Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dr. Boyce Watkins: MSNBC Suspends Pat Buchanan, but Needs to Fire Him Too


*MSNBC has suspended conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, according to Phil Griffin, the network’s president.  The suspension comes from words in Buchanan’s book, “Suicide of a Superpower.”   Buchanan has stated that President Obama arrived to the White House as a result of Affirmative Action and that the country “has been built, basically, by white folks.”
Griffin seems concerned about two of the chapters in Buchanan’s book, one of them titled “The End of White America,” and the other called “The Death of Christian America.”
The MSNBC president is quoted in the AP as saying “Because of the content of the book, I didn’t think it should be part of the national dialogue, much less part of the dialogue on MSNBC.”
I’ve only met MSNBC President Phil Griffin one time.  He and I were on a panel together at the National Action Network Conference, hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton.  Griffin seems like a nice enough guy, and we haven’t spoken since.  But if we were to have another conversation, I’d ask him one simple question:  How in the holy hayell is a man like Pat Buchanan still on your payroll?
I remember Columbia University Professor Marc Lamont Hill being fired from Fox News after one very quick, dirty and misleading smear campaign.  I recall Rev. Jesse Jackson being fired from CNN because he had a child out of wedlock.  Yet, Pat Buchanan has spent the last 40 years speaking and acting in ways that would put David Duke to shame, and the network continues to treat him like he’s just a regular guy.
In spite of how hard Buchanan has worked to prove to MSNBC that he is a bigot in analyst’s clothing, they have continued to reward him with a high salary, limousine rides and a national platform for his racially inflammatory remarks.  This is another example of the same white privilege that allows Don Imus to continue making good money after referring to a group of black women as “nappy headed hoes.”
Not only does MSNBC need to fire Pat Buchanan, they need to ask themselves why they didn’t get rid of him long ago.  Is it because so many millions of Americans think the way he does?  Is it because they simply don’t care what he says?  Or perhaps it’s the obvious – that disrespecting black people is at the bottom of the political priority list for most major organizations.
The saddest truth in the world for black people is that even our friends have a hard time respecting us.  We end up stuck between Republicans who want to kill us and starve our kids, and Democrats who care about almost none of the issues that matter to our community. Over the last two months, when MSNBC celebrated reduced unemployment as a victory for the Obama Administration, they failed to make note of the fact that black unemployment has gone up over the same period of time.  Our agenda only matters when it happens to be their agenda; but I argue that it’s time to speak clearly about the black agenda.
While I am not entitled to tell anyone how to react to Pat Buchanan, MSNBC or anyone else, I encourage people of color to honestly ask themselves whether our friends or our enemies have very much respect for our community.  If this were the court of law and we were reviewing the evidence, I argue that the verdict would be abundantly clear.   Firing Pat Buchanan is the least this network can do and the firing should be followed by an apology to us all.  Buchanan brings few redeeming qualities to MSNBC, and President Griffin knows this.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. 

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