Michael Moore on the Juan Williams Scandal: You Were Right
In an open letter to the ex-NPR commentator, Michael Moore argues that Williams may have spoken clumsily, but one aspect of his message was spot-on: Political correctness about terrorists must end.
Sorry to hear you got fired by National Public Radio for saying on Fox that you get nervous when you see Muslims on a plane with you. It was dumb to say such a thing, but I don't think saying one dumb thing should be a firing offense. (I do think that an NPR journalist who accepts money from Fox News for his work a regular commentator should be a firing offense, but that's another story.)
But there's more to this—and some important things that everyone is missing.
For instance, what you said about Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani immigrant who wanted to bomb Times Square. When he was being sentenced this month, he claimed, according to you, that his attempted attack was just “the first drop of blood.” We can't let political correctness blind us to this, you explained.
I guess Shahzad made a big impression on you, because after being fired you went back on Fox and told them, “You can't ignore the fact of what has even recently been said in court with regard to this is ‘the first drop of blood in a Muslim war in America.’”
Sadly for you (and this is also why you shouldn't be working for a real news organization like NPR), Shahzad never said that. If you were a real journalist, you would have quoted him accurately. What he actually said was that he was the “first droplet of the flood,” not blood. But I know how easy it is to mishear things when scary Muslims are talking. And I guess it's not a huge difference anyway.
What really matters is that you're 100 percent right: We shouldn't let political correctness stop us from paying close attention to what people like Shahzad say. The problem is, you just haven't taken it far enough.
So Juan, I'm asking you to join me on a crusade—whoops, scratch that, let's call it a “mission”—to publicize these statements by Faisal Shahzad as widely as possible. Because most of the media hasn’t spent much time on what he had to say.
We shouldn’t let political correctness stop us from paying close attention to what people like Faisal Shahzad say. The problem is, you just haven’t taken it far enough.
Here's what he said at his recent sentencing (after talking about being a droplet in a flood):
“[Saladin] liberated Muslim lands ... And that's what we Muslims are trying do, because you're occupying Iraq and Afghanistan... So, the past nine years the war with Muslims has achieved nothing for the U.S., except for it has waken up the Muslims for Islam. We are only Muslims trying to defend our people, honor, and land. But if you call us terrorists for doing that, then we are proud terrorists, and we will keep on terrorizing until you leave our land and people at peace.”
And this is what Shahzad said when he pleaded guilty back in June:
• Roja Heydarpour: Not All Terrorists Are Stupid, Juan• Howard Kurtz: NPR's Juan Williams Disaster“I want to plead guilty, and I'm going to plead guilty 100 times over, because until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that.”
Then there’s email that Shahzad sent to a friend in 2006:
“Everyone knows the current situation of Muslim World... Friends with peaceful protest! Can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? And a way to fight back when rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows? In Palestine, Afghan, Iraq, Chechnya and elsewhere.”
And then there's what Shahzad was telling friends and relatives even before that.
Shahzad had long been critical of American foreign policy. “He was always very upset about the fabrication of the W.M.D. [sic] stunt to attack Iraq and killing non-combatants such as the sons and grandson of Saddam Hussein,” said a close relative. In 2003, Shahzad had been copied on a Google Groups email message bearing photographs of Guantánamo Bay detainees, handcuffed and crouching, below the words “Shame on you, Bush. Shame on You.”
So what do you say, Juan? Now that you have a new $2 million contract with Fox, let me come on air with you for some in-depth discussions about the terrorists’ real motivations. We can’t let another day go by in which the PC brigade stops us from telling the truth: Terrorists aren't trying to kill us because they hate our freedom. They're killing us because we’re in their countries killing them.
P.S. If you want to understand suicide bombings, be sure to read Robert Pape’s new book that studied every instance of it for the past 30 years, Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It. It's been used by many groups of many religions, not just Arabs and not just Muslims. And almost all such terrorism has one motivation in common: occupation by foreign militaries.
P.P.S. Here’s something else that I’d sincerely love to talk about with you: What do you think when you see rich middle-aged white men talking on TV about how they get nervous around African Americans on the street? And then explain that we can’t let political correctness stop us from talking about black-on-white crime?
Does it drive you crazy that they say this, without even being conscious of the history of far greater violence by white people toward blacks? And do you maybe understand now how those middle-aged white guys get it so wrong?
UPDATE: Juan, you probably remember in 1986 when the Washington Post Magazine ran a Richard Cohen column defending jewelry store owners who wouldn’t buzz in young black men. It caused such a big controversy that the New Republic ran a bunch of responses to it, including one by you. You might find it interesting to go back and read what you wrote then—for instance, “Racism is a lazy man's substitute for using good judgment ... Common sense becomes racism when skin color becomes a formula for figuring out who is a danger to me.”
Michael Moore is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker and author. He directed and produced Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Sicko. He has also written seven books, most recently, Mike’s Election Guide 2008.