Rightbloggers, Delighted to Find Black Guy Scared of Muslims, Defend Juan Williams
That might seem at first a minus, but Williams was immediately rewarded by Fox with a new $2 million contract. Plus, he cemented his reputation among conservatives as one of those liberals who -- like Joe Lieberman -- can be relied upon to criticize liberals.
You could argue (as some liberals did) that Williams' shouldn't have been fired for his comments, especially since he said some less-offensive things later. Some rightbloggers did make that argument. Some even denounced prejudice -- against conservatives. Prejudice against Muslims, though, they didn't mind. In fact, that was mainly what they liked about what Williams said.
Williams' fatal remarks were made on The O'Reilly Factor, in response to one of Bill O'Reilly's anti-Muslim rants:
...political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don't address reality 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.Later in the show Williams supplied some context:
But I think there are people who want to somehow remind us all as President Bush did after 9/11, it's not a war against Islam. President Bush went to a mosque... if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals, very obnoxious, you don't say first and foremost, we got a problem with Christians. That's crazy.We who have free souls, it touches us not, but NPR canned Williams, and suddenly he was the recipient of what's known in the business as a Strange New Respect from rightbloggers -- but not for the comments in the second box.
Rightblogger Instapundit, who had only previously noticed Williams a few times, has at this writing 12 posts about his firing. One of Instapundit's themes was that NPR was "racist" to fire the African-American Williams. (This is a joke based on the ancient conservative trope that liberals are the real racists.)
For some it wasn't a joke. "People will think I'm kidding by saying Juan Williams was fired because he's a black man," said Dan Riehl, "but I'm not." He explained: "If Juan Williams is impacted by the behavior of Muslims, then progressives -- and NPR is that -- can't lecture white America that their concerns are based on hate, religious intolerance, bigotry or xenophobia."
So if a black person admits prejudice, apparently, that lets white people off the hook. (Riehl himself enjoys telling his readers about black people he considers racist, but we guess this schtick only works with liberals.)
Jammie Wearing Fool noticed that NPR now has no on-air talent of color. (Update -- a reader reminds us that Michele Norris is still with the station.) "NPR - where the 'P' stands for 'Plantation,'" said small dead animals.
Anonymous Attorney of VDare -- a website celebrating what we might politely call white exceptionalism -- said, "Indeed, it's a little hard to categorize Williams as a 'bigot,' i.e., someone who would take the side of whites in a racial dispute. He may have thought -- like Rick Sanchez -- that his own race gave him a longer leash to be honest about things." (This, from a guy prone to complain about "the abuse of whites in the mainstream media.")
Whoa, whoa, whoa -- is that guy in the gown getting on my plane?
Some boldly defended Williams on the grounds of the First Amendment, which guarantees reporters a right to jobs with the employer of their choice, or at least it does in their version of it.
"Screw Free Speech," projected Big Journalism onto NPR. The firing was "nothing more than the latest chapter in liberals' recent and sordid history of thought-policing," said Michael Schwarz of the Ashbrook Center.
And it goes all the way to the top! "But what happens when paranoia grips those in power?" asked Schwarz. "What really matters here is that the Obama administration's petulant 2009 crusade against FOX News, complete with the equally petulant narrative that spawned that crusade, retains its relevance among the paranoid left." Thus, liberals "convince themselves that their opponents act from feelings of paranoia rather than legitimate opposition born of serious reflection, and when one among them gets control of the government, it then becomes possible -- imperative, actually -- to de-legitimize the sources and the forces of this so-called paranoid opposition." We have to admit: He makes a better case against paranoia than he probably intended.
At Pajamas Media Richard Fernandez said the firing indicated the return of "blasphemy" to the "secular West," classed Williams a victim of liberal inquisitors along with Larry Summers and Ginny Thomas, and suggested that in this dangerous new age "next time Anita Hill can call the FBI and get you arrested." Gasp! No wonder Ginny Thomas wanted an apology.
"Self-styled liberals," declared Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom, "no longer support actual liberal policy." In fact, "'Liberalism' in this country, where it truly exists, has migrated -- as I did -- to the right side of the political aisle." Hmm, so they've got the liberals and the conservatives -- don't see what they're complaining about.
Bernie Goldberg said Williams' firing proved that liberalism had died, and worried that "his firing will make lots of other Americans think twice before they say something the boss may not like." But what if they are encouraged to say something the boss may not like because they expect to immediately get a new job that pays $2 million? Think how disappointed they'll be.
The perfidy and racism of liberals was just a fun sidelight for rightbloggers, though -- the important message was that fear of Muslims on planes is normal, even admirable.