LJWorld.com weblogs Southern Perlo

The Right to be a Bigot


4th of July Celebration, Mississippi, 1937.

4th of July Celebration, Mississippi, 1937. by Walter Rhett

Good riddance! Juan Williams, a journalist formerly with the Washington Post, who authored the companion book to the PBS special, "Eyes on the Prize," and who was frequently seen on Fox News and heard on NPR was fired as a news analyst by NPR. Juan was arrogant and out of touch. His bonafides were always suspect. (Many see ad hominen here; others nod, recalling his description to Michele Obama to "avoid being Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress.")

But many see his firing as further proof that we as a country require each statement to be "politically correct," never speaking of other groups of people in ways that actually express our inner and truest thoughts. Why can't a television personality be allowed to be critical of Jews, or express fear of Muslims? Or to question Obama's birth? Why can't journalists and others express negative views on intra-gender relationships? Why can't blacks be criticized for their own failings? Isn't self examination painful?

Truth is one thing, the public trust another. I am okay if someone wants to admits he or she is homophobic, racist, Islamophobic, sexist, or xenophobic. I openly call for their mea culpa. I would admire them for their open honesty. But should such a person be placed in a position of public trust, given their views? No. I don't want them to be judges or journalists, sprouting the fear that blames those who have the right to free expression for crimes they did not commit. For those in the public realm, it should be an issue of private therapy, not public confession.

And why not? Because the second part of their honesty is usually that they see nothing wrong with their self-indulgent views of bigotry and ethnocentricism. How would Juan Williams feel if people followed him in stores, thinking he might shoplift because of his color? Or if were followed home by the police because he can afford to live in a neighborhood that others may think is off limits to him due to color rather than income?

Honesty should never become a safe house for bigotry and prejudice. Confession of a crime, whether an act or idea, whether murder or bias, still carries consequences. Our compassion is to show mercy, certainly. But mercy should never endorse the sin.

Thanks for reading! Please, stir the Perlo, leave a comment. /wr {^_^}

No fears.

No fears. by Walter Rhett


verity 7 years, 1 month ago

A very thoughtful and thought provoking article. Thanks for posting.

Sruss2909 7 years, 1 month ago

While I agree that in a purist sense bigotry applies to "heart sentiments" as well as "head sentiments", I am conccerned about an environment where journalists are expected to be "pure". We need skilled journalists, who are the articulators and debate structurers for our open society to expose their heartfelt fears despite their intellectual principles to start the dialogue we desperately need if we ever hope to address bigotry. We are all emotional beings, and those emotions must be addressed if we are ever to be the principled society we strive to be.

equalaccessprivacy 7 years, 1 month ago

Juan Williams is a commentator, not a reporter, so some standards should be different and more lenient for him.

Brian Laird 7 years, 1 month ago

actually, his NPR title was "news analyst", which is different than a commentator. A news analyst is supposed to objectively analyze the news not inject opinions into it.

BorderRuffian 7 years, 1 month ago

How many so-called "News analysts" do we know who are not biased one way or the other, and who do not color their analysis in such a way as to reflect their own leanings? There is no such thing as objective reporting - everything we do, every thought we make is somehow colored by our own understanding, experience, preferences, etc. It amazes me how any news agency can cry out such things as journalistic integrity on one hand, then unashamedly put a spin or a slant on their reporting to justify their own preconceived notions.

Katara 7 years, 1 month ago

You make several excellent points.

I do find it interesting that the same people who get upset when they feel they cannot honestly express their opinions about particular groups get just as upset, if not more, when someone else honestly expresses their opinion about the particular group the person belongs to.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 1 month ago

Right wingers criticize the so -called political correctness of NPR in firing Juan WIlliams while celebrating Faux "News" for hiring and airing only those who agree with the right wing view of the world. Funny, if not so sad.

Hop2It 7 years, 1 month ago

"Honesty should never become a safe house for bigotry and prejudice. Confession of a crime, whether an act or idea, whether murder or bias, still carries consequences."

What a thoughtful and articulate way of saying...thank you for sharing, but you are still a prejudeced dumb butt. I wish I could remember the smart person way next time I was confonted with....a prejudiced dumb butt.

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