NPR & the SBC: When Voices Are Silenced

I just read that one of my favorite liberals, Juan Williams, was fired from National Public Radio.  For those who watch Mr. Williams on Fox News Channel (the many) as opposed to those who listen to him on NPR (the few), you will recognize that Juan Williams is no conservative.  But, according to the liberal elites in this country, Mr. Williams committed the unpardonable sin.  What was his offense, you might ask?  He dared talk about Islam in a truthful, yet less than flattering, light.

Mr. Williams, who is often a guest on The O’Reilly Factor, was asked by Bill O’Reilly whether or not he thought America was facing a “Muslim dilemma.”  Williams dared to express agreement with the following statement made by Bill O’Reilly: 

“The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.”

Juan went on to say: 

“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.”

To add further fuel to the fire, Juan Williams also commented on the statement made by the Muslim extremist who tried to detonate a bomb in Times Square.  Paraphrasing the very own words of this terrorist, Mr. Williams said: 

“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.”

For most Americans, what Juan Williams said makes perfect sense.  Try as they might, the liberal elites, aided and abetted by the liberal media, simply cannot convince the overwhelming majority of the American public that radical Islam is a figment of our imaginations.  When a liberal like Juan Williams speaks the truth, the American people — of all backgrounds and persuasions — not only understand what he is talking about, but wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments that he is expressing.

However, when the liberal elites in charge of NPR heard these words, they reflexively heard bigotry and racism.  Instead of giving their long-time analyst the benefit of the doubt, they couldn’t move fast enough to fire him and distance their elite radio establishment from him.  In reality, though, the distancing began when Juan Williams left the confines of the liberal asylum and ventured over to Fox News Channel.  A liberal voicing his own opinions on the right-leaning (some might say “Fair and Balanced”) FNC is simply unacceptable to the hard left.  There is no room for dissent in their ranks and Juan Williams was the poster child for a classic liberal who would not be bullied into submission.

In trying to justify their actions, NPR said that Williams’ words 

“were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”

Here’s a news flash for NPR officials:  Juan Williams’ credibility as a news analyst just increased 100 fold because he is no longer affiliated with the likes of your “news” organization!  And as for their resort to “editorial standards and practices,” I can only respond by typing LOL!

I do not know Juan Williams personally, but I have come to like and respect him, at least from what I observe on television.  Does that mean that I agree with everything that Mr. Williams says or even how he says it?  Of course not.  Are there times when he says some things that provoke me to anger or disgust?  Yes.  Does his commentary cause me to think in ways that I might not have otherwise thought?  Most of the time.  

I am under no pretense that Juan Williams, even though he is a Fox News contributor, is anything other than a liberal.  But, he’s one of “my” liberals.  And, because of that, I appreciate his voice, even though I may not always agree with his premises or conclusions.  And, I’ll keep watching and listening to Mr. Williams, although I know that there will be times — especially during this election season — that what he says and how he says it will infuriate me.

You know, we all have our own “Juan Williams,” someone who can often times push our buttons and can write and say things that we might adamantly disagree with.  Yet, their voice is one that is influential, at least for us personally, even if for no one else. Someone that affects OUR emotions, both in positive and negative ways.

And, when we are provoked to respond in an emotional way, we can follow NPR’s lead and move to silence those with whom we disagree (sometimes vehemently) on the most pressing issues of the day — whether in politics, culture, or religion.  Or, we can be true conservatives — defenders of free speech — and let all voices, even those we disagree with, ring out loud and clear in the public square and in the blogosphere!  That sounds like a pretty fair and balanced approach to me.  How about you?

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About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
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15 Responses to NPR & the SBC: When Voices Are Silenced

  1. Howell,

    You could not be more helpful and correct– a piece well-written, timely, and needed. I have almost identical estimation of Williams from whom most conservatives like myself may learn a great deal from the best in genuine liberalism. How ironic also the incredibly ‘right-wing’ Fox allows him to speak freely, no script to follow, no lines to guide, no ‘must-do’ talking-points to express. Is this not a worthy example of the liberal spirit media elitists and leftist liberals so quickly lay claim?

    Presently, I’m working my way through Intellectuals and Society by Thomas Sowell, whom I think, for whatever it’s worth, is the leading conservative thinker today, and may be the only true conservative thinker today! In chapter 5, Optional Reality in the Media and Academia, he speaks of “filtered reality” a process elitist intellectuals pursue–consciously or not–to create their own reality by filtering out all the information contrary to their perception of ideal reality. All the major social issues on which we focus attention–racism, homelessness, unemployment, etc.–intellectuals systematically filter information sometimes through “suppressing facts,” creating “fictitious people” (e.g. making Herbert Hoover a convenient villian), and/or “verbal cleansing” among other things.

    This piece very well characterizes the point Sowell is making, I think.

    Grace, brother.
    With that, I am…
    Peter

    • Howell Scott says:

      Peter,

      Thanks for your response. I think I will have to get Sowell’s book. I try to make a point of reading his opinion pieces. A moderate Baptist asked me recently if “elite” was a code word for liberal. While there are certainly many liberal elites, both in the media and government, I think that there are elites in every area of life and in all organizations. Do you think that this “filtered reality” process could be used by all kinds of elites, be even conservative and/or religious elites? I have my own theory about that, but would be curious as to your thoughts. Thanks again for stopping by. Have a wonderful and blessed day. God bless,

      Howell

  2. “Fair and balanced”? That doesn’t seem to be much of a criteria any more, anywhere I can see. Not in American politics, not in most of the media, and unfortunately, not in a lot of Christianity, either.

    Maybe because people aren’t fair & balanced, either. Most particularly not at election time.

    Uhh … make that political election, not soteriological.

    Good post.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Bob,

      If the political ads in Alambama are anything like out here in New Mexico, then you are spot on about the complete lack of “fair and balanced” in any area of life, especially governmental politics. Thanks for the kind words. Have a great day! God bless,

      Howell

  3. I saw “SBC” in your title but not in the body of the blog. What exactly did you have in mind?

    • Howell Scott says:

      William,

      I will admit that the SBC is not explicitly stated in the body of the post, but it is definitely in there, particularly the last several paragraphs. It is a subtle commentary on dissenting voices as regards the SBC. I thought about whether I should have been more explicit and mentioned names, but I decided not to. That was purely a stylistic and editorial judgment. Some may not see anything at all about the SBC, but there are others who will “read between the lines” and see what I mean, especially those who have been following certain SBC blogs in the last six days. The way that I write, I usually give a title to the post and then begin writing. Many times I will tweak and re-tweak the title, and I did on this one as well. In the end, I decided to stay with this title. Sometimes the title works well and other times, not so much. In any event, thanks for reading and taking the time to ask your question. Have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

  4. Howell,

    If I am understanding Sowell, he would not characterize elitism existing within one strain of thinking such as left vs. right or in one discipline such as politics, education, philosophy, or religion. Hence, while he aims his sights many times toward liberalism, his intellectual pistol just as well could be aimed toward elite conservativism. Even so, I think also, he would argue, conservativism does not naturally lend itself to elitism as does leftward thinking.

    Rather, elitism more expresses the upper story intelligentsia who favors centralized information. Looking at it from an historical standpoint, it’s the old “let the philosophers run the show” politico. They obviously are the smartest; they have the proper tools; all the significant knowledge is at their disposal.
    Sowell, offers one illustration after another how the elite will, for example, theorize from a distance on gun control or make sweeping judgments on police officers who fire far too many bullets in a confrontation. They do so apart from any first hand-experience of firing a gun themselves, not to mention while a thug is firing back at you attempting to kill you.A NYC study performed on their police officers found barely half hit the target they fired upon at a mere 6 feet away, while only about 1 in 10 hit the target at 25 yards.

    Sowell’s point is, for elitism, the only knowledge which counts is the knowledge they have, not the knowledge of the general populace.

    Sowell argues no grand wizard exists–no matter how “smart” and knowledgeable– which contains more knowledge than all the masses within the society they attempt to rule by proxy.

    I do not want to end on a provocative note, but…I cannot help myself: the recent statement, for example, Southern’s seminary president is recorded to have made (CT) pertaining to the necessity of a Reformed theological paradigm in order for the biblical Doctrine of Inerrancy to be sustained, the structure of which non-Calvinists are “not aware” screams of Sowell’s depiction of naked elitism. As an intellectual, Mohler made a “way-to-go,” “high-five” comment representing a tiny minority of SBC subculture. That’s all on that now. I plan to address this a bit soon over at SBC Tomorrow.

    Thanks, Howell. And, you won’t be sorry you get Sowell’s book even if you do not eat all the goodies he serves up.

    With that, I am…
    Peter

    • Howell Scott says:

      Peter,

      Without having read Sowell, I do tend to think that liberalism, at least of the modern variety, does tend to lend itself more toward elitism. However, I think that when we see people in ivory towers — political, higher education, or even religious organizations — tell the grassroots what is really good for them, then I think that we can get caught up in elitist thinking. I think that some within the SBC, who are not necessarily on the ground as pastors, can view things from an elitist point of view. While I myself lean more toward Calvinist theology, my practice as a pastor is certainly not consistent with the pure ideological system that some would want to employ. I think that the GCR movement has exposed an SBC elitism that perhaps has always been under the surface, but in recent days has taken a more public stand. Thanks for your thoughts. I look forward to your upcoming article addressing Dr. Mohler’s CT interview. God bless,

      Howell

  5. selahV says:

    Hello, Howell. Juan Williams drives me wacko sometimes. I so disagree with his viewpoints on so many things. But he does seem to speak his mind without being hateful. I give him credit. One thing about his statement about being on an airplane with those dressed in Muslim attire: I get antsy when I board a plane with everyone–garb or no garb. I am suspect of everyone–no matter how they are dressed. In fact, the ones who flew jets into the Towers, the Pentagon, and eventually were forced to a Pennsylvania cornfield, were not oddly garbed. They looked like regular folk. It galls the liberal elite if anyone sneezes the wrong way….they don’t even like Obama right now….go figure. It’s an act of total censorship on the part of National Public Radio to dump Williams…but then what is “public” is not always in line with what the majority of the “public” thinks. I wonder about what is truly “public” on those public venues. Isn’t NPR funded by the public?

    As far as reading between the lines of this post in relation to recent blogs…I saw the connection immediately. What I don’t see is the garbled animosity of voices in your comment stream. That is quite refreshing, though it may be short-lived as the day wears on. I moderate all comments on my blog. While I will allow those who disagree with me to comment, I do “bleep” those comments which do not meet my definition of “nice”. What Juan Williams said was simply a heartfelt honest opinion. He was not hateful or bigoted in his conclusion. He was stating what he felt…period. Of course, NPR disagrees with me. Not surprising when I think about it. Good post. selahV

    • Howell Scott says:

      Hariette,

      Thanks for stopping by and reading. I think that the elites (especially those of the liberal variety) in this country do not understand the thinking of the vast majority of Americans on most issues, but especially on terrorism and the threat that Islamic radicalism poses to this country. When someone like Williams, who I find myself agreeably disagreeing with most of the time, says something that goes against political correctness, we see how “tolerant” liberals are.

      I appreciate the kind words about the tone of the comments on my blog. While I respect how other blog writers/owners choose to moderate their comments, I have tried to allow people to voice their opinions, even if it is something that I fundamentally disagree with. Unless the use profanity or outrageous language directed at another individual (other than me — fire away), then I will let their comments stand. I have had to edit one person’s comment for a single word that I think most of my readers would find offensive, but other than that, I welcome people to read and to comment. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Sorry for the delay in responding, but Thursdays tend to be quite hectic around here. Hope you have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

  6. stephen fox says:

    Howell:

    At 2 pm online today you may want to stream live online at furman.edu a conference on civil discourse that will include President Clinton’s Sec. Ed and NPR Paris Correspondent Eleanor Beardsley

    I plan to be in the audience for the event.

    In meantime Hope you and Peter Lumpkins will take a look at Sarah Posner’s piece at Religiondispatches about Tim Tebow’s Mother Pam and the latest abortion ad from Personhood Colorado

    • Howell Scott says:

      Stephen,

      Have not had time to review the Pam Tebow commercial, but will try to get to that today and have further comment later tonight. Thanks for continued dialogue. God bless,

      Howell

  7. stephen fox says:

    Howell:

    Lookin forward to your take on the Tebow Personhood ad.
    I did attend the 90 minute Panel on Civil Discourse at Furman this afternoon. NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley had some of the best comments, and there was a Furman Senior from Jasper County SC–Joe Wilson country–who stole the show.
    Toward the end Wheaton Grad who is Furman’s Poli SCI proff authority on Religion and the State in Europe had some provocative remarks about Furman’s History with the culture wars post their break with the SC SBC. I think the video will be online soon and hope you will take a look; especially the last 15 minutes.

    A proff Gandolfo of Furman was passionate as well. I caught a little of their one on one post stage discussion after the formal panel concluded. Would like to have couple days of small group no holds barred discussion with those two. They’re intense, both good people. I had a brief round with The Wheaton fellow about Atwater, Rove and Harry Dent; but have lot of respect for him though I disagree with his bent. He’s up on his MarkNoll, something I would like to pursue little further.

  8. stephen fox says:

    Should Juan Williams have been fired? No
    Did Fox News in their 7:30 segement interview with Juan this morning, run with the matter to the land of Conspiracy theory? Yes they did.

    Is NPR more trustworthy, is there more Truth with Terry Gross and Fresh Air than there is say with the Leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention?
    Of Course There is.

    Who is more likely to read Marilynne Robinson and understand what she is talking about An SBC Inerrantist, or a Christian Baptist who listens to NPR? The answer is the latter.

    That is where my friend William Thornton, as an example, lags behind Fisher Humphreys, Sarah Shelton, Amy Butler, even Hardy Clemons; in all due respect to Thornton who has been my friend when it mattered.

    Waiting to see what you think about the Tebow Ad. Hope you can use your affiliations with SBC Voices to get Louis and David Miller’s opinion on the TEbow ad as well.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Stephen,

      Unless I am missing something, I did not see where Pam Tebow cut her own ad on the Colorado Personhood Amendment. I could be wrong, so if there is a specific ad that Mrs. Tebow made (apart from her Super Bowl ad), then let me know. She certainly has endorsed the Colorado Personhood Amendment. If I were in Colorado, I would endorse the Amendment because I believe that life begins at conception as well. Obviously, this amendment has not only political, but religious implications as well. But, I think that most conservative evangelicals would support the amendment.

      Now, as to the commercial that was made by this group, I think that it is over-the-top and not particularly effective, outside of those who are already inclined to vote for this. The music and background and the voice over message are right out of the Left Behind series of books, which I have not read and whose theology I do not hold to. I think that there are more effective ways to get Colorado voters to endorse the Personhood amendment, but the commercial, in my opinion, is too overdone and too negative. That would be my initial thoughts on this. Look forward to the continued dialogue. God bless,

      Howell

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