Juan, Juan, Is That You Carrying On?

The subtitle is also the mission statement, seemingly

Juan Williams (no relation) wants you to believe that he’s been “Muzzled” by NPR (conveniently forgetting his 3-year Faux Nooz deal, his column, and his access to media outlets to whine).

He has written a book of the same title, and as a literary critic of three decades and some, I’m in a quandary: I can’t review the book, since I don’t have a review copy, and I’ll be damned if I’ll underwrite this. But I CAN review the “publicity” surrounding the book. So: His publisher, Crown Books, dropped this blurb on the Amazon website (sorry, I won’t link to it).

“You can’t say that. You’re fired.”

Prize-winning Washington journalist Juan Williams was unceremoniously dismissed by NPR for speaking his mind and saying what many Americans feel—that he gets nervous when boarding airplanes with passengers dressed in Muslim garb. NPR banished the veteran journalist in an act of political correctness that ultimately sparked nationwide outrage and led to calls for Congress to end its public funding of the media organization.

Really? The Republicans in Congress were so upset at Williams’ treatment that they did what they did? Seriously?

In what galaxy do the Crown copywriters believe we’ve been vacationing in? An entirely convenient excuse for “topicality,” perhaps, but for Juan Williams to ENABLE, AID and ABET this utter nonsense is already a grand and spreading blot on his ‘credibility.’ It continues …

In Muzzled, Williams uses his very public firing as a launching pad to discuss the countless ways in which honest debate in America—from the halls of Congress and the health care town halls to the talk shows and print media—is stifled. In today’s partisan world, where media provocateurs rule the airwaves and political correctness dictates what can and cannot be said with impunity, Williams shows how the honest exchange of ideas and the search for solutions and reasonable compromise is deliberately muzzled.

Oh. Dear. Ghod.

I have been unable to avoid him, as he has been everywhere on the Talk Circuit, including the Daily Show (last night) and, yes, NPR this afternoon.

One can understand why they didn’t run the Kirkus Reviews review. (Kirkus is a paid review service that publishers use to get reasonably credible blurbs for their hardcovers … and now self-publishers can pay for to do the same. They’re resolutely middle-of-the-road, however, and won’t — like certain Rolling Stone movie reviewers, give a glowing blurb to anyone who “asks” for one for their movie — “sell out” their street cred.

A plea to make the world safe for bad-mouthing Muslims against the big bad PC police of the Far Left.

Self-described middle-of-the-roader Williams (Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America—and What We Can Do About It, 2006, etc.), now a fixture on Fox News, was famously relieved of his duties as an NPR commentator after having confessed to getting queasy aboard planes in which certain passengers are “dressed in garb that identifies them first and foremost as Muslims.” Here, the author recounts that removal, generalizing from his experience to lament a world in which free speech is supposedly suppressed in the interest of political correctness. True enough, we live in a time when the gravest offense often seems to be to give offense in the first place, even though there are plenty of people—and plenty of them on Fox—who make good livings doing just that. Williams is not especially convincing in that generalization; to read this account, it seems he may just have had a toxic relationship with his boss, herself recently gone after a political misstep of a different kind. To be fair, he concurs that some Fox types, particularly the soon-to-be-gone Glenn Beck, are guilty of stifling and shouting and incivility, though this admission comes in a rather roundabout way: “So while my friends at Fox frequently and courageously expose the use of this tactic of political correctness by the Left, it’s important to remember that the Right plays this game too.” Most of the book is unobjectionable—sure, it’d be nice if we could all play nice and Al Franken wouldn’t roll his eyes at Mitch McConnell. Even so, much of the narrative is a long exercise in complaint about his bad treatment at the hands of NPR management, in which Williams overlooks, it seems, the Ailesian right-to-work credo, which holds that all employees serve at the pleasure of their bosses and there’s no such thing as tenure or appeal. Who lives by the sword, after all…

In the end, about the last thing the civil-discourse cause needs, namely more self-interested preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-95201-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Crown

Clearly, Crown’s publicity department wouldn’t want THAT on the Amazon page — where the difference between the Kindle version and the physical hardcover version is TWO BUCKS. Who the hell are they kidding?

And WHO is actually being “muzzled” when — to show their fairness and contrition and suchlike — All Things Considered runs this story on NPR this afternoon?

But critics said Williams had effectively endorsed racial profiling. Ellen Weiss, then NPR’s senior vice president for news, called Williams to cut his contract short. The ensuing outcry from journalists and conservative lawmakers cost Weiss her job in January and helped fuel the later departure of CEO Vivian Schiller two months later. Weiss declined to comment for this story.

These days, no one at NPR defends how Williams was fired.* In his book, Williams writes of the emotional toll it took: He describes his fears his career would be hurt and worse that he would be considered a bigot.

[* Who is being muzzled here? And Williams continues to remain a bigot. See below. ]

Margaret Low Smith is NPR’s acting senior vice president for news. A former NPR News staffer who joined the network 29 years ago, Smith was running another NPR division at the time Williams’ contract was terminated and did not participate in the decision. She said the network had learned, painfully, from its mistakes. But she also said that she did not recognize NPR from Williams’ characterization….

Tom Phillips (Regnery books), Rupert Murdoch (HarperCollins)
and Robert Novak (dead). Crown books published Muzzled

Williams continues to stalk me through the airwaves, and he keeps repeating the absurd formula that since he wrote a book about how blacks were oppressed, he can’t possibly be a racist — even though the formulation is, ITSELF, racist.

Think about it: I write a book about how my people/family were/was persecuted. It’s true. It’s heartbreaking. Everybody pats me on the back. Then I say that seeing anybody dressed in Muslim garb makes me nervous. (Take the Jew Test, and imagine that he said “People in Israeli and Jewish garb make me nervous at airports.”)  He isn’t a Muslim. There, it’s racist. And, He Defended HIS People. If you believe that proves your NON-racism, it actually provides prima fascie evidence that you ARE a racist.

Just as  you don’t earn your anti-censorship street cred by defending popular speech from people you agree with, you earn your NOT-BIGOTED ANTI-RACIST chops by defending unpopular groups NOT your own. Everybody is right about how great THEIR people are. It’s as common as dirt and just as rhetorically useful. (Especially when it’s mixed with water before flinging.)

If a white person says “black people make me nervous” it’s racist. Understandable, perhaps, as a result of ignorance, but still racism. President Obama even talked about when his Kansas Grandmother said that to HIM.  And when a Black Faux Nooz/NPR contributor says that Muslim people make him nervous, it’s the exact same thing. Good lord.

Even certifiably loony Herman Cain gets that much.

So let me drop the “race card” on him:

Juan Williams should be ashamed of himself for his bigotry because he, just like I, lived under segregation in our own country and know what it’s like to be treated differently based on superficial characteristics. He probably watched his father being disrespected by some whites just as I watched some whites disrespect my dad.

I can say without a doubt that Williams, Clarence Thomas, Ken Blackwell, Harry Jackson, Alveda King, Alan Keyes, and other African-Americans in their 50s know what happened in their early lives, but have chosen to forget and pretend it never happened. How any of these people can join with a group like the republicans/tea partiers is unfathomable.

It is precisely because of my early experiences in life and those that followed that I will not discriminate against anyone else. I never want to see anyone else have to live the way that I’ve had to live. There are some whites here in GA where I live who are extremely bigoted against AAs, liberals, democrats, gays, lesbians, trans-gendered persons, immigrants, Hispanics/Latinos, atheists, etc. The strangest thing about these people is that they have hatred in their hearts, a gun in one hand, and a Bible in the other.

I’ve also noticed that the members of the rw I’ve run into online since NPR fired Williams are wondering why liberals, AAs. and the NAACP aren’t rushing to defend Williams. They never seem to understand that we don’t march in lockstep to the same tune the way that many on the right do. I doubt many AAs’ opinion of Williams is very high, something that would prevent any/many of us from rushing to his defense. I see the Williams-NPR issue as a contract issue. According to Ms. Shepard, Williams had been warned about his Fox PAC appearances, he ignored the warnings, appeared on the network, showed his bigotry, and was fired. End of story. The right-wingers want to make this a free speech issue, but it’s not since no government entity sought to silence Williams.

I, too, find it strange how the rw will rally around those AAs and other persons of color who will put up with their BS, but will demonize the president AAs, and others for speaking out against them and/or Fox PAC. Williams is Fox PAC’s useful AA idjit.

Juan Williams is an embarrassment to all of those brave men and women of all races who joined together to fight for the civil rights of African-Americans. I think very little of him because he sits upon his perch at Fox PAC and lets their entertainers tell lies and isn’t man enough to speak up and correct them when they’re wrong. Uncle Tom and sellout aren’t strong enough words to describe Juan Williams. Out of respect for your blog, Mr. Williams, I won’t introduce the word many of us in the AA communities across America use for Williams, King, Keyes, and the others. Suffice it to say, though, I’m just as disgusted with FoxPAC and Juan Williams as you are. Contrary to what Barbara Walters had to say about Whoopi and Joy’s walking out on O’Reilly, I’d probably have done the same thing. Walking out is a legitimate form of protest. The audience seemed to think so too because Whoopi and Joy received loud applause when they walked off the set.   25 October 2010 at 2:10 pm

That was written by one of my most perspicacious commenters, Magii, who is a retired schoolteacher living in Georgia. She is also Black, in case you were wondering.

The post in question was about the initial kerfuffling and subsequent kerfluffing of L’Affaire Juan Williams. It was called “,” 23 October 2010.

This was my assessment THEN (conveniently STILL overlooked by Williams and his interviewers):

So, let’s face it, as moral arbiters [the so-called liberal media’s] on-base percentage is pretty pathetic. And, right before an election, they provide cover for the [expletive deleted] blatant race-baiting from this party of angry White Men and their biker mamas.

And yet, when I watch the “Ed Show” on MSNBC, the Republican spokesman is one of the fifteen Black Republicans in the spokesmodel rack. (Evidently all the Barbie dolls are away on book tours.)

What Juan Cole said, I believe, was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. Were I NPR, and were I ethical, I should be extremely nervous about giving cover to Faux Nooz and their increasingly blatant partisanship.

In our new version of Uncle Tom’s Cabinin the hands of the Rovian Media Spinmeisters, it turns out that every morning, Old Uncle Tom arises in his modest cabin, walks up the hill and mercilessly beats Simon Legree, who is terrified of Uncle Tom and is forced to do anything that the angry, scary black man tells him to do.

When Uncle Tom has finished beating Legree, Topsy comes in and pisses on him, which is intolerable to Legree (in case you were wondering).

Simon Legree finally determines to escape, but in his terror, he blunders into the Ohio River and drowns.

Poor Simon Legree.

Let’s all work real hard to make sure that what happened to Simon Legree never happens to another scared, ignorant White Person.

Give generously won’t you?

Exxon will bless you for it.

I will add only this weirdly prescient passage from earlier in that piece:

Ailes  (former Nixon aide) and
Murdoch (Satan aide)

Watergaiety did not vanish after Watergate. It just became more supple, more serpentine and slithery, more wormy and oozy and pus-covered.

When you fall from grace, there will always be a lunatic zillionaire to hire you as a greeter at their casino or Wal-Mart. No matter how satanic the fall, the Repukkklans will always back you up. When “They” fire Juan Williams for the latest in a long string of questionable and deeply disturbing commentary, they pick you up, dust you off and dry the tears from your puffy cheeks.

Juan Williams on Faux Biznezz™

Luckily, in this case, Rupert Murdoch/Roger Ailes gave Williams a long-term contract, reported at $2 million, so he’ll have plenty of money to buy tissues to cry his poor little eyes out on. And plenty of fresh, crisp linen pillowcases to cry himself to sleep at night on.*

[ *Jeebus, do you suppose that Murdoch is Mephistopheles? I mean they lured Greta Van Susterin away from CNN by giving her PLASTIC SURGERY to remove the bags under her eyes. And, come to think of it, Paula Jones and her “friend” Linda Tripp both got extensive plastic surgery for freebies — including liposuction for Tripp — for coming over completely to the Dark Side in those evil days. Betimes I wonder if you have to sign your Faux Nooz contract in blood.]

Following his firing from NPR, Williams appeared on The O’Reilly Factor and offered his thoughts on his role at Fox playing into NPR’s decision: “I don’t fit in their box. I’m not predictable, black, liberal. You [O’Reilly] were exactly right when you said you know what this comes down to. They were looking for a reason to get rid of me because I’m appearing on Fox News. They don’t want me talking to you.”[12][Wikipedia]

The only surprise here is that it wasn’t published by HarperCollins (a wholly-owned subsidiary of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s company) but was instead published by Crown Publishing, which was wholly engulfed by Random House, which was itself engulfed by Bertlesmann, A.G. the largest publisher and media conglomerate in the world. Wikipedia, him say [sic]:

Bertelsmann AG is a multinational media corporation founded in 1835, based in Gütersloh, Germany. The company operates in 63 countries and employs 102,983 workers (as of December 31, 2009), which makes it the most international media corporation in the world.

Bertelsmann is not publicly listed and is majority owned (77.4%) by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a non-profit organisation and political think tank set up by the Mohn family, which in turn privately owns the remaining 22.6%.


in 1979 it bought the American Arista label, in 1980 Bantam Books, in 1986 the label RCA Victor and the publishing house Doubleday. It has distributed Windham Hill Records since 1989. In 1992 it acquired 50% of Windham Hill Records and in 1996 it took full control. During this period the activities in the music market were bundled into the label BMG.

In 1993, Reinhard Mohn as owner of Bertelsmann moved 68.8% of his Bertelsmann AG stock over to the Bertelsmann Foundation. As of 2006, the Mohn family still owns 74.9 of Bertelsman’s capital, in addition of the Bertelsmann foundation.

From 1995 to 2000 Bertelsmann had a major Internet service provider (and associated content) joint venture with AOL that operated throughout Europe.

In 1995 the Ufa Film- und Fernseh-GmbH merged with CLT, Luxembourg. The result was known as RTL Group, the biggest private radio and TV broadcaster in Europe.

In 1998 Thomas Middelhoff became CEO of Bertelsmann. He bought the Random House publishing house and concentrated the group’s worldwide book publishing operations under this label.


In 2002 Bertelsmann admitted that they lied about their involvement with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, which included making profits from slave labour and publishing propaganda. The revelations came to light during their takeover of US book publisher Random House in 1998; Bertelsmann used a revised account of their Nazi past to smooth the deal.[5]

OK. Now I feel much better.



Further reading

A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.
UPDATE: Majii left the following comment on this post on my blog:

31 July 2011 at 2:25 pm

This book is a farce of epic proportions. Juan Williams, who works for the #1 propaganda “news” network in America, has decided to address a lack of “honest debate” in this country in his latest book? He is an employee of a network where dissenting voices are regularly shouted down by its news entertainers, a clear example of the network’s focus on squelching what he calls “honest debate.”

He has followed Alice down the rabbit hole and emerged into an alternate universe, one which allows him to deny the role he and his employer play in making it almost impossible for “honest debate” to occur on any TV “news” network and/or in the halls of Congress. Williams and Crown have GOT to be kidding.

Instead of getting upset about this, I’m going to look at it as being exactly what it is: another attempt by someone who showed his obvious bigotry on national TV, is now trying to justify it, and is trying to make a profit in the process.

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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