- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2018

The popular YouTube channel “The Rubin Report” might not exist in its current form if actor Ben Affleck had kept his cool during a 2014 debate on Islam.

Dave Rubin and his nearly 700,000 subscribers can thank Warner Bros.’ “Batman” for turning the former liberal member of “The Young Turks” into a classical liberal who interviews conservatives such as Ben Shapiro, Larry Elder, Dennis Prager and others. The political commentator disclosed his ideological tipping point during an interview published Thursday on radio host Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze.

“There were a lot of trends that I didn’t like,” Mr. Rubin said of his disenchantment with modern liberalism. “[I noticed a] constant rush to judge people’s motives, a constant attack on people instead of ideas, a constant distortion of truth. And I think more than anything else — I see this now and I didn’t see it at the time — we didn’t privately … when I was doing that in the progressive world, there were never debates about what really is going on. Where do rights come from? What is goodness? All of those things, it just wasn’t there. It was kind of, ‘What did Fox News say? Well, now let’s go crazy about it.’”

Mr. Rubin then pinpointed the exact moment when he broke from his liberal roots: an October 2014 broadcast of “Real Time with Bill Maher” in which Mr. Affleck became visibly upset with the eponymous host and guest Sam Harris.

“My real wake-up moment was the night that Sam Harris, the neuroscientist [and famous atheist], was on ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’ and Ben Affleck called Sam and Bill — basically said they were gross and racist because Sam quoted some Pew polls about Islam that are based in fact. There are some uncomfortable truths. But he made a point of not attacking people, Muslims, but talking Islam, which is a set of ideas. That was really my wake up.”

Mr. Affleck called Mr. Harris’ statements about Islam “gross” and “racist” during the Oct. 6, 2014, show.

“We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people, and that’s intellectually ridiculous,” Mr. Harris said.

“Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam? You’re the interpreter of that?” the actor countered.

Mr. Maher eventually broke in and asked why Mr. Affleck was “so hostile” toward Mr. Harris’ points.

“Because it’s gross! It’s racist! It’s like saying ‘you shifty Jew,’ ” the actor said.

Mr. Rubin’s full interview appears on Mr. Beck’s channel on TheBlaze.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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