Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Done Juan

Well now! Is anyone really surprised that liberal news analyst Juan Williams was fired from National Public Radio (NPR)? Why was he fired? For expressing his feelings about seeing Muslims in an airport when he is flying somewhere. Specifically, he said that he gets "nervous" if he's at an airport and sees "people who are in Muslim garb."

If you don’t know who Juan Williams is allow me to fill you in. Mr. Williams is one of a group of well-known liberal commentators who is employed by the Fox News Channel (FNC, or just Fox), a conservative news organization. Additionally, he has been employed by NPR’s news production department for the past ten years. He is also a black-American who has written extensively about the Civil Rights Movement, and the affects of racism and bigotry in America. Apparently, as a liberal you are anathema to NPR if you have any public associations with conservative news organizations.

Personally, I disagree with most of the positions Juan Williams holds, particularly when it comes to political/social matters. However, I respect his opinions and his right to express them. It was my honor to have served in the military for 34 years defending his right to express those opinions. But what has happened to Mr. Williams is a travesty of free expression. He was not stating opinion during his dialogue with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News. He was expressing personal feelings he has when encountering “people who are in Muslim garb” and are in an airport while he is traveling, especially after 9-11. Having traveled extensively by air all over the world, I can appreciate his feelings.

When I was in Iraq, the Navy enlisted man who was assigned to me was a Muslim. Knowing this, I had him stop our Humvee at a small mosque near the traditional site of the Tower of Babel near Babylon, Iraq to offer him the opportunity to pray. Several of us respectfully stood outside the mosque, engaged in conversation with some Muslim men while this Navy man entered the mosque to join in prayer with other Muslims. Was I apprehensive? Sure! We weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms, but they couldn’t very well deny a fellow Muslim, at least not without losing face in front of the rest of us; especially in front of me, a Navy chaplain with my gold cross on my collar. How would that look? I have also met with a number of Imams (Muslim clerics), pre- and post-9-11, over the years to engage in theological discourse, both here in the United States and in Muslim countries. My reception by these Imams has ranged from cool to warmly gracious. All of which is to say that because of 9-11 most Americans are at least apprehensive, if not downright fearful, of seeing Muslims in their traditional garb walking onto an plane. That is what Mr. Williams was expressing personally. In the discussion with Bill O’Reilly he went on to caution Americans not to categorize all Muslims as radicals. He’s absolutely right! He’s a reasoned thinker and has been done a grave injustice by NPR.

You might be interested in knowing that NPR is the radio version of televisions Public Broadcasting Network (PBS). This organization was formed in 1970 and was almost entirely funded by federal funds (tax dollars). During the Reagan administration there was a strong move to pull back the federal funding and to have NPR and PBS move to listener-supported funding. Because of what has been done to Mr. Williams, several prominent politicians are calling for the removal of all taxpayer funding of NPR. We’ll have to wait and see if this is successful. But the amount is relatively small compared to the amount contributed by listeners/viewers. Should public support be stymied, NPR would feel it much more directly.

“In October 2010, NPR accepted a $1.8 million grant from George Soros, given through his Open Society Foundation. The grant is meant to begin a project called Impact of Government that is intended to add at least 100 journalists at NPR member radio stations in all 50 states over the next three years.” Mr. Soros is a mega-rich liberal who wants to destroy Fox News Channel. That’s what is behind his donation to NPR.

NPR’s CEO is Vivian Schiller. Ms Schiller called Mr. Williams earlier this week on the phone to inform him he was fired. Not even the courtesy of hearing his side of the story! No face-to-face meeting! How rude! “Schiller intensified the existing controversy over Williams' dismissal when she added that Williams should have kept his Muslim comments between himself and ‘his psychiatrist or his publicist—take your pick.’ Schiller quickly retracted her own remarks, stating, ‘I spoke hastily and I apologize to Juan and others for my thoughtless remark.’” Pardon me, but Ms Schiller should be the one out of a job, not Juan Williams.

It will be interesting to see if NPR recants amid the uproar from across the country, and offers Mr. Williams his job back. Personally, I wouldn’t want it.

But guess what the conservative Fox News Channel did for the liberal Juan Williams when they heard about his being fired by NPR? They gave him a raise! Hooray for Fox!

Is this a great country or what!

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