“Human rights lawyer” Arsalan Iftikhar has an opinion piece on CNN’s website today, arguing that NPR was right to terminate Juan Williams’ contract with the network because of his comments earlier this week on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor.
You can read the rant here, but the knucklehead doesn’t even get out of the first
paragraph sentence without sticking his foot in his virtual mouth.
Imagine for a moment that there was a prominent American conservative journalist who ignorantly disparaged an entire minority group on national television, got fired for it by the nation's largest public radio media organization and then still managed to pull down a $2 million payday with the television network where he made the remarks.
Man, it must be nice to be Juan Williams.
A quick recap: Williams, a National Public Radio "news analyst," appeared on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor" on Monday to talk about Bill O'Reilly's recent remarks about Muslims on ABC's "The View;" the latter' shows co-hosts, Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg, had walked off the television set in protest.
Juan Williams is a prominent American conservative journalist? Good Lord, what does that make Bill O’Reilly—Attila the Hun? Aside from the fact that journalists should profess neither a liberal nor conservative bent and simply provide objective news coverage, you would think that such a prominent lawyer like Arsalan Iftikhar could at least properly identify which side of the political spectrum Williams lands on. Could Mr. Iftikhar have jumped to the conclusion that since Williams is a frequent contributor to Fox News that he must be a conservative?
But what about Alan Colmes? Geraldo Rivera? Shepard Smith? Bob Beckel? Each of these have either had their own shows on the network or are significant and frequent contributors, panel guests, etc. Are they conservative too, Mr. Iftikhar?
Iftikhar also makes the same mistake that the brain trust at NPR did. They completely miss the context of Williams statement regarding feelings of anxiety at seeing Muslim-garbed men on an airplane. He was using that statement to argue that, regardless of how we might feel personally, we should not allow personal feelings or individual prejudices to lead us to trample on the constitutional rights of Muslims, or any other group, for that matter. It was not a bigoted statement. At all.
Iftikhar says he also supported CNN’s dismissal of Rick Sanchez, and UPI’s forced retirement of Helen Thomas for their callous statements regarding Judaism. Well, would he also support the dismissal of Cokie Roberts, who wrote the following about Glenn Beck:
Actually, Beck is worse than a clown. He's more like a terrorist who believes he has discovered the One True Faith, and condemns everyone else as a heretic. And that makes him something else as well -- a traitor to the American values he professes so loudly to defend.
What about NPR Legal Correspondent, Nina Totenberg, who wished for Jesse Helms—or his grandchildren—would get AIDS from a Blood Transfusion. NPR should fire them as well, shouldn’t they, Mr. Iftikhar?