Tattle: For Juan Williams, one opinion too many for NPR

Williams: 10 yrs. at NPR
Williams: 10 yrs. at NPR
Posted: October 22, 2010

IT'S ALWAYS troublesome when someone who gets paid for speaking his mind gets fired for speaking his mind, so it's especially troublesome that NPR chose to fire longtime commentator Juan Williams.

Yes, Williams' comment that he gets nervous every time he sees a Muslim on a plane was bigoted - and the fact that millions of Americans may agree with him doesn't make it less so - but NPR has chosen to employ him for 10 years because it seemingly valued his opinions. That it doesn't like one of his opinions shouldn't negate all the others. By firing Williams for a burst of being too honest, NPR plays into the hands of the right-wing anti-NPR forces who would correctly claim that as long as Williams espoused NPR's opinion, he was cool, but once he deviated from the all-inclusive "Kumbaya" line, he was out.

On the other hand, those who claim that NPR is being closed-minded and showing its liberal bias are missing part of the point of NPR.

Between one million and seven million taxpaying Muslims are living in America (depending on which survey numbers you choose to believe), none of whom have blown up any planes and are merely trying to get through the economic slowdown just like American Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Wiccans, Jews and Christians, and National Public Radio is also supposed to represent them. It's national and public.

If a host on Racist Whitey 109.5 FM ("The Klan") claimed he got nervous every time he saw a black dude on the street, chances are nothing would happen to him (unless his advertisers went ballistic). But if someone on a publicly funded radio station said the same thing, he'd probably be escorted off the premises before the first phone call.

Instead of firing Williams - who knew NPR's knee could jerk so quickly - wouldn't it have been better (and far more illuminating) for NPR to address his very real issue with legitimate reporting and discussion? As we near an election in which so many votes are going to be cast on the basis of anger and fear (on both sides and on essentially every issue), NPR should have used Williams to confront the nation's fear of Muslims and analyzed whether it's a rational fear (yes, Mr. O'Reilly, Muslims did blow up planes on 9/11) or an irrational one (estimating that there are about 30 million commercial flights per year worldwide, your odds of being blown up by a Muslim in flight are pretty darn slim).

Tattle has had plenty of irrational fears over the years, and they're just as scary as the rational ones. But it sure does help to talk about them and not just . . . dismiss them.

Tattbits

* Billboard.com reports that U2

will likely follow 2009's "No Line on the Horizon" with an album primarily produced by Danger Mouse (a/k/a Brian Burton).

So says Bono.

The Irish rock outfit's frontman told Australian publication The Age that the band is prepping three albums, with the Danger Mouse project possibly arriving in early 2011.

"We have about 12 songs with him," says Bono. "At the moment that looks like the album we will put out next because it's just happening so easily."

Bono also revealed that the band is working on a "club" record with Will.i.am, David Guetta and producer RedOne.

A possible third album would feature the material that Bono and guitarist the Edge penned for the upcoming Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." "We haven't convinced the rest of the band to do that yet," says Bono.

* M. Night Shyamalan and Will Smith?

Hollywood Reporter sources say Shyamalan is developing a secret sci-fi project as a vehicle for Jaden Smith titled "One Thousand A.E." The movie will be developed at Overbrook, the production company Will runs with James Lassiter, Ken Stovitz and Jada Pinkett Smith.

* Indian tour operator Mohan

Singh says Russell Brand and Katy Perry are getting married this weekend at a luxury resort outside the Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary in Rajasthan.

Singh says Brand and Perry have hired 13 vehicles to take some of their 80 or so guests on tours of the tiger sanctuary in the days after the wedding.

He said yesterday that the couple will stay in a luxury tent at the Aman-i-Khas resort, with guests staying at the nearby Vanyavilas and Sher Bagh resorts.

Don't try to crash. There will be lots of private security.

And tigers.

* Random House said yesterday

that it will release a memoir by Salman Rushdie in 2012. The book will cover Rushdie's childhood, family life and his time in hiding because Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini called for a fatwa on him.

* Billboard.com says

Live Nation has postponed two Lady Gaga shows in Paris this weekend because of strikes and protests in France over the plan to raise the retirement age.

Students have been protesting plans in the pension-reform bill to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, fearing it will mean fewer jobs for them as 60-somethings hang on for two more years. (See story Page 29.)

All that French hot air has begun to affect the delivery of gas. About 5,000 of France's 12,300 gas stations were completely or partially out of fuel Wednesday, according to the French ministry of ecology and energy.

YAY! Shut down the country. Because there's no better way to get your jobs message across than by making sure nobody has one.

Daily News wire services contributed to this report.

E-mail gensleh@phillynews.com

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