Peter Beinart: Funding NPR Is Your Patriotic Duty, You Ignoramus


…except when it’s obedience to subsidized leftist propaganda.

Firing somebody because you choose to interpret a single statement out of context and in the worst possible light is bad enough, but what makes National Public Radio’s firing of Juan Williams over a recent “O’Reilly Factor” appearance especially odious is that they’re pulling crap like this partially on the public’s dime. As expected, some conservative voices have reacted by renewing calls to defund NPR, with left-wingers circling the wagons in response.

The latest NPR defender is Peter Beinart at the Daily Beast, who weighs in with not only his usual pap about fanatical right-wingers, but also a dramatic warning that dumb Americans need taxpayer-subsidized media outfits:

[I]t says a lot about the American right. First, its extraordinary lack of empathy for Muslims. When Williams said that “when I get on the plane…if I see people who are in Muslim garb…I get worried,” he was voicing a stereotype. Like many stereotypes, this one has a small basis in reality: Muslims (although not in “Muslim garb”) did blow up airplanes on 9/11. And like most stereotypes, it extrapolates from that narrow truth in a way that harms large numbers of innocent people […] Muslims are guilty until proven innocent. They lost their right to be treated like other Americans when the twin towers fell.

Blah, blah, blah…actually, the Right isn’t freaking out about Williams harming innocent American Muslims because he didn’t harm innocent American Muslims—in the original segment, he said something that sounds undeniably inflammatory and stereotypical (though not entirely without a rational basis), but by Williams’ own admission he was expressing a gut reaction, not articulating any sort of claim about the likelihood that the average Muslim traveler will try to hijack a plane. More importantly, Beinart doesn’t tell you that just seconds later, Williams argued against acting upon such gut feelings and stereotypes:

When I get on a plane, I gotta tell ya, if I see people who are in Muslim garb, and I think, y’know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried, I get nervous. Now, I remember also that when the Time Square bomber was in court, I think this was just last week, he said, “the war with Muslims, America’s war with Muslims, is just beginning, first drop of blood.” I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts. But I think there are people, who wanna somehow remind us all, as President Bush did after 9/11, it’s not a war against Islam […] if you say Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals, very obnoxious-you don’t say, first and foremost, we’ve got a problem with Christians, that’s crazy […]

If anything, Williams’ original performance was too conciliatory toward the PC police, going on to chastise Bill O’Reilly for being not careful enough in distinguishing between peaceful and fanatic Muslims in his dust-up on “The View.” If combating stereotypes is Beinart’s real goal, I suggest he give his readers a more complete picture of the events he covers.

Williams himself now calls NPR “elitist” because they don’t “compete in the marketplace.”

Yes, NPR is elitist, and it’s a good thing too. The people who run the station believe that Americans should know more about what is happening in China and less about what is happening to Britney Spears, which in today’s media makes them downright subversive. That’s why NPR now has 17 foreign bureaus compared to four for CBS. It’s why, according to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism, NPR devotes 21 percent of its airtime to international news compared to 1 percent for commercial talk radio. NPR doesn’t get a lot of public money, but the funding it does get makes it somewhat easier to do this foreign reporting, which also cost more than it brings in.

The more the rest of the media abandons the field, the more important NPR’s foreign reporting becomes. Yes, there are now websites overflowing with information about everything in the world, but very few have the resources and expertise to do the kind of reporting NPR does. And since America is increasingly buffeted by decisions made in other countries, our national ignorance is becoming a threat to our national security.

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