Juan Williams, who has written several books on the US civil rights movement, has been fired from his job as news analyst by National Public Radio for saying on Fox News that he gets nervous if he sees Muslims on a plane.
Williams made the candid remarks last week on chat show The O'Reilly Factor. NPR confirmed that Williams's contract had been ended on Wednesday. Later Fox News signed Williams up as a contributor on a multi-year contract, reportedly worth $2m.
Williams was speaking about Muslims and 9/11 on the show, with outspoken conservative host Bill O'Reilly, who said:
"The cold truth is that in the world today, Jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet."
Williams said he concurred with O'Reilly:
"I mean, 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."
And he was fired for this?????
In this day and age, if a man cannot say what makes him nervous, what can he do? If Mr O'Reilly had asked Mr Williams the question:
"Juan, when you get on a plane, and you see people who are in Muslim garb, do you get nervous?"
are we saying that Mr Williams should have lied? Do we think that Mr Williams should have told Mr O'Reilly that he would be completely at ease to sit on a plane with people who are, in many cases, attempting to look menacing, and who don the Muslim garb specifically to intimidate those who they know will be nervous when seeing Muslims 'in garb'?
"Despite the fact that Mr Williams probably perpetrated the whole incident to draw attention to himself in order to secure a more lucrative offer elsewhere, this whole unsavoury mess shows just how far things have turned around in the US," said social commentator and time-wasting looney Moys Kenwood, writing from his hidey-hole in Bangkok. He added:
"It's a fucking disgrace! Mr Williams was just speaking his mind. Surely, he can do that, can't he?"
Well, can't he?