Liberals, Voltaire might have said today, will defend to the death your right to agree with them. The free exchange of opinions and ideas that explores all sides of a controversy is simply not on the table. Some ideas are simply unacceptable in public discourse – not the salacious, the obscene, the tawdry, the hedonistic or the glorification of promiscuity, but rather the expression of any idea that causes offense to one of the liberal elites favored groups.
The latest example is NPR’s firing of analyst Juan Williams for articulating what most sane people feel: a certain nervousness or anxiety when they see passengers in Muslim garb on an airplane. This “feeling” does not deprive anyone of constitutional or legal right but is a natural reaction to the most potent and irrefutable formula of our day: while not all Muslims are terrorists, all terrorists are Muslims. Every attempt to blow up an airliner in recent memory, every suicide bomber, and every bomb in a marketplace, etc., has Muslim roots. That is the painful reality of the world in which we live, and we ignore it at our peril. That peril is exacerbated when the acknowledgment of people’s justifiable fears is stifled, because it allows the enemy to gather strength and resources, and grow in fearlessness. It also eventuates in the insanity of our times when 75-year-olds named Agnes are subject to the same or more scrutiny at airports than 25-year-olds named Ahmed.
This liberal repression, though, has a long and shameless history. In the early 1980’s already, the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick (UN Ambassador) was shouted down on campuses and not allowed to speak. Ditto Henry Kissinger. This, by now, is the common fate of many conservative or pro-Israel speakers on campuses that glorify the”liberal arts” and “academic freedom.” Israel’s US Ambassador Michael Oren’s near-inability to address college students at UC-Irvine earlier this year is another example – but examples abound, and there is nary a well-known conservative who has not had that experience. There are many colleges where conservative student groups are denied funding and/or campus space for their activities. It is as if in the constellation of ideas to which young people should be exposed, the more conservative, traditional and revered the ideas, the more terrifying is their exposure to young minds. How shameful. How repressive. How illiberal.
Ben Gurion University of the Negev typifies this hypocrisy. A professor of ethics who opined in the classroom that homosexuals with children could not parent as well as heterosexuals was fired for expressing ideas that are “beyond the pale and unacceptable in a classroom,” the words of the Provost who fired him. Yet, the chairman of the Political Science Department, Neve Gordon, is allowed to travel around the world calling for an academic boycott of Israel (presumably including himself) and for the delegitimization of Israel and to assign in class – for credit and as part of coursework – participation in demonstrations against the IDF and the occupation, and he is protected on grounds of “academic freedom.” How selective.
Similarly, Fox News is vilified in the establishment press as a conservative, even reactionary network, when in fact all it does is provide the conservative viewpoint with at least equal time to the liberal one. That was a dramatic change in the presentation of news and opinion that predominated in the networks since television’s origins. Commentators were mostly liberal, reflecting the 80% of journalists who define themselves as liberals. Another case in point: Newsweek was recently able to write a three-page article in support of homosexuals in the military without even once mentioning the other side – how open homosexuals could affect unit cohesion, et al. To Newsweek, there is no other side. (Update: I cancelled Newsweek in August, and yet – like a vampire that can’t be put down – it keeps being delivered to me every week. I sense that is one way dying media organs maintain their circulation numbers – refuse to accept non-renewals and just keep mailing it out. Help !)
In this corrupt atmosphere, it pays to be one of the favored, protected groups, if indeed it matters at all. One must be liberal, a black liberal, a Muslim, or a homosexual to qualify for special treatment. Conservatives, Christians and Jews need not apply. The great economist and thinker Walter Williams recently pointed out the double standard. Mainstream liberal cartoonists routinely used racist imagery and language to portray blacks who served in high positions in the Bush White House. Condoleezza Rice in one cartoon (Ted Rall) called herself Bush’s “House Nigga,” and another (Doonesbury) had Bush referring to her as “brown sugar.” Clarence Thomas was portrayed as Justice Scalia’s lawn jockey (Don Wright). Such depictions or characterizations are unimaginable when dealing with Obama or any black liberal, but these insults were glossed over by the liberal media, if they were mentioned at all. No one stopped carrying these cartoons – as opposed to last week’s Washington Post that nixed a “Where’s Muhammed?” cartoon from one of its regulars on grounds of “insensitivity.” How courageous.
The kerfuffle over Bill O’Reilly’s pointing out the obvious – “Muslims killed us on 9/11” – is just another example of politically correct insanity. “Muslims” didn’t kill us ? People who happened, coincidentally, to be “Muslim”? But the organizers themselves admitted they did it to promote Islam in the world, which requires the defeat and/or humiliation of the “Great Satan,” America. The perpetrators killed, proudly, in the name of Islam, so who are we fooling ? Must we hide behind the fig leaf that one must always say “not all….?” But not all Germans killed Jews in the Holocaust, not all Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, not all Southern whites owned slaves in the antebellum South (only 2% did !), not all of any ethnic group ever did anything – but yet we use the shorthand form because it is accurate.
Liberals have created a new right that is applied very selectively, i.e., only to their favored classes: the right not to take offense. Apparently, the truth cannot be uttered about Muslim terror, because some Muslims may take offense; homosexuals have to be coddled and the definition of marriage changed because they may take offense. Free speech has to be curtailed, because someone might take offense – although never a Christian, a Jew, a white or a conservative. They have no right to be offended, or to complain about it. More bizarrely, we have descended to a level where certain groups reserve the right to use certain words when referring to each other – blacks and homosexuals revel in this – but outsiders may not use the same words. I was once admonished for using the term “yekke” (an endearing reference to German Jews) in a speech because I am not a descendant of German Jews, and therefore my use of the term, I was told, stung. I was informed – the first and only time I have heard such a sentiment – that only yekkes can refer to each other as yekkes.
But those issues are minor compared to the threat to liberty posed by the self-proclaimed arbiters of acceptable speech. Even more egregious, NPR (like PBS) is a taxpayer-supported network, very peculiar in an era when there are thousands of media outlets available and when government budgets are stretched past the breaking point. Why doesn’t government get out of the media business altogether ? NPR and PBS have long been protected and nurtured by its acolytes in government – liberal propagandists paid for by our tax dollars.
NPR and PBS should lose their taxpayer funding immediately. They should compete in the marketplace of ideas and entertainment like everyone else. People should be able to speak openly about their concerns and about the issues of the day, with common sense and decency their only guides and without any fear of retribution from illiberal elitists. And common sense and decency should govern our relationships and attitudes with individuals and groups, in order to advance morality and justice and conquer tyranny and evil.