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The Juan Williams controversy
By Dave Winer on Friday, October 22, 2010 at 9:18 AM.

Here's what happened. permalink

Juan Williams was a longtime analyst for NPR. I always thought he was pretty liberal, but then also shows up on Fox News. When he's on Fox, it's as if he's a different person. Very odd. permalink

He said something on Fox that caused NPR to fire him. permalink

What he said is this. When he sees someone dressed in Muslim clothes (whatever that means) on an airplane, he is scared.  permalink

Is this a bad thing that 1. He has this fear. 2. He expressed it in public. 3. At the same time as #1 and #2 he is an analyst for NPR. permalink

It seems that this is more than a faceoff between left and right, which is how it is being portrayed, predictably, in discourse on radio and TV.  permalink

In the blogging world there is a rough consensus (heh) that it's better to know where someone is coming from, than pretend that they're expressing an impossible "view from nowhere." (Aside to Jay, this is one of the recurring themes on RBTN.) permalink

A picture named lysol.gifNPR says there's nothing wrong with fear, but Williams should talk with his shrink about it, not air his fears in public. They rightly believe his point of view is unfair to Muslims, who are doing nothing wrong by wearing religious clothes when traveling. To see their point, imagine someone said the same thing about Catholics. Would we seriously suggest openly and publicly that a priest should not wear his religious clothes when traveling? Even if it does scare some people (no doubt it does). permalink

It's obvious there are at least two valid points of view on even this issue! permalink

My own opinion: I prefer if people express fears publicly, because this gives them a chance to be discussed. The attitudes exist, no arguing with that. As they say sunlight is the best disinfectant. The harm is in pushing it aside, not in discussing it.  permalink

Regardless, a discussion could not be avoided, once the words were uttered in public on Fox. permalink

Update: Wouldn't it be cool if NPR issued a mea culpa. Apologized to its listeners and to Mr. Williams and invited him to come back. It would be absolutely unprecedented, but also very very appropriate to the times we live in and the future we will live in. permalink

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