NPR, like any mainstream news outlet, expects its journalists to be thoughtful and measured in everything they say. What Williams said was deeply offensive to Muslims and inflamed, rather than contributing positively, to an important debate about the role of Muslims in America.
Williams was doing the kind of stereotyping in a public platform that is dangerous to a democracy. It puts people in categories, as types – not as individuals with much in common despite their differences.
I can only imagine how Williams, who has chronicled and championed the Civil Rights movement, would have reacted if another prominent journalist had said:
“But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see an African American male in Dashiki with a big Afro, I get worried. I get nervous.”
Because we all remember the time Shaft, Dolomite and Cleopatra Jones hijacked that jet back in ’73…
If Angela Davis had hijacked a plane — and frankly, I’m surprised she didn’t — (instead of owning the shotgun that blew a judge’s head off outside a courthouse), then yeah, I think Juan Williams would say, “You know what, I get it. It hurts my feelings, and I don’t like it, and I’m pissed off right now, but I get it.”
Plus: note those sartorial qualifiers, which most people seem to be ignoring. Williams said “Muslims in Muslim garb.” But “not all Muslims” dress like that, remember. So he couldn’t have meant “all Muslims.”
So, once again, the hell??