"Political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis, where you don't address reality," Juan Williams observed rather prophetically on Bill O'Reilly's show Monday night, before he made the comments that got him fired from his assignment as senior news analyst for National Public Radio.
This is what Williams said: "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.
"Now, I remember also that when the Times Square bomber was at court, I think this was just last week. He said the war with Muslims, America's war, is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don't think there's any way to get away from these facts."
Williams tempered those remarks with the caveat that President George W. Bush clearly stated that America is not at war with Islam. And: "Wait a second though, wait, hold on, because if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals, very obnoxious, you don't say first and foremost, we got a problem with Christians. That's crazy."
Too late. Williams already had handed ammo to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. _CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad called on NPR to investigate Williams on Wednesday. In a statement Awad charged, "NPR should address the fact that one of its news analysts seems to believe that all airline passengers who are perceived to be Muslim can legitimately be viewed as security threats."
CAIR is an identity-politics organization that trolls for opportunities to take offense. Whenever anyone acknowledges the nexus between terrorism and radical Islam -- not Islam, but radical Islam -- CAIR cries foul. Wednesday afternoon within hours of the CAIR complaint, NPR rewarded CAIR's campaign of intimidation with a scalp.
NPR announced it had severed its contract with Williams, as his remarks "were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR."
Should the public then assume that NPR's editorial standards demand that journalists ignore Islamic extremists who declare jihad -- even while noting that it's crazy to lump all Muslims as extremists? Ironically, NPR's editorial standards comport with what Williams said about political correctness feeding the air of unreality.