Thursday, October 21, 2010

NPR fires Juan Williams for expressing his opinion

What a shocker. NPR has fired Juan Williams for saying on the O'Reilly show that he gets nervous when he sees a Muslim man on an airplane.
"Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Williams also warned O'Reilly against blaming all Muslims for "extremists," saying Christians shouldn't be blamed for Tim McVeigh
NPR got complaints and decided that they just couldn't have a contributor who said openly what a lot of people think when they are on airplanes. But that just isn't a point of view that can be openly expressed by NPR. And, of course, they've been uncomfortable with having Williams for a while ever since he started going on Fox News shows and expressed views that weren't in line with the approved line on NPR.
Williams' presence on the largely conservative and often contentious prime time talk shows of Fox News has long been a sore point with NPR News executives.

His status was earlier shifted from staff correspondent to an analyst after he took clear-cut positions about public policy on television and in newspaper opinion pieces.
Of course, Williams has been going on opinion shows since the 1970s more than 20 years before he joined NPR. That should have been no surprise to anyone. He also has won an Emmy for his documentaries on the history of the civil rights movement and other topics. He wrote the book that accompanied Eyes on the Prize as well as a respected biography of Thurgood Marshall.

As Michelle Malkin points out, it was liberals at places like CAIR, Think Progress and the Huffington Post who were all riled up by Williams' comments.

I wonder - if there were a poll taken of Americans asking them how many people ever get nervous when they see a person in Muslim garb getting on their airplanes, what would the results be? 70%? 80%?

Yes, this reaction displays prejudice towards Muslims, but it is also based on history. Williams is not saying that he thinks that all Muslims are terrorists but that, based on what happened on 9/11 and Richard Reid and the Christmas Day bomber, he gets nervous. His comment is reminiscent of Jesse Jackson's moment of honesty,
There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.... After all we have been through. Just to think we can't walk down our own streets, how humiliating.
Williams was expressing his opinion and natural reaction, but such statements are not politically correct and so NPR had to fire their inconvenient employee. What a shame.