Friday, October 22, 2010

Juan Williams fired from NPR

Juan Williams fired from NPR
I don't think Juan Williams was asserting that his fear of people dressed in Muslim garb on airplanes was reasonable or founded in reality or something he was proud of. I think he was admitting his own ignorance regarding Muslims. JW knows that Muslims, categorically, are not terrorists. He knows that the misappropriation of Islam by a few Islamists should not reflect on the majority of Muslims. However, because of imagery often reinforced by news media, he had this irrational fear.
I think his fear is similar to being afraid of someone who looks like a "thug." Some thugs are black. Some are white. Some are Latino. I think their common thread is some visual indication of poverty and/or criminal behavior. I think white people might tend to be less fearful of another white person who looked thuggy, and similarly for black people. Whereas interracial interactions between thug and pedestrian would be more fearful. I don't think any white person is proud that he/she afraid of someone from another race simply based on the way he/she looks/is dressed. However, to say that there are never any visual commonalities among criminals is ignoring reality. I don't know how the 9/11 hijackers were dressed. They may not even have been wearing "Muslim garb" the day they committed a horrific crime against humanity that has nothing to do with the religion of Islam. Nonetheless, middle America, of which I am a member, has little contact with Muslims and remains largely ignorant about the religion as a whole. I'm sure Juan Williams, considering his expertise on the Civil Rights movement in this country in the 1960's, realizes ignorance and bigotry are congruous. He does not wish to be bigoted. Admitting that you have an ignorant, irrational thought does not make you bigoted, it makes you human.

1 comment:

resacosta said...

from what i read - which was npr's statement - it seemed like maybe they (npr) had just been waiting for jw to slip up, that they were not happy he was making appearances on fox to begin with, and he said the wrong thing in the wrong place - and yes, he was admitting to having a human reaction, for whatever reason, based on some sort of ingrained fear.