The first post tells why. It may be too little, but hopefully not too late.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Freedom of silence

The state media in the Soviet Union - and all media was state there - hardly needed political censorship after decades of the Soviet rule. The writers exercised self-monitoring very well. The most they allowed themselves was mild allegoric satire that was benignly looked upon by the powers that be as a safety valve for the teacup frondeurs. That helped the writers' popularity and created an illusion of freedom, while keeping boundaries intact. Considering that the writers' livelihood, and sometimes life itself, depended on their craft, one can hardly blame them for self-censorship - perhaps for the choice of profession.

It seems that the US media is getting the proper conditioning as well. On some issues, to remain silent is the only right. The case in point is Juan Williams, a senior National Public Radio (NPR) reporter and Fox News contributor, who has been fired from NPR. He violated the current taboo established by the government, which is a source of NPR funding. He said that seeing people in Muslim garb on a plane makes him nervous. He honestly admitted suffering from a psychological/psychiatric phenomenon, an increased anxiety. That anxiety is conditioned, as is well-known, on a very traumatic event and other similar events associated with the same system of beliefs people in Muslim garb are very likely to share - not on some "Islamophobic" prejudice. He should have kept silent. Such anxiety, and honesty in admitting it, are "inconsistent with [NPR's] editorial standards and practices". Since he could not do much about his anxiety, it is honesty that should have been kept in check, if he wanted to continue serving the organ of governmental propaganda.

One might juxtapose this firing with the recent firing of Helen Thomas by Hearst. There are significant differences, however. Helen Thomas said that Jews should should "go home" from Israel to Germany and Poland, the countries where they were exterminated. She thus unashamedly shares views of Hamas and Hizballah, not necessarily a kosher thing for a senior correspondent with White House accreditation. She was fired because of her antisemitism and support for terrorists' ideology. UPI and Hearst Newspapers, for which Thomas worked, are also not funded by the government. Juan Williams said that he was nervous on the plane seeing people looking like they were into Islam - a characteristic they share with Hamas, Hizballah and Al Qaida. It would be unreasonable not to be nervous about that after 9/11.

Juan Williams has long been an object of disdain and hate by the left for his participation in Fox News, however pro-left his position has been there. The left, taking after its spiritual ancestry, hates everybody who collaborates with what it views as "class enemy". Besides, he had chutzpah to criticize Michelle Obama (who felt OK about the US the first time when her husband was made a presidential candidate). Welcome, Juan, to Miranda rights - Soviet style.

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