So I have a confession to make. I am not a bigot. You know the kind of articles I have written here about idiotic Republicans. But I gotta tell you, when I go out into public and I see people with Obama T-shirts or bumper stickers or hats, I think to myself that they are identifying themselves first and foremost as liberals. I get worried, I get nervous. Now I remember listening to Rahm Emanuel talking about this and stating that the rise of a new, more fair, America is just beginning. That 2008 was just the first drop of blood. I don’t think there is any way to get away from these facts. But we have people who want to remind us that liberals are Americans too and this isn’t a war against liberals, it is a war against radical liberalism in the form of socialist or fascist policies. Alrighty then. Now that I have given my comedic version of Juan Williams remarks on O’Reilly’s program last week, we can simply laugh at how ridiculous it is that someone would have too strong a reaction to them. Yet the reaction from NPR was more than strong, it was conclusive and final. Juan Williams lost his job over what he said on Fox News. And that really bothers me. Maybe more than it should.
OK, let’s first get out of the way what was really said so that anyone who may have missed it isn’t lost on this. In discussing O’Reilly’s incident on The View over a muslim comment, Juan Williams offered the following statements:
I think that political correctness can lead to some sort of paralysis where you don’t address reality. I mean, look Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kinds of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I gotta tell you that if I see people who are in muslim garb, and I think that they are identifying themselves first and foremost as muslims, I get worried. I get nervous. I remember also that when the Times Square Bomber was at court, I think this was just last week, he said the war with muslims, America’s war with muslims was just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts. I think there are people who somehow want to remind us all, as President Bush did after 9/11, it’s not a war against Islam.
For these comments, Juan Williams was fired from his position as an analyst for National Public Radio. A position that he held for ten years. NPR CEO Vivian Schiller stated that Williams was fired because his remarks were inconsistent with NPR’s editorial standards and practices and undermined his credibility as a news analyst for the NPR network. Allow me to just say up front that her comments were 100% bullshit. I won’t bother to go listing all the comments from other NPR correspondents that show her to be a hypocritical liar (although the ones that Williams pointed out from Nina Totenberg where she said she hoped Jesse Helms and his family contract AIDS and the person who said the world would be better if christians evaporated were pretty heinous). The conservative sites out there have literally come up with scores of comments made ON NPR that were far worse than what Williams said. For Schiller to stand up at a podium and claim that if you want to be a political activist you cannot work at NPR was not only a gigantic lie, it was akin to George Bush claiming that he doesn’t really like all this “war” business.
She later said Juan’s feelings were his own and it isn’t her place to pass judgement on them. She followed that up by saying that his feeling are something that should be discussed between him and his psychiatrist. Not passing judgement? Well I will. Vivian Schiller is a lying piece of trash. NPR has lost any shred of credibility that they had with me personally over this. And Mrs. Weapon, a daily listener to NPR, has decided that she will no longer listen to NPR as well. In our home we have literally lost all respect for the organization. And I really didn’t have a gigantic issue with them prior to this. Perhaps they were more left leaning than I realized. I am sure that some shows are. But what I listened to (which admittedly wasn’t a ton of time, maybe a couple hours a week) didn’t clue me in as over the top partisan like MSNBC. Mrs. Weapon was literally a daily listener for several hours a day. No longer.
But let me clearly state why I will no longer allow NPR to grace my ears. First, Vivian Schiller’s comments were not only bold lies, but they were personally insulting to a person that I respect in Juan Williams. Second, Juan Williams is a liberal, and an honest one, much like Those from the left that frequent SUFA. He is willing to talk honestly and find solutions while still holding to his principles on the left. What he said in no way attacked muslims. In fact he made it clear that we must fight against feelings such as his fear. NPR didn’t fire him for making a statement that was against the liberal principles, they fired him because he was willing to have an honest discussion about how he feels (although we know at least 50% of the reason they fired him was because he was also working for Fox News). That they would fire someone for being honest is as bad a thing as I can imagine for a so called “news organization.”
And that is my primary point to this evening’s article. When was it that America became a place where we are less interested in honest dialogue than we are in pushing an agenda or being politically correct? I know it isn’t new. Many of you ended up on this site as regular visitors for that very reason. What I promised was honest and respectful conversation. When you found it here, it was so different and so refreshing you continued to come back. Obviously, there was a lack of places where honest discussion was both welcomed and returned in kind. And I can’t help but be sad for America that we have really become a place where political correctness and partisan agendas are more important than honesty and open discussions that would help us understand one another.
I read a transcript from another NPR show hosted by Michael Martin called Tell Me More. Martin had a professor on the show named Asra Nomani (Author, “Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam”). Professor Nomani added the following to the discussion:
What I believe Juan Williams did was express, unfortunately, the position of many Americans in their distrust of Muslims. I am Muslim. My father’s name has Muhammad in it. We would be profiled if we go through airports because, you know, I buy tickets at the last minute and I fall into the classic profile that you have.
But I got to tell you, when I went to Great Falls Park the other day, and I saw a woman in an full-face veil and her husband had a little leather bag that wasn’t looking like a picnic basket, I felt a little nervous. And there was a park ranger behind me who clearly was on their tail.
What Juan Williams expressed, I believe, is the sentiment of many people and including Muslims. Muslims profile each other all the time. When you walk into a mosque and you see other Muslims, you say, oh look, he looks like a Jihadi. Or, that’s a niqab, a woman who wears a full-face veil. It doesn’t mean, you know, that we need to go to the point of civil liberties, you know, offensive or anything like that.
But Juan Williams was basically, I think, having a commentary that is very true in America today. And I believe, unfortunately, that NPR short circuited a conversation that we really need to be having.
So what we had was a muslim being honest about the anxiety that we feel based on the recent history of fundamentalist muslims attacking innocent people. That is the reality of the world today, whether we like it or we don’t. Now, does that mean that Islam is a “bad” religion or that all muslims are bad people or dangerous people? Of course not. Believing so would be ridiculous. And we absolutely should not be violating people’s civil liberties around this. But to simply refuse to acknowledge that we feel a certain way is simply being dishonest, not only with others, but with ourselves. But the most important thing that Professor Nomani said in that statement was NPR’s action short-circuited a discussion that we really need to be having. And that is why it is so frustrating that partisan agendas and political correctness have become priority over honesty.
I have gotten away from mentioning as often as I used to the reason that I wanted to start this site. I wanted a place where we could have honest discussions, treating other opinions with respect while talking about our differences. I have always believed that if we can begin to understand each other, we can then start to form solutions to our problems that are simply not possible so long as we continue bickering and misrepresenting the truth. I have since dedicated hours and hours over the course of two years into nothing more than creating and maintaining a political site for that very reason. Perhaps you can now understand why I find NPR’s actions so horrible and why I lament the idea that honesty is taking a back seat to political partisanship.
What we have witnessed over the last two years has been especially distressing for me. The Tea Party movement was created around people’s honest feelings and fears. Government growing too big, spending and taxation increasing too fast and far, and a true fear that our economic system, capitalism, was being slowly pushed out of the market. Those are real and honest fears that many people, myself included, have in today’s environment. Yet political correctness and partisan agendas stifled that honest dialogue and denigrated an important discussion that is needed into little more than claim of racism and hate.
Character assassination has become more and more prevalent as a course of action. I don’t care if Christine O’Donnell believed in Wicca 20 years ago. I don’t care if Mitt Romney is a Mormon. And I don’t care if Bob Cesca is a hate-monger. What I care about are the issues and ideas, which is why my attacks on Cesca focus on his “facts”. And we cannot seem to have an open and honest discussion of the issues, problems, and possible solutions in this country any longer. We are too busy coming up with reasons why the person presenting the issues, problems, or solutions isn’t a good enough person and we aren’t spending enough time talking about their ideas. I really wouldn’t care if Juan Williams was a bigot. He brought up and important reality that many of us face. And instead of attacking the problem, they decided to attack Juan. And in the process killed another honest discussion opportunity.
So the real question becomes whether or not there is any hope for open and honest discussion becoming a reality for us in America? Obviously political partisanship and political correctness have become the primary obstacle to honest and open debate on issues and solutions today. How can we get that reversed? After all, we have managed to spend two years having those debates and discussions on this site. How can we make that happen on a much grander scale?
I know we could start by eliminating NPR.