Juan Williams, a veteran journalist, former host of NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” and an author of several books about the Civil Rights Movement, was fired from NPR yesterday. The firing stems from comments he made to Bill O’Reilly on O’Reilly’s show, in response to a comment O’Reilly made on “The View,” specifically: “Muslims killed us on 9/11.” Asked if he disagreed with O’Reilly, Juan Williams made these comments, which elicited his termination today:
“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.”
After his termination, he reiterated his comments, saying:
“I said, ‘I said what I meant to say, which is that it is an honest experience that when I’m in an airport and I see people in Muslim garb who identify themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I do a double take. I have a moment of anxiety or fear given what happened on 9/11. That’s just a reality.”
Collectively, we have the luxury here on Pajiba to have a bright, intelligent and somewhat politically diverse community, one that is capable of creating bright and intelligent commentary if provoked with the right questions. In today’s first installment of Pajiba Debates — an idea inspired by superasente — I put this question to all of you: Is Juan Williams a bigot? Is that “just a reality”? And did he deserve to be fired?