Fuck Islam. That would be blasphemy if I were serious, but I'm not. But even if I were, would it be like yelling fire in a crowded theater? If it were that theater of the absurd called NPR, then it most certainly would be. Blasphemy is in the ear of the pious rather like beauty or pornography are only subjectively self-evident. In an open and secular society like ours, we consequently should stay away from legal definitions. So the best way to tell if blasphemy occurs is to simply observe the ritual stoning of those found guilty. Which brings us to Juan Williams, his statement, his executioners and his defenders.
Williams, legendary writer of 'Eyes on the Prize' is one of those Americans who has in his age become less tolerant of nonsense. But he has been awfully polite about it. A few years back his 'Enough' was subtitled "The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It". By uttering such words, even as he pointed out the obvious, Williams was on his way out of favor with the conventional Left and coming into prominence on the Right. This shouldn't be a story about Left and Right, then again I shouldn't say "Fuck Islam", but the devil made me do it. Suffice it to say that Williams has strayed from the path of a certain religiosity as well. Him say:
“Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
That's about as polite and qualified as anyone need go and it's miles away from my fake hatred. Notice what Williams didn't say. He didn't say, whenever I think of those people... He didn't say, what I think about Islam is.. He didn't even express antipathy; he said he gets nervous, on a plane, when people are identifying themselves as Muslims on a plane.
For those of us who understand the church that is NPR, familiar as we are with its rites and tone, its shibboleths and fetishes, it doesn't come as much of a surprise that Williams was terminated. It does come as something of a surprise that the language of their dismissal was so terse, given their propensity to overbloviate.
Juan has been a valuable contributor to NPR and public radio for many years and we did not make this decision lightly or without regret. However, his remarks on The O’Reilly Factor this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a News Analyst with NPR.
Even having one of their kind sharing the stage with Bill O'Reilly was edgy in the NPR universe, and this feels like one of the 'last straw' excuses, because Juan Williams is not an iconoclast, he's serious. And to take a serious man like Williams at his well-qualified word about the threat some Muslims present is to bring into question the very premise of NPR's direction - which is to defend the sensitivities of Muslims everywhere appropriately the media's voice of multiculturalism.
That NPR can no longer claim Williams is a blow to their credibility but not to their brand. Surely diehard NPR fans have been anticipating Williams' excommunication for several years. And as Williams wrote yesterday, now that he is full-time at Fox, it's on:
[..] To say the least this is a chilling assault on free speech. The critical importance of honest journalism and a free flowing, respectful national conversation needs to be had in our country. But it is being buried as collateral damage in a war whose battles include political correctness and ideological orthodoxy.
I say an ideological battle because my comments on "The O’Reilly Factor" are being distorted by the self-righteous ideological, left-wing leadership at NPR. They are taking bits and pieces of what I said to go after me for daring to have a conversation with leading conservative thinkers. They loathe the fact that I appear on Fox News. They don’t notice that I am challenging Bill O’Reilly and trading ideas with Sean Hannity. In their hubris they think by talking with O’Reilly or Hannity I am lending them legitimacy. Believe me, Bill O’Reilly (and Sean, too) is a major force in American culture and politics whether or not I appear on his show.
Years ago NPR tried to stop me from going on "The Factor." When I refused they insisted that I not identify myself as an NPR journalist. I asked them if they thought people did not know where I appeared on the air as a daily talk show host, national correspondent and news analyst. They refused to budge.
Many years ago, when I first began to take my writing public, I wished that news media would be more up front with their biases. What I didn't quite realize was that they always were, and that if you read enough, you would be able to see through the style of objectivity to the substance of their subjectivity. I had expected a bit too much from the business and the bias that I was seeing, I thought was exceptional rather than the rule. Now I know to trust the writer and the writer alone, and to distrust the robot writing that indicates editorial control. We have been losing writers and gaining media. And Williams now stands at Fox.
There is talk of lawsuits, not simply because of Williams' firing, but because the influence that CAIR may have had on NPR, now that it's clearer than ever that they take institutional money from a broader class of donors than the national public. This is a feud that is fraught with symbolism. I take it to be indicative of the overreach and self-righteousness of Progressives (as I usually do) in their assertion of a monopoly on what is true and good for the American public to hear. It is entirely consistent that Williams be drummed out of their corps. I for one salute Williams again. He told a small truth about himself and was crucified by people who are showing their true selves. What more could we ask for?
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