Twitter Bigot Max Burns Succeeds in Embarrassing Himself

“Jews just aren’t funny. Name me two, just TWO Jewish comedians! I bet you can’t!”

It was 1982 and at that time one would be hard-pressed to name two comedians who WEREN’T Jewish. Being a Jew, I would know. But the man was a producer whose goodwill my writing partner and I needed to sell our script, so we refrained from contradicting him.

That didn’t stop me from reflecting, on the way back to the car, “Funny how stupidity and arrogance go hand in hand.”

Photo by Michael Vi/

The same truth applies to tweeter and spontaneous/self-proclaimed religious scholar Max Burns. Burns in a waste of perfectly good adrenaline, recently unleashed a series of frantic tweets about my religion, Scientology, that bear as much resemblance to the subject matter as does the idiocy perpetrated by that bigoted, self-important producer so long ago.

“Folks I’m just glad my yearslong fascination with Scientology has paid off with a useful thread,” Burns crows.

Burns has a funny take on “fascination.” Possibly he thinks the word means “creative license to attempt to besmirch something that has helped and is helping millions of people around the globe.”

These are petty, small-minded individuals who consider themselves threatened by the very existence of people who appear “different.”

I too am “fascinated with Scientology.” I have been for more than half a century. I am fascinated by the care and heart of its people to help others so freely and fearlessly, whether it’s tending to cyclone victims left homeless in Samoa through our Volunteer Minister program, or restoring literacy and therefore hope to underserved communities across the United States through Applied Scholastics, or freeing people young and old, rich and poor, from the iron grip of drugs thanks to Mr. Hubbard’s drug rehabilitation technology employed by Narconon. So yes, that is something that Mr. Burns and I share: a fascination with Scientology.

And possibly, once one brushes aside one’s embarrassment for Mr. Burns, one can give him some credit for the courage he exercised in exposing his bigotry for all to see—and realize, too, that he has indeed provided us with, as he puts it, “a useful thread.” It is a useful thread that joins him with a longer chain of haters and fools who, through the ages, have shrieked against minority religions and have howled against groups that may seem or look a little different—whose beliefs they can’t be bothered to study, much less understand. These are petty, small-minded individuals who consider themselves threatened by the very existence of people who appear to be “different.” These are the antisemites, the Islamophobes, the theophobes, the xenophobes, the anti-Asians, the racists and the rest.

It all starts with the derisive comment, the snide remark, the tasteless joke.

It graduates to the rumors, the falsehoods, the suspicious looks and warnings.

And from there—well, we know how these stories go.

So the news is: a Twitter user by the name of Max Burns briefly emerged from the shadows this week and revealed himself as a member of that crowd of excluders and bigots whose example brings shame to us all as a species.

And he has revealed himself by the very characteristics he cannot recognize in himself: arrogance and stupidity.

Michael Leb
Michael was raised and educated in a loving Orthodox Jewish family, later discovering Scientology as a perfect complement to the poetry and majesty of Judaism.