"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."--hatemongering hack on the O'Reilly Factor, October 18, 2010.
I do not regularly listen to or care to consume any product sold by Juan Williams. I remember him on the talk show circuit back in the mid-90s and found him to be at best a pompous blowhard, like most talk show hosts and guests. I knew that he had sold his soul to become the newest in-house 'liberal' patsy for Rupert Murdoch some years back, but I had lost track of Juan (and no, I rarely listen to NPR anymore, since its quality has diminished alongside all of the other so-called legitimate media outlets).
And while I oppose the firing of Juan for his racist speech about being nervous around Muslim-looking people, it says a lot that he is being publicly defended for these statements, when we know good and well and that such a similar verbal assault on any other group would have elicited not only his firing but a round of well-deserved denouncements for his hate-filled rant (aka, ex-CNN 'reporter' Rick Sanchez).
But notice how few of Juan's defenders will mention the substance of what he is saying, but only criticize NPR for firing him for his speech. Where was the right-wing of this country when the Republican Governor of Colorado manufactured the firing of Ward Churchill from his tenured state job (that was created for the expressed purpose of protecting an academic's political speech) for having an unpopular view on 9/11? Where is the right-wing of this country when their beloved churches excommunicate "liberals" and dissenters from within their ranks on issues like the gay rights? Where is the average Republican voter when they tell us that the power of the state should be used to prohibit the construction of a house of worship, if it is a religion they "have problems with"? No, like with the p.c. left in the '90s during the campus speech code craze (which unfortunately many liberals supported), speech only matters when they agree with it, and that is the onus of this dispute. The only reason we are entertaining this as a story, and the only reason I am even responding to it as an issue, is because Juan Williams made hate speech against a group that is acceptable for the majority of Americans to hate.
And for those who get nervous about "Muslim-looking" men, including Mr. Williams, one should ask, were any of the previous attacks on planes by Islamic militants committed by "Muslim looking" men in so-called Muslim 'garb'? Mr. Williams should know this, if he covered the 9/11 Commission Report. None of the 19 9/11 hijackers were dressed in stereotypical "Muslim looking" clothes (however one constitutes such a thing). Neither was the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, or the wannabe underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Of course, none of them were. They all dressed like Republicans going to a tent revival. That was by design because any terrorist, who wants to avoid detection before springing an attack, would know well enough to acclimatize him/herself into the culture they are targeting for their nefarious deeds.
So, then, how does one detect the so-called Muslim looking men that we should be nervous about? That is what has been ignored in this debate because everyone, especially white people in the US (the honest ones), know the answer: race. So does Mr. Williams, which was the intent behind his bigoted remarks.
The hypocrisy on Juan Williams's part was that back in the day, he was quite the jihadist on censoring racist speech, when it was made against him or anyone from his community. Such was the case back in the '80s, when a Washington Post reporter was denounced by Williams after defending the practice of white jewelry store owners who excluded black patrons. Juan opined that "[r]acism is a lazy man's substitute for using good judgment ... Common sense becomes racism when skin color becomes a formula for figuring out who is a danger to me.” What a pity Williams cannot remember his own claimed values and views when looking at others. Then again, Juan gets $2 million extra from Rupert Murdoch. I guess we should all be so lucky as to have NPR fire us, so long as our side job includes being the newest patsy for Bill O'Reilly.