While a Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), was instrumental in getting National Public Radio (NPR) to fire Juan Williams, some Muslims are speaking out against succumbing to the censorship of political correctness.
Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, took issue with those who wrap themselves in feel-good sensitivity, while denying the fact that the majority of terrorists are Muslim.
Indeed, the threat is real enough even for Fatah, a liberal Muslim, who looks at women in burkas with skepticism. “I am scared when I see women in burkas, how do I know what is behind that?” Fatah said, noting that many Muslims share his concerns.
“We are victims of these guys. A number of suicide bombers who have attacked have killed people [while] wearing the burka,” Fatah said. “This is the truth, we should be speaking the truth rather than what people expect us to say. ”
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told The Daily Caller that though Williams could have been more tactful, his ouster is symptomatic of the problems Americans continue to face when discussing Islam.
“As much as the way he said it was poorly chosen, the era we find ourselves — of political correctness — we are not able to address what this fear is,” Jasser said. “Anybody that starts talking about this fear gets shut down.”
Fatah agreed, saying that he did not believe that anything Williams’ said was terrible enough to lose his job. “I think it is another expression of political correctness. I didn’t find anything that he said that he deserved to be fired,” he told TheDC.
According to Jasser, the fact that the vast majority of national security threats emanate from the Muslim world makes Williams’ fear reasonable. Without open discussion, however, those concerns will never be conquered.
“I think that ultimately what we find when many thought leaders try to talk about it, [they say] ‘well there are some common elements to those who threaten national security,’ and the only one so far they have been able to nail down is that they come from some form of Islamic theology,’” Jasser said. “And because we have not become skilled in discussing theo-political threats, you’re having a lot of these little skirmishes happening.”
Jasser stressed that he was not defending Williams’ comments, but that the need for discourse trumped compromising to hypersensitivity.
“I think it is very sad that Juan got fired. But I am not surprised because they have probably been looking for an opportunity to fire him because of all his exposure on Fox, while he is also working at NPR,” he said.
“So I think they probably exploited the opportunity. I personally don’t think what he said rises to the level of being fired,” Jasser concluded, noting that an apology would suffice
Stephen Schwartz, executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, echoed Fatah and Jasser. Schwartz told TheDC that he and his organization opposed NPR’s reaction to Williams’ comments.
“Mr. Williams is basically an opinion journalist and he offered an opinion based on an undeniable reality: American Muslims have so far failed in our duty to prevent negative perceptions among our non-Muslim neighbors, and many, unfortunately, have taken the existing concerns among non-Muslims as a challenge to assert Muslim identity more aggressively, through forms of dress as well as speech that are often extravagant and excessive,” Schwartz wrote in an e-mail to TheDC.
“Mr. Williams spoke to this reality in an understated, candid way. He did not express hatred or incite violence against Muslims. He should not have been dismissed.”