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A few words on Juan Williams and a must see video for the weekend

October 22, 2010 Leave a comment

“I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. 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.” – Former NPR correspondent Juan Williams on the O’Reilly Factor.

As I’m sure you have all heard by now, National Public Radio (NPR) national correspondent, Juan Williams, was fired Wednesday for comments made on the O’Reilly Factor. The aftermath of the firing has been predictably volatile. The right has been quick to certify the move as an attack on the First Amendment and to use it as an example of why NPR should lose Federal funding; which, of course, is a long harbored resentment in conservative circles. NPR clarified their decision with a weakly logical and ill-justified statement. So here we are, three days later, with a new hot-button issue for the right to slam Democrats with in the lead-up to November 2nd and a respected national service with egg on its face. Was it the correct call by NPR or a misguided attempt at political correctness? As much as I hate to admit it, NPR erred massively in the firing of Mr. Williams.

Let me first say that I do not agree with nor do I hold the same opinions expressed in Mr. Williams comments. That being said, they are not, unfortunately, far from accurate in how the vast majority of Americans feel when interacting with Muslims. Poll after poll after public opinion poll has concluded that Americans on whole are, at the very least, nervous with the idea of Muslims. For this reason alone, Mr. Williams should not have been fired. The conversation on Islam, Islamic extremists and the overall faith has, for WAY too long been perverted by those who wish ill upon an/or do not understand the word’s second most populous religion. The way I see it, the only way to reroute this discussion and clear up misconceptions/end bigotry is to OWN where we are, no matter how offensive it is to the palate, as Americans today. Undoubtedly, this is a hard perspective for Muslims to take. I don’t think I would be able to if I prayed towards Mecca. I do think, though, that saying what ignorant people are thinking is not a fireable offense, but rather a teaching moment.

On the other hand, Mr. Williams is by no means above reproach. In my opinion, Mr. Williams is guilty of two infractions of his NPR correspondent status. First, no matter the conservative screams of “Lefties at NPR!” or “Liberal media bias!,” NPR is civil service based on providing in-depth, unbiased news coverage. It is one of the few places within our catch-phrase society where persons can count on thought provoking analysis. This means that NPRs producers and contributors adhere to highest journalistic integrity. Mr. Williams, as a contributor to this mission, was at fault for betraying this integrity by pandering to an imbecile like Mr. O’Reilly. This leads me to my second charge and the real inappropriate action in this whole escapade. Mr. Williams should have never, ever had this conversation on a medium such as the O’Reilly Factor. Mr. O’Reilly, he of fear-mongering and bigoted fame, has attacked, again and again, Islam and its adherents. The most recent, high-profile example was his greatly publicized tiff with Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg on The View. It was derived, naturally, by Mr. O’Reilly claiming that all Muslims were responsible for 9/11. My point is this: while I do not believe Mr. Williams is a bigot in any way, by making these comments on the O’Reilly Factor, he lent credence to a demagogue and created a political moment.

Yes, Mr. Williams erred in judgment. No, he should not have been fired. This is a strike against NPR and could have a political impact as well as a social one if Sarah Palin’s “defund NPR” movement continues gaining momentum. All from a correspondent telling the damned, ugly truth. I can only hope that we thinkers can own this and use it as a national conciousness moment.

A Video You Must Watch

YOU MUST WATCH THIS VIDEO. PERIOD. A man and his son decided to take it upon themselves to make a homemade spaceship so the son could see what space looked like. This video is the result. The conversation and the implications of this experiment are vast, so we will save that for another day. But couple this will NASA’s discovery of arable soil on the Moon… maybe the future isn’t too far away.

Have a great weekend! The Week in Fodder will be back next week! Until then, enjoy the Fodder!

The Birthers Just Don’t Quit

July 13, 2010 7 comments

As we’ve already discussed at the Fodder, America seems to be a on a path of divergence so drastic that the gap between left and right is becoming too cavernous to bridge. This article is about the issue that perfectly epitomizes this divide…

The 2008 election brought out the worst in average Americans with polarizing ideologies; threats, hate crimes, slurs, etc. One of the more volatile and ludicrous theories, and flabbergastingly the one with the most staying power, to emerge from Election 2008 was the notion that President Obama was not born in the United States. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason, or reasons, for the traction that this rumor gained during the campaign. Most likely though, it was one part internet sensationalism, one part fear and one part Lou Dobbs; a good recipe for any absurdity to permeate a citizenry. Whatever the reason was, the Birther movement was born.

It's where it's supposed to be, in Honolulu.

Bizarrely, going on two years into the President’s term, the Birther movement may be getting stronger. Yesterday, the petulant Senator David Vitter, of scandalous infamy, was caught on video disgustingly backing progressing conservative lawsuits (just one example) challenging the legality of the President’s citizenship. We’re way past the stage of mincing words on this subject. When the Birther movement was in its nascent state, it was not taken seriously by the Obama campaign. As the story gained legs, the campaign released (acrimoniously?) a digitally scanned copy of the then candidate’s birth certificate. That should have been that. The Hawaiian State Department of Health confirmed, twice (TWICE!!), that the certificate was authentic. What more do people need? Are we to conclude the whole federal government and state government of Hawaii are involved in a massive conspiracy covering up the true birthplace of PRESIDENT Barack Hussein Obama II? That is over two million federal employees alone. That must have been one well-written memo getting everyone onboard the conspiracy train. Really, how is the Administration even supposed to prove to people, who believe so ardently in an illogical idea, that President Obama was born in the United Sates? Make photocopies of the birth certificate and send it to everyone who identifies as a Birther? I can hear it now, “THIS is a government fake! They made it up. He was born in Kenya! He was born in Indonesia! He was born in Russia!” As we like to say at the Fodder, “Just get better.”

The Seal of the most powerful man in the world. It MUST command respect, no matter what party or background one comes from.

In all of my political and international affairs posts, I try to keep a levelheaded, unbiased approach to reporting issues that we believe should be talked about. This, however, is a different subject. I have no use for it. Once upon a time, the Presidential seal demanded respect. When did that change? President Obama is the legally elected President of this great United States of America. That is a fact and the end of the story for me. Love it or hate it, that’s how it should be. It sadly isn’t.

What is clear is that there are right-wing, fringe nut-jobs that will not let the birthplace issue rest. They have a mission and they will go down swinging. Unfortunately, it seems that they will aided and abetted by irresponsible members of Congress. I say irresponsible because it is irresponsible. There is no upside in debating this issue. This is not a way to rigorously debate topics – the economy, unemployment, national debt, social security, two ongoing wars – that are plaguing our country in a time of crisis. It’s democratically damaging. It’s bad for the process and our national psyche. So I say, with all seriousness, shame on Senator Vitter, Rep. Trent Franks, Lou Dobbs, Fox News and all the rest of the media, politicians and demagogues that keep dragging this issue to national attention. This country does not need such nonsense.

Here’s a cute clip from Fox News. Not really putting the issue to rest are you Anne Coulter?