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Juan Williams: Falling Back on the Race Card?

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Or Was It A Triple Play by Fox and Williams against NPR, Islam and A Gain for Fox? There may be more here than meets the eye...

I've known Juan Williams since 1981, when we met at a press conference in Washington, D.C. He was working for the Washington Post and I was the editor and chief writer for my international newspaper, Third World News.

I remember our first conversations well. Williams was clearly a "company man" for the perspective of the Washington Post; not truly a reporter who wanted to know much about the plight of blacks other than himself. Some would label him an "Uncle Tom," or "oreo" and that he was then -- and it shows clearly he is now -- as he falls back on the "race card."

When Williams was with the Post and on National Public Radio (NPR) he rarely ever dealt with the problems of African Americans, African American writers and intellectuals unless they were in favor or a "black holiday," like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or some other such matter, or was the way his white masters at the Post and later at NPR wanted them portrayed.

For example, from what I know, he never once interviewed the brightest and deepest intellectual in America, Professor Ishmael Reed, University of California (retired), but a man who has influenced thousands of writers and thinkers, black, yellow, red, brown and white. Not only that but Reed was among the first of the MacArthur Award winners, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and frequent voice around the world, but rarely mentioned in the major media in America. We could go on to those like Amiri Baraka and many others.

But let us get back to this latest situation where he has been let go by NPR. Some say he was a foil for Bill O'Reilly and his racist and anti-Muslim rants, but at the same time, Williams is no dummy; he knew where he was and what O'Reilly thought. He tried a mea culpa later in his conversation with O'Reilly by saying that we shouldn't target all Muslims, but this was after his fear-mongering comment about being uncomfortable around Muslims, especially on a plane.

This may have been honest, but he is smart enough to know that it would light a fire and put more people into the fear area toward Muslims on planes, and even elsewhere. Sadly, the damage was done, and no mea culpa could bring it back. But, this could have just been a cover to make Williams seem more "decent" and "objective" even though he allowed O'Reilly's rant to go on, and had already appealed to those who loved to "fear" Muslims anywhere near them, especially on airplanes!

Ah, but there's more to the story if you think about it and look at the facts. Interestingly, Williams was almost instantly given a new $2 million dollar contract by Fox, courtesy of that old Zionist, Muslim hater and right-winger deluxe, Roger Ailes -- a man who helped Reagan destroy democracy and the financial institutions of America and its economy. Thus, it is almost as if Williams had a mission, fulfilled it, and now can go after NPR so that one more allegedly "liberal" voice is stamped out in America. I think there could have been a carefully conceived triple play here by Fox and Williams, but more on that as we go on.

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I carry no brief for NPR; in fact, I really don't like it for a variety of reasons. I honestly don't feel NPR is very liberal at all, but compared to Fox TV and the talk show crazies and criminals like Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, it is "liberal." But if you ask some of us who wanted to see honest, fair reporting about racism in America, or the Middle East and Islam, you will find it has nothing but Jewish people and Zionists reporting on the Middle East and Islam.

Even dear old Diane Rehm, a Christian Lebanese woman, when I was Director of The Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. with a Ph.D. and known as a real scholar of Islam, did not have me on her show to discuss Islam, but instead had Jim Zogby, a Christian Lebanese. It was the same with my old acquaintances Dan Shorr and Scott Simon, who often asked my opinions at the Watergate Health Club or at coffee or when conversing in our mutual neighborhood, but none would let me on the air. As one friend at Harvard told me, "Sam, you know too much, and you speak too honestly."

This is similar to what Williams did by dissing and keeping off the air truly outspoken and honest African American leaders who would speak for their people.Thus, it is ironic that Williams is now falling back on the "race card" as if he is being victimized. As for me, I'm not sure he didn't want to be "fired" so that he could get more notice for Fox, also help sink NPR and PBS, and come out with a big juicy contract at Fox.

Of course, Ailes and his buddies at Fox saw Juan as a real asset, so they could say, "See, we do have diversity, we have a black on our network in a good time slot." Thus, you see, it could have been a neat triple play: first -- dissing the Muslims by being a foil with O'Reilly's rants; second -- dissing NPR and making it the target of the right wing, some of whom may be in the Congress and will work toward cutting NPR's budget in the future; and third -- by now having a "black" on their network, Fox can show it is not really "racist."

As I said, I carry no brief for NPR or PBS; they've never really shown cultural understanding or diversity. They've taken Bill Moyers and his truth telling off the air, they've given the poetry over to Poetry Magazine (one of the worst poetry magazines in America, publishers of very poor quality poetry?), continued to let Linda Gradstein (certainly not Irish is she?) continue her unbalanced pro-Israeli reporting from the Middle East and Tel Aviv with no counterbalancing reporter from the Arab or Palestinian side.

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When they discuss Islam, they rarely allow someone such as myself, a former Director of The Islamic Center who is a Ph.D., American born, had a major position in the Muslim world, to be on the air, perhaps because I am very knowledgeable about Islam, have no accent, don't lose my temper and, because I was born and raised in Gary, Indiana, can relate Islam to Americans. When discussing Islam, they've had either Christian Arabs or Jewish "scholars" of Islam, or foreign-born Muslims with accents, so that Islam and Muslims could be seen as "the other." But, as you can see, we are not "the other," as most of our major media wants to paint us.

PBS TV, even good old Bill Moyers, as good as he tried to be, would never let someone like me on the TV screen on his shows, but would often have Christian "experts" on Islam speak for us, such as Esposito of Georgetown, who has made a career off of Islam, while keeping many Muslim leaders off the air and off his forums.

I mention all these things because they are related to the Juan Williams syndrome; they use people who appear to be knowledgeable, as Williams appeared to be a black voice for America. But in truth, like Rehm, Shorr, Simon, Gradstein, and Esposito, they are all "usable" commodities whose egos allow them to rise and keep the truth down inside their guts, while keeping truthsayers off the air or off their forums.

But aside from Williams, can you imagine the screaming that would go on if Linda Gradstein or Scott Simon were cut -- old Zionist hacks Simon Weisenthal and Abraham Foxman, and AIPAC would scream, "anti Semitism." And, I doubt Ms. Schiller, who leans toward Israel would fire them as fast as she did Williams. But she may have stepped into a trap, not knowing that he would be feted by Fox and given a huge $2 million contract, and the right wing would get totally upset with NPR/PBS. If an Arab or Muslim would protest comments on NPR, they would also scream "anti-semitism," but they would show their ignorance because Arabs are semites, just as are Jews, Ethiopians and others who speak a semitic language (semitic is, after all, only a language category, not a racial or ethnic group.) Thus, as I said, there is no real cultural diversity at NPR; rather, a lot of intellectual and cultural ignorance, as can be seen by their commentaries and program materials.

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Sam Hamod, Ph.D. is a graduate professor; he has taught courses in creative writing, politics, religion, mass media and intercultural relations. He has one of the very few PhDs awarded by The Writers Workshop of The Univ. of Iowa, has published 12 (more...)

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