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Wow, sometimes proving political correctness gone awry doesn’t get any easier than this. Apparently on Fox, Juan Williams told Bill O’Reilly that although he gets nervous when he sees Muslims boarding his flight, he thinks we need to control our prejudices. The first half of that comment got Williams summarily fired from his gig at NPR.
Now apparently, the defense for the firing according to NPR President Vivian Schiller was that Williams violated NPR terms of employment. This from the Huffington Post:
Schiller appeared at the Atlanta Press Club, where she defended the decision, saying that Williams had violated NPR’s guidelines barring its analysts from making personal or controversial statements.
Well for starters, does NPR really want to be that much of a yawner network? No personal or controversial statements? Does NPR stand for Not Particularly Relevant? It also defies logic since Williams made the statement (taken out of context) on Fox, not NPR.
But here’s the kicker. Schiller went on to say:
… he should keep his feelings about Muslims between himself and “his psychiatrist or his publicist.”
Now is it just me or does that comment sound the least bit personal or controversial? Seems to me old Viv ought to be fired if we’re gonna stick by NPR guidelines. Fortunately for Viv, she’s the President so she could give herself a day to make a public apology for the comment. Apparently Williams got no opportunity at all to defend himself.
Look, I’m not a huge fan of Juan Williams. I don’t think he’s the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. But political correctness has gone too far when someone warns against prejudice by using himself as an example and then gets fired for his self-effacing candor.
When Barack Obama said that his white grandmother would sometimes make him cringe with racially insensitive comments, conservatives shouted that he threw his grandma under the bus (and some went as far as to say it proved he hates white people). We liberals came to his defense, reminding everyone of the full context of the comment, which included how much he loved the grandmother who partly raised him. If we’re going to be intellectually honest and consistent, we must now come to the defense of semi-conservative Juan Williams who made an honest and ultimately instructive comment about his views toward Muslims, when taken in full context.
Comedian Jackie Mason used to tell a joke about how he never got nervous if a bunch of Hasidim gathered behind him at an ATM machine (vs if a bunch of blacks did). The joke illustrates that we have a reason for our prejudices. It is incumbent upon us to reach deep into our better selves and overcome those prejudices. That was all Juan Williams was saying.
It’s an honest shame that Schiller and her cronies are so afraid of a fatwa being declared against them that they would not only trample on the First Amendment but do so to the detriment of a valuable discussion that we need to have in this country right now.