Newsflash, ladies and gentlemen: Speech policing is alive and well in the United States of America and its residual abode is on the Left end of the ideological spectrum.
While many of you were asleep last night, the allegedly prestigious National Public Radio network that your tax dollars subsidize moved to give the axe to commentator Juan Williams for the following remarks he shared on the O’Reilly Factor on Tuesday, October 19:
Juan Williams has served as a regular correspondent for NPR since 2000. NPR’s own bio of Williams refers to him as “knowledgeable and charismatic…[bringing] insight and depth…to a wide spectrum of issues and ideas.” Yet, NPR has seen fit to cut Juan Williams loose over one statement of unsanctioned, politically incorrect opinion. ONE moment of candor erased ten (10!) years of the measure of legitimacy Williams lent to NPR by his presence on that network. And Fox News is the exemplar of extremism and intolerance in today’s liberal lexicon?
I won’t hold my breath for Tim Robbins to emerge from obscurity and reiterate declarations about the “cold chill” sweeping through the land. In the Alice-Through-The-Looking-Glass world he and his ilk occupy, Williams should have been fired. After all, Heaven forbid that we openly discuss the fears that have been engendered in average citizens by the failure of many in powerful places in both major parties to confront the reality of radical Islam.
Juan Williams voted for Barack Obama. Williams also regularly espouses Keynesian economics and repeats redistributionist talking points. He defended all of the major Democrat initiatives of the last 21 months, from TARP to the GM bailout to Obamacare.
But he is, overall, a measured voice and, ultimately to his detriment, a just and reasonable reporter and commentator. In his incomparable memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, Clarence Thomas cites Juan Williams as one of a mere handful of journalists who were consistently fair in their treatment of him. Crack research bolsters this claim and also provides evidence that perhaps Williams’ eventual canning was in the cards from the get-go. In a 1991 piece for the Washington Post Magazine, during the heat of the Thomas “high-tech lynching”, Williams offered this observation regarding none other than his eventual employer:
Further damaging is the blood-in-the-water response from reputable news operations, notably National Public Radio. They have magnified every question about Thomas into an indictment and sacrificed journalistic balance and integrity for a place in the mob.
My ideological disagreements with Juan Williams are extensive, but I always perked up when he came on my TV screen. I have to wonder if Williams realizes who his defenders have been in the last couple of hours since the news broke of his termination. I’ll predict that if he tunes into talk radio tomorrow, from Bill Bennett to Laura Ingraham to Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity to Michael Savage to Hugh Hewitt, he won’t have to listen long to find out who his true allies are, in the cause of freedom of expression.
Juan Williams is the latest casualty in the progressive war on speech that is deemed undesirable by the dominant cultural ethos. It is time for Americans to decide whether this assault has gone far enough and whether we might want to reclaim our tax dollars for other ends, rather than funding tepid mush on National Public Radio.