The flap over NPR’s outrageous firing of news analyst Juan Williams won’t go away. NPR CEO Vivian Schiller dug herself even deeper into the manure pit when she said that Williams should discuss his feeling “with his psychiatrist or his publicist — take your pick,” a quip for which she later apologized.
It may be true that Williams didn’t follow instructions about not mentioning his position at NPR when he appeared on Fox. It may be true that NPR management was really uncomfortable about his gig with its sworn enemy. I haven’t seen his contract and I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not prepared to argue about whether they had a right to fire him.
The usual pinwheels are madly spinning that it’s all a right-wing plot, pointing to Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Jim DeMint. It’s not a surprise that conservative politicians would take an opportunity to attack NPR, which clearly does have a liberal bias. But raising this point only distracts attention from the main issue.
All of the above is irrelevant except this:
Monday: Williams makes a remark which violates the unwritten commandment that Thou Shalt Not Piss Off Muslims No Matter How Touchy They May Be.
Wednesday: CAIR (and who knows who else) complains. Shortly thereafter, NPR fires Williams, issuing a statement which specifically refers to the remark in question.
Schiller claimed that she hadn’t seen CAIR’s complaint. Of course that doesn’t imply that she didn’t know about it, or that she hadn’t received any calls about it.
She also said that NPR had concerns about Williams for some time. Again, so what? This was what they chose to fire him for.
Barry Rubin argues that the real significance of this event is that the victim was a liberal, showing that the establishment — in this case NPR — actually has a far left, not liberal, orientation. He may be right.
But here is what I think we should take away from this:
Today the West is struggling with radical Islam, which wants to supplant it as the dominant world culture and impose its own mores and legal system. If you think that the principles of the Enlightenment — which, by the way, guided Madison and Jefferson when they wrote our Constitution — represent an advance over those of seventh-century Arabia, then it must be possible to have a public discussion in which you can say that.
When news media allow themselves to be castrated and censor discourse about Islam — and when the arbiters of what is acceptable or not are groups like CAIR, which are associated with radical Islamists — then it isn’t possible to depend on these media to report reliably on the conflict we find ourselves in today.
The problem is not “liberal bias.” There is nothing liberal about shutting down free speech and punishing dissidents. The problem is either that NPR is afraid to allow its commentators to speak freely, or it supports the triumph of radical Islam over the West.
In other words: cowardice or treason.