TWS contributing editor Reuel Marc Gerecht writes in the Washington Post:
Did journalist Juan Williams, who was fired Wednesday by NPR, show unacceptable insensitivity or unforgiveable stupidity when he expressed anxiety about Muslim airplane passengers during an interview with conservative TV host Bill O'Reilly? Free speech shouldn't guarantee immunity from the standards of basic decency, but Williams's comments were hardly a firing offense. We would all be better off -- Muslim Americans first and foremost -- if we could have a more open discussion about Islam, Islamic militancy and what Muslims, here and abroad, think it means to be Muslim....
I bet that every business executive, producer and talk-show host at NPR felt some rise in attentiveness after Sept. 11, 2001, when he or she spotted a Muslim waiting for a flight. That simply means that NPR employees, like almost everyone else, process information much as the counterterrorism officers at the FBI, CIA and Department of Homeland Security do; security officials worry constantly about blond, blue-eyed converts to Islam blowing up aircraft but scrutinize Scandinavian types a lot less than they do those of swarthier complexion.
Williams was wrong about the likelihood of a Muslim in traditional garb being a terrorist -- Muslims who wear Western clothing and speak English with Marxist-Islamist vocabulary are vastly more likely to be suicide bombers in the West than a devout Muslim in an abaya or thobe or Pakistani shalwar qameez. But while his manner may have been clumsy, Williams was right to suggest that there is a troubling nexus between the modern Islamic identity and the embrace of terrorism as a holy act.