Sunday, October 24, 2010

A "Bill Cosby Liberal?"

Okay, this whole Juan Williams thing has made people a little crazy.  This line that Williams' free speech rights were somehow abrogated is bullshit.  And now this weird new line, and something that only someone like a Brit Hume could imagine, of the "Bill Cosby Liberal" is just strange.

I will say it now.  I am no fan of white folks who jump on an imaginary bandwagon of support when a prominent black person criticizes aspects of the black community.  In this instance, I think there is a missing ingredient when you look at Cosby's comments and Hume comments:  actual respect for the people being admonished.  And by attempting to link Williams' words of irrational fear with Cosby's words of genuine concern, Hume showed me just how little he respected what Cosby actually said.  I think Hume saw the Cosby commentary simply as an opportunity to assuage his own disdain for aspects of the black community.  By the way, people seem to forget that Bill Cosby got a lot of support for his comments from many black folks, including me (does that make me a "Bill Cosby Liberal?"). 

All of this love from the right directed at Williams feels fake to me.  My guess is that the real reason he is getting support is closer to what Glenn Greenwald suggests, than any other explanation I've heard.  I also would love to know what Williams' defenders would have to say about Williams points that Andrew Sullivan unearthed from an old colloquium sponsored by The New Republic (one that I actually remember hearing about).

Though I will be very glad when this tempest in a teapot finally comes to an end, I pray that we will not have to suffer hearing the words "Bill Cosby Liberal" ever again.  Cosby's comments were about moving folks forward; Williams comments were about giving people a pass to hold on to irrational fears.  So not the same thing.


Greg Johnson said...

There's something about that stew you get when you mix black men and non-christian religions that just sends Brit over the edge. Remember his comments on Tiger Woods needing to get right with Jesus if he really wanted to save his marriage?

What's next, a revival of Coogi sweaters on the set of Fox News Sunday?

Scott said...

I love NPR but my first take on the firing of Williams was that it was an overreaction. I took what he said as a statement of feeling sort of similar to Jesse Jackson's (in)famous line of several years ago, "I hate to admit it, but I have reached a stage in my life that if I am walking down a dark street late at night and I see that the person behind me is white, I subconsciously feel relieved."

But then, context is everything. It may be one thing for Williams to say he "feels scared" of Muslims, but when he says that on Fox News, home of "All terrorists are Muslim" and "Strip search all Muslims," then he loses the benefit of the doubt.

Jesse Jackson did not make his statement about walking down the street at an Aryan Nation convention.

hscfree said...

@Scott: Long time, no read. Welcome back buddy. I agree with you on that first take. I was thinking Shirley Sherrod from USDA, but then (as you noted) the contexts were so very different regarding their respective comments. Yet, I do think that Williams' firing was really ugly. NPR should have known better. He deserved a chance to explain himself, and some of the comments by the NPR higher-ups were shocking enough to me that they should be fired themselves.