I'm not sure that Juan Williams deserves to be fired for what he said to Bill O'Reilly. Williams slurred Muslims, I guess, but only by revealing his own sissiness and stupidity.
With unbecoming unctuousness, Williams confessed to the Fox audience that folks in Muslim garb frighten him. He gets points for candor, if not courage. (Man up, Juan!)
After nine years of war against Muslim terrorists, and unrelenting media coverage of the jihadists, it is surprising (and speaks well for the United States and Presidents Bush and Obama) that there are not more Americans out there who share Williams's fears--just as there are still cab drivers who won't pick him up at night, and silly white tourists who shirk when he passes them on the sidewalk in Washington, and bigoted cops who will pull him over for DWB--Driving While Black.
Those ethnic and racial stereotypes are pretty durable. I get a considerable kick out of the persisting portrayal of the Irish as sentimental drunks, lazy chiselers, or IRA terrorists. It's one reason I like watching a Cork man play Henry VIII on The Tudors. Old Queen Bess must be rolling in her tomb.
I suppose the folks at NPR have a right to insist that their commentators show intellectual rigor, especially now, when "Dumb is Good" and "Smart is Bad" are our regnant values, and outrageousness a commercial asset. NPR is a class act. But in the long list of gaffes and slurs that have cost American politicians or celebrities their livelihoods, I'm not sure that Williams's statements rank very high. They could have been remedied by an apology. The one he really hurt was himself. I feel embarrassed for him, to tell you the truth.