“This is one of the things in my life that’s shocking. I grew up on the left. I grew up here in New York City and I’ve always thought the right wing was the ones who were inflexible and intolerant. Now, I’m coming to realize that the orthodoxy at NPR, as it’s representing the left, is just unbelievable,” he said.
“And especially for me as a black man, to somehow, you know, say something that’s out of the box. They find it very difficult… I think they were looking for a reason to get rid of me. They were uncomfortable with the idea that I was talking to the likes of Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity,” he told GMA’s George Stephanopoulos.
I used to listen to Talk of the Nation when Juan Williams was the host. The host who came after him wasn’t nearly as good. Later I stopped listening to liberal and conservative talk radio altogether. Eventually I got tired of interviews with gay black performance artists and anti-tax alien global conspiracy theorists.
Most media reports have focused on Williams’ admission that he feels worried when he sees people dressed in “Muslim garb” on flights. Most media reports have done a horrible job of conveying the rest of his comments. You can watch the entire conversation here. If you do that (rather than watch the Shirley Sherrod-like snippets that some advocacy groups supplied), it’s clear he’s admitting to a fear he experiences in order to convey how important it is to protect the rights of Muslim Americans against the sort of things irrational fear could lead to.
It’s clear that the reporting on this story has exaggerated the cut-quote implying paranoia about the way people look, in order to make Williams seem like an idiot. In fact, for most people this is actually the main issue, because most people develop broad-ranging opinions on issues of planet-wide importance that they manage to associate with a superficial glimpse or a sound bite of someone who scares them. That superficiality and paranoia were evident in the right-wing reporting about the Global War on Terrible Camel Herders as well as in the left-wing reporting about the New American Theocratic Fascist Dictatorship of Moderate Republicans. To this I would add the recent Constitutionalist Insurgency Against International Communist Thug Children With Pre-Existing Medical Conditions.