MUZZLED by Juan Williams


The Assault on Honest Debate
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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 Williams overlooks, 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.


Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-95201-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2011


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