I did not agree with the comments about Muslims made Monday night on Fox News Channel by NPR commentator Juan Williams. But did Williams deserve to be fired? I don’t think so. A sensitivity training course, a suspension or a strongly worded email might be in order, but I think it’s more than ironic that a man paid to give his opinion was fired for doing just that.
Here’s five reasons why National Public Radio was wrong to fire this father of two:
1. He offers a very different perspective from NPR’s stable of left-leaning commentators (and I’m left-leaning myself).
2. He was not representing NPR when he made his “O’Reilly Factor” appearance. In fact, NPR had forbidden him to use that identifier last year – but only when speaking on Fox News.
3. NPR’s beef seems to be more with Fox News than Williams, who had been employed at NPR for 13 years.
4. His comments were not worth firing for. Were they bothersome? Yes. Insulting? Yes. Ignorant? Probably. But all he expressed was his own fear of “people dressed in Muslim garb” when he gets on a plane. He did not call for a counter-jihad or promote general fear-mongering.
5. It’s a bad example to kids. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? People will say dumb things – but they always have the right to do that.