The first quotation reflects the views, I’m guessing, of the vast majority of people who fly in this country (and in Europe and Asia and other parts of the world, as well). With some regularity, Muslim men associated with radical Islamist organizations have been trying to kill American civilians, here and abroad. A group of 19 Muslim men succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in their mission nine years ago. The majority of Muslims abhor terrorism, and Muslims are the disproportionate victims of Muslim terror, but the essential truth remains that most of the world’s spectacular terrorism today — thwarted and achieved — is committed by Muslims. Juan Williams misunderstands one crucial fact: Muslim terrorists who are attempting to commit acts of terror seldom if ever dress in “Muslim garb”; they dress, for obvious tactical reasons, in a manner meant to help them blend in with surroundings. So Williams is wrong, I think, to be particularly suspicious of traditionally-dressed Muslims. But is he wrong to worry about Islamist terrorism? Of course not.
See, it’s not bigoted or impolitic or insane if Jeffrey Goldberg guesses that deep down lots of ignorant-ass necks feel the same way. Then it’s fine. Round up enough real, regular, authentic American rubes for Goldberg to mind-read and he’ll be happy to excuse all kinds of racist stuff, apparently. I never realized these things were a matter of counting butts in seats. Seriously, this is a journalist, and “everybody does it” is his argument? Who raised this guy, and why didn’t he or she smack the idea that this is a defense for anything out of his mouth the first time he used it?
The other thing I love in here is that the really awesome terrorism is the only stuff that counts. Only the stuff with really bitchin’ explosions. What kind of sociopathic featherhead writes this sentence:
The majority of Muslims abhor terrorism, and Muslims are the disproportionate victims of Muslim terror, but the essential truth remains that most of the world’s spectacular terrorism today — thwarted and achieved — is committed by Muslims.
Oh, the SPECTACULAR terrorism. Not the ordinary kind where you blow up a federal building, shoot up some folks in a Museum, or poison a bunch of people’s mail. The spectacular terrorism. Meaning the suicide bombings, I guess he’d say here, and not the kind of oldsauce, slow-ass, boring economic terrorism that decrees it’s fine for children to starve so billionaires can have their tax cuts. That’s not spectacular terrorism.
I don’t know how we rate these things, like if there’s a panel of Olympic judges after every defenestration, but obviously it’s the Muslims taking top marks. So their terrorism counts more. In the terrorism Olympics. Therefore you can be a prejudiced fuckwad and feel okay about it, because the math is on your side.
As far as whether it’s reasonable to worry about Islamic terrorism, actually, it kind of isn’t. It’s reasonable to think about our foreign policy in light of concerns about threats from all over the world including in Muslim countries, and it’s reasonable to be awake and alert on a plane I suppose in case you have to get your Let’s Roll on, but it’s not all that reasonable to walk around so shit-ass paranoid about Muslims in “traditional garb” that you develop a twitch. You’re more likely to die from a wolf attack. You’re certainly more likely to die in a car crash. Wrap your Toyota in bubble wrap and stock up on some tranquilizer guns, or better yet quit pouring gin on your breakfast cereal, if you want to extend your lifespan. Giving bitchface to some woman in a veil on your flight is pretty useless, as far as security goes.
My favorite part of Williams’ original comments, the part I actually thought was the worst, was this:
But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried.
Because by wearing hijab, they’re identifying first and foremost as Muslims. They’re fucking up the scenery by making their nationalistic/religious point. It’s not that they prefer to dress that way, or even that their religion instructs them to dress that way, it’s that they’re shoving their Islamicness down poor Juan Williams’ throat. They’re making a statement to him. He can’t just look at them, shrug, and be on his way. He has to engage in some mind-reading of his own and decide that their manner of dress is a sign waving above their heads that says LOOK HOW MUSLIM I AM FUCK YOU AMERICA.
I wonder if he’d take a look at the saint’s medal I wear around my neck and say I identified first and foremost as a Catholic. I wonder if he’d think I was saying my Catholicism was the most important part of my being. I wonder if he’d consider if it was a gift from a friend and that I might wear it for sentimental reasons, not religious ones. I doubt it, really. I doubt he’d notice it at all.
For the record, I think Juan Williams should have been fired years ago, because his political analysis is almost never correct and is filled with nonsense that somehow always comes back around to favoring Republicans because Democrats are so mean. Also, he’s fucking boring, and that’s by NPR’s standards. As to whether he has a right to mouth stupid, simplistic shit on Fox News about what he really thinks about Muslims, I’m sure he does, but NPR’s not under any obligation to pay him for doing it. Besides, he’s not going to miss a meal. The right wing has a program for Disgraced Former Liberal Posers all ready made. He’ll be right at home with them, so if you’ll pardon me I’ll save my outrage for fired people who didn’t make asses of themselves on TV and aren’t going to write books with the words “conscience” or “truth-teller” in the titles.