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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juan Williams Fired For Acknowledging Negative Stereotypes

Why does Juan Williams negatively stereotype oppressed minorities?  Here's what he said about crime in the inner city:
There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.... After all we have been through. Just to think we can't walk down our own streets, how humiliating.
Oh, I'm sorry, that was Jesse Jackson.

NPR just fired Juan Williams for making a similar statement about Muslims on airplanes.  Williams, a frequent commentator on FoxNews who is ruthlessly fair [added: in criticizing left and right], has been a target of groups such as Media Matters, which is receiving a $1 million donation from George Soros to go to war against FoxNews.

Williams had the temerity -- just like Jackson on the issue of inner city crime -- to acknowledge that stereotypes affect how he views the issue of terrorism and people dressed in "Muslim garb," but he also acknowledged that such stereotypes were not fair:

Not suprisingly, the mainstream media is coming to NPR's defense.  The Washington Post, in a supposed news story, calls Williams' remarks "anti-Muslim," linking to an edited video posted by Think Progress (which also is at war with FoxNews) which cut off Williams' comments, to delete where Williams pointed out "it's not a war against Muslims."

The hypocrisy of NPR is enormous, but more important, counterproductive.  Unlike Helen Thomas' comments about Jews in Israel, Williams did not tell Muslims to get out of the U.S.  Williams did the exact opposite of Thomas; Williams acknowledged the reality of negative stereotypes -- which we all have to varying degrees -- as a means of informing his own view.

A more mature NPR would use this as a discussion point, not a firing offense.  But then again, NPR is not mature, it is a highly politicized organization with an agenda, masquerading as a neutral voice for the public. 

Many of those defending NPR's decision note that Williams was not sufficiently progressive for NPR, and had it coming to him:
In my view, Williams has lacked credibility for years. He's a conservative who pretends to be progressive on some issues. NPR has known this and struggled with it for a long time, yet they kept him on, demoting him from journalist to "analyst" (i.e. pundit.) Good for NPR for finally getting rid of him. Better late than never.
This firing was about politics, and taking down a prominent black FoxNews commentator who did not fit the progressive model:
What Juan Williams did is very similar to why the Left hates Sarah Palin, other conservative women and conservative homosexuals. He played against the progressive stereotype of himself, revealing a balanced and too candid humanity within. For a moment, in essence, he became too real...
Well, 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. Juan Williams didn't drop his mask and reveal any Islamophobia last night on Fox. What he did was rip the mask off the tactics NPR and other progressives, including the liberal media, use to lecture America and prevent an honest discussion of the threat from Islam.
Just more proof that NPR will not be the dominant force in news by 2020.

Update:  Here is how Glenn Greenwald -- who uses the slur "Israel Firsters" to attack American Jews who strongly support Israel -- frames the issue:
On Tuesday night, Williams went on O'Reilly's program to perform his standard, long-time function on Fox -- offering himself up as the supposed "liberal" defending Fox News commentators (and other right-wing extremists) from charges of bigotry and otherwise giving cover to incendiary right-wing attacks...
That's right.  Media Matters, Think Progress, and Glenn Greenwald were just waiting for the excuse to take down Williams, and they found it by using out-of-context statements to label Williams a bigot.

I think Bernie Goldberg has it right:
"So Juan Williams is fired for saying something the liberals at NPR find controversial?" Goldberg said. "One more piece of evidence that liberals have forgotten how to be liberal."

Goldberg continued: "These are the kind of people who brag about how open-minded they are -- as long as you agree with them. And here's the dirty little secret: lots and lots of liberals feel the same way Juan does when they get on an airplane. And a lot of those liberals work at NPR. Juan's 'crime' was saying it out loud."
Also, via Doug Mataconis, Morning Joe points out the full context of Williams' comments, which as described by Mataconis, were far from bigoted:
To call Williams’ remarks an example of bigotry, as some lefty blogs have done, strikes me as simply absurd once you watch the whole segment. In fact, it seems to me that Williams was making, in a different context, pretty much the same point that Shirley Sherrod was about how we all need to get beyond our irrational prejudices.

Via HotAir, The Right Scoop has the full six minute segment, with this analysis by Ed Morrissey:
With the exception of the very beginning, when Williams made the statement that so offended NPR, Williams and Mary Katharine [Ham] 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 ...
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  1. De fund NPR Feb 2011- cut them off and let them choke in the marketplace like Air America.

    And NPR was right when they saw the TEA Party as a mortal threat... we are. And Congress will be hounded relentlessly until we're not longer paying for this little Psy-Op ministry

  2. In other words...Williams tried to provide a "teachable moment", tried to open up a "dialog" on stereotypes by recognizing and admitting his own shortcomings with regard to same...and the left struck him down for it.

    The left has no interest in coexistence, no interest in a live-and-let-live philosophy, and no tolerance for anyone who steps outside their orthodoxy.

    Even at the local level...among family, friends, and co-workers, there is nothing to be gained by discussing anything other than the weather (general observations only...don't mention 'climate') and sports.

  3. "In my view, Williams has lacked credibility for years. He's a conservative who pretends to be progressive on some issues. NPR has known this and struggled with it for a long time, yet they kept him on, demoting him from journalist to "analyst" (i.e. pundit.) Good for NPR for finally getting rid of him. Better late than never."

    This comment seems to validate the view that NPR was intentionally targeting Juan Williams, looking for an excuse to fire him. Is this viewpoint discrimination, or just plain bigoted racist prejudice?

    I am not a fan of Juan Williams, and rarely if ever agree with him. However, I will defend his right to speak his opinion as an opinion commentator/journalist and "pundit" as his first amendment right (both his freedom of speech and the freedom of the press to express a viewpoint) for as long as this country is free.

    NPR is a disgrace. They, along with PBS, need to be defunded and eliminated from our government coffers altogether. Why does the government need a public-funded propaganda machine, which is all PBS and NPR are? Hmmmm?

  4. At the same time we are drowning in debt and looking at potentially a decade of reduced real income and revenue we are paying the salaries of these kinds of fools at NPR and PBS.

    Remember in November and ALWAYS!

  5. And it will be NPR's prerogative to hire/fire anyone ELSE they want to, after the new Congress totally de-funds them.

  6. What’s amazing here is the blatant irony of the Left screaming about freedom of the press, freedom of speech, racism, the evils of the rich, and Fox News and then in one fell swoop they fire a black member of the media for speaking his mind on a news organization that is now being bought out by a billionaire Leftist.
    When the Right wins the House, time for us to demand they defund NPR from the taxpayer.

  7. I'm with Reaganite Republican; de-fund NPR. There is no legitimate reason that all taxpayers should have to fund this Democratic organization.

  8. Can't help but notice the parallel's between this and what happened to Sherod. Will the press all turn around tomorrow apologize and criticize WAPO for taking his quotes out of context? I'm not holding my breath.

  9. I can't feel too bad for Juan. He is a true liberal making good bucks as a FOX contributor.
    I recall when G.W Bush was elected how Juan for a protracted period of time would not call him President Bush, but always Mr. Bush or just simply the President. This was his protest against
    the stealing of the election from Al Gore.

  10. NPR and PBS have both become shams, as far as I'm concerned:


  11. On what grounds can a man be fired for expressing a fear he has? His fear may not be rational, but so what. Many of our fears are not rational.

    This was a politically motivated firing. Stories circulated months ago that NPR was pressuring both Juan and Mara Liasson to leave Fox. They both stood their ground. Now NPR has found a horribly weak excuse to fire Juan.

    Better suppress your speech Lara. You could be next.

  12. How many left wing pundits will attack Juan Williams today, and in days following, for the simple reason of fear if they don't?

    This is like an honor killing object lesson to any liberal who gets a paycheck from FOX News or associates with other liberals who do.

  13. I rarely agree with Williams, but am incensed at NPR firing him. The bright side is that maybe Williams will recognize the truth about liberals and their openess to diverse opinions.

  14. Professor, just a quick comment on your Hot Air quote - "But, hey, that’s NPR’s prerogative. After all"

    When I read that I was fuming - how could Hot Air (Ed Morrissey) say that "that's NPR's prerogative. After all"?!

    Ready to hit Hot Air with my comment, I went to the link. Then, when I went to the post, I saw the statement was clearly sarcasm - here's the rest of the quote:
    "...After all, it’s not as if they’re government sponsored in any way. Oh, wait …" (emphasis mine - that's what was missing).

    Please, let us not lose our "context" here. ;)

  15. @DINORightMarie - I had meant to include that language (now added) -- don't fire me for taking HotAir out of context!

  16. Kristol described a neoconservative as a "liberal mugged by reality." I suspect Mr. Williams is experiencing some post-mugging cognitive dissonance.

    Williams' liberal views get a fair hearing by the Right every night on Fox. But when Williams takes one step off the PC path, the Left fires him. Mr.

    Williams' real crime is appearing on Fox News. His presence on Fox disproves the liberal canard that conservatives are intolerant of diverse views. Among other diagnoses, modern "Liberals" suffer from a serious irony deficiency.

  17. "I think Bernie Goldberg has it right"

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! Oh, that's good. Thanks!

  18. Bernie hit the nail on the head with this comment:

    "These are the kind of people who brag about how open-minded they are -- as long as you agree with them."

    Exactly. If you don't agree with folks like that, you either become a target of an angry personal denunciation, or (if they fear you) you are shunned.

    There is rarely any curiosity expressed about why you look at things differently, or any form of engagement. Just quick rejection.

    Over time, it has been revealed as the all-to-frequent hypocrisy of the left -- the new intolerance practiced by the heirs of those who in the 1960s claimed to champion tolerance and open-mindedness.

    Ofer time, the left began to recognize that the idea that EVERYTHING must be tolerated, was mindless nonsense. So, that "pure tolerance" gradually became a doctrine of enforced open-mindedness and tolerance . . . or else!"

    When it is a public or semi-public figure who today's progressives disagree with, they just whip out the Big Book of Name-Calling!, flip angrily to page one, and begin mindlessly chanting . . . sometimes (as you noted above) in a sort of blood-lust unison. MediaMatters to ThinkProgress to Greenwald . . . they thought they executed a triple play!

    They are not just disagreeing; they are out to destroy some person's reputation. As in the old joke, today it became Juan Williams "turn in the barrel."

    So it seems to me that the more flawed modern day liberalism has been revealed to be over the years, the more intolerant it's adherents have morphed into that which they previously claimed to eschew.

    Particularly since the 1960s, as considerable evidence has accumulated that many big government programs to eliminate this-or-that social ill, have rather consistently come up short, the more angrily insistent their proponents defend them and retrench, rather than engage and reform.

    When a doggedly resistent palace guard protecting the housing havens of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac contributed mightily to the 2008 market crash, enough people noticed the disturbing connections over time that it helped to help spawn a gradual reaction that, with ObamaCare, has become a movement. People want their country back.

    To the intolerant left, those became the enemy.

    And out came "Big Book" and the poisonous slurs.

    As for Juan Williams, well his "sin" was the worst of all . . . consorting with the enemy! How dare he go on The Factor and converse with that man!

  19. Uhhh . . . Norwegian Shooter . . . the Professor was talking about Bernie Goldberg, not Johah Goldberg, who you apparently believe you have firmly in your sights.

    Bernie . . . Jonah . . . two different people.


    Here's a little suggestion for you.

  20. Thank you, professor. Truly, I'm laughing out loud. :D

  21. Trochilus, thanks for reading my blog, but I know the difference between Bernie and Jonah ... and Jeffrey and Whoopi and just plain Goldberg, too. But thanks again for reading. By the way, saying someone is half wrong isn't having them firmly in your sights. My laughter was side-splitting because I don't think Bernie is ever right. Care to find me another example?

  22. This is just another nail in the progressive coffin! I have not always agreed with Mr. Williams, but in all fairness he seems to be the most sane out of the whole NPR bunch, what a shame. NPR USED to be a voice for all the people, but leaning more to the right than the left I have not listened to any broadcasts in years....

  23. The real hypocrisy of political correctness, especially in this case, is that major media organizations have a policy, at least de facto, that they won't offend Muslim sensibilities.

    But the Mohammed cartoons and the South Park episode showed that a major reason if not the primary reason was that they were afraid for the safety of their employees.

    These policies are, if not written down, acted upon and generally well understood. So most media corporations have policy that is based on "Islamophobia." They aren't being politically correct out of courtesy, it's because they think precisely what Williams said, only worse.

  24. Norwegian Shooter . . . as you may well be aware, "never" envisions a long term run.

    But why not stick to the extended comment that Bernie Goldberg made, much of which was conveniently laid out here by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air?

    Rather than just treating us to your somewhat juvenile version of the LOL canard, why not explain to us exactly why Bernie Goldberg is wrong?

    If, as you say, he is always why wrong, that should be easy-as-pie for you!

    On the other hand, I think what Bernie said made a lot of sense. In some respects, what he said is thematically consistent with many other thoughtful comments posted here. And there is no doubt that the rat-a-tat-tat laughing jag on your part has proved nothing to the contrary.

    You were amusing you.

    Bernie notes that, over the years, American liberalism has in many ways abandoned its legitimate past struggles over principle, in favor of a downright corrupting of our public dialogue. Instead of defending "free speech" and engaging in public debate as they used to, they now prefer to poison the dialogue and end any discussion.

    To me, this is especially so given the oft- repeated and false race card charges that have been frequently and repeatedly directed at tea party protesters.

    And there is certainly no better single example of that than the false and vicious race-baiting claims made by Congressman Andre Carson, Indiana Democrat, a member of the Congressional Black caucus, about tea party protesters at the time of the vote on ObamaCare. Those phony claims of his were an obvious attempt to illegitimately poison the public debate over forced healthcare.