his point would have made sense if we were dealing with a regular Republican president with standard conservative policies, but Trump isn’t just a “regular Republican president.”
“What is so alarming is the assault on democratic norms,” Maher said. “Things like threatening to put people in jail — threatening to put journalists in jail. Wanting military parades, praising dictators. …”
Maher went on to say how he sometimes tries to explain to young people just how different Trump is than anything that came before.
“I never much liked the other Republicans who were in office. But I have a renewed respect for them,” Maher said to an eruption of applause. “George Bush and Mitt Romney would not have tried to pull this shit. They just wouldn’t.”
“What about Nixon?” Peterson asked.
“Nixon got caught,” Maher shot back.
“Although, this president makes the Watergate burglars look brilliant,” Avenatti said.
You can watch a longer version of Maher’s interview with Peterson here.
Featured image via screen grab