A couple of things regarding DougJ’s response to my Juan Williams post.
First, the point is not whether Williams should have been fired for other comments he made in the near or distant past. He was fired specifically for the comments he made on O’Reilly’s show this week, or at least these comments were used as a pretext to fire him – and so looking at the context surrounding his statements is not only sensible but necessary. If his track record matters – and it does – and these comments are not only part of that track record, but also the straw that broke the camel’s back, then these comments matter, too.
It’s not contrarian to say that we should watch the whole video before rushing to judgment. In fact, focusing entirely on ‘the William Saletans of the world’ in response to my post is just a straw man. I specifically noted in my postscript that it’s irrelevant who is making these arguments, and that focusing on Slate would be to miss the point entirely. Asking that we look at the facts surrounding the incident is something we should all do even if Williams is a shill for right-wingers like O’Reilly.
Second, what worries me is not so much what happens to Juan Williams, but rather the trend that is developing in the media lately of firing journalists over out-of-context quotes, tweets, or whatever – whether we’re talking about Helen Thomas or Juan Williams or even Dave Weigel over the JournoList nontroversy. Calling my argument contrarian is ridiculous. I’ve consistently said that these dismissals of journalists over their personal beliefs or statements they made on Twitter, in private emails, or elsewhere is wrong and reactionary. Why would I change my opinion now just because Juan Williams isn’t popular on the left?
And finally, we should examine once again just what exactly Williams was saying – something I talked about in my initial post, and which DougJ has chosen to ignore entirely in his response. Williams was confessing to his own irrational fears and then explaining why it’s important to not succumb to these fears, both as an individual and as a society. He was urging people like Bill O’Reilly not to cast all Muslims as the enemy, and to be prudent in their choice of words. In a sense, Williams was trying to speak to the largely very right-wing audience of Fox News and ask that people overcome their personal fear and be tolerant of Muslims and careful in their choice of rhetoric regarding terrorism and Islam.
This is a good thing! This is a positive message, coupled with an admission of culpability, making that message even more meaningful. Either critics of Williams are simply missing this point because TPM supplied them with a purposefully misleading clip of the exchange, or they are willfully ignoring it because of their dislike for Williams. Neither, I would argue, is an acceptable response. And that’s not just me being contrarian.
Oh, and the NPR Ombudsman, Alicia Shepherd, doesn’t think Williams should have been fired either:
Rather than terminating news analyst Juan Williams’ contract, “probably the better thing for NPR to have done is to have said ‘Juan the situation is not working,’ ” NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepherd just said on Talk of the Nation.
Then, she continued, Williams could have been given a choice: If he wanted to stay at NPR, he would have to stop doing commentary on Fox News Channel. Or, if he preferred to continue with Fox, he and NPR could part ways.
There appears to be a significant difference of opinion as to whether Williams was truly “explaining why it’s important to not succumb to these fears, both as an individual and as a society” or whether he was validating the Islamophobia of O’Reilly and others.
Also, the ombudsman isn’t really saying much. Instead of terminating his contract, maybe they should have given him the choice to terminate his Fox contract instead. Well, okay, I guess they could have.
Oh, and the NPR Ombudsman, Alicia Shepherd, doesn’t think Williams should have been fired either:
Sounds like a good cover for NPR but the outcome would be the same.
This statement is absolutely FALSE. He was justifying his fears, which is completely different.
DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.
Okay, I see your point now.
But they wanted to fire him because he’d been generally embarrassing the network and alienating listeners. It doesn’t matter much what the pretext was.
Seriously? Twitter is public. If a journalist made horrible comments about someone or spread blanket accusations at groups of people, you think that would be okay? What if they encouraged people to break the law, like suggesting they kill elected officials? Isn’t there a point where someone’s public statements go too far?
What TimmyB sez…but it’s nice to see the walkback from the “smacking of the Sherrod affair” bullshit…
I guess context is what context does…
No response to the critiques of the idiotic Sherrod comparison you made, Kain?
Again, E.D., you are ignoring NPR’s actual explanation of Williams’ firing. They made it very clear that he has repeatedly violated their policies for news analysts:
Don’t substitute your speculation for the actual facts of the case.
The Other Chuck
Juan wasn’t fired so much for what he said, so much as for flipping NPR the middle finger twice and going on Fox News and saying it as “NPR Reporter Juan Williams”. If Shep Smith wants to come on to MSNBC and lay into Fox, that’s his right, and also Fox’s to can him.
Was that on school grounds or off? Hopefully the students didn’t see…
I find myself agreeing with DougJ’s reasoning and E.D.’s tone.
E.D., after viewing, I don’t really find the context helpful to Williams’ cause. He’s not really apologizing for his bigotry or admitting it’s wrong, he’s using it to find common ground with O’Reilly so his further arguments can be more successful. This is a large part of the left’s problem with Williams (when actually examining his function/purpose on Fox in detail); he exists to give credence to the bad instincts of the O’Reillys of the world while quibbling over details. I read his statement as “It’s ok to be scared of muslims just for being muslim, I know I am”. You can follow up by saying that muslims aren’t the devil, but you’ve already given acceptance to allowing people to accept bigotry and irrational fear…
When we expend the same amount of virtual ink on labor laws that allow the non-commentating class to be fired for virtually anything at all, then I’ll shed a tear for Juan Williams, a man handsomely paid for not doing very much at all in the scheme of things.
“even if Williams is a shill for right-wingers like O’Reilly.”
This is exactly why he was fired. If he is that, he is no longer a suitable news analyst for NPR. NPR only took 5? 7? years to figure this out.
Also, there is plenty of history. He had already been told not to refer to himself as an NPR analyst on FOX when he was just being an O’reilly shill.
Perhaps you and Doug could have had this debate in the comments section of one of those posts where it belongs.
Notice you dropped the Sherrod comparison. That’s progress. It’s fine to compare his deal to Weigel, Thomas, et. al, but the comparison to Sherrod remains odious. You might acknowledge it.
ED, what the fuck is the matter with your reasoning ability? Cole played the BillO FOX game and did it stupidly and managed all that despite experience with both. Fired for “out of context” remarks? You are seriously proposing that NPR didn’t view the entire mess? Really? You’re also proposing that a firing related to a FauxNews appearance left them is some doubt as to the “right’s” reaction?
Goddam buddy, you propose to bring fresh stuff around here and make those kind of assumptions? The fact that some dumbass from the right makes a statement that appeals to you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother to think about it just a bit.
Frankly I’m surprised Williams was able to work both NPR and FOX as long as he did. What kind of mad ping ponging is that?
@MaximusNYC: Hmm…So contracts are important.
Like hell he was! Via Think Progress, here’s Williams, today, on Fox News, discussing his firing:
He’s not saying “We all have these fears, but we have to overcome them”, he’s saying “We all have these fears, and we are absolutely justified in being afraid”, which is pretty much the opposite of what you imply.
Just so everyone feels better about good ol’ Juan, he just signed a $2 million, 3 year exclusive contract with Fox.
DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.
There is one thing that you and the turtle Saletan are missing, though. Recall that O’Reilly went on The View and said all kinds of crazy stuff. Williams began by saying:
The trouble for me, isn’t exactly what Juan Williams said about being afraid of Muslims, it’s that his entire role on the show was to validate O’Reilly’s craziness as an “NPR liberal”. I just can’t see how you don’t fire someone for that.
“… Williams was confessing to his own irrational fears and then explaining why it’s important to not succumb to these fears,…”
If you read the original transcript (http://thinkprogress.org/2010/10/21/npr-fires-juan-williams/), he said nothing of the sort. He DID say: “I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. … 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.” In brief, he was trying to justify and excuse his ‘fears.’
Your attempted comparison to Breitbart’s smear of Shirley Sherrod was deeply offensive. You should be posting at RedState since you try to justify racism with specious reasoning and phony comparisons.
The bigger story here is that there wasn’t this kind of outraged over Octavia Nast, just sayin’
It isn’t about context, Williams being a hack, the left hating him, or what ever else someone can come up with to paper over the bigoted shit that came out of his mouth.
Hatred and fear of Muslims has been mainstreamed.
Williams tried making the point with O’Rielly about trying to suppress thoughts like that and trying to get over our differences with Muslims and trying have a civil discussion with people of the Muslim faith over our differences. And that’s all well and good, but misses the point completely.
It’s the fact that a grown man has an irrational fear of the way people look and dress. A fear that is based on nothing but bigoted bullshit that the press has been helping to spread for almost 10 years now.
The question isn’t whether or not Williams should have been canned over the ‘I am scared of Muslims when I get on the plane’ remark. The question is WHY does he feel scared of Muslims on a plane, specifically when they wear ‘Muslim garb’ as he put it. Did the 9/11 hijackers board those planes wearing robes and turbins? No. Did the X-mas underpants bomber dress in that manner? No. Have any of the other Islamist terrorists that have been arrested in this country dress in that manner? No.
No matter what happened, people were going to focus on his ‘I am scared of Muslims when I get on the plane’ part of his remarks. Anyone who has been paying attention to the way the MSM works these past 20 years knows that. Sure, he said that he wasn’t exactly proud of those feelings, but the fact that he has them to begin with is the problem.
NPR has a right to not renew the contract of someone who, by his own admission, is a bigot. He’s been an embarrassment to that organization for some time, and this was the final insult, as they say. What the ombudsman has to say is meaningless. Ombudsman translates to ‘spineless moron’ in English. Ombudsmen always spew out mealy-mouthed bullcrap. It’s what they get paid for.
There is an ugly, violent undercurrent of Muslim hatred in this country that will boil to the surface sooner rather that later, and people are going to get killed because of it. If NPR feels that someone in their employ is contributing to that, it is well within their right to let them go.
Juan Williams has the right to be as bigoted as he wants to be. But that doesn’t mean he has the right to collect a paycheck for saying bigoted shit. That’s what Fox News is for. And he will still collect his Fox paycheck, and will continue to be O’Reilly’s lapdog.
@MaximusNYC: Whoever misspelled “principle” in a press release from a media corporation should be fired.
@thefncrow: So, it would seem that Williams was showing restraint in his views as NPR had requested, after all.
Now that he’s got the Fox contract, he can let it all hang out. Must feel quite liberating for him.
The NPR Ombudsman recommended forcing Williams to quit rather than fire him.
That seems like good legal advice but I’m not seeing what that has to do with being an ombudsman.
And I don’t see how it supports your argument.
It would be like LBJ saying on the radio, “Look, I understand you’re afraid of the coloreds. I am, too. But that’s no reason not to serve them a cup of coffee.”
@Billy: In regards to Sherrod, I think Kain is “missing the point or avoiding it.”
Honestly, ED’s reading of Williams’ comments is absolutely tortured. Seriously how do you ignore the fact that when he starts speaking he says in pretty plain language that he thinks O’Reilly’s outright, unapologetic bigotry is “right”?
FFS, just admit you were full of shit in the first place.
L. Trotsky's Nat'l Security State
Yeah, ED Kain has this little problem with substituting his own supposition of causes, rather than obtaining easily verifiable facts.
That being said, Midnight Marauder already handed you your face on the subject of ‘context’, which you apparently yake to mean ‘what thnk should be included, and nothing that shouldn’t’.
I should probably defer to the NPR ombudsperson on this, but I’m, like, 99% certain they went through this already, back when he first started going on O’Reilly. Maybe it was just that he couldn’t use the NPR imprimatur while kissing fascist ass, I dunno.
Any-hoo, glad to know he’s out. Between this and the awesome Alec Baldwin PSA’s they’re running, this is the least conflicted I’ve been about pledging in years.
BTW, are you and Doug gonna do this Junior Varsity Cole & Sully act with every post now? I’m all about internet wanking, but not the metaphorical kind.
E.D. Kain……its a helluva drug
And it isn’t too hard to imagine LBJ doing this, is it? When I lived in Texas, one of the code questions among the older white establishment was to ask who the worst president of all time was. The “correct” answer was LBJ. I must’ve been slow because it took a couple times hearing that before I realized what they actually meant by that…
Listen, none of what you said here is accurate or truthful. Absolutely none of it. Let’s actually take a look at how Williams “explains how it’s important not to succumb to those fears.”
Yeah, way to not succumb to those fears. More importantly, however, is the element you continue to overlook as you write nonsense like “Either critics of Williams are simply missing this point because TPM supplied them with a purposefully misleading clip of the exchange, or they are willfully ignoring it because of their dislike for Williams.” Because look at what Williams says before he refuses to succumb to bigoted fears”:
And what would that “reality” be exactly? That “there’s no question there is a Muslim problem in the world.” Again, note that he’s not saying Muslim extremists; it’s just every single Muslim in the world that is a potential jihadist in the making. Furthermore, you continue to overlook the fact that Williams continued to justify his bigotry by stating comments like:
Again, the fact that America is engaged in a war with every single Muslim, all over the world. Remember, the entire premise of Juan Williams’ appearance was to agree, justify, and provide supplemental commentary to Bill O’Reilly’s initial claim that “we have a Muslim problem.”
An even bigger issue is the lack of coherency in your posts, since you jump from saying this:
to this within the same paragraph:
he was specifically firedhis contract was not specifically renewed because of these comments or it was a matter of a long-term grievance finally coming to its conclusion. You don’t get to make a cute distinction that he was fired solely for these comments, while also trying to sneak in the fact that, maybe, there was an additional set of factors at work here beyond the rank bigotry contained in Williams’ statement.
Finally, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen analysis as dense as this comment:
I’m sure, but where is the culpability from Williams? Does it come when he says he isn’t a bigot because he wrote a few books about the civil rights movement? Does it come when Bill O’Reily says “we have a Muslim problem” and then Juan Williams says “I think you are right?” By all means, go ahead and point out the actual occurrence of this “good thing” because it seems like you completely missed the plot once again in your analysis.
EDIT: I mean, you have to be fucking kidding. You are seriously claiming that Williams was speaking about the need to not succumb to bigoted fears when he starts off by telling O’Reilly that those fears are completely right and legitimate because we were attacked by Muslims on 9/11. It’s a goddamn farce of an analysis from start to finish.
What was the context that justified Williams’ opinion? Is there a quote? I could only find the ThinkProgress clip.
Seriously, like I said in past threads here, this is almost the exact opposite of the Sherrod affair: The initial impression whitewashes Juan William’s comments, and the context damns them.
Juan Williams reminds me of this:
Kent Brockman: Hordes of panicky people seem to be evacuating the town for some unknown reason. Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it’s time for our viewers to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?
Professor: Yes I would, Kent.
@DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.:
E.D. has entirely refused to acknowledge this point, much like he entirely ignored his noxious comparison to the Shirely Sherrod affair in this post.
Like it wasn’t even a driving element of his entire previous post.
Perfect. As your comments have been since ED’s first non-sensical post on this.
@Bobby Thomson: Spell check: making the world dumber, one click at a time.
All I know is that I will never have to listen to fucking Williams in my car or home ever again.
David brooks needs to say something really racist….
The NPR ombusdman is a gutless wimp. She didn’t want to call drowning people over and over torture. That’s like calling an electric chair “enhanced conductivity” and lethal injection “incremental toxicity.”
They needed to fire Williams because, as someone in the media, he should know enough to say exactly what he wants to say (maybe even writing it down first) so that it cannot be misunderstood OR keeping his big cakehole shut.
Just because the media barons have set themselves a goal of hours of dead air to fill does not obligate one to personally fill it with whatever floats through your cranium.
I say this as someone who has managed and represented news media personnel. Williams is not a professional and not serious. He has transformed himself from Robin McNeil to Michael Medved.
The fact that Cole made his way back to ‘a problem with Christians’ in regard to KC and ATL doesn’t solve the problems with all his qualifiers and BillO bootlicking on the issue. That segment was a mess and anybody who’d do it that way really doesn’t deserve a contract with anybody other than FAUX.
I don’t give money to NPR because to me they suck just as badly as the ones that make me listen to commercials up front.
Why does the world owe Juan Williams, Helen Thomas, or Dave Wiegel a paycheck? The organizations they worked for felt embarrassed, rightly or not, by their employees’ actions and so they fired them.
L. Trotsky's Nat'l Security State
Chuck Bucher: I think you are confusing Juan Williams with Juan Cole, which is confusing on a blog where John Cole has been confused with Juan Cole. I think.
On Bill O’Reilly’s show?
But yet Cokie Roberts will be back on NPR spewing her warmed-over crap next Monday. She must sell a lot of tote bags.
I am not fond of the “lets fire him!” reflex whenever a pundit or commentator says something stupid or offensive.
But commentators, tv anchors, and reporters get sacked all the time for much more harmless offenses, not the least of which is being boring or even worse, old.
NPR, regardless of its public funding, is driven by the desire to be seen as neutral and evenhanded in its reporting; when a commentator gives off the impression he is bigoted or unfair, management is right to give him the sack.
There is plenty of room for nuance and shades of grey here-this is why management decisions have to be made by people, based on a lot of conflicting factors, not just some “zero tolerance” bureaucratese. I can see where NPR might have accepted the “context” argument, and retained him.
But a sensible manager could also have felt this was one straw too many, as it looks like they did.
That would be known as facts not in evidence, E. D. Kaine.
You think we can’t read the transcript or watch the video for ourselves and see that he didn’t explain that at all?
He was specifically making it OK for people to hate and fear Muslims, and all your wishing he didn’t say that or had some extended context to excuse it doesn’t make it so.
We should expect better from you if you’re going to post here. Maybe you’d be happier writing where its OK for people to make up their own facts to support their argument.
By doing the exact opposite of this, naturally.
Um. No. He was pandering to that audience..
Kain, said this before, I’ll say it again, I’m with you on this issue. Williams shouldn’t have been fired for the reason given by NPR.
That said, I’m having trouble showing any passion over it, because … Juan Fucking Williams, y’know? I think NPR needed to get rid of the guy, just not in the way they did it.
I’m glad you cited Alicia Shepherd’s reaction. That pretty much sums up my own.
“Then, she continued, Williams could have been given a choice: If he wanted to stay at NPR, he would have to stop doing commentary on Fox News Channel. Or, if he preferred to continue with Fox, he and NPR could part ways.”
This is just stupid. Want to know where Williams wants to be? Look at where he spends most of his time: on FOX.
Sorry ED, but invoking Shirley Sherrod really ruined that post.
Shirley Sherrod was smeared by fucking Andrew Breitbart with a deliberately altered videotape. Juan Williams was not.
I could go on but really it’s an absurd comparison and you owe Shirley Sherrod an apology. Seems unlike you to resort to this lazy “both sides do it” crap.
Is there some reason why E.D. Kain can’t use the comments like everybody else? Does he even read the comments? I think people are getting a little carried away with attacking him here, but that might be exacerbated by his not involving himself in conversations with the commenters.
Edward G. Talbot
Man, E.D., you’re getting killed here! My take is that I don’t agree with you about what Williams are trying to do – I think the idea that he was shooting for common ground and trying to tell people not to give in to their fears is not accurate. To me, the totality of his statements don’t support that, even if he himself believes that’s what he was doing.
however, despite my disagreement, I do think you made a reasonable case for your point, aside from the sherrod comparison. I’m not quite sure why people feel the need for such vitriol – scratch that, I know why. It is unfortunate.
Regarding the larger picture of journalists being fired for the personal statements, I think it’s merely a symptom of the larger problem. There is no longer any such thing as an undisputed fact. As such, objectivity is not really possible for journalists – if it ever was. As long as this remains the case, people’s personal statements WILL continue to matter. because at one level opinion is all we get any more, and you can’t separate the personal from the professional when that is the case.
I’m with Mr. Kain and Saletan on this one, and generally I take a pretty hard line about Republicans and the Southern Strategy–to wit, if you support the Republican Party, you implicitly support the racist Southern Strategy, and hence are guilty of racist behavior.
That being said, I don’t think Williams crossed the line in what he said on that particular O’Reilly show. I think he crossed the line a long time ago when he consented to be a stooge on Fox, but that’s not really at issue.
It’s important for us to define racism, bigotry, and discrimination in ways that allow people to confront those problems and work on them. But telling someone they are a bigot because of their negative feelings does not provide a way to address the problem.
Feelings are just feelings; what counts is what I do when I have those feelings. From Saletan’s article, it looks as if Williams fought back against O’Reilly’s racist pandering. Williams appears to have been doing the right thing.
Not true. From today’s interview with the CEO of NPR:
Q: So did Juan really get fired over just those Muslim comments? [He said he was uncomfortable with Muslims dressed in traditional garb on airplanes during a Fox News telecast yesterday.
A: There have been several instances over the last couple of years where we have felt Juan has stepped over the line. He famously said last year something about Michelle Obama and Stokely Carmichael. [The quote on Fox News early last year: “Michelle Obama, you know, she’s got this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going” and that she’ll be an “albatross” for President Obama.]. This isn’t a case of one strike and you’re out.
Q: So this is obviously not an isolated incident.
A: There’s so much misinformation on the blogosphere, it’s nuts. This has been an on-going issue. [Here’s NPR’s ombudsman’s piece on him last year after the Obama comment.] When he does that, when anybody does that, it undermines their credibility as a journalist or in Juan’s case, a news analyst for NPR. Those two things cannot go together.
After reading Crusty Dem’s comment at 11, above, I’m going to have to watch the actual segment.
talk about missing the point. whether the comments were stupid or not (and they were stupid) doesn’t matter. by going on billo’s show and spouting off on shit that doesn’t fall under his job of ‘news analyst’, he violated his contract with NPR. full stop.
the political content of his comments vis-a-vis whether they were truly offensive or not is a distraction. the reason he was shitcanned was because he clearly violated his contract for like the umpteenth time.
No, it really isn’t. It’s important to define racism, bigoty, and discrimination in explicit, succinct terms that allow us to easily identify when such ignorance rears its head. The responsibility for assuaging the feelings of bigots does not belong to the rest of society. The onus to confront those problems and work on them entirely belongs to the bigot.
this. TV employment is fleeting. you start losing your good looks or start saying stupid shit and the jobs can start disappearing.
that being said, the quickest and easiest way to get the boot is to clearly violate your contract. unless they absolutely love you, they’re gonna show you the door, or at least knock you down to the equivalent of the mailroom guy.
i’m not sure why this is so hard to understand. williams broke his contract, over and over again.
“Remember what Jesse Jackson said 17 years ago: “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.” Sometimes a confession of prejudice is part of a larger reflection on the perils of prejudice.”
“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.”
If we use a derogatory label like ‘bigot’ for people who admit their fears and prejudices, and who also recognize these fears and prejudices are wrong and harmful–as Williams apparently did–then we wrongly insult people.
Fear of the other is a natural thing for people to feel; recognizing that fear as harmful and working through it is the realistic goal.
Counting 3 posts combined, the “over” in comments in the original post was 400+.
I took the over.
We’re now at 336……. It’s not looking good for my prediction.
This is why I don’t bet on NFL games.
I’m with you, E.D….Juan got the shaft for being a voice on Fox, no more, no less. I can’t tolerate Juan that much my self, pretty much for the same reason I believe he was fired. But I don’t condone firing him outright for that.
And since the Honerable Mr. Grayson appears to be heading for unemployment, maybe NPR would consider a decent alternative to fill his time slots…
Except that Williams didn’t do any of those things you keep taking about. This is his explanation of his comments this morning:
It was nine years ago and you are still conflating every single Muslim you see with a terrorist. There’s no growth there, there’s no attempt to work through the fear. He just reiterates that it’s how he feels and that’s that. Stop affording him a nobility that he does not even claim for himself. The guy is so traumatized by the events of 9/11 that he admits that he is literally incapable of distinguishing average Muslims from religious extremists (who, it should once again be pointed out, were not even fucking wearing “Muslim garb” on 9/11, so he really doesn’t even have a fucking leg to stand on in the first place).
What people like you and E.D. keep doing is exactly what makes Fox News so noxious, and it’s overlooking the truly odious nature of Williams’ comments while focusing in on the window dressing to minimize the bigoted nature of his remarks. So you end up falling for bullshit like this:
while completely ignoring the fact that he turns around and says something as ignorant as this:
Right, except for the fact that you are not scared of Islamic radicals, you are just simply terrified of anyone and everyone you see who is dressed in “Muslim garb.”
Sometimes I think it is just that people who argue that there is a legitimate reason to suspect all Muslims of being terrorists or even flinch when you see them is that these people are, in fact, innumerate. Here’s the famous Venn Diagram to put this into persepctive:
Muslims in world, Muslims in US, Muslims in al-Qaeda
Think of the absurdity of those numbers. A far higher percentage of Italian-Americans and Italian Nationals are committing violent actions for the Mafia as a percentage total Italian heritage in the world yet, nobody would ever suggest that it is OK to reflexively fear all Italians or even those who “insist in identifying as Italian before they identify as American”
@nick: Those two are not analogous. Jesse Jackson admitting that prejudice is difficult even for him to overcome is not equivalant to Juan Williams telling Bill O’Reilly that it’s okay for him to be prejudiced.
Maybe he added in that Muslims still have rights, but he did not at all imply that people need to work at overcoming their bigotry against Muslims. Instead, he gives cover to it.
First, if you watch the actual segment, Williams continually battles against O’Reilly’s attempts to characterize Muslims generally in a negative light.
Second, it is entirely normal for a person who is afraid of a specific category (Islamic extremists), to be reminded of that specific category by a general category (people in Islamic garb), and to have that anxiety arise.
Saletan’s Jesse Jackson example illustrates this clearly—presence of a general group (actually, lack thereof), in his case black people, triggers the anxiety that he legitimately feels because of the danger of a specific group (black criminals), such that the possibility that the whites he is relieved to see could also be criminals (just as Williams noted that some terrorists are Christian).
Williams admitted his fear was irrational, and continually fought against O’Reilly’s attempt to confuse the general group of Muslims with the specific group of Islamic radicals.
Okay, I actually had to look up O’Reilly’s talking points (ugh), to see what Williams initially agreed to.
O’Reilly says the world has a Muslim problem, and being an atheist, I agree. We also have a Christian problem, which I think is far more damaging and dangerous, but which went unaddressed, of course.
So Williams agreeing with O’Reilly that we have a Muslim problem (not specifically a radical Islam problem), is bigoted.
And yes, by implication, I am bigoted towards religious fundamentalists. I think being intolerant of religious fundamentalists is morally good.
@nick: Nick: Williams does say that one shouldn’t conflate all Muslims with the extremists, but O’Reilly agrees with him and still says that he won’t resort to hedging about all the bad things he says about Muslims.
You were right that Williams says some positive things afterwards, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t endorse O’Reilly’s bigotry. Also, what the fuck is O’Reilly’s problem with Germany? A “politically correct country”? Has he ever even been to Germany? The guy just has a massive ego that he inserts into everything without any regard for facts. I’m waiting for the day that he steps on a Fox sacred cow and gets shitcanned, but I expect he’s too savvy for that, or has Ailes approve his rants.
Just because the overall message Juan espoused wasn’t horrific doesn’t mean he didn’t make bigoted comments. There’s just no way around it. The context absolutely doesn’t change that.
Think of it this way (as many people have already posited): Random white journalist says: “I’m no bigot, but when I see a black guy, wearing chains and a long white t-shirt walking down my street, identifying himself first and foremost as a black man, I get uncomfortable.”
But then later he says, “But we have to keep in mind to separate the good black people from the bad black people.”
That still sounds pretty fucking racist to me, dude.
And the bigotry here, E.D., is that DESPITE trying to make that distinction between the GOOD and EVIL Muslims, JUAN STILL FEELS IRRATIONALLY UNCOMFORTABLE AROUND ALL MUSLIMS. This is completely different from the Sherrod story, because Sherrod’s story was about growing out of bigotry. There’s redemption. Sherrod ends the story learning from her irrational misgivings toward the white farmer.
Williams, on the other hand, STILL feels his irrational fear towards Muslims. No matter what else he says, that feeling still exists. No matter what else he says, HE IS A BIGOT.
This is especially a big deal because it highlights just how little Americans understand bigotry, and how easy certain people who think they are tolerant and not racist can be completely the opposite without even realizing it. I don’t think you’ll find many people at all who will say, “Yeah, I’m a bigot and proud of it!” these days. What you have all over the country is, “Hey, I’m not a bigot, but I just feel uncomfortable with gays marrying,” or “I’m not a bigot, but I just don’t like this black president giving us white folks the shaft,” or “I’m not a bigot, but I’m completely incapable of separating radical Muslims that attacked us on 9/11 from Muslim Americans, so I don’t think they should be able to build their ‘mosque’ anywhere near Ground Zero [or, preferably, America].”
Come on nick, Williams starts off by backtracking and kowtowing, then occasionally asserts that not all muslims are bad and that’s “battling O’Reilly”? He’s not on the show to battle O’Reilly, just like Colmes wasn’t brought on to thwart Hannity, he’s there to provide support for O’Reilly’s bigoted bombastic nonsense by agreeing in principle but arguing over minutia. When you start off by agreeing with the bigot, you wind up a bigot; that’s not NPR’s fault, that’s Williams’ fault.
I don’t think Kain’s quite let go of the wingnut habit, of reflexively shouting, whenever some public figure says something wingnutty and patently offensive…
“Teh libruls are taking them out of context!”
Meanwhile, in the real world, here’s what happens when people “get nervous” over people wearing garb that identifies them as muslim.
1) Alicia Shepard is a shitty, shitty ombudsman. Here’s Glenn Greenwald baffled by her defense of torture, which is roughly: “It isn’t torture if Americans do it!” (more specific links: part 1, part 2, part 3) But she’s very worried about meanie liberals calling teabaggers “teabaggers”. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in what she says; lately, the job of “ombudsman” at major media outlets seems to have become, “Apologist to conservatives who want their feelings stroked,” in case you’re unfamiliar with previous issues at the WP and NYT.
2) About the “Oh, this is just like Shirley Sherrod” argument: Sherrod, you may recall, was an employee of the federal government. Maybe it’s not a huge deal, but when you’re talking about taxpayer dollars and a civil service position, you’re talking about stronger protections for a job than someone who’s basically a freelance commentator who’s already been warned he’s on thin ice.
3) Also: Shirley Sherrod’s story was “I had these racist impulses, and I realized they were wrong.” Juan Williams’s story was “I had these racist impulses, and I realized that as a good stereotypical liberal wuss, I should tell my conservative friends on national TV.”
Wile E. Quixote
So any day now E.D. Kain is going to post an impassioned defense of Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez and Dr. Laura. Right?
Watching this whole thing unfold I’m struck by the thought that O.J. Simpson really fucked up back in the 90s. Sure, he played the race card and got off scot free, but his career in TV and movies was over. But O.J. should have played the race card that Clarence Thomas and Juan Williams did. O.J. should have said that he was a conservative black man being persecuted by white liberals for his beliefs. He should have said that he was being persecuted by the LAPD for telling the truth and that his trial was nothing more than a “high tech lynching of an uppity black man”, that the real killer of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman was a liberal, perhaps the same liberal who killed Vince Foster to keep him from telling the truth about Hillary Clinton and that he was the victim of political correctness gone amok and that Janet Reno and Bill and Hillary Clinton were gunning for him because he refused to live on the Democratic plantation. For double-special bonus points with conservatives he could have brought up Teddy Kennedy and Chappaquiddick.
If O.J. had done that he would have become the darling of the right. Not only would he have gotten off scot free for the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman he also would have gotten a commentator’s gig on FSN and Fox would have given him his own reality show where every week he would hunt for the real killers of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. If I Did It would have been published by Regnery with a foreward written by Rush Limbaugh and would have sold a million copies and he’d be making huge bank speaking to conservative groups all over America. And his movie career, far from being over, would continue, as he would be guaranteed a role in any movie made by Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, who gave him roles in the Police Squad movies and would have given him a role in An American Carol.
Bigots, and their defenders can all fuck off.
Reality. Ur doin it rong.
Juan benefited greatly by being fired. Given that choice he would undoubtedly have chosen Fox. By being fired instead of leaving by choice, Williams got a huge new contract from Fox News. Had NPR followed Shepherd’s suggested course, Williams would have still characterized the outcome as his being fired.
First, I don’t read Think Progress all that much, but nevertheless, if what William Saletan says is right, that they released a very inaccurate clip, they really need to be taken to task.
That’s completely unacceptable bullshit regardless of whether it comes from Fox News or Think Progress. And it is absolutely shocking for it to come from Think Progress.
Second, DougJ really needs to apologize/step down/be fired for his lawn jockey comments. He clearly has issues. He should be discussing those issues with his psychiatrist.
I’m going to accept that Williams statement about “nervousness” was in fact a bigoted statement.
But the question is, what is his actual behavior in life? Does he support that racism in policy or does he speak out and fight against it. And it’s the latter.
I think the human condition is such that all of us have bigoted thoughts. And most of us strive to do better, and that seems to be what Juan was doing, on a show on TV with constant interruptions from other panelists.
Firing someone for their thoughts, or even their occasional off-the-cuff misstatements, especially when that’s not shown in their behavior is just rotten. Being fired like that with no face to face, no discussion, is just thought crime.