NPR fires Juan Williams over comments about Muslims flying

posted at 8:45 am on October 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Juan Williams warned that political correctness leads to a paralysis that keeps people from addressing reality — and then ended up a victim of just that kind of political correctness in the very next breath.  NPR terminated his contract, even though just moments later Williams and Mary Katharine Ham speak about how important it is for commentators to distinguish between moderate and extremist Muslims.  Too late, because Williams made the unpardonable sin of admitting that people boarding flights in “Muslim garb” makes him nervous:

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.”

Mr. Williams also made reference to the Pakistani immigrant who pleaded guilty this month to trying to plant a car bomb in Times Square. “He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts,” Mr. Williams said.

NPR said in its statement that the remarks “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”

Does watching an entire segment and hearing remarks in context also conflict with NPR’s editorial standards and practices?  The Right Scoop has the entire six-minute-plus segment, and do what NPR failed to do — watch the whole thing:

With the exception of the very beginning, when Williams made the statement that so offended NPR, Williams and Mary Katharine took a position mainly opposite of Bill O’Reilly, with both stating that the distinction between extremist Muslims and the rest was an important one to make, Mary Katharine more for strategic purposes, and Williams on journalistic grounds.

But then again, Williams was arguing for tolerance, and that apparently violates NPR’s “editorial standards and practices.”  Clearly, NPR only wants opinion journalists that agree with the opinions of NPR, and I mean totally agree.  An NPR opinion journalist had better not admit to having a normal human reaction about potential for terrorism nine years after 3,000 Americans got killed by radical Muslims on commercial air flights, or else. The rest of NPR’s cast just got an object lesson about the range of opinion tolerated by management.

But, hey, that’s NPR’s prerogative.  After all, it’s not as if they’re government sponsored in any way.  Oh, wait …

Michelle Malkin:

As I’ve said many times before: Political correctness is the handmaiden of terror.

Condolences to Juan Williams, whom I’ve debated –vigorously, but always with respect and cordiality — many times over the years.

Hope this accelerates his journey on the ideological learning curve. And I hope he doesn’t back down. …

Worth noting: NPR affiliate employee Sarah Spitz at public radio station KCRW wishes death on Rush Limbaugh…not a firing offense.

Andrew Malcolm reminds us that one of the few bipartisan areas of consensus is that political correctness has run amuck:

A majority of Americans, who are globally famous for candidly saying what they think, now say they believe that their country has become too politically correct.

new Rasmussen Reports survey finds that nearly six in 10 respondents (57%) say they think we’ve gotten too hung up on too many sensibilities. Can we even talk about this with the other 43%? …

But here’s an interesting result from the Rasmussen research: Nearly three out of four Americans say they think that political correctness is a problem.

So, wait a minute: More people think PC is a problem than think there’s too much of it. So, how then is it a problem?

Of course, we respect the right of some people to hold nonsensical views like that. Such thoughtful minorities are an important part of the diverse American identity.

Rasmussen also finds that 13% say they disagree with the 74% and think PC is not a problem. And another 13% are wishy-washy can’t-decides who should probably move to Canada.

The problem is that the first 13% would tell the 74% to either shut up about it, or get branded as bigots or haters for wanting to discuss it.  And that 13% either work for or listen to NPR, apparently.

Why not just have Juan Williams debate the issue on NPR?  Get him on a panel with other NPR opinion journalists and either have him defend himself or best him with actual argument?  It’s not like Williams just got hired by NPR, after all; he’s been there for eleven years.  Rather than explore the topic, NPR decided to can him instead in order to maintain their “editorial standards and practices,” but more to the point, their editorial and ideological purity.  That’s exactly what Williams meant when he warned about political correctness, and unwittingly turned himself into an object lesson in it.


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