FIRST-PERSON: Juan Williams' offense? His feelings
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--If liberal elitists have their way, not only will a politically correct standard be applied to speech, behavior and thought, it will also be brought to bear on a person's feelings. Just ask Juan Williams.
Williams, until this week, was a news analyst at National Public Radio. He was fired because he expressed his feelings -- feelings of fear -- over being aboard an airliner with folks decked out in what he called "Muslim garb."
Williams, an award-winning journalist, is no conservative. He is, however, thoughtful, respectful and articulate. Fox News, in an effort to provide a fair and balanced presentation of the news, frequently has had Williams on a variety of programs to provide a liberal perspective.
It was during one of these appearances that Williams shared his feelings. He was a guest on the popular Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor" when the discussion turned to political correctness as it relates Islamic terrorists.
Williams said to the show's host, Bill O'Reilly:
"Political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don't address reality. I mean, look Bill, I'm not a bigot, you know the kind of books I've written on the civil rights movement in this country, but when I get on a 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. Now, I remember also that when the Times Square bomber was at court, I think this was just last week. He said the war with Muslims, America's war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don't think there's any way to get away from these facts. But I think there are people who want to somehow remind us all as President Bush did after 9/11, it's not a war against Islam."
Williams' statement could not be clearer. Given the fact that those who carried out the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, were Muslim, and given the fact that Islamic extremists the world over want to do harm to non-Muslims, he feels a bit nervous when he sees folks board the plane he is on sporting an overt expression of Islam.
Williams was not expressing an opinion, he was simply being honest that, given the context of the past decade, he feels a little nervous wondering if obviously Muslim people boarding the plane he is on could possibly be terrorists. Right or wrong, many people can relate to Williams' feelings.
Williams did not say that he refuses to fly with Muslims. He did not say adherents of Islam should not be able to board airplanes, nor did he say all people wearing Muslim garb should be stripped-searched prior to flying. All Williams did was express a feeling based on a legitimate context.
Of course liberal elites are allowed to say and think whatever they want about individuals and groups they disagree with. Vivian Schiller, CEO of NPR, told an audience at the Atlanta Press Club that Williams' feelings about Muslims should be between him and "his psychiatrist or his publicist -- take your pick." Schiller later apologized for her insensitive remark.
Anyone who does not toe the politically correct party dogma is subject to the most inane and insensitive remarks. Christians and conservatives are fair game for ridicule by liberal elites.
I once saw an editorial cartoon in a left-leaning newspaper. It depicted a lion sitting in an arena filled with people. There was a lone person, who appeared to be frightened, standing before the king of beasts. Behind the pair was a scoreboard that read: Lions 99, Christians 0. Below the cartoon it said, "So much for prayer."
I have often wondered what the reaction would have been by the politically correct masses if the cartoon has been poking fun at Muslims.
The fact that Juan Williams was abruptly and unceremoniously fired for sharing his feelings gives insight into the thinking of politically correct liberal elites: Not only are your thoughts, speech or actions subject to politically correct scrutiny, but your feelings -- your emotional reactions to certain stimuli no matter how legitimate -- are now not allowed to offend certain groups of people.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.