-- Video of Ben Affleck’s appearance on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” is an Internet sensation after the “Gone Girl” star got into a heated argument with the host and other panelists over liberal principles and Islam, even going so far as to characterize some of Maher's views as “gross” and “racist.”
Affleck was on the Friday show as part of a panel that included author Sam Harris and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. The discussion on whether liberals were backing away from liberal principles and failing to criticize Islam for what many people view as its inequality toward women, minorities, including gays and lesbians, and other religions, quickly turned into a heated debate after Harris said liberals had failed to criticize what he viewed as the failings of such freedoms in the Muslim world.
People had been sold “this meme of Islamophobia where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets confused with bigotry toward Muslims as people,” Harris said.
“These are liberal principals that liberals applaud for but then when you say in the Muslim world, this is what's lacking, then they get upset,” Maher said.
Harris added: “I would argue that liberals have failed us.”
That’s when Affleck chimed in, addressing Harris, the author of “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.” “Thank God you're here,” Affleck said. “Are you the person that understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam?” When Harris said he was “actually well-educated” on the topic, Affleck pressed: “I’m asking you, so you’re saying Islamophobia isn’t a real thing?”
When Maher asked Affleck why he was being so hostile toward the idea, Affleck said “because it’s gross, it’s racist, it’s disgusting.”
“It’s so not,” Maher replied.
Harris spoke to the actor, saying “Ben, we have to be able to criticize bad ideas” – and Affleck agreed – the Harris added: “But Islam at this moment is the motherlode of bad ideas.”
Affleck’s reaction? “Jesus Christ. That’s an ugly thing to say.”
Affleck also said more than a billion Muslims weren’t fanatical, didn’t punish women, “just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, pray five times a day and don’t do any of the things that ‘all Muslims do’ – you’re stereotyping!”
Viewers of the debate have taken sides, several siding with Affleck, while others side with Maher.
As of Sunday night, a clip of the exchange had been viewed more than 2.6 million times on YouTube.
Both Maher and Affleck declined to comment to ABC News.