Williams, on 'O'Reilly Factor,' said he was uncomfortable on a plane with people in Muslim garb
NPR has fired veteran analyst Juan Williams over remarks he made about Muslims on the Fox News Channel program, "The O’Reilly Factor."
The national radio network said in a statement Wednesday that the remarks, in which Williams said he gets nervous flying with people in Muslim garb, were “inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”
Williams’ dismissal followed comments on the Fox News prime time show, where he also serves as an analyst.
During the show, O’Reilly asked Williams to comment on the idea that the United States was facing a “Muslim dilemma.” It followed a controversy over O’Reilly’s own appearance on the afternoon show, The View,’ where two hosts walked out after he said that “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”
His argument, which moderator Whoopi Goldberg declared to be "bull----," inspired both Goldberg and co-host Joy Behar to leave their own set.
On Monday, Williams said he concurred with O’Reilly about the threats faced by the United States.
He added, "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."
He also said, amid a heated debate with O'Reilly, that people shouldn’t blame Muslims for “extremists,” same as Christians couldn’t be blamed for the Oklahoma City bombing. O'Reilly, for his part, said he refused to qualify everything he said about Muslims.
Criticism and support
In a statement Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said such commentary from a journalist about other racial, ethnic or religious minority groups would not be tolerated.
"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," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said.
NPR, which receives most of its funding from listener-supported member stations, has been uncomfortable for some time with Williams’ role on Fox. After he became a regular on the mostly conservative network, NPR asked that he no longer be identified as an NPR correspondent.
The radio network, in a news story on the site, reported that Williams said he wasn't ready to comment on his dismissal and was conferring with his wife.
Williams was previously a longtime reporter, columnist and editorial writer at The Washington Post. He has written extensively on the Civil Rights movement, including a book on the African American religious experience and a biography on Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Conservative bloggers defended Williams on Thursday, blasting NPR's decision.
"All Juan Williams did is say both exactly how he feels and how many, many other Americans feel on this subject," wrote Erick Erickson on his " Red State" blog. "The man's body of work makes clear he is no bigot. But we sure can't offend Muslims can we?"
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