By now everybody — at least on this side of the Atlantic — has heard what happened to Juan Williams today. He’s a victim of what you might call the New Improved Canadian Free Speech Guidelines, which have recently been imported into the USA. I expect that we will be hearing more and more stories like this. As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, just because police in the USA rarely arrest people for speaking out doesn’t mean that Americans actually enjoy freedom of speech.
I’ve been following the career of Juan Williams on and off for more than twenty years, usually in The Washington Post. His op-eds have never interested me very much, but I’ve read enough of his topic sentences to know he’s reliably liberal on virtually any issue. If you wear a progressive wristwatch, you can set it by Juan Williams.
Like Molly Norris, however, Mr. Williams discovered that being a liberal — and a person of color, no less! — is no guarantee of immunity when you utter the sort of incautious words that make Muslim grievance-mongers decide to ruin your life. Here’s a dramatic clip from Fox News featuring CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper arguing with Megyn Kelly about the the firing of Juan Williams by NPR (if you’re running IE and the video doesn’t work, click “read more” below and then try again):
Notice that Mr. Hooper takes for granted the same thing that every other non-pithed American takes for granted: NPR is a reliably liberal outfit. He even thinks it has the right to fire employees who deviate from the party line.
Which brings up the same question I’ve been asking for at least thirty years: Why is the taxpayer funding of Corporation for Public Broadcasting still considered constitutional?
Below are a couple of news stories about the day’s events. First, from Yahoo:
NPR terminated the contract of Juan Williams on Wednesday after comments the veteran journalist and news analyst made about Muslims on Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly stirred up controversy last week on “The View” after making the blanket statement that “Muslims killed us on 9/11,” a comment that led to co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walking off the set.
On Monday, O’Reilly asked Williams if there is a “Muslim dilemma” in the United States. The NPR analyst and longtime Fox News contributor agreed with O’Reilly that such a thing exists, and added that “political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality.”
“I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot,” Williams continued. “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.”
Some commentators and a leading Muslim civil rights organization took issue with Williams’ comments.
The Council for American-Islamic Relations sent out a press release Wednesday afternoon calling on NPR to address the matter. Nihad Awad, the organization’s national executive director, called the comments “irresponsible and inflammatory” and said they “should not pass without action by NPR.”
They certainly didn’t. NPR took action Wednesday night and put out a statement regarding the severing of Williams’ contract: “His remarks on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”
From Hollywood Reporter:
Fired NPR Analyst Stands by Muslim Statements
“It’s an honest experience that when I’m in an airport and I see people who are in Muslim garb who identify themselves first and foremost as Muslims… I have a moment of anxiety or fear, given what happened on 9/11 — that’s just a reality,” he says. Juan Williams stands by his comments that he’s afraid of Muslims in an airport — even though he was fired as an NPR analyst Wednesday for expressing those thoughts. “It’s an honest experience that when I’m in an airport and I see people who are in Muslim garb who identify themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I do a double take. I have a moment of anxiety or fear, given what happened on 9/11–that’s just a reality,” Williams said Thursday on the Fox News Channel, where he also regularly appears as a talking head.
Williams said he was fired without talking to his bosses face-to-face, despite the fact that he’d been at the company for 10 years. Bill O’Reilly and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich have asked Congress to open an investigation into NPR and cut its federal funding as a result of Williams’ firing.
Hat tips: ESW, DF, and Kitman.