Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Being a regular reader of this site it's probably stuning that I'm gonna come to the defense of someone who is a) a slave catcher in the eyes of many, and b) an individual who is a regular staple over at Fox News Channel. Yes, I realize that me defending him can be construed as slave-catcher behavior on my part, but dammit I gotta do what's right or else my wife won't give me any at night.
So Juan Williams was fired by NPR for what was perceived to be the expression of anti-Muslim rhetoric while doing his usual gig on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor. So what exactly did Williams say that warranted his dismissal from the good folks over at NPR? Well, here's what everyone is focusing on as being anti-Muslim:
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,” he said. “But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re 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.Now look, the way I see it, there's nothing anti-Muslim about Williams' remarks above. I think over the course of the last few months, our political discourse exists as an example of just what anti-Muslim actually is, when it centered on a proposed mosque being built at Ground Zero that's not even at Ground Zero. I mean, add to that the "Burn A Quaran Day", or the slashing of the neck of a Muslim New York cab driver, and... Well, you get the picture. Shit, I'm nervous at the ATM here in Memphis, does that make me a bigot?
To let it be known that given the events of 9/11 that you're a tad bit nervous when stepping onto an airplane and seeing a few middle eastern doo-rags and Jesus clothes, isn't actually a bigoted remark. Hell, I live in the south and was once almost ran off the road by a guy in a pickup truck flying confederate flags just after he stared directly into my eyes while on an interstate in Alabama. That said, would it be bigoted if I said that the sight of white folks, big trucks, and confederate flags while I'm driving makes me nervous?
Of course not; and it would be natural for me to feel that way. But I guess to the folks over at NPR, what Williams said was a bit too much unlike anything the uber-cool liberal $10 latte-drinking-crowd would ever say. But the truth is, we've seen this all before in our 24/7 media soundbite driven culture; context be damned in our inability to critically think on our own.
Yep, remember Shirley Sherrod? Sure you do! She hated all white people and proudly and without a care felt the need to share her feelings with a group of folks attending an NAACP event or workshop. Well, that was up until somebody got the bright idea to view the entire tape after she was fired. Remember that now? Well, the same thing can be said about Williams given that the larger context and relevance of his remarks have been ignored. One has to wonder if NPR made him pull off to the side of the road so that he was able to text his resignation; after all, NPR didn't like the idea of him working for Fox anyway.
The fact that he made his remarks as part of the larger argument or context, that would be in defense of the idea that every Muslim is a terrorists, as was Bill O'Reilly's postulation. The fact that this is being ignored says a lot about where we're at in American society. Period, point blank, we're all a bunch of idiots much in the same way the NAACP, the White House, and Tom Vilsak, who all saw Shirley Sherrod as a racist.
Now watch the entire clip instead of the 42 second soundbite. Yep, do that and then tell me if anything Williams said was "inartful", and or offensive. If anything, hopefully one can see that it was Bill O'Reilly, and not Williams who was defending his right to be a racist bigot on national television. And, this is one move that we cannot blame on Fox. However, I guess in the eyes of some the fact that he works for them that he got what he had coming to him. Well to that, I say bullshit; yep, and it doesn't matter that he's a black republican: