National Public Radio may have fired its lone black male on-air commentator, Juan Williams, after remarks he made to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that it considered anti-Muslim. But another pundit, who once called an evangelical Christian tenet of faith "crap" -- and hoped that millions of believers would "evaporate" -- remains a regular presence
at NPR nearly 15 years later.
The Romanian-born writer Andrei Codrescu "has been a commentator on 'All Things Considered' since 1983," his NPR.org bio states. Codrescu's latest broadcast was on Monday, when he complained that "something called the tea party drank all the Kool-Aid in America."
In December 1995, Codrescu said of the evangelical belief of the Rapture, in which Christ's faithful would miraculously ascend from the earth before the Second Coming: "The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place."
Belief in the Rapture is based on the fourth chapter of St. Paul's first epistle to the Thessalonians.
Tens of thousands of complaints from listeners were soon sent to NPR, much of whose funding comes from the taxpayers. NPR apparently never considered removing Codrescu from his regular on-air perch, and took three days to issue a qualified apology for his use of a "vulgar term," and for saying the world would be better without such believers.
"Those remarks offended listeners and crossed a line of taste and tolerance that we should have defended with greater vigilance," NPR said in its apology, adding that "We spoke with Andrei, who told us he would like to apologize for what - with hindsight -- he regards as an inappropriate attempt at humor. It's one he regrets. And so does NPR."
Williams says NPR never gave him a chance to apologize or explain himself. Moreover, the newspaper Current, which covers public broadcasting, at the time reported that Codrescu said he was sorry only for using a vulgar word. "I had no idea they were going to apologize on my behalf," Current quoted Codrescu. "They said some staff members were upset and I said I was sorry I had upset them and didn't intend to."
NPR denied a request for two minutes of airtime made by the Christian Coalition "to offer an opposing view." Codrescu quipped to Current, "I'm probably one step away from a 'fatwa' by the Christian Coalition."
Codrescu was born Andrei Perlmutter but changed it to a Romanian pseudonym because of the difficulty of publishing in Romania under a Jewish name; his family narrowly escaped the Nazis while living in
Hungary. The New Orleans-based author of "Ay, Cuba! A Socio-Erotic Journey" once remarked, "I still have an irrational nostalgia for Stalinism."
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