Obviously, NPR is within its rights to do so, being a private organization. (Well, sort of. Doesn't NPR receive government funding? The government certainly twists the arms of other organizations that act in ways it doesn't like if they receive funding.) But there is a difference between having a right to do something and something being the right thing to do. You might imagine, from the fact of his termination, that Williams must have said some truly awful things about Muslims. Here's what he said:
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.
Many Americans share these views. Any why wouldn't they? Muslims are responsible for most plane hijackings around the world, and four particular ones nine years ago that you might remember. Williams isn't making a policy proposal, for crying out loud. He's airing his personal fears. Surely NPR wouldn't fire someone for giving a personal, mainstream opinion. Maybe it was this (which O'Reilly said, but Williams agreed with):
The cold truth is that in the world today jihad, aided and abetted by some Muslim nations, is the biggest threat on the planet.
That's controversial, surely. You could easily disagree with it. But is it a firing offense?
It's a shame that NPR felt the need to take such an extraordinary step about such ordinary statements.
Here's video of Juan Williams' side of things:
If Williams said something bigoted here, we should remember this the next time a person of color admits to experiencing a frisson of fear upon seeing a white policeman. Apparently, such an admission can get you fired from NPR.