Operation Thoughtcrime: NPR fires Juan Williams

Tom Smith calls it punishing a thoughtcrime, and that is exactly what it is. In the course of upbraiding Bill O’Reilly about his views on Islam, 9/11, and the Ground Zero Mosque, the black maverick liberal NPR commentator and Fox News contributor Juan Williams mentioned that he felt “on guard” when he saw plane passengers in full Islamic garb. I would not wish to feed all the people — liberal or conservative — who felt that way as I would be bankrupted in seconds. (Then again, Molière’s Tartuffe had nothing on the holier-than-thou hypocrites of the American gentry left.)

Immediately Juan Williams found himself out of a job at NPR. While pressure from CAIR (whose despicable spokes-“organ” was utterly demolished by Megyn Kelly on Fox) surely contributed to this decision, there is little doubt that his appearances on Fox News stuck in NPR’s craw. (In fact, an article on NPR’s own website asserts the same.) Methinks they were just looking for an excuse to fire him. (An internal  memo about the firing is a study in self-righteousness and laughable assertions of neutrality.  Besides, the oh-so-intellectual head of NPR — a self-appointed expert in psychiatry — ought to know the difference between “principal” and “principle”. )

Fox News are of course having a field day, and the network offered him a $2M deal within hours. However, as rounded up here, NPR may have scored an own-goal (or “stepped on its own Johnson”, as they say in the South), as liberal and conservative commentators alike think NPR went too far this time. (I cannot remember the last time Whoopi Goldberg and Rush Limbaugh agreed on anything.)

Several GOP senators are calling for the defunding of NPR. I personally don’t give a rat’s backside that there is a New-class Preening Radio out there that is exactly that — but let the New Class pay for its own feelgood station.

As a parting remark, the banishment of long-time valued contributors over trivial offenses after they start contributing at rival outlets is something that… hmm, where did I last see this in the blogosphere?

UPDATE: NPR has one more journalist that appears regularly on Fox News (and, like Juan Williams, is a reliably liberal voice there). And guess what: Media Matters has started going after Mara Liasson. And guess which radical leftist tycoon is a recent big-time donor to both NPR and Media Matters? Yup, got it in one…

UPDATE 2: The NPR CEO meanwhile apologized over the psychiatry remark. See also this WSJ op-ed by a Muslim (!) who shares Juan Williams’ apprehension. Also don’t miss John Fund and James Taranto there. “Public radio vs. the public” indeed.

UPDATE 3: Via Facebook, “Ma Sands” points to a dissident “karma is a real [female canine]” view.

UPDATE 4: moderate Muslims speak out against the firing. on the grounds that forcing people to shut up is not the way to create a dialogue. Of course, this presupposes the left-liberal gentry has any more interest in dialogue than George Orwell’s “Inner Party” did.

Insty, in his roundups (see also here and here), also seems to think NPR went further than even they can get away with.

Insty quotes former CIA operative Reuel Marc Gerecht in the Washington Post: “Williams was wrong about the likelihood of a Muslim in traditional garb being a terrorist — Muslims who wear Western clothing and speak English with Marxist-Islamist vocabulary are vastly more likely to be suicide bombers in the West than a devout Muslim in [traditional garb]. But while his manner may have been clumsy, Williams was right to suggest that there is a troubling nexus between the modern Islamic identity and the embrace of terrorism as a holy act.”

Reflections on the Harvard “Emailgate” controversy

The Volokh Conspiracy has been covering at length [link leads to subject tag] an “emailgate” at Harvard that is really getting my goat.

Executive summary: a Harvard law student sends a private Email (relevant passages reproduced here) in which she basically says she is “not 100% sure” that the intellectual achievement gap between ethnic groups might not contain a genetic component somewhere. Months later, without her permission, somebody forwards her email to the discussion list of the Black Law Students Association, where it (as expected) unleashes a firestorm. The student has been censored by the Dean of the Law School, has abjectly apologized in public, and is subject to calls for her expulsion.

Eugene Volokh (himself a law prof at UCLA), while not sympathetic to the content of what she said, says the whole incident reminds him of the former Soviet Union where he was born. He goes at great length into what he terms “the practical costs of condemning openness to distressing answers on factual questions“. David Bernstein gives a catalog of outrageous public statements that apparently are not taboo at elite universities, but happen to fit the prevailing PC, post-Marxist, Third-Worldist orthodoxy.

Personally, I think we understand as little about the mechanisms of heredity of intelligence as we understand about global climate, possibly even less. Thomas Sowell — whom I admire greatly — makes a strong case for an “all-nurture” origin of differences between groups. If this were a lecturer or professor having made a statement in public, this would be one thing: “Scholars, heed your words, lest you lead your students to a place of evil waters, and they drink from it and die” (Pirkei Avot 1:11).

But the idea that a student could be expelled for expressing in private even openness to an answer that runs counter to the politically correct orthodoxy — even on such a “third-rail” subject, but where we don’t really know what’s going on  — is truly chilling. Squatch at C2 quotes:

Thoughtcrime is death. Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death. I have committed even before setting pen to paper the essential crime that contains all others unto itself.

And indeed, the whole incident reminds me more of George Orwell’s “1984” than of the principle of academic free inquiry as I’ve always understood it, and as best expressed by the Poincaré Declaration:

La pensée ne doit jamais se soumettre, ni à un dogme, ni à un parti, ni à une passion, ni à un intérêt, ni à une idée préconçue, ni à quoi que ce soit, si ce n’est aux faits eux-mêmes, parce que, pour elle, se soumettre, ce serait cesser d’être. (Henri Poincaré, Fêtes du LXXVe anniversaire, 21 novembre 1909).

[My free translation:] “Thought must never submit, neither to dogma, nor to partisanship, nor to passion, nor to interests, nor to preconceptions — nor to anything but the facts themselves — since for thought, submission would mean ceasing to exist.” (Henri Poincaré, remarks at the 75th anniversary celebration of Brussels Free University, November 21, 1909)

UPDATE: Taxprof has a roundup.

UPDATE 2: Some good verbal ju-jitsu from Ann Althouse. See also Neo-Neocon.