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The Great Defender of Fox Values

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

April 7, 2011

By Perry Redd

What ‘cha gonna do with him?  He’s the analyst you don’t want to hate, but he makes it so damned hard not to!  Only the few, the proud, the Fox-inians can understand him.  Why?  Because he says the things that whites want to say.

I describe Fox News as journalism most adverse to the American fabric.  Anything that would bridge divides and bring Americans of different hues together seems to steer itself away from Fox News.  Juan Williams as a Black news analyst doesn’t help.  Williams made the argument that there’s nothing wrong with people saying that young Black men [looking like thugs] make them nervous.  Why is that troubling?

Besides the fact that Black males suffer the greatest from racial disparities in employment hiring, wage earnings, criminal justice and racial stereotyping, Williams’ comments just added fuel to the fire. Giving white Americans another reason to fear Black males only exacerbates problems revolving around race.

You may remember, last fall, he admitted publicly that he is afraid of Muslims on airplanes. His comments about Muslims and Black men walking on the street tell us a great deal about why he is so popular on Fox News.  For the past thirty years, Whites have been dying for a pass to freely insult Black males.  Juan Williams delivered. Because Fox News is considered a mainstream news outlet, its apparent comfort in availing itself as a forum for continuing to perpetrate racial stereotypes, unfortunately, gives them some degree of legitimacy. Juan Williams’ latest comments dowsed that fire with lighter fluid.

The gains of the civil rights movement have brought us to a place of “political correctness.”  That was the only time in history that this country took any concerted effort to unite, rather than divide this nation.  For whatever reasons—although I guarantee they were political— then-President Lyndon Johnson took the lead. On July 2, 1964, he signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964, followed in 1965 by the Voting Right Act. We always hope Presidents of theUnited States take bold, progressive steps on behalf of the entire nation. We can only hope.

Why was I not surprised then to learn that Juan Williams joined the Congressional Republican band wagon in the Republicans’ determination to eliminate federal funding for National Public Radio (NPR)? (By the way, House Republicans won that round and the bill to de-fund NPR was passed.)

Williams, who was fired by NPR last October over comments about Muslims, said he was compelled to call for the end of taxpayer funding for his former employer after seeing a fundraising letter from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  His joining the Republicans—on anything—has absolutely nothing to do with any letter he saw. Instead, it was dollar signs he saw.

When Williams made the career-changing remark that people in “Muslim garb” make him nervous on airplanes, NPR, the flagship of politically correctness and progressive journalism (some would argue that point), fired him. The public responded to NPR’s decision with mixed opinions. However, Fox News, the home of conservative mouthpieces, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck, gave Williams a big raise: the reward for saying what whites want to say but can’t. It ain’t politically correct no more! For Williams, it’s about the dollars, Man!

Now, let’s take a look at the profile of a typical “Fox-newser”—white, traditional (i.e., pining for the good ol‘ days), evangelical, war hawkish, unflinchingly capitalistic.  Though Williams isn’t white, he serves as cover for whites who tacitly or overtly stereotype based on race.  His ilk represents the types of Blacks that not only stifle progress toward racial equality in a grotesquely racially unequal society, but they also give reckless courage to whites who want to speak and act as their great-grandfathers did—without consequence.  Whites who often hide behind the First Amendment and claim that “free speech” ought to be free whenever they want to buy it.

It appears to me that Juan Williams is pretty much a coward.  There’s seems to be a lot that’s simply American that makes him nervous.  How does he get around town?  Oh, in his Fox-paid limousine…white people will protect him.

The fact that everyone has prejudices is immaterial when it comes to voicing those prejudices. In a nation racked by racial tension and violence, spewing racial stereotypes is counterproductive; it reflects just plain backwards thinking. Evidence of real growth in this country will come when honest, sustained dialogue occurs about the genesis of racial stereotyping—that is, whites’ fear of a genuine leveling of the playing field. Until then, Juan Williams should enjoy his elevated status as cover for what whites want to but can’t say; but this is my prediction: Eventually, Fox News will move in a different direction without its black novelty, leaving Juan Williams to wonder why his once-adoring “Fox-newsers” now cross the street when they notice him walking toward them [minus the baggy pants, of course].

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