Veteran journalist Juan Williams was fired from his job as senior news analyst for National Public Radio late Wednesday because of comments he made about Muslims and terrorism on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News Channel.
NPR said in a statement that Williams’s remarks – including that he gets “worried” and “nervous” when he sees people dressed in Muslim-style clothing on airplanes – “were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”
Williams, 56, made the remarks after the show’s host, Bill O’Reilly, asked him whether he thought the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” “The cold truth is that in the world today, jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet,” O’Reilly said.
Williams, who is African American and writes and speaks frequently on race, told O’Reilly that he agreed with his assessment.
“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,” he said. “But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they’re identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”
Williams then brought up a statement made in a New York courtroom this month by Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani American who pleaded guilty to trying to detonate a bomb in Times Square and was sentenced to life in prison.
“He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts,” Williams said…
Muslim advocacy groups and liberal commentators reacted with outrage to Williams’s comments on “The O’Reilly Factor” and called for his ouster. Conservative bloggers, in turn, blasted the dismissal as political-correctness spiraling out of control.
“NPR should address the fact that one of its news analysts seems to believe that all airline passengers who are perceived to be Muslim can legitimately be viewed as security threats,” Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said in a statement issued before the firing was announced. “Such irresponsible and inflammatory comments would not be tolerated if they targeted any other racial, ethnic or religious minority, and they should not pass without action by NPR.”