Home > Bozell Column: NPR's Religion Double Standard
Bozell Column: NPR's Religion Double Standard
NPR said Juan Williams' comments about "Muslim garb" were a firing offense, but they can be as insulting as they want toward Christians, and no one gets punished.
L. Brent Bozell III
October 26, 2010 - 7:54pm
Public Radio's firing of Juan Williams tells you all you need to know
about the radical, and thoroughly intolerant, Left. Juan Williams is a
liberal, but still, he isn't liberal enough. The idea that he would
acknowledge a mere thought of discomfort at the idea of people
in "Muslim garb" on airplanes in a post-9/11 world became a firing
offense. It didn't matter that he prefaced it with all the perfunctory
and politically correct disclaimers about not being a bigot and we
shouldn't blame all Muslims for terrorism.
Today's Left is void of any principles whatsoever. They can be as
astonishingly offensive and insulting as they want toward Christians,
and no one gets punished. The indefatigable Catholic League provides
On April 30 on NPR's "Fresh Air," substitute host David Bianculli raved
over the leftist musical satirist and Harvard math professor Tom Lehrer
for his Catholic-mocking 1965 song "The Vatican Rag." It has lyrics
like this: "Get in line in that processional, step into that small
confessional, there a guy who's got religion'll tell you if your sin's
original." Lehrer also sang "So you get down on your knees! Fiddle with
your rosaries! Bow your head with great respect, and - Genuflect!
The NPR host raved over how on the recording, he loved "how the
audience often explodes with joy - sometimes in reaction to a rhyme,
sometimes to the music, and sometimes because of the sheer audacity of
the subject matter."
Now imagine an NPR host raving over the "sheer audacity" of a
Muslim-mocking ragtime song mocking all that bowing to Mecca and the
ritual prayers - without them getting fired within 24 hours.
On July 19, 1997, NPR weekend anchor Scott Simon was also a Lehrer
cheerleader. "I think 'The Vatican Rag,' do you mind me telling you, is
your most thoroughly brilliant song?" he proclaimed to this
anti-Catholic bigot. "There is a combination of shock and horror and
laughter on first reaction at that song. It's just extraordinary."
If that seems like a mild Sixties tune, consider what about 40 NPR
stations aired in 2008 on the daily current events/comedy show "Fair
Game with Faith Salie," distributed by the group Public Radio
International. They were joking about Republican presidential candidate
Mike Huckabee and his "secret" family recipes. "Boring holy wafers no
more," one recipe began. "Take one Eucharist, preferably
post-transubstantiation, deep-fry in fat, not vegetable oil, ladies,
until crispy. Serve piping hot. Mike likes to top his Christ with
whipped cream and sprinkles. But his wife, Janet, and the boys like
theirs with heavy gravy and cream puffs. It goes great with red wine."
The tag line, delivered by host Faith Salie, was, "Now that is just
ridiculous. Everyone knows evangelicals don't even believe in
That Catholic-insulting episode caused a hubbub in, of all places,
Salt Lake City, Utah at NPR affiliate KCPW. But our vigilant national
guardians against "Islamophobia" never noticed. NPR never expressed
horror. The comedy show was canceled several months later for having no
major corporate underwriter, although for a time, the supposedly classy
magazine The Economist offered financial support. Salie naturally
proclaimed she was mocking herself: "I am proudly a Christian and,
specifically, a Catholic," she wrote one angry e-mailer in apology.
If satire is "fair game" - for only for some religions - then consider
the news reporters. During the John Roberts Supreme Court nomination in
2005, NPR's Nina Totenberg infamously proclaimed orthodox Catholicism
should be a disqualifier for the high court: "Don't forget his wife was
an officer, a high officer of a pro-life organization. He's got adopted
children. I mean, he's a conservative Catholic...a hardline conservative."
Adopting children was a frightening stand? But that's not all. On the
since-canceled show "Day to Day" (a collaboration of NPR and the
liberal website Slate), Slate's Dahlia Lithwick was asked if John
Roberts would drift left, and she said nope, he's too Catholic: "I also
wouldn't underestimate the influence of his religion, that Scalia and
Thomas, one of the reasons they may not have drifted leftward has a lot
to do with very, very strong religious views that pull them to the
With the nomination of Sam Alito a few weeks later, Lithwick suggested
too many Catholics threatened the vaunted separation of church and
state: "People are very, very much talking about the fact that Alito
would be the fifth Catholic on the Supreme Court if confirmed." No one
was fired or disciplined for disapproving of "too many Catholics" on
But Mr. Williams was fired. When, oh when will Congress have the guts to defund this monstrosity called National Public Radio?