What Juan Did Wrong
Juan Williams, purportedly a news analyst, expressed an irrational fear on the Bill O’Reilly show while trying to back up Bill’s Muslim bashing recently on The View. The fact that Juan expressed a fear is not the problem, the fact that he might have offended people is not the problem — rather it’s the act of expressing an irrational fear and not explaining that it’s irrational or downplaying the puerile instinct that’s the real problem. *
Juan still got on the plane - if the fear was rational, then should Juan have gotten on the plane? Yet Juan did get on the planes, as do we all. Whenever you have fears it’s pretty childish not to examine them objectively - and it’s also childish not to recognize which are reality based, and which are unreasonable. As a news analyst if you must use your own anecdotal emotions then it’s a pretty heinous journalistic omission to express base fears about large groups of people without objectively analyzing them and realistically explaining them away. By not doing so, Juan communicated that it’s A-ok to fear other religions, which is pretty un-American if you read our Constitution.
Juan has confused his momentary xenophobic pangs with real news — it’s obnoxious at minimum, and dangerous if it ever becomes the norm. Of course that will fit right in at the fear and loathing factory of our times that promptly hired Juan after he was fired, Fox News.
* We all have some immediate base fears developed in our long social evolution as a species; one of them is that any out-group generates fear on sight but those fears are easy to overcome, just as fear of falling and fear of fast motion is easily overcome by anyone who has learned to ride a bike. Most of these old evolutionary twinges are very quickly mediated by higher social and hierarchical judgment centers in our fore brains. When a journalist fails to do that and further fails to explain that the fear is not rational, then you have to wonder about the journalist’s motives in mongering it.