Political commentator and television pundit Juan Williams is once again in hot water for saying a certain ethnic group makes him nervous. Williams, an African-American, was fired from NPR last year for saying on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program that he gets nervous when flying with people who are in “Muslim garb.”
Now, however, Williams is again stoking controversy with some more shocking statements, and his comments are strikingly similar to the ones that got him in trouble before.
As guest host of Bill O’Reilly’s program last week while O’Reilly was out, Williams got into an argument with guest Caroline Helmand, a professor at Occidental College, about whether his previous comments about Muslims were acceptable. Here’s the exchange:
Helmand: "I happen to agree with [NPR CEO Vivian] Schiller that your comments were bigoted. I think that if I were to say that I clutch my purse every time I walk by a Black man that [it] might resonate with a lot of Americans. It might be the truth, but it's a bigoted statement. I certainly wouldn't have fired you, but I do think there was some truth in that video that we don't get to talk about because we are afraid to have actual discourse in this country."
Williams: "I can't believe that you just said that. You think that simply saying what you think is evidence of bigotry—that all of a sudden, it's as if you were walking by a Black man that would mean … you were bigoted if you were somewhat nervous. Let me just tell you, with the amount of Black-on-Black crime in America, I get nervous and I'm a Black man. So, I mean, wait a second..."
Helmand: "There we go again, Juan. I would find that to be racial profiling—that's a bigoted comment."
Williams: "That's a bigoted comment?"
Helmand: "Yes it is. Just like your comment about Muslims."
Williams: "I'm the father of Black young men, and I'm saying that if you saw a couple guys walking around looking like thugs down the street late at night, you're saying, 'Oh, I'm not going to think it through.' Caroline, I think you are way off-base."
Now, when Williams made his comments about Muslims, NPR executives said the comments were “inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR” and let him go.
Upon his termination, Williams was almost immediately picked up by Fox News, who offered him a $2 million contract. In the days since, Williams has offered left-of-center punditry to the station, but he’s also served as sort of a feather in Fox’s cap, a glaring slap in the face to a newly troubled NPR. And because he’s on Fox News, Williams, of course, has not been reprimanded for these latest comments the way he was at NPR.
If this is the tack he’s going to take at Fox, one wonders what lies in store for Williams in the years to come.
(Photo by FoxNews.com)