Thursday, October 21, 2010

NPR Thinks Wishing Jesse Helms or One of His Grandchildren Would Die of AIDS is Okay [UPDATED]

This is the only conclusion one can draw from National Public Radio's decision to fire Juan Williams after Williams related to Bill O'Reilly his understandable anxiety over flying with Muslims after 9-11 (while nevertheless warning O'Reilly of the necessity of not stereotyping all Muslims for the actions of a few), but NOT firing Nina Totenberg several years ago after making the following statement:
“... if there's retributive justice, [Jesse Helms] will get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it.”
As the linked piece notes, Totenberg is still NPR's legal affairs correspondent. It is perfectly reasonable to conclude, therefore, that NPR thinks it's just great for one of its correspondents to publicly wish AIDS upon the innocent grandchildren of someone with whom that correspondent disagrees politically.

Any doubts about whether NPR is anything more than a left-wing propaganda organ may now be removed.

JUAN WILLIAMS: I Was Fired for Telling the Truth

UPDATE #2 (22 October)

UPDATE #3 (22 October)
The Corner has complied a list of Nina Totenberg's Greatest Hits: "What About Totenberg?"

(Hat tip: Creative Minority Report)

Meanwhile, the NPR ombudman/person, while noting that the firing was "poorly handled", nevertheless defends the public broadcaster's decision to terminate the contract of Juan Williams.

UPDATE #4 (22 October)
For the record, someone in this whole Juan Williams - NPR dustup made a public comment that should cost someone that person's job. That someone was NOT Juan Williams, but NPR's CEO, Vivian Schiller:

Someone needs a refresher course on HR dos and don'ts. Ms. Schiller has likely opened up herself and NPR for a lawsuit. I, for one, hope Williams decides to take them to the cleaners.

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At 10/21/2010 4:47 PM, Blogger Stoic Man said...

I am a little bit disturbed by Catholics who think that suspicion of Muslims on airplanes is "understandable." I bet you would not be so understanding had Juan Williams said he is suspicious any time he sees a priest, in a Roman collar, around children. If someone said anything remotely suggesting that Catholic priests should all be suspected as pedophiles, you would be screaming bigotry all over the internet.

What is the deal? Or can you not see your obvious hypocrisy? I cannot imagine someone being that obtuse.

At 10/21/2010 5:21 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I'm not saying it's rational or even right, but I do understand it. Williams seemed to be embarassed about his admission, and he was making it in the context of a personal anecdote in which he was actually trying to make the exact opposite point.

Similar, if you will, to Shirley Sherrod's anecdote of a personal failing which she was relating to make the exact opposite point. She, too, was wrongfully terminated.

As for your point about Catholic priests "all priests be[ing] suspected as pedophiles", you're right that I would call that bigoted. As I would call Williams bigoted if he had said "all Muslims should be suspected as terrorists". He didn't say that and, in fact, said just the opposite.

But let's get down to brass tacks: I'm sure that I'm not the only parent who has felt uncomfortable about leaving one of his children alone with a priest since the scandal. Even though I trust every priest that I know, it's still in the back of my mind. It's not rational or right, and it is most certainly regrettable, but it's understandable.

If you can't at least understand that, or can't at least understand the emotions that Williams related, while still acknowledging they such emotions are regrettable, then I'm not the one being obtuse.

At 10/21/2010 5:29 PM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

And while I'm at it:

What is YOUR deal? Or can you not see the obvious hypocrisy? You seem far more concerned about the anxieties expressed by Williams - real but regrettable anxieties that I'm sure have been similarly felt by millions of people who have flown since 9-11 - in service of his broader point that Muslims shouldn't be typecast and scapegoated, than you are about the topic of this post which is that NPR let Nina Totenberg slide for a truly reprehensible comment in which she said that if there were truly Divine justice then the grandchildren of someone with whom she disagreed politically would contract AIDS.

Again, I'm not the one being obtuse.


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