NPR's gift to its enemies
10/24/2010 - 11:17
James Besser

I haven't blogged about NPR's clumsy firing of commentator Juan Williams for saying he gets nervous when boarding an airplane when there are Muslims in line with him, mostly because I'm not exactly sure I think about the issue.

Sure, it's scapegoating and bigotry and inappropriate. Sure, I've felt the same way sometimes. It's hard to sort out.

What is clear: NPR's leadership didn't think through the consequences of their actions in firing him, and in the process gave their conservative opponents the best possible gift.

Can NPR President Vivian Schiller really have believed there wouldn't be a reaction from Fox News, which immediately gave Williams a $2 million contract and opened up with all gun batteries blazing? Did it genuinely not occur to her that the issue would excite paroxysms of condemnation from Sarah Palin and Charles Krauthammer and just about everyone else in the conservative cosmos? Does she somehow think this won't be a big boost to leaders in the next Congress who've long wanted to muzzle NPR or defund it entirely?

I say this as a longtime NPR fan. Their daily news shows are incomparable, and generally a relief from the daily avalanche of shrieking ideology flimsily packaged as news. I don't think their Middle East coverage is always balanced – who's is?- but it's generally pretty good.

To get by in the cutthroat world of journalism and to survive in an environment in which more and more people simply want to listen or watch news that confirms their perspectives, you have to be smart. These NPR guys seem like the antithesis of smart.

 

Comments

I've feared the responses as much as an actual attack.
I don't believe Mr. Williams' comments were in any way bigoted. I, like Mr. Williams and millions of decent American citizens, also become edgy at the sight of Muslims anywhere near an airport. Imagine that!! 9/11 wasn't a hangnail or hiccups or a bad case of indigestion from too many fast food tacos. It was one of the worst, most frightening and costly acts of terrorism in recent history any where on the planet. Since 9/11, numerous survivors are now deceased, some as a result of violence; some in "mass communications" incidents, some as a result of "pilot error", some from cancer for being there to help, for doing their job in the face of unholy trauma and shock. PTSD does not describe this aftermath to the psyche. It is a gross understatement of a nightmare that could and should have been prevented by the US government. The foul-ups, the casual treatment of the situation as it was going down, the incompetence of the military in its dispatch of fighter planes, the bravery of passengers on Flight 93 -- which saved Donald Rumsfeld's rear as well as Dick Cheney's -- is still forever engraved in the memories of millions of Americans, including thousands in Oklahoma who were just beginning to recover from the Murrah bombing when slammed with the realization that our government had no intentions of (A) executing all involved, (B) telling the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help us God, (C) were still recovering from our own personal re-victimization elsewhere because of the Murrah Bombing, and (D) once again, turned on the TV in time to watch Tower 2 slammed at 9:03 AM by a Muslim jihadist who can no more be described as an extremist than "megalomanaic" accurately describes Hitler. But the principles are the same, and so is the psyche. Mr. Williams' statement was not racist, bigoted, hate-filled, nor any other negative you choose to place on a human filled, justifiably with fear that another 9/11 could happen when this country has played footsie with thousands of Muslim terrorists and their American counterparts (so we have to live in fear of our own as well), watched other acts of terrorism occur, including ON US military bases my members of The Nations of Islam, and millions of us are victimized on a personal level daily by these individuals. His fears are justified and real. Countless members of African-American communities are deeply tied to the Nations of Islam and subscribe to their jihadist philosophy. Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, PLO, Black September, and at least 3000 other terrorist factions and sub-cells recruit from within US prisons, from within street gangs, from the Internet, from within Social Services, from the US military on a global level, via colleges and universities and high schools ---- exactly what is there NOT TO FEAR, SIR?!
Your innane anaylsis fails to get to the deeper point. NPR is an organization of liberal bigots. Bigots are people who are afraid of truth and afraid to dialogue with others who have cogent ideas that differ from their own. Fortunately, eventually the truth will out. The true mind of the staff at NPR is exposed: these people are dogmatic, narrow-minded bigots. If you want to anesthesize your mind with the bias and half truths spewing forth at NPR, and donate to that cause, that's fine. Dont force the rest of us to fund (even if only in part) the state-sponsored bigots and their propaganda at NPR.

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