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Posts Tagged ‘Muslims’

Here’s a map of attacks on American mosques put together by the ACLU.

While reading it, it’s important to remember that if Donald Trump were to become president, some 3.3 million American Muslims would be under his protection. His job would not be as their inquisitor. His job would not be as their prosecutor. He would not be as some sort of plaintiff against them or judge or arbitrator. He would be sworn protector of the laws that keep them from harm and allow them due process. To merely shrug off that “Yeah, he says crazy things” about a group of American citizens is to ignore the fact that, without his protection, they have none. They have officially become a vulnerable ethnic group the way the Kurds were under Saddam Hussein, the targets of factionalism emboldened by a faraway leader’s nod and wink. When there is no sense of lawfulness at the top, violence is fostered at the bottom by people pursuing any tribal instincts that motivate them. That’s why we have good leaders and why they use such “stilted PC language” that the less patient and more petulant among us have become so bored by. When Janet Yellen makes an incautious statement at the Fed, people lose millions. For the same reason, supporting that “crazy guy who says those gosh darn entertaining things” shows a callous disregard for history and how stuff works–disavowal of Stalin’s history, Hitler’s, Catherine de’ Medici’s .. of people whose monstrousness was possible because they were supposed to be shepherds. I want to make clear that this is not targeted at Republicans or conservatives in general, who, on their good, more libertarian days, know exactly what I’m talking about and many of whom I know do not really like Trump. George W. Bush also knew exactly what I’m talking about, to his great credit. But if Republicans are voting for Trump anyway, they are not voting for their own principles but for the “R” at the top of the form. They are, as Jerry Seinfeld once noted of fickle basketball fans, “rooting for clothes.”

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Longtime political analyst Juan Williams was fired by NPR this week after he told Bill O’Reilly on Fox News that he gets nervous when he sees Muslims on airplanes, especially when they self-identify as Muslims. He then declared that it made him no bigot.

What are the many different ways we can look at, break down, deconstruct or reverse engineer this episode?

–*We could say Juan Williams made a bigoted remark and should have been fired.

Or

–*We could point out that if a white man said he gets nervous around black men, it would anger Juan Williams, so he should know better.

Or

–*We could say that the sentiment itself wasn’t as bad as the insistence that it wasn’t bigotry and Williams’ refusal to apologize for it.

This means he might have gotten away with saying the first part, but not the second part. We think. This is where we need lawyers to come in and break it all down for us and tell us when, in fact, he became bigoted. Unfortunately, all we have are his defenders, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, who are probably as qualified to parse language as they are to teach us the linguistic roots of Sanskrit.

Or

–*We could point out Juan Williams said something that quite a few Americans feel, even if it’s wrong. In other words, he was dumb enough to say out loud what Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams, Christiane Amanpour, Katie Couric and Regis Philbin might well feel but wouldn’t dare say.

Or

–*You could say it doesn’t matter, because evincing his own personal feelings is not his job as a reporter.

Or

–*As the song goes, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.” Maybe sometimes we should say what’s on our minds or in our hearts, even if it’s bad, to examine what it’s about. But now Williams and others are on notice to hold those feelings in so that they never go examined. We are not allowed to make a safe place for discussion about the things we feel even though it might help us know what our problems are.

Or

–*Juan Williams could have made that same statement with more sensitivity and still said something newsworthy: “I know it’s wrong, but I feel nervous around people in Muslim dress on airplanes, and that’s important to say out loud,” because this is something important we ought to know about the very large non-Muslim community in the U.S.–they fear people who are not like them.

Or

–*We could acknowledge that if a Muslim went on TV these days and told us he gets nervous around non-Muslims, we’d probably see his point and we do want him to feel free to express himself right? If a lone woman, for that matter, got nervous walking when surrounded by strange men, we’d probably see her point, too. It’s not always rational. Does that make it illegitimate?

Or

–*We might get angry that Juan Williams lost his job for something relatively minor when a week ago Bill O’Reilly said “Muslims killed us on 9/11,” which is much more outlandish and insipid, not to mention ungrammatical–and O’Reilly has never once feared for his job. Rather than creating a nursery of dissenting voices, NPR seems secretly determined to drive decent reporters to the Wild West town of slander that is Fox News, where they can more comfortably say uncomfortable things.

Or

–*We could notice to our shame that liberals close ranks against heretics just as blithely as George W. Bush does. What we couldn’t do to O’Reilly, we’ve decided to do to a much more reasonable guy.

So

–*We notice that liberals like Juan Williams must fear for their jobs if they go outside the bounds of political correctness, while right wingers never need fear it. That means we risk putting more reporters like Juan Williams on Fox News’ payroll and continuing to polarize the United States.

Or

–*We might point out that Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez, two journalists with relatively reasonable centrist viewpoints, have both recently been fired for making racially inflammatory remarks that were totally out of character for them. This means soon we will all be reading from scripts, and hewing to our party lines all the time. There will be no free-associating, no counterintuitive arguments, no alternative premises, no synthesizing of paradoxical statements, no free marketplace of ideas. Everybody will sound like Barney the Dinosaur.

Or

–*We could say that NPR is trying to hold the line for objective journalism and that everyone with an opinion can feel free to go express it on Fox, where there is nothing but opinion and precious little news 24 hoursĀ  a day.

Or

–*We could come up with a conspiracy theory that Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez were likely fired for backstage intrigues we know nothing about, because there is lots of infighting in the competitive world of broadcast journalism that is bigger than any one red herring racial comment. It might sound like a conspiracy theory, but Williams said that NPR didn’t like him being on Fox, so they found a reason to 86 him, and that doesn’t sound so far-fetched.

Or

–*We could just say Juan Williams got fired because he was black.

Yes, it’s a stupid thought. It may sound like the most ludicrous argument of all. But think about it–why does everybody get to be a bigot but Juan Williams? Is it because we think he should know better since he’s a black man? Well who says that?

I don’t want to defend what Juan Williams said, but I think there’s too much readiness by some news organizations to fire good people for 1) obvious brain farts and 2) a failure to adhere to orthodoxy. I know when I free associate, stuff comes out of my mouth that I regret later. So maybe I should never be on broadcast news. But then I ask, who should?

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