Ellison: Juan Williams “dishonored his legacy” with remark about Muslims


Rep. Keith Ellison weighed in late last week on the controversy surrounding the firing of National Public Radio’s Juan Williams after he told Fox’s Bill O’Reilly that he gets “worried” and “nervous” when he sees people in Muslim garb get on an airplane. Williams dishonored his own legacy, especially his work on the “Eyes on the Prize” documentary on the civil rights era, Ellison said, calling Williams’ remarks “ugly” and “bigoted.” 

On The O’Reilly Factor last Monday, Williams said, “Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. 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. I get nervous.”

NPR terminated Williams contract, stating that his remarks on O’Reilly’s show were “inconsistent with [NPR’s] editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.”

“Sadly, Juan Williams has taken a bat to all the work he did around civil rights,” Ellison said, discussing the topic on MSNBC’s The Ed Show. “I feel like taking all that stuff off my shelf and putting it in the garbage, because I just really feel he has dishonored his legacy to that extent.”

“The people who got on that airline on 9/11, they made sure they didn’t have any so-called ‘Muslim garb’  — whatever that is,” he said. “They made sure they were as mainstream-looking as they possibly could, because they were trying to harm our country.”

Ellison added, “The people who are just practicing their faith or their culture, more likely, these people aren’t any danger to our country. These folks are just minding their own business.”

“I think it’s un-American what Juan Williams said.”

Ellison said Williams should apologize “profusely” to Americans. Williams was given a $2 million, three-year contract to host The O’Reilly Factor within 24 hours of his firing from NPR.