I like NPR. A lot. I like NPR probably more than is healthy. But this whole Juan Williams thing is kind of disturbing. He was fired from NPR for comments he made on Bill O’Reilly’s show about the Mohammmedans. Here is the quote as it appeared in the original video edited by ThinkProgress:
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. Now, I remember also that when the Times Square bomber was at court, I think this was just last week. He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts.
So that sounds really bad, right? We don’t all start distrusting Christians because of Timothy McVeigh, we don’t all start distrusting Jews because of Bernie Madoff, but apparently it’s OK to distrust Muslims because of al Qaeda? Should Muslims be afraid to rideon a plane with conservative public radio pundits? That’s kind of fucked up. Normal, sane people don’t take one specific group and extrapolate it in order to try to make it representative of a much larger group. That’s crazy.
But the thing is that the end of that paragraph was snipped off by ThinkProgress in their video. Here’s what he said next:
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.
And then later O’Reilly, who of course has no problem at all with making the exact opposite case as Williams is here in context, tries to goad Williams into agreeing that it really is a war against Islam because “they” attacked us. Here is how Williams responded:
Hold on, because if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals—very obnoxious—you don’t say first and foremost, “We got a problem with Christians.” That’s crazy.
That quote actually sounds a lot like the responses liberals gave to Williams’ out of context quote. But judging from the coverage I’ve seen of the whole affair, it appears that most of them aren’t even aware that Williams was agreeing with them when you read what he had to say in context.
In fact the coverage of these facts was so slim that I had to hear about it on NPR, which brings this post full circle into how awesome NPR is – except apparently in their upper-level editorial decisions. It’s funny how Fox News doesn’t seem to be making that big of a deal of this, isn’t it? I think that’s strange…
The position On The Media takes is that the higher-ups at NPR had been displeased with some of his more out-there statements (for example) and that they had used this instance as an opportunity to fire him for an accumulation of stupid things said by him. It would’ve all gone much more smoothly if they had just waited to shitcan him until the next time Williams actually said something stupid without any further context.