And I know, you're thinking, "Who the hell cares" but I've seen a lot of arguments about this both pro and con but I'm not seeing people making the points that I think need to be made.
1) People are arguing that Williams expressed a personal opinion and he should have a right to that personal opinion.
My answer: Yes, Williams was expressing a personal opinion. BUT he is a news analyst and commentator for a living AND he was giving his opinion on a nationally broadcast TV show that appears on a channel which offers news and news opinion based shows. In fact, the show he was appearing on is a news opinion based show. Williams is no babe in the woods, he should have known better. A show like that and a venue like that is NOT the place where you state your personal opinion. He is free to state those opinions privately to family and friends but he was in front of the TV camera in a position where he was being treated as a news expert. In other words, he stated his personal opinion while on the job.
2) Williams expressed fear of people on planes dressed as Muslims because they were "putting their religion first".
My Response: Oh, so should we be afraid of nuns? Because they dress according to their religion. Does that mean they are placing their religion first? Well, yes, in a way I suppose it does, but at the same time it doesn't make them any less American. Or how about someone Amish? Should we be afraid of the Amish? They dress according to their religion.
Again, it was a stupid, brainless thing to say. And nuns and priests and others who dress according to their religion were the FIRST things to pop into my head when Williams said this. I'm not Rhodes Scholar, I'm not brilliant. If *I* can see the flaw in his words HE sure as heck should have been able to.
So, in closing, no, I don't think NPR necessarily did the wrong thing in firing him. And even if it were, perhaps, an overreaction to the situation, Williams certainly had SOME form of rebuke coming to him. This isn't something he has any right to get away scott free on simply because he was stating an opinion or simply because he tried to weasel out of it by saying he wasn't bigoted and he didn't blame all Muslims for the actions of the 9-11 bombers.
If he feels a bit of fear getting on a plane with someone dressed in Muslim or Middle Eastern garb then that is HIS problem and one that HE needs to work on. He needs to come to grips with his fears and be rational about them... rather than trying to rationalize them.
There, now that's off my chest