Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Praising with faint damning

I'm coming a bit late to this particular party, but I see that Juan Williams has been duly defrocked by NPR for his "Stokely-Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress" comment. There was a lot of protesting in the liberal blogosphere over this on the grounds that it was either a) sexist, b) red/"militant"/Black Nationalist-baiting, or c) further evidence of Williams' penchant for rimming Bill O'Reilly and Fox News to their hearts' content (okay, on that count he may be guilty), but no one has yet answered the question of why comparing the First Lady to one of the founding members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee is such a terrible, awful thing in the first place.

Now granted, the guy went to his grave claiming that American Imperialism had given him prostate cancer (perhaps not outside the bounds of realism), and it's debatable whether his later militancy helped or hurt the black American cause. However, my inclination is to divide Civil Rights Leaders into "ones who died before they could be forsaken by liberals as too radical" (as King's Poor People's Campaign no doubt would have been) and "ones who lived through injustice and oppression only to become embarrassing pariahs to the mainstream" (current title holder: Al Sharpton). So I think the Carmichael tag is perhaps one of the finest labelings a media hack could bestow.