It's the ultimate in political correctness. Losing your job for being honest - for expressing a feeling - a thought. The problem is that in the case of former NPR journalist Juan Williams, an honest thought - a feeling - about Muslims and 9-11 - cost him his job.
In an interview on FOX's O'Reilly Factor, Williams merely expressed a thought that is on the minds of millions of Americans in a post-9/11 world:
"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 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."
Moments after that sentence, he went on to say that it's wrong to believe that all Muslims are terrorists and that all Americans have to be careful not to let fears lead to the violation of anyones constitutional rights. In addition to the complete interview, which NPR clearly ignored, Williams accurately recounts what happened in his own words.
I don't agree with Williams' political views. But I do agree with his right to express a thought - to speak honestly. The fact is that NPR's action was outrageous. In addition to firing him with a phone call, the President and CEO of NPR slammed him further by questioning his sanity when she stated he needs to be talking to his psychiatrist about his feelings.
Of course, Muslim groups like CAIR are happy - they demanded NPR take action. Their representative said the 'right-wing' Williams was not a 'good fit' for 'liberal' NPR. But there are some moderate Muslims who understand the wrong that was committed here and are speaking out.
There's strong support for Williams across the board. Whoopi Goldberg said the firing was ridiculous. And, in an unusual show of support for Williams, the Washington Post (a former employer of Williams) correctly concludes that Williams "was attempting to do exactly what a responsible commentator should do: speak honestly without being inflammatory. His reward was to lose his job."
Not only is this move wrong, it reflects the imbalance that NPR has been projecting for years. They are not a mainstream news organization. And, while they proclaim to provide intellectual news coverage and analysis, there's no shortage of outrageous statements made by NPR staffers and journalists over the years - statements that did not result in firings.
And now it is becoming clearer - that NPR was really looking for the final straw - to fire a well-respected and talented journalist because of his continuing appearances on FOX News. Even the NPR ombudsman admits that the relationship with FOX has caused 'heartburn' for years at NPR.
In the wake of this highly-publicized firing, important questions are being asked. Why does NPR continue to receive federal taxpayer funds? An organization, that on the day it fired Juan Williams, announced that it has accepted a multi-million dollar grant from billionaire and one of the post powerful funding sources of the Left - George Soros - money to be spent on hiring NPR reporters. I imagine those reporters whose salaries will be paid by Soros will have all the freedom they want as they do their jobs - as long as it doesn't involve criticizing the Left.
More than $400 million dollars a year of taxpayer funds go to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds NPR. It's time for Congress to put an end to financing this organization and its agenda. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) says "Congress becomes an accessory if we continue to fund NPR in any way." And, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is planning on introducing legislation to defund NPR.
That's not only appropriate, but necessary.
Williams is now coming forward and calling for the defunding of NPR himself. "If they want to compete in the marketplace, they should compete in the marketplace," Williams said on a FOX news show. "They dont need public funds. I think that they should go out there. They think their product is so great, go out and sell the product."