Monday, November 15, 2010



By: Fahim A. Knight-El

This article came about due to the firing of Juan Williams, a reporter on National Public Radio (NPR). He was a former national correspondent for the Washington Post, where he also worked as an editorial writer, columnist and a local, national and White House Reporter. He has written for the “The Atlantic”, “The New Republic”, and The Washington Post Magazine. Williams prior to his termination from NPR was appearing quite regular on FOX News (the network deemed conservative and rightwing by many) and some of his comments while appearing on FOX were considered by NPR management as breaching the ethical guidelines that governs professional journalism (I don’t think NPR directors view FOX News as journalism).

I believe NPR management accused Williams of offering up bias political commentary and this was the straw that broke the camels back in which Williams stated on the Bill O'Reilly show: "Well, actually, I hate to say this to you because I don't want to get your ego going. But I think you're right. I think, look, political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don't address reality. I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Moreover, as much as I abhor and detest Juan Williams’ insensitive and stereotypical comments as being distasteful and obnoxious, as well as being inflammatory; it was speech in my opinion that did not rise to the level of censorship (or mandated termination from his assignment at NPR) and Williams had every right to feel for his personal safety in the company of Muslims. His verbal assault against Muslims should have been protected as free speech and his NPR managers should have recommended perhaps some diversity counseling over termination.

They have tried to cover their firing decision by maintaining that Williams role as a NPR Journalist required his approach to reporting news to be governed by a higher standard of professional conduct. This writer has always tuned into NPR’s various social commentaries and over the years has enjoyed the tidbits of rare information that was being dispersed. However, I was totally disappointed at the firing of Juan Williams and let me again make it crystal clear, I am not defending Williams' ignorance (his statements represents a high level of ignorance and backwards thinking); I am defending his right to free speech and his termination from NPR represented another assault on the civil liberties of the American people. Yet, unlike most Americans, I find the actions taking by NPR against Williams far more dangerous than anything Williams could have ever stated in his anti-Muslim tirade. These types of actions make reporters and commentators reclusive and fearful of deviating from the official script.

Juan Williams has every right to sue NPR for wrongful termination and for violating his constitutional right. He was entitled to his opinion and I think we as taxpaying citizens need to question NPR’s continued suitability as a recipient of public funding (their decision to fire Williams was very poor judgment and it did not demonstrate tolerance for disagreeable speech). I guess liberal views from NPR’s vanished point are considered protected speech, but conservative views weren’t deemed for equal consideration as protected speech.

FOX News immediately signed Williams to a two million dollar contract and I do not know, if he will totally fit into FOX News ideological paradigm and rightwing conservatism. He authored a book in 1987 titled, “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965” and was well received by the liberal academic community. A Journalist is supposed to report news impartially and objectively—bias and subjective reporting compromise the intent of what professional reporting is about. But this writer is of the opinion that all news is bias and slanted and the truth isn’t necessarily based on empirical findings. Williams critics tried to draw a line in the sand and delineate between what op-ed commentators do relative to expressing their personal opinions on a topic and the responsibility of professional journalist have in their duties to report the news, which is govern by a different set of rules of ethics and standards.

Nevertheless, as a student I took a few courses under the title of research methods and it was impressed upon us in order to be good researchers you had to first learn how to detach one's self from the research and present the information in an impartial manner which lends to credibility and reliability (in the process for the search for truth) accuracy of the reporting or research without emotionalism and prejudice. The concept of free speech is exemplified best when we are confronted with speech that we may disagree with and do we vehemently possess a willingness to defend and protect that person's legal right to express their views and opinions without obstruction or impediment. Although, we disagree. This is the real test when it comes to free speech.

The United States Government since 9/11 has been using public testers to see if the people have the will to resist the repressive measures that is coming down the pipe and they deem free speech as a danger and threat to their quest to continually duping and controlling humanity. They do not desire to have people who are free thinkers and critical thinkers—they prefer government control robots. The U.S. Government directly after 9/11 quasi censored the American people from having a critical discussion about the 9/11 hoax and free speech was under a government harness and it was almost liken to an act of sedition and treason, if someone attempted to offer the slightest criticism or contrary opinion to the official version of what the government and the controlled propaganda machines were conveying as the truth in relations to the events surrounding 9/11. Free speech is one those civil liberties that government has been trying to reel in and they will eventually use these private censorship scenarios as legal precedence to silence dissident voices who disagree with the government.

CNN reporter Rick Sanchez was terminated from CNN for allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks. Sanchez stated: “I'm telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like {Jon} Stewart. And to imply that somehow they -- the people in this country who are Jewish -- are an oppressed minority? Yeah.”

This writer opposes any forms of bigotry and racism and this includes anti-Semitism and has been fighting injustices all his adult life. But I do not think Rick Sanchez is an anti-Semite and those who labeled him as such is being a bit in genuine; thus, I do not think he believes in the theory of an international Jewish Conspiratorial Cabal who is bent on dominating the world.

Now, if Sanchez was quoting from the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” or Henry Ford’s book “The International Jew” or any other treatise which might be perceived as being anti-Semitic, it might have justified Sanchez being terminated. Let me give you and example, I have been reading a book titled, “The Jewish Phenomenon” authored by Steven Silbiger who I am assuming is Jewish. Silbiger records and documents prominent Jewish success in every endeavor (he cite wealthy Jewish individuals names and Fortune 500 corporations that Jews own and control) such as in business, sports teams ownership, entertainment, communications, television stations ownership, newspapers, banking and finance, etc.

Yet, the Jews represent less than 3% of the United States population and they have accumulated an inordinate amount of wealth, resources and power according Steven Silbiger. Silbiger’s book is a well respected piece of literature and the book possesses a subtitle: “Seven Keys to the Enduring Wealth of a People” and in all fairness he didn’t say anything different than what Rick Sanchez echoed, which essentially got Sanchez in trouble. This writer does not view Silbiger’s book as being anti-Semitic and not many Jews would classify him as an anti-Semite. However, he was allowed to have this type of conversation without being labeled an anti-Semite and Rick Sanchez perhaps fell victim to some over zealous persons and/or forces at CNN that called for his head.

The book was written with the intent to give non-Jewish people a peep into the many success stories and accomplishments of this minority sector. This writer was interested in Silbiger’s book to evaluate and assess were there things in the Jewish religious and cultural paradigm that contributed to their dominance on the global stage and could humanity learn something from their success. Sanchez publically talked about Jewish influence in media and some believed that he crossed the line; it led to the termination of Rick Sanchez from CNN; moreover was this an example of stifling free speech, which is determined by those who possessed the power and influence to silence views and perspectives that they may disagree with.

I do think speech can cross the line in which I remember the late Jimmy ‘the Greek’ Snyder (Jimmy ‘the Greek’ Snyder and I lived in the same city for many years), a CBS sportscaster who lost his job for publically expressing racial stereotypical remarks when he was describing African American basketball players physicality and skill levels (there are some things that we as human beings do better than other human beings) and downplaying the black athlete intellectual ability to think got him in trouble. Jimmy ‘the Greek’ Snyder stated: "And he practices to be the better athlete, and he's bred to be the better athlete because this goes way back to the slave period. The slave owner would breed this big black with this big black woman so he could have a big black kid. That's where it all started." There was a huge public outcry to terminate Jimmy ‘the Greek’ Snyder from CBS for these insensitive and racial stereotypical comments back in the 1980s. This writer does believe that there are times we can be over sensitive; in particular when it comes to the subjects of race and religion and often in these two areas free speech is often asked to take a subordinate role relative to the emotions and hypersensitivity these two subjects garnish and invoke.

The two examples that I cited Juan Williams (NPR reporter) and Rick Sanchez (CNN Anchor) lets us know that free speech isn’t free and there is a price to pay if you disagree with the popular version of the truth. In both cases, I do not think either comment were venomous enough to incite, impede or provoke violence or warrant any concern outside of the realms of ignorance. I equally do not believe that these perhaps insensitive comments had risen to the level of being deemed hate speech. Why weren’t Williams and Sanchez’s remarks protected under the United States Constitution—First Amendment Right? What position did the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) took on behalf protecting Williams and Sanchez right to exercise free speech? (they both seemed to have taking a hands off approach)

Or did they cave into powerful influences and it became easier to overlook the law and in lieu of their non-defense on behalf of Williams and Sanchez who appeared to have become expendable victims. But I believe in the long run society will pay a greater price for not defending their right to perhaps say some reprehensible things.

We also witness Keith Olbermann face suspension for donating money to two democratic candidates in which MSNBC stated, it was against policy for their news reporter employee to make donations to political candidates or political causes without first getting prior approval from MSNBC management. I am assuming that the intent and spirit of this policy was that these donations if leaked to the public could give the assumption that Olbermann was partial to the Democratic Party and this position would compromise his ability to impart fair and balance reporting.

This too was a First Amendment Right issue, in particular news outlets have always been on the giving and receiving end of political contributions—this isn’t anything new. But to punish Olbermann was a blatant violation of free speech and in my opinion he had every right to make these donations as a private person and as an American citizen. Where do we as citizens draw the line when it comes to protecting and defending our civil liberties from repressive measures (private and governmental entities)?

There will be those that would applaud these three news agencies CNN, MSNBC and NPR based on how the corporate mediums have framed the pros and cons of the three above said cases. Perhaps those who do not know that corporate media is only an extension of government and works in the interest of the political aspirations of government—they have been invested with the authority to mold and shape public opinion in the interest of the status quo. The news that we get have been thoroughly filtered and sanitized—bias and subjectively crafted by the powers that-be to totally control the thinking of its intended audience.

It is systematic government propaganda, which is slanted to ensure that the slaves never show a propensity to think outside the box. We have always thought that our democracy was built upon having a noble interest of protecting free speech, as long as it did not interfere with the goals and aims of the State (this aspect cannot ever be overlooked). Perhaps we have not noticed that since 9/11, our government has become more intrusive and every facet of our lives is now subject to government scrutiny. They have duped us into believing that our national security interest calls for more government intervention into the private lives of its citizens in order to keep us safe from Islamic extremist. Yeah! Right.

Noam Chomsky in his book titled, "Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest For Global Dominance" stated: "The grand strategy extends to domestic U.S. law. As in many other countries, the government used the occasion of the terrorist atrocities of 9-11 to discipline its own population. After 9-11, often with questionable relation to terror, the Bush administration claimed, and exercised, the right to declare people--including US citizens—to be 'enemy combatants' or 'suspected terrorist' and to imprison them without charge or access to lawyers or family until the White House determines that its 'war on terror' has been successfully concluded: that is, indefinitely." (Reference:Noam Chomsky;"Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest For Global Dominance"; p. 26).

We are actually living in some repressive times in which the status quo covertly set us up, real nicely with inducing the 9/11 tragedy or better yet the masterful hoax and perhaps this will serve as one of the greatest deceptions of all times. The 9/11 hoax had multiple agendas and at the top of list was reigning in American Civil liberties. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as thusly: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances".

They sent the American people and the globe into fear and panic mode and systematically spoon fed them a heavy dose of propaganda and lies about Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda (knowing that we lacked the ability to discern truth from falsehood) and further led them to believe that radical Muslim Terrorist was coming to get them—the boogieman syndrome (this ordinarily creates more fear and more panic). The dumbfound masses believes that the United States Government has their interest at stake and for this reason they trust the government. Many of us do not even have the ability to look around in order to see that we have literally transitioned into a total police state because we have been condition to think and believe that these massive build ups of Executive Orders, Terrorism Acts and legislation, laws, enactments, etc., (the office of Homeland Security) is aimed at some foreign external entities (the other guy) and have yet to realize that intended victim of these repressive maneuvers are being put in place for the American people.

The Enemy Combatant Laws were established with the intent to protect the state from potential civil disturbance, as well as the Military Commission Act. Thus, when the time comes to suspend the United Constitution and declare outright Marshal Law against the citizens of these United States of America; there will be no legal barriers protecting us from outright state sponsored brutality. I am long standing member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and I support their goals and objectives—the right to bear arms is protected under Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. But they passed the Brady Bill to disarm the American people and other legislation which is designed to render the people defenseless. When the government disarm themselves then may be we should consider disarming ourselves until then I advise you to hold onto to your Smith and Wesson.

I must admit, I too once believed that the government genuinely worked in the interest of the American people. I later learned that we were pawns and cannon fodder, which media, education, politics, and our perceptions of the world was all being manipulated in order to keep humanity under control. This writer can recall right after 9/11, academics and intellectuals could not objectively critique and analyze these events and many hid their views unless they would have been called unpatriotic. Thus, immediately after 9/11, it was deemed treasonous to question and disagree with the Bush Doctrine. So scholars and journalist were being pushed into a corner by neo-Fascist and reactionary forces while the need for an objective analysis and critique of the 9/11 events would have been received with suspicion and with anti government sentiments. However, without a legitimate evaluation, the American people were forced to rely on the government controlled corporate media and they furthered appealed to the raw emotions of the American people—terrorism became associated with Arab Muslims and most of all we were led to believe that our so-called national security was allegedly being threatened by Islamic extremist.

Yet, simultaneously the United States Government invoked the United States Patriot Act and devised new legal parameters and strengthened laws, which to strip the American people of their basic civil liberties. This writer weighed in on the free speech and First Amendment Right issues that have recently confronted our society because I do not believe these issues just appeared coincidental. But as our legislation and laws continue to become more reactionary; they are setting the stage to impose more massive restrictions in the area of free speech and with a civil liberties onslaught.

The Internet and our ability to travel the world’s superhighway and engage the global society has proven to be more bothersome to those who are bent on establishing a closed society. Lastly, stay awake until we meet again and if no one challenges your thinking; it will cause you to continue to wander in darkness and perhaps miss out on a life opportunity to free yourself from mental bondage. The time is steadily winding down and as we observe this privilege of free speech today, but tomorrow you and I may not get the opportunity to openly share these types of thoughts because this privilege could be snatched away at a blink of an eye. I am appealing that you wake up from your slumber and lets work to reclaim our constitution and restore dignity back to our society. Freedom is a divine right.

Fahim A. Knight-El Chief Researcher for KEEPING IT REAL THINK TANK located in Durham, NC; our mission is to inform African Americans and all people of goodwill, of the pending dangers that lie ahead; as well as decode the symbolism and reinterpreted the hidden meanings behind those who operate as invisible forces, but covertly rules the world. We are of the belief that an enlightened world will be better prepared to throw off the shackles of ignorance and not be willing participants for the slaughter. Our MOTTO is speaking truth to power. Fahim A. Knight-EL can be reached at fahimknight@

Stay Awake Until We Meet Again,
Fahim A. Knight-El

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