It’s been a while since I hopped on my political soap box, but today I am so outraged that I decided to dust it off.
Today the news broke that Juan Williams has been fired from his job with NPR due to his honest expression of a moment of anxiety when he gets on a plane with persons clearly dressed in “muslim garb”. If you haven’t seen the quote, here ya go:
“I mean, 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.”
This morning he shared his account of the phone call he had with NPR when he was fired and he was told that he “crossed a line” with his comment.
(insert screeching noise here)
I’m sorry, WHAT?
The fact is that people [in the name of Islam] committed acts of terror on U.S. soil, killing thousands and leaving scars in the hearts of millions USING AN AIRPLANE on 9/11.
It is what it is.
In this case, Williams was not saying that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to fly, but that as an unfortunate bi-product of the horrible events of 9/11 he has an unwanted thought jump into his mind. It’s a reminder, not a criticism.
Further, while it seems obvious (to me), I would like to point out to NPR that Islam is not a race and to be fired from one’s job on grounds of biggotry for expressing an honest and likely unwanted reaction to the reality of the world in which we live is outrageous. One could make the same case for how Christians or Catholics “scare” them because of their belief system if one doesn’t agree with it. In fact Williams made that very point during the same interview with Bill O’Reilly saying, “Christians shouldn’t be blamed for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.”
There are crazy people in this world who believe crazy things. Scary people do things in the name of every religion. When I am in unfamiliar territory, I often have random news stories pop into my head about a mugging here or a kidnapping there. I feel vulnerable and start to look around at everyone as a suspect. It’s not something I want to do, but as a human being, there are times when I experience fear.
As Americans we have rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. On a basic national level, this should not be taken away based upon our expression of human emotion. If nothing else, Williams’ admission should be used as a springboard for discussion on how we can continue to heal as a country.
When did tolerance become so intolerant?
NPR, you should be ashamed.
For the record I am a long time NPR supporter, both financially and publicly. For this reason, I feel personally let down by their decision to fire Juan Williams.