'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. 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."
Juan Williams was fired from NPR (National Public Radio) for making this statement on the O'Reilly show the other day.
Note that Williams was not advocating any kind of different treatment of apparent Muslims. He was simply nervous and worried. Some Americans might recall that several years ago some Muslims hijacked airplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Might that historical event have contributed to Williams anxiety?
It is not clear whether the fireable offense was being nervous or speaking about said nervousness, but I suspect the latter. After all, being nervous is not something we can easily control. I am often a bit nervous when flying, usually on takeoffs and landings. I suppose now I should be careful not to share my anxiety lest I offend all airline pilots. But somehow I don't think Williams would have been fired if he merely offended pilots.
No, Williams was fired for speaking truthfully about his anxiety about Muslims and airplanes. Obviously, speaking truthfully is not something that one should be punished for. Therefore, the answer is to address Williams' fears.
I suggest nationwide reeducation camps. We all need to learn about the benign nature of all adherents to Islam. We need to pretend that 9-11 had no connection to Islam whatsoever. The culprits were extremists. All extremists are equally dangerous.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Just don't tell anyone.