Memorably Theirs: Bernard McGuirk & Sal Rosenberg

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Don Imus, Duke Lacrosse, and the Imaginary Double Standard

by Gumby Dammitt

Okay, so I've been thinking on this whole situation involving Imus and the "unfortunate" remarks he uttered on his radio program that fateful day over a week ago. The wake turbulence that followed leading up to the Thursday, April 12th firing of the ancient shock jock was relentless. The aftershocks will be felt for a good while. White people, whether in minority or majority numbers, seem to be very offended that Imus' remarks drew such a 'heavy-handed' response. Many are shouting from their computers and telephones and book clubs that freedom of speech is under assault. Just check the comments on this AOL News website http://newsbloggers.aol.com/2007/04/12/imus-snaps-at-sharpton/ that has followed the story. They go on for pages and pages.
Many of them blame Al Sharp ton or Jesse Jackson for Imus' fall. Imus himself, on the final broadcast before being canned by sponsors (yes, the SPONSORS fired him), wondered when Sharpton was going to apologize to the players from the Duke LaCrosse team. I'll go deeper into that later, but for now I'll identify it as a classic red herring used to further deflect blame for his situation away from himself. See, that's basically the bottom rung on the ladder from which Imus has fallen. He has yet to take ownership of the remarks that he uttered on his program. He has tossed blame everywhere he thought it would stick in order to somehow justify himself and cool the heat that was intensifying on his back. You all know what I'm talking about. It's primarily been the rising din about rappers' use of such language to defile women of color. It's been about how Hip-Hop is the true culprit here. Former ESPN Page 2 contributor Jason Whitlock has hollered it from his column at The Kansas City Star, saying that this is just another opportunity for "victimhood" that we need to resist. I've been observing this situation since it broke and no one has painted themselves as a bigger victim than Don Imus himself. And his minions have followed suit.
Check the comments section at the link I listed above or any other story like it. The White martyr mentality is in tremendous effect. Now THERE is a victim mentality that needs to be resisted. Like Spike Lee said earlier today on Steven A. Smith's show, 'don't go slitting your wrists just yet white males, you're still in control.' The quote is hilarious, but only because of its truth. Don Imus makes sexist and racist comments and people decide that they're not going to accept that from him anymore. Sponsors pull out forcing his termination from MSNBC as well as CBS radio. Somehow, Imus has become the victim in the minds of so many white Americans, himself included. An apology was offered, after initial indignation at the notion of such a thing, but never a moment of self-accountability, never a second of contrition. Why? The answer is simple. Don Imus and others of his mindset believe that he really did nothing wrong. That's because when they're enjoying one another's company away from radio microphones and the prying eyes of television cameras this is how they speak. This is how they see people of color. Then when they catch heat they blame hip-hop music like they know it, when the truth of the matter is that their cronies in the music industry promote only one style of rap music and their children gobble up in large numbers. Maybe some white youths taste is more diverse, but to many of their parents, it all sounds the same.
"30. I'm not a fan of Imus, but the double standard for Sharpton, Jackson, rappers and femanists etc. are getting out of hand. When will white males start saying enough is enough?"
You see, that's disturbing and this strikes at the heart of my commentary. So many people, primarily white males, rail against what has been termed 'political correctness' and that's a very telling thing. When you really break it down the outcry is about the right to offend and to be offensive. It's about being able to say whatever comes to your mind without censoring yourself or thinking that you may offend someone with your words. It's about rolling back the clock to the 'good old days' when a white male could voice just how little he thought of you either through media or to your face without fear of repercussion.
The fact is, if a group of people are offended by how you choose to depict them, and they tell you so, then you have some work to do on yourself, because at the end of the day it's got to be about personal growth. The friction appears when the offender resents the group they offended for voicing their displeasure with him (usually a him, but 'hers' have also been culpable). This is the problem that you have with not only Don Imus, but with especially his fan-base. He speaks to a very particular group of white males. The ones who feel somehow that they are under assault and are losing their treading in this society. Of course, these feelings are not based in reality. They are based in perception. Anyone who has observed the happenings of the world through the lens of history up to the present can clearly understand that perception tends to outweigh reality. As a result, this view dictates the avenue that any action takes, i.e.: anger at African Americans, Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, as well as the deflection of blame from Imus to the hip-hop community as a whole.
"38. When are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton going to North Carolina to help the wrongly accused lacrosse players in getting their reputations back? - Paul
Franco" "75. Ok Rev Jackson and the almighty Al Sharpton, now apologize to the Duke Lacross players that you accused! How is that college fund coming that you initiated for the poor black woman who was raped?? - Colleen"
So here we come back to the Duke Lacrosse tie-in. How odd that the above comments and sentiments so eloquently make my previous point. Why, it's so convenient that were I the diabolical and unscrupulous type, I might have made them up just to suit my thesis, but they are very real sentiments snatched from an AOL News comments section. Here, both a white male and female cry the same foul, but why would Sharpton or Jackson need to apologize to any of the Duke players? This is ridiculous and disingenuous, as district attorney Mike Nifong is the man behind the Duke players' ordeal (along with a mentally unstable young woman). It was his ambition and desire to be re-elected to his position that spurred him to post a case without evidence due to it's powerfully sensational nature. Sharpton and Jackson called for justice in the Duke rape case. With all charges dropped against the players, I would say that justice was rescued from peril and served in due course. I would go further to wonder if these same individuals would begrudge the exonerated players who have declined to press charges against their accuser. In all actuality, Nifong manipulated both Sharpton and Jackson, so maybe he should apologize to them.
"232. This fake outrage by the few black hypocrates who have the ear of there religious sheep use there voice to chant and spual crap agaist basicly a good man. Yet They don't seem to get that this 66 yr old man didn't get these words from a dictionary. These words came from the same race that they were used against... That don't make it right, but this outrages is so fake and blown out of proportion by these few hypocrates…"
The beat goes on and on for many pages. The above comment was lifted from page seventeen. They mostly sing the same tune in varying degrees about how Sharpton and Jackson are the devil, Imus is a good man who said a bad thing, he's not a racist, etcetera. People make these sorts of statements all the time as if that's the long and short of it. No one ever stops to think about the sexist or the misogynist with a wife or a girlfriend (or both). There are plenty. Because it isn't confirmed that Imus goes about spewing racist, sexist commentary every waking moment of his life doesn't mean he's not a racist or capable of racism. The truth is that he caters to a large faceless population that harbor very real and very strong racist sentiments. And they love and value him because he feeds them a steady diet of targets to aim their perceptions at.
He allows them to continue to live outside the lines of reality. And so now, the people who feel like they are good natured American citizens, but have that unmentionable something hiding in their belly, can rally to his defense and get off all the "black shit" that they have been trying to push down. And what's better is that they can do it anonymously via the internet without suffering any recourse. See, the truth is that while so many people decry political correctness and wail about black folks' or the hip-hop community's responsibility in all of this, they have forgotten about Imus' (nor should they forget about his producer, Bernard McGuirk or his other sidekick Sal Rosenberg). And while so many bemoan that the first amendment is under assault, they should realize that just as Imus has the right to free speech, his employers have the right to say that they will not stand by his words when they attack, and demean without provocation. It happened to Tim Hardaway and there wasn't any outcry. The N.B.A. told him that they couldn't have him as a representative of their league after the things he said about gay people. That is their right. Imus got the same treatment on April twelfth.
It was 30 years in the making, but don't you dare cry for him. That man became a millionaire jockeying what he and his legions call shock. But the question remains: is it shocking because it's hateful and mean-spirited or the other way around? Either way, exactly when did the willful offending of entire classes of people at a time become funny?
So somebody finally stood up to a man (and a mentality) that abused and offended the collective American psyche for some thirty years. Should he have been allowed to continue on his path? No, it just took three decades worth of rope for him to hang himself.
Feel free to holla at me, gumbyd[at]playahata.com

The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of Playahata.com.

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