So basically, Juan Williams meant what he said.
Juan Williams went on “Good Morning America,” where George Stephanopoulos asked, “Should you have gone the extra step and said, ‘Listen, they’re irrational, they are feelings I fight?’”
As Washington Post writer Greg Sargent pointed out, Williams should have identified in his initial comment on Fox News that this feeling of nervousness he gets in the presence of Muslims at airports has unfortunately become an instinctual one crafted by a bigoted society.
One can only hope that this is what he meant, and whether or not this was his intent it at least serves to highlight the notion that fear of Muslims through a misled society is both extremely prevalent and unmerited. Extremism is not transposable with Islam.
Williams’s response to Stephanopoulos barely, if at all, acknowledged this message:
Yeah, I could have done that. In fact, I think it’s very important to sort of parse this. What I said was, that if I’m at the gate at an airport and I see people who are in Muslim garb who are first and foremost identifying themselves as Muslims and in the aftermath of 9/11, I am taken aback, I have a moment of fear and it is visceral, it’s a feeling and I don’t say, “I’m not getting on the plane.” I don’t say, “You must go through additional security.” I don’t say I want to discriminate against these people, no such thing occurs. So to me, it was admitting that I have this notion, this feeling in the immediate moment.
While he is saying that he was admitting to having these intrinsic fears about Muslims, he’s not identifying why that is and why it’s wrong, and that should be entirely the point of his argument.
Why wouldn’t he think it was a bad idea to say he was afraid of Muslims without directly acknowledging the fact that this fear is bigoted, whether intentionally or not? It seems as though he left off half of his argument, and unfortunately it was the intelligent half that would have kept him his job with NPR.
But don’t feel too bad for unemployed Juan Williams, Fox News just offered him a $2 million contract along with a big “up yours” to NPR and the Muslim community.