I pride myself on being a liberal progressive. There’s a great line I heard in response to this Tea Party nonsense that’s been dominating the political scene recently:
Conservatives want their country back. Progressives want their country forward
I am proud to claim membership in a group that wants to adapt to the reality of the world we live in, rather than obstinately cling to ideology as a substitute for evidence. If the evidence says “privatize health care”, then we should do it; if it says “shut down welfare”, then we should do it; if it says “religion is a sufficient and useful basis upon which to build a society”, then by all means let’s have more of it. However, the evidence repeatedly comes down on the side of the progressive agenda, forcing conservatives to embrace positions that are more and more to the bizarre fringe.
However, liberals can be just as guilty of becoming mired in ideology. We’re not better people; we just have better ideas. However, occasionally we’ll do something so boneheadedly stupid as to make me question my allegience:
US broadcaster National Public Radio has fired news analyst Juan Williams for saying on Fox News that he gets nervous if he sees Muslims on a plane. Williams, who has written several books on the US civil rights movement, made the remarks last week on chat show The O’Reilly Factor. NPR said in a statement that Williams’s contract had been ended on Wednesday.
I’m sure some of you think that I’m referring to what Mr. Williams said as an example of liberals being racist. I’m not. It’s arch-liberal NPR that I’m disgusted by:
Williams: “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.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said before Mr Williams was sacked that such commentary from a journalist about other racial, ethnic or religious minority groups would not be tolerated. In its statement, NPR said Mr Williams’s comments “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR”.
Here’s what I see – I see a guy who is openly and honestly recognizing his race biases and the prejudice that he sees within himself. I see a guy who is doing exactly what we are supposed to do, which is to confront our own privilege and investigate how much it plays into our decision making. I see a guy who said something impolitic, but in a self-reflective rather than hateful way.
What does NPR see? Someone saying something that isn’t puppies and rainbows about their interactions with a minority group! And as everyone knows, liberals aren’t racist at all. Therefore, he must be fired immediately.
The sad thing is not only the fact that a guy was fired in a Shirley Sherrod-like flurry of left-wing idiocy, it’s that the right (and particularly Fox News) is trumpeting to the skies that this is somehow some kind of vindication:
By midafternoon Thursday, more than 4,900 comments had been posted on NPR.org, including many from people who said the media organization was bowing to political correctness and unfairly punishing Williams for expressing his personal opinions.
“In one arrogant move the NPR exposed itself for the leftist thought police they really are,” read one typical post. “After this November elections I hope one of the first things the new Congress does is to defund this poor excuse for public radio.”
Okay, everyone write this down: Having idiots for opponents does not mean you are correct. Don’t get me wrong – it makes the process of demonstrating that your position is correct a hell of a lot easier, but you still have to explain why your ideas have validity. Yes, NPR was stupid, that doesn’t mean that Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin have somehow magically become smarter.
This is how left-wing ideological obstinacy manifests itself – nobody can say anything that even sounds remotely racist. Ignore the point that he was trying to make – he said something that sounded mean, so he’s got to go. I would completely understand if they demanded that Williams clarify his position on air, as it is fraught with potential grounds for misinterpretation. They didn’t do that though, they fired him, driving him into the arms of Fox News and giving conservatives more ammunition to claim that the real racists are liberals.
Racism is a plague on both of our houses, folks. We just show our symptoms differently.
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