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Ron Radosh

The Real Reason NPR Fired Juan Williams: His Views on Race (Updated)

October 21st, 2010 - 10:28 am

Perhaps the stupidest explanation coming from NPR about the firing of Juan Williams is that of Alicia C. Shepard, the NPR ombudswoman. Williams, she told the press, was a “lightning rod” for their network, because he “tends to speak one way on NPR and another on Fox.”

Let us interpret this absurd statement. If Shepard is right, his dismissal had nothing to do with the fact that he concurred with Bill O’Reilly’s view that jihad “is the biggest threat on the planet.” Nor did it have anything to do with his candid admission that when he sees people in Muslim garb at the airport, he gets worried and nervous.

First, anyone who listens to Williams on the Fox News panel at 6 p.m. knows that he is Fox’s resident liberal. Very few are the times he agrees with Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, Stephen Hayes, or any other of the resident conservatives at Fox News. Indeed, Williams often takes such standard left/liberal positions that his fellow panelists look at him in utter frustration for what they consider his failure to face up to facts. They are what we would call the regular outlook of an NPR commentator or listener. And that is why Fox put him in that place; he is the official contrarian to the position of most of the Fox team.

The one area in which Williams does dissent from the regular liberal shibboleths, however, is race. And that, I suspect, is the real reason NPR used his Fox News statement about Muslims. They raced to move right away because they never would be able to dismiss him for his unorthodox views — views that must enrage the left-wing black establishment, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the guardians of political correctness on the issue of race.

Remember that when the White House and the Justice Department moved in a nanosecond to fire Shirley Sherrod last July, Williams responded with an article in which he asked the following question:

How is it possible that the once glorious NAACP — the leading name in America’s fight against racial segregation — has come to the point where it is pushing the first black president to fire anyone — but especially a black woman — on a charge of racism without checking to be sure she was a hateful racist? And the NAACP had the full tape, the full facts before they went after her.

“Since when,” he asked in disbelief, “is Glenn Beck the czar of White House race relations?” Williams was referring to the administration’s desire to fire her before Beck would play the edited video that made Sherrod out to sound like a black racist. (Beck did not have the tape, and did not play it.)

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