The Right’s Warped Racism: The Firing of Joe Williams

Yet another win for the right wing in their war on reality. This one came in their success at getting Joe Williams fired from Politico for saying on the Martin Bashir show that Mitt Romney was very comfortable around white people.

Joe fired back in a column for the Grio this week, which is a must read, because he points out how the right wing targeted him and destroyed him for speaking his mind. Don’t tread on me seems to uniquely apply to certain kinds of white people.

Here’s Joe outraging the world by speaking the truth:

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After a relentless witch hunt against Williams, including combing through his Twitter account and Googling him for proof of Williams’ “racism” against white people, the Right wing made themselves heard, and his statement was deemed by his bosses at Politico as “unacceptable”:

Politico editors Jim VandeHei and John Harris called the statement “unacceptable” in a memo to staff. It “fell short of our standards for fairness and judgment in an especially unfortunate way,” they wrote.

Really? So reality is now “unfair”? Lots of things aren’t fair. It’s not “fair” that minorities are underrepresented in the media. It’s not “fair” that women are losing their rights in America. It’s not “fair” that Eric Holder was found in contempt for something there was no proof of him doing. It’s not “fair” that Mitt Romney was born to his rich father and others were not. None of those things are fair, but they are all reality. As the right wing likes to tell us, “get over it.”

What part of what Williams said is unacceptable? He didn’t call Romney a racist. He said Romney was very comfortable around white people. Given Romney’s own behavior — his infamous lack of compassion for others, his inability to empathize with those who were not raised with a silver spoon in their mouth, and his awkward encounters with minorities, not to mention his policies — it seems a fair assessment.

Joe Williams walked us through how he lost his job:

As soon as the words escaped my lips, live on national television, I suspected I might have a problem. I’d used the phrase trying to explain why Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spent so much time chatting with Fox News, why he’s kept the mainstream press at bay, and why he seemed so awkward and stiff around minorities…

By now, my cautionary tale is familiar: after saying Romney, a millionaire businessman, is more comfortable with around people like him was like waving a red cape waving in front of a charging bull — namely, Big Media, an arm of the late Andrew Breitbart’s online empire, and DC Caller, a web site scandal sheet run by Tucker Carlson. After rummaging through some 3,000 tweets, they cherry-picked ones designed to prove their flimsy case: that I was biased against Romney, a racist against whites and a representative of my employer’s slant against conservatives.

You only need to tune into CNN to hear a “mainstream” outlet perpetuate racism courtesy of their “conservative” hires who were clearly brought on to give voice to this ironically dubbed “underrepresented” voice. That is deemed being “fair”. So, giving a voice to racists is free speech and balanced journalism, but letting a black person speak their truth is not.

Politico is no doubt aiming higher than the tea-chasing CNN, and yet their knee-jerk cave is troubling, particularly in light of the fact that the outlets that targeted Joe Williams are behind birtherism and other clearly racist attacks. How is this “fair”?

This cultural bias regarding who determines what is “fair” and not “fair” is in and of itself racist and teeming with privilege.

It is an empirical fact that our media sorely lacks voices from minorities, from blacks to women to disabled people — especially in political punditry. Politics is still considered a white man’s world. Thus, media outlets hire people from different perspectives in order to give voice to various segments of our culture. Why would they hire a black person and expect him to not see things from the perspective of a black person? Isn’t that precisely why we need more minorities in the media?

While there are many areas in which race will not impact one’s perspective, when it comes to issues of race, it seems rather self-defeating to expect a minority to leave their own perspective at home. Who exactly is allowed to give voice to the experience of minorities if not minorities? Is this a privilege saved only for white men? Must we get big daddy to understand first, and then we can say it out loud?

Mitt Romney is clearly more comfortable around wealthy people, and the preponderance of the über wealthy in this country are white. This isn’t an accident and it’s not a coincidence. It is precisely why black people, like other minorities and like the working class, are marginalized to a certain extent.

It would be perhaps more accurate to say Mitt Romney is more comfortable around people of great privilege, but then, Joe Williams said people like him – and people like him are white and rich.

When we can’t say the truth anymore because, as Joe Williams put it in his column on his firing, “a small cabal of self-appointed watchdogs on a perpetual hunt for perceived liberal bias” will destroy our careers, there is a problem.

Joe isn’t allowed to speak the truth, so I will repeat it for him, and for all of the many Americans who know that he spoke the truth. There is a culture of privilege that Romney inhabits and embodies. That culture is not comfortable around people who aren’t like it. Black people by percentages are underrepresented in the culture of privilege, as they are in the media.

Joe Williams did his job, part of which is to bring his own unique perspective and experiences as a human being to his interpretation of events unfolding around him. Telling him he can’t say Romney is very comfortable around whites would be like hiring a female writer and telling her she couldn’t point out cultural bias against women.

My question is why are the rights and opinions of black people so tenuous that they are not allowed to speak to their own reality in pointing out cultural bias? Why is this culture so ready to blame black people and ruin their reputations over things they’ve said or done or even not done (Eric Holder, Shirley Sherrod, Van Jones, etc.)?

Right there, in that fact — in the easy targeting and blame and silencing and shaming — is the bias.

Shame on you, media, for kowtowing to a known group of racists (right wing tea party loud mouths best known for their own racism and hatred of this President) in firing Joe Williams. Shame on this country for continuing to presume that a black person is less entitled to their experience than a white person.

It is what it is, and that’s not Joe Williams’ fault and it’s not my fault. The fault lay with the people perpetuating it. Mitt Romney is very comfortable around rich, privileged, white people. There are many rich white people who have the ability to empathize with people who are not like them. Mitt Romney has yet to demonstrate that he is one of them, and his policies don’t reflect any effort on his part to even try.

This is how the right’s warping of racism works: Joe’s own summary of their assault to prove “that I was biased against Romney, a racist against whites and a representative of my employer’s slant against conservatives” shows how it’s okay to accuse a black person of being a racist, but not okay for a black person to say a white person is very comfortable around other whites. I note with great irony that Joe’s alleged racism against whites “proves” his bias against conservatives in their minds, which is sort of an admission that it’s a white’s only club.

Racism is a tool of oppression used against a minority. You have to be oppressed and underrepresented for racism to be used against you. Perpetuating unequal access to resources between groups is a form of racial discrimination; so it follows that denying someone the right to speak their truth while allowing others to say the same thing only worse in reverse is racism.

The reasoning behind the conservatives’ attack on Joe is that it’s okay for them (a group of self identified white people) to call Joe Williams a racist, but it’s not okay for Joe Williams to say that Mitt Romney is very comfortable around white people. Got it?


Note: As a strong supporter of women’s rights, I am aware that Mr. Williams plead guilty to assault charges against his ex wife. Partner battery is unacceptable. However, this article is not meant as a defense of Mr. Williams as a human being; rather, it’s meant to examine the hypocrisy of conservative charges of racism and our media’s acceptance of white privilege. Mr. Williams’ assault charges do not magically make conservatives correct in calling Williams a racist.

19 Replies to “The Right’s Warped Racism: The Firing of Joe Williams”

  1. Joe Williams — you have been treated with GROSS UNFAIRNESS, and I hope there is some action available to you for this.

    You are a thoughtful and reasonable man, and you deserve better. I hope someone like MSNBC picks you up!

  2. I urge people to watch the show clip at top of this article, all the way to the end. Because even this Politicus article made Joe Williams’ comment sound “worse” than it really is. When I read the article first, I assumed it accurately portrayed that Williams made a boo-boo (by stating truth too clearly, a crime the USA today). Then I watched the vid from beginning to end. And I’m tellin’ ya, you better be listening pretty darn close to even recognize the boo-boo moment. It is a toss-away comment, so short and non-attention-getting, if you blink you will miss it. When it was over, I was astonished. Thinking, “You gotta be kidding me! he was fired for THAT?”

    Perhaps it is too late. If the Right has this much control over every voice in America, we really are doomed.

  3. Take a look at Romney. He is awkward around common ordinary people. How he became Governor of a navy blue state is in its self shocking.

  4. It is what it is, and some of the media groups as well as the GOP, and right-wing elements knows how to put their spin on these issues. Instead of finding a solution, they tend to find ways to divide the citizens of this country to get power, then to say it’s all done on the left. It’s time for the intelligent people in this country to speak out against this type of action if this country is to survive. Stop letting the bogus elements dictate to us on what type of society we have or should have, and get back to the basics. They keep talking about the constitution, but in essence, I don’t think they really know anything about the constitution or what it really stands for. If they did, this would be one society moving in the right direction, rather than moving adversely in the wrong direction. Based on the constitution, all the citizens matters with given rights, not just the wealthy, the powerful or the privileged few, but everyone. And in ending, freedom of speech is not appointed to some, but all. Seems Joe Williams was not allowed his right to this privilege. I’m sure with his intellect he will land on his feet in a better place, and hopefully on MSNBC.

  5. You are so right about that. Politico’s POV is so skewed to the right that they have become the light beer equivalent of FOX News.

  6. In a disgraceful display of rudeness Wolf Blitzer of CNN actually chastised Tammy Duckworth for being rude to Joe Walsh!!!!!!!
    Folks, please drop CNN a line about this and let him know we support her and all veterans!~

  7. willard lied his way in..nothing new with the RF. Too bad they believed him and too bad RF was able to scrub the hard in Mass before he slithered outta there. Must have done something he was ashamed of.

  8. This infuriates me to no end. Racist remark….really? I guess if the right doesn’t like ya or you’re black with an opinion, you can’t say anything. The arm if this “Religious” right must be very long and have lots of money. Koch brothers intended. What a shame politico has falllen prey to these people. Shows who they’re rootin’ for. Assholes….

  9. Blitzer is a Disgrace to his profession..and his profession is national mediawhore.

    He acts like it’s his job to be some pompous a$$ nanny to Dems. I’m wondering what Tammy Duckworth’s response was?

  10. Throughout my life, it has been the same way. Some members of our society are permitted to lie about other groups, to smear them, to create and pass laws that restrict their rights, etc. The RW has waged a constant battle against all American women, American Indians, LBGTQ Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, Black Americans, atheists, agnostics, wiccans, etc. They discriminate against these groups without receiving little/sny blow back. If/when they do receive blow back, they either harden their position, or they offer a non-apology apology, which the MSM deems as being “acceptable.”

    The MSM knows that it provides cover for the proliferation of discrimination, hatred, misogyny, xenophobia, and bigotry against these groups, but it lacks the courage to confront the perpetrators. The MSM contorts itself into intricate pretzels to avoid acknowledging that problems exist, and that the main people responsible for dividing America are on the Right end of the political spectrum. This makes the MSM complicit in legitimizing the opinions of these types of individuals.

    I now tune out any RW politician, pundit, TV/radio entertainer, or republican when they begin to talk about how much they love the Constitution, how important Christianity is in their lives, family values, fiscal responsibility, and/or how important the Constitution is to them. These are all lies. The principle by which I live is that since I believe in these things, I have a special duty to put them into action. I don’t view discrimination, prejudice, fear mongering, hatred, and xenophobia as being analogous to the things I say I believe in, so I refrain from having anything to do with any person/group that doesn’t live up to the things he/she/it says it stands for. Associating myself with these unprincipled individuals would make me a liar and a hypocrite, and I eschew both of these. Many on the Right have no problem with supporting those whose words don’t match their actions. I think the reason they continue to vote for politicians like Joe Walsh is because they don’t feel that a politician should be competent as long as he/she receives their stamp of approval on things that have nothing to do with governing (politician says he/she is a Christian, hates abortion without exceptions, hates LGBTQ Americans, etc.)

    The fact that Wolf Blitzer tried to force Tammy Duckworth to apologize to Joe Walsh is a classic example of misogyny, and the unspoken belief that some in our society are considered to be more worthy than others. Breitbart and Tucker Carlson’s outfits knew exactly what they were doing when they attacked Joe Williams and caused him to lose his job, just as Issa and his goons in the House knew why they voted to find AG Holder guilty of contempt. It’s an old game that I recognize when it begins because I’ve seen it many times. Their attacks on Joe Williams that were primarily focused on “proving” he is a racist have the same basis as the attacks they’ve made against PBO. They’ve called PBO a racist, a Marxist, a tyrant, a communist, a Muslim, etc. The attacks are all intended to lead to the targeted individual experiencing a loss of some kind. For all of the evil things many on the Right have done, I’ve noticed that none of them seem to realize that PBO is still standing tall and strong. I guess it never has occurred to them to notice that maybe, just maybe, it is he upon whom God smiles.

  11. How can we make politico pay 4 this! that’s my question,what can be done? (let’s make them wish, they had a backbone.)

  12. You didn’t make those cookies did you? Myth Romney is a complete idiot in trying to make himself popular to the old southern white xtians. He could care less if he gets the minority vote or even acts normal around them.

    Williams did nothing at all.

  13. Williams did not say a single word that could be considered offensive, Politico definitely jumped the gun on this one, I can’t belive they are so scared of the right wing that they would fire a person for no reason at all. I hope Williams is getting a lawyer,He has a case for wrongful termination of employment. Jim Vandahi is getting more and more cowardly by the day, Jim, grow a pair! quit being scared of the big mouths on the right, In case you forgot, we are a nation that belives in free speech! Politico owes Williams an apology big time!!

  14. Joe Williams is a good man! How absurd that the righties gained control on this.

    I definitely want rep Joe Walsh to step down from his office.
    Where is the Dem outcry. Here I am!

  15. Off subject, but am I the only one who thinks there is a genetic problem with his, Romney’s, children?

  16. Right on!

    Since about a year and a half ago, CNN made the decision to turn the cheek the other way so to speak…due their bad polling numbers. They are appeasing the Tea Baggers to gain more viewers . Just look at the way Mr. Gergen speaks now. Why, it is absurd.

    I will definitely be on my way to tune them out.

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