Today I share my opinion about commentator Juan Williams - his statements on the Fox News Network and subsequent dismissal by National Public Radio-as well as my thoughts on the Council on American-Islamic Relations, NPR in general, conservatives who've adopted Williams as a poster boy and rabid congressional members who have found another reason to attack public broadcasting. ...
During an Oct. 18 appearance on Bill O'Reilly's program, in which the host was discussing his own criticized remarks about Muslims, Williams said:
"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 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."
Responding on behalf of CAIR, Awad said, "Such irresponsible and inflammatory comments would not be tolerated if they targeted any other racial, ethnic or religious minority, and they should not pass without action by NPR."
On Oct. 21, NPR released a statement saying it had terminated Williams' contract. That news ignited a firestorm of criticism against NPR, mostly coming from the right. Suddenly Williams was the golden child of the right wing. He quickly was offered-and just as quickly accepted-a $2 million contract to work for Fox. ...
First of all, Williams' remarks about Muslims were not only "irresponsible" and insensitive, but indeed biased. Even though he went on to say all Muslims should not be judged by the actions of a few, the damage was done because he already had articulated his bigotry (and we can debate to what degree) toward an entire group. That is clearly unacceptable.
CAIR, through Awad, was correct in criticizing Williams. Just as with the Anti-Defamation League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, CAIR is a civil rights organization whose mission includes pointing out discrimination, fighting for equality and educating the larger public about the people it represents.
That said, Williams should not have been fired, at least not over that one remark. NPR apparently had other issues with Williams, but its statement specifically said the firing was for comments on The O'Reilly Factor.
For the record, CAIR did not call for Williams' dismissal. ...
Let's put an end to this ugly chapter. NPR did what it thought it should do, CAIR did what it is mandated to do and Juan Williams has gotten paid big time.
It's time to move on. (Full article)