Celebrity journalist Juan Williams had a good week, on balance. First, he was fired by National Public Radio for remarks he made on Fox — his other major employer — about his fear of Muslims on airplanes.
That might seem at first a minus, but Williams was immediately rewarded by Fox with a new $2 million contract. Plus, he cemented his reputation among conservatives as one of those liberals who — like Joe Lieberman — can be relied upon to criticize liberals.
You could argue (as some liberals did) that Williams’ shouldn’t have been fired for his comments, especially since he said some less-offensive things later. Some rightbloggers did make that argument. Some even denounced prejudice — against conservatives. Prejudice against Muslims, though, they didn’t mind. In fact, that was mainly what they liked about what Williams said.
Williams’ fatal remarks were made on The O’Reilly Factor, in response to one of Bill O’Reilly’s anti-Muslim rants:
…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.
Later in the show Williams supplied some context:
But I think there are people who want to somehow remind us all as President Bush did after 9/11, it’s not a war against Islam. President Bush went to a mosque… if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals, very obnoxious, you don’t say first and foremost, we got a problem with Christians. That’s crazy.
We who have free souls, it touches us not, but NPR canned Williams, and suddenly he was the recipient of what’s known in the business as a Strange New Respect from rightbloggers — but not for the comments in the second box.
Rightblogger Instapundit, who had only previously noticed Williams a few times, has at this writing 12 posts about his firing. One of Instapundit’s themes was that NPR was “racist” to fire the African-American Williams. (This is a joke based on the ancient conservative trope that liberals are the real racists.)
For some it wasn’t a joke. “People will think I’m kidding by saying Juan Williams was fired because he’s a black man,” said Dan Riehl, “but I’m not.” He explained: “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.”
So if a black person admits prejudice, apparently, that lets white people off the hook. (Riehl himself enjoys telling his readers about black people he considers racist, but we guess this schtick only works with liberals.)
Jammie Wearing Fool noticed that NPR now has no on-air talent of color. (Update — a reader reminds us that Michele Norris is still with the station.) “NPR – where the ‘P’ stands for ‘Plantation,'” said small dead animals.
Anonymous Attorney of VDare — a website celebrating what we might politely call white exceptionalism — said, “Indeed, it’s a little hard to categorize Williams as a ‘bigot,’ i.e., someone who would take the side of whites in a racial dispute. He may have thought — like Rick Sanchez — that his own race gave him a longer leash to be honest about things.” (This, from a guy prone to complain about “the abuse of whites in the mainstream media.”)
Some boldly defended Williams on the grounds of the First Amendment, which guarantees reporters a right to jobs with the employer of their choice, or at least it does in their version of it.
“Screw Free Speech,” projected Big Journalism onto NPR. The firing was “nothing more than the latest chapter in liberals’ recent and sordid history of thought-policing,” said Michael Schwarz of the Ashbrook Center.
And it goes all the way to the top! “But what happens when paranoia grips those in power?” asked Schwarz. “What really matters here is that the Obama administration’s petulant 2009 crusade against FOX News, complete with the equally petulant narrative that spawned that crusade, retains its relevance among the paranoid left.” Thus, liberals “convince themselves that their opponents act from feelings of paranoia rather than legitimate opposition born of serious reflection, and when one among them gets control of the government, it then becomes possible — imperative, actually — to de-legitimize the sources and the forces of this so-called paranoid opposition.” We have to admit: He makes a better case against paranoia than he probably intended.
At Pajamas Media Richard Fernandez said the firing indicated the return of “blasphemy” to the “secular West,” classed Williams a victim of liberal inquisitors along with Larry Summers and Ginny Thomas, and suggested that in this dangerous new age “next time Anita Hill can call the FBI and get you arrested.” Gasp! No wonder Ginny Thomas wanted an apology.
“Self-styled liberals,” declared Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom, “no longer support actual liberal policy.” In fact, “‘Liberalism’ in this country, where it truly exists, has migrated — as I did — to the right side of the political aisle.” Hmm, so they’ve got the liberals and the conservatives — don’t see what they’re complaining about.
Bernie Goldberg said Williams’ firing proved that liberalism had died, and worried that “his firing will make lots of other Americans think twice before they say something the boss may not like.” But what if they are encouraged to say something the boss may not like because they expect to immediately get a new job that pays $2 million? Think how disappointed they’ll be.
The perfidy and racism of liberals was just a fun sidelight for rightbloggers, though — the important message was that fear of Muslims on planes is normal, even admirable.
Glib & Superficial played off a news story about a crocodile that caused a plane crash, and suggested “a thought experiment. We won’t use the word ‘Muslim.’ Instead, let’s use the word ‘crocodile.’ OK? So the question is, do you qualify as a lunatic if you say, ‘You know, it’s certainly not completely rational, but when I see a crocodile on the plane with me, it makes me jumpy and nervous…'” Yes, he was comparing Muslims to animals, and by noticing we expect we’re the real racists.
Rhymes with Right had his own thought experiment: In view of the Catholic Church sex scandal, he asked, “would it not be understandable that a person might have a similar reaction to proposed unsupervised sleepover for middle school boys at the parish rectory?” You can see how letting Muslims on a plane is similar; perhaps they should be forced to take chaperones.
At Reason Matt Welch said of course people (not him personally, though) get nervous when they see Arabs on a plane — didn’t you ever see Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay? David Frum said liberals (specifically some book publishers) fear Islamic terrorists’ wrath if they offend their religious sensibilities — why can’t conservatives be terrified by the guy in the skullcap in 13F? It’s only fair.
The Colorado Springs Gazette said that, rather than doing Muslims a disservice, “Williams did Muslims a favor. If a scholarly, black civil rights author experiences fear at the sight of Muslims on a plane, it’s a safe bet other Americans feel the same way. That’s something Muslims should know, if they want to enjoy the best of the American dream.”
Thanks for the heads-up, infidel! But we bet the Muslims are ungrateful, which just makes them more sinister. Take U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim, who sided with his own murderous co-religionists against Williams. “This Muslim and radical leftist does not believe in free speech,” snarled Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit. “What a shock.” “Ellison is an extremist,” cried Atlas Shrugs, “and should be on the terrorist watch list.” See, what’d we tell you?
So comfortable were rightbloggers with their fear of Muslims that they offered to share it with all their fellow citizens. As Andrew Klavan said at City Journal, “Everybody’s nervous about Muslims on planes. Why? Because Muslims blow stuff up.” QED!
William Kristol said “I suspect the powers-that-be at NPR pretty much think what Juan thinks.” Similarly, The Anchoress declared that people who listen to NPR, “while driving their BMW,” can be noticed “discreetly making sure their doors are locked when they spy a homeless man moving too close to their car.” She did not say whose BMW(s) she was riding in when she observed this.
In fairness, The Anchoress generously allowed similar fearfulness in herself: “A few weeks ago, my husband and I were heading into Manhattan,” she reported, “and we noticed an unmarked truck driving very, very slowly. I couldn’t help wondering if there was something suspicious in that.” A truck moving slowly in Manhattan traffic! The poor woman’s nerves must be very fragile.
Danielle Crittenden also stood with Williams because she had herself profiled Muslim men, or someone who looked like them. In 2004 she pulled her family off a flight from Paris because she’d noticed two men “about 25 or 26, of Arab descent, beards, dressed in the modern Atta traveling fashion of jeans and t-shirts.” Jeans and t-shirts — a dead giveaway! Also they didn’t have carry-on luggage and “one of the men was reading an Arabic newspaper while the other seemed twitchy.”
And that flight… landed safely in Washington. But Crittenden was proud because she had acted “without fear that I might be branded racist.” Also, “The children were delighted at this turn of events. They had never seen Paris.” See? Why are people complaining?
“But we sure can’t offend muslims can we?” said Erick Erickson of RedState. “The official state run media cannot have anyone expressing anything that might reflect what actual Americans think regarding Islamofascists because there is officially no such thing according to the Obama Administration.”
Later Erickson told us what he really thought: “The left has unyielding sympathy for victim groups, whether or not they actually are real victims,” he claimed. “It is how the left can embrace tolerance for both gays and muslims though many of the latter would gladly see all of the former put the death.” And they probably did the same thing back in 19th Century New York, when they refused to intervene in the violence between Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans. Pick a side, libtards!
Also: “The world is at war with Christ and, more generally, the Judeo-Christian God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Islam, derived from a man of this world, and the world are in supernatural alliance against Christ. This is the moment non-believers laugh and believers nod knowingly.” Wow — how did he know we were laughing?
Jeff Schreiber of America’s Right claimed Williams couldn’t be racist, because he has special diagnostic powers: “I also have no doubt in my mind,” he said, “that Juan Williams is able to discern between Muslims and radical Muslims, and that any trepidations he has with regard to air travel has more to do with a realistic look at history than a bigoted look at a particular faith.” We’re not sure how history helps Williams spot terrorists in a line-up, but if he’s willing to share this secret with the Feds, that $2 million will look like chickenfeed.
Whether or not you think NPR did right, it is something to contemplate that, at the end of the day, the guy who’s making big money on Fox is considered the victim, and millions of Muslim-Americans who have no intention of blowing anything up are considered the real problem.