Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thank You, Juan Williams

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"Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot... 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."

With those words, NPR and FOX News contributor Juan Williams won the dubious prize of having the first aforementioned affiliation ripped away from his chest, and having the latter one staunch the bleeding with a new 2 million contract.

One need not be too surprised at the sudden handing down of mo money. The Right is always happy to take in Leftist waifs and strays who have "seen the light," or else had it rammed up their posterior for being dumb.

They say we always get what we deserved. Apparently Mr. Williams deserved to become the poster child for the supposed tyranny of the "Left," as viewed through the lens of those who think National Public Radio takes our tax dollars and uses it to promote bad things -- like not being a jerk.

And Juan Williams was being a jerk, and should have known better. After all, if another NPR employee had said, on the public record, that they felt nervous when a black man sat down next to them on the bus, would they have lasted much longer at that institution?

Oh, but that's different, maybe you say; Black Americans didn't cause 9/11, did they? You say that thing about the bus, you're being a racist, but if you say what Williams did, you're just being honest about being prudent in this day and age.

Or maybe just human.

Maybe he was really trying to make the point that even he -- someone who should have known better -- still harbored those feelings, in spite of knowing better. That's what he's trying really hard to say now, even though he didn't seem to try really hard to say it when he was talking to Bill and his co-guest on the segment in question.

And if he had said that, and that he was trying to overcome those feelings, then things might have happened differently. But somewhere between O'Reilly's interruptions, and Islamic groups' complaining, the real message may have been lost, and Williams was dropped like a hot falafel.

So the lesson seems to be two-fold, here. Point the First, don't admit to having a problem with other people's presumed race, color, sexual orientation, or religion if you can't quickly follow it up with "... but I'm trying to fix that," and, Point the Second, don't try to do any two-point explanations on Bill O'Reilly's show, because he will not let you get a word in edgewise.

But the real story here isn't what happened to Juan Williams (unfortunate), or whether it was right or wrong (debatable). It isn't even whether it was censorship (it isn't) or a violation of his First Amendment rights (are you kidding me?).

The real story here is the sudden enlightenment that the fallout has brought us. There were many things that needed to come out and be shown to the public, and this unfortunate imbroglio has been the mother of all enemas in that regard.

So thank you, Juan Williams.

Thank you for showing us that, when it comes to Muslims in the post-9/11 world, anyone -- even someone well-educated and left-leaning, such as yourself -- is in danger of being islamophobic.

Thank you for giving us an opportunity to realize that, yes, a lot of people at FOX News, and on the Right, see no problems with being Islamophobic, and, indeed, think that more Americans really should be.

Thank you to the Right for coming to the defense of Juan Williams' free speech, thus giving us the chance to ask where they were, and what they were saying, when Helen Thomas was castigated for saying something just as stupid, herself. (though she does appear to have been given the chance to jump before she was pushed)

Thank you for giving the Right yet another chance to show us how little they value intelligent informational programing, and would prefer to leave us to the tender mercies of FOX news, the Washington Times, and whatever corporations are buying reporters these days.

Thank you for giving certain members amongst that Right the opportunity to try and defund NPR of its taxpayer dollars for this latest slight, thus ensuring that many more people will go and vote against them to ensure that paltry 3.3 million continues to come in.

And thank you to NPR for showing us that, while they'll excuse some stupid speech on behalf of contributors past and present, there is apparently a line in the sand, though where it is may change from tide to tide.

We at the rANT Farm wish Mr. Williams much luck in his future as FOX News' go-to Black Liberal in residence. He may face some tough times ahead, and awkward silences around the water cooler, but if he has any trouble fitting in, at least he can start a conversation by talking about "those people," and how they make him nervous.

You'd just think he'd know better, since, if FOX News had existed 50 years ago, he'd doubtlessly have been one of "those people," too.


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