Journalist and pundit Juan Williams deserves to be questioned and even chastised for his recent comment on the O’Reilly Show about his being scared to see people with Muslim “garb” on airplanes.
National Public Radio (NPR), who fired Williams yesterday after approximately a decade of service, stated it had problems with his appearances on FOX since 2008. Basically, they are stating that the “garb” comment was not the primary reason why Williams was let go but a reasonable cover.
Williams is far too educated about Muslims to have made such a gaff. Moreover as a Black male, he must realize that his comment differed little from persons who say that they scared to see Black males in an “urban” setting wearing hoodies and saggy jeans.
In addition, Williams should know from being so well read that extremists, who commit acts of terrorism on airplanes attempt to blend in and not bring suspicion upon themselves. Doesn’t the booking photo of “Captain Underpants” that tried to bring down the plane over Detroit on Christmas Day look like a typical teen? Was “Captain Underpants” wearing Muslim “garb” with a long beard? Of course not!
Williams’ visceral response, however, is also very educational. There are many Americans, who are less educated yet well-meaning that are simply anxious being in the company of Muslims, and they would probably be nervous if boarding an airplane and seeing an Arab male wearing a kufi cap and long beard or a woman wearing all black with a niqab (face veil).
The broader challenge for Muslims is to extend ourselves more in the general public to dispel these fears while questioning the fallacious statements of those who seek to stereotype all Muslims as potential threats.
UPDATED – 10/22/10 at 12:15 a.m.
If it wasn’t made clear above, I DO NOT think that Juan Williams is a flaming anti-Muslim bigot or raving Islamophobe.
Williams had a Sharon Sherrod moment. Or since he is a journalist, it may be more analogous to Rick Sanchez.