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NPR Fires Juan Williams Over Muslim Commentary

...and they didn't waste any time giving Williams his pink slip:
NPR News has terminated the contract of longtime news analyst Juan Williams after remarks he made on the Fox News Channel about Muslims.

Williams appeared Monday on The O'Reilly Factor, and host Bill O'Reilly asked him to comment on the idea that the U.S. is facing a dilemma with Muslims.

O'Reilly has been looking for support for his own remarks on a recent episode of ABC's The View in which he directly blamed Muslims for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walked off the set in the middle of his appearance.

Williams responded: "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."

Williams also warned O'Reilly against blaming all Muslims for "extremists," saying Christians shouldn't be blamed for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

But strong criticism followed Williams' comments.

Late Wednesday night, NPR issued a statement praising Williams as a valuable contributor but saying it had given him notice that it is severing his contract. "His remarks on The O'Reilly Factor this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR," the statement read.
Here is the video in question:



For starters, I must say that I whole-heartedly disagree with Williams' portrayal of the proposed Park51 project. He is drinking the Bill O'Reilly/Sean Hannity/Glenn Beck Kool-Aid that this building will somehow be a "victory mosque" -- which is completely absurd (and I've talked about it many times before). That said, I don't think that Williams said anything overly (or at least intentionally) offensive here.

Looking only at this ThinkProgress clip, I can see why some liberals have their panties in a bunch. But that is not the entire segment. Williams goes on to tell O'Reilly that he needs to "be careful" (to which O'Reilly adamantly refuses) when speaking in generalities about a religion that includes billions of people.

Is it somewhat insensitive to admit that you get scared when you see someone dressed in traditional Muslim garb? Sure. But, the fact that Williams admits his fear signals that he doesn't want to be afraid, that his fear is irrational, and that he wants to work past that fear. Moreover, Williams goes on to argue the exact opposite of what many in the progressive community are accusing him: acceptance and understanding of others' religious liberties and customs.

Doug Mataconis points out -- I think rightly so -- that Williams' dismissal from NPR has some very interesting and similar parallels to the Shirley Sherrod incident earlier this year. In both cases, the speaker has comments taken out-of-context by political opportunists and, as a result of the ensuing commotion, gets fired from his or her job.

Shirley Sherrod was offered to go back to work with the USDA. Now the question remains, will NPR do the same for Juan Williams?