A reader writes:
As an Arab (Canadian), I completely disagree with this nomination. Even I get nervous when I see someone on a plane decked out in full Islamic garb. Getting “nervous” is not bigotry. It’s a reaction that’s not really within our power to control. Being able to understand the reasons for one’s nervousness and to work past them, rather than indulge in them is what determines if one is a bigot. It might not be PC, but I think a lot of people would feel the same way.
But Juan could control what he said on national television. And he said he was nervous about people who "are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims" because they wear traditional garb. To deem someone displaying their religious faith a potential terrorist is a generalization about a religious faith with no factual basis. No Jihadist terrorist who has attacked us has worn such garb (one was actually in US military uniform), so it's simply an irrational association of the more devout of an entire religion with mass murder. That's why he was fired. Another writes:
I agree that Juan Williams is off base, but I'm not sure how I feel about your thug analogy.
There is a difference between being nervous around someone dressed as a thug, versus a person dressed as a Muslim. Muslims are not inherently bad. But isn't a "thug", by definition, someone who is going to hurt another person? I don't feel like it's bigotry to be afraid of someone who is dressed to resemble a violent enforcer for the criminal element, even if they do happen to be of a different race. This, of course, assumes you can precisely and universally define a "thug" getup, and that it differs from the normal dress of a plurality of non-criminals.
I'm thinking of "thug" as a fashion statement, that extends way into the middle class and non-violent under-class. But it wasn't the clearest analogy, I concede. Another:
"Bill, I'm not an anti-semite. You know how much I enjoy bagels and Seinfeld. But when I walk onto a plane and see a guy wearing a yarmulke, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Jews, I get worried. I get nervous. I mean, these guys run the media - even NPR. They're very powerful."