Falling Upward with Juan Williams

"All eyez on me!"

Ever have one of those days when it seemed like  you were having the worst days of your life and it turned out instead to be one of your best?

Juan Williams knows exactly what that feels like.

NPR commentator Juan Williams was fired by the network for remarks he made about Muslims on The O’Reilly Factor.

During the show, O’Reilly asked Williams to comment on the idea that the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” It followed a controversy over O’Reilly’s own appearance on the afternoon show, The View,’ where two hosts walked out after he said that “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”

His argument, which moderator Whoopi Goldberg declared to be “bull—-,” inspired both Goldberg and co-host Joy Behar to leave their own set.

On Monday, Williams said he concurred with O’Reilly about the threats faced by the United States.

He added, “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.”

He also said, amid a heated debate with O’Reilly, that people shouldn’t blame Muslims for “extremists,” same as Christians couldn’t be blamed for the Oklahoma City bombing. O’Reilly, for his part, said he refused to qualify everything he said about Muslims.

The full video is available here. It’s important to hear in context what Williams said before determining if he was being bigoted toward Muslims.  NPR apparently concluded he was.

Williams argued with O’Reilly he had painted Muslims with too broad a brush.   Of course, every Muslim is the enemy of America, but you don’t watch O’Reilly’s dog and pony show for reasoned and enlightened debate.   You watch it for the same reason you watch Arnold Schwarzenegger movies: stuff gets blown up real good.

NPR overreacted to Williams’ remarks. I’m no fan of the guy, but  truth be told, many Americans would be unnerved if they were sitting on a plane while several gentlemen in traditional Muslim garb started chatting in an animated style in Farsi.

However, Williams was correct by pointing out it is the fringe element of radicals who are giving all Muslims a bad name.

NPR firing Williams for what he said made him a sacrifice on the altar of liberal political correctness. The right-wing blogosphere, radio and Fox News are going to be short-stroking on this one. And probably with some justification.

This is probably a case of NPR looking for any excuse to can Williams as his political leanings don’t mesh up well with their own.

NPR had already requested Williams not be identified during his frequent appearances as a talking head on Fox as a “NPR commentator.” Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you the last time I even heard Williams on NPR.

Williams is supposed to be the “liberal” counterpart on The O’Reilly Factor, but he’s more likely to say , “You’re absolutely right, Bill” than he is “You’re absolutely full of shit.” Williams, like Alan Colmes, represents the kind of Left-wing voice Fox prefers: weak, timid liberals paired off against strong, fierce conservatives. It’s a mismatch from the get-go.

NPR president Vivian Schiller issued a statement explaining the firing, “In appearing on TV or other media . . . NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows . . . that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.”

More fundamentally, “In appearing on TV or other media including electronic Web-based forums, NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist.”

Unfortunately, Juan’s comments on Fox violated our standards as well as our values and offended many in doing so.

Can you spot the liberal in this picture? Hah! Fooled ya! There IS no liberal in this picture.

Nice attempt at butt-covering NPR, but you’re  still the one who  looks like intolerant liberal losers  for canning Williams because you didn’t dig  his remarks. Like it or not, there is a lot of suspicion directed at Muslims and while it is often unjustified, it’s difficult to go down the list of recent terrorist attacks and attempts and not find a link to Islamic extremism.

I’m not concerned about Juan’s future job prospects in the slightest.  Fox News Roger Ailes offered Williams a job, a column on the web page and a $2 million pay raise.  All these years of cultivating a nice rapprochement with the right-wing of the news media has finally paid off for Juan. Good for him.  All these years of kissing conservative ass has finally paid off nicely.  Maybe Fox will give him a show and finally put an African-American journalist in a high-profile position.

But I’ve known for a while that Juan Williams was a little soft when it came to his so-called “liberalism.”  Just because you pick up a paycheck from NPR doesn’t mean you’re driving a Prius and voting Democratic.   If Williams is supposed to represent the liberal perspective it’s only what passes for liberalism on Fox.  Williams is an assimilated, accommodating, mainstream colored guy and that’s why he landed at Fox.

If Williams is a liberal I’m a Republican and I’m not.

The word has been out on Williams for a while.  Author Jill Nelson dropped the 411 on how shaky Williams was when they were both working for the Washington Post.

Williams is the perfect Negro, at least in the eyes of white folks, because most of the time he writes–and apparently believes–what Caucasians think black folks should feel and think, which is as they do…Williams is a black Republican type, a neoconservative opportunist à la Clarence Thomas.  He is also of Panamanian parentage, which explains some of where he’s coming from.  He typifies the worst stereotype of people of African descent who come to America inadvertently or willfully ignorant of the history of black folks born here.

Denying the role of race, they mouth the prejudices of white immigrants in blackface.  Forget racism, history, the brutalization of the African-American psyche from the middle passage on down, they holler America is a nation of immigrants, and we are just like the Irish, Polish, Japanese, and Jews who have come here.  They conveniently forget that African-Americans, unlike them, unlike any other immigrants, did not come here voluntarily; we are, all of us, the children of slaves.

In short I assumed he was a brother.

~ Jill Nelson on meeting Juan Williams, Volunteer Slavery,  page 90-91 (1993)

Now Williams can be the token in-house “liberal” for Fox News on a full-time basis.   NPR gets ripped a new one for looking like narrow-minded and biased while  Bill O’ Reilly can chortle how he exposed them as politically correct  far-Left loons.

All n’ all, it’s not a bad day to be a conservative or Juan Williams.  Or am I being redundant?  But at least he found some job security.  Nobody ever gets fired from Fox News for saying something outlandish.

One thought on “Falling Upward with Juan Williams

  1. I agree that at first glance it appears to be Liberal over reaction but then there is the issue of journalistic standards which so many of us have to seem to forgotten because of the current lack of journalistic standards across all the airwaves. The idea that journalists are supposed to be “neutral” may seem like a quaint idea but is one that explains why Walter Cronkite was once considered to be the most trusted man in America. Fox has been documented as using many tactics that show its lack of bias – purposely editing to show Democratic leaders in a bad light, whipping up crowds at news events before filming the segment, donations to Republican causes etc.

    Perhaps there is more to this story than political correctness and knee jerk over reaction?


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