It is not that difficult to promote groupthink. You must first tell everyone what is and what is not the correct way to think. Then you must sanction any speech acts that do not conform to the acceptable opinion.
The first is easy enough. The mainstream media and liberal opinion organs will always tell you the correct opinion. Those who stray from orthodoxy are shunned from polite society. At times, they even lose their jobs.
Witness the cases of Bill O’Reilly and Juan Williams.
First, some background.
Last week on The View renowned stand-up comedians Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walked off the show because Bill O’Reilly dared to say that Muslims attacked the nation on 9/11. O‘Reilly offered this statement to explain why the vast majority of New Yorkers and Americans opposed the Ground Zero mosque.
Outraged by the snub, and by the effort to enforce groupthink, O’Reilly decided to fight back. He seemed to understand the symbolic importance of the gesture and made it an issue on his television show.
In later interviews Whoopi Goldberg declared that no one had the right to say that Muslims attacked us on 9/11 because that amounted to racial stereotyping and hate speech. It was like saying that all blacks had certain characteristics.
In her view you had to say that extremists attacked us on 9/11. It was wrong to say that “all” Muslims were responsible. As though O'Reilly had said that.
Goldberg was making a simple mistake by conflating “Muslims” with “all Muslims.“ To the best of my knowledge O’Reilly did not say “all Muslims.”
You cannot introduce a universal quantifier, like "all," and expect that the meaning will stay the same.
Surely, it would not be wrong to say that the people who attacked us on 9/11 were Muslims. Not only is that true, but it is equivalent to saying that Muslims attacked us.
It is also true that the Muslims who attacked us on 9/11 attacked us in the name of Islam, as an act of jihad.
Those who try to analogize the act to what happens when Catholic priests molest children, would have to say, if they want to sustain the analogy, that the offending priests were molesting children to advance Christianity.
Yet, some will respond that it is also true to say that we were attacked by al Qaeda and that al Qaeda does not represent all Muslims.
Again, we should avoid the universal quantifier (all) here, because when the Japanese attacked us in Pearl Harbor, we were not attacked by all Japanese: if only one of the Emperor's subjects opposed the attack, then all Japanese did not countenance the attack.
Saying that the Japanese attacked us does not mean that all Japanese attacked us-- which would make the entire nation into an army-- or that all Japanese approved of the nation’s actions.
Yet, al Qaeda is not just a bunch of outliers or an organized criminal gang whose actions are rejected by all Islamic nations.
In fact, al Qaeda has enjoyed the protection of nations. Al Qaeda was harbored by the Taliban-led government of Afghanistan. It was, effectively, an arm of that government.
Also, Al Qaeda was and still is an arm of the government of Pakistan. Some will say that it is merely being protected by the Pakistani intelligence services, but this has been happening for so long that it is fair to say that Pakistan harbors the terrorist organization and must be deploying it as something of an instrument of its foreign policy.
We all know that numerous terrorist groups are being supported and funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
All of this is happening in the name of Islam.
None of this suggests that all Muslims support Al Qaeda-- even though significant numbers that do. But it also does not mean that al Qaeda has nothing to do with nation states or with a specific religion.
The problem concerns reputation. The actions of al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist organizations have regrettably damaged the reputation of the Muslim religion and Muslims themselves. The upsurge in Islamic terror has made it far more difficult for Muslims to proclaim or practice their faith with pride.
Certainly, this is a bad thing. Terrorists want to alienate the West from Islam and want to alienate Muslims from modern civilization.
We must also note that 9/11 was not a singular event. The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was one of a thousands of terrorist attacks, committed in the name of Islam, that have been occurring on a regular basis around the world.
Muslim terrorism has most often been directed against Muslims. This does not preclude its having been perpetrated in the name of Islam. And this does not prevent it from damaging the reputation of people who are its targets.
While it is wrong to say that "all" of today's terrorist acts have been committed by Muslims, or in the name of Islam, the vast majority have.
Logic and reason dictate that one’s attitudes toward Muslims take this into account at some level or other. To ask people to blind themselves to the reality of Islamic terror, state sponsored and state condoned, is simply not reasonable.
Then the question arises: is it for non-Muslims to protect the reputations of Muslims?
America has worked very hard to ensure that Muslims be treated with respect in this country, and that all Muslims not be blamed for what happened on 9/11.
If that reputation continues to suffer beneath the weight of continued Islamic terrorism, it is not the fault of Bill O’Reilly or Juan Williams. Actions committed by members of a community have the strongest influence on the reputation of other members of the community. Ultimately, the responsibility for controlling those actions rests with the community itself.
While all non-Muslims should respect the Muslim religion, they are not ultimately responsible for the reputation of Muslims. As with any reputation, that responsibility falls to the Muslim community.
How can the Muslim community do this? By being conciliatory and by being affirming its loyalty to the American nation, upholding its values and respecting its traditions.
The wrong approach was the one taken by the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) did in the Juan Williams situation. CAIR wrote a letter to NPR asking that Williams be sanctioned.
By insisting that Williams be punished, CAIR is acting like an agent of moral terror. It is trying to intimidate anyone who would fail to adhere to its point of view. It is surely not a gesture of conciliation.
Nor do you look like a conciliator if you choose to put up a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero, and then, seeing the amount of emotion you have provoked, tell people that you are going to ignore their feelings.
Once you say that, as Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf did, you are saying that yours is religion that is not about conciliation compromise, but about defiance. You are calling on others to submit to your will, not to work together with you.
Back to Juan Williams.
In the course of a discussion on The O‘Reilly Factor this week, Williams made some remarks that caused NPR to submit to the will of CAIR.
Williams has had a long and distinguished career in journalism; he has been an ardent supporter of the civil rights movement. You might have thought that he would have enough credit on his account to survive the firestorm. Unfortunately, when it comes to policing thought, none of that mattered.
The firing of Juan Williams was certainly intended to be an object lesson in ideological conformity. The liberal and progressive left, through the medium of NPR, was telling its people that if they go over to the other side, that is, work on Fox News, and, worse yet, if they find any merit in the arguments proposed by Fox News hosts, they will be expelled from the leftist fellowship and will lose a goodly portion of their livelihood.
Juan Williams will land on his feet. He has always manifested the highest level of intellectual integrity.The firing is intended as a threat to anyone on the left who would consider collaborating with the enemy.
The intellectual left is clearly involved in cultural warfare. And that requires that everyone submit to what is enshrined as politically correct opinion.
IN case you missed it, here is what Juan Williams said: "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."
If this is beyond the NPR pale, what about an identical statement by Jesse Jackson, uttered 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."
Is Jesse Jackson a bigot? Or is Juan Williams being fired because he works for Fox News?
Clearly, our nation's intellectual elites are losing their monopoly power over the marketplace of ideas. It looks like they have decided to go down fighting.