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While it’s true that Juan Williams was unfairly and unreasonably fired from National Public Radio for the crime of showing insufficient enthusiasm for burqa-clad airline passengers, conservatives should think twice before making the mistake of concluding that Williams is a fair and balanced commentator himself, his new contract with Fox notwithstanding. The reason is that in both his first public statement after his firing as well as the statement that inspired it, Williams committed a much more significant calumny that somehow managed to escape the conservative media’s attention.
“Yesterday NPR fired me for telling the truth. The truth is that I worry when I am getting on an airplane and see people dressed in garb that identifies them first and foremost as Muslims. This is not a bigoted statement. It is a statement of my feelings, my fears after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 by radical Muslims. In a debate with Bill O’Reilly I revealed my fears to set up the case for not making rash judgments about people of any faith. I pointed out that the Atlanta Olympic bomber – as well as Timothy McVeigh and the people who protest against gay rights at military funerals – are Christians but we journalists don’t identify them by their religion.”
– “I was fired for telling the truth,” Fox News, Oct. 21, 2010
I have no doubt that Williams was telling the truth about his tendency to worry when he’s boarding a plane in the vicinity of Muslims. While homicidal extremists are obviously a small percentage of the global Muslim population, neither Williams nor anyone else has any way to distinguish between a third-generation American whose grandparents immigrated from Turkey and a Hezbollah suicide warrior. But he was most certainly not telling the truth when he claimed that Timothy McVeigh, executed for the Oklahoma City bombing, was a Christian.
McVeigh was quite clear on his religion. It was not Christianity. “Science is my religion,” he declared. And yet, I have never seen a single individual in either media, mainstream or conservative, blame the Oklahoma City bombing on scientists.
Williams is hardly alone. Rob Reiner lived up to his historical television role as Meathead on Bill Maher’s show when he launched a remarkably ironic assault on the tea party. “They’re selling stupidity and ignorance. I’ve never seen an election cycle with more ignorance than this one. … Hitler, by the way, never got more than 33 percent of the vote ever in Germany. He wasn’t a majority guy.”
But the ignorance is Reiner’s. He clearly doesn’t know that parliamentary governments like the historical Weimar Republic or most current European governments are not two-party systems and therefore tend to operate on the basis of coalitions rather than majorities. Margaret Thatcher, for example, came to power in 1979 on the basis of her Conservative Party winning 35.8 percent of the vote. Prior to the National Socialists rise to power, the most electorally successful party in Germany was the Social Democratic Party, or SDP, which hit the pre–World War II heights of its popularity with the voting populace in 1919, when it controlled 39 percent of the Reichstag.
Hitler and his National Socialists were actually more democratically successful than any rival party in the history of the Weimar Republic, winning not one, not two, but three elections with more than 33 percent of the vote, Mr. Reiner’s erroneous assertion notwithstanding. Starting with the September 1932 election, the National Socialists won 37.3 percent, 33.1 percent and 43.9 percent in the three elections that preceded Hitler’s rise to reich chancellor.
In fact, the 43.9 percent support for the German National Socialist Workers Party in the March 1933 election is still the second-highest vote total ever recorded by a German political party; it was surpassed only by the 45.8 percent of the vote recorded by the Social Democratic Party in 1972.
Furthermore, in a series of four plebiscites (national referenda) that granted public approval to Hitler’s actions, he averaged 95.9 percent of the vote with 95.5 percent voter turnout. Hitler was not merely “a majority guy.” He was the most democratically approved political leader in the history of modern democracy.
The provable stupidity and ignorance of the Left isn’t limited to the media and Hollywood, either. Recently, the left-wing blogosphere, led by Markos Moulitsas, was so busy laughing at what they thought was Sarah Palin’s mistake in connecting the tea party to 1773 when they all knew that it had something vaguely to do with 1776, they didn’t realize they were inadvertently revealing their own historical illiteracy.
The Boston Tea Party took place on Dec. 16, 1773.
Despite its posturing, the Left is not intelligent, informed or educated. It is merely credentialed, which should never be mistaken for the aforementioned three things. As a general rule, it is always wise to assume that whenever a progressive individual makes a statement intended to ridicule the intelligence or knowledge base of someone else, he probably doesn’t actually know what he is talking about. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, doubt and verify.