Saturday, October 23, 2010

Juan Williams, "the 21st Century's Rosa Parks"

When bigotry becomes the norm, no one really notices that it’s bigotry. People can blithely go about inflicting harm on their neighbors without giving it a second thought… because they are conforming to societal norms.

Many people knew that segregation was dividing the races. They consoled themselves with nostrums like: separate but equal.

The continued to do so until a Rosa Parks sat down and said: enough. When Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus she ripped the veil off what had become the norm and forced us to face the truth of our nation’s segregationist practices.

Among the  comments on my last post about the Juan Williams imbroglio, I was especially struck by Dennis’s remark that Juan Williams might be the 21st century’s “Rosa Parks.” Link here.

For some people it was not news, but many liberals were shocked and surprised to discover that a major organ of liberal opinion is a hotbed of illiberality? By firing Juan Williams NPR revealed the workings of the liberal mind control scheme.

Judging from the reaction coming from the left, I would say that no small numbers of liberals, people who believe that freedom of speech is sacrosanct, just had a very rude awakening.

It’s not just the liberals who appear on Fox News, serious liberals like Bob Beckel, Pat Caddell, and Lanny Davis, all of whom were outraged at the firing, but mainstream media liberals like Howard Kurtz and Mickey Kaus.

As Kaus wrote in Newsweek: "Here's some punditish speculation: Schiller's in trouble. Whatever her intent, she fired a black man for not abiding by his second-class speech status! Then she snarked at him. Might not play well, no matter how PC she was trying to be. When you've lost Howie Kurtz, you've lost respectable." Link here.

Note the expression, “second class speech.” Does it not remind you of Dennis’s suggestion that Juan Williams is the century’s Rosa Parks.

I will offer my suspicion Williams was not fired just for expressing his own qualms at seeing Muslims in Muslim dress board an airplane.

He also violated one of the sacred dogmas of modern political correctness: he spoke out in favor of integration and cultural assimilation. He opposed the dogma of multiculturalism.

Williams did not say that he feared all Muslims; he said that he feared unassimilated Muslims.

Not too many days earlier, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had declared that multiculturalism had failed in Germany. The notion of separate but equal, which in reality translated into separate but unequal, had produced a permanent underclass, a large group of people who had failed to become fully a part of the nation. Link here.

As I recall it, Juan Williams tended to agree with Merkel. As a staunch supporter of the American Civil Rights movement, Williams argued on Fox News in favor of assimilation and integration.

He was not just fired for what was taken to be bigotry, or for appearing on Fox News. Williams had also disagreed with a fundamental dogma of political correctness: the separate but equal idea of multiculturalism.

This makes you a heretic, even an apostate. Worse yet,  he was consorting with the enemy.

If you reject one liberal dogma, that means that all of the liberal opinions you have ever offered-- in Juan Williams‘s case, that is quite a lot-- count for nothing.

NPR sees itself as engaged in a culture war. The enemy is not radical Islam; it is Fox News, purveyor of heresies.

Consider the case of another NPR employee, Mara Liasson. The powers that be at NPR have been wanting to fire the utterly harmless Liasson for some time now, too. Her crime: she appears on Fox News.

It isn’t even that Liasson ever offers any opinions that might stray from the politically correct orthodoxy: Liasson never says anything that can be taken to be objectionable.

To the political correct thought police, Fox News stands in the way of their imposing their views on everyone, in making sure that everyone know that its opinions are the only acceptable and normal opinions.

Ideological conformity is more difficult to see than behavioral conformity. Those who wish to enforce it, like Vivian Schiller at NPR, understand that they must ensure that certain politically correct opinions are the only opinions that a normal person could possibly hold.

Of course, this time they seem to have picked on the wrong man, and wrong network. With Fox providing Williams a platform to get his message out, he has taken the fight to NPR.

Do not underestimate the importance of the media platform that Fox provided. Surely, Roger Ailes and the Fox News personalities were thrilled to have the opportunity to stick it in the eye of NPR. Even more, they were surely happy to  stand up for an African-American who just happens to be a liberal.

And they are surely thrilled by the rating bonanza that comes from being, not just reporting, the news.

To the chagrin of many, Fox does not seem to be bothered that it has just given a new contract and new prominence to a man whose opinions are clearly and cogently liberal.

And let's not ignore the unavoidable fact that many of the Fox newscasters are also personal friends of Juan Williams. We would be shortsighted if we did not see their defense of Juan Williams as a defense of their friend.

Considering how often the liberal media accuses Fox of trafficking in bigotry and bias, it is not the least irony, as Victor Davis Hanson noted, that while NPR was outraged that Juan Williams or Mara Liasson were appearing on Fox, Fox never had a problem with their appearing on NPR.

Will the real bigots, the ideological bigots, please stand up now? For many liberals in this country, the episode will surely be a chastening experience. How did the defenders of free speech get suckered into supporting such a flagrantly illiberal enterprise?


Jim said...

One of the first things a Republican House should do is to defund NPR. Taxpayers should not be required to support bigots. The feds also get to pick the board of directors for all public media and should pack the boards with directors who will purge out the true bigots. Not many are aware of this, but NPR is notoriously anti-Israel in their reporting and we should clean out the closet antisemits there as well. NPR is a wonderful target-rich environment for the next group of House leaders.

Susan said...

In fact, as trumped-up and humiliating as this firing was (at least for a few hours), this story seems to be having a fairy-tale quality outcome for Juan Williams, elevated by Fox to an almost princely status, with a whopping salary to match! The good (i.e.,Williams, Fox) are rewarded and the bad (NPR and even assorted "untouchable" reporters like Nina Totenberg) will be punished-- although the total fallout remains to be seen. Truth prevails! Will justice be done (the government de-funding of NPR) to complete the picture? It could just happen! Change is a-comin.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

While I would certainly be happy to see NPR defunded, I am just as happy to see it defanged. One of the most important aspects of the Juan Williams affair is that it tore the mask of objectivity and piety off off of NPR and made them look like a bunch of self-important propagandists.

As Susan suggests, the powers that be at Fox News are masters at understanding how things look to the public at large. And they have also seized on an opportunity to show themselves to be fair and balanced.

Obsidian said...

I'm not sure I buy your argument about "assimilation". Black folks are and have been thoroughly "assimilated" yet that didn't stop them from being discriminated against, and Williams notes this in his several books that he's written. I've also written about this at my blog if you are interested.

At any rate, great post!


Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks, Obsidian, for your perspective, and also for the great post you wrote on your own blog. I hope everyone has a chance to read it-- it really is fair and balanced.

I think that the discussion over assimilation refers, as Williams put it, to people who are Muslims first. I believed that he was referencing the problems in Germany that have come about because Germany decided to allow its Muslim population to remain unassimilated.