Friday, October 22, 2010

Two Weddings, One Ass

There is a terrific Yiddish expression that currently sums up a large part of what Juan Williams did wrong: "You can't dance in two weddings with one ass."

Fox News and National Public Radio are two very different weddings, playing very different music and enjoying very different food. Trying to please the machers at both was bound to be an exercise in futility, if not self-destruction.

Besides, wasn't this so far over-the-top as to be almost passive-aggressive? (After all, he got to be the news story for a change, and he got a hefty raise too.) Telling O'Reilly "you're right"? Using the words "I'm not a bigot" and then NOT STOPPING THERE?

Here's the full quote:
"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," Williams said Monday. "But when I get on a 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."
For those who are saying that Williams was fired in violation of his 1st Amendment rights, an anonymous NPR exec rolls his eyes in the Washington Post: "Williams's comments on Monday were the last straw, the executive said. He dismissed suggestions that NPR was suppressing Williams's freedom of speech, saying, "Juan has a First Amendment right to say whatever he wants. He does not have a First Amendment right to be paid by NPR for saying whatever he wants." And there's the rub. Though we are all free to talk, we are not free to escape the consequences. Not even if a lot of loudmouths agree with us.

Besides, considering that Tea Party senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell just publicly revealed she doesn't know what the 1st Amendment entails, the Republicans probably shouldn't be drawing too much attention to the Bill of Rights.

As TNC points out, what Williams said was a problem. What Williams CONTINUES to say leeches out any potential sympathy I'd have for him. From today's NYT:
Mr. Williams said in an essay published Thursday on that he was fired "for telling the truth."

He continued in the essay: "Now that I no longer work for NPR let me give you my opinion. This is an outrageous violation of journalistic standards and ethics by management that has no use for a diversity of opinion, ideas or a diversity of staff (I was the only black male on the air). This is evidence of one-party rule and one-sided thinking at NPR that leads to enforced ideology, speech and writing. It leads to people, especially journalists, being sent to the gulag for raising the wrong questions and displaying independence of thought."
Sent to the gulag! Somewhere, Solzhenitsyn is groaning in his grave and stuffing dirt in his ears. If Williams is really that convinced that he is a victim of severe, historical injustice, then he belong at Fox News. Let me be the first to say, Welcome home.

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