Friday, February 11, 2011
Do As I Say or Get Eliminated...
The Republicans just released their budget proposal, and, as expected, it zeroes out funding for both National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). This is the worst budget proposal for these programs in over a decade.
NPR has been a target of conservatives for years, but especially since last fall, when commentator Juan Williams was fired for comments he made while appearing on a Fox News program. In a discussion about terrorism with host Bill O'Reilly, Williams said: "But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous." (Ironically, Fox News hired Williams shortly after his dismissal from NPR.)
While NPR regretted firing Williams shortly afterward, the die was cast. Sarah Palin and others immediately called for NPR's funding to be cut, despite the fact that very little government money actually supports programming.
PBS has been a target for some time, because programs such as Sesame Street attempt to teach children in a basic way about gay people and how important it is to treat everyone with respect regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. Because that is not a philosophy that many Republicans live by, they support cutting funding from the network. (It's okay that networks like Fox News, who purport to be "fair and balanced" are routinely anti-Democrat and anti-gay.)
I'm the same age as Sesame Street. I learned to read at an early age by watching that program. I learned important lessons from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, Zoom and The Electric Company. Masterpiece Theatre continues to expose people of all ages to great works of drama and literature.
We cannot allow these networks to lose their funding because not everyone agrees their messages are appropriate. This is not Egypt or Iran; just because we don't agree with a viewpoint doesn't mean we have the right to shut it down.
To sign the petition to save NPR and PBS, visit Moveon.org's web site at http://pol.moveon.org/nprpbs/?rc=fb.taf.alt.5.
Don't allow those in power to stop divergent viewpoints from being expressed. This is one of the freedoms that separates the US from other countries.