“When I hear a white person say it, it feel like that knife stabbing you, even if they don’t mean it.”
In an interview with Republican Sen. Ben Sasse last Friday, Maher jokingly called himself a “house nigger.”
The comment sparked outrage, with many people calling for Maher to be fired. The host later apologized for the remark, saying he regretted using the “offensive” word which he said he “used in the banter of a live moment.”
During Friday's show, Ice Cube pulled no punches in criticizing Maher, who has a long history of making racially insensitive comments.
“I love your show, you’ve got a great show,” said Ice Cube. “But you be bucking up against that line a little bit. You know, you’ve got a lot of black jokes.”
“Against racists,” Maher said, defending himself and looking visibly uncomfortable.
“Sometimes you sound like a redneck trucker,” responded Ice Cube.
“It was wrong, and I apologized. More than that, I can't do,” said Maher.
Ice Cube said he accepted the apology, but explained why Maher's use of the n-word was so reprehensible:
I still think you need to get to the root of the psyche because I think there’s a lot of guys out there who cross the line because they’re a little too familiar, or they think they’re too familiar. Or, it's guys that, you know, might have a black girlfriend or two that made them some Kool-Aid every now and then, and then they think they can cross the line. And they can’t. You know, it’s a word that has been used against us. It’s like a knife, man. You can use it as a weapon or you can use it as a tool. It’s when you use it as a weapon against us, by white people. And we’re not going to let that happen again by nobody because it’s not cool. Now, I know you heard, it’s in the lexicon and everybody’s talking, but that’s our word now. That's our word now, and you can’t have it back.
He followed up with an explanation on why he is okay with black people saying the word, but not white people:
It’s not cool because when I hear my homie say it, it don’t feel like venom. When I hear a white person say it, it feel like that knife stabbing you, even if they don’t mean it.
“I think this is a teachable moment, not just to you but to the people who are watching right now,” said Ice Cube.
“I think the people who are watching right now are saying: that point has been made,” Maher said, clearly aggravated.
“Not by me,” responded Ice Cube.