Well, Don Imus is done. The geriatric shock jock that once won such praise from the media establishment for his irreverent off-the-cuff word grenades, has now been ruined by the media establishment for his irreverent off-the-cuff word grenades. What changed? Uh, let me just offer a word of advice to future I-men: keep your baseless insults directed at white folks. It’s much safer.
Like most humans, I haven’t listened to Imus in a while, so I didn’t hear the “shock heard ‘round the world,” when he somehow managed to work the phrase “nappy-headed ho’s” into a conversation about the Rutgers women’s basketball team — innocent college kids deserving of nothing but praise for their incredible accomplishment. I last tuned in to Imus during the 2006 election, just long enough to hear him call Rick Santorum either a “weasel” or a “slime ball” — or perhaps both. It’s so hard to remember one insult among so many.
He also wanted George Bush tried for war crimes for believing the CIA (but then that’s so mainstream now). And then there was my personal favorite: his constant accusations that scientists at Eli Lilly and other major drug companies purposely gave autism to millions of kids (perhaps even billions) all to marginally prop up sales of a minor product, the vaccine preservative Thimerosal.
Scientifically, there’s no real evidence that Thimerosal causes autism and quite a bit against it doing so, but then what’s accusing innocent folks of enfeebling children for profit compared to tossing out a throw-away giggle line? Imus could have called the Rutgers team a bunch of Amazonian whores and he’d still have a job at MSNBC — a station that believes (accurately) that the most entertaining program it can create is a picture of a CBS radio broadcast.
But instead, Imus made mention of racial characteristics in an affected black colloquialism. He thus volunteered for modern America’s Grand Inquisition into unintentional racism. This is what a country is reduced to when it can’t find a lot of actual racism to justify a continuing struggle against racism. The revolution has many enemies and some are so well hidden that they themselves thought they were loyal citizens, so the purges must continue. The only other alternative would be to declare the struggle over and move on to a different problem — one that might not bring back groovy memories of the sixties and prop up an aging establishment of professionally offended shakedown artists.
Is Imus a racist? Yes, but not for what he said. His failed joke was stupid and infantile and hurtful — pretty much par for his course. He reached for a shock and found one of the few remaining ones that our media overlords will not accept. But his real act of racism was the apology he made for the failed joke. He didn’t apologize first to the individuals he insulted, because in his mind (and the minds of most of the hounds baying for his blood) his crime was not against the individuals, it was a crime against a group identity.
Call Dick Cheney “pasty,” or call me “white bread” and you’ve insulted just one man, because white people are given a primary identity outside of being white. That’s why Neil Armstrong is not known as the “first white man on the moon.” Modern media culture treats blacks quite differently. Every black person is treated as an emissary of “black people.” Offend him (or hers) and you have offended the great unknowable mass called “Black People”, or “African Americans”, or “People of Color”, or in the case of advertisement lingo, “Our Community” — a phrase usually delivered in Barry White style voice-over work for commercials.
Since Black People are regarded as a unit, they must have a leader who speaks for them with a single voice, the mouthpiece of the Black Collective — a sort of racial Pope that can accept official apologies from other ethnic denominations. Apparently, this Papal Prima Donna (complete with bouffant miter) is the Most Reverend and High Holy Al Sharpton. (If I were black, the mere presumption of this would set me off. But I am white bread, so I digress.) The Black Pope used to be the Very Quite Reverend Jesse Jackson, but his silly Suessisms and paternity settlement (Rainbow PUSH! Breath, breath, breath. PUSH!) seem to have put him into the second tier in the minds of the liberal white media, who are, after all, the self-appointed Electors of the Black Pope.
Now think about how stupid and racist all this is. Were Chris Rock, in the heat of a comedic diatribe, to call someone, say, a “limp-haired slut” what would he do next? Would he ask to go on David Duke’s radio show so that Duke could accept an apology on behalf of all “white people” and then issue a suitable penance? (“Donate to my charity, Chris! You don’t look sorry enough yet.”) Somehow, I don’t think so.
So yes, Imus is a subconscious racist — just like most of the folks that got him fired. Treating people like individuals means apologizing to them, not to the alleged leader of their race.