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Ed Driscoll

Juan Williams: Mugged by Reality

October 22nd, 2010 - 3:09 pm

As the paraphrase of Irving Kristol’s line goes, a neoconservative is a liberal who just got mugged by reality. I doubt Juan Williams is ready to to come over to the Dark Side of the Force just yet, but still:

I think, you know what, this is one of the things in my life that’s just such a shock to me, because I grew up basically on the left. I grew up here in New York City. You know, and I’ve always thought the right wing was the ones who were inflexible and intolerant, and now I’m coming to realize that the orthodoxy at NPR, if it’s representing the Left, is just unbelievable. That, you know, and especially I think for me as a black man, to somehow, you know, say something that’s out of the box. They find it very difficult. And I think that’s right, George. I think they were looking for a reason to get rid of me, that they were uncomfortable with the idea that I was talking to the likes of Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity.

Or as “Dr. Zero” writes at Hot Air, on “Juan Williams And The Preference Cascade:”

The manufactured liberal consensus about Islamic terrorism rolled off the assembly line a long time ago, complete with a serial number and a limited warranty… which will instantly expire on the date of the next successful terrorist attack on U.S. soil.  Islam is held hostage by a tiny minority of extremists.  Juan Williams is more likely to be struck by lightning in midair than share a plane with one of them.  The War on Terror was largely the invention of a paranoid and divisive Bush Administration.  We repaired much of our rift with the Muslim world by electing Barack Obama, and the rest will be filled in with billions of foreign aid dollars, since poverty is the primary cause of terrorism.

A credentialed, taxpayer-supported NPR liberal cannot be allowed to question this consensus.  It will shatter too easily if the clients of liberalism begin connecting dots between underwear bombers and pistol-packing Army psychiatrists.  They cannot be left to nod quietly in agreement with the earnest musings of Juan Williams… then look around the room and see all the other faithful liberals nodding at the same time.  It’s especially threatening when you consider the enormous increase in audience Williams gains by appearing on Fox News.  He wasn’t just an employee of NPR.  He was well on his way to becoming the public face of the organization, and his prominence would only increase in the wake of a November wave that destroys the relevance of his peers.  This would put him in a position to threaten even more leftist dogma with mild questions.  Liberalism has no shortage of fragile beliefs.

Juan Williams came too close to understanding ideas he was supposed to hate.  The Left is deathly afraid of what happens when its constituents begin to understand the Right.  They didn’t like the idea of millions watching an NPR contributor break the biohazard seal on strictly quarantined ideas.

Williams will be just fine.  He’s got a new $2 million deal with Fox News.  Getting fired from NPR when you’re a fixture on Fox is like Will Smith learning he’s been kicked out of his local dinner theater company.  With a secure position, and considerable sympathy from conservatives who know all about the closing of the liberal mind, he’ll be in a perfect position to get those preference cascades rolling.  I have plenty of disagreements with Juan Williams, but I think we can unite in our appreciation for the awesome power of an honest mind.

Meanwhile, Jeff Jacoby notes that this isn’t the first time a journalist was blacklisted by NPR for engaging in doubleplus ungood crimethink about Islam.

Victor Davis Hanson takes down the rabbit hole, in a Top Ten List that should be sent via pneumatic tube to NPR’s Home Office in the Ministry of Truth:

1 ) NPR is in some part either publicly funded or relies on a public brand to earn cash. Its charter is to promote the free exchange of ideas. That did not happen. Mr. Williams simply reflected the common experience of many Americans after 9/11 to tense up when someone in Islamic dress or otherwise identifiable as a Muslim boards an airplane — and then quickly explained why such an emotional reaction should not lead to prejudicial stereotyping.

For that opinion on another network he was fired. Note that for NPR to prove that it is even-handed in censuring controversial speech it would long ago have had to fire reporter Nina Totenberg for a long history of venomous partisan slurs (e.g., hoping Sen. Jesse Helms and his grandkids might contract AIDS). I think we can glimpse the operative NPR ideology: the exalted ends justify the tawdry means. Williams, you see, unlike Totenberg, is perceived as not working for liberal social justice and therefore allowances can be made to get rid of him.

2 ) Note how the NPR CEO Vivian Schiller herself slanders Williams by suggesting that he talk with “his psychiatrist”— and a subsequent brief apology cleans up her mess. So digest this: the person who fired Williams for supposedly inflammatory speech explains the firing by far worse inflammatory ad hominem invective, made worse by McCarthyite allusions to vague and unsubstantiated charges that Williams has a prior record of incendiary speech. So Williams wakes up in the morning a respected journalist and goes to sleep a few hours later with the burden of proving that he is not a bigot, and not unhinged and not under medical care in the eyes of his employer, and not guilty of a litany of additional but unspecified crimes. All this comes from soft-spoken contemplative NPR, which prides itself in being the antithesis of intolerant shock-jock right-wing talk radio. Hypocrisy is again a force multiplier to ideological prejudice.

3 ) Supposedly intolerant hard-driving Fox News has no problem with liberal Williams working for NPR; supposedly soft-spoken, inclusive NPR has a lot of problems with Williams working for Fox. The asymmetry is quite astounding, especially when we factor in the public/private angle. A private, for profit company does not mind that Williams works for the public’s station whose views are considered liberal; but the liberal public station most certainly does care that Williams works for private conservative Fox news. Isn’t the network that takes public money supposed to be the more tolerant? Is this a reflection of audience taste and assumptions: Fox knows its viewers don’t care whether liberal Williams works at a liberal network; NPR fears mightily that its intolerant audience can’t stand anyone who is associated with Fox? Yet, again, conservative citizens own or run Fox; we the people own NPR.

As found by Hot Air’s Allahpundit, American lefty Michael Tomasky rehashes in England’s Guardian the same sort of weird conservatives=Stalanists ad hominem that Frank Rich played with last year. As with Rich in the New York Times, perhaps making it one of the rare moments where the far left’s house organ in Britain used the term pejoratively. And of course, as he knows, amongst the left at the Guardian, Murdoch Derangement Syndrome is perhaps even worse than American “progressives:”

But if you’re any kind of liberal at all, even in the softest and most non-political possible sense, it’s basically an indefensible thing to do. Fox News wants liberalism to perish from the face of the earth. Going on their air on a regular basis and lending your name and reputation to their ideological razzle-dazzle is like agreeing to be the regular kulak guest columnist at Pravda in 1929. For “balance”…

Does Fox indeed want “liberalism” to perish from the face of the earth? That’s odd statement considering how often, in addition to Williams, Greta, Geraldo, Mara (next on the Media Matters’ career assassination list) and other left-leaning folks appear there on a regular basis. Not to mention the Nixonian war that the Obama administration has waged on the channel over the past two years. Obama himself could appear there nightly if he wished — he’d just have to engage in debate about his worldview and opinions.

Let’s set aside Tomasky’s definition of what constitutes “liberalism” (classical liberalism is alive and well — it’s called conservatism. FDR-style liberalism was buried in its tracks by the new left of the 1960s). But using the phrase in its modern colloquial form, as Bernard Goldberg wrote yesterday at AOL, it’s doing quite a good job finishing itself off — at least for the moment — these days:

What makes this so crazy — and so sad — is that liberals are the open-minded ones, the ones who cherish the free exchange of ideas, the smart ones. And if you don’t believe me, just ask any liberal, who will be glad to tell you how smart and open-minded he or she is. But these are the kind of people who believe in “free speech” only as long as they agree with you.

I feel bad for Juan, He’s a good, decent man. His firing will make lots of other Americans think twice before they say something the boss may not like. And that’s not a good thing in a democracy that thrives on vibrant, sometimes controversial ideas. But I feel worse for American liberals. Because what we have here is one more piece of evidence that too many of them have forgotten how to be liberal.

Only about 20 percent of Americans identify themselves as liberals. Liberalism was once a great American movement. It led the fight for civil rights, the most important issue, as far as I’m concerned, of the 20th century.

It’s a shame that liberalism is dying in this country. It’s an outright crime that liberals are killing it.

But then, what’s a revolution without a few purges and show trials now and then?

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