There are some who are critical of those that raised concerns regarding Juan Williams’ recent comments about being nervous of people with Muslim “garb” on airplanes. Some state that Williams’ First Amendment – Freedom of Speech rights have been violated and that those who complained to NPR about his comments are muzzling Freedom of Speech.
Williams, like all Americans, has Freedom of Speech, but this freedom does not equal being free from consequences over speech. If anyone has a contractual agreement with a corporation or organization to adhere to certain principles and he/she violates the agreement, this would constitute insubordination and/or breach of contract. For instance in 2007, the ADL fired its New England regional director for publicly expressing a position counter to the ADL regarding the Armenian “genocide” of 1915. The gentleman freely expressed his views, but there were consequences that followed.
Being that Williams appeared on FOX News, not as his individual person but under the title of NPR contributor and analyst, he was not merely representing himself but NPR. Williams has made a number of gaffs over the years on FOX appearing as an NPR contributor including an attack on First Lady Michelle Obama in 2009.
In terms of the charges that those who have and probably will continue to criticize Williams are muzzling free speech, let’s not forget that free speech is a two way street. Americans are free to rebut and criticize others’ views to the point that we can voice dissent against our military, the FBI and even the Commander in Chief President Barack Hussein Obama. As Howard Zinn is often quoted, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”
So sorry, but we will continue to express our concerns to Williams or anyone else who makes comments that actively or passively promote fear and suspicion of American Muslims just as other Americans do if they believe that they are being misrepresented or subjected to attack. And we will continue to contact their employers if need be to raise their awareness. This is the American way. Minorities in America from Jewish Americans to African-Americans have consistently voiced concerns about portrayals and rhetoric in the media about their groups that are inaccurate or raise anxieties. Change in America does not come about by non-confrontation of stereotypes and inaccurate generalizations; they must be challenged.
On another note, it will be interesting to see what the fate will be of NPR contributor Mara Liasson who has also come under some heat in the past for her punditry on FOX News.