NPR has now fired news analyst Juan Williams because he spoke his mind on, "Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor."
"I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country," Williams said. "But when I get on a 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. I get nervous."
I know, Juan.
Believe me! I know.
Actually, Juan, I hate to go to the airport for this very reason. I know I make you nervous when I show up at the ticket counter in my hejab.
Mind you, days before journeying, I have carefully chosen what to wear to the airport. It's not as if I'm like other Americans who can just throw their clothes on. No! I have to think of how I'm going to get perceived or rather misperceived.
I can never wear black when I fly. I realize that freaks you out the most. You equate black with death wish. You think black means extremist rather than size-slimming chic. I have to wear happy, colorful clothes in very American styles; too ethnic means to you that I hate America.
I also have to be careful with the style of hejab I choose. Not wearing a hejab is not an options, by the way, as I see modesty as both a mandate and a protection from Allah. I was once fired for wearing a hejab, yet I still wear it and believe I am rewarded for it.
I cannot wear my big, comfy, triangle scarves. Nope! These actually would be my first choice when traveling but they, unfortunately, connotate backwards thinking to you. So, I have to wear my long scarves which I have to carefully pin and wrap and pin and wrap again.
However, any hejab means body search. Wear what you like, Juan, and walk on through. Me? I'm a danger with that fabric on my head. Other women wear many baggy layers which could conceal a multitude of sins. But me? Nope! I've got to have some woman with a security officer badge sticking her wand up under my thin, stylish, carefully chosen, colorful scarf.
Wonder where she'd stick it if I was wearning a black galabiya and niqab.
But no matter what I wear to the airport, I get stares. I know you are frightened I'm going to blow up your plane. Sorry! Remember that it's my plane too. If you were to look downward, you would see my tight grip clutching the tiny hand of my young son. I love him so much and pray for his safety every time we leave the house. Would I really endanger him? He's too little to see your stares. By the time he is old enough, I hope you will have realized that stereotyping us is wrong.
Until that time, I have to avoid many things. I have to avoid saying the name of God, "Allah" outloud as I'm traveling (even though I usually invoke it throughout my day). I absolutely cannot say Arabic names of family members and friends like Usama and Hussein. I have to avoid praying in public. I have to be careful about reading the Quran while on the plane.
Even then, my son and I have been the target of a death threat while up in the air. The white teenage boys behind us didn't feel any shame in discussing how they would shoot us. It took the head flight attendant warning them that I could demand an emergency landing and FBI removal to get them to stop.
Is it like that for you, Juan? Do you have to monitor yourself so much? Fear for your safety? Fear for the well-being of your children?
You know what's funny? You should be happy that Muslims are on your flight! Most likely, the Muslims on the plane have said a special prayer for travel; asking for God's protection on everyone---you included.
And I pray that you use your time away from NPR to reflect upon why they fired you. They were right. You were not in the public eye to add fuel to the fire. I always thought you were the voice of reason and watched current event shows which featured you because I could count on you to be sensible.
You let me down. You let Muslim-Americans down. You took the easy way out and talked about fears in your self which you have to examine and eradicate. I mean...you took years to write a book about Thurgood Marshall and the Civil Rights Movement but you failed to learn from the very words you wrote.
Yes, you are black AND you are a bigot. You can be black and yet be blind to the struggles which other Americans face.
For Muslims reading these words, please take a look at my other blog endeavor http://www.yosraben.blogspot.com/ so that you can widen your understanding to those in the LGBT community. Let's not focus our indignation on someone's ignorance and lack of compassion while forgetting to look at ourselves.
May Allah forgive all of us who judge others unfairly.