Friday, October 22, 2010

Juan Williams; No Mulligan Given For His Words

"Thinking aloud is the source of most of the world's problems". Benjamin Franklin to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in the HBO series John Adams

Most of the world has heard the statement former NPR commentator and FOX News contributor Juan Williams made on The O'Reilly Factor this past Wednesday.....but if you didn't, here's what was said;

"When I get on a 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."

This was in response to O'Reilly's appearance on The View in which Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walked out after being offended to O'Reilly's comments about Muslims and terrorism.

And in the aftermath of those words, Williams was fired by NPR CEO Vivian Schiller- who later made a wisecrack (since apologized for) about Williams' sharing private thoughts with a publicist or psychiatrist, and stood her ground on Williams' firing.

Then the Right chimed in....O'Reilly, Palin, Gingrich, Huckabee, Cantor, Boehner, some of whom called NPR a left wing organization that should have it's whooping 2% of it's federal funding pulled for silencing Juan Williams. In a word, this was more out of control political correctness. And the Left, through voices such Eugene Robinson and EJ Dionne, defended Williams and spoke out against his firing as an overreaction, and felt that Williams should have been allowed to explain himself publicly.

Now, anyone who follows this blog knows, I am a slightly left of center Democrat, a liberal, a progressive if you will. But what was "liberal" (ie, "tolerant") in the way Williams was fired....for remembering an honest reaction he had, but not having the good judgment to keep those thoughts- which could be misinterpreted- to himself?

Let's bottomline this.

Is there anyone reading this who has never had a reaction to being in a situation where there are people who look different from you, or who speak another language, or are of another ethnic or religious background, and you don't feel entirely comfortable in their company, either consciously or unconsciously? It's usually something totally irrational, a fear of someone or something perceived as strange or unknown. And once rationality kicks in, openness will follow.

Progressives may not like Juan Williams for his appearances on Fox News, where he has signed a multi-million dollar a year contract post firing from NPR, and has now become the Righties on Fox latest cause celibre. Juan Williams is now Exhibit A for the Right in it's cultural war against "the intolerance of the Left". They may have a point in this case.....but for conservatives to wag fingers in the faces of progressives, well not so fast, ladies and gents.

Just this past week Meghan McCain took heat from Republicans and Tea Partiers for her criticism of Republican candidate for the US Senate from Delaware Christine O'Donnell for being unqualified for the job. And has any current Republican office holder ever shown the guts to call out Limbaugh or Beck when they make outrageous and divisive comments about those they see being threats (read "Democrats, liberals, progressives, et al")?

Yes, the Left does have a form of orthodoxy, and sometimes it does manifest itself in situations like the Williams/NPR affair....and it isn't right.

But the opposite side of the aisle is loaded with people who adhere to a written script and agenda.....and their 11th Commandment is "Thou Shalt Not Diss A Fellow Republican, No Matter How Crazy, Stupid, Or Unqualified For Office They May Be".

There's enough hypocrisy on both sides to go around.

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