Mugged By Reality

Everybody’s talking about the Juan Williams firing. For those of you who have spent the past day or two under anesthesia, or held at gunpoint in an al-Qaeda safe-house, Juan Williams is the National Public Radio “on-air personality” who publicly spoke forbidden truths, and was immediately sacked and disfellowshipped for his heresy.

Here’s what happened, as reported at NPR’s website:

Williams appeared Monday on The O’Reilly Factor, and host Bill O’Reilly asked him to comment on the idea that the U.S. is facing a dilemma with Muslims.

O’Reilly has been looking for support for his own remarks on a recent episode of ABC’s The View in which he directly blamed Muslims for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walked off the set in the middle of his appearance.

Williams responded: “Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

This is obviously a man who, despite his decade as a stalwart liberal workhorse for NPR, has gone completely over to the Dark Side, and is now just another hate-filled, bigoted racist.

Friends, this whole thing is suddenly reaching a tipping point. The keepers of radical multiculturist orthodoxy, crowded by the increasingly obvious truth into a tighter and tighter corner, are lashing out in panicky denial. When Juan Williams — Juan Williams! — is too right-wing, too xenophobic, too racist for the Party to tolerate, the endgame approaches.

Here’s Williams’s own account of his visit to the Holy Office:

Wednesday afternoon I got a message on my cell phone from Ellen Weiss, who’s the head of news at NPR, asking me to call. When I called back she said, “What did you say? What did you mean to say?” And I said, “I said what I meant to say.” Which is that it’s an honest experience that when I’m in an airport and I see people who are in Muslim garb, who identify themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I do a double take. I have a moment of anxiety or fear given what happened on 9/11. That’s just the reality. And she went on to say, “Well, that crosses the line.” And I said, “What line is that?” And she went on to somehow suggest that I had made a bigoted statement. And I said, “It’s not a bigoted statement.” I, in fact, in the course of this conversation with Bill O’Reilly, said that we have, as Americans, an obligation to be careful to protect the constitutional rights of everyone in the country and to make sure we don’t have any outbreak of bigotry. But that there’s a reality. You cannot ignore what happened on 9/11 and you cannot ignore the connection to Islamic radicalism. And you can’t ignore the fact of what has been recently said in court with regard to this as the first drop of blood in a Muslim war in America. And then she said, “You know, this has been decided up the chain.” I said, “You mean, I don’t even get the chance to come in and we do this eyeball-to-eyeball, person-to-person, have a conversation? I’ve been there for more than ten years. We don’t have that chance to have a conversation about this?” And she said, “There’s nothing you can say that will change my mind. This has been decided above me and we’re terminating your contract.”

The forbidden act, of course, was that Williams dared to acknowledge that we here in the West have very good reason to “get nervous” about Islam itself, and not just violent terrorists.

As I said, everybody’s talking. Here are Lawrence Auster, Dennis Mangan, Victor Davis Hanson, Rich Lowry, Allahpundit, and Erick Ericson, for starters.

Meanwhile, as long as we are on the subject of Islam and the West: in case you missed Andrew McCarthy’s fine recent essay about political Islam and dawa jihad, you can read it here.

Related content from Sphere


  1. Dom says

    Remember Nina Totenberg:

    “If there is retributive justice, he’ll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it”

    Admittedly, that was said about a genuinely ignorant man (Helms), but his grandchildren? And I remember the interviewer laughing about it.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Very good point, Dom. For more from the always-impartial-and-still-employed-by-NPR Nina Totenberg, have a look here.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  3. the one eyed man says

    Webster’s defines bigotry as “one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”

    The hijackers wore Western clothes. As far as I know, there has never been an instance in recorded history when people in Muslim clothing blew up a plane. Moreover, when you consider the infinitesimal possibility of being blown up by radical Muslims – either by dividing one event by the number of airplane flights over the past ten years, or by dividing nineteen into the billion or so people who are Muslim – there is no rational basis for Williams worrying when he sees Muslims on an airplane. Textbook definition of bigotry? I’d say so. He can join Rick Sanchez now.

    However, let’s leave Williams aside. Let’s suppose that I see a young black man on a dark street wearing ghetto clothing. I have a legitimate reason for feeling the way Williams does when he sees a Muslim: there is a population of predatory young blacks who commit mayhem every day. Jails are filled with them, with plenty more on the street. As a black man, do you suppose Williams would have any problem if I get worried and nervous the next time I see a black guy in baggy pants and a cap on backwards? Do you think Williams has a legitimate reason to be upset if a taxi driver won’t pick him up because he’s black?

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Peter, you make some good points, but you are really bending over backward here to pretend that there’s nothing special about Islam.

    Why is it that at airports we have to wait in long lines, take off our shoes, discard liquids, pass through revealing body scanners, and submit to other indignities and inconveniences? Is it because of the fear of what Buddhists might do, or Episcopalians, or black men with Afros, or Tea Party members, or Rotarians? No, it is because of what Muslims have done, or attempted, on airplanes: Muslims acting, specifically, as Muslims, and acting in the name of Islam.

    When Muslims in the West don conspicuously Muslim garb, they consciously call attention to the fact that they wish to be seen, first and foremost, as Muslims: they are going out of their way to make it clear that their identity as members of the ummah trumps their cultural affiliation to the Western culture they are moving within. Juan Williams was explicit about this perfectly rational point:

    …if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims…

    Nobody had ever shot up an Army base while wearing Muslim garb before November 5, 2009. Did the people at Fort Hood therefore have any rational cause for concern when Nidal Hassan showed up in full Muslim regalia? Yes they did, because it was a declaration that his primary self-identification was as a Muslim, and an explicit statement that this self-identification was stronger than his identification with the ambient culture.

    So, then, returning to your point: you do indeed have a reason to worry about a young black man in ghetto clothing, because he is conspicuously announcing a primary identification with a culture that you have rational cause to fear. (Juan Williams would, I imagine, certainly agree.) On the other hand, though, Mr. Williams presumably makes no such announcement with his attire, and thereby signals no such threat to your hypothetical cab driver.

    We have plenty of rational reasons to be nervous about Islam. Juan Williams’s comments were honest and perfectly understandable, and his sacking by NPR, especially when someone like Nina Totenberg is kept on the payroll, simply makes it clear what a sham NPR’s preening about its “impartiality” really is. They are welcome to do as they like, of course — though I wonder if, after this, they are likely to continue to do so on the public dime.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink
  5. the one eyed man says

    I don’t listen to NPR, so I can’t comment there. (I like Car Talk, though.)

    As for waiting in lines at airports: there is a very definite threat from radical Muslims (as well as the next Timothy McVeigh) which would likely reoccur absent tightened security. However, the number of violent Muslim extremists is such an infinitesimally small percentage of the world’s billion Muslims that to be fearful of all Muslims is ludicrous. In any event, if radical Muslims were to try to hijack an airplane, it is unlikely that they would call attention to themselves by wearing Muslim clothing. Williams’s trepidation is not based in reality.

    I live next to an Iranian guy named Mohammed who wears Western clothes, but his wife wears Muslim clothes and never makes eye contact. Should I start worrying that they’ll blow up the building? I think not.

    And as for Williams: black guys in suits and ties often don’t get picked up by cab drivers, and whites will tend not to sit next to them on commuter trains when there are empty seats elsewhere. Pot, meet kettle.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink
  6. Dom says

    Why do so many people act like their liberal credentials need to be continually recertified when it comes to Muslims? Of the countries in the world, the US is probably more tolerant than most, certainly more tolerant than any sharia-ruled nation in similar circumstances. Even the kind of harmless religion-based teasing — Life of Brian, Piss Christ — will never have its Islamic correlations. You might think there is a history of Muslim prejudices in this country.

    Williams made a simple statement, one that most can agree with, and it was a good talking point. I think NPR was looking for reasons to fire him because he appears so often on Fox.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    In any event, if radical Muslims were to try to hijack an airplane, it is unlikely that they would call attention to themselves by wearing Muslim clothing.

    Well, given that, then it seems that calling attention to oneself by wearing conspicuous Muslim garb would exactly the correct tactic, precisely because any right-thinking person like yourself (or the executives of NPR) would immediately be required to self-censor any uneasiness as thoughtcrime.

    Again: given the acute and often deadly tension between Islam and the West, it is perfectly reasonable for Westerners to wonder where a Muslim’s primary allegiance lies, and to ostentatiously self-identify with Islam by wearing traditional Muslim garb in a Western airport gives a very clear answer. Given also the horrors, and attempted horrors, that strongly self-identified Muslims (and only strongly self-identified Muslims) have committed on airplanes in recent years, for Mr. Williams to experience a frisson of anxiety at the prospect of sharing his flight with men who make such a statement is perfectly understandable, even if the odds are, as I agree, that nothing will happen.

    The “flying Imams” test case in Minnesota was a very good example of this, and a very successful piece of dawa jihad: the men dressed in flamboyant Muslim clothing, knelt in ostentatious prayer, asked for seat-belt extensions (though none of them was obese), scattered themselves about the cabin, and ranted loudly in Arabic.

    None of this would have made you nervous, though, I suppose…

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  8. the one eyed man says

    Actually, no.

    People’s perception of danger often bears no relation to its likelihood of occurrence. People are terrified of a shark attack, even though its likelihood is, in fact, negligible. It is a horrible and spectacular way to die, so people are understandably (but not rationally) fearful. Maybe that’s why Jaws is a lot more frightening than a movie about people dying from kidney disease. Same thing going on here.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink
  9. Malcolm says

    Well, Peter, next time you’re having a dip in the ocean, and a shark swims up to you, I’m glad you’ll be able to take comfort in that.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
  10. Dom says

    “People are terrified of a shark attack …” No they’re not. I mean, no one refuses to swim in a beach just because of the *possibility* of sharks. If they are told that sharks are nearby, then it makes sense to stay out, and besides, the beaches are closed.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink
  11. the one eyed man says

    According to the ever-useful Wikipedia, there have been 49 fatal shark attacks in the US since 1670. (Who knew that there were shark attack statisticians in 1670?). Moreover, more shark attacks have been recorded here than in any other country. However, there have been countless thousands of people who drown by swimming too far from the beach.

    Inexplicably, beaches are shut down for miles around when someone claims to see a shark (and whose eyesight is good enough to accurately distinguish between fins and light shining off the ocean?) while the very real risks of swimming in the ocean are ignored. What they should be doing is swimming during periods of putative shark sightings, because the marginal utility of enjoying uncrowded beaches exceeds the negligible risk of ending the day as human tartare.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink
  12. Malcolm says

    This just in.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Permalink
  13. Perfect timing with that shark attack, Malcolm. And still you say there’s no God!

    Admittedly, His character is now suspect . . .

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  14. the one eyed man says

    You mean Her character?

    Sounds like this guy should have listened to his mother, and not to me.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink
  15. His mother! You mean all that motherly advice is actually a threat?!

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink
  16. Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Permalink
  17. the one eyed man says

    I wish I listened to what my mother told me.

    I’m not quite sure what it was, as I wasn’t listening.

    Posted October 22, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink