Is Juan Williams right about 'all-white' NPR?

Juan Williams, the Fox News commentator who was disgraced in a highly public firing by NPR last year, has decided to go at his old bosses after NPR went through a public humiliation of it’s own. In a recent interview, Williams referred to NPR as an “all-white organization” that showed “the worst of white condescension” in the way they fired him last year. This was after NPR executive Ron Schiller was caught on a hidden camera referring to the Tea Party movement as racist.

“I think when it comes to NPR’s decision to, without any reason, throw me out the door, I think that for them, especially for some of the people who created NPR, it’s an all-white operation,” Williams said. He also said that he felt that they favored white female journalists over black and Hispanic ones.

Sorry Juan, but what NPR did to you was not condescending. Condescending is when Fox News uses you as it’s personal “Negro Stamp of Approval” for some of the most racist, vile and insulting commentary in news media today. I personally stopped appearing on Fox News in 2007 after the network decided that race-baiting was a great way to get ratings. The Obama presidency was just around the corner, and Fox News would take the lead in giving a platform to the racial ignorance that still exists in our country.

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Juan Williams was an important part of the Fox News plan to revive American racism, for there’s no better cover for discriminatory behavior than to have a person of color willing to validate nearly everything you say. In fact, this is a practice that has existed since slavery, when house Negroes were recruited to discredit those who were stuck in the field. Juan has been worth every dollar Fox has been paying him. With regard to his firing from NPR, any man who says that he gets“nervous” when Muslims get on an airplane is clearly in need of some racial sensitivity training and perhaps psychological help. Scores of law-abiding Muslims are assaulted and killed every year primarily because of people who think the way Williams does.

I find it incredibly ironic that Juan Williams, a man who expresses disdain for those in the black community whom he feels are whining and playing the race card, would be using the race card in expressing his disappointment with NPR. The truth is that Juan was not fired for being a black man; he was fired for being an unethical and disrespectful human being. NPR does not owe him an apology, and I really wondered why they kept him for as long as they did.

I recall a time about a decade ago when I actually held Juan Williams in high-esteem. He’d made the documentary Eyes on the Prize, and had gained respect from African-Americans everywhere. But something happened to Juan along the way. I’m not sure if he was going broke, or found himself clamoring for a bigger platform. But the Juan Williams many of us knew in the 1990s slowly transformed himself into some kind of groveling, self-righteous Bill O’Reilly sidekick. In fact, he was a liability to NPR and an incredibly sad excuse for a journalist. I can’t imagine what most members of the National Association of Black Journalists would say about Juan’s so-called “success.”
What’s most interesting is that I am not in complete disagreement with some of what Williams is trying to say about NPR. White liberals, when they are not careful, can also be infected with the disease of racial condescension. Some of them are led to believe that because they are willing to be nicer to black people than the conservatives often are, that we should somehow sign onto and make a priority out of any liberal agenda that is thrown in our faces. President Barack Obama’s struggles with his liberal base are reflective of the fact that he was far more admirable to them when he was willing to promote and support their ideas without providing a direction of his own.

Some of the liberal disappointment in our president is driven by an inherent perception of black inferiority. Examples might be comments that former President Bill Clinton made about Obama’s campaign not being legitimate, or when Vice President Joe Biden said that Barack Obama was the “first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.”

While I am at least partially sympathetic to what Williams has to say about NPR, we all know that his criticism is driven by a selfish agenda that is focused more on revenge than telling the truth. Rather than taking his anger out on NPR, Williams might be better off apologizing to the millions of Muslims he offended by saying that he believes that any of them might be trying to kill him. Perhaps then, the world might respect him as a journalist.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the initiator of the National Conversation on Race. For more information, please visit>