Thursday, October 21, 2010

Juan Williams and the NPR Debacle

As you've heard by now, Juan Williams (Mr. Eyes on the Prize) was fired by NPR for going on the O'Reilly Factor and admitting that he's had fears when going onto a plane and seeing someone dressed in traditional Muslim attire.

Let's be honest, who hasn't experienced at least a milisecond of apprehension while scanning the faces of fellow passengers at your airport gate, especially right after the attacks occurred in 2001?  I friggin' had to fly to Vermont for work the month after the attacks, and my nerves were admittedly on edge about anybody and anything, even some dark-skinned White folks.  :)

I had this apprehension, even though my oldest friend in the DMV area had converted to Islam by then to marry her Muslim husband, and I lived with them for a month when I first moved here, AND had met members of her husband's devout extended family.  Even my first boyfriend was technically Muslim (very non-traditional, but that's another story).

Don't get me wrong, I am not justifying or advocating prejudice in any way, especially of the type that Mr. O'Reilly expressed during his visit to "The View."  I'm just saying that I understand Williams' perspective.

Although I'm not a fan of Mr. Williams' current role as Fox News' "token Negro" conservative contributor (side note: you should all check out what Jill Nelson wrote about him in Volunteer Slavery, a book that talks about her days at The Washington Post--required reading for any sister moving to D.C.), he expressed his fear in an honest, non-inflammatory way, and shouldn't have been fired.  He also chided O'Reilly for the way he made a blanket statement on "The View" about how "Muslims attacked us on 9/11," instead of saying that terrorists who happened to be Muslims did so.

According to the New York Times, NPR didn't even give the brother a chance to talk with executive management and defend himself.

Williams may have been inartful in his comments, but NPR should have considered them as a whole instead of having an overly PC, knee-jerk reaction.

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