August 2, 2006

Even though he’s a liberal Democrat occasionally prone to a sip of the Kool-Aid, I’ve always liked and respected NPR and FOX News political analyst Juan Williams. He not only seems like a nice guy, but when he and Brit Hume go at it, it’s always a fascinating listen. Turns out Juan’s got a new book out: “Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-end Movements, and Culture of Failure that are Undermining Black America—and What We Can Do About It“, which I hope will prompt some long-awaited (and much-needed) soul-searching and debate within the African-American community. It’s one thing for an entertainer like Bill Cosby to call attention to the sorry state of affairs in 21st century black America (after all, who listens to entertainers, right Mel Gibson?); it’s another thing totally when someone with both the exposure and the gravitas of a Juan Williams does it.

In a recent interview with Newsmax’s Ronald Kessler, Williams took aim at Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, both of whom who have in large part made their names (and, I might add, a handsome living) by focusing on the “victimization” mindset they continually promote through their words and actions:

“That says to an individual, ‘You can’t help yourself, you can’t help your family, and therefore all you can do is wait for the government to do something for you,” said Williams, who is also a senior correspondent for National Public Radio. “I think it is a message of weakness and ineffectual thinking that is absolutely crippling the poor and especially minorities in the United States.”

Juan’s a man after after my own heart here. As I’ve written previously, the African American community has found itself abandoned by the policies, politics, politicians, and leaders of the post-civil rights/Lyndon Johnson “Great Society” era. Call me stupid and/or naive, but I’ve always believed African-Americans are no different from everyone else – they want for themselves and their families and futures the same things everyone else in America does, which is, in short, prosperity. They want their children to be educated, they want a (holy crap, I’m quoting Michael Dukakis here) a good job at a good wage, they want to take vacations, recreate, and live in safe communities. Regardless of what the Jesses and Als think, they’re no different from everyone else, and calling up the race card, slavery, and racism whenever it serves their own cynical purposes only isolates the African-American “community” further from every other kind of so-called “community” in this country.

As Betsy Newmark so accurately points out, if you want a prime example of what Williams is talking about, look no further than the outrage and calls for condemnation by civil rights leaders over Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s recent “tar baby” remark:

What is likely to do more damage to the black community? A politician using the phrase “tar baby” to talk about a bureaucratic catastrophe or rap stars sending the message to young blacks that the proper way of things is for young black men to celebrate a violent lifestyle while depicting young black women as sexual objects only good for servicing these thugs? Which message is degrading cultural values for millions of black teens and perpetrating disgusting stereotypes of blacks as criminals and whores?

The same is true about the push by the Black Coaches Association to have the NCAA expand its boycott of sanctioned sporting events in South Carolina, simply because the Confederate flag is displayed on state grounds. I mean, how ridiculous is that? Shouldn’t that group be more focused on real issues that have direct and immediate consequences upon the African-American community in general, such as – oh, I don’t know – enforcing much stricter academic standards so African-American athletes graduate and are better prepared for life after college, or educating their athletes on the devastating impact fathering, then abandoning children has on the African-American community?

Congratulations to Juan Williams for writing a book that would appear to be both important and mandatory reading for the African-American leaders of today and tomorrow. Would it be expecting too much for Williams’ book to be received seriously by the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world, or will this be just another case where the messenger is shot and the message ignored?

Filed in: Politics & World Events,Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 15:56 | Comments Off on Juan Williams Gets It. Will Others?
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