Fear of Muslims called ‘Irrational’


Fear Of Muslims Called “Irrational”
By Rod Kackley, NewsRadio WOOD 1300 News Team
Friday, October 22, 2010
Dawud Walid, the Executive Director of the Center for American-Islamic Relations in Detroit believes that Juan Williams story is troubling because of what it says about America, rather than what Williams said about Muslims.

Walid told NewsRadio WOOD 1300 he does not believe that the former NPR analyst –who lost his job because he said that seeing people in “Muslim garb” on airliners scared him — is “a raving, anti-Muslim bigot.” But, Walid does feel this speaks to a far larger issue.

He thinks we have to remember that when it comes to the 9-11 attacks, 7 million Muslim-Americans did not do it. And, those that did, did not do it in “Muslim garb.”

“Furthermore, people who hijack planes try to blend in and look as inconspicuous as possible.”

What really bothers Walid about Williams’ statement is that “comments from a man of his stature, can confirm fears or suspicions that people have in their minds about Muslims.”

He also said the fear that many Americans have of Muslims remind him of the fear that some white suburbanites seem to have of African-Americans who they find threatening.


Contractual obligation & two-way Freedom of Speech

There are some who are critical of those that raised concerns regarding Juan Williams’ recent comments about being nervous of people with Muslim “garb” on airplanes.  Some state that Williams’ First Amendment – Freedom of Speech rights have been violated and that those who complained to NPR about his comments are muzzling Freedom of Speech.

Williams, like all Americans, has Freedom of Speech, but this freedom does not equal being free from consequences over speech.  If anyone has a contractual agreement with a corporation or organization to adhere to certain principles and he/she violates the agreement, this would constitute insubordination and/or breach of contract.  For instance in 2007, the ADL fired its New England regional director for publicly expressing a position counter to the ADL regarding the Armenian “genocide” of 1915.  The gentleman freely expressed his views, but there were consequences that followed. 

Being that Williams appeared on FOX News, not as his individual person but under the title of NPR contributor and analyst, he was not merely representing himself but NPR.  Williams has made a number of gaffs over the years on FOX appearing as an NPR contributor including an attack on First Lady Michelle Obama in 2009. 

In terms of the charges that those who have and probably will continue to criticize Williams are muzzling free speech, let’s not forget that free speech is a two way street.  Americans are free to rebut and criticize others’ views to the point that we can voice dissent against our military, the FBI and even the Commander in Chief President Barack Hussein Obama.  As Howard Zinn is often quoted, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

So sorry, but we will continue to express our concerns to Williams or anyone else who makes comments that actively or passively promote fear and suspicion of American Muslims just as other Americans do if they believe that they are being misrepresented or subjected to attack.  And we will continue to contact their employers if need be to raise their awareness.  This is the American way.  Minorities in America from Jewish Americans to African-Americans have consistently voiced concerns about portrayals and rhetoric in the media about their groups that are inaccurate or raise anxieties. Change in America does not come about by non-confrontation of stereotypes and inaccurate generalizations; they must be challenged.

On another note, it will be interesting to see what the fate will be of NPR contributor Mara Liasson who has also come under some heat in the past for her punditry on FOX News.

On Juan Williams being fired

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.