NPR fired Juan Williams

National Public (Liberal) Radio has fired commentator and columnist Juan Williams for remarks he made about Muslims.

Part of the story from NPR:

NPR News has terminated the contract of longtime news analyst Juan Williams after remarks he made on the Fox News Channel about Muslims.

Williams appeared Monday on The O’Reilly Factor, and host Bill O’Reilly asked him to comment on the idea that the U.S. is facing a dilemma with Muslims. [It is, isn’t it?]

O’Reilly has been looking for support for his own remarks on a recent episode of ABC’s The View in which he directly blamed Muslims for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walked off the set in the middle of his appearance. [Thereby raising the quality of the show exponentially.]

Williams responded: “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.”


Is that out of line?   It certainly isn’t out of step with what a lot of normal people think.  Is that the problem?  NPR is out of step with what normal people think?

Mennonites, by the way, also dress in distinctive garb because of religious tenets.  So far Mennonites haven’t done much to make us wonder if they are going to try to blow up the airplane.  I could say the same about Hasidim and Buddhist monks, whom I have also seen on airplanes.  Since it is a little harder to identify members of the sect called the LCWR – unless you can spot their lapel pin and get a look at their shoes – we probably won’t worry about them being on our airplanes.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Jordanes says:

    So NPR fired him simply for being honest. Looks like the folks at NPR are suffering from Islamophobia.

  2. torch621 says:


    I think you mean “Islamophilia”.

  3. pberginjr says:

    As I’ve heard several commentators say recently (around the time of the Qu’ran burning “controversy”), having actual Moslems speak out defensively against the bigotry rather than the tolerance/multiculturalist/p.c. focused left would go a long way toward easing my worries. Since they don’t defend themselves, why should I think that they disagree with the allegations?

  4. Frank H says:

    I was planning to renew my membership in my local NPR station, but just sent them a note that, in the wake of Williams’ firing, I would not renew. (I think my money is better spent on our local Catholic radio station anyway.)

  5. digdigby says:

    He should be fired. It was an ignorant and insensitive comment. Do you think Muslim terrorists are stupid enough to dress like obvious Muslims on a real attack? It shows he does not think much of their intelligence. They dress that way only for ‘dry runs’ and extortion attempts.

  6. Jordanes says:

    No, torch, it looks more like NPR has an irrational fear of how Muslims might react to one of their employees publicly and honestly expressing how Islamic terrorism has conditioned his response when he sees Muslims on a plane.

    Digdigby, you’ve misapprehended and misrepresented Williams’ comment. There can be no just grounds for termination for saying what Williams said.

  7. EXCHIEF says:

    Those on the left who lecture the rest of us endlessly on the need for “tolerance” are the least tolerant of all. Those on the left who demand to exercise their “first ammendment rights” no matter how filthy and vile their comments will only support another’s first ammendment rights if comments conform to their little red book. Hurray for Juan.

  8. Gail F says:

    I wrote to the ombudsman. He/she should quit over what is blatant example of political correctness. digdigby is wrong, it was not an insensitive comment, at least not one that rises to the level of a firing offense. It was the sort of remark all journalists make these days. They insert their private opinions into everything. I think they should go back to staying unaffiliated with political parties or causes, but those days are LONG gone. (My father was a journalist, and he was a registered independent simply because he thought even belonging formally to a political party was too much affiliation — he thought reporters had to be completely objective in public and report only the facts on what was happening. That meant in our home state he could not vote in primary elections, but he thought it was worth that sacrifice.)

    I don’t like Bill O’Reilly and have never seen his show, [Let’s just read that again… “and have never seen his show…”… and now go on…] but I’ll go out on a limb here and say he’s right — Muslims are directly responsible for 9/11. And you can quote me on that. How in the world do people think we can solve a problem if we ignore it? The liberal take on this is that everyone really wants to get along, and will get along if they all get a good education and are treated nicely. But you know what? That’s just NOT TRUE.

  9. TJerome says:

    I hope when the Republicans take control of the House they cut off all funding for NPR. I think it’s dumb anyway for taxpayers (particularly non-liberals) to be supporting a “views organ” that denigrates 80% of the American people.

  10. S Petersen says:

    Poor Juan: A liberal stalking horse on Fox and a beady-eyed race baiter on NPR–he just can’t win. I’ve never felt any sympathy for him until now. Perhaps this is grace for him.

  11. TNCath says:

    I think digdigby raises a good point. Those responsible for the September 11 attacks wore unremarkable clothing: dark pants and button down shirts. Nonetheless, I certainly understand where Juan Williams is coming from. Back in March 20003 coming back from Rome just before the first surge on Afghanistan, on a layover waiting to catch my plane back to the States, an individual was paged as transferring from Tehran to my flight to the U.S. Just hearing that was a bit disconcerting, especially when I caught sight of him on the plane in a white button down shirt and dark pants.

    As to identifying members of the LCWR, while I won’t necessarily worry about their being on airplanes, they are nonetheless a scary lot.

  12. TNCath says:

    CORRECTION: Back in March 20003 coming back from Rome just before the first surge on IRAQ…”
    Mea culpa.

  13. Tina in Ashburn says:

    So Juan’s point that murderous terrorists make us afraid of anyone who might look like a terrorist is grounds for being fired?

    NPR represents the kind of liberal who resents logic. He’s better off outta there.

  14. chironomo says:

    Gail F said…

    “How in the world do people think we can solve a problem if we ignore it?”

    Strangely enough, that is precisely what Juan Williams said just prior to the comment that got him fired. His complete statement was actually about political correctness. His take on it was that political correctness eventually leads to a situation in which we ignore reality and thereby cannot address the problem. It may have been his take on political correctness and the Left that got him fired as well. Few institutions display Political Correctness quite like NPR….

  15. chironomo says:

    …. but I am guessing that Juan will be picked up on a more full-time basis by FOX News Channel.

    [Perhaps Fox should give Sean Hannity’s time slot to Williams.]

  16. pfreddys says:

    Just in case if anyone is unaware of the recent refreshingly clear remarks by the German Chancellor:

    NPR would have fired her too.

  17. Is it just me? But I thought digby was engaging in some cynical humor.
    and TNCath…sorry but I had to laugh! you corrected the country, but repeated the year 20003. lol

    I just heard this morning about Juan Williams. I am very sorry for him-that he lost his job–I mean he must have wanted it, he worked for them. But in thinking about it, I can see where NPR may have been waiting for what they deemed a “slip up” worthy of firing him. I imagine they felt he spent way too much time on FOX, and not exactly as a strong voice of their side! I guess cranky old Bob Beckel and Alan Colmes will have to carry the torch all by themselves, cause Juan is seeing the light :) I love to watch Bill O’Reilly, and have nothing for admiration for anyone willing to talk to him. The prospect would scare me to death. But I like Juan, and hope he gets tons of better offers now.

  18. Henry Edwards says:

    Why is it that the lefties are so knee-jerkingly sympathetic with Muslims? Whom they otherwise would condemn reflexively and utterly because of the barbarism of Sharia law and its treatment of women.

    Is there a plausible reason other than the hypothesis that they hate Christianity so much more? So much that any enemy of Christians is a friend of theirs?

  19. TJerome says:

    there is no one more il-liberal than a liberal. NPR just confirmed that old axiom

  20. Why is it that Jessie Jackson can say, “If I’m walking down a dark street and look back and see a white man then I breathe a sigh of relief,” and no one on the left bats an eye? If I, as a white woman, said that then I would be crucified.

    This political correctness has so run amok that even a liberal black guy can’t tell the truth, that it is obviously dangerous to share a flight with (or stand under the flight path of) Muslims.

  21. chcrix says:

    Well I suppose I’ll raise some hackles here.

    1. The fireing is unjustified on the face of it. Of course many others have faced similar situations and been fired or forced to resign. For the permanently offended classes (and I don’t just mean moslems) – grow some thicker skin.

    2. “the U.S. is facing a dilemma with Muslims. [It is, isn’t it?]”
    Yes but it is one of the government’s own making. Unending wars against moslem states, unending occupations, unlimited support for Israel. As I have said before, the last time a mid-east moslem in the street had anything to thank Uncle Sugar about was in 1956 when Ike called the Brits, French, and Israelis to order. Our government recruits for the terrorists by its policies.

    3. “having actual Moslems speak out defensively against the bigotry rather than the tolerance/multiculturalist/p.c. focused left would go a long way toward easing my worries.”
    Two thoughts. First, maybe Moslems aren’t hypersensetive wimps. Second, maybe their voices aren’t heard – i.e. they don’t have access to the media.

    4. “Do you think Muslim terrorists are stupid enough to dress like obvious Muslims on a real attack?” A very cogent point.

    5. “Why is it that the lefties are so knee-jerkingly sympathetic with Muslims? ”
    First, to use multi-culturalism as a lever against the fading remnants of Christianity that still exist in the culture. Second, because knee-jerk conservatives can be counted on to rise to the bait as supporters of our insane foreign policy. Groupthink cuts across the spectrum. Look at how many of Mr. Obama’s supporters still cling to him even though he has clearly shown himself to be a political hack straight from the Chicago machine.

  22. Supertradmum says:

    Clothes are a problem. When I lived abroad, I dressed like those in the culture. Why do we not ask immigrants to “assimilate”? A man commented in England that the burqa was a left-over from desert days, to ward away sand storms from the eyes, and he has received death threats. Julian was honest in his comments and we should be very concerned about giving in to sharia law.

    Secondly, NPR has been openly anti-Catholic since the 1990s. I finally gave up writing to them about such venom and anti-historical representations, when one of the administrators told me that NPR (and as I found out PBS) were not responsible for the content of their programs, and that I would have to write to the individual authors, etc. .

    I have been trying to encourage educated Catholics in not supporting both the radio and television groups for years. Why can we not have opinions about a religion which is not only hateful openly to Christians of all denominations, but blatantly does not share in our democratic values? I suggest a daily reading of JihadWatch. One does not have to be hateful to be reasonably critical.

  23. Supertradmum says:


    3. “having actual Moslems speak out defensively against the bigotry rather than the tolerance/multiculturalist/p.c. focused left would go a long way toward easing my worries.”
    Two thoughts. First, maybe Moslems aren’t hypersensetive wimps. Second, maybe their voices aren’t heard – i.e. they don’t have access to the media.

    Muslims have huge media webs themselves, including newspapers, television networks, etc., which are watched globally. Their voices are getting stronger in denying simple rights, such as the recent forces removal in England of an exhaust fan into a neighborhood, because the smell of bacon bothered the local Muslims. The woman who has run the shop for years is married to a Muslim, who doesn’t mind, but the militants got their way.
    Also, the media does not purposefully cover the ancient nastiness towards women, which happens daily in the Muslim world, and is creeping into Western culture. This is because of liberal ideas of allowing sharia law. Muslims are not hyper-sensitive wimps. They just want to take over the Western World and change it into a Muslim theocracy under sharia law.
    I do not know if you are a female or male, but I want every male American to wake up to the horrible injustices to women under all Islamic rule. These injustices are part of the religion, and even today, in England, a man can beat his wife for not having sex, if she does not feel like it, because of the sharia law courts in London. This is not hate-mongering or fear, but reality. Islamism does not respect women, period, nor does it respect the rights of individuals as we do in our Western culture. If I have a shop, or if I am a women, do I not have a right to an extractor fan or not wearing a burqa? Julian’s concerns should be all of our concerns.

  24. pberginjr says:

    Henry Edwards –
    Don’t forget the treatment of homosexuals (although I suppose that is covered by Sharia law)

  25. MLivingston says:

    Who’s Julian?

  26. teomatteo says:

    The comment by Juan Williams on Fox re the fear he admits to when flying reminds me of something Jesse Jackson said some years ago. I think, if my memory serves that Jackson said(paraphrasing) its pretty bad when you fear you are being followed by a couple of guys on the street and then feel relief when you turn and see that they are white guys. He may have explained it better at a later date but it was kinda like Williams’ observation. We can all understand this fear. It is not based on hate, it is based on memories, the desire to understand evil and ….. fear.

  27. digdigby says:

    I WAS being facetious but TNCath is obviously a very sweet and honest soul (if a little ‘irony

  28. Fr. Basil says:

    Williams was clearly NOT talking about mahometans, but about his own feelings.

    Shortly after 911 I was walking down the street in a white cassock wearing my pectoral cross, and a driver yelled, “TERRORIST!” at me.

  29. priests wife says:

    Just wait until we have no-go zones here in the US- there are places in Parish and London where police don’t go- sharia law is in effect. Will liberals here like that?

  30. digdigby says:

    Dear priests wife –
    We have large ‘no go’ zones throughout the U.S. They are African American.

  31. Gail F says:

    Fr. Z: I have never seen Bill O’Reilly’s show because I don’t have cable television — the same reason I have never seen Glenn Beck’s television show, anyone on Fox News, Keith Oldham, anyone on MSNBC, CNN etc. From what I can tell, I’m not missing much. But I have seen Bill O’Reilly a few times, various places, and I don’t care for him. That’s the reason I made the commend “I don’t like Bill O’Reilly and have never seen his show.”

  32. Peggy R says:

    Mara Liasson had better beware. I recall reading last year that NPR wasn’t pleased with her statements on FOX. They’re just looking for an excuse. Rush is claiming that Soros just gave NPR money. Not sure how Soros does that…

  33. Dave N. says:

    I agree with those who say that it’s not so much what Juan said on Fox News, it’s really that he’s so closely associated with Fox News–and the “slip up” is just an excuse. Frankly, I think Mara Liasson contributes a great deal more to discussions at Fox than Juan has ever done–so I’m not sad to see him go. I’m sure he won’t suffer too badly on unemployment.

  34. Digby–I knew it! My sarcas-o-meter is still working! whew. That said, I believe you are right that TNCath is a sweet person.

    And Dave N.–I did hear someone mention on the radio today that there was more to Juan’s firing than just the comment. I know he probably will not suffer from this, and yes, we will see him all over FOX, but I still like the guy, and I was assuming he liked working for NPR.

    The only thing I like on NPR is Car Guys. Am I a traitor?

  35. TomB says:

    Soros just recently (yesterday?) donated $1.8m to NPR. Does anyone seriously think there were no conditions attached?

  36. greg the beachcomber says:

    Just out of curiosity, Father Z., do you see many Mennonites on airplanes? ;)

    There’s a part of Williams’ comments that bothers me, and I think it should bother other Catholics, too:

    and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried.

    What, exactly, should Muslims identify themselves as first and foremost? Americans? Brits? Canadians? Should Catholics identify themselves first as Americans, and then as Catholics?

    This idea that religion should come after one’s nationality is absurd. The answer, of course, is that Muslims should identify themselves first and foremost as Catholics, but that runs afoul of two sacred cows: freedom of religion and modern ecumenism.

  37. Fr_Sotelo says:

    When I moved to this parish four years ago, no cable company would service the rectory and I didn’t feel like getting Dish, or DirectTV, so I have been without cable. However, when I did have cable in previous assignments, the O’Reilly Factor was one of my favorite shows.

    Maybe he has changed in the last four years, but I watched hundreds of his shows, and I never found him to be the evil right-winger he is made out to be. Yes, he has an Irish temper and can get testy with his guests, but he is never crude or ill-mannered. He often credited the nuns and his Catholic education, and dwells on many topics which touch on patriotism and the volunteer spirit to your local community.

    When O’Reilly did get very critical with the Pope and the Catholic bishops was during the abuse crisis, and it was for the same stuff that we were all angered about. He goes out of his way to voice disagreement with clergy of different faiths when he feels their actions are not noble or virtuous, while being respectful of faith and belief.

    He has gone mano to mano with Bill Maher and other atheists and staunchly considers faith as essential to the public debates, public life, and a decent democracy. What I find most admirable is that during debates about social programs, he is a conservative about the government role but reveals a Catholic concern for the widow, the orphan, and the downtrodden. Anyway, this is totally off topic, but I just wanted to give my apologia in defense of a man whom I consider to be a great credit to the Irish heritage, the Catholic faith, and the American cause.

  38. Supertradmum says:

    sorry, I wrote Julian above, not Juan, as I was running to class….

    As to greg the beachcomber’s comment about religion before nationality-that is fine for a real, true religion, such as Catholicism, the Orthodox Churches, or Judaism. All other religions are man-made and as such, have no credibility, but only snatches of truth,mixed in with much confusion and heresy, not to mention lies. See Dominus Iesus

    We must make distinctions, which is what Mr. Williams was doing to his credit.

  39. TJerome says:

    Bill O’Reilly can be a bit abrasive at times, but I prefer him to left-wing loons like Joy Behar, Whoopie Oddberg, Barbara Wa Wa, and other assorted nuts on left-wing loon, anti-Catholic and anti-American TV. Juan Williams was fired by the very people whose heads would be cut off if the radical type Muslims took over.

  40. greg the beachcomber says:

    Supertradmum: I agree with you about true religion, but my point was why are we surprised when someone identifies themselves first by their religion, when as Catholics we should do the same thing.

    Aren’t you implying that those in error should somehow know they’re in error and not be so presumptuous as to behave as if they believe the truth? Conversely, wouldn’t it be nice if those of us who identify ourselves as Catholics (and I mean everyone, not anyone in particular) demonstrated our Faith as openly and confidently as most Muslims?

    And thanks for the link to Dominus Iesus, but I wasn’t referring to the Catholic approach to freedom of religion, but the American approach to freedom of (or from) religion as a God-given right. I should’ve been clearer, sorry.

  41. Nicely put, Fr_Sotelo. I couldn’t agree more. And Tom B. you were right about Soros. O’Reilly stated on his show last night that he has “got Juan’s back” and is not going to let the matter go.

  42. DHippolito says:

    but the American approach to freedom of (or from) religion as a God-given right.

    Greg the beachcomber, I call your attention to the following:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

    “Liberty,” according to the Founders, meant freedom of individual conscience against the unreasonable prerogatives of the State. That means that the State does not have the right to force adherence to a particular, established religion, or to any religion. Yes, the “progressives” are misusing the idea to silence in the public square any religious discussion that doesn’t imitate their “tolerant,” “multicultural” values. But ask yourself why so many people …especially from Europe, which embraced the idea of the “established” church…come to this nation?

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