Prize-winning Washington journalist Juan Williams was unceremoniously dismissed by NPR for speaking his mind and saying what many Americans feel: that he gets nervous when boarding airplanes with passengers dressed in Muslim garb. NPR banished the veteran journalist in an act of political correctness that ultimately sparked nationwide outrage and led to calls for Congress to end its public funding of the media organization.
In Muzzled, Williams uses his very public firing as a launching pad to discuss the countless ways in which honest debate in America - from the halls of Congress and the health-care town halls to the talk shows and print media - is stifled. In today's partisan world, where media provocateurs rule the airwaves and political correctness dictates what can and cannot be said with impunity, Williams shows how the honest exchange of ideas and the search for solutions and reasonable compromise is deliberately muzzled. Only those toeing the party's line - the screaming voices of the extremist - get airtime and dominate the discussion in politics and the media. Each side, liberal and conservative, preaches to a choir that revels in expressions of anger, ideology, conspiracies, and demonized opponents. The result is an absence of truth-telling and honest debate about the facts. Among the issues denied a full-throated discussion are racial profiling; the increased reliance on religious beliefs in debating American values and legislation; the nuances of an immigration policy gone awry; why abortion is promoted as a hot button wedge issue to incite the party faithful and drive donations; the uneasy balance between individual freedom and our desire for security against terrorism; and much more.
A fierce, fresh look at the critical importance of an open airing of controversial issues, Muzzled is a hard-hitting critique of the topics and concerns we can't talk about without suffering retaliation at the hands of the political correctness police. Only by bringing such hot-button issues into the light of day can we hope to grapple with them and exercise our cherished, hard-won right of free speech.
©2011 Juan Williams (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
I say without hyperbole that this is the most important book I have read in some time; I hope its message is widely embraced.
Williams' book is a reminder that not every news personality is so ideologically blinded that he or she can't see merit in opposing viewpoints. Williams artfully illustrates how dialogue in our culture has become a screaming match where we can't discuss what we need to, and aren't concerned with being right so much as we are with winning the argument.
Largely, Williams' views are nuanced and well-crafted. There are a very few times when Williams himself seems to fall unknowingly into the political correctness (used broadly in this work, applied to both the left and right equally) he criticizes. However, this never seems hypocritical, because it's easy to imagine that, if you pointed these moments out to the author, you might very well get him to see your point.
Whether you find yourself on the right, the left, or in the middle, Juan Williams' compelling look at political discourse in our nation is certain to make you think. Williams does an excellent job of exposing politically correct language and ideology on both ends of the political spectrum. I did not always agree with his perspective, but I was reminded anew of the importance of open communication if our nation is ever going to deal with the issues we face.
I teach Business, Economics, and English at a university in Tokyo. My interests are in politics, economics, and philosophy. I hold a BA in English Literature, and an MA in Political Science.
Mr. Williams does an excellent job presenting his case in a fair and balanced view (pun unavoidable due to true reporting skills presented). Though it is clear he is right of center on many issues, he refrains from building straw man arguments in most cases. There are some glaring short-comings, e.g. he does not present a good balance of the abortion riff by leaving out details then, unwittingly, fails to heed his own advice. It happens so quickly you wonder what the editor was thinking.
All-in-All it was a really good listen and has helped me to balance my thinking a little more. I have begun to split my time between Fox, CNN, and MSNBC a little more evenly now. If you are looking for a political screed, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a level headed and ever so slightly right leaning view. Get Muzzled (Pun intended).
Tell us about yourself!
Juan Williams is a true patriot. He leans a little too far to the left for most conservatives, but his mind is always open to new ideas. And, he exposed the elitism that goes on at NPR! It's a great read! One that every citizen should appreciate.
Economist. Quant. R-squared approaches 1.00.
Juan Williams, is obviously a man filled with some rage after his unjustified firing from NPR. He does a fine job of explaining that the true racism in our nation is mostly from the intolerant far Left, and not from the "racist Right" as the Left constantly screams.
Juan also does a fine job of exposing how our nation has become too polarized and too "politically correct" to the point that most real debates on the issues are limited to only superficial attention by the media. We've been effectively stifled to the extreme, thus leaving the real problems of our economy and society unfixed.
However, Juan also spends a good portion of the book pointing out the nearly infinite failures of Liberal thinking and policies, while also proudly wearing the same label. I found it particularly insightful that Juan admitted to being brought up under the belief that the fictional TV character, Archie Bunker, was the stereotypical bigoted Republican - to be protested against. Juan Williams explains that his community upbringing cemented this prejudice, and has thus dedicated his career to refuting and rejecting conservative beliefs. His book further proves that the Left are the bigger hypocrites, and pose a far greater danger to the "muzzling" of American thinking.
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