Monday, October 25, 2010


I already put up a post on firing of US journalist Juan Williams by National Public Radio [NPR].  I myself didn’t want to comment any further on this subject as the essay by blogger politicalmonkey2010 was so elucidating that it didn’t require any further explanation. But as I saw some more news on Juan William’s assertions at the Fox News, CNN and NPR, I could not hold myself.
I would personally term it as childish to infer religious identification from one’s dress. We see lot of foreigners residing in Pakistan and they wear Pakistani dress which is very much different from the one worn by Arabs [Muslims as well as non Muslims].
During my visits to Saudi Kingdom, I saw many Indians [not Muslims but Hindus] wearing the typical Arab dress. Should we assume that by wearing Arab dress they have become Islamic terrorists? How funny!
Dress has had never to do anything with religion. Muslims in neighborly India, I presume wear Kurta Pajama unlike we Pakistanis who wear Kurta Shalwar (a baggy trouser). And as a formal attire many Pakistanis, particularly the bureaucrats wear western dress. I have hardly ever seen our prime minister in Kurta shalwar. Same is the case with President Asif Ali Zardari.
I wonder how a journalist / anchor working in such prestigious organization as NPR could utter a funny thing like Islamic dress symptomatic of terrorism!! [Nayyar]

I won’t shed a tear over Juan Williams’ involuntary departure from NPR any more than I mourned journalism’s loss when CNN shit-canned Rick Sanchez. Williams should have lost his job long ago for his lazy analysis, and it always amazed me that Sanchez got that gig in the first place (despite having a few good moments).
I certainly don’t think either should have lost their jobs over what seemed to me rather indirect expressions of petty-but-all-too-common bigotries. But the larger point, for me, is that if we’re going to have a culture of rigidly enforced political correctness in our media, it has to apply evenly.
The same week that Rick Sanchez lost his gig at CNN after saying, obliquely, that the network was run by Jews, This Week dedicated an entire show to the weighty question, “Should Americans Fear Islam?” It featured such intellectual powerhouses as Robert Spencer — Pam Geller’s co-conspirator stirring up the Park51 brouhaha — and perennial wingnut Gary Bauer.
It was a telling disconnect. It was like Meet the Press doing a full show on whether Jews controlled the media and the international finance system. And it highlighted the fact that in the U.S. today, you can basically peddle any crap you want about Muslims without fear of professional repercussions. Geller herself got a fawning profile from the New York Times, and people like Frank Gaffney go on national television to push ridiculous conspiracy theories about some sort of plot to impose “Sharia law” in Greenwich Village (note that David Duke doesn’t get similar opportunities). And they get away with it. Or at least that was the reality until NPR sacked Juan Williams. (TPM has a whole run-down of this double-standard as it appears on the right.)
Williams has a column today (at the Fox News site, natch) titled, “I was Fired for Telling the Truth.”
Yesterday NPR fired me for telling the truth. The truth is that I worry when I am getting on an airplane and see people dressed in garb that identifies them first and foremost as Muslims.
This is not a bigoted statement. It is a statement of my feelings, my fears after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 by radical Muslims.
It was the truth, and it was a bigoted statement, if a mild one in this day and age. They’re not mutually exclusive — Williams admitted, truthfully, to a bit of prejudice, shared, unfortunately, by many Americans.
It was also idiotic. Obviously, there’s no such thing as “Muslim garb” — Saudis, Malaysians, Turks and Muslim kids in Michigan don’t go for the same fashion trends. Two Coptic Christians from Egypt who were harassed and almost assaulted at a protest against the Cordoba House can attest to the fact that it’s not easy to discern one’s religion from appearances alone.
But Williams no doubt had in mind traditional Arab (or maybe Middle Eastern) garb — like that worn by this dude sucking face with Shrub:
More to the point, the reality is that if you’re getting on an airplane and see someone dressed like a Bedouin that is the last person in the world you should worry about being a terrorist. Terrorists don’t exactly have a compelling interest in setting off red flags, getting extra security screening or being the focus of air-marshals’ attention. Which is why every Islamic terrorist to date has donned “Western” clothes in order to fit in — that includes the 9/11 high-jackers, the Shoe Bomber, the Underwear Bomber and on and on.
Of course, the line between bigotry and stupidity is as blurry as can be. And therein lies part of the problem with these firings: is every clueless media hack were to lose their job tomorrow, we wouldn’t have all many media figures left.
Anyway, NPR’s decision will only help advance the Right’s long-standing campaign to defund public broadcasting.
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer with AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America).

Source: Alternet 

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