New York City, N.Y., Oct 29, 2010 / 04:03 am America/Denver (CNA).
After National Public Radio fired commentator Juan Williams on Oct. 20, for saying on a television program that he felt unnerved by Muslims on airplanes, a number of persistent questions resurfaced about public discourse in a post-9/11 world, and the line between civility and censorship.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, has another question for NPR: Does the network have one standard for discussing Muslims, and another for talking about Catholics? He believes it does - but NPR has stood by its record, saying that Donohue's examples don't add up.
On Oct. 26, Donohue jumped into the debate over Williams' firing, wondering why “no one has been terminated by NPR” for what he called “anti-Catholic fare.” He cited a local affiliate's program that mocked the Eucharist, a nationally aired performance of Tom Lehrer's “Vatican Rag” (also satirizing the sacrament), and discussions of whether “too many Catholics” were on the Supreme Court.
“As I've documented, there are many instances where National Public Radio has acted in the most offensive way to Roman Catholics,” Donohue told CNA. Those instances, he alleged, were much worse than what Williams had been fired for saying about Muslims. Donohue called the remark “fairly innocuous,” saying it had “probably been made by so many Americans over a cup of coffee.”
Donohue pointed out that a mockery of the Eucharist, “the heart and soul of our religion,” was particularly egregious. Likewise, he doubted that any speculation about “too many” Supreme Court justices of another religion - such as Judaism - would have been allowed.