No Country for Candid Commentators
It was yesterday’s big news online, so it’ll surely be in the paper today: Long-time NPR political analyst Juan Williams has been fired for comments that he made while a guest on Bill O’Reilly’s show:
The move came after Mr. Williams, who is also a Fox News political analyst, appeared on the “The O’Reilly Factor” on Monday. On the show, the host, Bill O’Reilly, asked him to respond to the notion that the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” Mr. O’Reilly said, “The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.”
Mr. Williams said he concurred with Mr. O’Reilly.
He continued: “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.”
I guess we can’t have political analysts expressing candidly their feelings — then we might actually know what they think beyond the politically correct. Sarcasm aside, Williams went on to suggest that the United States needs leaders who’ll take the spotlight, as President Bush did, and direct Americans’ attentions to the Muslim radicals, not to Islam in general. His point, in other words, was that these impulses are natural and should be addressed so that people don’t act on the emotions inspired by such facts as the Times Square dud bomber’s declaration that “America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood” (in Williams’s words).
At any rate, given other instances in which NPR employees have made offensive comments — about groups and people other than Muslims, of course — and gone without repercussions, the organization should be made to answer for its heavy hand and double standard.
Speaking of NPR, by the way, I’m on WRNI’s Political Roundtable, this morning, which airs on 102.7 FM at around 6:45 a.m. and 7:45 a.m.