Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Juan Williams getting the boot from National Public Radio for remarks he made on the Bill O’Reilly show. Just to refresh everyone’s memory, the statement that compelled NPR to shoot itself in the foot by firing Williams was the following:
Well, actually, I hate to say this to you because I don’t want to get your ego going. But I think you’re right. I think, look, political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don’t address reality.
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.
It seems excessive to me. He didn’t say “As an analyst for a large liberal radio broadcaster that accepts taxpayer money, I think those darn muslims should be strip searched and singled out for that “extra” scrutiny that we usually reserve for caucasian grandmothers and small children…you know, the kind that involves rubber gloves and lube, just because they are dressed like muslims and praying before boarding the aircraft, just like the 9/11 hijackers.”
No, for once Mr. Williams actually said something that had the unmistakable ring of truth and sense to it, and that was apparently a bridge too far for an organization that had just been the recipient of one million dollars from Dr. Evil himself, George “Shut Down FOX News” Soros.
This had nearly every talk radio host I heard today thrilled, each host gushing more than the last about how they were a friend of Juan, and how NPR would rue the day it deigned to fire Mr. Williams. As I drove home, I heard that his role on FOX would be expanding as a result, which excited the host to no end.
My question for all of them is “What the Hell is wrong with you people???”
I have never been a fan of Juan Williams, even when I was young and dumb and listened to NPR religiously because I thought it was both neutral and smart.
I should probably disclose that during that time, Juan Williams had a short-lived show on NPR. I remember this because I used to be a Tom Clancy fan (back when Clancy still wrote his own books) and I heard the promo for an upcoming episode where Mr. Williams was going to interview Tom Clancy. I rearranged my lunch break that day so I could hear the show.
The appointed hour arrived, and I tuned in, munching my sandwich while sitting in my car. What I did not know is that while I was a fan of Tom Clancy, Mr. Williams was not. I know this because by the third question, it was painfully apparent to anyone listening that Mr. Williams did not only not read the novel that Clancy was promoting (I think it was Debt of Honor, but its been over ten years, so give me a break), but hadn’t ever read anything that Clancy had written. What saved the interview from being a crashing bore was the fact that it was apparent to Clancy, too, and he didn’t just sit back and take it. Again, after all this time, I’m paraphrasing, but what I recall was Clancy asking him point-blank if he’d even read the book. The tone was somewhat impatient, which I understood, as Mr. Williams’ questions were insipid. Williams’ with all the defensive guilt of a teenager caught sneaking in after curfew, brusquely made a remark about how busy he was, and how he hadn’t had the time to read more than a few pages. Clancy wasn’t having any of that, noting that the questions he’d asked indicated that he’d never read anything Clancy had written, and so he somewhat sarcastically asked how it was Williams could help his listeners to understand anything about the book or the character if he hadn’t done his show prep. He also threw in a bit about Williams’ lack of professionalism. Williams remained defensive and defiant, and Clancy walked out.
Again, if I got some of that wrong, I do beg forgiveness. This was broadcast around 1996-1997, so exact words faded from my mind some time ago, but the general gist has always remained. Lest you think that this a hatchet job by a conservative, let me repeat something in case you missed it: At that time I was young and dumb; that is to say, I identified as a liberal, and Clancy’s impressions were the same as mine; the only difference being that he could actually say so to Williams’ face.
Shortly thereafter, Williams’ show was cancelled, but he remained as a commentator long after I left NPR behind. I never did lose the impression of Williams. Some people I know might say that the interview with Clancy was an example of how the left does things. Fail to do your homework, yet pretend to know what you’re talking about, and when you get caught, be defensive and try to redirect. I know I have never really lost that impression of Williams, and with good reason.
I’m not a big FOX watcher. I will occasionally watch Hannity for the Great Great Great American Panel. When he gets the right mix, it sometimes reminds me of Politically Incorrect when it was on cable. Entertaining and sometimes thought provoking. Williams is a regular guest. He’s never dazzled me with his keen intellect, as more often than not, I find much of what he says to be what I would expect any left-leaning pundit to say. In other words, it could be anyone from the New York Times, any other alphabet network, the KOStards, the Dummie Underground, or the DNC. Sometimes he employs the other tactic, the “Yes, but…” so as to not completely surrender his integrity like a certain rotund and grinning-like-an-idiot Press Secretary who ignores things that that the lifelong blind can see, which is the one thing that sets him apart from the Left’s other talking heads, but frankly, it still isn’t enough for me. He may bring the Left’s perspective, but there is nothing fresh in the way that he does it, and he doesn’t entice me to reconsider my own views when he dutifully repeats what I can hear from any other lefty. Case in point:
Admit what cannot be denied. Obfuscate what can. Redirect to Leftist boogeyman. Repeat.
I admit to savoring this moment. How awful it must have been for the True Believers in the MulticultiPoliticallyCorrectIdentityPolitics Crowd at NPR to have to make such a decision. Fire one of the only two black on-air personalities they have and run the risk of offending black Americans and the large crowd of non-blacks who are often offended on their behalf, or keep him, and run the risk that his “offense’ to members of the Religion of Pieces is imputed to them. Trapped between two different groups of the perpetually offended when you want nothing but to champion them both. What to do? But in the end, their fear of the perpetually offended who cut people’s heads off (and Soros cash) won out. Either way, it was a popcorn-worthy moment for conservatives, as the left ate one of their own for parting from the Official Dogma™ in a public forum.
But I still remain suspicious. By making his very public termination a cause celebre’ for Conservative talking heads, NPR draws renewed attention to itself in a time when the public is restless over government spending. Public broadcasting has never been a favorite of the right, representing as it does, a government expenditure that does not obviously fit into the enumerated powers of Congress that so many pissed off voters are rediscovering. In some quarters, the growling about cutting off the taxpayer funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has already started, and given the public’s mood, is likely to be an agenda item for several of the new members of Congress who will be elected in November. It seems to be the NPR would be a sucker to keep relying on that Soros cash to continue to make up what they have to lose by being cut off from the taxpayers. Especially after they either succeed or fail in the objectives that their new master has set forth for them, and they are no longer useful to him.
And for Williams himself, this may end up being a payday, as FOX will “expand his role”, whatever that means. I’m not sure I like the idea of more Juan. In twenty years, he’s never impressed me and never left me with a “Things that make you go ”Hmmmm”" moment. Sure he represents a different view, but why move into “the belly of the beast” if your intention is not to bring the other side around to your way of seeing things? And if that is his intention, can we expect a change in his style? I suppose we’ll all find out, but as conservatives tire of pointing out how this firing demonstrates exactly the kind of tolerance that can be expected of a viewpoint that makes much more out of preaching it than delivering it, and the left gets tired of pretending they have no idea what conservatives are talking about when they point this out, what then?