June 9, 2014

Juan Williams Compares Bowe Bergdahl, Who Won’t Talk to His Family, to Biblical Prodigal Son

Both Time and the Wall Street Journal have reported that Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier released by his Afghan captors in exchange for five hardened Gitmo terrorists — or, in the alternative universe of the Los Angeles Times, five guys aged 43 to 47 who “are pretty old now” — will not contact his parents (WSJ’s headline says he “has declined to speak to his family”).

That news broke several hours after Fox News’s Juan Williams appeared on Chris Wallace’s Fox News Sunday and compared Bowe Bergdahl to the biblical prodigal son. The analogy didn’t even work at that point, as RedState poster Aaron Gardner explained this morning. Video of Williams’s wacky whine follows the jump:

Transcript, including some text from just before the video begins and just after it ends (paragraph breaks added by me; slight edits were made to transcript to more closely match what was said; bolds and numbered tags are mine):

CHRIS WALLACE: Well, and you like to take the other side in this discussions, as there are any part of how this has been handled and the actual substance of the decisions that you want to defend?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I don’t think it’s a matter of defending, Chris. I think it’s a matter of us as Americans not getting lost in the, I think, troubling optics of the White House ceremony. Or, you know, Steve Hayes does a great job of reporting on all of this stuff, but I think it’s (video above begins here — Ed.), again, you can’t get lost in the fog for the key, very clear principle.

The clear principle is we don’t leave soldiers behind. And at the moment, I think what’s necessary here — I’m reminded this Sunday morning of the story of the prodigal son [1] — That you don’t make judgments as you have the opportunity to bring that child back. America should be loving this child at this moment. [2]

Obviously, we don’t know why he left. We think he’s a troubled person. We think he may have lost a sense of America’s mission. All true. [3]

But the idea is we don’t leave people in the enemy’s hands. The enemy saw him as an American soldier. That young man suffered. He was caged, Chris. His parents suffered. And yet people want to argue about the father’s beard. They want to say they shouldn’t have a parade.

Let the military decide. The military’s best position, not us sitting here on this panel, and not all the political people on the Republican side who have flip-flopped, flip-flopped, Chris, in the most (video above ends at this point — Ed.) craven way. Unbelievable. [4]

Notes:

[1] — I’ll let Aaron Gardner address this aspect of Wiliams’s statement:

Any likeness between Bowe Bergdahl and Prodigal Son is limited to the both of them having foreign travels and returning home safely.

The parable of the Prodigal Son, as told by Jesus, is about a foolish and arrogant son who, in his impatience, takes all of the inheritance his father reluctantly gave him and squandered it. He fell into such sin and debauchery that he literally became an servant. From riches to rags.

But then something happened…

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:17-20

Do you see the error of Juan Williams?

Williams focuses on the last sentence in this portion of the parable. His entire argument is that we should feel compassion and embrace Bergdahl because he was once lost. This is all well and good, I can understand, especially as a Christian and a father of three, the very real urge to be compassionate. But parables are meant to teach a lesson, and in this case Williams’ narrow focus on compassion has blinded him to a very crucial component of the lesson that goes well beyond politics.

The lesson which Juan has missed is that Bowe Bergdahl is still lost. The loving embrace of the father follows repentance, a humbling of oneself, and a willingness to become a servant of the one you offended.

If Bowe Bergdahl is to be considered a prodigal son, he should request to be charged with desertion, retract any statements about being a warrior for Jihad, and, in my perspective as a Christian, renounce any captivity conversion that may have occurred.

Some may not like that last bit, but the parable of the Prodigal Son is that of man returning to our God. I don’t particularly like that is has been defined down to giving away five hardened terrorists in exchange for a deserter.

Nor do I.

Hours later, as noted above, the metaphor advanced from being foolish to being useless.

[2] — Williams twice calls Bowe Bergdahl a “child.” This is really insulting.

Bowe Bergahl was 23 when captured and is 28 now. From the time he entered the Army to the present, he has been no one’s “child.” He became his parents’ adult son ten years ago. As a member of the U.S. Army, he was charged with making adult decisions and choices. Overwhelming evidence indicates that he failed in those regards, and failed his fellow platoon and battalion members, who went to extraordinary lengths to try to get him back. Thanks to him, some of them didn’t come back to America alive.

[3] — How odd. Two “we thinks” followed by “all true.” Which is it, Juan?

[4] — Of course the initial reaction to a freed soldier is one of joy, and much of that joy was expressed before those expressing it fully understood the heinousness and the virtual lack of conditions placed on the five Gitmo terrorists’ release. That’s not a “flip-flop,” Juan. That’s “changing your mind after getting the facts.”

If there’s a metaphorical limit to which Obama administration apologists like Juan Williams won’t go to defend the indefensible, it hasn’t been found yet.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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