|Bigotry is doing exactly that, assuming that there is a monolithic set of actions or attribute to a large group of people. It does not matter if the set is wrapped around sexuality or religion or ethnicity, if you assume that all of group X does action Y because one or some of them does action Y then you are bigoted in your opinion.
No one likes to be called a bigot. Former NPR news analyst Juan Williams certainly does not want to be called on. He even prefaced the statements that got him bounced from NPR with "I am not a bigot, but".
Here is the thing, any time you start a sentence with "I am not a bigot, but" then you are about to prove you are indeed a bigot. It is the same as when people complain by saying "I don't want to complain, but". It is a social convention of cowardice, where the person saying it wants to be able to get away with a bigoted statement without having to own the bigotry.
Mr. Williams said that he feels nervous when he sees people in traditional Muslim garb on an air plane. It is not uncommon to feel nervous if you see someone in clothes that you don't recognize, a kid dressed in all in Raiders gear with his hood pulled up can be menacing for a second. However to assume that all people with hoods and Raiders gear are somehow a threat is downright silly.
The statement was bad enough but the real problem with this is it is code. The 9/11 hijackers were not dressed in traditional garb, they were dressed in everyday clothes for the U.S. So this "Muslim garb" becomes code for people who look like they might be from the Middle East. It is bigotry based solely on appearance.
This is what the Fox personalities and the Right Wing Politicians are defending, the right to voice your bigotry without having to own it. Mr. Williams is welcome to be a bigot (though it is unfortunate that we have to deal with this in the 21st century) but he is not allowed to escape the consequences.
NPR was probably looking for a reason to get rid of this tiresome and troublesome analyst. He had been making Fox News look more credible by trading on NPR's reputation for a long time. But, as with most bigots, the action that gave NPR clear cause was all his own. He was the one that made it clear he was going to judge all Muslims by the actions of a few murderous twerps. Even to this point he has not retracted his bigotry or apologized for it. He instead says he was misinterpreted, the last refuge of bigots everywhere.
It is hard to understand how saying that what someone wears makes you question their loyalty to this country can be misinterpreted. When it is connected to religion it is impossible to see it as anything other than rank bigotry.
Still, it is not all bad for Mr. Williams; he has signed a multimillion dollar contract with Fox News, which has been clearly willing to support the spouting of bigotry, especially against Muslims for a long time. That Fox and Williams have the right to their bigotry is uncontestable. It is hoped that more and more people will start to realize that any so-called news network that allows this kind of speech, hell, even encourages it is in no way credible nor should be given any voice in discussions of policy in a nation that strives for diversity and plurality as an ideal which makes it stronger.
It becomes more clear all the time that Fox News is pandering to silent bigots among us. My parents thought that they could be part of the last generation that would have to have outright bigotry as a problem. They worked to raise children that would judge people on their individual actions and not the myths that are created when one group is considered "other". They were idealists clearly, and they were not a big enough majority to make that ideal a reality.
It falls to my generation and the ones behind me to keep working to see a day when the race and religion baiting that is so prevalent on the Right is no longer acceptable, even in the privacy of ones home. We seem to be sliding backward on this, but you never get to pick the challenges that face your generation, you can only pick the way you respond to them. In the case of the Bigotry Shuffle being played out on Fox, I intend to call it what it is.
The floor is yours.