Liberal TKO

Juan Williams and the Big, Bad, Scary Muslim | October 23, 2010


Co-written by Bryian Revoner

I’ve been collaborating with Facebook activist Bryian Revoner on political writing and, while we agree more than we disagree, I’m parting company with him on one point he made in the Facebook note he tagged me in today.  The topic of the day . . . Juan Williams, his racist, anti-Muslim statements, and his firing from NPR.

“This may spark a bit of controversy,” wrote Bryian, “but I have to admit that I’ve always liked Juan Williams. In my opinion, he was one of the most reasonable commentators, if not the most reasonable commentator, on Fox News. Juan Williams was in a minority of one when he talked on Fox News about the beauty of having a functioning, African-American 1st family in the White House, and I agreed totally with Williams on that point. I’ve agreed with some of William’s political points in the past; but nevertheless, I cannot agree with the statement he made to Bill O’Reilly, which was also the statement that got him fired from NPR News.”

Having scrutinized Fox News writing for News Hounds (visit News Hounds if you’d like to read more on Juan Williams),  for a couple of years, I view Juan Williams as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  I mean, he is the same guy who said that Michelle Obama has “the Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going” and painted her as some sort of Black radical.  He’s supposed to be the “liberal” one on Fox News (like Greta van Sustern’s “liberal?”  Ha!), the voice of reason in the cacophany of the right-wing noise machine.  Juan Williams might pander a little to the left; Juan Williams might placate, he might pacify, he might occasionally say the right thing, but, in my opinion, what he said on NPR captured his truer idealogy.  He’s more Fox than not Fox.  And, I might add, his firing from NPR hasn’t worked out too badly; his consolation prize — or reward — for his bad behavior on NPR netted him a new $2 million dollar contract from Fox.  His self-defense at this point looks more like Dr. Laura’s red-faced defense of her racist remarks (saying the N-word eleven times on the radio); “reasonable” commentator or not, Juan demonstrated remarkable insensitivity and, at bottom, a willingness to express racist sentiments. 

Having said that, I’m more Bryian than not Bryian . . .

“Juan Williams said: ‘When I get on a plane, I gotta tell you. If I see people who are in Muslim garb, and I think that, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” Now, I don’t agree with this statement, because Muslims in full Muslim garb don’t make me nervous, not on a plane or anywhere else, but that’s my personal belief. I’ve worked with Muslims in full Muslim garb on numerous occasions, and I’ve never felt threatened or uneasy about it.The next question would logically enquire as to why I, Bryian R., am not afraid of Muslims, especially in full Muslim garb in some public place. I can only speak for me, but behavioral activities usually scare me far more than ideological proclamations. Whether the individual is dressed in religious garb or whether they are totally in the nude, I’m not going to necessarily fear for my life or become disoriented about the spectacle or the fashion statement, but when this individual actually does something that warrants my attention span, now that will be a totally different story! If I see flashing lights emanating from the crotch of the Muslim in full Muslim garb, not only will I become nervous, I will get personally involved! For that matter, if I see anyone with flashing lights emanating from their crotch or some other orifice, I will react the exact same way. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the person is in full Muslim garb or in a New York Yankees uniform. I would rather have clues to this person’s intentions, as opposed to clues about this person’s taste in fashion or religion. Think about it people. If there are two Muslims seated next to each other on a plane, both dressed in full Muslim garb, but only one of them has the red light, green light, yellow light, stop mechanism flashing and sending smoke signals from their crotch, it will be the out-of-season Christmas tree tucked away in some underwear that will pose the threat, not the Muslim garb, because the other person in full Muslim garb was light-less, bomb-less, and obviously not a threat. This is kind of like algebra, because the positive, Muslim garb and the negative, Muslim garb cancel each other out—leaving only the disco ball crotch to contend with.”

What I’d like to add here is that Williams has a history of ignoring the obvious practice of racial profiling.  Williams, in fact, criticized President Obama for his comments in defense of Henry Gates, and against the police department, for what was obviously — to any thinking person — a clear case of racial profiling.  Racial profiling — which Williams endorsed in his NPR comments — is simply making an assumption about someone based on skin color, or, in this case, religious garb.  Bryian went on to say, “Williams also expresses his murky disdain at people who make a conscious effort to publicly identify themselves as Muslims—first and foremost. To me, this is the worst part of the entire statement, and I, again, do not agree with it on any level. How dare he be so judgmental about someone else’s identity? Who in the hell is he supposed to be—the identity Sheriff? Why can’t someone identify themselves, first and foremost, as a Muslim without being negatively judged because of it, by someone who knows nothing or very little about the Muslim culture—barring what they see on cable news shows? It sounds like Williams was saying that he doesn’t trust Muslims, and anyone who appears to be one deserves his scrutiny and probably the scrutiny of everyone else as well, which implies that whoever dresses to identify as a Muslim is guilty by a dishonestly perceived, ideological association, as mandated by the self-absorbed status quo! Look at it this way. If it’s so terrible to dress and identify as a Muslim, then it must be disgustingly terrible to actually be a Muslim and practice Islam, but by whose standards—Fox News standards?”

In fact, the terrorists who took down the Twin Towers were not dressed in “Muslim garb” at all, as I recall.  In Williams’ world, they would have passed the profiling test simply because they were wearing American street clothes.  Is this an anti-Muslim version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?”

Bryian concluded, “NPR had every right to distance themselves from Williams if they wanted to purse that route, and Fox News might want to consider distancing itself from William’s comments as well, because they definitely paint Muslims in a negative light, but who among us has the authority to authenticate such generalized portraits? Based on journalistic objectivity, I would say no one, and that’s why comments can get people fired! That’s just the world we live in. You can say anything you want, but that does not mean that you have to be guaranteed a specific forum to say it from. If the sponsors decided that Williams was now bad for business, then it was time for Williams to go. NPR is like any other business. Its goal is to make money, not to protect or uphold the First Amendment, which is just more of the world we live in. The only reason Fox News wants to defund NPR is to eliminate another source of competition; a source that is certainly beyond the indoctrinary, dialogue tactics of the big, conservative, truth-devouring machine. Remember what happened to the Dixie Chicks before you feel sorry for Williams being let go by NPR!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Any First Amendment rights (which is not what this is, actually, because the First Amendment protests us against governmental interference in our freedom of speech) do not protect people from the consequences of their words.  When people — such as Juan Williams, or Dr. Laura — throw themselves into the marketplace of public opinion, they are granted the right to say what they like . . . but the flip side of that is that the marketplace is also granted the right to reject what they say.  NPR rejected Juan Williams’ words — and it comes as no surprise to anyone, I’m sure, that Fox would defend Williams’ anti-Muslim sentiments.  As Bryian so aptly pointed out, Fox is in the business of culling the herd:  From its vendetta against MSNBC to, now, NPR, Fox is like a hairdresser criticizing the previous hair stylist’s work. 

Bryian has a personal relationship with racial profiling which I, as a white female, have never experienced — and he speaks to it eloquently:

“Personally, as an African-American, I know exactly what it’s like to be feared based on the appearance of my pigmentation. If I had a dollar for every time a fearful, purse-clutching woman watched the elevator doors open up, looked in and saw that it was only me, and refused to enter in hopes of a safer trip on the next one, I would be rich enough to buy Facebook. So allow me to give my stance. If there are people out there who are afraid of my brown skin, my Bryian R. garb, my religious ideology, my liberally left leaning lean or whatever it may be, I don’t have a problem with it. I guess that’s just you being honest, but if you incorporate that fear unjustly onto me or others like me, simply because we are us, to create a natural barrier to preserve the unwarranted fears of your separation from me, then that is just you being honestly racist! I’d rather learn about all of the things that I fear, instead of fearing all of the things that I could learn!”

Juan Williams deserved to be fired from NPR, but, more than that, he needed to be “outed.”  I can’t imagine Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, another Black pundit who regularly appears on Fox, making such a statement.  Williams shouldn’t be furious at his firing; he shouldn’t be shocked at his firing; he should simply go “home” to Fox where any anti-Muslim statement he cares to make will be embraced, glorified, and commended.

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5 Comments »

  1. “I can’t imagine Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, another Black pundit who regularly appears on Fox, making such a statement”

    Marc Lamont Hill never made a statement like that but Jesse Jackson made such a statement back in 1993.

    “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.”

    Left wing hypocrisy knows no bounds.

    Comment by ash — October 23, 2010 @ 11:19 AM

  2. Would the liberals have the courage like they do today to openly mock people about the “Big, Bad, Scary Muslims” right after the Muslim attacks on 911 2001? I highly doubt it.

    Comment by ash — October 23, 2010 @ 11:24 AM

  3. 5% of the country are hateful lefties like this guy. 5% are hateful righties.
    On any issues such as the Juan one, they line up predictably and come out fighting.
    The other 90% look at them and think, “let the assholes kill each other”.

    Comment by Larry Kelly — October 23, 2010 @ 9:15 PM

  4. Seems to me that, while you have Juan Williams’ statement correct, you missed his point in its full context. The O’Reilly Factor segment was about being politically correct and O’Reilly’s larger point was that there is, in fact, some level of a “Muslim problem” facing the societies of world today. While Mr. Williams essentially confessed that even he – with his anti-bigotry history – gets those irrational fears from time-to-time, he also went on to make the point that it’s wrong to label an entire group by the actions of a small few. He agreed with Bill O’Reilly only to the extent that the moderate Muslim population needs to raise its collective voice louder in opposition to the fringe radicals.

    You can think Juan Williams’ analysis to be “spot on”, “way off-base”, or somewhere in between. But if we truly want to engage in serious conversation about the touchy issues that challenge us today, this is what it will sound like.

    It is wrong to accuse any person of bigotry in a single instance unless there is also a history to draw from in order to arrive at that inescapable conclusion. It is even more wrong when we allow our own ideologies to dictate that accusation.

    Comment by Al — October 24, 2010 @ 1:40 AM

  5. You write for Newshounds, huh? Well, that explains your lies and your hypocrisy.

    Comment by Scott — October 24, 2010 @ 11:59 AM


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    Hello! Facebook political activist Bryian Revoner and I are glad to have you join us here at Liberal TKO, where we strive to knock out right-wing nonsense. We don't define ourselves as simply "progressives" or "Democrats" . . . we're proud ultra-liberals, and we're taking the gloves off . . . .

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