Thursday, October 21, 2010

NPR Fires Juan Williams For Saying That Muslims Sometimes Make Him Nervous At Airports

That's the problem trying to figure out what is in an individual's head.

On “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday night, Williams said, “I mean, 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.” …

Especially at the airport all that Islam/peace stuff goes out of the window. It has to. It is not a game. And we do need to be vigilant.

NPR issued a statement saying Williams’ comments “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”

Anyone suggesting that Juan Williams of all people is some sort of a bigot, or that feeling a little nervous around Muslims on air flights given our recent history with terrorism is an unreasonable feeling, is a lunatic.

Whether the left wants to admit it or not, Islam has an extremism problem. Given that reality, viewing self-identified Muslims with some level of suspect isn’t at all unreasonable. It would be unreasonable to assume that they’re terrorists, or to treat them differently under the law because of their faith, but admitting to feelings of nervousness around them?

Perfectly understandable. Kudos to Williams for having the courage to admit it.

This was captured as I collected my things from airport security (Detroit Metro Concourse A). I think of it as something like a Rorschach test. Is an elderly Catholic nun being frisked by a Muslim security agent the celebration of blind justice? Or is it simply an admission of absurdity?
Here's a Muslim airport security [likely] taking out her feelings on a nun.

I think the left has long been suspect of Williams for being willing to engage conservatives on the issues without hating conservatives. There’s not many issues where I agree with Juan Williams, but I’ve long respected him as a commentator because he’s willing to engage and debate honestly. A rare quality among media talking heads.
But that’s not what the left wants from their liberal commentators. They want hate and hyperbole. Juan Williams doesn’t fit that bill, and this is a convenient way to discredit him as a commentator. Which is ironic given how often the left scorns the right for being extremists and anti-intellectual.

If the left gets rid of their Juan Williams, the only people who are going to be left are going to be the Bill Mahers and Keith Olbermanns.

On a related note, can we admit that it’s time to defund NPR yet? Many of public broadcasting’s programs are quite popular and could stand on their own without taxpayer subsidy. Indeed, well over 80% of public broadcasting’s funding comes from non-public sources, either advertising or contributions. So, given that, why not save the roughly $500 million/year the taxpayers pay to subsidize public broadcasting especially given the country’s $13.6 trillion national debt and budget deficit that’s running over $1 trillion per year?

Update: Williams responds on Fox this morning: “I said what I meant to say.”

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