Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juan Go Bye-Bye

Atrios beat me to the punch on the story of NPR's canning Juan Williams for some comments he made on Bill O'Reilly's television show on the Fox network. I guess I should stay up later than I do.

While Atrios cited the New York Times article, I first read the news this morning in the Los Angeles Times. The quotes will be coming from that article.

Here's some of what Mr. Williams had to say on O'Reilly's show:

"I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot," said Williams, who is African American and has written extensively on the civil rights movement and race in America. "You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. 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 are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous." [Emphasis added]

What an odd thing to say.

I mean, does Mr. Williams get all nervous when an observant Jew boards the plane wearing a yarmulke? Or a Catholic priest with a clerical collar? Does jewelry in the shape of a cross worry him? All of those accessories signal a religious orientation, one that the wearer is openly displaying and presumably identifies with.

Surely Mr. Williams decries racial profiling. Why, then, does he engage in religious profiling? Yes, the terrorist criminals of 9/11 were all Muslim, but they weren't wearing "Muslim garb." In fact, they were all wearing "Western garb," suits, button-down collars, shiny shoes.

Now, the irony of all of this is that Mr. Williams comments came in the context of "political correctness," a favorite topic of Bill O'Reilly. Mr. Williams, presumably to continue making his bones with O'Reilly and Fox (for whom Mr. Williams also works)made it clear that he had no use for that kind of verbal politeness. He feared that it could "lead to some kind of paralysis, where you don't address reality." Of course the reality which Mr. Williams was actually addressing in his comments seems to be his own lack of courage when it comes to boarding airplanes.

I'm sure Mr. Williams will have no problem moving into full-time employment with Fox now that he's lost his gig at National Public Radio. I'm also sure that he and his new colleagues will have a field day over the firing. The viewers will be treated to long discourses on the First Amendment (even though Williams wasn't arrested, detained, or fined for his comments). And during those discourses Shirley Sherrod's name will never come up.

But there is this: Juan Williams won't be on NPR any more.

Labels: ,


Blogger PurpleGirl said...

I wonder if he gets equally scared when (or if) he sees people in West African garb? How about Indian (thinking Nehru jackets)?

3:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home