Going too far?

October 21, 2010 2:08:42 PM PDT
Are we taking political correctness to bizarre outer limits, where we become parodies that would be laughable if it didn't border on pathetic?

There are many people tonight who are asking that question. It's not often when Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters and Sarah Palin agree on something - but all three tonight are calling for NPR to re-hire Juan Williams, their long-time political analyst and a contributor to Fox News (where he often is the lone liberal voice).

Williams the other night on Fox talked about political correctness and Muslims - and offered that he sometimes feels scared when he boards a plane and sees people dressed in Muslim garb.

It might be small-minded, but I suspect there are some people who feel the same way as Williams. I say "small-minded" because it's ridiculous to fear the Muslim religion as a whole; the radical fringe is what we should fear. And just for a second think about the terrorists who hijacked the four airplanes on Sept. 11. They were NOT dressed in traditional Muslim attire. They were dressed as Westerners.

But putting aside all the obvious stuff - Williams expressing his fears, even if unfounded and illogical, was just him being honest. And it reflects, unfortunately, just how off course we've taken the threat of terrorism and the fear that has become part of our individual and collective DNA since the Sept. 11 attacks.

So, the argument goes, rather than making this a talkable if not teachable moment, NPR quickly fires Williams, a former print reporter who smoothly made the transition to radio and TV, and who, normally, offers insight and perspective.

NPR today - defending its decision to let Williams go, and implying that there clearly are some strong and perhaps bitter feelings between the reporter/analyst and the organization. CEO Vivian Schiller said that "controversial opinions" should not come from NPR reporters or news analysts, and that whatever feelings Williams might have about Muslims should be between him and "his psychiatrist or his publicist."

Ouch.

Schiller also said this was not the first time she and the organization had had problems with Williams' statements.

And it's prelude to what we're working on for Eyewitness News at 11.

We'll have the latest on the investigation into the deadly police shooting of a Pace University football player last weekend - after a disturbance outside a restaurant/bar in Westchester County. The autopsy of Danroy Henry has been completed, but the results have not yet been released.

We're also on Long Island, where an emotional reunion will take place between a dad from Massachusetts and his daughter, a 42-year-old living in Manhasset. The woman had but one picture of herself as a toddler and her long-lost dad. But when she logged onto her Facebook account and found a message from him - well, it changed her life.

And we're also looking at something called "coolsculpting." It's a new - and the latest - attempt to reduce fat you might not be able to get rid of through just dieting and exercise. This procedure involves nearly freezing parts of your body that are loaded with fat - and having it somehow dissolve over time. As strange as it sounds, it apparently works, or at least it has for some. And when Sandra Bookman came back into the newsroom after reporting her story for tonight at 11, it became a hot topic of discussion. People were interested.

You can watch Sandra's story, at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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