The public should beware the Thought Police are out in full force. If you don’t believe me, just ask Juan Williams.
You may or may not have been aware of Juan Williams before the recent firestorm created by his firing by National Public Radio, but you should have been. He has a very impressive resume. Very impressive.
Juan ain’t from around here, as you may or may not have concluded by his first name. He was born in Panama, in the Canal Zone, in 1954. That was a big year here in the states. It was the year that the Supreme Court ruled that the separate but equal statute upheld in Plessy v. Ferguson — the one that kept schools segregated throughout the South — was unconstitutional.
Juan would eventually learn all about Brown v. the Board of Education because he was invited to speak at the Smithsonian Institute’s 50th anniversary celebration of the landmark case. I told you he has an impressive resume.
Williams’s family moved to New York City when Juan was 4 years old and he took advantage of all the opportunities his new home offered. Eventually he graduated from college and began his career as a journalist. His first job was as a reporter with the Washington Post. Not a bad gig for a 22 year-old kid from the Canal Zone.
Juan Williams career rose like a meteorite flashing across the night sky as he quickly became one of the most honored men in his profession. He won award after award with the Post, writing about topics ranging from DC’s failing schools to the corruption in Mayor Marion Barry’s campaign and he became well known for being fair and for being accurate. He was the consummate professional in every way and his talents and his demeanor landed him jobs with huge national audiences.
He was a White House correspondent. He was an op-ed writer for the Sunday Post magazine. He was a regular panelist on “Inside Washington” and hosted CNN’s “Crossfire.” He also appeared regularly on the “Washington Gang” and hosted the syndicated series “America’s Black Forum.”
And then in 1999 he was hired to host a show called “Talk of the Nation” on National Public Radio and became a fixture on that network while expanding his career in print and broadcast journalism. In short, Juan Williams has become a fixture on the airwaves of this nation and his has been one of the most respected voices in America for the past decade.
But last week Juan Williams made a big mistake. A huge mistake. Juan Williams answered a question about his personal feelings accurately and from the heart and the Thought Police zapped him. They were on him like stink on ugly and before you could say “Allahu Akbar,” Juan Williams’ was toast at NPR.
Williams, you see, was appearing on the Bill O’Reilly show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” which happens to air on the Fox News Channel, which is the antithesis of everything NPR. Williams was trying to make the point that we, as Americans, need to understand what George Bush said in 2001, that we are not at war against Islam. But in pointing out the reality that is America in 2010, when we have people like the Times Square bomber saying in open court that “Muslims’ war with America is just getting started” and that 9/11 only represented “the first drop of blood,” Williams admitted that he gets nervous when he gets on airplanes and sees people dressed “in Muslim garb.”
That’s it, Juan. You’re done. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 or whatever your next pay check would have been. We can’t have bigots like you crowding up the airwaves with your anti-Muslim rhetoric. Sayonara. Adios. Salaam.
In defending her firing of Juan Williams NPR CEO Vivian Schiller said that “News analysts may not take public personal positions on controversial issues,” then added “doing so undermines their credibility as analysts.”
I guess it is unprofessional to have an opinion different from Schiller’s. And speaking of professionalism, Schiller really demonstrated hers when she told an audience at the Atlanta Press Club that Williams opinion about Muslims should be “between him and his psychiatrist.”
National Public Radio should be ashamed. I am sure Juan Williams will be just fine, but I am not sure NPR will or should. NPR receives federal funds to operate. Federal funds would be money confiscated from the American taxpayer. That would be you and me. I really don’t want the government to take any of my money for such an intolerant group. And I don’t think NPR should be able to use federal funds to promote their own narrow-minded agenda. Now that’s just my opinion, but mine is the only one I have.
Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has said that he will boycott NPR. He will not grant them interviews or listen. If it’s good enough for cousin Mike, it’s good enough for me.
Y’all be careful what you think out there. The Thought Police are everywhere!
Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.