Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.
DiversityInc readers responded to a controversial topic: Juan Williams was fired from his job as an NPR news analyst after he made a remark about Muslims. Is he a bigot or was he just being honest? The White Guy responded here. NPR has apologized for the way it handled the situation, although it says the decision was the right one.
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Read these edited comments from DiversityInc readers on the subject:
Comment: Luke, kudos to you for pointing out how Vivian Schiller’s rationale for firing Mr. Williams doesn’t hold any water. I listen to NPR daily (I have since college) and am also a frequent FOX News viewer and have enjoyed Mr. Williams on both stations for many years. While I disagree with Juan on many issues (I am a libertarian/conservative) I have always respected both his deeply held convictions and his civility toward those who do not share his beliefs. If more people on both the right and the left exhibited Juan’s willingness to have a respectful and productive dialogue with those on the other side rather than resorting to partisan demagoguery, we would probably be able to accomplish much more as a nation. Nor do I think Juan Williams is a bigot. He was expressing what he recognized as his own prejudices. Very similar to Jesse Jackson saying that it is painful for him to “walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” Without a frank, open and honest discussion of these types of prejudices and what causes them, they fester. Nine years after 9/11 amid escalating tensions surrounding Islam in America (the mosque near ground zero, the FL pastor who threatened to burn the Quran, etc.) we are overdue to have this dialogue as a nation. Ignoring something does not make it go away.
Comment: I never watch FOX and it surprised me to see Juan Williams in there. I understand where Williams was coming from. Flying back from Europe I saw a very large group traveling to Mecca for the Hajj and I mentally was relieved they weren’t on my flight. I made the automatic association of Muslim garb and suicide bombers.
Comment: The media does have a responsibility to maintain objectivity. When human nature or politics takes individual reporters away from that standard, it is to our collective disadvantage. The further the media removes itself from objectivity, the more disadvantaged we become as a society. We lose our ability to make informed judgments and instead swing from hyperbole to hysteria at the whim of whatever network we watch. When one watches ideologues like Limbaugh or even Jon Stewart, we must expect that objectivity is sacrificed at the expense of ratings and entertainment, but it is to our shame that we don’t demand more objectivity from our mainstream press. Williams’ comment was a reflection of his feelings. And, his feelings show his prejudice. Why should anyone be upset simply because someone chooses to honor a religious custom in their dress? What if he’d said he gets nervous if someone is wearing a yarmulke or bindi? His remark is only seen as tolerable because it plays into the mass hysteria and orchestrated distrust of Muslims. To tolerate it is to condone the message that Muslim dress alone is sufficient cause to distrust an individual, and that prejudice is acceptable—as long as it’s the way you feel.
Comment: It was a racist remark. You can sugar coat it all you want, it was a racist remark. He was condemning an entire race for the actions of a few. Just like it is done against Blacks, Hispanics and Asians. We’re in the 21st century technology wise, but many people’s minds are still stuck and concreted in the racist days of the 17th–20th century. Sad, because as long as this continues, America will continue to be a backwards nation. It’s too bad that with all the technology that we have, we still can’t get rid of racism and bigotry.
Comment: He is a bigot. I can’t believe a person of color would talk that way. Clearly it’s all about the money. Hate seems to be the cool thing now. No-bullying policies that we as a society want should apply to all its citizens. Any news network that supports a particular candidate or speaks hate speech on air should be given a monetary fine. I applaud for NPR having standards which very few news agencies have. All civil society should be on the same page … no bullying … no hate speech … it has to stop … it is destroying the core of our American values.