The Williams Hypocrisy

October 21st, 2010 at 5:05 pm David Frum | 59 Comments |

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Matt Welch makes a good point:

You can be Islamophobic, in the form of refusing to run the most innocuous imaginable political cartoons out of a broad-brush fear of Muslims, but you can’t admit it, even when the fear is expressed as a personal feeling and not a group description, winnowed down to the very specific and nightmare-exhuming act of riding on an airplane, and uttered in a context of otherwise repudiating collective guilt and overbroad fearmongering.

Welch is referring to the near universal decision by US media not to reproduce the Danish Muhammad cartoons. But there are so many more examples!

“I get worried, I get nervous,” said Williams. Isn’t that what Yale University Press said when it declined to publish the accompanying photographs to Jytte Klausen’s The Cartoons That Shook the World?

From the statement by Yale University Press director, John Donatich:

I am not a security expert and did not feel that we could be cavalier about the risks on campus and to the larger Yale international community.

“I get worried, I get nervous.” Isn’t that the justification that the Washington Post offered just 10 days ago to explain its decision to pull a cartoon that expressly did not depict Muhammad?

Style editor Ned Martel said he decided to yank it, after conferring with others, including Executive Editor Marcus W. Brauchli, because ‘it seemed a deliberate provocation without a clear message. He added that ‘the point of the joke was not immediately clear’ and that readers might think that Muhammad was somewhere in the drawing.

“I get worried, I get nervous.” That was Random House’s explanation of its decision not to publish the novel Jewel of Medina in 2008.

After sending out advance editions of the novel The Jewel of Medina, we received in response, from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.

As Welch might say: At most major media organizations, not only is it permissible to share the thoughts that Williams expressed – it is compulsory. But the trick is, after you act on those thoughts, you must forget you ever held them. Who said journalism was easy?

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59 Comments so far ↓

  • armstp

    Prof,

    Just yesterday there was another domestic terrorist attack, which I suspect was done by Christians in America.

    “Local News Suspicious powder delivered to Grijalva’s office”

    http://www.kvoa.com/news/toxic-powder-delivered-to-grijalva-s-office/

    If you are a Chrisian conservative I am not going to blame you for this, but I wil blame the extremists in your midst.

  • bbg215

    I get worried and nervous everytime a black kid in urban clothing is walking towards me on the sidewalk. (cuz it is logical to fear black kids in urban clothing because they are typically criminals)

    Juan Williams statement wasn’t racist…it was jut grounded in utter stupidty.
    How Juan Williams brain works…and probably a good chunk of Fox News Viewers

    “I get nervous around people dressed as Muslims”

    Why?

    Because people dressed in Muslim clothing love Islam more than they do the United State.
    Because poeple dressed in Muslim clothing are more likely than say (the drunk, depressed, guy who just got laid off and dumped by his ex-wife) to go on a killing rampage.
    Because people dressed in Muslim clothing are identifying themselves as Muslims and everyone knows that Muslims hate America and want to kill us.
    Because Muslims are more likely to be terrorists than Christians, Mormons, Athiests, etc

  • pnumi2

    Juan Williams is certainly entitled to feel the way he does when flying on planes with Muslims. I used to feel that way about flying with crying infants. So I stopped flying. (Maybe the Tea Party people will bring back the covered wagon and I can go to New York again.) The point here is that he shouldn’t have aired this psychological confession, more suitable for his shrink’s office, in front of billions of Fox viewers.

    I agree with some earlier post, to wit: NPR was looking for a reason to fire him. (I would have fired him years ago.) Enough said.

    A man can not serve two masters, and Juan Williams can not babble on NPR and then take a taxi crosstown and babble on Fox.

    Williams and Colmes, the two lefties on Fox, are Milktoastish personalities and are just foils for Fox’s macho wingnut screamers.

    Maybe they couldn’t get Frank Rich and Robert Scheer.

  • JosephP

    Of course commentators should be able to express their opinions.

    The question is: Are there any “opinions” that justify a news organization firing a commentator?

    Of course there are—and Williams’ comments fall into that category. For Williams was not merely claiming to be nervous around Muslims on airplanes; he was agreeing with O’Reilly that these feelings were perfectly reasonable and justifiable. That’s the problem, because any way you slice it that is the very definition of racism.

    And to illustrate the hypocrisy of those that are screaming about freedom of thought, I have for you two words: Helen Thomas. Her comments regarding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank got her fired, yet she never even claimed that it was OK to be uncomfortable around Jews.

  • Xunzi Washington

    From the NPR boss, one week ago:

    “NPR journalists may not participate in marches and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers, nor should they sign petitions or otherwise lend their name to such causes, or contribute money to them. This restriction applies to the upcoming John Stewart and Stephen Colbert rallies.”

    I must have missed the outrage from the right on this.

  • torourke

    armstp,

    You stated earlier that Timothy McVeigh was a Christian when he committed his act of terrorism, which is categorically false. He stated in that letter to the Buffalo newspaper that he considered himself an agnostic and was also heard many times as having said that “Science is my religion.” Why you feel confident in reasserting something that is flatly untrue is beyond me.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Torouke: “I’ve seen a couple of references here to Timothy McVeigh as a Christian. . . He also told people that “science is my religion”, so people looking for the moral equivalence angle between Islam and Christianity should look elsewhere.”

    The reference to Christians blowing up a federal building pertains to Terry Nichols, a self-identified Christian.

    This was raised in response to ProfNickD’s patently false claim that Christians do not commit acts of terrorism. Depending on the period of time in question, there are at least as many examples of Christians having committed acts of terrorism as there are of Muslims having done the same. This is an inconvenient fact for those who wish to claim that Islam is a religiously unique cause of terrorism.

    The better explanation is that there are people of all religions who will claim the authority of God (or Allah, etc.) when carrying out violent acts.

  • torourke

    Sparty,

    Wrong:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37406-2004Jun12.html

    The jailhouse conversion of Terry Nichols to Christianity means that he was of course not a Christian at the time he participated in the OKC bombings. And I wouldn’t go as far as ProfNickD’s claims that Christians never commit acts of terrorism, whether they are religiously-motivated or not. But I would like to see some evidence that Christians are committing “at least” as many acts of terrorism as Muslims are.

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