Social Question

josie's avatar

Is this a hint as to how the free world will end?

Asked by josie (22950 points ) October 21st, 2010

NPR just fired Juan Williams for an unspeakable crime. He shared a personal point of view that Muslims on his airplane make him nervous.
No shit, Juan.
Muslims on airplanes make some Americans nervous this days. There is a reason for that. For brevity’s sake, I won’t list the reasons. They are not intolerant morons because they are nervous. They are understandably wary.
He did not say that all Muslims are terrorists. He did not say that they should be tossed off the plane. He did not say that we are embroiled an a war for civilization that must be won at any cost. He did not say that Islam should be outlawed.
He said that Muslims make him nervous on airplanes.
NPR can fire Juan for saying the wrong words. They cannot alter his reasoning mind. Juan Williams now joins the throngs of decent folks who are being suppressed into silence while the new priesthood of political correctness expands their power and their control of what people are actually permitted to debate or discuss in public. Welcome to the new underground Juan.
Is this how the free world ends?

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59 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

This is just the “Thought Police”.They are trying to control what you think and do.

YoBob's avatar

It’s not like this is a new phenomenon.

There was a top notch UT football coach who was ultimately fired a few years back for using the term “boys” in a sentence. Keep in mind that he was a man raised in the South where the term “boy” is ac common as the term “y’all”.

Ex. “I’d appreciate it if you boys would help me out with this”. (translation: “I would be grateful if y’all would give me a hand.”) Alas, the offended had a darker pigmentation than the (ex) coach and got their nickers in a twist because they found the term “boy” insulting. As a result, the political correctness police in conjunction with a small group of rabid media dogs ultimately caused this gentleman to lose his job for the egregious crime of following the speech patterns he grew up around.

Frankly, I think that as a society we need to quit worrying about being so flippin’ politically correct and dust of our rapidly degrading common sense.

CMaz's avatar

Right on… My bitches!

JustmeAman's avatar

We did the same thing with the Japanese when we were at war with them but this is not the way the free world will end.

marinelife's avatar

The standards are different for those with a public pulpit from which to preach.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Fuck them! Try to keep ME from saying what I damned well please and I’ll put a CAP in yo azz! Heh!

josie's avatar

@JustmeAman You are right. In WWII any reasonable American Sailor would have been justifiably nervous about Japanese in an airplane.
@marinelife I guess I am slow on the uptake. What are the standards when speaking in public?

woodcutter's avatar

yes, yes it is.

JustmeAman's avatar

My question would then be why wouldn’t most Americans be slightly uneasy when in a plane with a Muslim person? That doesn’t mean that we hate nor want to hurt one.

josie's avatar

@JustmeAman That is sort of the point of the question. A man, a professional writer and editorialist, was fired for saying what you just said. He made a point in the interview that he was talking about Muslims who are overt in their dress, and practices as Muslims. Any American in that position would have an image of a jet cruising into the WTC and a fireball coming out the other side. Middle Eastern Muslims did that, not American tourists. And they deliberately shaved their beards to make themselves less conspicuous. The point being, they attempted to disguise themselves. Oh well. Tough luck for Juan. Who’s next?

perg's avatar

A little more to the story… I found it interesting that NPR’s own story indicates Williams’ job has been on the line with them for a while – he was switched from “correspondent” to “analyst” on their shows because of his appearances on O’Reilly’s shows. Also, the context was that O’Reilly was seeking Williams’ support for his own remarks directly blaming Muslims (not just Islamic extremists) for the 9–11 attacks. I don’t think Williams’ response was the validation O’Reilly sought, but I would’ve liked to hear him say that O’Reilly went too far. Nevertheless, the firing is pretty lame – it’s not like he said “Damn straight those crazy A-rabs are going to kill us!”

Cruiser's avatar

They are just covering their asses and trying to mitigate the lawsuits that are sure to follow. Tort reform IMHO would be a good first step to restore some sanity to our country.

YoBob's avatar

@Cruiser Can I get an Amen!

Ivan's avatar

A radio network firing an employee for saying something stupid does not signify the end of the free world, no.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Just being in an airport makes me nervous, period.

tedd's avatar

NPR is a private organization, not a public one. If they find an employees views damaging to their brand, they have (and have always had) every right to dismiss them.

And its not like this hasn’t been going on since the founding of our country…..

Cruiser's avatar

@YoBob Amen! I was torn on whether or not to include campaign finance reform in my earlier comment. Thought it might be asking too much of our country.

tedd's avatar

@Cruiser Amen to that…. campaign finance would be a godsend right about now.

Trillian's avatar

“A radio network firing an employee for saying something stupid does not signify the end of the free world, no.” I fail to see how admitting that seeing a Muslim on an airplane made one nervous qualifies as stupid.

perg's avatar

Here’s more from NPR – a memo to its staff that further outlines its reasons for the firing. It makes a bit more sense to me now – the news agency I worked for had a similar “analysis /= commentary” rule.

Trillian's avatar

@perg Ok, thanks. That makes sense.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well obviously this signifies the end…

He should have known better than to say that because of how it may come across…also, I don’t find it reasonable to be nervous about Muslims, whatsoever…unless you want me to be nervous about all straight people after the recent 10 suicides comitted by queer people because of bullying.

Qingu's avatar

There are five times as many Muslims on Earth as there are Americans.

There are perhaps a few hundred, maybe a thousand, of whom happen to be al-Qaeda.

I would say it’s pretty ignorant to get “nervous” upon seeing a Muslim on a plane.

Of course, you can blame this on ignorance of math and statistics, rather than just bigotry.

Qingu's avatar

Also, you know how Juan Williams has the constitutional right to say whatever he thinks?

NPR also has the constitutional right to fire him for saying stuff they think is stupid.

Constitutional rights don’t just protect the parts of speech you agree with.

Qingu's avatar

@JustmeAman, you said, “why wouldn’t most Americans be slightly uneasy when in a plane with a Muslim person? That doesn’t mean that we hate nor want to hurt one.”

Sure. But it does mean that most Americans are ignorant cowards.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Qingu

Sigh. Sucks to be you.

Qingu's avatar

I disagree. I pity people who live cowering in fear of strangely dressed brown people on planes. What is it like to live your life in constant sniveling terror?

CaptainHarley's avatar

I have no idea, never having been a coward.

BTW… call me that to my face and I will slowly take you apart.

Ivan's avatar

lol4rl

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@josie as many have made the point here—some more politely and eloquently than others—we should not be ‘nervous’ or ‘afraid’ of anyone getting onto a plane with us, no matter their skin color, facial hair, mode of dress, religious symbols or other overt trappings of religion. Just like we don’t live in fear of every person with a gun who’s liable to shoot up a post office or work place, or bomb a federal building or fly into an IRS office. So for Juan Williams, who I have generally respected until now, to say something like that on the air and play into that fear is totally irresponsible journalism. He deserved to be fired for that statement, but he should have recognized the error himself and resigned instead.

It isn’t completely abnormal that he should feel that way—after all, a lot of people in this country do feel that way—but it’s not a thing to be proud of, and it was incredibly bad judgement on his part to say aloud as he did. That’s what got him fired, in my opinion: bad judgement. It’s almost akin to someone—at least I haven’t seen this actually happen—opine aloud about black men marrying white women, “because look at what OJ got away with”.

Just because certain bad people did or do certain bad things doesn’t mean that everyone who resembles them will do the same, and Juan certainly knows this.

@Qingu and @CaptainHarley, you two should move to neutral corners and cool off. Don’t make me stop this plane and come back there.

josie's avatar

@CyanoticWasp
Gosh, I always thought you were smarter than that.
Anyway, we are rarely given every scrap of evidence that we need to make a conclusive judgement. We can only work with the evidence that we have.
A favorite MO of Muslim terrorists is blowing up airplanes (or setting off car bombs, plus, setting people on fire, cutting off their heads with a bread knife, and throwing stones at the heads of infidels who have been buried up to their shoulders). Very few of their leaders condemn these isolated acts. Many of their vocal proponants say that the worst is yet to come. Anybody who does not pay attention to this, is trying to score points with their buddies on Fluther.
Juan Williams committed the neocrime of being honest about his fears.
His fears are actually justified by the facts of reality.
All he did was say it.
What if you got fired for saying that you felt uneasy walking alone on a deserted urban street after midnight?
I am not afraid of anything, and I do not like walking alone on a deserted urban street after midnight.
Should I be fired for saying that?
I do not believe that anybody should be punished before they commit a crime. But there is nothing wrong with being aware of your surroundings and your vulnerabilities. Anyone who gives these things up in order to be popular is foolish.
When I wasn’t looking, did you become foolish?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@josie no, I’m not the least bit foolish about this topic, anyway. As @Qingu pointed out (and at least in this he was correct) there are billions of Muslims—and people with the many of the same physical characteristics of Muslims, including Hindus and Jews, for example—and a tiny, minuscule subset of those (Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and plain ol’ white American) people are radical, suicidal fanatics. For me to be “afraid” every time I got onto a plane with someone with brown skin and a beard—and especially after they got through any Western security check these days—would be truly irrational.

I’ve flown domestic flights in Indonesia in the past few years. Indonesia (away from the International terminals) has interesting security rules. I was once in line to go through a metal detector for the departure gate on a local flight, following a local man. He pulled a small automatic handgun out of his pocket, put it into the tray to go around the gate, and pushed it himself because there was no guard at the gate, then walked through the gate (and set off the alarm anyway), picked up and pocketed the gun and strolled into the departure area—for my flight. I just walked through the same gate, still looking for someone to shut off the damn beeper from the previous guy. No one even noticed.

Maybe I should have told someone. Maybe I shouldn’t have boarded the plane. But the way I looked at it, if he wanted to do me harm he could have shot me at any time, so why shouldn’t I get on the plane? Maybe I’m a bit fatalistic after all; if my time was up, then it was up. I was aware; I was ‘interested’ (and sort of amused), but I got on the plane anyway. I wonder how many other folks were packing on that flight?

You can’t travel in Asia and be afraid of Asians. Why would I be afraid of them in my own country?

Another time, traveling in Europe, I was on a train (pre-2001) which crossed the Dutch-German border. As soon as we crossed the border into Germany, the train stopped for German immigration officials to walk through the train and check everyone’s papers. My (and my companion’s) US passports received only a perfunctory glance. The young Muslim family across the aisle from us was interrogated—and their belongings and nearby waste bins in the train searched—by three armed and uniformed agents for nearly ten minutes. The skinheads in the car with us hardly merited notice at all.

I wondered why the disparity in treatment then… and I still do.

You said something that made a lot of sense: We should be aware of our surroundings. Absolutely, yes. But that doesn’t mean we need to be ‘afraid’ when we see a brown-skinned person, does it? Juan Williams should have been smarter than to play into that kind of mindless “fear” nonsense.

josie's avatar

Maybe I should have told someone. Maybe I shouldn’t have boarded the plane. But the way I looked at it, if he wanted to do me harm he could have shot me at any time, so why shouldn’t I get on the plane? Maybe I’m a bit fatalistic after all; if my time was up, then it was up. I was aware; I was ‘interested’ (and sort of amused), but I got on the plane anyway. I wonder how many other folks were packing on that flight?

You can make whatever decision you want. Some people may think you are foolhardy.
Juan Williams may not be foolhardy. Is he less enlightened than you?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@josie I don’t understand why we’re going round and round about this. I don’t have Juan’s job. If I did, then I might comment on “the fear that others seem to feel” when they’re around Muslims—if I had some kind of documentation to back up such a claim—but I think it was irresponsible for him to air his own irrational fear. And when we look at the statistics, it is a completely irrational fear. Doesn’t mean it’s not real fear, but it is irrational.

Qingu's avatar

@josie, let me ask you a couple of questions.

What percentage of Muslims actually engage in the acts you talk about? Hint: it’s much less than the percentage of black people who are violent criminals. Are you scared of black people you see on the street?

You also brought up the “fact” that Muslim leaders don’t condemn al-Qaeda. (Note: that is complete bullshit.) Let me ask you another question: how many Americans and American leaders condemn torturing prisoners, or killings of tens of thousands of civilians?

And please don’t say you’re “not afraid of anything.” Clearly you’re afraid of Muslims on a plane. It’s fine to admit this; some people are also irrationally scared of things. For example, I’m terrified of insects. The problem with being scared of Muslims is that it affects actual relations between human beings.

Qingu's avatar

Also, even if a significant percentage of Muslims were terrorists out to hijack your airplanes… why the hell would such hypothetical supercriminals be dressed up like Muslims?

josie's avatar

@Qingu Let me ask you a couple of questions
Would the whole question about suspicions of Muslims have EVER come up if it were not for the fact that the people who committed mass murder on 9/11/01, who committed mass murder on an airplane over Scotland, who attempted to commit mass murder by bombing the WTC in 1993, who committed mass murder by shooting up a clinic full of people while wearing a US military uniform, and an MD degree, who attempted to commit mass murder with a bomb in his underpants, who attempted to commit mass murder with a car bomb in Times Square, who cut off peoples heads and video taped it for world release etc etc etc were not Muslims?
If we called them something else, would they still not be Muslims?
If we pretended that these murderers were psychopaths and that these events and others were simply isolated incidents, would that change the fact that they were inspired by the words and traditions of their faith?
If we assume all Muslims are innocent, then what do we call the ones who clearly mean to do people serious harm?
If you are not sensitized to the potential danger that you face from some of the Prophet’s followers in a crowded place, on an airplane, etc, then you are simply not paying attention.
When you go to an airport, and the alert level is orange, is the problem that the airplane might run out of gas, or that it might get blown up by a Muslim?
When a young man blows himself up on a bus in Tel Aviv, and kills 20 innocents, what is the one thing that we know with certainty about him?
When the countries in Europe are cautioned that a threat is imminent, and they put guards by the Eiffel Tower, are they concerned about American tourists, or a bomb carrying Muslims?
So sorry that peaceful followers of the word of The Prophet get stigmatized by their violent brethren.
But many people on this site do the same thing.
If one does not approve of the president, he is a racist.
If one is not a collectivist, he is a greedy solopsist.
Etc.
I really do not believe that you are indifferent to the dangers around you.
Maybe, but I doubt it.
I think you are merely saying it to be popular.

augustlan's avatar

I’m not going to get into whether this fear is rational or irrational, but only answer your original question. He wasn’t fired for having an opinion. He was fired because he publicly aired his opinion, in direct violation of his contract as a news analyst.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Ivan I know, right? Lol

mammal's avatar

propagating fear and panic on public radio is irresponsible and should be punished, promoting hate and intolerance should be penalized even more. Get real. Seriously, it’s irrational and divisive. Somebody tell me the statistical probability of a commercial flight being hijacked and crashed, less than being struck by lightening i’d imagine.

plethora's avatar

@Ivan Exactly what did he say that was stupid? He spoke about how he felt. A personal feeling. There is no right or wrong. So now Juan Williams should guard in public any personal feeling just because it is not politically correct to the leftest zanies? Why the Hell should NPR take a protectionist posture on behalf of Muslims? Is Islam now the religion of the left and they are offended by his remark? I’ll guaranDAMNtee you Williams would not have been fired if that same remark had been made about a Jew or a Christian or a Hindu.

mammal's avatar

@plethora out of curiousity are you and @josie one and the same?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@plethora So anyone can say whatever and then call it a ‘personal feeling’ and no one can say a thing?

augustlan's avatar

It doesn’t really matter WHAT personal opinion he publicly expressed. He could have said “Republicans make me nervous.” and still have been fired for violating his contract.

plethora's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Is this De Beauvoir babble? If you read or heard the news report you know that Williams did not say “whatever”. Williams stated how he felt. What he personally believed.

plethora's avatar

@augustlan Then I stand corrected. What terms of his contract did he violate? Oops, just saw your earlier post that addressed this.

augustlan's avatar

@plethora From the link provided by @perg way up there ^^:

“In appearing on TV or other media . . . NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows . . . that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.”

As well as:

“In appearing on TV or other media including electronic Web-based forums, NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist.”

josie's avatar

@augustlan
Well at least I think my question got answered.
And while I certainly can not give complete proof of the following, the current popular moral and intellectual standard that people should ignore what they see for the sake of the common good is strong evidence that Juan Williams was fired for saying something that is true but unpopular.
It will take more than NPR’s move to cover their ass before litigation to convince me that it was anything other than the fact that he engaged in forbidden thought and speech that got him dismissed.
And it is not as if I like Juan Williams. I have always gotten the impression that he was sort of a utopian cry-baby
But I thank him for inspiring the question.
J out.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Great answer, @josie ! : ))

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@josie I can understand your strong feelings on the topic, and I know that you’re not alone.

But turn it around for a minute. A lot of people in the world don’t get to come to the USA as visitors, tourists, on business, or in any other way; they seldom get out of their own neighborhood. Their only knowledge of Americans is the limited (and skewed) exposure they’ve seen through episodic news (Columbine killers, other mass murders of various types and kinds, ‘Ugly American’ depictions through movies) plus whatever bias their own public media have. I’ve met a lot of those people, and I kind of cringe inwardly when some of them tell me after being able to speak for awhile, “You’re not like I imagined you would be.” And I think to myself, what kind of godawful creep did they have in mind? Because all I do is try to be friendly (or at least pleasant), helpful (or at least not an obstacle in their existence), honest and treat people as human beings—what did they expect from “an American”?

So that’s how I try to look at other people in other cultures, too, as a default position until they show evidence to the contrary. They get one shot at me; pretty much anyone does.

Qingu's avatar

@josie, again, you are demonstrating a brazen ignorance of simple statistics.

Yes, many terrorists in the modern era are Muslims. There is an incredibly dangerous cult of fundamentalist Muslims that serves as a gravity well for anti-Western sentiments.

However. There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. There are, perhaps, 1,000 members of al-Qaeda.

The chances of the random Muslim you see on a plane being members of al-Qaeda are, literally, one in a million.

This doesn’t even take into account the fact that al-Qaeda are not going to dress up like obvious Muslims on an operation (none of the 9/11 hijackers wore a beard or looked overly Islamic).

So I’ll say it again: if you are scared of Muslim-looking people on a plane, you are either ignorant of the actual statistics of terrorists vs. non-terrorist Muslims, or you are ignorant of how statistics works. Either way, I don’t really see why you’re defending ignorance.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@plethora Right…so I can go on air and say ‘Religious people have smaller brains than atheists’ and you would think nothing of it?

Qingu's avatar

@plethora, I can’t speak for all “leftists,” but Islam is certainly not my religion. I think Islam is a false and morally repugnant cult. I think you can draw a direct line from the content of the Quran to the ideology of Salafists and even al-Qaeda.

I would also say the exact same thing about Judaism and Christianity. You can draw a direct line from the content of the Bible to the Crusades and the Inquisition, to the widespread support of slavery by American Christians, and to the evangelicals in the US military who see the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as modern-day crusades.

Nevertheless, I don’t get scared when I see people walking out of church for the same reason that I don’t get scared of Muslims. Because the vast majority religious people—Christian, Jews, and Muslims, even “fundamentalists”—do not interpret their religion literally, and would never bring themselves to mass-murder civilians.

Cruiser's avatar

I think in our perfect world some choose to live in, it is quickly forgotten that there still is a significant threat element out there directly because of the hatred that exists of all things American by Muslim extremists to name one group of many out there. And is why we have such a large Homeland Security Program and why Homeland Security says this as of today….

“The United States government’s national threat level is Elevated, or Yellow. For all domestic and international flights, the U.S. threat level is High, or Orange. ”

That threat level is high for a reason and IMO Mr. Williams comments were more of a statement of fact towards the heightened threat element from Muslim extremists who have recently made it very clear they still want to take down planes. Anybody who is or has flown recently, can attest to the level of airport security that is in force due to those 19 Muslims who hijacked our airplanes 9 years ago. And if you know anything about the security measures and flaws in the current TSA program you might never fly again!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

No, @Cruiser. The reason we even have a “Department of Homeland Security” is because we have politicians spreading fear (a tiny amount of it justified, but mostly not) and using that as an excuse to grow government and take more freedom (and extort more cash) from us. This is how governments (and religions, come to think of it) have grown since the dawn of civilization: identify (or create) a bogeyman that only “they” can “save us” from. And then suck up your money to pay for it and turn over your lives to live under its control.

I disagree. I have always disagreed.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Here’s Juan Williams’ story in his own words. News analyst Juan Williams’ firing from National Public Radio for comments he made about being nervous when flying alongside devout Muslims has sparked a public outcry that includes calls for investigations and a cut in public funding to the broadcaster.

Read what he says about this topic:

Yesterday NPR fired me for telling the truth. The truth is that I worry when I am getting on an airplane and see people dressed in garb that identifies them first and foremost as Muslims.

This is not a bigoted statement. It is a statement of my feelings, my fears after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 by radical Muslims. In a debate with Bill O’Reilly I revealed my fears to set up the case for not making rash judgments about people of any faith. I pointed out that the Atlanta Olympic bomber— as well as Timothy McVeigh and the people who protest against gay rights at military funerals—are Christians but we journalists don’t identify them by their religion.

And I made it clear that all Americans have to be careful not to let fears lead to the violation of anyone’s constitutional rights, be it to build a mosque, carry the Koran or drive a New York cab without the fear of having your throat slashed. Bill and I argued after I said he has to take care in the way he talks about the 9/11 attacks so as not to provoke bigotry.

This was an honest, sensitive debate hosted by O’Reilly. At the start of the debate Bill invited me, challenged me to tell him where he was wrong for stating the fact that “Muslims killed us there,” in the 9/11 attacks. He made that initial statement on the ABC program, “The View,” which caused some of the co-hosts to walk off the set. They did not return until O’Reilly apologized for not being clear that he did not mean the country was attacked by all Muslims but by extremist radical Muslims.

I took Bill’s challenge and began by saying that political correctness can cause people to become so paralyzed that they don’t deal with reality. And the fact is that it was a group of Muslims who attacked the U.S. I added that radicalism has continued to pose a threat to the United States and much of the world. That threat was expressed in court last week by the unsuccessful Times Square bomber who bragged that he was just one of the first engaged in a “Muslim War” against the United States.—There is no doubt that there’s a real war and people are trying to kill us.

Mary Katharine Ham, a conservative writer, joined the debate to say that it is important to make the distinction between moderate and extreme Islam for conservatives who support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on the premise that the U.S. can build up moderate elements in those countries and push out the extremists. I later added that we don’t want anyone attacked on American streets because “they heard rhetoric from Bill O’Reilly and they act crazy.” Bill agreed and said the man who slashed the cabby was a “nut” and so was the Florida pastor who wanted to burn the Koran.

My point in recounting this debate is to show this was in the best American tradition of a fair, full-throated and honest discourse about the issues of the day.—There was no bigotry, no crude provocation, no support for anti-Muslim sentiments of any kind.

Two days later, Ellen Weiss, my boss at NPR called to say I had crossed the line, essentially accusing me of bigotry. She took the admission of my visceral fear of people dressed in Muslim garb at the airport as evidence that I am a bigot. She said there are people who wear Muslim garb to work at NPR and they are offended by my comments. She never suggested that I had discriminated against anyone. Instead she continued to ask me what did I mean and I told her I said what I meant. Then she said she did not sense remorse from me. I said I made an honest statement. She informed me that I had violated NPR’s values for editorial commentary and she was terminating my contract as a news analyst.

I pointed out that I had not made my comments on NPR. She asked if I would have said the same thing on NPR. I said yes, because in keeping with my values I will tell people the truth about feelings and opinions.

I asked why she would fire me without speaking to me face to face and she said there was nothing I could say to change her mind, the decision had been confirmed above her, and there was no point to meeting in person. 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.

This self-reverential attitude was on display several years ago when NPR asked me to help them get an interview with President George W. Bush. I have longstanding relationships with some of the key players in his White House due to my years as a political writer at The Washington Post. When I got the interview some in management expressed anger that in the course of the interview I said to the president that Americans pray for him but don’t understand some of his actions. They said it was wrong to say Americans pray for him.

Later on the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock crisis President Bush offered to do an NPR interview with me about race relations in America. NPR management refused to take the interview on the grounds that the White House offered it to me and not their other correspondents and hosts. One NPR executive implied I was in the administration’s pocket, which is a joke, and there was no other reason to offer me the interview. Gee, I guess NPR news executives never read my bestselling history of the civil rights movement “Eyes on the Prize – America’s Civil Rights Years,” or my highly acclaimed biography “Thurgood Marshall –American Revolutionary.” I guess they never noticed that “ENOUGH,” my last book on the state of black leadership in America, found a place on the New York Times bestseller list.

This all led to NPR demanding that I either agree to let them control my appearances on Fox News and my writings or sign a new contract that removed me from their staff but allowed me to continue working as a news analyst with an office at NPR. The idea was that they would be insulated against anything I said or wrote outside of NPR because they could say that I was not a staff member. What happened is that they immediately began to cut my salary and diminish my on-air role. This week when I pointed out that they had forced me to sign a contract that gave them distance from my commentary outside of NPR I was cut off, ignored and fired.

And now they have used an honest statement of feeling as the basis for a charge of bigotry to create a basis for firing me. 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.

Juan Williams is now a full-time Fox News contributor.

cockswain's avatar

I’ve been on flights with people dressed in Muslim garb. It did not make me nervous. In fact the last flight I was on, a Muslim woman wanted to hold my hand because she was nervous. At no point did she attempt to murder me. While I know Muslim terrorists exist, statistically speaking I’m in way greater danger getting in my car than on a flight with someone dressed as a Muslim.

I will concede that if I saw a really nervous, wide-eyed, sweaty, crazy looking dude wearing military fatigues and making wild, erratic movements who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent getting on a flight with me, I might be paying more attention to him than the average passenger.

Honestly most people dressed as Muslims I see in public are just families. Nothing scary there. It’s embarrassing to me as an American to have such loud, noticeable public discourse on this. It reveals to the world what paranoid, irrational weirdos a lot of us are.

Besides, I don’t think Richard Reid, Nadal Hassan, or any of the 9/11 hijackers were wearing Muslim garb. I could be wrong, so feel free to correct that assumption if you have some evidence.

mattbrowne's avatar

Islamophobia is wrong and counterproductive. A person who has a phobia is someone who harbors fantasies.

Most Muslims are not terrorists, but these days most terrorists are Muslims. We must have the right to ask the question why this is so, which I did today:

http://www.fluther.com/102625/most-muslims-are-not-terrorists-but-these-days-most-terrorists-are/

and what we can do about it.

People crossing the street are at greater risk getting hit by a car, than people boarding an airplane. Muslims on airplanes should make no one feel nervous, because the chances of encountering islamist terrorists are very remote. People entering certain parts of American inner cities are also at greater risk because of all the millions of guns available to unstable and frustrated people roaming the streets.

Hint how the free world will end? Recently a Egyptian-German political scientist predicted the exact opposite. He received many ‘hints’ about how Muslim societies will end:

http://www.fluther.com/102099/egyptian-german-political-scientist-predicts-the-demise-of-the-muslim-world-/

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