City Journal Winter 2016

Current Issue:

Winter 2016
Table of Contents
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

By Andrew Klavan:

The Identity Man

Eye on the News

Andrew Klavan
Juan Williams Told the Truth
But at NPR, only liars need apply.
October 22, 2010

Here’s some news for the folks at National Public Radio. Everybody’s nervous about Muslims on planes. Why? Because Muslims blow stuff up. Not all Muslims, of course. Not even a large percentage of Muslims. But enough Muslims all over the world to make any reasonable person take note. Even the large majority of peaceful Muslims must look at one another in airport lines and think, “By Allah, I hope he’s not one of those crazy men who blow stuff up.” It’s unpleasant. We’d all prefer it were different. But the world is as it is, not as we might wish it to be.

I mention this, of course, because the consistently left-of-center NPR has set off a furor by terminating the contract of news analyst Juan Williams. In a Fox News television conversation with Bill O’Reilly, Williams, who’s black, remarked, “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.” So upset were NPR’s sachems by this bluff honesty—something they may normally avoid by listening to NPR—they told Williams he was fired, presumably in the same dreary, somnambulant tones with which their announcers attempt to lull listeners into an ideological trance state.

NPR news executives—who also get nervous when they see Muslims on planes—have reportedly been nursing a grudge against Williams because of his frequent Fox News appearances. A moderate liberal who exudes thoughtful decency, Williams generally provides reasoned opposition to O’Reilly, Charles Krauthammer, and other conservative Fox pundits. This habit of engaging in polite debate with those of differing opinions was apparently enough to put an NPR target on Williams’ back. The Muslim remarks provided the excuse to open fire.

But also, in attempting to ban the obvious truth from its airwaves, NPR is subscribing to the madcap illogic of its fellow left-wingers. So desperate are leftists to deny that their multicultural paradigm collapsed with the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, they are embracing a panicky and dishonest category error: they are determined to treat Islam as if it were a race rather than a system of ideas. To hate a person for his race is despicable because it denies him his humanity. To reject a system of ideas, however, is well within the prerogatives of decency. One may “unfriend” Communists, say, or Nazis, without in any way being disrespectful to Cubans or Germans. Ideas matter, and some are right and some are wrong.

Whether Islam is in itself a hateful system is a fair subject for discussion, but it is beyond argument that a sizable, vociferous, and culturally aggressive group of Muslims have embraced a version of Islam that is hateful indeed: violent, imperialistic, and oppressive beyond belief. That the majority of Muslims do not agree with these extremists may well be true, but it’s hard to tell who’s who before the bomb goes off.

Williams’s remarks were not only an honest expression of reasonable human concern at the real state of the world, they were also part of a debate that must be had if the West is to defend itself from aggressive fanatics. Everyone agrees with him, whether they admit it or not. Silence and censorship will not make the truth go away.

respondrespondTEXT SIZE
If you enjoyed
this article,
why not subscribe
to City Journal? subscribe Get the Free App on iTunes Or sign up for free online updates:

View Comments (17)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.