read more: Boston Herald

In a brazen act of political correctness bordering on censorship, National Public Radio on Wednesday summarily fired veteran political analyst Juan Williams.

His crime?

Speaking frankly about Islamic terrorism and admitting his own fears about flying post 9/11.

As a guest on the FOX News program “The O’Reilly Factor,” Williams was asked for his opinion on the media frenzy surrounding Bill O’Reilly’s now famous comment that “Muslims killed us on 9/11.” Williams, an African-American liberal with a distinguished career in journalism, stated:

“I’m not a bigot. But when I get on the plane, I’ve 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.”

Moments later, Williams went on to defend Muslims and to remind viewers that we are not in a war against Islam.

So, did NPR really fire Williams for expressing his personal, human anxieties? Only partially.

The truth is that NPR has been looking for an excuse to eliminate its only black on-air voice for years.

In addition to working for NPR, Williams provides commentary for a variety of news outlets, including FOX, where he serves as a liberal foil to conservative commentators like Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer. Williams’s collegial relationship with his FOX colleagues was reportedly a source of irritation to NPR executives. Then, last year, after Williams commented that Michelle Obama’s “blame America” instinct could become a political liability for her husband, NPR asked FOX News to stop identifying Williams as an NPR analyst. Apparently, the sight of one of their own criticizing Mrs. Obama was too much for the NPR thought police. Williams’s fear-of-flying comment, then, provided the pretext NPR needed to get rid of an analyst whose real sin was engaging in thoughtful political discourse with conservatives. To the overseers of the liberal plantation, the fact that Williams is an African-American who occasionally criticizes the Obamas only compounded this crime.

Even taking at face value NPR’s statement that it fired Williams for his “Muslim garb” comment, is this comment really a firing offense?

Williams’s comment is a bit silly. After all, actual Muslim terrorists would never board a plane dressed in “Muslim garb.” But his point – that nine years after 9/11 some Americans, rightly or wrongly, are made nervous by the sight of Muslims on airplanes – is certainly an observation worth publicly discussing.

And what of O’Reilly’s original comment that “Muslims killed us on 9/11?” The Japanese bombed us at Pearl Harbor; Germans killed 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. Is it now wrong to say these things too?

Of course, it goes without saying that not all Muslims are terrorists, just as it goes without saying that during World War II not all Japanese people hated America and not all Germans were Nazis. But these obvious truths cannot alter the fact that the atrocities of World War II and 9/11 were perpetrated by people from particular cultures. More importantly, in each of these cases, the atrocities were committed not despite the culture but, at least in part, because of it. The Nazis were not madmen on the fringe of German society. And Mohammed Atta and company were not psychopaths who coincidentally happened to be Muslim – they were religious revolutionaries inspired by hatred of the West and the religious pluralism it embodies.

Which brings us back to O’Reilly and Williams.

It is true that these men may be guilty of violating modern norms of political correctness. But NPR is guilty of muzzling an “uppity black man” for speaking truth to power. I’ll gladly stand with O’Reilly and Williams.

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