The other day I was watching America’s Black Forum on ABC Channel 7 in New York from 1:00pm-1:30pm and the discussion between Juan Williams, Julian Bond, Armstrong Williams, John Zogby and Cornel West was a difficult and an important discussion about democracy, The Patriot Act and our role as active citizens.
It was mesmerizing watching how Dr. West pressed for, and ultimately required, an apology from Armstrong Williams for a petulant and disrespectful tone he perpetuated in the discussion against Mr. Zogby.
Dr. West did the right thing in extracting an Armstrong Williams
apology because in the world of the scholar and in the universe of the
humane we must try not insult or falsely indict colleagues — or even
our enemies — less we become them and they less like us.
It is to Armstrong’s advantage that he apologized for his bad behavior
and asked the host to move on to another topic.
Host Juan Williams did
not let Armstrong Williams off quite so easily and he and Mr. Bond
appropriately flayed Armstrong Williams a final time.
Everyone would have likely pressed him even harder for being a bullhorn
for the Right Wing of the Republican party had the interview been taped
after the discovery last week of Armstrong’s purposeful ethical lapse
as a journalist.
On January 7, 2004, Editor & Publisher wrote this about Armstrong Williams:
USA Today reported this morning that Williams had accepted
$240,000 from the Bush administration to promote the No Child Left
Behind education-reform law on his TV and radio shows. E&P
subsequently reported that Williams had also written about NCLB in his
newspaper column at least four times last year….
Williams said the
$240,000 in payments were made to promote NCLB as part of an
advertising campaign on his syndicated The Right Side TV show
and that this ad campaign was disclosed to the show’s viewers. But he
acknowledged that the payments weren’t disclosed to other audiences,
including readers of his newspaper column.
Armstrong Williams, by accepting payment for his hard visions and
unkind policies without publicly revealing those to which he was
financially beholden, disappointed many who believed his arguments were
genuine and heartfelt and not simply pin-money conceits.
Cornel West is a hero to be admired.
No only is he a John Coltrane fan,
he also finds a blood brotherhood with Anton Chekhov. For more
information on the genius of Dr. West, I recommend as a beginning his
fine book from 1999, The Cornel West Reader where the Preface contains
this opening salvo:
My painful quest for wisdom is an endless journey that
tries to delve into the darkness of my soul to create a more mature and
compassionate person. My political project of deepening democracy in
the world is a perennial process of highlighting the plight of the
wretched of the earth and broadening the scope of human dignity.
Then carry yourself on to read these chapters Race and Social Theory then Race as Architecture followed by The Spirituals as Lyrical Poetry and then On Black-Brown Relations. Finally, purchase Cornel West’s latest book: Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism for the beginning bites of the genius mind on the open page.