NPR fired news analyst Juan Williams last week for a series of outrageous utterances, most recently disparaging Muslims. Williams, who is also a commentator on Fox News, told Bill O’Reilly, “… 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.” http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpps/news/juan-williams-fired- from-npr-after-muslim-comments-dpgoha-20101021-fc_10212518

Some people on both the left and right protested that Williams’ free speech rights were violated. I say horse pucky.

NPR paid Williams, a black conservative, as a news analyst. Frankly, he never did a very good job. NPR fired his butt for repeated violations of its guidelines, for example, once comparing Michele Obama to black power leaders.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/onmedia/1010/ NPR_CEO_apologizes_for_handling_of_Williams_firing.html? showall

Williams’ comment about Muslims on planes was not only bigoted, it was completely irrational. People planning to hijack a plane would not dress in Muslim clothing, which would automatically call attention to themselves. Williams might even be safer on a plane full of religiously dressed Muslims, which might be less likely to be targeted. If Williams was simply stating that some people feel afraid of Muslims, why didn’t he follow his statement by saying such sentiments are wrong and bigoted? How would Williams react to someone saying that “when I see a young African American, I get worried. I get nervous.” The job of any news analyst is to combat bigotry not stoke it. While conservatives are outraged at Williams’ firing, they cheered the firing of CNN editor Octavia Nasr who was fired for the one-time offense of tweeting that Ayatollah Mohammad Fadlallah was a respected cleric in Lebanon. http:/ /news.blogs.cnn.com/2010/07/06/nasr-explains-controversial- tweet-on-lebanese-cleric/

For some conservatives, hypocrisy in pursuit of Islamophobia is no vice.

Speaking of hypocrisy, how about that Obama Justice Department?

On Sept 24, the FBI raided the houses and offices of 14 anti-war activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. The activists face subpoenas to appear before a Grand Jury for giving material support to terrorists. http://stopfbi.net/ Under the Patriot Act, it is now a crime to even donate money to a charity or school the U.S. claims is connected to a “terrorist” organization. Nobody knows exactly what the charges against the activists will be, if any, because the government documents remain secret.

Don’t the liberals in the White House remember Dr. Benjamin Spock, the Chicago 7 and countless other anti-war protestors who were persecuted for opposing the Vietnam War and eventually acquitted of all charges? Government repression goes hand in hand with aggressive wars. Can anyone explain to me how President Obama differs on these issues from President Bush?

Freelance foreign correspondent Reese Erlich’s new book is “Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire.” This week his national book tour takes him to Boston, Amherst and Storrs, Conn. For details, see www.reeseerlich.com. His blog appears on Tuesdays on The Real News.

Reese Erlich

Reese Erlich is a best-selling book author and freelance journalist who writes regularly for the Dallas Morning News, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Radio and National Public Radio. He has won numerous journalism awards, including the prestigious Peabody (shared with others). He is the author of several books, and is currently touring across the country promoting his most recent one called: Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire, published in September 2010. Reese Erlich received a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for his reporting from Bahrain.www.reeseerlich.com.