I thought we were finished wiping up after Don Imus this week, but the ongoing reverberations in the media and in our comments for all our coverage are still too strong to ignore — Don Imus and the Rutgers Nappy Headed Hos and Race and the American Humor Line and The Lesson of Don Imus: Red is Thicker than Green and Creating Consequential Context: A Semiotic Moral Correction for Don Imus — and while some of our regular commenters have fallen off into the darkness, their voices have been replaced with new commenters offering counter-advocacy and fascinating arguments.
We also have some other issues we need to address in your commentary
for feedback and introspection, but we’ll kick off today’s coverage
where we left off yesterday: A scholarly examination of editorial
cartoons that have now leeched beyond Imus alone and make connections
where none were construed before in politics and mainstream popular
SHARPTON AND JACKSON
these cartoons speak in grand Semiotics and common cultural touchstones
without needing to voice a single word.
Here are some residual arguments I have heard on the news that are
still staining our national consciousness because of The Imus Mess and
we should examine these matters and confront them.
1. Don Imus should have been kept on the air because he can “do good” as we watch him change.
Imus should not be an agent of change or inspiration by being allowed
to modify his racist views on the air in real time. There are better
vessels for understanding and caring that can be proactively used for
untainted goodness than letting Imus keep his job in the hope he would
become a better person before our eyes. Some changes require privacy.
2. There are reports that some people are calling for the deaths of the Rutgers women’s basketball team and Al Sharpton.
is the most disturbing argument I’ve seen. Flinging down “Death
Threats” to the team and Sharpton cannot be tolerated. Why are those
threats given voice in the major mainstream media when those kinds of
deadly threats only encourage those who are mentally offset from
reality? Why let anyone even wonder on the matter of those ugly
thoughts they might not consider on their own? Yesterday, Mrs. Imus
asked the fans of her husband to stop sending in Hate Mail to the team.
Today, we learned the Hate Mail included death threats.
3. The Major Media blinked. They were influenced
by radicals and got scared and ran away and Imus was only fired because
he lost advertising revenue. “Real Americans” aren’t bothered by what
Imus said because it has become part of our culture.
The marketplace did speak and the voices were heard in the removal of
advertising dollars from the Imus show. That’s how a democracy is
supposed to work, right? Companies and people vote their interest with
their wallets and the free market responds.
We are, however, left with an alarming disconnect between what happened
to Imus and what did not happen to Rush Limbaugh for calling Barack Obama and Halle Berry “Halfrican Americans” and what has not happened to Ann Coulter:
In a speech last year before the Conservative Political
Action Conference, Ms. Coulter used the word “raghead.” This is a
dual-use slur, applied to both Arabs and Muslims, but she was talking
about an Iranian, so presumably she was focusing on the religious
dimension (consistent with her post-9/11 advice that we “invade their
countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”) The
word raghead — whose only function is to denigrate — seems as
legitimately offensive to Muslims as Mr. Imus’s utterance was to
The difference is that Ms. Coulter didn’t apologize.
Brace yourself for the seismic damage done to her career. The leaders
of CPAC reassessed their relationship with her and … invited her back
to speak this year, an occasion she used to trot out the word “faggot.”
And Ms. Coulter continued to be interviewed respectfully on CNN and
(again and again) on Fox News — treatment that presumably wouldn’t be
accorded a pundit who used the “n-word” without apology.
Why is there a disconnect between Imus and Limbaugh/Coulter and their ilk?
Will we stand against political hate speech as we have this week against Racial and Gender hate speech?
a Gay man in America, wonders aloud about the disparity between the
attack on Imus and the non-attack against those in the mainstream
political arena who bash Gays:
For the past two decades political correctness has been
derided as a surrender to thin-skinned, humorless, uptight
oversensitive sissies. Well, you anti-politically correct people have
won the battle, and we’re all now feasting on the spoils of your
victory. During the last few months alone we’ve had a few comedians
spout racism, a basketball coach put forth anti-Semitism and several
high-profile spoutings of anti-gay epithets….
Face it, if a Pentagon general, his salary paid with my tax dollars,
can label homosexual acts as “immoral” without a call for his
dismissal, who are the moral high and mighty kidding?
Our nation, historically bursting with generosity toward strangers,
remains remarkably unkind toward its own.
Just under our gleaming
patina of inclusiveness, we harbor corroding guts. America, I tell you
that it doesn’t matter how many times you brush your teeth. If your
insides are rotting your breath will stink. So, how do you people
choose which hate to embrace, which to forgive with a wink and a week
in rehab, and which to protest? Where’s my copy of that rule book?…
The real point is that you cannot harbor malice toward others and then
cry foul when someone displays intolerance against you. Prejudice
tolerated is intolerance encouraged. Rise up in righteousness when you
witness the words and deeds of hate, but only if you are willing to
rise up against them all, including your own. Otherwise suffer the slings and arrows of disrespect silently.
Don Imus is finished.
The rest of us are not.
We must work together to to curry understanding where ignorance breeds
hatred and distrust and then constantly work to redefine our goals, our
dreams and the things we openly choose to cherish.
We begin to do that by standing up against crassness and hatred
expressed in speech and in behavior wherever and whenever it tries to
rise up from the depths to taint us all in the actions of an ignoble