While the Washington Post was intelligent enough to present Juan Williams interpretation of a recent Pew Poll as an Op-Ed, NPR gave Williams a ten minute segment on Morning Edition to cherry pick the results to fit his own political agenda–without a counterpoint.

First thing’s first, the program capsule for the show states:

For example, VH-1’s highly rated Flavor of Love show features a black man in a clownish hat, a big clock hanging around his neck, spewing the N-word while demeaning black women. And hip-hop music videos celebrate the “Thug Life” and “gansta” attitude for any young black person seeking strong racial identity.

But a critic who points out that this so-called culture is defeatist and damaging — because it leads to high drop-out rates, record black-on-black murder statistics and a record number of out-of-wedlock births — is dismissed as a prude and a censor. Anyone questioning lyrics that glorify violence and make it cool to treat women as sex toys is told that the words reflect the reality of black life, and that they are “acting white.”

Fox News so often uses explicit sexual content to lure viewers that Brave New Films launched a website called Fox News Porn, composed exclusively of images broadcast on Fox News. The images were so graphic that Youtube rated the selected clips as appropriate for 18 and over. Mr. Williams is a regular presence on Fox News. Either he doesn’t care about demeaning women, or he thinks white women have it coming. (What I wouldn’t give to hear Juan Williams say something like that.)

Somehow, despite being portrayed as hoes all over the American media, white women have managed to avoid the problems Williams describes above. Maybe Hip-hop isn’t the issue? No, never that.

So while I’m not going to contest Williams’ characterization of the minstrel show that is Flavor of Love, I will point out that Williams has no business criticizing VH1 as long as he is a regular talking head on Fox.

The first guest that Williams introduces immediately calls his primary thesis, that black people are “two races” into question.

WILLIAMS: The first person I want to introduce you to is a woman by the name of Myrtle Wilson, she’s 86 years old, lives in Houston Texas. I asked her if there were two African-American worlds.

WILSON: Oh Lord, there are more than two. Because we have some who are professional, some who are religious, some have given up, look like all hopes of making a good life for themselves and they kinda got on the street side where they don’t’ work and don’t wanna work.

WILLIAMS: Right now Steve, it’s like 53% of black Americans who say African-Americans who aren’t getting ahead are responsible for their own problems. And two thirds of all Americans, whites, blacks, Hispanics, now feel that personal behavior, and by that we come back to the values concern, that wrong values with regard to education, keeping family together, that those are the things that are keeping poor black people oppressed, it’s not racism.

Notice that Mr. Williams adjusts the question at the last minute; he asks Myrtle Wilson if there are two African-American worlds, not two African American races. Wilson herself never makes the leap in logic that Williams makes.

I haven’t met anyone so defeated by racism that they believe they can’t succeed because of it. But this is a straw man; the issue is not whether racism can literally prevent you from succeeding in all circumstances, we know that isn’t the case. The issue is whether racism still exist, and if it does exist, how pervasive it is. What Juan doesn’t tell is that the poll itself shows most blacks think racism is a serious problem that they encounter regularly, especially when finding jobs or buying homes.

Again, while I think Williams’ views are bullshit, the real issue is that they are clearly a matter of opinion, and NPR should not be presenting them without an adequate counterpoint.

But this is why that opinion is bogus.

While Juan Williams argues that poll results regarding black opinions about diverging values and the questions of whether blacks are a “single race” (This was never true, at least, not scientifically) the poll results don’t actually say that black people who think blacks “are no longer a single race” think so because of values or economic status. The poll itself states:

African American respondents who believe that middle class and poor blacks have relatively little in common are – not surprisingly — more likely than others to say that blacks are not a single race. More than four-in-ten (44%) among those who say there is little in common between the values of the black middle class and poor blacks also take the view that blacks are no longer a single race. Among those who don’t see a values difference, somewhat fewer (33%) accept the idea that there is no single black race.

There was no poll question directly asking why blacks are no longer a single race, there is simply a connection between those who believe the poor and middle class share few values and those who believe blacks aren’t a single race. Without a direct question, the assumption that racial identity is therefore a matter of social class and “values” is just that, an assumption.

My problem with Williams view is that it confines blackness to a narrow slice of cosmic misery. If race is a matter of values, then are black children who make fun of their studious colleagues for acting white correct? Why are we still having a conversation about “authentic” blackness in 2007?

Rather than questioning black stereotypes, Williams is arguing that they actually apply to some people (Just not him, and his kind of people). It is Chris Rock’s old routine about the difference between black people and niggers painted with a veneer of respectability.

My inference is that minimizing what black people actually think about racism in his Op-Ed and radio presentation allows Williams to distance himself from “niggers” while attempting to create a new black identity severed from the issues facing the black poor. Listening to the NPR show, one can hear Williams barely containing his glee at the possibility that he might no longer have to be linked by association with people he no longer wants to see as human, not unless they buy a home and a Honda.

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