Juan Williams: Fired for Doubting – UPDATED

(Graphic via Ed Driscoll, who has a good roundup)

I wonder if it was smart of NPR to–12 days out from an election where leftism is headed for a defeat of rejectionre-inforce the perception that both liberalism and the media are out of control; that they have utterly cast off their former roles as champions of free speech and free thought, in favor of compulsory conformity.

On consideration, I (along with Andrew Malcolm) say, no…not smart. Catastrophically not smart.

My first thought when I heard this was one that apparently several people had: it’s a good thing for Jesse Jackson that he does not work for NPR and that Nina Tottenberg will never be fired from there. What wit!

My second thought was, that Williams (and I’m no particular fan of his) was fired for betraying doubt and incertitude. He was admitting that regardless of how much we all want to be fair about people, how we all hope that we can look beyond superficials, we will all, sometimes, harbor doubts about others, and about ourselves.

It seems like In America, we are no longer supposed to harbor doubts about anything. We’re either supposed to pretend that there is no reason to ever, ever, ever worry that someone dressed in Islamic garb might want to hijack our plane into a building (for to believe otherwise would immediately render us “bigots”) or we’re supposed to pretend that there is every reason to suspect everybody.

The truth–as usual–lies between those two false extremes. One might feel “noble” by sneering at Williams’ pronouncement in a pudding of self-righteousness, but to do so is as bigoted as Williams’ pronouncement is incorrectly being labeled. It is saying “I’m not one of those people, who think every Muslim is a terrorist; I’m one of the good people, who only think ill of others when they have the bad taste to reveal their doubt.”

Kind of like when someone is listening to NPR while driving their BMW, and discreetly making sure their doors are locked when they spy a homeless man moving too close to their car. That’s revealing doubt. And it’s human. It may not be the best part of being human, but it is a common thing. Or it is common to people who are honest. There are a lot of people who would prefer to pretend they’re ‘way too evolved to think as Williams admits he does.

It comes down to prudence, which is–or was, last I checked–a Virtue. It is inarguably bigoted to see every muslim as a terrorist, but I frankly don’t think there are many people like that in America.

But it is prudent to at least be aware of one’s surroundings, and to make note of one’s fellow-travelers, in all circumstances, whether one is on a plane, or going to the movies, or playing in the park with one’s children. We are not meant to traipse through life like naive bumpkins, with our eyes paradoxically shut as we wander about wide-eyed saying “golly, I and my children are perfectly safe because the authorities are regulating and overseeing my air travel, my movie-going and our park safety and therefore I don’t have to think about it!”

Which is (oddly) precisely the sort of unsophisticated moo-speak and behavior that our “sophisticated” betters want from us.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were heading into Manhattan and we noticed an unmarked truck driving very, very slowly. I couldn’t help wondering if there was something suspicious in that. Yes, it could have been a guy transporting something fragile, like a crystal chandelier, but it could also have been a guy transporting something fragile like explosives. We are told by Homeland Security to “be aware” but then are told by the media, “but don’t be too aware; specifically, don’t express a doubt, or you’ll be a social pariah.”

How deeply are we supposed to sleep? When does an obsession with “not wanting to appear bigoted” (which is what the cowardly nonsense of over-enforced PC-Speak is all about) become dangerous to society as a whole?

It’s worth remembering that just last year NPR made a “suggestion” to Mara Liasson that she end her association with FOX news. I wonder how she’s feeling right now.

Here is a round-up of the story and the internet coverage, which is huge, starting with Ed Morrissey who helpfully gives us Williams in full context.

Williams discusses the firing, in this video.

Rodney Ho lucked out and was able to ask NPR’s CEO Vivian Schiller about the firing:

Q: So did Juan really get fired over just those Muslim comments? [He said he was uncomfortable with Muslims dressed in traditional garb on airplanes during a Fox News telecast yesterday.]

A: There have been several instances over the last couple of years where we have felt Juan has stepped over the line. He famously said last year something about Michelle Obama and Stokely Carmichael. [The quote on Fox News last year: Obama "has this Stokely-Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going" and that she'll be an "albatross" for President Obama.]. This isn’t a case of one strike and you’re out.

Schiller seems to have quite a lot to say. None of it wise.

Schiller kind of makes me wonder
if too many people aren’t in powerful positions these days because of their skills in lockstepping, rather than because of their smarts. Allahpundit has more on this charmer.

Matt Welch: A Clarifying Moment:

Williams’ firing is a clarifying moment in media mores. You can be Islamophobic, in the form of refusing to run the most innocuous imaginable political cartoons out of a broad-brush fear of Muslims, but you can’t admit it, even when the fear is expressed as a personal feeling and not a group description, winnowed down to the very specific and nightmare-exhuming act of riding on an airplane, and uttered in a context of otherwise repudiating collective guilt and overbroad fearmongering.

Bill O’ Reilly and Whoopi Goldberg agree: this firing is absurd

Mike Huckabee: Grabbing a moment to be politically expedient, he says “defund NPR”. Hey, between Mrs. Kroc’s big bequest and George Soros’ deep pockets, and seeing how they spend their wealth–and taking into account Vivian Schiller’s assertion that tax-funding is “not significant” to NPR, I do think my taxes can be better-spent elsewhere!

Seems they’ve been gunning for Williams for a while. Read it all.

Bernard Goldberg: The Death of Liberalism; it’s been in extremis for a long time, unrecognizable from the liberalism of my youth.

The Atlantic: fired for what, now?

Rich Lowry: “Shameful”

Malkin has reactions from the left, and Ace is looking around the ‘net’s too

Instapundit: Lots here, and on a related issue

Get Religion: Expect a rash of Muslim-friendly news reports from NPR and elsewhere.

Happy Catholic–who never gets political!–is appalled

Gateway Pundit: What will and won’t get you fired from NPR.


“Williams, a black (sorta) conservative who has written some smart books but has also managed to be a desiccated, unimaginative hack analyst for public radio…”

Dan Riehl: Williams was fired because of what NPR is

Howard Kurtz: If he’d said it on Charlie Rose, instead of on FOX, Williams would probably still have his job.

Over 4500 comments currently at NPR. Most of them critical of the firing. NPR says traffic has overwhelmed the comments section for now.

Dave Weigel defends Williams

Irish Spy:

What this really shows is how narrow the limits are on free speech at that bastion of liberalism, National Public Radio. Express an opinion beyond the bounds of progressive, multicultural orthodoxy and you get punished. And it’s another example of how the Left in general pays only lip service to intellectual freedom: you have the freedom to express any thought as long as it’s on the approved list.

Real Clear Politics

The Lesson:

Treat political and philosophical opponents with kindness. You never know when the opportunity might come about to offer them a hand up.

Apparently Rush Limbaugh has said that Williams was fired because he’d once defended Limbaugh on something. Meanwhile the argument can be made that he was fired because of his affiliation with Fox News.

One thing is for sure: when you have people hoping that they get the bragging rights re causation for Williams’ firing, you’ve made a stupid move.

Check back for updates as I find more to link to!

Williams lands on his feet.

Sez Williams:

Well, now that I no longer work for NPR let me give you my opinion. This is an outrageous violation of journalistic standards and ethics by management that has no use for a diversity of opinion, ideas or a diversity of staff (I was the only black male on the air). This is evidence of one-party rule and one sided thinking at NPR that leads to enforced ideology, speech and writing. It leads to people, especially journalists, being sent to the gulag for raising the wrong questions and displaying independence of thought.

Daniel Schorr, my fellow NPR commentator who died earlier this year, used to talk about the initial shock of finding himself on President Nixon’s enemies list. I can only imagine Dan’s revulsion to realize that today NPR treats a journalist who has worked for them for ten years with less regard, less respect for the value of independence of thought and embrace of real debate across political lines, than Nixon ever displayed.

Blackfive: Its. Not. Our. Fault.

Melissa Clouthier: I disagree, vehemently with Juan Williams on nearly everything [but] I don’t want him to lose his job just because he says something that someone might deem offensive or disagree with. [...] Unless someone is a vile hatemonger, a person should feel that he will keep his job even if it’s outside some p.c. orthodoxy.

Sarah Palin (via Althouse): … I don’t expect Juan Williams to support me (he’s said some tough things about me in the past) – but I will always support his right and the right of all Americans to speak honestly about the threats this country faces. And for Juan, speaking honestly about these issues isn’t just his right, it’s his job. Up until yesterday, he was doing that job at NPR. Firing him is their loss.

Brutally Honest: that statement was enough for National Public Radio to end their relationship with the man who in large part and by nearly every measure is a liberal… amazing… this is what is called tolerance…

AJ Strata: …how is it Juan Willliams can have his job taken from him for not only complying with the government request, but sharing his fears about the attack with others?

More Ed Driscoll

Power Line
Ann Althouse
Daily Caller
Noisy Room

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • newton

    I don’t know if you have noticed it, but Leftists also have Mara Liasson within their target sights. (She also appears on Fox News.)

  • Steve Colby

    You wrote, “…we’re supposed to pretend that there is every reason to suspect everybody.”

    But Anchoress, that is TSA policy! Anyting short of that would be profiling.

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  • Jeff

    I’m never comfortable when I see muslims in airports.

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com The Sanity Inspector

    With the exception of the Fort Hood shooter, most of the Muslim terrorists in America since 9/11 have been dressed in western garb. For teh stealthness, you know. I’m actually more at ease seeing someone got up in full Mo costume in the airport–they probably aren’t trying to pull anything.

    This is an excellent roundup, Mother.

    [Heh. I'm not yer mother, but you're correct that Muslim garb would seem to be the exception, rather than the rule to terrorism. But I think that was incidental to Williams' larger point. What I think is interesting is that it was only a few years ago that the left was going nuts on Ari Fleisher for saying, "be careful what you say..." and now they're um...firing people for what they say. -admin]

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  • DWiss

    Uggghhh. This is awful. How can anyone whose job it is to report or comment say or write what they think anymore? (“Yikes, if I say (or write) that, I might lose my job…better reconsider.”) NPR goes into the same category of shame over this as NOW for not supporting Meg Whitman’s honor. But, on the bright side, pretty soon there won’t be any liberal commentators or reporters at all…they’ll have fired one another into oblivion!

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com The Sanity Inspector

    Mother, as in Mother Superior…just playin’ along with the schtick.

    [No, that's fine. I just don't want anyone thinking my kids are on here trying to agree with me. Which would be odd, anyway! -admin]

  • Montana

    Good for NPR, Juan Williams slant belongs to “Fake News” with the rest of the failed political candidstes Palin, Huckabee, or should I say the 2012 GOP Presidential contenders. They are not racist they are just the good old boys. They are the bunch that keep saying that everyong should be scared of BLACKS, scared of ASIANS, sacred of LATINOS, scared of WOMEN, scared of the GAYS and now they are scared of Muslims. So long Johnny,don’t let the door hit you. I love that you went crying to “Fake News” and played the victim card, I guess its another “it is a high-tech lynching”.

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  • myohmy

    Juan got the biggest laugh. He got a whopping 2million bucks. Not bad.

  • rasqual

    Recently, Anita Hill is back in the news, courtesy of Ginni Thomas. A new generation may not recall that her husband was set upon by none other than Nina Totenberg, whose coverage of court news became creation of court news when, as a reporter, she urged Ms. Hill to initiate what became a virtual lynch mob, with a vast array of interests lined up to testify against his nomination. When came the vote to confirm, Nina’s voice over the radio was shocked, and her first stammering remarks were hopeful that Justice Thomas would recuse himself from any cases involving parties who testified against his confirmation.

    Ms. Totenberg’s infamous role — and more infamous remark proving her interest — has been nearly forgotten. But it’s the closest case to this one, where again NPR has it in for any Black who doesn’t find proximity with conservatives to be a Bad Thing.

    To NPR and their sort, it seems that Blacks who are off the plantation sinister are fair game.

  • Teresa

    Does any sentient American not get nervous at any transportation hub when one or a group of properly dressed Muslims show up? Unless they work at NPR. I remember going back to work after September 11 in Washington D.C. At the end of the day while riding a commuter train on the way home, a Muslim woman boarded the train with many packages. Every passenger in that car kept an eye on her until she left the train. Fortunately, many of the passengers were law enforcement types (federal, local and state) and they were always well armed. The two men sitting next to me actually got up and followed her to the door.

  • CV

    What a stupid move on the part of NPR. This little episode is the final nail in the coffin of public broadcasting.

    They can kiss that government funding goodbye! Maybe George Soros will keep them afloat for awhile, but basically it’s all over for them.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb (not that I’ll be sorry to see them go).

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  • jeff

    It is only muslims who think God rewards them when they kill human beings who don’t share their false ‘religion.’

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  • William H. Stoddard

    Remember when Barack Obama was saying that we needed to have a “national conversation” about race and prejudice? I’m not sure how we’re supposed to have a conversation if any time anyone says anything about what people really think, they get punished for it. . . .

  • Odysseus

    “Schiller kind of makes me wonder if too many people aren’t in powerful positions these days because of their skills in lockstepping, rather than because of their smarts.”

    Oh my . . . such a dry wit.

  • solane71

    The truly stupid part of this is that many affiliates are holding their fundraising campaigns right now. This cannot but hurt them badly. On the other hand, perhaps it will lead to some people talking sense to the folks in DC. If not, there’s a lesson there too, and public radio will be the loser.

  • pipedreams

    Great roundup!
    Was there a contest for splitting infinitives? If so, your opener wins!

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    What a disgrace on the part of NPR, and yes they should be defunded. There is no reason for the public in this day of a plethora of all types of mass media to be paying for any media or entertainment.

    I flesh this out fully in my blog if anyone is interested.

    Sorry for the shameless plug. ;)

  • Milwaukee

    When they replace him with another Black Male, will that person be taking the “Williams Seat”? Sort of like the Kennedy Seat or something? Must they replace him with another Black Male? Small liberal arts colleges recruit male students directly from African and the Caribbean to meet their quotas.

    Is now the time for this poem? Is it about somebody who is wan?

    Encouragement to a Lover

    Sir John Suckling (1609-1642)

    Why so pale and wan, fond lover?
    Prithee, why so pale?
    Will, wen looking well can’t move her,
    Looking ill prevail?
    Prithee, why so pale?

    Why so dull and mute, young sinner?
    Prithee, why so mute?
    Will, when speaking well can’t win her,
    Saying nothing do’t?
    Prithee, why so mute?

    Quit, quit, for shame! This will not move,
    This cannot take her;
    If of herself she will not love,
    Nothing can make her:
    The Devil take her!

  • Milwaukee

    Wait wait! Let’s start a “Juan Williams Legal Defense Fund”!. I know, he doesn’t need legal defending, but heck, in the true spirit of leftism, a legal defense fund is in order. We could have a protest job, if he wanted his job back. Heck, we could have a protest rally if he didn’t want his job back. Let’s have a protest! Or a party.

    Steven Green, Volkapundit, thinks Mara Liasson is the smartest liberal on television. We could have a legal defense fund for her too. And a rally.

  • Buck O’Fama

    NPR is the quintessential example of a government boondoggle: it takes tax money to support an entity with a narrow client base who can’t be bothered to pay the bill themselves. But they babble to themselves that because it’s “public”, it benefits all of us. Kind of like a pig trough; it’s pretty public too, but only pigs like to drink from it.

  • Julie from Kansas

    I just think it would make things easier if the MSM would admit they are really scared to death of Muslims which is why all the faux outrage for only Muslim related comments. Deep down, Vivian Schiller is pooping her pants thinking a Muslim could be offended. There’s a reason they don’t care what they say about Tea Partiers. They know we aren’t violent. I wouldn’t want another 9/11 on my hands because my employee said something. If we could admit that the outrage is based in fear, we could move forward as a country. Could we not?

  • ShyAsrai

    Dear Juan: sorry about the bad news, but i can’t help but chuckle at your stunned, shocked expression. i guess you really did think we ‘extremists’ were lying/exaggerating about what we experience at the hands of liberals/leftists/progressives.

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  • http://1389blog.com 1389AD

    Yes, it’s time to de-fund NPR. And not only NPR, but also PBS and the NEA.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    I’m conservative – but only by Australian standards. I’ve gone to bat for NPR many times in the past, and they still have some good programs.

    I’m socially liberal too. Not Leftist though, and certainly not “Progressive”. I watch both Fox and NPR, as between the two (and with copious doses of salt for both) you get a reasonable view of the world.

    This though… too much. Enough is enough, and while attacks by the often sanity-challenged Far Right are usually complete rubbish, this time, they’re not.

    NPR is afraid of honest Black Men. I would like to think it’s the honesty they’re afraid of, but looking at the all-white male team… maybe not. Maybe it’s Racism as well as straight-jacketed political thought.

  • Andrew B

    I’m not surprised by NPR’s action, as it is in keeping with what I see to be their prevailing ethos. What does surprise me, however, are the incredibly stupid words and actions of the CEO in the aftermath.

    I have worked for small non-profits for many years. Part of my job is hiring and firing, and I have learned one iron-clad rule: Don’t comment on terminations. Ever. At all. If nothing else, avoid slandering the person you just fired in the national media.

    If I know that, running my little operation in a podunk town, how has it evaded the notice of the CEO of a large, prominent, taxpayer-funded entity in our Nation’s capital?

    Oh, and is that CEO job now open? I could use a promotion.

  • Ellen

    I know that I find more diversity at a Tea Party meeting than at a university faculty meeting.

    While I disagree with Juan Williams on many things, I always found him to be thoughtful and polite. He’s a far cry from the screaming hatefullness of Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann.

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Williams probably shouldn’t have lost his job, but he wasn’t regretting his latent racism, but defending it.

  • Paleocelta

    Zachriel: what racism? He expressed fears about Muslims, not about any race.

  • OldLineStateDad

    Latent racism? More like stating the obvious and common sense. “Religion of peace” indeed.

  • newton

    October 21st, 2010 | 10:59 pm | #18 ”

    It’s called “being mugged by reality.”

    Welcome to the club, Juan Williams.

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  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    OldLineStateDad: Latent racism? More like stating the obvious and common sense. “Religion of peace” indeed.

    That would be the overt version. Thanks for making the point.

  • Maureen from Canada

    I find this happens with any group that believes their own press releases – and NPR finally got sucked into their own sense of importance that no one would be critical of them.

    Now if only the same thing would happen with the CBC in Canada – is that too much to hope for!

  • http://www.noodlingonit.com Kris, in New England

    I have to wonder what would have happened to Mr. Williams had his comment been made on any other news network than Fox News.

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  • Andrew B

    What’s that crashing sound I hear? Oh, it is competing liberal pieties smashing into one another. Islam has somehow become a “race”. But that must mean Christianity is a race, or at least as much one as Islam. If so, people like Rosie O’Donnell, Richard Dawkins and countless others must be racists. Certainly, they have made much broader and more offensive statements than anything of which Williams is accused.

    But wait…we’ve been told for years that minorities cannot BE racist, so how can they credibly accuse Juan Williams of being one?

    So let’s see if I get this: A black man, who cannot be racist, is racist against a group that is not a race.

    OK, that’s clear now. Ahhhhhhhh.

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Andrew B: we’ve been told for years that minorities cannot BE racist

    Of course minorities can be racist, but we’ll restate for clarity.

    Williams wasn’t regretting his latent bigotry, but defending it.

  • Jeff

    Julie from Kansas is correct. NPR managers are really just afraid their studios and cars will be blown up if they don’t kowtow to every CAIR-related sensibility.

  • c matt

    Umm… Zach, Muslim is a religious designation not a race.

  • c matt

    Bigotry – glad to see you corrected the terminology at least, even if you are still wrong.

  • DWiss

    Buck O’Fama = best name on the internet.

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