The Shameful Firing of Juan Williams
The only thing that Juan Williams said that could possibly be construed as offensive is that he gets nervous when he sees identifiably Muslim people getting on a plane–a feeling that is no doubt shared by many millions of Americans. The tenor of his remarks was clearly that this was a regrettable association, along the lines–as Kevin reminds us–of that long-ago Jesse Jackson comment. Juan Williams is as about as anti-Muslim as Jesse Jackson is anti-black. Indeed, consider everything else he said. Williams went on to speak up in favor of those “people who want to somehow remind us all as President Bush did after 9/11, it’s not a war against Islam.” He warned against painting with too broad a brush: “If you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals, very obnoxious, you don’t say first and foremost, we got a problem with Christians. That’s crazy.” He said that, in the German context, the problem is not Muslims, it’s “extremists.” And he cautioned against rhetoric that might incite anti-Muslim violence: “I don’t know what is in that guy’s head [the guy who slashed the New York City cabbie a few weeks ago]. But I’m saying, we don’t want in America, people to have their rights violated to be attacked on the street because they heard a rhetoric from Bill O’Reilly and they act crazy.” I would say it’s unbelievable that NPR would fire Williams over this, but, of course, it is believable, and shameful.