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Why Juan Williams Was Fired from NPR: He’s a Liberal and They’re Leftists

Posted on October 23 2010 6:00 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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How long will it be before the endangered species of the American Liberal joins the Quagga and becomes extinct?

On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. — Fight Club

Scientists estimate that more than 99% of the species that have ever existed on this planet are now extinct. Some species simply adapted into others. Some were obliterated in mass die-offs. Others could not adapt to changing environments. And more recently, others were hunted to death.

Within the jungle of American politics, one animal has been in steady decline for the past thirty years: the liberal. After the shot fired last week at Juan Williams by his former employer NPR, this trend should be even more apparent.

This video features one of my favorite David Horowitz lines:

Horowitz to the pathological liar Max Blumenthal: “I’m a liberal, you’re a leftist.”

This is a crucial distinction that too many conservatives refuse to get. (Just try getting conservatives to say “leftist” instead of “liberal” when they’re talking about their opponents on the Left. We’ve actually tried this at NRB before and failed miserably. It’s hard enough just to get our own bloggers to nix this bad habit.)

Williams is not a leftist. He’s a liberal in the tradition of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Just take a look at the books he’s written on the Civil Rights Movement.) He’s not an Obama leftist who drank from the cup of Saul Alinsky, Billy Ayers, and Jeremiah Wright.

A “liberal” properly defined is someone in the middle of the political spectrum — an individual open-minded to different ideas and willing to consider all manner of solutions. That’s what Williams is. That’s why he’s willing to appear on Fox News regularly. And that’s why genuine leftists from Glenn Greenwald to Media Matters are throwing him under the bus. (Leftists hate genuine liberals even more than they hate conservatives.

Williams wasn’t really fired for his mild comments. That was just the tipping point. Really NPR could not handle him being a genuine liberal by going on Fox News. From Williams’ column:

I say an ideological battle because my comments on “The O’Reilly Factor” are being distorted by the self-righteous ideological, left-wing leadership at NPR. They are taking bits and pieces of what I said to go after me for daring to have a conversation with leading conservative thinkers. They loathe the fact that I appear on Fox News. They don’t notice that I am challenging Bill O’Reilly and trading ideas with Sean Hannity. In their hubris they think by talking with O’Reilly or Hannity I am lending them legitimacy. Believe me, Bill O’Reilly (and Sean, too) is a major force in American culture and politics whether or not I appear on his show.

Years ago NPR tried to stop me from going on “The Factor.” When I refused they insisted that I not identify myself as an NPR journalist. I asked them if they thought people did not know where I appeared on the air as a daily talk show host, national correspondent and news analyst. They refused to budge.

Will the Liberal continue on the path to extinction? That’s the glass-half-empty way of looking at it.

The other way is seeing an evolution. What used to be called “liberalism” in the ’50s and ’60s is now a component of what’s called “Conservatism” today. This is already fairly obvious in foreign policy. Cold War liberals jumped ship long ago and reinvented themselves as “neoconservatives.” But there are other aspects of liberalism within the Conservative Movement as well.

Now with NPR’s firing of Williams and Fox News’ promotion of him to a full-time contributor it’s even more clear which is the side of tolerance and fair-minded debate.

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