You're Making a Bad Mistake, Juan WilliamsS

What a week Juan Williams has had! From mild-mannered NPR analyst and Fox News liberal stand-in to multimillionaire full-time Fox News guy, thanks to one dumb comment. Fair warning, Juan: you're about to throw away your entire career. Needlessly.

Ever heard that little tune, "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist"? It's quite true. Even you, Juan. Look, we don't think you're any more bigoted than the average person. In the circles in which you run, you're probably much less bigoted than the average person. But saying that you fear people who look like Muslims is a bigoted statement.

But, really, you don't have to let that fuck you up! Simply acknowledge what it is, apologize, and move on. You're a respected black journalist with a long track record of civil rights journalism. (Although not as respected as you were before your Fox News pundit days began). You can overcome one dumb statement. Apologize! Vow to improve your character! Move on! Instead, you wrote this:

Yesterday, NPR fired me for telling the truth. The truth is that I worry when I am getting on an airplane and see people dressed in garb that identifies them first and foremost as Muslims.

This is not a bigoted statement.

Now, let me stop you right there. That last sentence. That's where you begin to fuck up. We're not even going to go into whether NPR should have fired you, or whether they should have at least had the courtesy to do so in person (they should have). But your self-justification—fundamental human urge though it may be!—is doing you no favors.

Because, Juan, we now fear—and we wish we didn't, but we do—that you have swallowed the Fox News company line. Which is that you are a hero. A heroic martyr, sacrificed upon the altar of NPR's left-wing liberal correctness. Of course you are smarter than that, Juan, but it's surely difficult to think very clearly when your brand new friends on the right are rushing to your defense and attacking the mean people who just fired you and dumping $2 million in your lap.

But here is what is much easier to see from the outside than it is for you to see from where you're sitting, Juan: You are not a hero. You're a decent guy who said something dumb. Apologize, try to improve, and move on. More importantly, these people, these newfound supporters, Sarah Palin and Bill O'Reilly and Mike Huckabee and Pat Buchanan and Roger Ailes, are not your friends. They are using you, Juan. They are using you because of who you suddenly are: a black, moderate, journalist who was fired from NPR for saying you don't like Muslims. Those credentials are extremely valuable for Fox News, and for the right wing at large. Because they can be easily presented in a way that bolsters the myth of the "liberal media," a myth which the right wing has used to shockingly successful effect over the last two decades, to systematically erode the influence of media outlets that they don't like. Respected, earnest, good media outlets. Like NPR. Now, Juan, you are a convenient tool in their furtherance of this campaign. $2 million is cheap, for them.

If you had said that you feared white people, Juan, would you have so many new friends? No, you would not. But you fear Muslims, just like they do, and so there they are. This episode is nothing for anyone to be proud of. At the same time, it doesn't need to be the beginning of the end of your legitimate career. Of course you're angry at the people who fired you. But letting go of that resentment and moving forward will be its own great reward. Simply apologize, go get a new job with a real media outlet that is not a propaganda arm of the Republican Party, and this will all soon be forgotten. Once you climb aboard Fox New for good, Juan, all of the respect that you've earned in your long career will immediately begin to disappear, until it is all gone, and you are just one more empty talking suit on the shameful, dishonest panorama of American cable news. You can do better.

[Photo: Getty]