The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Wednesday compared NPR’s firing of Juan Williams to the Agriculture Department’s firing of Shirley Sherrod.

“NPR was wrong because they did not afford him freedom of speech,” Jackson said. “They did it in a way that was unfair. The context was he was arguing with Bill O’Reilly, saying why he should not be so virulently anti-Muslim … It reminded me so much of the case with Shirley Sherrod. They jumped so quick.”

The sacking of Williams last week has primarily drawn criticism from the right. As one of the nation’s most prominent African Americans, Jackson’s decision to weigh in so strongly adds a racial element to
the story.

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“They’ve martyred Juan,” Jackson said, “taking him to another level both with his resources and his authority as a journalist.”

Jackson suggested that NPR’s decision seized on his comments about Muslims as “a pretext” that was primarily motivated by ideology.

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Read More: By JAMES HOHMANN, Politico