Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate

Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate

3.6 17
by Juan Williams
     
 

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“You can’t say that. You’re fired.”
 
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 ofSee more details below

Overview

“You can’t say that. You’re fired.”
 
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 policym gone awry; why abortion is promoted as a hot button wedge issue to incite the pary faithful and drive donations; the uneasy balance between individual freedom and our desire for security of 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 politically correct 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"When our biggest concern is not whether our words are true but whether our words will result in punishment, then we are giving away our most precious freedom." A long-time journalist for NPR, Fox News, and The Washington Post, Williams (Enough) tackles political correctness and the polarization of debate in America, but not before thoroughly explaining his departure from NPR. Although the airing of his grievances becomes tiresome, he redeems his book when he turns to the national scene. The theme of free speech is woven throughout his own story and his examination of partisan politics, taxes, immigration, and polarizing issues like abortion. He writes: "The voice of honest debate in America has been muzzled. And as those voices of honest debate have grown silent, the quality of our political institutions has been diminished." As he warns against "politically entrenched thinking protected by special-interest groups and lobbyists," he analyzes recent events, such as the 2010 health care debate and the 2011 Wisconsin public-sector union debacle, while also providing historical context. Though short on solutions, Williams's passionate cry for real discussion will inspire readers.
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From the Publisher

“Juan Williams is both dangerous and highly constructive.  He is both of these because, although he is a liberal, he is also a well-informed independent thinker.  Driven by conviction and evidence, he is not afraid to dissent from liberal orthodoxy.  He’s a liberal with whom conservatives can have an honest debate and sometimes find common ground.  And while I don’t necessarily agree with every observation or opinion in this book, it is Juan’s candid appraisal of the condition of political debate in America. It ain’t a pretty sight.”
—Karl Rove, former senior advisor to President George W. Bush
 
"For any American who fears the coarsening of our political debate has become an impediment to our progress as a people – and, more importantly, is wondering how to fix it – Juan Williams has written a book well worth reading."
—David Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Barack Obama
 
"Ever since Juan Williams wrote Eyes on the Prize about the Civil Rights movement I've been an admirer.  It was painful to see him become the insect-in-the-jar last year for speaking his mind freely on Fox News.  In Muzzled Williams gets to settle mighty scores.  Its a thoughtful, poignant and well written defense of his journalism career.  And its a cautionary tale about political correctness run amok.  Highly recommended!"
—Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Wilderness Warrior and The Great Deluge

"Juan Williams has written a fascinating account of what happened to him at NPR, and used it to make the case for a serious and civilized political debate. An important book and a compelling read."
—Brit Hume, Senior Political Analyst, Fox News Channel

“Juan Williams has written a poignant and powerful book about the degradation of our democratic dialogue. He skewers right and left alike for their tendency to use labels and applause lines to try to silence opposition. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you already know what he is going to say. Read the book instead. You will come away, as I did, sobered about the state of our politics, and determined to demand better.”
—Stephen L. Carter, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University

"Juan Williams truly understands the importance of fighting hard for honest debate in America. Though we disagree on many issues, I was pleased to help make sure that his strong voice was not silenced by those who give lip service to the First Amendment. Like his on-air appearances, Juan’s writing is smart and honest. Muzzled is the compelling story of our Constitution in action and one man's willingness as an American to speak his mind at any cost."
—Roger Ailes, President of Fox News Channel and Chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group

"Juan Williams has written a fascinating account of what happened to him at NPR, and used it to make the case for a serious and civilized political debate. An important book and a compelling read."
—Brit Hume, Senior Political Analyst, Fox News Channel

From the Hardcover edition.

Kirkus Reviews

A plea to make the world safe for bad-mouthing Muslims against the big bad PC police of the Far Left.

Self-described middle-of-the-roader Williams (Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America—and What We Can Do About It, 2006, etc.), now a fixture on Fox News, was famously relieved of his duties as an NPR commentator after having confessed to getting queasy aboard planes in which certain passengers are "dressed in garb that identifies them first and foremost as Muslims." Here, the author recounts that removal, generalizing from his experience to lament a world in which free speech is supposedly suppressed in the interest of political correctness. True enough, we live in a time when the gravest offense often seems to be to give offense in the first place, even though there are plenty of people—and plenty of them on Fox—who make good livings doing just that. Williams is not especially convincing in that generalization; to read this account, it seems he may just have had a toxic relationship with his boss, herself recently gone after a political misstep of a different kind. To be fair, he concurs that some Fox types, particularly the soon-to-be-gone Glenn Beck, are guilty of stifling and shouting and incivility, though this admission comes in a rather roundabout way: "So while my friends at Fox frequently and courageously expose the use of this tactic of political correctness by the Left, it's important to remember that the Right plays this game too." Most of the book is unobjectionable—sure, it'd be nice if we could all play nice and Al Franken wouldn't roll his eyes at Mitch McConnell. Even so, much of the narrative is a long exercise in complaint about his bad treatment at the hands of NPR management, in which Williamsoverlooks, it seems, the Ailesian right-to-work credo, which holds that all employees serve at the pleasure of their bosses and there's no such thing as tenure or appeal. Who lives by the sword, after all...

In the end, about the last thing the civil-discourse cause needs, namely more self-interested preaching to the choir.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307952035
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
07/26/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
291,728
File size:
2 MB

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