Cutting Through The Crap

Friday, October 22, 2010

Juan Gone


I don't know if Juan Williams should have been fired or not (I've long thought, given his relationship with Fox "news" and, more importantly, the role he plays in that intellectual desert, that he was a strange choice for them in the first place). But his was a pretty weird statement on O'Reilly's show.
"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."
I get what he was saying, at least in part, and I'm sure it's shared by many confused Americans. But here's what bothers me: First of all, does wearing religiously mandated garb mean you are "identifying yourself first and foremost" as a whatever? Like a yarmulke? A bonnet and a beard? A turban? First and foremost? What about wearing a crucifix? Is there an important distinction? And what if they are so identifying? Practically every teabagger-supported candidate for office strongly and repeatedly identifies him- or herself as Christian, first and no less than threemost. And we all know what they do.

Second, and much dumber: flying on a plane, I think we ought to be a lot less worried about people who make it clear that they're Muslim than about someone who really does have evil intent who'd, almost certainly, take pains to look as bland as possible. After all, wouldn't you?

No doubt, dumb like that fits very comfortably among the Fox "news" personnel (although compared to Doocy and Kilmeade and Hannity he's a damn savant). On NPR? I dunno. But at least they're equal opportunity reactors. And it looks like Williams won't go juanting.

Nor will he have to go on living a lie. (He could still rescue himself, I suppose, but it's starting to look like he belongs where's he's headed.)

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[As expected, the RWS™ are weighing in with hypocrisy a-blazin':

Glenn Beck, in typical hyperbolic Glenn Beck fashion, was outraged today on his radio show that the "voices are being silenced" by "the jack booted thugs of the left." He also said: "Juan Williams was put up against a wall and NPR shot him"

But in June, Beck said on his radio show: "The old hatreds are reappearing. Now, how Helen Thomas has a job today is beyond me." He added: "You know, may I tell you this Jewish run media, really, they're really bad at running the media, if they are indeed Jewish. You know what I mean? The Zionist masters really suck at being Zionist masters. If you still have Helen Thomas sitting in the front row after saying go back to Germany, go back to Poland."

Bill O'Reilly decried the Williams firing on Fox News today, calling it "outrageous." He continued:

As Woody Allen once said, this is a travesty of a mockery of a sham. But it's not out of character for NPR -- they've been trying to get rid of Juan for a while because Juan is associated with the Fox News channel and NPR is -- it's not a news organization. It's basically a left wing outfit that wants one opinion.
Just a few weeks ago, O'Reilly defended CNN's decision to fire Rick Sanchez, since the network "sells their credibility as a hard news organization" and Sanchez "is supposedly representing CNN."]
Such Fox hypocrisy is, of course, entirely expected and is no more harmful to political discourse than it always is. No less predictable, but potentially actually unfortunate, though, are the calls from the usual RWS™ to defund NPR. (Not the first time they've tried to broil Big Bird.)

That there's a news organization that tries to keep the rhetoric at luke-warm levels, that values thoughtful exchange of ideas, that would rid itself of a commentator who regularly discredits himself (see above) is, apparently, too much for the likes of Sarah Palin and Jim Demint. It's not enough for them to have an entire propaganda network devoted exclusively to promoting their version of truth and to distorting everything else: they want the landscape scrubbed entirely of a news organization -- the only one left on the airwaves -- that actually does reporting in depth and regularly airs both sides of a debate. When the facts happen to contradict Foxobeckian disinformation, or when a program eschews screaming, such people see that as "liberal bias." But there simply is no outlet that provides more balanced and informative reporting on important issues. Even conservative David Brooks agrees with that.

And I'm not saying that because The News Hour nearly had me on.]




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