Friday, October 22, 2010

The Private Ideology of National Public Radio

The unbiased paragon of soft news.

If people listen to NPR because they like the news, that's fine. If they listen to it because they think it comes from some pure objective place, please read the article below regarding Juan Williams being fired from NPR:

"NPR's firing of commentator Juan Williams this week is one of the worst examples of rush to judgment since 9/11.

Mr. Williams, whether one tends to agree with him or not, is immensely respected by his fellow journalists and viewers alike for his ability to conduct himself with dignity and respect in a field where extremes of opinion and low-ball tactics have become all too common. He's mostly a moderate liberal who is able to hear other points of view with respect, and he can be nuanced in his own views.

In these times, Mr. Williams's instinct for finding both middle and common ground is no small feat.

And for what offense has he been pilloried by the censorship squad of NPR? For saying out loud what many Americans think—that he gets nervous when he's on a plane and sees people dressed in traditional Muslim garb.

As an Arab-American of Muslim descent, I am not offended by this because in all honesty I have had the same reaction in similar circumstances. In Berlin a couple of years ago, my flight was delayed because, we were told, one of the passengers, who was in a wheelchair, needed extra assistance. When she finally was brought into the waiting area, she was covered from head to toe in traditional Muslim dress and only her eyes were visible. What happened? I grew nervous. I got on the plane just the same, but with trepidation.

Was my response rational? Yes and no.

It was not Muslims in traditional garb who hijacked those planes on 9/11, and it certainly was not Muslim women in veils and wheelchairs. If anything, an Islamist terrorist wants to blend in, not stand out.

However, it was not a traditional sort of terrorist attack I feared in this case, but perhaps something unexpected: a traditional Muslim woman in a veil, confined to a wheelchair, who was loaded with explosives.

That may make me guilty of an overactive imagination, but perhaps not. Not that many years later, a young Muslim on an international flight into Detroit tried to light explosives in his underwear.

I mention all this for one main reason. I grew up surrounded by Islamic culture, went to Islamic events, and was used to seeing women in traditional Muslim clothing, and yet when that woman appeared at the Berlin airport, I was scared.

That's all Mr. Williams was saying. He didn't say that they should be removed from the plane, treated differently, or anything close to that. He simply said he got nervous. And for that, he was fired.

The reality is that when Muslims cease to be the main perpetrators of terrorism in the world, such fears about traditional garb are bound to vanish. Until such time, the anxiety will remain. In the long run, it's what we do with such fears that matters, not that we have them.

But regarding what happened to Mr. Williams, no one should tolerate such intolerant behavior on the part of NPR. This broadcast network is paid for by the American taxpayers, and as such we all have a stake in its decisions.

Anyone who cares about freedom of speech should protest what has been done to this decent and fair man. And even if that were not the case, even if Mr. Williams' views made him a detestable ogre to most, he still has the right to voice them. For many Americans, NPR's consistent tilt to the left has caused them to reject it as a viable source of news.

NPR often embodies the very things it claims to stand against: unfairness, narrow-mindedness and reactionary policies.

I ask all Americans of conscience, most particularly those of Arab and/or Muslim descent, to protest the firing of Juan Williams and to demand that public funding to NPR cease until Mr. Williams's good name has been cleared and he has been rehired (if he still wants to work for this network).

We deserve better from a public radio network funded by taxpayer money."

Mr. Dabul is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.


This post and article is not in regards to whether Juan Williams reaction was irrational, or "right" or "wrong" (Juan Williams admits to himself afterwords in the same interview that it was probably an irrational immediate response to this situation). It's in regards to the impossibility of something called "objective news," and the more grotesque fact that there are self-righteous people who aren't even aware of their presumptuous inclinations in thinking they can provide "objective news" for a "public." Still, more perverse are people who listen to any news broadcast and think they are getting "objective news," not realizing the style that's influencing this thinking.

For further reading, check out this article I wrote for on NPR:
Ten Problems with NPR

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