Thursday, August 25, 2011
"Muzzled" by Juan Williams
This is a book I have been waiting for. In case you don't recall, Juan Williams, the talented Prize Winning Journalist from the Washington Post, was summarily dismissed from his post at NPR, where he had hosted a show for several years. His crime: he gave his opinion concerning the way in which "random" searches are conducted when boarding airplanes. He spoke his mind. And that of millions of other Americans, who in the wake of 9-11, have been understandably uncomfortable when on airplanes with traditionally dresssed people of the Islamic faith.
The usual reasoning employed to make you feel "wrong" in your thinking this way is based solely on the fact that the 19 hijackers on September 11th were not dressed traditionally, but rather in American style clothing. Of course they were! They didn't want to face any extra scrutiny while carrying out the acts of terror that had been planned by other Islamics who were dressed traditionally. This is so basic a concept it is hard for me to believe that those in charge of NPR can't see the foolishness behind their "politically correct" thinking.
I am not a big fan of NPR, I find them often to be merely the "flip side" of Rush Limbaugh. I prefer my news from other sources, eschewing commentary for real reporting. That's not to say that I don't support NPR in principle. And I have my own favorite columnists, whom I read in the newspapers. I welcome diversity of opinion as a way to form my own. So, that's why I read this book.
I expected some sort of diatribe concerning liberal bias, and assumed that this book was the bridge for Mr. Williams to cross over to the more lucrative Conservative side of the media. I was pleasantly surprised at what I read.
Mr. Williams has written a well balanced book about the lack of real political discourse in America today, and what it means for our futures. He explores the economic, as well as social, implications of a society where every word must be measured carefully in order not to offend. He takes both sides of the political spectrum to task in an orderly fashion, pointing out the follies of extremism, and the negative effect that "politically correct" speech has on an open discussion of anything. And that includes the current debt crisis, which has only been pushed to the sidelines pending the next election.
No matter how you feel about NPR, or Juan Williams, this book has much to say about the future of civil discourse in America. And it ain't pretty. It's like Pogo said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us!"