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.

Gawker:

“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!

UPDATE II:
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.

UPDATE:
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

UPDATE II:
Power Line
Ann Althouse
Daily Caller
Noisy Room

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

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

    Color, along with exotic clothing, is definitely part of the “scary Muslim” xeno-type, e.g. Sikhs.

    As for Williams, he said he wasn’t a bigot, went on to describe classic bigotry, then normalized and justified it. His new op-ed is hilarious though.

    Williams</b.: 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.

    One-party rule? The Gulag? The gulag of Fox News chat millionaires.

    He’ll fit right in.

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

    Williams has apparently clarified his remarks.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess some people are wondering, should you have gone the extra step and said, “Listen, they’re irrational, they are feelings I fight?”

    WILLIAMS: Yeah, I could have done that.

  • Andrew B

    “Yeah, I could have done that” could be inscribed in letters 100 feet high in Washington, DC and apply to thousands of its occupants.

    “So, Mr. President, could you have avoided slurring millions of gun-owners and Christians as “bitter” and “clinging to their guns”?”

    –Yeah, I could have done that.

    “So, Ms. Schiller, as CEO of NPR, do you think it would have been possible to fire Juan Williams without implying that he is mentally ill, just because you happen to disagree?”

    –Yeah, I could have done that.

    “Zachriel, is it possible to believe that someone could be genuinely afraid of terrorism without harboring some secret, hidden, malign personality flaw?”

    …..
    …..
    …..

    Well, I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth.

  • Nora

    Andrew — yes, the comment about Juan seeking counsel from his psychiatrist was spectacularly unprofessional.

    Look, they wanted to get rid of him for a while, and he finally said something they could pull out of context and use as an excuse.

    I understood what he meant, but the problem with all these 24/7 talktalktalk channels on TV and radio is sooner or later everyone and anyone on them will say something that will be offensive enough to someone else that he or she could conceivably be fired.

    Not a Juan Williams fan myself, not a Fox or NPR fan, prefer newspapers, but I think this was clearly an opportunistic move on the part of NPR and I think the comments made about Williams afterwards were embarrassingly unprofessional.

    However, Juan walked away with a nice chunk of change and tons of attention, and NPR got rid of a thorn in their side, so win-win for everyone. Shrug.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Zachriel, what race is Islam?

  • Joe Odegaard

    When I listen to NPR their smugness just seems to drip out of the speakers & now I would not be surprised if the speakers should actually short out.

  • Joseph Marshall

    I certainly would agree that Mr. Williams assessment of his own firing is spot on. An outrage, unquestionably. But in a world where every news organization is constantly under attack for being “biased” [and they all are], this knee jerk reaction becomes inevitable.

    But when I get off the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are carrying Stop Obamunism, and Pelosi=Babykiller signs and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Tea Partiers, I get worried. I get nervous.

    Now, of course, he didn’t say that. But if he had, in an interview with Keith Olberman on MSNBC, everyone here and all of your links would be after his scalp and furious with NPR for keeping him.

    In either case his candor would be [and is] admirable, but it is hardly “prudent”. After all:

    We are not meant to traipse through life like obsessive hysterics, as we wander about as permanently wide-eyed as if we were on crystal meth saying, “Oh my God! I and my children are horribly endangered because the authorities are allowing Mexican drug cartel thugs to control our borders, serial killers to abduct victims in grocery store parking lots, sex offenders to get out parole, and just anybody obviously Muslim to get on any plane going anywhere!”

    Now, of course, you didn’t say that either, and I sincerely hope you never do. And I wouldn’t say it, except in jest.

    But what Williams is doing is not “being aware of his surroundings”, it is making things up in his mind about the people he sees there, a natural and human thing to do, but not particularly helpful or prudent.

    Any Latino you see

  • Joseph Marshall

    Oops!

    To continue:

    might be part of a Mexican drug cartel, any Muslim you see might be part of a terrorist conspiracy, anyone at all might be a sex offender or a serial killer, and any truck on the road might be full of explosives.

    But since they are perfect strangers whom you have never seen before you have no real basis for thinking they are any of these horrible things.

    “Being aware of your surroundings” means watching what people actually do, not spinning nervous fantasies about what they might do. In so far as it is valuable, it is valuable anywhere, even in your own church.

    And it is only valuable if you are really watching, and not making up scary stories about what you are seeing.

    But, even then, it is no good reason to be fired from your job as a news analyst.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Joseph, are you saying that we ought not to be aware of our surroundings, and, if we are, we’re just making up stories in our heads?

    9/11 is not something, sadly, that we made up in our minds. Nor was the attempted Times Square bombing, the Fort Hood Massacre, the thwarted LAX bombing, or all the other terrorist attacks, since 9/11.

    (And, using your analogy of Mexican drug cartels—well, those do exist, too. No, you shouldn’t be suspicious of any, and every, Latino you see; but, if you were traveling along a dangerous area of the border, you’d be a fool not to keep your eyes open, and you probably would be nervous around any Latino male who seemed to be watching you, or who might be hiding weapons on his person. It’s not racist, it’s survival instinct.)

    Here’s another anology: those young white men you see wearing black leather jackets, with swastikas and legends such as “HELL’S ASSASSINS” and “AYRAN KNIGHTS” lounging in the doorway of your local liquor store make you a little nervous, don’t they? Maybe you’re being unfair! Maybe they’re just dressed up for a costume party! Maybe it’s all just for show, and they’re really not thugs/racists, just fun-loving guys, who like to act tough. But they make you nervous, and it’s not entirely all in your head, now is it?

    The whole Juan Williams thing has been way overblown. He didn’t say something like, “Moslems shouldn’t be allowed to fly!” or, “I hate all Moslems!” or anything that could be remotely construed as racist. He said he gets nervous when he sees Moslems, in Islamic dress, on a plane. After 9/11, that’s understandable. Heck, he doesn’t even go on to say that he then tries to get them thrown off the plane, or that he does anything at all to them. Essentially, he’s being punished for wrong-thinking.

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

    Rhinestone Suderman: He said he gets nervous when he sees Moslems, in Islamic dress, on a plane.

    Bigotry is a lazy man’s substitute for using good judgment. Common sense becomes bigotry when religious garb or color becomes a formula for figuring out who is a danger.

  • Karen LH

    Bigotry is a lazy man’s substitute for using good judgment. Common sense becomes bigotry when religious garb or color becomes a formula for figuring out who is a danger.

    That’s exactly the point that Williams was trying to make when he made his remark.

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

    Karen LH: That’s exactly the point that Williams was trying to make when he made his remark.

    Perhaps. But his actual remarks reinforced the bigotry that is pervasive on Fox News.

    Keep in mind, the question is O’Reilly’s comment on The View that “Muslims killed us on 9/11,” which is sort of like saying “Christians killed us at the Atlanta Olympics.” Consider also that the segment was called, “Danger from the Muslim War.”
    So, the first thing Juan says is that he thinks O’Reilly was right. He goes on,

    Williams: political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality… I get worried. I get nervous.

    Notice the conflation between the reality of terrorism with his own latent bigotry. And later, when given a chance to clarify his remarks, instead, he defended them.

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

    correction: “Danger from the Muslim World.”

  • Joseph Marshall

    Rhinestone, I’m not advocating that anybody not pay attention. But there is no reason to be in the grip of nerve wracking fantasy about it. I spent many years cultivating the capacity to observe what was around me and to do things like look very carefully at what I was seeing and make a mental picture of it before I turned my back on it. [Never mind why. It's too complicated to go into.]

    But let’s look at what Williams really did say:

    and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims

    This is a fantasy about what is going on inside the head of a total stranger and not in the least an observation of what they are doing. They certainly weren’t praying and prostrating towards Mecca in the middle of the airplane. Or wearing a sandwich board advertising Halal meats. They were merely wearing clothes, minding their own business, and, perhaps, speaking to each other in a foreign language.

    Just like we would if we were flying to Paris on Air France.

    In all probability what he actually sees on a plane is merely a Muslim woman with a headscarf talking with her husband, who is not dressed in any way that is unusual and not even wearing a Crescent and Star around his neck, like we might wear a Christian cross or a Star of David on a fine gold chain. She might even be talking to her baby in her own language and he’s only wearing baby clothes and gurgling.

    If a Muslim woman observes Hajib and covers her head, or even her face, do we need to demand that the scarf be printed with the American flag to allay our suspicions about it?

    It is a sin and a shame that we have reached the point in this country where an idle remark like this is enough to get you fired, even if you are in the news business. It’s knee jerk political intolerance that is absolutely unnecessary.

    But it is also not very appealing to be in thrall to suspicious fantasies about ordinary people who are dressed no more oddly than a Catholic monastic and doing nothing more than everybody else on the plane is doing.

    By the way, I don’t recommend anybody train themselves to be as habitually observant as I am. With my now wonky brain biochemistry I can barely stand to be out in public, or anywhere but inside my apartment or in my flower garden next to the back door handicapped ramp. I even dislike going out to the front mailbox or to my own Dharma Center to meditate with my fellow Buddhist friends.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    So, Zachriel, when you see a white guy covered wika tattoos, you don’t think he might, just possibly, be dangerous? You’ll just walk up to him, give a slap on the back, and say, “Howdy, Pardner!”

    (This is the same sort of overly PC thinking that demands 70 year old black grandfathers, nuns and kids be searched at airports, just as if they were liable to be terrorists.)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Joseph, it sounds to me as if you’re indulging in a bit of fantasy yourself, when you talk about what Williams, must, and must not, have seen, when he was on a plane, or declare that he was fantasizing. Sadly, since 9/11, yes, many Americans are going to be nervous at the sight of Moslems—whose devotion to Islam isn’t a mere fantasy, but is actually stated in the style of dress they’ve chosen.

    Now, can you tell me what awful crime Williams is guilty of, here? Other than being nervous in the presence of the Moslems, after 9/11? Did he say, “I have an unfortunate habit of beating up Moslems on planes!” Or, “I hate all Moslems!” No. He admitted to a feeling, which, given the prevalence of Islamic terrorism, from Mumbai, to Beslan to the Phillippines, to Israel—all over the world, certainly is an irrational fear. I’m puzzled; you talk about learning to observe thin, and yet, we’re not supposed to observe what we see in the world around us, and be honest about our feelings about what we see? Certainly, nervousness at the sight of Moslems on panes is more explicable, from a rational point of view, than disliking walking to the mailbox, or seeing one’s friends.

    Again, I ask, what was Williams’ real crime here? What is the thing he actually did that is so terrible?

  • Lisa

    Great question Rhinestone: what was Williams’ real crime here?
    In the world of the Leftist he committed a thought crime and must be punished.

    It’s the world were all women are geniuses and all white men are doofuses; all priests are pedophiles and Roman Polanski did no wrong; gang members are victims of a free society; the church is oppressive and communism is the answer. It’s the world were 3,000+ people peacefully passed away on 9/11 in the accompaniment of people whose_religion_must_not_be_named and shame on you if you think otherwise.

    The incident is Juan is not PC run amok – the Left is pushing thought control.

  • Lisa

    oops,

    should say
    The incident concerning Juan Williams is not PC run amok – the Left is pushing thought control.

  • Nora

    You know, if some left-leaning pundit had gone on a radio show or television program and said she got nervous every time she saw a Catholic priest near her kids and got fired from a right-leaning entity as a result, I’m thinkin’ this whole conversation would be going in an entirely different direction…just sayin’.

  • Joseph Marshall

    He didn’t commit any crime whatever, Rhinestone. I never said he did. His firing was foolish and uncalled for. And I can’t think of any serious reason for Muslims [or anyone else] not to be devoted to their religion. Why have a religion if you’re not?

    Twenty years ago I was shy about chanting mantras [silently] and counting them on my prayer beads when out in public. But I figured out that this was silly. If anybody had a problem, it was their problem, not mine.

    Anyone as nervous as you describe would be a basket case in Columbus, Ohio. We have been very hospitable to refugees here for many years–so we have Somali Muslims, Sudanese Muslims, and Bosnian Muslims all over town. In one section of town, stores selling Muslim clothing and Halal meats are as common as stores with Hispanic interests or Mexican Restaurants.

    A young Somali couple with a new first child [named Muhammed, as is common with first born males] live in the apartment immediately above mine. The husband is branching out from the family business, Home Health Care.

    Ohio State is also a major draw for Muslim students: Iranian, Pakistani, Iraqi and many others. Women observing the Hajib can found on the streets daily.

    If you’re nervous about it here, you just have to get over it and get a life.

  • http://www.sportsfantreasures.com Joyce

    As I read this it becomes clear to me we should be concerned with EXTREMISTS, not with any religious person. I work with many muslims that think the bombers are insane. I work with many people that don’t like taxes but wouldn’t blow up a federal building. I work with many christians that wouldn’t shoot a doctor for performing abortions. I fear gangs of all sort because they believe in the law of the jungle or they believe their god believes in a violent resolution of a religious dispute. I really didn’t want to have to arm myself to protect my home from christians, hebrews, muslims or from the bloods, the crips, or the nazi militia. I would honor the second amendment and join a reasonably minded militia to protect my neighborhood, but I wouldn’t go with the national guard to Afghanistan, because I don’t live there. And I already spent my time in the service exerting corporate america’s will overseas. Yes I am a veteran that is not excited about weapons or war. I don’t care much about the flag, but I would defend the constitution with my life, until the conservative right distorts the document into something I don’t recognize anymore. Then I guess I’ll have to move somewhere that people are working together to improve everyone’s life then remaining somewhere that values only the individual, not the group.

  • Carol N

    Interesting that he and Mara Liasson are even *ON* Fox News. Why would that be? If they are right-wing and slanted, what are these two lefties doing there? Could it because that station is the only one of the cable news networks that *DOES* have people of opposing opinions on? Part of that “balanced” thing they mention? I know CNN doesn’t do it, MSNBC certainly does not do it. Juan and Mara are not asked to be on CNN and MSNBC because they already have all the lefty speakers they need there!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    (Sigh) I’m afraid that’s what we’re getting here, Lisa; thought control. Thou shalt not even think negtive thoughts about any politically correct group, at any time, under any circumstances!

    And I’m still waiting to hear what Williams actually did—not just having “incorrect” feelings, but actual actions—that was so terrible.

    Nora, yes; we’d all be hearing horror stories about evil priests, wicked nuns, terrifying evangelicals, and, then, we’d start hearing on various talk shows about how maybe, just maybe, Christians wearing religious habits, or openly flaunting crosses, might not actually be a form of oppression—intimidating others, and supposedly making them feel inferior, and forcing religion on them.

    It would be entertaining—heh!

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    #66—-Correction; in my above comment, #66, I should have said, “NOT an irrational fear.”

    Uh-huh, it’s a brave new world! All white males are dumb, all women are brilliant, gang members are oppressed, all Catholic priests are pedophiles (but never, ever, mention the UN scandals) never discuss Islam (it will just get you in trouble) and Marxism will solve everything! Just give it one more chance!

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

    Rhinestone Suderman: And I’m still waiting to hear what Williams actually did—not just having “incorrect” feelings, but actual actions—that was so terrible.

    He *justified* his irrational prejudice. On the topic of “Muslims killed us on 9/11″.

    Williams: I think you’re right.

    Continuing,

    Williams: I think, look, political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality… … I get worried. I get nervous.

    Notice the conflation of his irrational prejudice with “reality.” When given a chance to clarify, he continued to defend his comments.

    Williams is not a liberal, by the way, but an ordinary purveyor of conventional wisdom. There are almost no liberals in mainstream American media. Indeed, the very word is considered poison among most of the chattering classes.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    9/11 really happend, Zachriel. As I’ve pointed out in earlier posts, being nervous around Moslems on planes is not entirely irrational. Nor is criticizing political correctness.

    Has Williams burned any Korans over this? Does he go around attacking Moslems physically? Does he go around attacking any minorities, or acting on his thoughts and feelings?

    I’m still waiting to hear what horrible thing he’s done, other than admit he’s nervous near Moslems on a plane (a jitteriness he shares with many Americans), and for expressing his opinion honestly. (Freedom of speech, anyone?)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Again, basically, it looks like the guy’s just being punished for “wrong thoughts and feeling,” and for admitting for feelings about Moslems, and Islam, that are less than warm and fuzzy. Now, even having negative feelings is hate crime.

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

    Rhinestone Suderman: 9/11 really happend

    Yes, but to say “Muslims attacked us on 9/11″ is as misleading as to say “Christians invaded Iraq.” It’s creates an inaccurate association.

    Rhinestone Suderman: As I’ve pointed out in earlier posts, being nervous around Moslems on planes is not entirely irrational.

    For people who have little exposure to other cultures, xenophobia is a common, but irrational, reaction. The percentage of Muslims who commit terrorists acts against the West is very small, and they don’t typically dress in traditional garb, but try to fit in.

    Rhinestone Suderman: Has Williams burned any Korans over this? Does he go around attacking Moslems physically?

    No one said he did.

    Rhinestone Suderman: I’m still waiting to hear what horrible thing he’s done, other than admit he’s nervous near Moslems on a plane (a jitteriness he shares with many Americans), and for expressing his opinion honestly.

    You keep ignoring the point. He justified his irrational bigotry. He agreed with O’Reilly misleading and bigoted statement that “Muslims attacked us on 9/11,” then conflated the “reality” of 9/11 with his personal prejudice and trepidation.

    Rhinestone Suderman: (Freedom of speech, anyone?)

    It’s not a freedom of speech issue. He has every right to express his bigoted opinions, but no right to a job, especially when he violated his employer’s rule against punditry. Nor is access a problem. There’s a whole cable news network, er gulag, dedicated to the their expression.

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

    By the way, firing was probably not the correct response. Williams might have been suspended pending further review, then he might have simply resigned to pursue a bright future in being a straw liberal on Fox News.

    [I see you give Fox no credit for having liberals like Williams, Liasson or Powers on their network. Can you identify three ("straw" or not) conservatives on NPR for us? -admin]

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

    The Anchoress: Can you identify three (“straw” or not) conservatives on NPR for us?

    Don’t really know their entire lineup. Do they have opinionated bombasts like O’Reilly?

    [I asked a legitimate question. I'm not talking "bombast" or "straw" (I'm no fan of O'Reilly's so I am not sure why you bring him up.) You can't just say "I don't know their line up." Go look. Can you identify at least three "rightwing" or "right-leaning" correspondents, pundits, analysts who regularly appear on NPR to give voice to the conservative perspective in the same manner that Fox News does w/ libs? Understand, I'm not asking as a big fan of Fox News; I frankly don't watch it, and when breaking news is occurring, I switch between all the channels, so this isn't a fan taking umbrage and demanding an answer. This is someone who has watched you take umbrage and spout a great deal of rhetoric slamming FOX and defending NPR, and I'm just wondering. I guess I can't follow the logic when folks sneer at the FOX "fair and balanced" banner and deride any and all liberals who appear there as tokens, or straw liberals or whatever (I'm sure Mara and Kirsten will be surprised to hear it said of them), but who somehow try to argue that NPR, with no representation at all from the right, is somehow the lofty ideal of publicly-funded, balanced presentment of ideas, which it clearly is not. The only way a mind can accept that odd sort of logic is to pretend that only some ideas are legitimate. Which is an incredibly illiberal way to think. -admin]

  • Nora

    Exactly, Rhinestone…

    Just like Muslim women are being banned from wearing their expression of devotion because it intimidates others…just like the articles we’ve seen from Catholics supporting banning veiling for Muslim women…

    The most ridiculous thing about this, of course, is that NONE of the 9/11 terrorists were wearing “Muslim garb” (I wonder how Juan defines that…I wonder if he can even tell the difference between a Muslim and a Sikh…)

    I’ve seen plenty of fear-mongering on the right when it comes to Muslim women going through airport security, but I wonder what they’d have to say if a Catholic nun was asked to remove her veil or be subject to an extremely intimate personal search because she’s wearing a full habit…

    Seems like the right is just fine with bigotry and prejudices directed towards Muslims, but when someone makes a valid point about one of their darlings, they play the same game the left does and it’s no less hypocritical or stupid or immature.

    And Zachriel, yes — the freedom to express one’s opinions, no matter how stupid or bigoted or hateful in nature, does not preclude one from suffering the consequences of exercising that freedom.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Actually, Zachriel, I’d say it’s very much a freedom of speech issue.

    NPR is, supposedly, a taxpayer funded organization, which means it’s supported by us, and it supposed to represent different voices, not just one (Leftwing) point of view. Well, they should let us hear those points of view, and not get panicky when one of their speakers says something politically incorrect—or they should drop all government funding.

    Furthermore, again I ask—what was it, exactly, that Williams said that was so hate-filled, and horrifying, he deserved to be fired? And what did he actually DO, to deserve all this criticism? From the way people are going on, you’d think he defended Hitler on the show, or demanded genocide! As I’ve pointed out in earlier posts, I don’t find his nervousness (and that’s all it was—nerves) in the presence of Moslems on an airplane all that irrational, given 9/11, and all the troubles going on in lands bordering Islam since then (i.e., Nigeria, the Phillippines, etc.) so where’s the “irrationality?” Where’s the bigotry?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    As for his criticizing political correctness—well, lots of people have done that, and I don’t think it’s a sign of bigotry.

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

    The Anchoress: Can you identify three (“straw” or not) conservatives on NPR for us?

    Zachriel: Don’t really know their entire lineup. Do they have opinionated bombasts like O’Reilly?

    The Anchoress: I asked a legitimate question.

    Yes, and the answer is implicit in the question. Does NPR have ideological pontificators? From most of the shows we are familiar with, we can’t tell the political viewpoints of the hosts, so we can’t name three on the Left or the Right.

    The Anchoress: I’m sure Mara and Kirsten will be surprised to hear it said of them.

    Mara Liasson a liberal? What makes her a liberal?

    The Anchoress: The only way a mind can accept that odd sort of logic is to pretend that only some ideas are legitimate. Which is an incredibly illiberal way to think.

    Many ideas are not valid and rightly rejected. Others are reasonably subject to debate. But that’s not the topic. Consider this statement:

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

    This statement implies that a billion Muslims are at war with the West, which is hardly the case.

    Bigotry is a lazy man’s substitute for using good judgment. Common sense becomes bigotry when religious garb or color becomes a formula for figuring out who is a danger.

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

    Rhinestone Suderman: I don’t find his nervousness (and that’s all it was—nerves) in the presence of Moslems on an airplane all that irrational, given 9/11, and all the troubles going on in lands bordering Islam since then (i.e., Nigeria, the Phillippines, etc.) so where’s the “irrationality?” Where’s the bigotry?

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess some people are wondering, should you have gone the extra step and said, “Listen, they’re irrational, they are feelings I fight?”

    WILLIAMS: Yeah, I could have done that.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Oh, no’s, he admits that he could have set aside irrational feelings? He doesn’t say something like, “Oh, no, no Moslems should ever fly!” Or, “No, I just hate all Moslems!”

    The horror! The HORROR! Oh, the humanity! The naked bigotry!

    Zachriel, all this just goes to prove the point that Williams is being punished for wrong thoughts/feelings! Nora, in her post above, displays far more biliousness aboutwhat she calls “The fear mongering right” than Williams does towards Moslems.

    So, I’m still waiting to hear what he actually did—aside from having “incorrect” feelings?

    Somewhat off topic, but I see, over at Ace of Spades, there’s a post about Sci-Fi writer Elizabeth Moon being dropped from a science fiction convention for writing a 9/11 essay critical of Islam. Williams, Molly Norris, Elizabeth Moon. . . is anybody starting to see a pattern here?

  • Nora

    Rhinestone — he didn’t do anything other than give a bunch of folks who wanted to get rid of him anyway just enough of an excuse to do it — the story doesn’t warrant more than an eyeroll and a shrug at best. This is such a non-story it’s pathetic.

    That the right is turning it into a story is what, to me, is beyond ridiculous.

    The right would be having exactly the same reactions in the situation I outlined as the left is in the Juan Williams one.

    Juan said something unclear enough to be spun into a bigoted statement by people who were just waiting to pounce on him. Sucks for him, but that’s business. Frankly, Juan Williams is a pretty mediocre commentator at best, so…whatever. And since I don’t know ANYONE other than a handful of lefties who listens to NPR, again…whatever.

    Williams somehow managed to wangle himself a better Fox News deal out of this — good for him.

    This wouldn’t even be a story except everyone has to be yammering on and on and on about something 24/7 in every media format they can find.

    My point is merely that I have heard exactly the same rhetoric from the Catholic right when it comes to someone expressing their emotional reaction to encountering priests (a larger percentage of which were guilty of the crimes attributed to a few than that of Muslims on 9/11, btw) — that anyone who even feels such a thing is a bigot, hater, anti-Catholic, etc. So, to me, all this hysteria over a really stupid non-story about people no one cares about anyway is just funny…and if the weather didn’t completely suck right now, I wouldn’t even be bothering to comment THIS much…sheesh…

  • Nora

    BTW, saying that there is fear-mongering on the right when it comes to that particular issue is NOT the same thing as referring to all those who slant right “the fear-mongering right”.

    You know…because we wouldn’t want to mischaracterize anyone’s words as something they’re not, and all that…

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

    Rhinestone Suderman: So, I’m still waiting to hear what he actually did—aside from having “incorrect” feelings?

    It’s been explained several times already. That you will not even acknowledge the point is telling.

  • dick

    Interesting. Upshot is that Zachriel is arguing a point that he cannot back up. Then he says it has been explained several times already. Also interesting is that he cuts off the quotes from Williams before we get to the point where Williams says it is irration and illogical and he wishes it were not true but it is just the way he has felt since 9/11.

    Meanwhile Zachriel ducks and dodges when asked to provide the names of conservatives on NPR. Why is that so difficult when you are talking about a network that is vehemently fair and unbiased, or so you say. If it is so fair and unbiased, then providing the names of the conservatives should be a snap for you. While you are at it you might provide the diverse employees at MSNBC. I swear seeing a lineup of their staff is like looking at a lineup of Aryan Nation. The reflection from all those white faces is blinding. And yet this same staff names the Tea Partiers as being racist for not having enough people of color at their meetings.

  • Bearded Dragon

    American fear of Muslims does border of bigotry. The assumption is that all Muslims are terrorists. That all Muslims are Islamists and all Islamists are Takfiri. This is akin to suggesting that the Reverend Phelps speaks for all Christians and that what he believes is what all Christians believe. I would hope Anchorese you can perceive the contradiction in that.

    This wanker Williams, didn’t deserve to be fired but tell me, would Fox allow any of its pundits and any of its representatives to suggest that the US was wrong to invade Afghanistan or Iraq – during those invasion? Both sides of the political divide don’t like their views to be questioned. Doesn’t make it nice but it is unrealistic to believe than any organisation will not expect its representatives to toe the line as far as their views are concerned, when they are representing it. If he wants to air his own views, he should have taken his NPR hat off.

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

    dick: Also interesting is that he cuts off the quotes from Williams before we get to the point where Williams says it is irration and illogical and he wishes it were not true but it is just the way he has felt since 9/11.

    You forgot to quote either the part of the interview you consider relevant, or address the point made.

    Williams said O’Reilly is right that “Muslims killed us on 9/11″. So, the first thing Juan says is that he thinks O’Reilly was right. He adds that people in “Muslim garb” are self-identifying first and foremost as Muslims, then conflates the reality of terrorism and with his own latent bigotry. O’Reilly also made of point of mentioning Williams’ position with NPR.

    In any case, Williams should not have been fired for this incident.

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

    dick: Why is that so difficult when you are talking about a network that is vehemently fair and unbiased, or so you say. If it is so fair and unbiased, then providing the names of the conservatives should be a snap for you.

    Again, you ignored the response given above. Is it really so difficult?

    The definition of “liberal” seems rather strained on this forum. Just saying someone is a liberal isn’t very persuasive as Fox News uses straw-liberals as foils for their Right-wing partisans. Many right-wingers also say Obama is a socialist, which just reveals that people don’t know the meaning of the term.

    People either have to self-identify, or reveal their slant through their expressed positions. There seems to be very little pontificating on NPR. But, as said above, we’re not familiar with their entire lineup.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Er, Zachriel?

    If it wasn’t Moslems who attacked the Twin Towers on 9/11, who was it? Are you saying the 19 hijackers were not from Islamic countries, were not part of Al-queda and did not pull off their attack in the name of Islam? That O’Reilly is wrong about this, and that it was somebody else who attacked us that day? The Mafia? Space aliens? Insane Leprechauns?

    (WHAT? He later said his feelings were irrational, later in the interview? Oh, someone hand me the smelling salts! Such bigotry! Such hate! Such—such—)

    (And you still haven’t stated what he did that was so terrible, or why it is so awful to say that Moslems attacked us on 9/11.)

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    And, no, I don’t buy the “Christians invaded us in Iraq” analogy: the U.S. army is not a specifically Christian institution, and is made up of people of many faiths, and religious beliefs (or lack thereof.)

    Al-Queda, on the other hand, is a militant Islamic group, devoted to spreading Islam, and fighting Jews and “Crusaders.” It was given sanctuary by the ultra-conservative Islamic Taliban, in Afghanistan.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Nora, the issue is worth discussing, because it involves freedom of speech, as I mention in my post #86: Molly Norris, a cartoonist who had to go into hiding because of threats from Al-Awlaki, after she started “Everybody draw Mohammed” day; Elizabeth Moon, a writer dropped from a starring role at a sci-fi convention, because she wrote a 9/11 essay critical of Moslems; Williams, Salman Rushdie, who still leaves under a death sentence for writing “Satanic Verses”, the cartoonists who did the “Mo-Toons”, and who still live under death threats. . . the list is a long one.

    If criticizing a certain, privilged group becomes impossible—because you know you’ll lose your job, receive death threats, be attacked as a bigot and racist is you do—then freedom of speech in this country is dead.

  • Nora

    How was freedom of speech affected in the least?? He said it and the state has yet to jail him, torture him and/or hang him.

    No one’s freedom of speech was trampled on.

    He freely expressed himself and NPR freely expressed themselves.

    Entities outside the US which threaten individuals because of what they say or write or paint or draw are behaving like tyrants, but they’re not bound by our laws.

    Hey, I have ZERO problem with carpet bombing the entire Middle East — I’m hardly defending Al Quaeda or the Taliban or Islamic extremists.

    But the problem with raising what happened to Juan Williams to the same thing as having one’s life seriously threatened by actual terrorists because of what one says is that no one takes ANYTHING seriously after a while.

  • Doc

    So, Zach, if Williams deserved a suspension for his latent irrational bigotry, what do people who have blatant irrational bigotry concerning the Tea Party movement have coming to them? You know, people who think and express themselves like you do.

  • Doc

    By the way, Zach, you seem to have omitted this from your selective GMA interview quotes:

    “I don’t understand why she has to get that low,” Williams said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    …“This is one of the things in my life that is just so shocking,” Williams said. “I grew up basically on the left, I grew up here in New York City. And I always thought the right wing were the ones that were inflexible, intolerant.”

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

    Rhinestone Suderman: If it wasn’t Moslems who attacked the Twin Towers on 9/11, who was it?

    The phrasing unfairly and purposefully lumps the vast majority of Muslims with the actions of a few radicals.

    Rhinestone Suderman: And, no, I don’t buy the “Christians invaded us in Iraq” analogy: the U.S. army is not a specifically Christian institution, and is made up of people of many faiths, and religious beliefs (or lack thereof.)

    Many Americans claim that America is a Christian nation.


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