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NPR Fires Juan Williams
October 20, 2010 10:32 PM   Subscribe

NPR fires senior news analyst Juan Williams after he makes comments on The O'Reilly Factor about his nervousness when boarding a plane with Muslims.

“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.”

This is not the first time Mr. Williams' tenure on Fox has been an issue for NPR.
posted by waraw (236 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
About damn time. Juan Williams has been one of NPR's most useless political commentators for some years now.
posted by DrSawtooth at 10:33 PM on October 20, 2010 [35 favorites]


> if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims

Which is silly, because all of the high profile Islamic terrorists committing crimes in US planes (or US bound planes) were wearing western clothing.

He's of the kind of people who get a visceral shock simply from seeing Muslims do their prayers. "Oh, no! They're bowing! They must want to kill me!"
posted by Burhanistan at 10:36 PM on October 20, 2010 [47 favorites]


Good. If he likes working for Murdoch, let him feel the effects of his boss' "invisible hand" firsthand.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:40 PM on October 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


When I turn on the television, I got to tell you, if I see people who say "look, I'm not a bigot, but..." you know, they are going out of their way to say they're not bigots, I get worried. I get nervous.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:40 PM on October 20, 2010 [146 favorites]



I hope noone tells him about the Angry White Christian Dudes. They've been responsible for some of the worst terrorism in America for decades.

He'll be terrified to leave his house.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:41 PM on October 20, 2010 [23 favorites]


But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim American garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims Americans, I get worried. I get nervous.
posted by mek at 10:42 PM on October 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


> some of the worst terrorism in America

To be fair, McVeigh didn't identify much as a Christian.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:43 PM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think the guy was well within his rights to say what he said. I don't think it's racist, although I do think it's gigantically silly and ridiculous,

That said, the best case for firing him just comes from how erratic he was. He'd say something like on Fox, then say another on NPR. It doesn't make him a terrible person, just a lousy and untrustworthy 'Senior News Correspondent'
posted by GilloD at 10:44 PM on October 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Yet another example of prejudice against idiots!
posted by Artw at 10:45 PM on October 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


holy shit, for a second, I thought this was Juan Cole, and I was completely freaked out because I couldn't comprehend what alternate universe I'd fallen into where even he had become an Islamophobe.

Carry on.
posted by scody at 10:46 PM on October 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot, except when people are in Muslim garb, then yeah, I guess I am kind of a bigot.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:46 PM on October 20, 2010 [26 favorites]


I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country.

This is the part that I find interesting, but also sad. He's written about the civil rights movement, so clearly he has some understanding of how bigotry works. Not having read his work, I can't comment on how deep that understanding is. But he is unable to extrapolate that understanding to a group that he regards as other.
posted by bardophile at 10:47 PM on October 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


I'm actually sort of surprised to read this news. Juan Williams has been a fixture around NPR for some time. I didn't realize that he was a controversial character until this happened. I suppose that's what I get for not having cable. I do wish NPR would have disclosed the ties to Fox News, as it would have made me take his views with a grain of salt.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:47 PM on October 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't think it's racist, although I do think it's gigantically silly and ridiculous,

No you're right, it isn't racist. What's the equivalent word for being bigoted about someone who had a different religion or cultural background? It's that.
posted by bardophile at 10:49 PM on October 20, 2010 [40 favorites]


Xenophobic!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:50 PM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


and now if only Mara would relax a little on Fox and really speak her fearful, inner thoughts aloud. ... and then, Cokie...
posted by Auden at 10:50 PM on October 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


"I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, those robes are fabulous for long flights.."

Sorry, was just saying what I think.
posted by hanoixan at 10:57 PM on October 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Man, Juan Williams used to be great on Talk of the Nation, then every year seemed to get worse and dumber. It was like he was drinking stupid water or something.
posted by klangklangston at 11:06 PM on October 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


From the NPR blog above:

>On TV, Fox identifies Williams as "NPR News Political Analyst."
>(Conversely, NPR rarely identifies him as Fox News contributor.)


Suckers.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:07 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not a bigot, but people who are part of a group of people that were subjugated for hundreds of years and are still having to fight an ongoing battle to be taken seriously, and have gone as far as to study said fight and write books about it, probably should think harder and reflect internally more before having ignorant views of another group of people. When these people aren't thinking, it worries me. I get nervous.
posted by djduckie at 11:21 PM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


the high profile Islamic terrorists committing crimes in US planes (or US bound planes) were wearing western clothing.

Some of 'em hung out at strip clubs drinking booze also.

I’m not a bigot.

Too bad Avenue Q didn't have a song about it.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:29 PM on October 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


> About damn time. Juan Williams has been one of NPR's most useless political commentators for some years now.

Juan Williams is particularly irksome, and yeah, he should've been kicked out long ago... but does NPR have any interesting political commentators?

Granted that I stopped actively listening years ago, but even what I hear in passing now is scrupulously bland conventional wisdom, faintly but unmistakably laced with the scent of Well Yes I'm a Liberal But There Are Many Things I Can't Say and I Do Have My Kids and Career to Consider and Do You Realize How Expensive Living in the DC Area Is?
posted by darth_tedious at 11:33 PM on October 20, 2010 [38 favorites]


In better news, I read this in the opinion page of my community newspaper today -

"I consider myself a born-again, spirit-filled, evangelical, conservative Christian, yet I find myself empathizing if not identifying with moderate followers of the Islamic religion.

After 9/11, many narrow-minded citizens regarded all Muslims as terrorists with their only intent to fight a jihad against Americans. Recently, with "pastor" Terry Jones threatening to burn a Koran and "pastor" Fred Phelps organizing anti-homosexual protests during military funerals, many narrow-minded citizens are identifying all Christians as haters, out to control people and deny them their civil rights.

Neither stereotype is correct. Stereotypes never are. You can't put any group of people in one category as identical, be it religious, racial, or social. It's not only ridiculous, it's wrong.
"

In the midst of Islamphobia, it's really nice to see an evangelical conservative Christian not only defend Islam, but publicly state that Terry Jones and Fred Phelps do not speak for them. I mean, I know they're out there, but lately, they're getting drowned out by Tea Partiers and the like.
posted by Ruki at 11:40 PM on October 20, 2010 [37 favorites]


... but does NPR have any interesting political commentators?

Michael Parenti has said that NPR offered him the gig many, many years ago, before understanding who Parenti was and just what his point of view consisted of. And when they did, they quickly rescinded the offer. (He said that part of the deal would have been a yearly retreat with Kevin Philips (then a commentator) and Cokie Roberts. Ugh.)

Anyway, Parenti would have made for a very interesting political commentator, to say the least. Especially during the Bush era, had he lasted that long.
posted by Auden at 11:44 PM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Between this douche and that CNN douche I am liking this new trend of douches getting fired from their newsman jobs for being racist douches.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:49 PM on October 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


"I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, those robes are fabulous for long flights.."

Oh man, are they ever. I have a few kandooras and I wear them for flights all the time (except for flights to the US).
posted by atrazine at 12:04 AM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Pro tip.

If you ever feel the need to say "I'm not a bigot/ racist/ idiot" and so on, and feel the need to use the word 'but' directly afterwards, stop right there, take a breath and just think for a second. You'll save yourself the embarrasment of proving yourself to be exactly what you're trying to say you aren't.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:35 AM on October 21, 2010 [28 favorites]


Know what? I am terrified of guys in sharp looking business suits. Women in power suits scare the crap out of me! I find airline travel very difficult what with the bouts of fear caused ny all those Suited Ones, and the time I need to spend actually in the restroom.
Anybody who actually Looks Muslim has probably been searched extra special. Not a threat by the time they are past Pasport Control and Security.
But the guys with the laptops who try taking over a whole row, the people who bring on kids who start projectile vomiting and crying. The kid behind who kicks the seat back at kidney level, I fear these people.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:39 AM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm not a bigot, but people who are part of a group of people that were subjugated for hundreds of years and are still having to fight an ongoing battle to be taken seriously, and have gone as far as to study said fight and write books about it, probably should think harder and reflect internally more before having ignorant views of another group of people.

Yeah, but that's not how the human mind works. We have all sorts of internal mechanisms that amplify our fears, and rationalize our thoughts and actions, and filter all of our input thorough a whole host of cognitive biases mostly with the end result of creating a completely illusory sense of a universe that each single one of us thinks we're at the center of.

Otherwise we would have mentally kung-fued all of this shit out of the gene pool long ago.

Point being, dude probably really did think he was applying all of his book-learnin and deep reflection to that dumb ass statement he made. Your enclopedic knowledge of how many hurdles are on the track does not make it any easier to go out there and jump over them with getting tripped up and falling flat on your face.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:49 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anybody who actually Looks Muslim has probably been searched extra special. Not a threat by the time they are past Pasport Control and Security.

That's worth repeating for emphasis. After dealing with the TSA goons, anyone who actively appears Muslim is the safest person on the entire fucking plane.
posted by Malor at 1:01 AM on October 21, 2010 [24 favorites]


I'll be honest, Muslims on a a plane scare me too. It's those big thick wooly beards they have, the ones that seemingly hang down to their knees. Because they're so abundant, I figure that you know, birds and other woodland creatures probably make their nests in those beards. I keep staring with a sort of fascinated horror, waiting for a woodchuck or a squirrel or something to poke its head out from between the curls of that swirly mass of beard. To poke its tiny woodland creature head out, and in the high falsetto tones of a small woodland mammal, call out "takbir!" and then all the Muslims will start chanting "Allahu Akbar!".
posted by orthogonality at 1:05 AM on October 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'll be honest, I'm not a technophobe or anything, but when I get on a plane, I'm pretty damn terrified that gravity's going to bring it down.
posted by davejay at 1:10 AM on October 21, 2010 [15 favorites]


I'm pretty sure he meant muslin garb. Unless he's talking ni'qab.

I get worried when I see Mormon garb. But only because I'm always wary when I see someone wandering around the airplane in their underwear.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:11 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


ugh.
posted by krautland at 1:17 AM on October 21, 2010


Good.
posted by hamida2242 at 1:23 AM on October 21, 2010


This is so important because it's the first time I have heard of someone being fired from a media job in the US for being publicly racist towards Muslims, in an age where Muslims are the new Jews. A good start ... let's see if it maintains or fizzles.
posted by Azaadistani at 1:38 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


#26 in a series of examples of the misuse of the word "bigot" to mean "bad human being." cf "I am not a bad human being, but i irrationally fear and somewhat hate all members of certain ethnic groups because i believe them to all be at least slightly evil and totally unlike me."
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:49 AM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


for being racist douches.

You do understand that being a practicing Muslim is independent of race, right?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:53 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm not a bigot either, but when I'm on a plane and I look out the window and see a shark riding a lightning bolt, I get a little nervous. It's only logical.

What? I'm only saying what we're all thinking.
posted by No-sword at 1:55 AM on October 21, 2010 [26 favorites]


I'm on a plane and I look out the window and see a shark riding a lightning bolt

Sounds like you didn't go for the preflight fondlers and instead went through the pornoscanner and the pornoscanners unique radiation caused you to see things.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:11 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Muslims are the new Jews

No, the problem is that Muslims emphatically aren't treated like Jews.

If they were protected and celebrated to the extent Jews are, there wouldn't be a problem in USA.

If they were given the same rabid level of political support and military aid as the Israeli regime is, there wouldn't be a problem in the Middle East, either.
posted by hamida2242 at 2:14 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


You do understand that being a practicing Muslim is independent of race, right?

That is a very loaded statement, and not easy to answer because it depends so much on context and gets into that controversial question: what is race?

But certainly, many perceive Muslims as a 'race' ... think of the gas station attendant who was Sikh and killed in the aftermath of 9/11 because of the turban he wore. In certain countries, people only of certain races are Muslim. In certain countries where Muslims are new, most Muslims tend to be racial minorities. That is certainly the case in the US. To me race is a combination of color, ethnicity, religion, culture and language, and Muslims in the US would largely qualify is one: it is clear they are minorities, and are treated at best as a minority, and worst as pariah-terrorists.

Thus, the argument that being anti-Muslim does not make you a racist is just inaccurate ... because following your logic, then being prejudiced against Asians, Hispanic, Africans, or Jews cannot not make you racist, because none of these groups belong solely to one 'race'.
posted by Azaadistani at 2:24 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hell, I get nervous just getting on a plane. Not because I think there might be Muslims on it but because IT'S GOING TO CRASH.
posted by Decani at 2:33 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thus, the argument that being anti-Muslim does not make you a racist is just inaccurate ...

posted by Azaadistani at 10:24 AM on October 21


No, it isn't, and you need to stop trying to muddy these waters. Even by the broader definitions of what constitutes a "race", a personal belief that can be held or dropped is not a part of it. People who try to insist that anti-Islam = racist are pulling exactly the same sneaky little trick as those who try to insist that anti-Zionist = anti-semitic.

Now, you can try to construct an argument that being anti-Islamic may involve certain culturalist (to use a horrible word) tendencies and you will be on somewhat firmer ground, but the suggestion that opposing Islam is necessarily racist is Orwellian, politically-driven garbage, not to mention offensive.
posted by Decani at 2:39 AM on October 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


being a practicing Muslim is independent of race

When Williams said "Muslim garb," he was using "Muslim" as a stand-in for "Arab." So he was being racist, right down to the point of using the wrong term. I doubt that he would feel a quiver of fear if a Malay or Filipino Muslim was sitting next to him in their ethnic garb.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:50 AM on October 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


To me race is ....
Thus [in my head], the argument that being anti-Muslim does not make you a racist is just inaccurate ...


There, fixed that for ya.

Google's web definition:

people who are believed to belong to the same genetic stock
# A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.
# A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
# A genealogical line; a lineage.
# Humans considered as a group.

Only humans considered as a group version allows the claim of racism to stand in this case. But all the other citations do not support it.

Bigot however:
# a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own
# A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

When Williams said "Muslim garb," he was using "Muslim" as a stand-in for "Arab."

And you know this how?
Alas, this whole kerfuffle is hard to tie to classism. I like a good public class argument in the US Press.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:04 AM on October 21, 2010


Alicia C. Shepard, the NPR ombudswoman, said at the time that Mr. Williams was a “lightning rod” for the public radio organization in part because he “tends to speak one way on NPR and another on Fox.”

It seems the problem might be that he dares not to say things on NPR which he obviously feels free to say on Fox.
posted by three blind mice at 3:28 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now, you can try to construct an argument that being anti-Islamic may involve certain culturalist (to use a horrible word) tendencies and you will be on somewhat firmer ground, but the suggestion that opposing Islam is necessarily racist is Orwellian, politically-driven garbage, not to mention offensive.

1) Yes of course, the people who are defending Muslims today, and other religious minorities are really the Orwellian ones ... it's not the racists and the bigots who have Orwellian tendencies ... it's those who can't build houses of worship any longer in peace because of the overwhelmingly hostile, and yes, racist, environment ... and all because they dare say that they are being attacked by racists!

2) No one has said opposing Islam is necessarily racist. What the NPR guy was fired for was his views on Muslims, not Islam ... Islam does not board planes, Muslims do ... so please be consistent in your arguments.

3) Based on 1 & 2 above, what you are saying is politically-driven garbage, not to mention offensive.
posted by Azaadistani at 3:42 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


stoneweaver: " I do wish NPR would have disclosed the ties to Fox News, as it would have made me take his views with a grain of salt."

Well, Mara Liasson is on there as well, but I've never heard her say anything so dopey.

Azaadistani: "Thus, the argument that being anti-Muslim does not make you a racist is just inaccurate ... because following your logic, then being prejudiced against Asians, Hispanic, Africans, or Jews cannot not make you racist, because none of these groups belong solely to one 'race'."

It's not specifically inaccurate, and the second part of your statement does not logically follow; while many, if not most, people who are prejudiced against Muslims are that way for conscious or subconscious racist reasons, it could be simply cultural prejudice, or ethnocentric xenophobia, whatever... and you don't always know what bullshit is in their minds. I don't know that Juan Williams is racist, I just know he's a dumbass.
posted by Red Loop at 4:08 AM on October 21, 2010


I find it a little scary to get fired for voicing an opinion. If he's a reporter, his own opinions shouldn't technically get in the way of his reporting. But more and more, big news has made its reporters more like commentators.

I'm not familiar with this particular dude, and what he's said and done in the past, but I wonder if he had put in a disclaimer at the beginning of the interview that said "Look. What I'm about to say are my opinions and in no way reflect those of my employer." Though, you'd have thought that was a given.
posted by crunchland at 4:21 AM on October 21, 2010


crunchland: Juan Williams wasn't a reporter, he was paid by NPR to pretty much solely voice opinions. As it turns out, his opinions are meatheadish.
posted by NoMich at 4:32 AM on October 21, 2010


"You just want war, war, war, and you want us in more war. You wanted us in Iraq. Now you want us in Iran. Now you want us to get into the Middle East."

I always kinda liked Williams for saying this to Kristol on Fox News Sunday.

That being said, I won't miss him on NPR, but I'm glad he's on Fox, occasionally telling the truth when he's not quivering in mortal terror.
posted by honestcoyote at 4:38 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd like to know what this "muslim garb" is exactly? Which one or ones of the tens of thousands of Middle Eastern, north African, south and central Asian, and/or Caucasian tribal and/or regional garments is he considering to be "muslim garb" exactly?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:39 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


What'll really make you nervous on a plane is being William Shatner, before you became captain of the Enterprise, and you look out the plane window and see this weird, hairy kinda gremlin-looking guy messing with the wires inside the airplane wing. That's what'll really make you nervous on a plane.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:49 AM on October 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Man, it looks like the next entry in the Snakes On A Plane franchise is really going to suck.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:53 AM on October 21, 2010


William Shatner. When the gremlins struck.
Burgess Meredith. When the glasses broke.
Shaka. When the walls fell.
posted by crunchland at 4:53 AM on October 21, 2010 [24 favorites]


You wanna see that now, right? I know you do. Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:53 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Juan Williams has become a disgrace to black and latino people everywhere. I don't know what the hell happened to him but he went from being a respected journalist to one of the most offensive water carriers for the right-wing. Even worse than Michelle Malkin because he used to have credibility as a journalist.
posted by liza at 4:56 AM on October 21, 2010


Today, it's unfashionable to be a bigot. Politically untenable—at least to be an overt bigot. So you say you're not a bigot.

But being a bigot doesn't mean you're a bigot in all areas. It's perfectly possible for bigotry to extend in only a few or even one direction. This is why poor immigrants can be bigots, black Americans can be bigots, Jews can be bigots, all besides the clearly multi-bigoted white Protestant male.

Having been subject to bigotry, or being a member of a group that was, is also no immunization against being a bigot. The irrationality of bigotry overcomes any impulse to reasonable examination of all individual human beings. It's not altogether farcical that someone becomes a bigot, no matter how formerly oppressed they are. But in all cases one should be ready and not ashamed to "say what I see" as Mr Williams suggested he was doing, and note bigotry when it happens.
posted by adoarns at 5:12 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country.

Bigotry –noun, plural -ries. 1. stubborn and complete intolerance by others of any creed, belief, or opinion that you like/are comfortable with.
posted by moonbiter at 5:14 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


* pops cork, rethinks pledge drive, locates wallet *
posted by drowsy at 5:17 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not specifically inaccurate, and the second part of your statement does not logically follow; while many, if not most, people who are prejudiced against Muslims are that way for conscious or subconscious racist reasons, it could be simply cultural prejudice, or ethnocentric xenophobia, whatever... and you don't always know what bullshit is in their minds. I don't know that Juan Williams is racist, I just know he's a dumbass.

Red Loop, I'm not sure why you feel my second statement does not logically follow. Could you clarify? I think it does because as you correctly state with respect to people's feelings toward Muslims, similarly, people can be anti-Asian or anti-Jewish simply for reasons of cultural prejudice or ethnocentric xenophobia or whatever. Typically, when people evince such prejudice or xenophobia toward minority racial groups, it is deemed racist. My whole point is that 'race' is a politically-contested term and is used loosely enough when it comes to other American groups and identities, to also be applied accurately in the context of animus toward Muslims (most of whom are not of the majority 'race') as a monolithic group.

Also, you are not sure whether Williams is racist. What, in your view, would qualify him as a racist? What if he said the same stuff about Blacks? Or Asians? Or Hispanics? Or Jews? Would you call him racist or just xenophobic/prejudiced?
posted by Azaadistani at 5:24 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


You do understand that being a practicing Muslim is independent of race, right?

To carry on with this tangent, it is the fact that being a practicing muslim is independent of race that demonstrates how much anti-muslim behavior is functionally racist. As a white male convert with squirrel infested beard (love that image), flagrant headpiece etc, I would only very rarely draw suspicious looks, and those evaporating the moment I proved my White Man credentials. By contrast, as Azaadistani said, Sikhs are killed for resembling what racist white people think muslims look like: squirrel infested beard, flagrant headpiece, AND brown.
posted by BinGregory at 5:28 AM on October 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


All racists are bigots, whereas not all bigots are racists. I generally find using bigot in these cases avoids the "but is X actually a race?" derail/gambit. This seems to work, but do people think that racist is a stronger term than bigot, and thus should be used whenever it might fit, to indicate the severity of the person's problem?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:29 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we all just agree that Williams is an asshole and move on?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:36 AM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


He's written about the civil rights movement, so clearly he has some understanding of how bigotry works. Not having read his work, I can't comment on how deep that understanding is. But he is unable to extrapolate that understanding to a group that he regards as other.

Some people who have putative ties to or knowledge of the civil rights movement, or who wrap themselves up in the cloak of it, have bigotry toward groups that they regard as other in their portfolios. I can think of Martin Luther King's daughter Bernice and niece Alveda off the top of my head.
posted by blucevalo at 5:41 AM on October 21, 2010


About damn time. Juan Williams has been one of NPR's most useless political commentators for some years now.

There was a useful one?

I don't care if he's dead: Dan Shore was useless.
posted by clarknova at 5:55 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


but does NPR have any interesting political commentators?

More reporter-commentator than pure commentator, but David Welna and Nina Totenberg?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:55 AM on October 21, 2010


I don't know what the hell happened to him but he went from being a respected journalist to one of the most offensive water carriers for the right-wing.

I'm guessing age and his back problems. The back problems from sitting on a fat wallet.

AND brown.

A historic problem to be sure.

I find it a little scary to get fired for voicing an opinion.

Quite a historically common problem in the media.

And can you, dear reader, say whatever you are thinking at your place of work?

the problem might be that he dares not to say things on NPR which he obviously feels free to say on Fox.

Paydirt for The Daily Show will be where he said one thing on NPR and the other on Fox. Extra fun if a 3rd was said in print someplace else.

do people think that racist is a stronger term than bigot

Given that 'everyones a little bit racist'/the whole Civil War/post Civil War segregation issue giving the topic of skin color extra emotional charge VS almost everyone has something you could point at them and say 'bigot' and it'd stick hard - bigotry is more accepted because of the mirror of self-reflection shows that yes, you (the reader not the poster) are a bigot about something.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:04 AM on October 21, 2010


He admitted to an irrational fear. Yes it is of people and yes it is bad that people are nervous being around harmless and decent people in certain situations. And yes his admitting it was sort of in the spirit of treating his feelings as universal when they are not. Those are all bad things.

Still I understand why he might get nervous. People watch jaws and then are scared to go into the water to the point where they don't go into the water and we rightly pity them and maybe tell them that bees kill way more people than sharks. It isn't like he refuses to fly with muslims or says to them "hey buddy I'm keeping an eye on you" he just feels nervous.

I don't like Juan Williams. But I think the thing he is getting in trouble for is the least problematic part of the whole thing. He intellectually agreed with this "The cold truth is that in the world today, jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet" that is dumb.
posted by I Foody at 6:09 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Juan Williams has become a disgrace to black and latino people everywhere.

Really? Isn't it better if we don't treat individual people of color as if they're ambassadors for their whole race?
posted by not that girl at 6:13 AM on October 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


Glenn Greenwald on this firing.
posted by lathrop at 6:15 AM on October 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


He said that part of the deal would have been a yearly retreat with Kevin Philips (then a commentator) and Cokie Roberts. Ugh.

Oh, you think Cokie's bad? Just wait'll you meet her sister, Pepsi.
posted by Floydd at 6:16 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


>>I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country.

>This is the part that I find interesting, but also sad. He's written about the civil rights movement, so clearly he has some understanding of how bigotry works. Not having read his work, I can't comment on how deep that understanding is. But he is unable to extrapolate that understanding to a group that he regards as other.


That jumped out at me as well. It was sort of a sad way of arguing, and let him skip the whole part where he really thought about what is different about the contemporary context. And sadder yet, what he said was an echo of what was said back in the 1960s, where critics would say that a person with an afro, a dashiki, or a strong affiliation with groups like the Black Panthers was demonstrating that their primary affiliation was racial, rather than just being "American." It's a nasty sort of criticism, then and now, and I thought he was smarter than that.

I don't care if he's dead: Dan Shore was useless.

His name was spelled Schorr, but otherwise I agree.
posted by Forktine at 6:35 AM on October 21, 2010


Can we all just agree that Williams is an asshole and move on?

No. He was a good reporter. He did good work on the Civil Rights movement. He was great on "Talk of the Nation." He's reasonable and honest (though I've never heard him on anything but NPR).

It was in fact his honesty--not any bigotry--that got him into trouble at NPR. He admitted that he has an irrational fear. Like he's the only one. Right. But for god's sake don't admit you have any faults, that you think unclean thoughts, that you struggle with troublesome biases like the rest of us. Better just to bury it and point fingers at other people.

So I'm with Mr. Williams. I'm not a bigot, but I do have irrational fears. That bothers me, really bothers me. I wish I didn't have them. But ignoring them in myself and castigating (firing!) other people for admitting they do too is not going to make the problem go away.
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:40 AM on October 21, 2010 [17 favorites]


Is it too cynical to speculate that he was fired for fear of reprisal rather than any moral stance on the issue at hand?
posted by Gin and Comics at 6:47 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


The only reason we know he's a bad person is because he admitted to these irrational fears, I bet there's a lot of other NPR personnel who feel the same way about various groups of people.
Of course, now with functional MRI we could find these people. Just put them in the machine and calibrate by showing them pictures of some non-bigoted phobia - spiders, snakes, Cokie Roberts - whatever squicks them out. Then just show them pictures of cultures and cultural traditions and make sure they only disapprove of the proper ones (circumcision, cat-declawing, etc).
posted by 445supermag at 6:54 AM on October 21, 2010


@not that girl

You do understand that Juan Williams is the author of EYE ON THE PRIZE; the book based on the documentary. You do understand that he was the only high-profile Black Latin American in all of US mainstream media.

When I created culturekitchen almost 10 years ago, I did it for personal but also political reasons. There were no high-profile Black Latinas writing about culture and politics. And to this day, with my little raggedy blog I remain the most high-profile Afroboricua/Blatina writing about the things that no major news outlet wants to pay me or anybody to write about because, well, the world had already Juan Williams anyway.

This is not to detract from Soledad O'Brien's work (who is an African American woman with Latin American background) or the amazing Maria Hijonosa who is Mexican American and as far as I am concerned, walks on water.

I am just 12 years younger than Juan and I looked up to him. He represented to my generation of black and brown-skinned culture warriors the high-bar to reach. He made it to the place where many of us writing about the same issues could only dream of.

White privilege is not having to think that with your job you are representing a whole race. Juan Williams obviously forgot that when you buy into the white mask of privilege; you are still going to show the world the rest of your black skin.

And with that, here's my take on this whole mess: Dear Juan Williams.
posted by liza at 6:55 AM on October 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


Which is silly, because all of the high profile Islamic terrorists committing crimes in US planes (or US bound planes) were wearing western clothing.

and

Anybody who actually Looks Muslim has probably been searched extra special. Not a threat by the time they are past Pasport Control and Security.

Seriously, this. I'd have fired him, not for being a bigot, but for being a complete and total idiot. He's doing news analysis, but he's that ignorant and stupid about something as basic as how terrorists actually operate?

It was in fact his honesty--not any bigotry--that got him into trouble at NPR. He admitted that he has an irrational fear.

Look, if you have in irrational fear of people with Downs Syndrome, I'm not going to label you a bad person. But if you get on national television and say, "I know it's irrational, but those Downs Syndrome kids creep me out," you are a compete total asshole who should have had the sense to keep your mouth shut and deserves to be fired from any company that hires you to have sensible public opinions.

It's not the fear, it's the not realizing that voicing your (stupid, irrational) fear is hurtful.
posted by straight at 7:04 AM on October 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


Sorry, Down Syndrome. Duh.
posted by straight at 7:05 AM on October 21, 2010


honestcoyote: "You just want war, war, war, and you want us in more war. You wanted us in Iraq. Now you want us in Iran. Now you want us to get into the Middle East."

I always kinda liked Williams for saying this to Kristol on Fox News Sunday.


Yeah, me too.

I've made a semi-habit of watching FOX News Sunday. It's mainly to fill the time before the McLaughlin Report comes on, but also for its brief but shining moments that I got to see firsthand (like Bill Clinton's epic smackdown of Chris Wallace). I also liked watching the panel and getting my weekly fix of outrage over Brit Hume's pontifications or Bill Kristol smirking away.

Mara was usually staying on the fence, so it was almost always up to Juan Williams to defend the ramparts for the Democratic side. Half the time he was innefective, but he could also occasionally score a bullseye.

So I sort of find myself wanting to find some way to explain or defend him. Best I can come up with is that this sort of confirms that Islamophobia is an accepted baseline opinion in much of the US, certainly on Fox, and he was in some way trying to sympathise with that. But in these times, if you're a public figure and not part of the solution (to bigotry), you're part of the problem, and if I'm going to cheer networks for sacking anti-Semites, I also have to acknowledge Juan's sacking from NPR as appropriate.

I hope he takes some time off, maybe writes a book or two, and returns at a later date, because I thought that on the whole, he was a sensible guy and a good advocate for the center/left.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:18 AM on October 21, 2010


A few years ago, I was taking a transatlantic flight. As we were boarding, a group of Muslims came on and dispersed throughout the cabin. Most people reacted in the usual way to this: by continuing to load their carry-ons and situate themselves in their seats. One woman, an African-American in her mid-twenties, had been seated next to a young muslim man and became agitated. Trembling, she called over a flight attendant and demanded in hushed tones that she be reseated. The German cabin crew sounded physically pained as they plead with her to take her seat and settle down. But she was adamant.

My jaw fairly dropped when they made a seat for her at the back of the plane and she took it eagerly. I said to my traveling companion: "This is what it's come to after 9/11...A black person will prefer to be seated at the back of a plane rather than to sit next to a Muslim. Somewhere, Rosa Parks is crying."

Juan Williams, fifty years ago, it was you and yours who made white people nervous while traveling. The world became a better place for rejecting that bigotry. You've got no special obligation to pay it forward, but you are a special kind of asshole for ignoring that history.
posted by felix betachat at 7:20 AM on October 21, 2010 [34 favorites]


As a karate expert*, I hope anyone I'm scared of gets seated next to me on the plane. So I can drop the POW-POW-POW on them if they try any funny business.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:23 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


If you are paid for doling out commentary, you sure as hell can be fired for doling out stupid commentary.

I get what people are saying regarding being concerned about his being fired for stating his personal opinion, imo though his job with NPR centered on "what he thought" and if "what he thinks" is divergent enough from his employer then there is no real reason to continue to retain him.

I would feel differently if his job was... say janitor, technician secretary, hell maybe even if he was just a straight up reporter, but as a commentator I really have no sympathy.
posted by edgeways at 7:27 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know what you people are talking about. Read the link. He preceded his comments with an "imnotabigotbut." Thus everything he said afterward is ok. Do you people not know how the imnotabigotbut works?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:31 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


“ … NPR has every right to fire an employee whose public statements diminish NPR’s own reputation as a reliable source of news and level-headed analysis. Obviously, a news organization is under no obligation to employ a commentator who airs his own religious bias on national television.

At the same time, NPR’s decision advances the idea that there shouldn’t be a double standard. If media figures such as Rick Sanchez and Helen Thomas are fired for insensitive remarks about non-Muslims, then the standard seems fair to apply when similar comments are said about Muslims. (Also, CNN fired Octavia Nasr for comments about a popular Muslim Lebanese leader which were deemed impolitic.)

‘[I]t’s not surprising,’ writes Michael Tomasky, ‘that after all these years of going on [Fox News'] air and drinking their green-room coffee, Williams should choose to ingratiate himself to O’Reilly and his viewers with that Foxy rhetoric. In a sense Williams got what was coming to him. Sleep with dogs, get fleas.’ Yet, it appears that other media figures seem to be missing the point. ‘Watch how many people who cheered when Octavia-Nasr/Helen-Thomas/Rick-Sanchez were fired scream CENSORSHIP!! all day over Juan Williams,’ Salon’s Glenn Greenwald tweeted this morning. And as if on queue, the entire Morning Joe crew on MSNBC expressed indignation at Williams’ firing this morning:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: This is disgraceful. NPR needs to hire Juan Williams back.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Something is wrong with what we do if we get fired for having a peaceful voice.

PAT BUCHANAN: That is preposterous! … It is not irrational to be nervous after 9/11 if you see some conspicuous Muslim fellas get in the first class section of a plane as I have!”*
posted by ericb at 7:47 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Would anyone admit to being a bigot in the first place?
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 7:48 AM on October 21, 2010


FYI, Juan will be canned by Fox next as he was only valuable to them if they could slap the NPR label on him. Without that, he's just another talking head and they've got plenty of those.
posted by unixrat at 7:58 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


One woman, an African-American in her mid-twenties...

Did you see her passport or are you just assuming her nationality?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:04 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"It was in fact his honesty--not any bigotry--that got him into trouble at NPR. He admitted that he has an irrational fear. Like he's the only one. Right. But for god's sake don't admit you have any faults, that you think unclean thoughts, that you struggle with troublesome biases like the rest of us. Better just to bury it and point fingers at other people. "

Is "irrational fear" the talking point? I've seen that phrase trotted out a few times here, and the problem is that Juan Williams didn't use it. If he had, this would be a lot more excusable — "I'm not a bigot, and I know this is totally irrational, because it's not supported by the facts of 9/11 or anything, but when I see someone in Muslim garb on a plane, it makes me nervous. It makes me think of Muslim hijackers all the way back to the '70s. I know it's entirely my problem, it's got nothing to do with them, it's on me. I know that, but they still make me nervous."

That's how you describe your irrational fear and don't get fired.
posted by klangklangston at 8:05 AM on October 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


Know what? I am terrified of guys in sharp looking business suits. Women in power suits scare the crap out of me! I find airline travel very difficult what with the bouts of fear caused by all those Suited Ones, and the time I need to spend actually in the restroom.
Anybody who actually Looks Muslim has probably been searched extra special. Not a threat by the time they are past Pasport Control and Security.


Thank you. I just returned from a week in Istanbul (not that there were many wearing jelabas there of course) and I can't favorite this comment enough.
posted by aught at 8:07 AM on October 21, 2010


Did you see her passport or are you just assuming her nationality?

We were flying out of O'Hare. Her accent was broad, middle-American. I used my powers of inference.

What's your point?
posted by felix betachat at 8:12 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Slate, of course, has taken a contrarian position:

I'm not saying Williams is the world's most enlightened guy. He's wrong, for example, about the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero. And it's certainly unsettling to hear him admit that he worries when he sees Muslims in distinctive dress. But admitting such fears doesn't make you a bigot. Sometimes, to work through your fears, you have to face them honestly. You have to think through the perils of acting on those fears. And you have to explain to others why they, too, should transcend their anxieties or resentments and treat people as individuals.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:15 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Extreme Bacon is what gets me.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 8:25 AM on October 21, 2010


> Slate, of course, has taken a contrarian position:

That actually makes a bit more sense. If so, he was kind of just laying his biases out there so he could be honest with himself, in the same way Sotomayor was doing in her famous "wise Latina" speech.

Still, if you're going to be on O'Reilly that might not be the best place to try to hash out your own internal process with any kind of nuance.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:26 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


What's your point?

It's a thread about prejudice.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:28 AM on October 21, 2010


It's a thread about prejudice.

That's not a point. It's another vague insinuation. If you're going to be a dick, at least own it.
posted by felix betachat at 8:29 AM on October 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


Today, it's unfashionable to be a bigot.

Apparently not, judging from the number of assholes falling over themselves to declare their bigotry as a credential.

Fuck Juan Williams. First thing NPR has done right in a long time.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:42 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't care if he's dead: Dan Shore was useless.

Come on; if you're going to dis the man, at least spell his name right. It's Daniel Schorr.
posted by aught at 8:46 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


That is the point. I'm not trying to call you out individually, but here we are in the middle of this discussion about prejudice and your story involved a woman you described as African-American. Do you know that she is an American of African decent or did you assume and infer? I'm not insinuating that you are a bigot or that you thought less of her because of her ethnicity or nationality, but it was something that you inserted into your story for whatever reason. Only you know why you inserted that description or even why you felt it was necessary or why you chose that terminology in describing her. I just think threads like this are a great opportunity to examine ourselves and, well, you happen to have stepped in it.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:50 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I just think threads like this are a great opportunity to examine ourselves and, well, you happen to have stepped in it.

Nah, I think you went a bit too far in trying to make a point.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:51 AM on October 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


but it was something that you inserted into your story for whatever reason. Only you know why you inserted that description or even why you felt it was necessary or why you chose that terminology in describing her. I just think threads like this are a great opportunity to examine ourselves and, well, you happen to have stepped in it.

I think it's pretty obvious why it was included: "This is what it's come to after 9/11...A black person will prefer to be seated at the back of a plane rather than to sit next to a Muslim. Somewhere, Rosa Parks is crying.". It's key to the whole point of the story: some members of a once irrationally excluded and feared group are now doing the same to members of a different group, which obviously echoes Juan Williams' irrational and bigoted fear.

The story wouldn't have made any sense if the woman hadn't been a member of such a group.
posted by jedicus at 8:56 AM on October 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Her being black was exactly the point of my story.

Recognizing the irony of an African-American in the 21st century choosing to be reseated at the rear of a plane so as not to have to travel next to a Muslim doesn't make me prejudiced. I don't think, nor did I imply, that she was a bad person for having this reaction. I explicitly recognized that blacks today bear no special responsibility to behave in an unprejudiced fashion. So, I guess I'm not sure what it is that you think I "stepped in" other than your own urge to score an easy rhetorical point.

I mention the story because it illustrates, to my mind, something sad about our historical moment. We have convinced ourselves that the legacy of the Civil Rights movement is enduring and that we may continue to enjoy the benefits of an inclusive society without having to work for it. In reality, the prejudice against Muslims which is every day becoming more prevalent and uncontroversial is a trojan horse. Once discrimination against muslims is sanctioned by law, the tide will keep rolling back. The real bigots recognize this. Juan Williams is apparently too stupid or too venal to care.

I mean, for fuck's sake: an NPR commentator of African descent went on to Fox News to bless prejudice against the followers of Islam. You can nitpick all you want. But your semantic dance doesn't make this moment any less of a watershed.
posted by felix betachat at 9:03 AM on October 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


No, the problem is that Muslims emphatically aren't treated like Jews.

If they were protected and celebrated to the extent Jews are, there wouldn't be a problem in USA.


Really, you are trotting out the hoariest of anti-semitic slurs in a thread about racism?
posted by Wordwoman at 9:36 AM on October 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


We have convinced ourselves that the legacy of the Civil Rights movement is enduring and that we may continue to enjoy the benefits of an inclusive society without having to work for it.

In a pathetic attempt to end this derail, let me just say I couldn't agree more, and that was the point, however nitpicky it may seem. We* have convinced ourselves that we were walking that path, but we still have a long, long way to go. Even in this thread where we seem to universally decry Williams's blaring bigotry, we still make basic assumptions about the people we encounter. What's really sad about the moment is that we thought we could rest. Things like this shouldn't shock us, they should anger us and should remind us why we always have to keep working. Her being black or American, if she was either of those things, should have nothing to do with the story and should have nothing to do with Juan Williams's individual story.

We, meaning me in particular, you, that dark complected woman over there, the guy in the tribal/ethnic/regional robe with the scratchy beard next to her, Juan Williams, and all the rest of us.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:41 AM on October 21, 2010


Juan Williams isn't a bigot; anybody who has seen him on fox news countless times inserting rationality into an otherwise poignantly absurd "debate" can testify to that...
posted by flyinghamster at 9:45 AM on October 21, 2010


hamida2242: "Muslims are the new Jews

No, the problem is that Muslims emphatically aren't treated like Jews.

If they were protected and celebrated to the extent Jews are, there wouldn't be a problem in USA.
"

I'm pretty sure what Azaadistani was referring to in the original comment was how Jews USED to be treated in this country to some degree, and elsewhere around the world widely, several decades ago (and in some places, still today).

That was my reading, anyway.
posted by yiftach at 9:56 AM on October 21, 2010


It was in fact his honesty--not any bigotry--that got him into trouble at NPR. He admitted that he has an irrational fear. Like he's the only one. Right. But for god's sake don't admit you have any faults, that you think unclean thoughts, that you struggle with troublesome biases like the rest of us. Better just to bury it and point fingers at other people.

Does anyone have a full transcript of his comments? Because the quoted statement alone could be construed as an admission of an irrational fear, but no where in the quote does Williams say his fear is unjustified. And in my opinion the other statements I saw quoted and the general climate of Islamophobia put the statement in a context where he is actively defending the idea that identifying as Muslim is an inherently scary act.

A lot of people on the right, and certainly Fox News, are trying to construct an Us vs Them narrative with regard to Muslims in the US, in exactly the same way that The Turner Diaries and similar fear mongering were used to rile up people about a coming race war before Muslim terrorists became right-wingers' favorite boogeyman. Statements like those from Williams, are at the very least detrimental to the cause of normalizing relations between Muslim and non-Muslim people. The idea that it was simply a statement of a fear with no rhetorical purpose and that a backlash is some kind of an attack on free speech and honesty is completely missing the point in my opinion.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:04 AM on October 21, 2010


NPR's News Blog responds.
posted by waraw at 10:18 AM on October 21, 2010


Juan Williams isn't a bigot; anybody who has seen him on fox news countless times inserting rationality into an otherwise poignantly absurd "debate" can testify to that...

First off, I think you're probably right that "bigot" would be a hasty conclusion. But as to the rest of your comment, I'd have to say that Juan Williams has never provided "rationality" on Fox News. The fact that you felt the need to scare-quote "debate" reveals Williams' role as a token placed there in bad faith by Fox. A token liberal and a token minority placed in their cute little round tables for the semblance of debate. Whether Williams has been cognizant of the fact that he is the second coming of Alan Colmes is up for debate; I know nothing of the man, so I won't comment. But to suggest that he's doing anything at all at Fox other than making a horse's ass out of himself and of the process of journalism in general is, I think, misguided.
posted by Room 101 at 10:28 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Inserting "rationality" on Fox News would probably involve the deployment of some kind of ED209-type killer robot to their studios.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:33 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whether Williams has been cognizant of the fact that he is the second coming of Alan Colmes is up for debate

WINNAR

Except, you know, Williams went from radio to Fox News TV, whereas Colmes went from Fox News TV to radio. We actually catch bits of Colmes sometimes. That radio show is no doubt his own private purgatory, handling idiot callers making odious slurs against Obama his penance for all time spent making the still-on-TV Hannity look good.

I notice Colmes shills for Goldline almost as readily as Glenn Beck....
posted by JHarris at 10:35 AM on October 21, 2010


But admitting such fears doesn't make you a bigot. Sometimes, to work through your fears, you have to face them honestly. You have to think through the perils of acting on those fears. And you have to explain to others why they, too, should transcend their anxieties or resentments and treat people as individuals.

You know, I wish people would do this sort of thing... but not on national television. And with grace. I am so incredibility sick of people feeling they should work out their personal demons in a national spotlight. Go see a counselor, meditate, take a retreat, talk with it with your buddies over some beer(drink of choice), disappear into the wilderness for a few days. Just... you know HAVE A PERSONAL LIFE.

Both Palin and Huckabee are calling for NPR's budget to be slashed over this incident... in other words they are saying government should dictate NPR's content.
posted by edgeways at 10:35 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


JOE SCARBOROUGH: This is disgraceful. NPR needs to hire Juan Williams back.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Something is wrong with what we do if we get fired for having a peaceful voice.

PAT BUCHANAN: That is preposterous! … It is not irrational to be nervous after 9/11 if you see some conspicuous Muslim fellas get in the first class section of a plane as I have!”*


By chance I happened to watch the entire broadcast of Morning Joe at my office this morning. This quote takes what was a lengthy discussion about Williams, Muslims, irrational fears of others and the unknown and compresses it into a context-less soundbite, which is rather sad, because the full conversation was quite interesting.

The hosts initially spoke about the fact that their own parent company, MSNBC, did not broadcast the entire interview between Williams and O'Reilly, but chose only to show a tiny clip which didn't provide their viewers with a full perspective. They asserted that Williams was challenging O'Reilly for inappropriately tarring all Muslims with the "potential terrorist" brush, and in a way, he was giving voice to something that many Americans seem to have experienced in the years after 9/11. This is of particular importance (one of them said) since there has been such a push by Republican politicians in the last decade to create fear of all Muslims in their base. What the hosts and their guests were saying is that he's speaking about something that is extremely important -- challenging irrational fears is important. Giving in to stereotypes is dangerous.

They came back to this topic several times throughout the hour, hitting on the importance of education about other cultures and encouraging comfort with others through familiarity and tolerance. It was actually kinda fascinating to watch.

I like the show and watch it when I can. Sometimes it's moronic and ridiculous. Sometimes it's pure fluff. But every once in a while they manage to sink their teeth into a subject and when they do it's nice to see.
posted by zarq at 10:42 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Muslims are the new Jews

No, the problem is that Muslims emphatically aren't treated like Jews.

If they were protected and celebrated to the extent Jews are, there wouldn't be a problem in USA.

If they were given the same rabid level of political support and military aid as the Israeli regime is, there wouldn't be a problem in the Middle East, either.
posted by hamida2242 at 5:14 AM on October 21 [1 favorite +] [!]

I'm pretty sure what Azaadistani was referring to in the original comment was how Jews USED to be treated in this country to some degree, and elsewhere around the world widely, several decades ago (and in some places, still today).

That was my reading, anyway.

My reading was that was a pretty disgusting comment
posted by rosswald at 10:52 AM on October 21, 2010


Both Palin and Huckabee are calling for NPR's budget to be slashed over this incident... in other words they are saying government should dictate NPR's content.

OH NO! NPR might lose the tiny fraction of its funding that actually comes from Federal grant money!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:59 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I notice Colmes shills for Goldline almost as readily as Glenn Beck...."

I lost a lot of respect for Rachel Maddow when I heard her doing shills for gold during her radio show.
posted by klangklangston at 11:02 AM on October 21, 2010


"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 for them. I get nervous."
posted by bluedaisy at 11:11 AM on October 21, 2010


It was in fact his honesty--not any bigotry--that got him into trouble at NPR. He admitted that he has an irrational fear.

That's not actually what he said. He didn't phrase it as an irrational fear, but an entirely rational one. here are his exact words after the initial comment:

Now, I remember also when the Times Square bomber was at court -- this was just last week -- he said: "the war with Muslims, America's war is just beginning, first drop of blood." I don't think there’s any way to get away from these facts.

This is a justification for bigotry, not an expression of recognition that it's irrational.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:13 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


So I'm with Mr. Williams. I'm not a bigot, but I do have irrational fears.

And how can others tell the difference? If Juan had said 'I have an irrational fear' rather than 'I am not a bigot' - would that have changed the bigot/not a bigot reaction?
posted by rough ashlar at 11:13 AM on October 21, 2010



Well, I'm not a bigot either, but when I'm on a plane and I look out the window and see a shark riding a lightning bolt, I get a little nervous.


For me, that's when I know the drugs are kicking in, and it's gonna be a good flight.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:14 AM on October 21, 2010


Fact: when I see a Muslim on the subway here in NYC, and they begin reciting their prayers aloud on the train, I get a little nervous. Or, if a brown-skinned person comes enters the car with a luggage bag, I get concerned about what might be inside of it, and I actually look at his face to make sure he doesn't look scared and/or adrenaline-rushed.

This is fear. It's a human response, and it's normal. And I would submit that it's understandable: as someone who was in NYC on 9/11. As someone who had to drive across town the day of the attacks to pick up his Muslim friend who was being verbally abused by strangers on the street like a Red Sox fan at Yankee Stadium.

As someone who has for the past 10 years been ceaselessly bombarded with news reports on terrorist plots/activity, juxtaposed with images of suspicious Arabs/Muslims with a degree of consistency that would make Pavlov proud.

As someone who's been hearing on a daily basis since 2002 a recording over the subway PA system: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you see a suspicious package or activity, do not keep it to yourself! Notify an MTA employee or police officer."

I'm just being honest. And I find it extremely curious and ironic that there are a multitude of comments within this thread that seem to exhibit zero tolerance of this sort of honesty, to the point where I can even make some assumptions of my own about the people who wrote them.

But I'll keep those assumptions to myself.
posted by jeremy b at 11:15 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought his more outrageous comment was the next one - supporting the "fact" that we are currently in a religious war.

"Now, I remember also when the Times Square bomber was at court -- this was just last week -- he said: "the war with Muslims, America's war is just beginning, first drop of blood." I don't think there’s any way to get away from these facts.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:23 AM on October 21, 2010


This is fear. It's a human response, and it's normal...I'm just being honest. And I find it extremely curious and ironic that there are a multitude of comments within this thread that seem to exhibit zero tolerance of this sort of honesty

It's not the fear. It's not realizing that publicly voicing your fear is hurtful.

It's like you said, "I think black people are ugly and stinky. What? I'm just being honest! That's just my natural reaction!"
posted by straight at 11:25 AM on October 21, 2010


From Tim Wise:
The only difference between Juan Williams and the people who fired him is this: Williams is honest enough to admit his own damage. And importantly, what the research on this subject tells us is that it is precisely those persons who are able to see and acknowledge their biases who are the most likely to challenge themselves, and try valiantly not to act on them. In other words, it is the Juan Williams’s of the world whose self-awareness in this regard will minimize the likelihood of discriminatory behavior. Meanwhile, it’s the liberals who deny to their dying breath that they have a “racist bone in their bodies,” or who swear they “never see color,” or insist that they are open-minded, forward thinking and free of prejudice, who are often unable to see how their internalized biases effect them, and move them around the chessboard of life without them even realizing it. Frankly, those are the ones from whom racial and religious “others” probably need the most protection.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:32 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Excerpted from Slate: But admitting such fears doesn't make you a bigot. Sometimes, to work through your fears, you have to face them honestly.

Yes. In therapy, or with your pastor if that's the way you swing, or in long drunken heart-to-hearts with friends. Not on the fucking O'Reilly Factor.
posted by stennieville at 11:32 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


As someone who's been hearing on a daily basis since 2002 a recording over the subway PA system: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you see a suspicious package or activity, do not keep it to yourself! Notify an MTA employee or police officer."

I hate that fucking announcement.

I take LIRR to work every day. Do you know how many freakin' people leave their bags on trains on a regular basis? A lot. The conductors don't even blink at 'em anymore. They grab the bags, look inside and then either call the cops or throw them in the engineering booth on the train until they return to Penn, so they can turn it into the lost and found.
posted by zarq at 11:36 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, it’s the liberals who deny to their dying breath that they have a “racist bone in their bodies,” or who swear they “never see color,” or insist that they are open-minded, forward thinking and free of prejudice, who are often unable to see how their internalized biases effect them, and move them around the chessboard of life without them even realizing it. Frankly, those are the ones from whom racial and religious “others” probably need the most protection.

I'd like to meet some of those liberals, I'd bet their almost as full of shit as Tim Wise.

what the research on this subject tells us

By "research" I assume he means "what he wants to be the truth". Yeah, I'm really sure that it's the folks that go around talking about how they don't like certain others that are the ones that are less likely to act on those feelings. Remember guys, next time you are being victimized by a hate crime, be sure to have your attackers verbalize their inner feelings about your otherness.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:38 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


They're damnit they're!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:39 AM on October 21, 2010


Or, if a brown-skinned person comes enters the car with a luggage bag, I get concerned about what might be inside of it, and I actually look at his face to make sure he doesn't look scared and/or adrenaline-rushed.

This is fear. It's a human response, and it's normal. And I would submit that it's understandable


Yes, racism is totally normal and understandable. Nothing wrong with a little healthy fear of people who have a certain skin color!

As someone who had to drive across town the day of the attacks to pick up his Muslim friend

Good thing you mentioned that you have a Muslim friend, otherwise I might have thought you were a racist.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:41 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


As someone who's been hearing on a daily basis since 2002 a recording over the subway PA system: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you see a suspicious package or activity, do not keep it to yourself! Notify an MTA employee or police officer."

I hate that fucking announcement.
posted by zarq at 2:36 PM on October 21 [+] [!]

After the "under-pants bomber," wasn't there a big discussion about how its generally been the action of "ordinary" civilians, and not police/intelligence that have prevented more than their fair share of attacks? (Also the food-cart vendor who called in the Times Square SUV).
posted by rosswald at 11:50 AM on October 21, 2010


Yes, racism is totally normal and understandable. Nothing wrong with a little healthy fear of people who have a certain skin color!

I feel like you're cherry picking his comment to portray it in the worst possible light, and that seems unfair. He's saying that racism exists as a serious problem in this world, and has also been encouraged by the media and politicians He's not wrong about that.

It's important to acknowledge that racism exists, not just sweep it under the rug because we find it appalling. That doesn't mean we have to tolerate or accept it. But recognizing that there really is a very serious problem that has been endlessly stoked by various influences in popular culture is the very first step we have to take to combat it.

Once we acknowledge there is a problem, we can work to help people overcome their fears and counter racist stereotypes through communication and education.
posted by zarq at 11:52 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Between this douche and that CNN douche I am liking this new trend of douches getting fired from their newsman jobs for being racist douches.

Agreed. I'll pour a little douche juice for the douchebags who couldn't be here because they are trying to get a job at Fox News.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:55 AM on October 21, 2010


Meanwhile, it’s the liberals who deny to their dying breath that they have a “racist bone in their bodies,” or who swear they “never see color,”

Yes, he's nailed liberals, by attributing to them one single viewpoint.

These are strange phrases. I've never heard them uttered. Let me see who has said them.

There's Joe Wilson's son, defending his father: "There is not a racist bone in my dad's body."

There's Carl Paladino: "I don't have a racist bone in my body."

There was Chris Buttars: "I don't think there's a racial [sic] bone in my body..."

Buttars also said "I don't see black and white. I see people. I always have."

I wasn't searching specifically for Republicans, by the way. They just popped up/ There was also Jesse James, in response to him being photographed in a SS Uniform. But I have no clue whether the guy is liberal or conservative. He did once call George Bush a dickhead.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:56 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I thought his more outrageous comment was the next one - supporting the "fact" that we are currently in a religious war.

Here was his very next sentence, according to the Slate article.
"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."

In fact, if the Slate article is correct, he argues the entire time that we are not, in fact, at war with Islam, and that blaming all Muslims for the actions of a few extremists is wrong.

His initial statement is clumsy at best, and fair enough if NPR wants to fire him for it, but it looks to me like he was the victim of a Breitbart-esque character attack.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:58 AM on October 21, 2010


After the "under-pants bomber," wasn't there a big discussion about how its generally been the action of "ordinary" civilians, and not police/intelligence that have prevented more than their fair share of attacks? (Also the food-cart vendor who called in the Times Square SUV).

True.

I studied criminology in college, and I concentrated on serial murderers. What I ended up finding out is that most of them are "caught" because of everyday police stuff (traffic checks, neighborhood complaints, etc), rather than the BSU bullshit they shove down our throats on tv and movies.

(Intel)ligence is highly overrated because its really hard to get GOOD and VERIFIABLE intel that can help in apprehending people who participate in crimes for which there is a disproportionate amount of fear.

Scare people about terr'ists and serial killers, and you will have tons of people calling in their neighbors, colleagues, and random people. You can thank the media...and ESPECIALLY fox news' juvenile way of reporting "the news" for that phenomenon.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:01 PM on October 21, 2010


I'm not a bigot, but I am obstinately or intolerantly devoted to my own opinions and prejudices, especially ones exhibiting intolerance, irrationality, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs- especially those of differing races, ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientations, various mental disorders, or religions.
posted by Challahtronix at 12:08 PM on October 21, 2010


It's a shame he wasn't fired for never having anything to say that was worth hearing. But by that standard, analysis hour on NPR would be national quiet time.
posted by rusty at 12:17 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


After the "under-pants bomber," wasn't there a big discussion about how its generally been the action of "ordinary" civilians, and not police/intelligence that have prevented more than their fair share of attacks? (Also the food-cart vendor who called in the Times Square SUV).

Yes, ordinary citizens are a key part of deterrence and prevention.

How can I explain this? It's just endless. The announcements go on all day and all night. You're constantly being told to pay attention and keep your wits about you.

Look, I've been a New Yorker for most of my life. Even when I lived elsewhere, this city was my home. Now, every single time I enter and leave Penn Station, I glance at the military officers and police standing in their usual spots. You travel the same lines every day and you know where they'll be standing. A few of those soldiers always carry their rifles casually but conspicuously, watch the masses of commuters head towards their respective destinations. Sometimes they're standing as stoic as statues. Sometimes they mingle and chat with each other. But they're always there -- a constant reminder that our city and its inhabitants are not as carefree as we used to be.

I don't begrudge their presence. I suspect, even though it's been 9 years since 9/11, at least a few of us probably feel somewhat reassured at visibly armed soldiers in the midst of one of the busiest railroad stations in the country. That reassurance isn't part of the bullshit Cult of Fear that seems to have a stranglehold on the GOP and Tea Party, either. And it's not racist, either.

In the years following 9/11, I did a fair amount of reading on the subject of terrorism deterrence. The current model being used in London and NYC incorporates a show of high visibility deterrence. In New York, it's Operation Atlas: "Vigilance" announcements and signs, as well as more visible displays of military and police presence (force) in public areas which have been deemed potential targets. There are armed military officers in full uniforms wandering around transit hubs, like railway stations and airports, around religious sites, etc. The soldiers aren't just there for show: I've seen them scramble to help a man who became ill and collapsed. I've also seen them cordon off suspicious packages with lightning speed -- protecting those of us who want nothing more than to live our lives: earn a living and get through the day. Unlike the conductors I mentioned earlier, they take potential threats very seriously.

But I try not to think too deeply about why they're there. It's depressing to me on some level. Americans were forced to grow up and recognize the world's realities on 9/11, in a way that even WWII and the attack on Pearl Harbor hadn't forced us to do. Without trying to seem too melodramatic, I do mourn for the city I grew up in. The place just isn't the same anymore.

And there are days when I think it's as if we look over our shoulders every few minutes and can't escape reminders of the reason why. Those subliminal, vaguely Orwellian announcements help this city's residents and travelers maintain a siege mentality and it can be really fucking draining.

If 9/11 was this country's entry into adulthood, that's fine. We had to grow up sometime. But we won't fight racism, religious fanaticism, the Cult of Mediocrity... of Idiocy that fears intelligence, or of fearmongering by our leaders, by ignoring or dismissing their effects.

I miss the New York I grew up in, though. That city's day has come and gone. And those announcements are a stark reminder for me.
posted by zarq at 12:19 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm not a technophobe or anything, but when I get on a plane, I'm pretty damn terrified that gravity's going to bring it down.

Meh. Gravity's just a theory.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:25 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The trick isn't to Not Be Racist, it's to understand one's internal biases and fears and fight against them.
posted by waraw at 12:30 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I feel like you're cherry picking his comment to portray it in the worst possible light, and that seems unfair. He's saying that racism exists as a serious problem in this world, and has also been encouraged by the media and politicians He's not wrong about that.

Well in my defense, there is not really a clear indication in that comment that jeremy b thinks racism is serious problem, the only negative aspect of racism that he mentioned was likened to the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, which does not exactly suggest a very grave situation. But yes I will concede that it's likely that jeremy b has a more nuanced view of racism/Islamophobia than what I personally got out of that comment. I still strongly disagree with the concept that calling out Williams is somehow an attack on honesty, and I don't think there's a way to say "I'm afraid of minorities but here is a list of all the reasons why that is understandable" without coming across as an apologist for bigotry.

It's important to acknowledge that racism exists, not just sweep it under the rug because we find it appalling. That doesn't mean we have to tolerate or accept it. But recognizing that there really is a very serious problem that has been endlessly stoked by various influences in popular culture is the very first step we have to take to combat it.

Once we acknowledge there is a problem, we can work to help people overcome their fears and counter racist stereotypes through communication and education.


I could see a nice anti-racism round-table where people feel comfortable discussing their gut reactions and assumptions about people of other races, even if those reactions are negative. But even though I have not seen or read a full transcript of the Williams appearance, it's clear from what I have read and what I know about Fox News in general that this discussion was not one of those "we're all really racists deep down and need to accept that and work through it" kind of things. O'Reilly and his ilk have been fear mongering for years, and coming on to his show and saying basically "Yeah, I agree Bill, Muslim terrorism is the biggest threat in the world today. In fact, I'm afraid of Muslims, even though I'm clearly not a bigot based on the books I've written," is not working toward overcoming the anti-Muslim sentiment that have been stoked by the media.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:31 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


How can I explain this? It's just endless. The announcements go on all day and all night. You're constantly being told to pay attention and keep your wits about you.

With good cause! Why, just do a Google search for "unattended bag" or "suspicious package." It turns out all of them are bombs! Every single one!
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:36 PM on October 21, 2010


I was taking a flight in 2003, I think, on Southwest Airlines. It was a busy flying day and I am of a browner persuasion, so I arrived at the airport about 4 hours early. The security lines were packed to a crawl and secondary screening was in full effect. As I shuffled through the line, the lady behind me looked ahead at the queue, then tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me, sir, would you mind if I went ahead of you? It's just that my flight's in an hour, and it looks like it might take you a while." I smiled and said sure.

Bags were unpacked and repacked, patdowns were administered, questions were asked and answered, more bag checks, more patdowns, and then I was at my gate with about 45 minutes to spare and in time for the first boarding call.

If you've never flown Southwest, one of the ways they cut down on costs is a sort of cattle boarding, where people are assigned boarding phases instead of seat numbers on a first-come basis, and you just find the first available seat. Because I'd arrived insanely early, I was in zone 1 and was one of the first people on board. The boarding line was pretty dense behind me, so I found a mid-plane window seat to stay out of the way of further passengers.

The plane filled up around me, men and women cramming uncomfortably into those small chairs and spilling over armrests. Except next to me. And as the doors closed and we started taxiing to the runway, I realized I was going to have this row all to myself.

If you've never had an airplane row all to yourself, it's fucking awesome. The guy across the aisle, wedged into cramping stillness, stared at me with some mixture of fear and anger as I put the armrests up post seatbelt-light and lay lengthwise along the row, reading and sipping free drinks from very amused stewardesses. I thought about going to sleep, but I decided I wanted to stay conscious for the entire wonderful experience.

That's still the best flight I've ever had, and I'm still a little annoyed that people don't fear me as much as they used to. So, thanks, Juan. Thanks to you, I have to spend hours confirming that I am a US citizen and no threat, but also thanks to you, sometimes I get to fly in style. Being brown in the airport sucks a lot. Being brown on an airplane is a hell of a lot of fun.
posted by Errant at 12:43 PM on October 21, 2010 [27 favorites]


With good cause! Why, just do a Google search for "unattended bag" or "suspicious package." It turns out all of them are bombs! Every single one!

The FBI really needs to look into these people!*

*And so do all of you if you are ever near Scottsboro, AL, it's terrifying(in an "OMG I'm soo completely afraid - this nearly brand new armani suit is my size and only $20" kind of way)!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:50 PM on October 21, 2010


I think this actually is a case of comments being taken out of context. Pace Glenn Greenwald, the transcript reads to me like Williams admitted his prejudices, explained the facts that gave rise to them (i.e. quoting the Times Square would-be-bomber's 'first drop of blood' bit) and then went on to explain why those facts don't actually support his prejudices, that equating Muslims with terrorists is wrong and dangerous. O'Reilly's repeated interruptions obscure it, but I understood him to be criticizing O'Reilly for fostering anti-Muslim prejudice. He's not making as strident a defense as he could or ought, but I think that a fair reading of his considered views here is pretty exculpatory.

At least, exculpatory in this particular case. Ironically, though he's trying to play good cop here, Williams really is bigoted towards Muslims, having publicly opposed the Islamic center near the WTC site (in grounds that, on my view, amount to the same as those he's criticizing O'Reilly for). So it's hard to feel too badly about him being called a bigot, even if this particular instance isn't a great Exhibit A.
posted by Marty Marx at 12:50 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


The only difference between Juan Williams and the people who fired him is this

For Williams to go on air today and show no understanding of his own words shows there are a few other important differences between him and the rest of the non-FOX-watching world.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:03 PM on October 21, 2010


If you've never had an airplane row all to yourself, it's fucking awesome. The guy across the aisle, wedged into cramping stillness, stared at me with some mixture of fear and anger as I put the armrests up post seatbelt-light and lay lengthwise along the row, reading and sipping free drinks from very amused stewardesses. I thought about going to sleep, but I decided I wanted to stay conscious for the entire wonderful experience.

That's it, I'm totally wearing the skullcap that my folks got me in Egypt the next time I fly.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:27 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a disturbing pattern ... first, Helen Thomas, then Rick Sanchez, nowJuan Williams -- all fired for voicing their opinions.
posted by crunchland at 1:29 PM on October 21, 2010


I'm tempted to revise my previous opinion (restatement of Tim Wise's opinion) given Williams' statement today:
You cannot ignore what happened on 9/11 and you cannot ignore the connection to Islamic radicalism and you can't ignore the fact that what has been recently said in court with regard to this is the first drop of blood in a Muslim war on America.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:39 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I tweeted "My boss is an idiot," and my boss saw the tweet, I would probably be fired. It's not the having of opinions, it's the how and where and when of expressing them. When you're a public figure, you need to be especially cautious about this. This is not a pattern -- it's how things have worked in the public sphere as long as there have simultaneously been a public and spheres.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:44 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Juan Williams is gonna be ok. He just signed on with Fox with a $2million contract.
posted by crunchland at 1:50 PM on October 21, 2010


The predictable denouement.
posted by felix betachat at 1:52 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, it isn't, and you need to stop trying to muddy these waters. Even by the broader definitions of what constitutes a "race", a personal belief that can be held or dropped is not a part of it.

Haven't you heard?

"The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother."

According to the racists, it's a race, according to the racists. According to their own bullshit system, Islam is a race (since race is a sociological construct the biological underpinnings of which, you know, actual scientists have long since debunked in the first place, we're left with racial categories ultimately being whatever the racists think they are--a well-established tradition that goes back to the days of the one drop rule, at least!)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:55 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I tweeted "My boss is an idiot," and my boss saw the tweet, I would probably be fired. --- more because you're insulting your boss, not because you're voicing your opinion, don't you think? If you tweeted "I hate asparagus," or even if you tweeted "I get nervous when I see people in Muslim garb on an airplane," do you suppose your boss would fire you then?
posted by crunchland at 1:58 PM on October 21, 2010


Oh jesus, you're not being sarcastic?

Dude, "voicing opinion" is pretty much all that happens on the fucking teevee these days. It's the goddamn point of the whole thing. These idiots were fired for doing their job (i.e., "voicing their opinion") badly. They showed intolerable bigotry, bias or insensitivity. They expressed prejudicial opinions that were not well-grounded in fact. They got fired because they treated their jobs, for which they were well-compensated, as if they were the equivalent of a backyard bullshit session. The whole idea of punditry in the US has gotten terribly watered down. Pretty much anyone with a degree and the chutzpah to holler louder than the other schmuck can do it. It's good to see that there are still some limits, and that those limits are related to the ignorant spouting of hateful speech.

I'm honestly curious here, crunchland: what criterion would you propose that we use to decide whether a pundit is doing their job well or badly?
posted by felix betachat at 2:08 PM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


more because you're insulting your boss, not because you're voicing your opinion, don't you think?

Yes, and I'd say this fellow got fired for insulting Muslims, not for voicing his opinion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:16 PM on October 21, 2010


even if you tweeted "I get nervous when I see people in Muslim garb on an airplane," do you suppose your boss would fire you then?

I work as a columnist. If I were ever to Tweet "I get nervous when I see people in Muslim garb on an airplane," I wouldn't be surprised to be let go of my position.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:17 PM on October 21, 2010


NPR tries to be one of the few news companies that isn't just a reality show for pundits and talking heads. If they want to maintain that, no, they can't have an employee publicly sharing their political opinions or problems. It's just part of the job description.

Any journalist I know would absolutely be disciplined or fired for the same thing, or even less.
posted by girlmightlive at 3:16 PM on October 21, 2010


what criterion would you propose that we use to decide whether a pundit is doing their job well or badly? --- I guess I assume we'd treat them like anyone else ... if what they're saying makes sense, I'll agree with them. If what they're saying seems logically flawed, or skewed, or driven by some other instinct than telling the whole truth, then I won't. As you say, anyone with a loud enough voice or the right connections seems to get to do what they do. They're paid to give their opinions. It just seems to me like these people were fired because they gave the wrong opinions, even though it's apparently what they really thought, and the corporations (or the big-time donors in this case) behind the news organizations asserted their dominance by firing them. Just seems pretty cut-throat to me. But I guess it's 'live by the sword, die by the sword.'

I work as a columnist. If I were ever to Tweet "I get nervous when I see people in Muslim garb on an airplane," I wouldn't be surprised to be let go of my position.
--- Then I don't envy you. I'm not in a position where I have to worry that every word I type might come back to haunt me in a real, personal way. Then again, in the age of the internet, I guess we all have to watch our backs.

I guess I don't really see what's wrong with admitting that you get nervous when you see Muslims on a plane. The last 10 years, we've had it subliminally pounded into us that what happened on 9/11 can happen again. The people who did that were Muslim, therefore .....

I'm not saying that it's right, or fair to make that kind of judgment, but what I am saying is that I can understand why someone might feel that way. And I personally think that firing Williams for saying so was an over-reaction in a world replete with over-reaction.
posted by crunchland at 3:26 PM on October 21, 2010


> I wasn't searching specifically for Republicans, by the way. They just popped up/ There was also Jesse James, in response to him
> being photographed in a SS Uniform. But I have no clue whether the guy is liberal or conservative. He did once call
> George Bush a dickhead.
> posted by Astro Zombie at 2:56 PM on October 21 [1 favorite +] [!]

Here's another Jesse for your collection, AZ.

There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved. -- Jesse Jackson (wikiquote)
posted by jfuller at 3:30 PM on October 21, 2010


But I guess it's 'live by the sword, die by the sword.'

Or, in this case: 'live by the sword, get $2 million dollars by the bigger sword.'

Roger Ailes is quite happy to remunerate Mr. Williams handsomely for his opinions. So the question is, in light of that, do you recognize that NPR has a right to divest itself from those same opinions in order to preserve its connection to its journalistic mission?
posted by felix betachat at 3:38 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The last 10 years, we've had it subliminally pounded into us that what happened on 9/11 can happen again. The people who did that were Muslim, therefore

Maybe firing Williams is a sign that not everyone wants our news media programming us in this way. It's hateful and anti-democratic and hopefully it will start to change as people recognize that sentiments like Williams's, no matter how honest and heartfelt they may be, have no business being validated by authorities on television.
posted by felix betachat at 3:43 PM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm not a bigot, but I am obstinately or intolerantly devoted to my own opinions and prejudices, especially ones exhibiting intolerance, irrationality, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs- especially those of differing races, ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientations, various mental disorders, or religions.

I'm not a hypocrite, but my response is to support your statement and denounce your firing as "anti-free speech" while conveniently ignoring the many instances where I blatantly called for the firing of people whose "free speech" I disagreed with because I was prejudiced and intolerant of their opinions. Eyes may roll and groans be heard, but as long as I'm well-funded and have every advantage I could ever need over the population, I can get away with my achingly stupid vapidity unscathed. Someone will offer you a full time job at my think tank/public opinion machine/fox news channel.
posted by peppito at 4:04 PM on October 21, 2010


I keep wanting to answer crunchland's comments here, and felix betachat keeps doing it for me, and voicing them more succinctly and eloquently than I would have done. Thanks felix!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:10 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sounds like Rev. Jackson does see color, jfuller.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:24 PM on October 21, 2010


I guess 9 years of propaganda and war drum beating can get to anyone.
posted by simms2k at 5:04 PM on October 21, 2010


I'm not a troll, but when MeFites argue about whether people choose to be overweight, I feel warm and fuzzy inside.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:20 PM on October 21, 2010


I find coolots to be kind of imposing.
posted by newdaddy at 5:47 PM on October 21, 2010


the hoariest of anti-semitic slurs

Please clarify. It sounds from here like you're heavily invested in the idea that everyone hates Jews, and anyone who doesn't agree is anti-semitic.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:29 PM on October 21, 2010


I hope noone tells him about the Angry White Christian Dudes. They've been responsible for some of the worst terrorism in America for decades.

It seems like it's mandatory to mention domestic terrorism by right-wing Christians (especially abortion clinic bombings) every time the subject of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism comes up, as if to imply that the reason people get hot and bothered about one yet remain nonplussed about the other is due to hysteria and xenophobia.

I think it's a tu quoque fallacy, but take the examples you cited: the KKK church bombing (4 dead), abortion clinic bombings/shootings (8 dead over a period of decades - I was seriously surprised how low this figure was, given the amount of hype and the frequency with which it pops up in left-wing talking points), and the OKC bombings (168 dead). Even ignoring the fact that (as previously mentioned) McVeigh wasn't much of a Christian, and counting the KKK as a Christian group (which I guess is fair, if people want to call Al Quaeda a Muslim group), the figures don't add up to much. Even if you throw in all the lynchings of the 20th century (a couple thousand), the number of people killed by "angry White Christian Dude" domestic terrorists over an entire century doesn't match the number killed by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in a single day - and is trending downwards. It's completely rational to consider Islamic terrorists a far bigger (not to mention more current) threat than domestic right-wing Christian ones.

That doesn't make Juan Williams' comment any less bigoted, since he seems to regard any and all identifiable Muslims as a threat, but this "oo! oo! what about abortion clinic bombings! See, Christians are just as bad, silly!" seems to come up like clockwork, and it's a bit of a pet peeve.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 6:42 PM on October 21, 2010


Please clarify. It sounds from here like you're heavily invested in the idea that everyone hates Jews, and anyone who doesn't agree is anti-semitic.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:29 PM on October 21 [+] [!]

Ah yes, Jimmy Havok, the JB to my MF.
posted by rosswald at 7:02 PM on October 21, 2010


have no business being validated by authorities on television. --- I guess Fox News is ok with it.
posted by crunchland at 7:34 PM on October 21, 2010


I'm not saying that it's right, or fair to make that kind of judgment, but what I am saying is that I can understand why someone might feel that way.

Again, no one wants him fired for having an irrational fear. We want him fired for doing his part to Keep the Irrational Fear Alive.
posted by straight at 7:37 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it's a tu quoque fallacy, but take the examples you cited: the KKK church bombing (4 dead), abortion clinic bombings/shootings (8 dead over a period of decades - I was seriously surprised how low this figure was, given the amount of hype and the frequency with which it pops up in left-wing talking points), and the OKC bombings (168 dead). Even ignoring the fact that (as previously mentioned) McVeigh wasn't much of a Christian, and counting the KKK as a Christian group (which I guess is fair, if people want to call Al Quaeda a Muslim group), the figures don't add up to much. Even if you throw in all the lynchings of the 20th century (a couple thousand), the number of people killed by "angry White Christian Dude" domestic terrorists over an entire century doesn't match the number killed by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists in a single day - and is trending downwards. It's completely rational to consider Islamic terrorists a far bigger (not to mention more current) threat than domestic right-wing Christian ones.

Yeah, I really don't think 'quality over quantity' is the yardstick we should be using here.
posted by quantumetric at 7:50 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It sounds from here like you're heavily invested in the idea that everyone hates Jews, and anyone who doesn't agree is anti-semitic.

I'd love to hear the convoluted logic by which you came up with that.

Oh wait. Did I say "love"?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:03 PM on October 21, 2010


Fact: when I see a Muslim on the subway here in NYC, and they begin reciting their prayers aloud on the train, I get a little nervous.

I worked with a bunch of Muslims, and I've even sat in on their prayers (as an observer only, and after many times demurring). Initially, it's powerful, but not scary. After the first time, it's just normal, and kinda lengthy to sit through. Lots of "Allahu Akbars" and prostrating, ending with (among the Sunnis) each Muslim saying hi to the the angels who sit on his shoulders.

(Every Sunni gets two recording angels; the one on the left records his bad acts, the one on the right records his good acts. Occasionally, when a guy was writing bad code, I'd stare at his left shoulder, and then casually mention that that angel looked awfully busy, while the one on his right seemed to have nothing to do.)

We also worked with a Hare Krishna. He told us he did pray on the subway, manipulating a rosary which he carried in a bag around his neck, and that he'd sometimes get stares for it. I cheerfully asked him "No shit? You're on the subway, you reach your hand into a bag hanging from your neck and start fumbling around, while praying in a foreign language? This is America; you're gonna get tasered one day." My Muslim colleague just smiled and nodded in agreement.
posted by orthogonality at 8:23 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Item a:
Muslims are the new Jews
No, the problem is that Muslims emphatically aren't treated like Jews.

If they were protected and celebrated to the extent Jews are, there wouldn't be a problem in USA.

If they were given the same rabid level of political support and military aid as the Israeli regime is, there wouldn't be a problem in the Middle East, either.
Consider that the surest way for a public figure to suffer near-universal disdain is to say something vaguely anti-semitic or even merely anti-Zionist, whereas the penalty Williams has suffered is nearly unique, and it seems he has a point.

Item b, the response:
No, the problem is that Muslims emphatically aren't treated like Jews.

If they were protected and celebrated to the extent Jews are, there wouldn't be a problem in USA.
Really, you are trotting out the hoariest of anti-semitic slurs in a thread about racism?
An accusation of anti-semitism, eagerly seconded by (so far) five others. What could motivate this accusation? Well, there is the opinion, held by a certain faction, that anti-semitism is actually universal, and that denying that this is a fact is a prime example of anti-semitism. That same faction also likes to find anti-semitism in anti-Zionism. Now, item b is awfully short, but it packs a lot of possibilities into its brevity, and so I asked for clarification, with an explanation of why I wanted it.

Is that too convoluted?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:37 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I’m a Garb-Wearing Muslim and Juan Williams has a point!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:54 PM on October 21, 2010


i have a feeling that if glenn beck went on some talk show and admitted that he instinctively keeps his hand on his wallet whenever there is a black person in the room, he wouldn't be viewed so generously, much less praised for his brave stand against political correctness in admitting it. whether or not he deserves to be fired, i think it reflects poorly on williams that he doesn't consider the american muslim's perspective on being so characterized, or that he has considered it and just doesn't care.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:29 PM on October 21, 2010


Garb! Garb garb garb. Always with the garb. One day, I'd like to wear threads. Or duds. Or attire. Fine apparel even. Is that asking too much?
posted by BinGregory at 9:33 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, my wife drops a fortune on fine apparel at Shukr.com.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:40 PM on October 21, 2010


(I'm only good enough to wear Islamic getup.)
posted by Burhanistan at 9:51 PM on October 21, 2010


If I were Juan Williams I would be more afraid of crocodiles on a plane than Muslims on one.
posted by armage at 10:32 PM on October 21, 2010


"But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are tastefully accoutered in raiment seamlessly blending East and West, that are contemporary yet timeless, daring yet refined, modest yet sophisticated, and i think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as sartorially fabulous, I get worried. I get nervous."
posted by BinGregory at 10:50 PM on October 21, 2010


Babs and woopie say nix to firing
newt wants to cut NPR budget
huckabee says stop the checks
legislation to end?
Soros buys the soup
Hooper:williams not bigot
posted by clavdivs at 10:52 PM on October 21, 2010


Juan Williams has just been awarded a $2 million contract with Fox News.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 12:39 AM on October 22, 2010


"An accusation of anti-semitism, eagerly seconded by (so far) five others. What could motivate this accusation?"

That Jews are "protected" and "celebrated" in this country was the original comment. Your not recognizing this as a disgusting statement reminds of when white-power folk complain that black culture and pride is acceptable, but mention white pride and whoa...

"Consider that the surest way for a public figure to suffer near-universal disdain is to say something vaguely anti-semitic or even merely anti-Zionist"

"Well, there is the opinion, held by a certain faction, that anti-semitism is actually universal, and that denying that this is a fact is a prime example of anti-semitism."

Jimmy Havok, I really dislike you, and I feel you are bad at metafilter.
posted by rosswald at 5:18 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if this has been said upthread but when I see a person clothed in traditional "Muslim" dress on a plane or subway, I feel calm. The terrorists who target western sites dress western, you know... in order to not call attention to themselves.

Otherwise it'd be like a ninja trying to blend into the general population dressed like a ninja.
posted by yeti at 6:51 AM on October 22, 2010


Andrew Sullivan:
Juan, what you just described is the working definition of bigotry.

What if someone said that they saw a black man walking down the street in classic thug get-up. Would a white person be a bigot if he assumed he was going to mug him? What percentage of traditionally garbed Muslims - I assume wearing a covered veil or some other indicator and being of darker skin - have committed acts of terror? And, of course, the 9/11 mass-murderers were in everyday attire, to blend in. So was the Christmas Day undie-bomber. The Fort Hood murderer was in US military uniform, for Pete's sake.

The literal defense of anti-Muslim bigotry on Fox is becoming endemic. It's disgusting.
posted by ericb at 8:06 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm all for people not having kneejerk reactions to others wearing certain kinds of dress, especially as one who has been regarded with suspicion and hard stares for doing the prayers in places like an airport, but I really think we should try to differentiate between someone who is exploring their reflexive reactions as they try to work through them, and an actual bigot. O'Reilly's show isn't the best venue to lay out your fears like that if you're doing some kind of process of introspection, but I think this guy is really a victim of the soundbite.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:20 AM on October 22, 2010


O'Reilly's show isn't the best venue to lay out your fears like that if you're doing some kind of process of introspection

It's a horrible place to do that, and it's not too much for an employer to ask that their employees be savvy enough to recognize that.
posted by straight at 8:39 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


> It's a horrible place to do that, and it's not too much for an employer to ask that their employees be savvy enough to recognize that.

Yes, and being that slack jawed is certainly blameworthy, but I think he's getting a pretty unfair shake in the left side of the media.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:42 AM on October 22, 2010


That Jews are "protected" and "celebrated" in this country was the original comment.

I can't believe I'm about to say this, but in the interest of fairness it's worth pointing out that we are protected, in the sense that we Jews have established organizations to speak for us and protect our interests. So, we have an advocacy organization devoted to attacking anti-semitism, that also (wrongfully, imo) frames nearly all anti-Zionism as antisemitism. Abraham Foxman spends a great deal of time relating criticism of Israel with antisemitic attacks on all Jews, and he is the face and voice of the ADL. The only two organizations that have adopted a similar mission with regard to Muslims are CAIR and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). They don't have the same power, influence or public support. They also have obnoxious critics (including but not limited to Daniel Pipes and WND) who are quite outspoken.

Here's where the "protected" analogy sort of breaks down: we have AIPAC, which is a powerful lobby for Israeli interests, and J-Street, a new organization that's pushing for peace in the Middle East which is (thankfully, imo) gaining power. But those who criticize AIPAC often conveniently ignore the existence of AMIDEAST and CNI, who are also powerful lobby organizations.

I'm beyond tired of the canard that Jews who talk about antizionist attitudes always frame them as being antisemitic. In the most recent MeTa thread about this, there were several of us who clearly said that the two aren't equivalent. It would be nice if people focused on what was actually being said, rather than try to rehash arguments that aren't necessarily all that applicable to the present discussion. Or at least if they feel that are relevant, to draw those connections overtly, rather than through insinuation.
posted by zarq at 9:01 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Are you so upright you can't be bent?
If it comes to blows are you so sure you won't be crawling?
If not for the good, why risk falling?
Why risk falling?

If everything you think you know,
Makes your life unbearable,
Would you change?"

-Tracy Chapman


2 million$ is alot of change.
posted by clavdivs at 9:14 AM on October 22, 2010


By whatever gods there be, someone point Juan to a good dictionary:
Ellen Weiss, my boss at NPR ... took the admission of my visceral fear of people dressed in Muslim garb at the airport as evidence that I am a bigot. She said there are people who wear Muslim garb to work at NPR and they are offended by my comments. She never suggested that I had discriminated against anyone.
And we're sure you didn't Juan, but that doesn't mean that you aren't a bigot.
posted by moonbiter at 9:40 AM on October 22, 2010


In sort-of-related Science Fiction news Elizabeth Bear just got kicked off of being guest of honour at WisCon for being against Cordoba House. Not quite sure how I feel about that one.
posted by Artw at 9:43 AM on October 22, 2010


Wooooah there, Artw. I knew there was something funky when you said Elizabeth Bear because it just didn't make sense. It was Elizabeth Moon who had the offer rescinded. Bear and Moon are very different authors and, one suspects, very different people.

Moon wrote The Deed of Paksenarrion which is essentially the story of a D&D paladin levelling up. She denies this but no-one really believes here; you can pretty much hear the dice rolling. It's like... Level 2: That means I get my Lay On Hands ability!

Identity confusion aside, I don't see a problem with WisCon inviting whomever they wish to be the guest of honor. Why should they not revoke an invitation if they decide that's best?
posted by Justinian at 10:01 AM on October 22, 2010


That's Elizabeth Bear, not Elizabeth Moon. HUGE difference.
posted by zarq at 10:08 AM on October 22, 2010


On preview, what Justinian said, since I have it backwards. :D
posted by zarq at 10:08 AM on October 22, 2010


Gah. Yes. Some pre-coffee confusion there.
posted by Artw at 10:10 AM on October 22, 2010


FWIW I probably got confussed due to the mess featuring some names from a previous grar-y interweb mess.
posted by Artw at 10:12 AM on October 22, 2010


Yeah, fandom is a lot like academia. The infighting is so cutthroat because the stakes are so low.
posted by Justinian at 12:00 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Williams: NPR was looking for a reason to fire me.
posted by ericb at 12:40 PM on October 22, 2010


Well, it looks like they've got the talking points down:

House GOP could force vote on defunding NPR
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said Thursday that he is introducing legislation to defund NPR in the upper chamber and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) is renewing a push for his bill that he introduced in June to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which oversees NPR.

House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio), who could be House Speaker next year if his party takes control of the House, said that "it's reasonable" to examine federal subsidies for NPR, which he called a "left-wing radio network."
Cantor: Republican Leadership Will Consider Defunding NPR
"Whether it's people walking off The View when Bill O'Reilly makes a statement about radical Islam or Juan Williams being fired for expressing his opinion, over-reaching political correctness is chipping away at the fundamental American freedoms of speech and expression. NPR's decision to fire Juan Williams not only undermines that, it shows an ignorance of the fact that radical Islam and the terrorists who murder in its name scare people of all faiths, religions, and beliefs. In light of their rash decision, we will include termination of federal funding for NPR as an option in the YouCut program so that Americans can let it be known whether they want their dollars going to that organization."
Juan Williams Firing Leads Palin, Huckabee to Call for Defunding NPR
Republicans Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are calling for NPR to be stripped of public funding in response to the termination of contributor Juan Williams, who was fired from the radio station on Wednesday in response to remarks he made about Muslims on Fox News earlier this week.

"At a time when our country is dangerously in debt and looking for areas of federal spending to cut, I think we've found a good candidate for defunding. National Public Radio is a public institution that directly or indirectly exists because the taxpayers fund it," Sarah Palin wrote in a post on her Facebook wall on Thursday. "And what do we, the taxpayers, get for this? We get to witness Juan Williams being fired from NPR for merely speaking frankly about the very real threat this country faces from radical Islam."
Juan Williams calls for defunding ‘elitist’ NPR
"If they want to compete in the marketplace, they should compete in the marketplace. They don’t need public funds. I think they should go out there, if they think the product is so great, go out and sell the product. And what happens is, too often, then, they want to make it out like, “You know what? We are a public jewel and we need the protection of the federal government. We need federal funds that come through the member stations and they pay for this product.” Nonsense. They are on a federal dole, is what it is And they better admit it and step up if they want to compete."
Considering NPR is in the middle of their fall fundraising drive, now would be an excellent time to donate some cash and show your support for one of the last bastions of high-quality, educational, and objective programming in the United States.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:41 PM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


(And not just NPR -- they're talking about defunding the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, which would hurt everything broadcast by PBS, from Frontline to NOVA to Sesame Street.)
posted by Rhaomi at 2:46 PM on October 22, 2010


(And not just NPR -- they're talking about defunding the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, which would hurt everything broadcast by PBS, from Frontline to NOVA to Sesame Street.)

Well that's clearly worth doing since a racist douche was forced to go work at the racist douche channel.
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm beyond tired of the canard that Jews who talk about antizionist attitudes always frame them as being antisemitic.

Who said that? Wordwoman accused hamida2242 of "trotting out the hoariest of anti-semitic slurs," and I called her on it. You yourself cite a prime example of the faction that finds anti-semitism in all anti-Zionism, including Jewish anti-Zionism.

I'm not the only person who has pointed out that Williams is almost unique in being punished for admitting to anti-Muslim bias. It's pervasive today, but he's the first person I recall who who's suffered for it, whereas we have multiple examples of the other side of the equation, where mere anti-Zionism (Thomas) and naive idiocy (Sanchez) have led to serious repercussions.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:23 PM on October 22, 2010


I think this guy is really a victim of the soundbite.

It's true, Williams was trying for some nuance, but he forgot where he was. O'Really took his admission of bias and then cut off the other points he was trying to make. Now Williams is mad at the unfairness of how he's been treated, and is taking it out on NPR, but the truth is he made his own bed when he started giving cover to the assholes at Fox News. He got the thirty pieces of silver for his integrity, he's got no call to be upset about anything else he lost along with it.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:34 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


In "honor" of Juan Williams: Muslims Wearing Things.
posted by yiftach at 4:38 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


MeTa
posted by mlis at 5:23 PM on October 22, 2010



It's true, Williams was trying for some nuance, but he forgot where he was. O'Really took his admission of bias and then cut off the other points he was trying to make. Now Williams is mad at the unfairness of how he's been treated, and is taking it out on NPR, but the truth is he made his own bed when he started giving cover to the assholes at Fox News. He got the thirty pieces of silver for his integrity, he's got no call to be upset about anything else he lost along with it.

Could not have been better said.
posted by gjc at 6:38 PM on October 22, 2010


If I had a penny for every time a republican called for the defunding of NPR and PBS, I could effing fund both of them all by myself.
posted by crunchland at 6:59 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Fox Mews' funding donations to the Republican party will pay off in reduced competition. Nice.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:01 PM on October 22, 2010


A different Muslim 365 days a year, wearing things: Muslim365
posted by BinGregory at 8:32 PM on October 22, 2010


This one is making me angry. Juan Williams' firing is about exactly one thing: the fact that NPR has an Ethics Code that its journalists and analysts are required to subscribe to, and this code reads in part

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. They should not participate in shows, electronic forums, or blogs that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis.

A long response from NPR's Ombudsman discussing Williams' ongoing conflicts arising from his work at Fox.

Listening to complaints of NPR's wicked liberal fascism based on their enforcing the ethics code they maintain to promote journalistic objectivity by Fox News, which has FUCKING FOUR FORMER NATIONAL LEVEL REPUBLICAN POLITICIANS on its payroll is making me want to... hit... things... And Williams' petulant, bridge-burning assault on NPR since his firing has eradicated any lingering respect I might have had based on some of his past journalism and writing. What an asshole.
posted by nanojath at 8:49 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


crunchland: "If I had a penny for every time a republican called for the defunding of NPR and PBS, I could effing fund both of them all by myself."

I hope someone more in tune with the infrastructure of public broadcasting could shed some light on this. Even a GOP landslide couldn't push a proposition this radical through the Senate (or past President Obama's veto pen), but what about defunding? If Republicans win a majority in the House -- especially if they're led by slash-and-burn Tea Party types -- couldn't they simply refuse to pass any bill that contained funding for the CPB? They have a ready excuse, plus plenty of motivation -- it would be great for their media strategy to eliminate (or at least hobble) a measured, moderate, trusted institution, especially if they thought they'd be delivering a stinging slap to liberals who value its programming at the same time.

They've already laid the groundwork with stuff like questioning Mr. Rogers' ideological merits or reveling in faux outrage over Sesame Street (Gay Bert and Ernie! Political correctness! Pox News!) Common sense has kept defunding a mere rhetorical point up until now, but with the pretty radical class of legislator moving in with a claimed mandate to cut spending, what's stopping this threat from being made good?
posted by Rhaomi at 9:00 PM on October 22, 2010


I hope someone more in tune with the infrastructure of public broadcasting could shed some light on this.

Here's an interesting little opinion piece on why it's not going to happen, even though it might be a good thing if it did from the author's perspective (but not for the reasons you might think). There is some interesting if cursory thought on the ideological benefits of getting the government out of the CPB that I haven't thought about enough to venture a real opinion on. But his point that this is a long-standing tradition of GOP sword-rattling that ever comes to naught is pretty much spot on.

Here's some more breakdown on how public radio funding flows. The bottom line is that as things stand it is very difficult for Congress to mess with the CPB in a way that doesn't inordinately harm people's local stations - and long experience shows that this is very unpopular across the ideological spectrum. People like their local public stations and they don't want the government telling them how to spend their allotment of tax dollars.
posted by nanojath at 9:43 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tax dollars, Hell. They need to wean themselves off of corporate sponsorship.
posted by jfuller at 9:57 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Speaking of defunding the CPB, I see I accidentally dropped my comment mentioning that this tempest in a teapot had brought this jerk out of the woodwork again in the Metatalk thread on this post. So I'll put it back here where I meant to.
posted by nanojath at 10:06 PM on October 22, 2010



Good thing you mentioned that you have a Muslim friend, otherwise I might have thought you were a racist.

You took what I said entirely out of context just to make a cheap (and invalid) point. 9/11 was one of the most terrifying days of my friend's life, as he was verbally assaulted by total strangers after the attacks, simply because he looked like a Muslim. It's kind of appalling that you spun it into the "some-of-my-best-friends-are-[ethnicity]" cliché in an attempt to demonstrate my "moral inferiority". Especially since in my comment I was already confessing to my own imperfections in this arena. There was really no need to go there.

Well in my defense, there is not really a clear indication in that comment that jeremy b thinks racism is serious problem, the only negative aspect of racism that he mentioned was likened to the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, which does not exactly suggest a very grave situation

You dismissed the idea that I think racism is a serious problem because I used a baseball analogy at one point. It's disappointing that I need to expound here, but the analogy was meant to compare what happened to my friend on 9/11 to a profoundly and distinctly American situation where that sort of thing--the verbal assault of outsiders on the basis of their beliefs--happens all the time. I think you just saw the comparison to baseball as a low-hanging fruit for you to again take out of context as fodder for asserting your superiority to me.
posted by jeremy b at 11:53 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


A few thoughts:

Bill Maher has been publicly making similarly bigoted statements in favor of ethnic profiling since 9/11. I feel the left has failed to call him out on this.

I'm Jewish, and although I don't 100% agree that we're "protected" and I found the comment upthread lacking in historical perspective, I didn't really have a problem with the comment's main point. Is it not valid to say, when speaking generally, that Jews and Muslims do not enjoy the same freedoms and privileges in this country? Let's be real.

Juan Williams is a fucking douche.
posted by serazin at 11:56 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Posting this here as well as in the MeTa thread, because it's relevant to both threads.

I grew up in a Pakistan where anti-semitism (in the sense of being bigoted about Jews) is pretty much the norm, if Jews are ever mentioned. Most Pakistanis I know have never met anyone who is Jewish; the anti-Jewish sentiment stems entirely from two things, as far as I can tell: 1) the Palestine-Israel conflict, and 2) a version of Islamic history that only talks about Jews in the context of the breaking of a peace treaty by Jewish tribes in Medina, in the time of the Prophet (which is also the context for Quranic verses about Jews which get trotted out as evidence of inherent bigotry in Islam; indeed, many Muslims DO use the verses as justification for their bigotry, but that's a question of interpretation).

I didn't really think about the fact that this was, indeed, bigotry, because there really wasn't any need to, at a practical level. I was, and continue to be, extremely critical of the state of Israel, but I didn't buy into the blanket condemnation of Jews, although I didn't really examine why. Just didn't feel right, I guess.

As a high school student I went to an international debate tournament. There was a real moment of panic when we realized that we might have to debate against the Israeli team. This panic was simply because Pakistan does not recognize Israel as a legitimate state, so the official Pakistani team couldn't very well recognize the official Israeli team. It ended up not being an issue, since the draw didn't bring us up against each other (in later years, the teams have had to occasionally debate each other; they've solved the problem by doing it without making too much of a fuss about it. As long as there's no real press coverage, it's not an issue).

The important thing at the tournament, though, was not our panic. It was the fact that the Israeli and Pakistani teams hit it off to the extent that we were inseparable at all the social activities in connection with the tournament. These friendships were such that we exchanged letters for years afterwards. This was no small feat: letters had to be sent to a relative in another country, from where they would be forwarded. Sometimes Switzerland, sometimes the United States. As you may have gathered, this was pre-email.

In subsequent years, the same pattern was seen at the tournament for several years. You have to think of the context. The Web had not yet made the Palestine-Israel conflict quite so visually vivid for people all over the world. So it was easy to break down the mistrust when two human beings on opposing sides of the issue came into contact with each other in a completely different context. Their political views didn't change, but they came back with a greater sense of each other's humanity.

So that was the extent of my interaction with any Jews until I went to college in the US. There, because I was concerned about eating halal, I joined what was then the Kosher Co-op. That place became my refuge, my home away from home. It actually also served as refuge for a lot of people of different religions at my liberal arts college: Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist. It was a safe place to be religious. The rabbi knew more about Islam than anyone with whom I had ever discussed my religion. Gradually, the co-op became more overtly Jewish AND Muslim, in my time. It became the regular practice to have a recitation from the Quran at Shabbat dinner. During Ramadhan, my friends would delay their dinner till I could eat with them. Eventually the Co-op got officially renamed to Kosher-Halal Co-op "to formally announce what had always been true in practice."

There were moments of tension: I recall being told by one member that anyone who was anti-Israel was automatically anti-semitic. But these were few and far between. Many more memories are connected to Saturday afternoon study groups, when we sat and read the story of Joseph, comparing the versions in the different scriptures. I might be the only Muslim in the world who calls a rabbi when she is having a minor or major spiritual crisis.

One particularly crystallizing moment came when Kwame Ture aka Stokely Carmichael was due to make a campus visit. The agitation of my Jewish friends was quite painful to see. The things they quoted him as saying were really awful. So they planned a protest. And because it was the only decent thing to do, I joined them. If they were going to be attacked for being Jewish, I was going to stand beside them.

It's in that spirit that I found the original derail so distasteful. Clearly there is a history of persecuting Jews in much of the world. That history is by no means dead. At the same time, it is true that there is a powerful and vocal pro-Israel lobby, and there are a lot of people openly calling foul when anti-Jewish hate crimes are perpetrated. Calling foul on such things is an absolute good, and shouldn't be confused with the pro-Israel lobby just because there is some overlap in the groups.

Bigotry diminishes us all. It behooves us, as human beings, to be allies in the face of bigotry, not to turn each incident into an opportunity to be divided yet again.
posted by bardophile at 1:45 AM on October 23, 2010 [16 favorites]


Thanks for sharing, bardophile.
posted by BinGregory at 5:10 AM on October 23, 2010


Is it just me, or does the Daily Show always seem to be on vacation the weeks we need them the most?
posted by straight at 8:58 AM on October 23, 2010


I feel the left has failed to call him out on this.

Uh, Bill Maher is a comedian not a journalist. That's a pretty big difference.
posted by Justinian at 10:43 AM on October 23, 2010


I don't know what Bill Maher is. He seems to believe he should be taken seriously and states his views on Muslims not as a joke, but as a valid viewpoint. I first heard him talking about it on Terry Gross and he was completely serious. He has some social influence, and should be held responsible if he says stupid racist shit.
posted by serazin at 3:38 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Uh, Bill Maher is a comedian not a journalist. That's a pretty big difference. --- It's ironic that you make your point right underneath another post that makes reference to The Daily Show, which completely blurs the line between news and comedy.

On the one hand, Jon Stewart will dismiss himself as "just a comedian," and yet, when you consider his appearance on CNN's Crossfire, where he told the hosts that they were 'hurting America," and apparently caused about the cancellation of that show, to the upcoming march in Washington, it's sort of hard to take the "I'm just a comedian" bit completely seriously. That most people of a certain age and demographic treat The Daily Show as their one and only source of news doesn't help matters any. Add to that the caliber of guests he has on his program, from newsmakers, to heads of state, etc.

So while Bill Maher may also be "just a comedian," I imagine he'd rather be considered more like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
posted by crunchland at 7:46 PM on October 23, 2010


Maher might well wish we'd consider him to be in the same league as Stewart and Colbert, but as long as he's such an egregious asshole, it ain't gonna happen.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:56 PM on October 23, 2010


it's sort of hard to take the "I'm just a comedian" bit completely seriously

Stewart isn't trying to be a journalist. He's a critic of the news media. When he says he's "just a comedian" he means he isn't trying to provide an alternative to the news media. He wants the news media to do a better job, he doesn't want to do the new media's job for them.

Of course, it turns out that often the way he goes about making fun of the media is to show us what it would look like if news organizations actually held politicians accountable for their statements, if they would call them out for saying one thing on Monday and the opposite thing on Tuesday. But he's not trying to actually do that job, he just shows a few juicy examples, essentially saying, "Look CNN, this is how it's done," to try to embarrass the real news organizations into doing their jobs better.

His appearance on Crossfire was not saying, "Look I do news better than you, so people should watch me instead." It was saying, "Look, you guys suck at your jobs. Your so-called discussions are polarizing and hurting America." The Crossfire guys tried to pull the old, "Let's see you do better," and that's when Stewart said, "No, that's not my job. That's your job. I'm a comedian. A critic. I don't have to be a journalist to stand up and say your news show sucks and make fun of how bad it sucks."
posted by straight at 12:11 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Related: a great analysis of the causes of suicide terrorism in Foreign Policy: New research provides strong evidence that suicide terrorism such as that of 9/11 is particularly sensitive to foreign military occupation, and not Islamic fundamentalism or any ideology independent of this crucial circumstance [...] More than 95 percent of all suicide attacks are in response to foreign occupation, according to extensive research...conducted at the University of Chicago's Project on Security and Terrorism.
posted by daniel_charms at 8:36 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


NPR Chief Apologizes For Handling Of Williams Firing.
posted by ericb at 8:50 AM on October 25, 2010


Missing from the Juan Williams Debate: 'The ACORN Deal'

Immediately after National Public Radio fired Williams because of his remarks about Muslims, Fox Cable’s Bill O’Reilly said, “This is like the ACORN deal — no more money to NPR. NPR has now devolved into a totalitarian outfit functioning as an arm of the far left.”

The Republican leadership and the right wing echo chamber followed O’Reilly’s call for the federal defunding of National Public Radio. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., announced plans to introduce legislation to strip federal funds from NPR because it fired Williams. According to DeMint, NPR received $4 billion in federal money since 2001 and will get $430 million in the 2011. Republican Minority Whip Eric Cantor and nearly every Republican running for office this year promised to seek an end to taxpayer subsidies for NPR and public television.

ACORN, the anti-poverty community group, destroyed by the Republican Party and its communications department, Fox News, has become today’s symbol for the collective punishment for groups conservatives consider America’s evil wrong doers.

posted by mrgrimm at 11:39 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Republican Minority Whip Eric Cantor and nearly every Republican running for office this year promised to seek an end to taxpayer subsidies for NPR and public television.

These assholes are campainging on "stripping" NPR, but using funds given to LOCAL public broadcasting. If they really think they will punish NPR and survive by blacking out Elmo from the airwaves, they will get what they deserve.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:51 PM on October 26, 2010


Jon Stewart on NPR Staffing Decision
posted by bardophile at 9:18 AM on October 27, 2010


Not "just a comedian."
posted by crunchland at 3:11 AM on October 28, 2010


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