Poor Juan Williams?

Mr. Juan Williams was canned from NPR after making remarks about Muslims: “…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.”

There has been a lot of protest from all shades of opiners, especially conservative. The right wingers are baying for blood; they want federal funding cut off for NPR. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, said he would introduce legislation to halt taxpayer contributions to public media, charging that, “With record debt and unemployment, there’s simply no reason to force taxpayers to subsidize liberal programming they disagree with.” (emphasis mine)

As an aside, this emotional outburst by Republicans is nothing new, but has not succeeded in the past; it does score good political points to the fervent right-wing base. (Even when the GOP controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House back in 2005, a move to defund them failed after 87 House Republicans broke ranks and voted to reinstate money that had been stripped in committee: Time blog)

Rick Ungar in the Forbes blog does make a reasonable point by comparing to this Williams’ affair to that of Ms. Sherrod: NPR acted too quickly.

Kelly Boggs of Baptist News says that “He was fired because he expressed his feelings…”

Well, Helen Thomas and Rick Sanchez were fired for similar reasons, recently; they were expressing their feelings. Where were these voices then? If Mr. Williams would have said that he feels uncomfortable at night when he’s alone and a black man is walking behind him, there would have been an uproar, demanding his resignation from journalism.

Perhaps the St. Petersburg Times TV/media critic Eric Deggans‘ contention that Williams’ dismissal appears to have been the end of a long process for NPR is on the mark: “NPR has been distancing itself from Williams for quite a while now, changing his title and reducing his role at NPR amid increasing discomfort over the views he has voiced as a pundit on Fox News Channel. Back in 2009, when Williams described first lady Michelle Obama of evoking the spirit of radical Black Panther Stokely Carmichael, NPR asked him not to use his identification with their organization on Fox News. They had already changed his title from correspondent — which implies an objective journalistic role — to news analyst, which allows opinionating.

To this media critic, Williams’ firing seemed the ultimate expression of that unease; his comments about Muslims were simply the final straw on a very overburdened camel.”

At least his firing from NPR has gained Mr.Williams a multi-million dollar contract from Fox!

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