Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Friday, October 22, 2010

NPR and the Silencing of Outspoken Black Men

I don't follow Juan Williams. In fact until yesterday I had no clue he was attached to either Fox or NPR. He was simply someone I saw from time to time on my TV. Yesterday however; the white female CEO, like many other white female CEO's and top political dogs like Christine Quinn Of New York's City Council, flexed her muscles and showed that Juan Williams who like other Negroes who dare think and speak freely (if not rationally) doesn't have enough "Black Male Privilege" to withstand the white corporate power structure.

Let me begin with the actual words of Mr. Williams. Slate Online gave us the actual back and forth between O'Reilly and Williams:

"I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. 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. Now, I remember also that when the Times Square bomber was at court, I think this was just last week. He said the war with Muslims, America's war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don't think there's any way to get away from these facts...

Hold on, because if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals—very obnoxious—you don't say first and foremost, "We got a problem with Christians." That's crazy."

Williams reminds O'Reilly that "there are good Muslims." A short while later, O'Reilly asks: "Juan, who is posing a problem in Germany? Is it the Muslims who have come there, or the Germans?" Williams refuses to play the group blame game. "See, you did it again," he tells O'Reilly. "It's extremists."
Williams warns O'Reilly that televised statements about Muslims as a group can foment bigotry and violence. "The other day in New York, some guy cuts a Muslim cabby's neck," Williams reminds him. "Or you think about the protest at the mosque near Ground Zero … We don't want, in America, people to have their rights violated, to be attacked on the street because they heard rhetoric from Bill O'Reilly."

Are these the statements of someone who in the words of a NPR customer to thee NPR Ombudsman:

"NPR must and should take a stand against this bigotry and tell Williams' he must choose NPR's code of ethics or be let go to join the racist bigoted fearmongerers of FOX,” continued Khodr. “NPR can't have it both ways."

Really? Stating that regardless of whatever fear one has, that Muslims ought not be discriminated against and attacked in the street is racist, bigoted fear mongering?


Yesterday morning, in defense of NPR, Alicia Shepard, White woman number two, wrote the following:

One reason he was fired, according to Vivian Schiller, NPR’s CEO, is that the company felt he wasn’t performing the role of a news analyst:
“News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts, and that’s what’s happened in this situation,” said Schiller in an email to NPR member stations, some of which are upset about Williams' firing.
“As you all well know," she continued, "we offer views of all kinds on your air every day, but those views are expressed by those we interview – not our reporters and analysts.”

As she neatly bypassing the snide remarks about Juan Williams psychological stability, this is total bullshit. First and foremost there is no such thing as objectivity in the news. News outlets decide what is an is not newsworthy. That is a value judgement and is in and of itself biased. Secondly by deciding what constitutes "acceptable speech" NPR like any other organization is in fact biased towards their own philosophy of "acceptable speech". To even act as if that is not itself bias is outrageous. The bias is evident in WHO is invited to comment and WHAT they are invited to comment on. When's the last time an economist from an HBCU was invited to speak on the economic crisis in America on ANY of the mainstream media outlets? Talk to me about bias.

To the point of Juan Williams actual and full commentary, there is no way to construe his total comments on the subject as being anti-Muslim. The fact of the matter is that he voiced an unpopular but in fact wide spread personal position about what he feels when he sees persons he can identify as Muslims. He then followed up that Muslims ought not be singled out or stereotyped (in his own way) due to these fears, any more than Christians do not judge Christianity on the basis of McVeigh. Then he pointed out the dangers of such fears by bringing up the recent stabbing of a cab driver in NYC. So it is clear that the firing of Juan Williams was a politically motivated move by the top (White?) folk at NPR.

Which brings me to the larger issue. Where are the black men on NPR? And if Juan Williams benign statements is enough to break the back of NPR, what other statements made by negroes are verboten on NPR? Last week was the first time that Tavis Smiley, to my knowledge managed to break the 'Chosen Negro" Embargo on "This Week" the ABC Sunday political show which has a handful (and there's plenty of space in that hand) of safe, appointed negroes who are allowed to pontificate on a limited set of subjects as if they represent "black thought". Gill Noble, the producer of Like It Is, has rarely if ever been invited to any of ABC's political shows including This Week or to do commentary outside of his perpetually threatened Sunday 12 PM time slot.

Lets look at NPR's Political news lineup as linked on the website:

The Morning Edition: Two white folk. One male one female.
All Things Considered; 1 Black Woman, 1 white male, Weekend with 1 White Male.
Fresh Air: 1 white woman
The Dianne Rhehm Show: 1 White Woman
On The Media This Week: (undetermined)
On Point with Tom Ashbrook: 1 White male
Talk of the Nation: 2 white men
Tell Me More: 1 black Woman
Weekend Edition: 1 White Male
Weekend Edition Sunday: 1 White Woman

Seriously folks. There is a total Black male embargo over at NPR. Why is this not a issue? Why is this not being discussed. Personally I find it more problematic that NPR has a No Black Man policy apparently in effect than whether Juan Williams is shook by a headscarf. How do we actually take the disrespectful treatment of Juan Williams seriously when NPR's news programming is 84% white with 0 black men?

You don't have to like Juan Williams or anything that comes out of his mouth. But when an overwhelmingly white organization decides to take out a black man simply because he didn't toe some PC line, you should be concerned. Very concerned 'cause it likely means they've been giving the shaft to others by simply denying them entry as NPR apparently does.