"Political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don't address reality." Those apt words were spoken by journalist Juan Williams on the October 18 edition of Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, during a segment on how to discuss the jihad. Moments later, he uttered remarks addressing too much reality to suit his other employer, National Public Radio:
I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. … 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.
Having described his personal feelings, Williams went on to caution against painting Muslims with a broad brush or depriving them of their rights, but that was not sufficient for Islamists and the left. On Wednesday, after a press release from CAIR, NPR fired him, stating that his words were "inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR." He says that his boss "essentially accus[ed] me of bigotry."
A few PC-free observations overlooked elsewhere:
Based on the history of Islamists targeting passenger airliners — decades of hijackings, Pan Am 103, the Bojinka plot, the 9/11 attacks, the shoe bomber, suicide bombings on Russian planes, the transatlantic airline plot, the underwear bomber, etc. — Williams' fears are far from irrational or bigoted. No, they are the perfectly logical response of someone who understands the bloody trail of jihad and loves life more than terrorists love death. His concerns are shared by millions of travelers, whether or not they admit it.
Flyers might be less worried about Muslim passengers if airport security were not the sham that it is. Islamic groups like CAIR have much for which to answer here, given their record of opposing numerous anti-terrorism measures, from bomb-sniffing dogs to body scanners to profiling. By the way, serious debate on that last option is long overdue.
Williams is the latest example of a fresh trend: people pushed out of jobs for offending Muslim sensibilities via words said and deeds done outside of their jobs. Derek Fenton was fired from his New Jersey Transit position after burning a Koran; Thilo Sarrazin was forced off the board of Germany's Bundesbank for his book slamming multiculturalism.
An interesting contrast: stating that one is "nervous" about Muslims on a plane is grounds for canning the speaker; stating that one is "nervous" about Christians calmly detailing their faith at an Arab festival is grounds for prosecuting the Christians.
The Legal Project has urged NPR to apologize to Williams and encouraged citizens to tell the broadcaster (phone or email) that they will withhold financial contributions until it does. Islamist Watch seconds this. As Tarek Fatah, one of several Muslims to criticize the firing, notes, "we should be speaking the truth rather than what people expect us to say" — yes, even NPR people.