Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's What's On the INSIDE That's Scary

Juan Williams doesn't work for NPR anymore. They terminated his contract for a comment at his other job on Fox So Called News:

"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 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."

First off, Mr Williams, the 9-11 hijackers were wearing Western clothing when they boarded those planes on 9-11. But more importantly yes, you ARE a bigot and you should know better.

Do you flinch at seeing a Hasidic Jewish male? He is "identifying himself first and foremost" as a Jew. Would you panic at the sight of an Amish man on a plane?  Or a nun?

I have a friend who is African American. Tall and slight, in his sweaters and eyeglasses he looks more like Mr Rogers than Mr T. And yet, he has told me that white women will often cross to the opposite side of the street when they see him, and that here in the library there are patrons who will not come up to him when they see him at the counter!

Mr Williams, you have spent your life as an African American man in this country. Are you going to tell me that this hasn't happened to you? That there have been plenty of times when someone has judged you on your skin color alone?

Perhaps your prejudice is confined to Muslims and to Muslims alone. Perhaps because of 9-11 you feel entitled to express it in a way that you wouldn't dare express it about any other group.I've seen lots of comments on NPR's site today from trolls going "Well, he just said what a lot of people FEEL"

Maybe. But admitting to it doesn't make it any less any more right than other prejudice. As I've noted here before, it seems to be fine to be bigoted against Muslims in the sacred name of 9-11, which shows you how far we've fallen from the principles enshrined in the Constitution the Tea Party nitwits so often cite.

Where NPR is wrong is in firing Williams.
They should have kept him. They should have interviewed him.
They should have used this as what is called a "teachable moment" to drag some of that ugliness out of the darkness, out of the place it hides in so many people.

Out of the safety it has been given by the flag wavers these last 10 years.

Instead, NPR has played into Fox News' hands.
And that's not a good thing.


Anonymous said...

Lucky me, I've managed to sidestep this farce you're posting about. Instead I've been listening to all the news about DADT. My bubble of tolerance has been popped and I can't believe what some people are saying and doing.

The Library Lady said...

The folks who are commenting on the NPR site seem to be largely Fox NonNews trolls and they scare the poop out of me. It's getting uglier by the day. And it's OPENLY ugly.