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NPR unplugged

The Savannah Morning News To be a news analyst at National Public Radio seems to require one to be free of any human foible or fear, and without the temerity to speak of a common trepidation in this post 9/11 world. And, apparently, devoid of the clear-eyed realization that a substantial number of Muslim zealots (who are visually indistinguishable from moderate Muslims) seek to murder as many innocent Americans as possible. In NPR’s decision to fire 10-year veteran commentator Juan Williams – via cell phone, with no in-person explanation, no less – the taxpayer-subsidized news organization has proven two things. First, NPR bigwigs are hog-tied by the strictures of political correctness. When one of their number expresses – out loud – a fear that many Americans understand, they must strike out with vindictive fervor to maintain the high esteem with which they regard themselves, and to placate the few whiners. Second, the liberal-leaning news organization’s so-called big tent shelters only those with whom liberals agree. So what was Mr. Williams’ sin? His first was to regularly appear on the Fox news network. This bastion of conservative commentary makes NPR’s teeth itch. However, Mr. Williams’ presence offers a reasoned counter-balance to Fox’s right-leaning guests. The second was to say this on Bill O’Reilly’s show: ”I mean, 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.” After admitting to that flutter of fear, this author of seven books on civil rights and race relations in America went on to explain himself. He stressed the need – when commentators and news reporters speak of the threat of terrorism – to qualify their statements to show that not all Muslims hate the West. Instead, he said, the real threat comes from radical Islamists, a rational position. But Mr. Williams’ explanation was not enough to sway his spineless bosses, who were the target of complaints by Muslim activist groups. They issued this statement two days after his Fox appearance: “His remarks on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.” Unfortunately, the radio network, which is part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has succumbed to the very malady Mr. Williams warned of directly before his comments: A strain of political correctness leading to a paralysis and denial of reality. Taxpayers should take note as well. It’s one thing for a private entity to make boneheaded moves. But groups that take public dollars should pay for such mistakes. NPR has lessened itself by silencing from its airwaves the wisdom and honesty of Juan Williams.

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