By Bill Steigerwald
Anyone who reads “Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America — and What We Can Do About It,” Juan Williams’ angry indictment of what ails America’s black community, will never again accuse the NPR and FOX News journalist with being a knee-jerk liberal. Elaborating on Bill Cosby’s controversial 2004 scolding that blacks are their own worst moral, cultural, political and economic enemies, Williams says blacks must return to the time-tested basics if they want to fully share in the American dream. They should stay in school as long as possible; work any job to get ahead; marry later in life and then have babies; and practice better parenting. I talked to Williams Sept. 20.
Q: Have you turned into a “black conservative”?
A: No. I think I’ve been pretty consistent. I’ve always been a guy who has a strong belief in family values, the church, a strong belief in Christ. I’ve got to say, when it comes to education, I’ve always said education is Number One. These are not things that have just come to me. A lot of people have always said I’m a conservative. It’s interesting: On Fox, black people say to me, “Gee, you’re pretty conservative.” White people say, “Oh, you’re the liberal on Fox.” I’m sitting there next to Brit Hume and Bill Kristol, and I’m to the left of them. But in my life and even on National Public Radio, people say, “Yeah, you can be pretty conservative.” So I think it’s a lot about where people are coming from and not my political beliefs.
Q: Can you give us a 60-second synopsis of your book?
A: “Enough” is a real call to arms. It’s a real charge to the American people to pay attention to what is going on – especially with our young people and particularly with our young black people. At the moment we have a 50 percent dropout rate among young black Americans. We have 70 percent of them born out of wedlock. At the same time there are about 25 percent of white children born out of wedlock and 50 percent of Hispanic children. This is a real crisis that is tearing apart the foundation of our society – the family. When Bill Cosby spoke on the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision and said these things, it really was a clarion call to me. I thought it was a prophetic voice. He was attacked and I thought it was necessary then to do some reporting, to do some research, and substantiate what Cosby had to say. That’s what “Enough” was about.