Celebrity journalist Juan Williams had a good week, on balance. First, he was fired by National Public Radio for remarks he made on Fox -- his other major employer -- about his fear of Muslims on airplanes.
That might seem at first a minus, but Williams was immediately rewarded by Fox with a new $2 million contract. Plus, he cemented his reputation among conservatives as one of those liberals who -- like Joe Lieberman -- can be relied upon to criticize liberals.
You could argue (as some liberals did)
that Williams' shouldn't have been fired for his comments, especially
since he said some less-offensive things later. Some rightbloggers did
make that argument. Some even denounced prejudice -- against
conservatives. Prejudice against Muslims, though, they didn't mind. In
fact, that was mainly what they liked about what Williams said.
Williams' fatal remarks were made on The O'Reilly Factor, in response to one of Bill O'Reilly's anti-Muslim rants:
...politicalLater in the show Williams supplied some context:
correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don't address
reality 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.
ButWe who have free souls, it touches
I think there are people who want to somehow remind us all as President
Bush did after 9/11, it's not a war against Islam. President Bush went
to a mosque... if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these
people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals,
very obnoxious, you don't say first and foremost, we got a problem with
Christians. That's crazy.
us not, but NPR canned Williams, and suddenly he was the recipient of
what's known in the business as a Strange New Respect from rightbloggers -- but not for the comments in the second box.
Rightblogger Instapundit, who had only previously noticed Williams a few times, has at this writing 12 posts about his firing. One of Instapundit's themes was that NPR was "racist" to fire the African-American Williams. (This is a joke based on the ancient conservative trope that liberals are the real racists.)
For some it wasn't a joke. "People will think I'm kidding by saying Juan Williams was fired because he's a black man," said Dan Riehl,
"but I'm not." He explained: "If Juan Williams is impacted by the
behavior of Muslims, then progressives -- and NPR is that -- can't
lecture white America that their concerns are based on hate, religious
intolerance, bigotry or xenophobia."
So if a black person admits prejudice, apparently, that lets white
people off the hook. (Riehl himself enjoys telling his readers about black people he considers racist, but we guess this schtick only works with liberals.)
-- said, "Indeed, it's a little hard to categorize Williams as a
'bigot,' i.e., someone who would take the side of whites in a racial
dispute. He may have thought -- like Rick Sanchez -- that his own race
gave him a longer leash to be honest about things." (This, from a guy
prone to complain about "the abuse of whites in the mainstream media.")
Some boldly defended Williams on the grounds of the First Amendment,
which guarantees reporters a right to jobs with the employer of their
choice, or at least it does in their version of it.
"Screw Free Speech," projected Big Journalism
onto NPR. The firing was "nothing more than the latest chapter in
liberals' recent and sordid history of thought-policing," said Michael Schwarz of the Ashbrook Center.
And it goes all the way to the top! "But what happens when paranoia grips those in power?"
asked Schwarz. "What really matters here is that the Obama
administration's petulant 2009 crusade against FOX News, complete with
the equally petulant narrative that spawned that crusade, retains its
relevance among the paranoid left." Thus, liberals "convince themselves
that their opponents act from feelings of paranoia rather than
legitimate opposition born of serious reflection, and when one among
them gets control of the government, it then becomes possible --
imperative, actually -- to de-legitimize the sources and the forces of
this so-called paranoid opposition." We have to admit: He makes a better
case against paranoia than he probably intended.
At Pajamas Media Richard Fernandez
said the firing indicated the return of "blasphemy" to the "secular
West," classed Williams a victim of it along with Larry Summers and
Ginny Thomas, and suggested that in this dangerous new age "next time
Anita Hill can call the FBI and get you arrested." Gasp! No wonder Ginny Thomas wanted an apology.
"Self-styled liberals," declared Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom, "no longer support actual
liberal policy." In fact, "'Liberalism' in this country, where it truly
exists, has migrated -- as I did -- to the right side of the political
aisle." Hmm, so they've got the liberals and the conservatives -- don't see what they're complaining about.
said Williams' firing proved that liberalism had died, and worried that
"his firing will make lots of other Americans think twice before they
say something the boss may not like." Even worse -- what if they instead
expect to immediately get a new job that pays $2 million? Think how
disappointed they'll be.
The perfidy and racism of liberals was just a fun sidelight for
rightbloggers, though -- the important message was that fear of Muslims
on planes is normal, even admirable.
about a crocodile that caused a plane crash, and suggested "a thought
experiment. We won't use the word 'Muslim.' Instead, let's use the word
'crocodile.' OK? So the question is, do you qualify as a lunatic if you
say, 'You know, it's certainly not completely rational, but when I see a
crocodile on the plane with me, it makes me jumpy and nervous...'" Yes,
he was comparing Muslims to animals, and by noticing we expect we're
the real racists.
had his own thought experiment: In view of the Catholic Church sex
scandal, he asked, "would it not be understandable that a person might
have a similar reaction to proposed unsupervised sleepover for middle
school boys at the parish rectory?" You can see how letting Muslims on a
plane is similar; perhaps they should have chaperones.
said liberals (specifically some book publishers) fear Islamic
terrorists' wrath if they offend their religious sensibilities -- why
can't conservatives be terrified by the guy in the skullcap in 13F? It's
said that, rather than doing Muslims a disservice, "Williams did
Muslims a favor. If a scholarly, black civil rights author experiences
fear at the sight of Muslims on a plane, it's a safe bet other Americans
feel the same way. That's something Muslims should know, if they want
to enjoy the best of the American dream."
But we bet the Muslims are ungrateful, which just makes them more
sinister. Take U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim, who sided with
his own murderous co-religionists against Williams. "This Muslim and
radical leftist does not believe in free speech," snarled Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit. "What a shock." "Ellison is an extremist," cried Atlas Shrugs, "and should be on the terrorist watch list." See, what'd we tell you?
So comfortable were rightbloggers with their fear of Muslims that they offered to share it with all their fellow citizens. As Andrew Klavan said at City Journal, "Everybody's nervous about Muslims on planes. Why? Because Muslims blow stuff up." QED!
declared that people who listen to NPR, "while driving their BMW," can
be noticed "discreetly making sure their doors are locked when they spy a
homeless man moving too close to their car." She did not say whose
BMW(s) she was riding in when she observed this.
In fairness, The Anchoress generously allowed similar fearfulness in
herself: "A few weeks ago, my husband and I were heading into
Manhattan," she reported, "and we noticed an unmarked truck driving
very, very slowly. I couldn't help wondering if there was something
suspicious in that." A truck moving slowly in Manhattan traffic! The
poor woman's nerves must be very fragile.
also stood with Williams because she had herself profiled Muslim men,
or someone who looked like them. In 2004 she pulled her family off a
flight from Paris because she'd noticed two men "about 25 or 26, of Arab
descent, beards, dressed in the modern Atta traveling fashion of jeans
and t-shirts." Jeans and t-shirts -- a dead giveaway! Also they didn't
have carry-on luggage and "one of the men was reading an Arabic
newspaper while the other seemed twitchy."
And that flight... landed safely in Washington. But Crittenden was proud
because she had acted "without fear that I might be branded racist."
Also, "The children were delighted at this turn of events. They had
never seen Paris." See? Why are people complaining?
"But we sure can't offend muslims can we?" said Erick Erickson
Oh, come on; like you didn't laugh.
of RedState. "The official state run media cannot have anyone
expressing anything that might reflect what actual Americans think
regarding Islamofascists because there is officially no such thing
according to the Obama Administration."
Erickson told us what he really thought: "The left has unyielding
sympathy for victim groups, whether or not they actually are real
victims," he claimed. "It is how the left can embrace tolerance for both
gays and muslims though many of the latter would gladly see all of the
former put the death." And they probably did the same thing back in 19th
Century New York, when they refused to intervene in the violence between Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans. Pick a side, libtards!
Also: "The world is at war with Christ and, more generally, the
Judeo-Christian God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Islam, derived from a
man of this world, and the world are in supernatural alliance against
Christ. This is the moment non-believers laugh and believers nod
knowingly." Wow -- how did he know?
of America's Right claimed Williams couldn't be racist, because he has
special diagnostic powers: "I also have no doubt in my mind," he said,
"that Juan Williams is able to discern between Muslims and radical
Muslims, and that any trepidations he has with regard to air travel has
more to do with a realistic look at history than a bigoted look at a
particular faith." We're not sure how history helps Williams spot
terrorists in a line-up, but if he's willing to share this power with
the Feds, that $2 million will look like chickenfeed.
Whether or not you think NPR did right, it is something to contemplate
that, at the end of the day, the guy who's making big money on Fox is
considered the victim, and millions of Muslim-Americans who have no
attention of blowing anything up are considered the real problem.