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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Imus Be Kidding 

There's been a teapot dome in a tempest over Don Imus's latest "racist" comments on the air, and at first blush I was ready to jump on the bandwagon. After all, I still remembered his "nappy-headed ho" comment from last year, and was mystified that he was not fired over it.

But then, in looking for his latest comments after seeing them mentioned in an online poll, I ran across a transcript of a bit more of that infamous previous conversation, and began to re-examine what was said and what we think was said.

The whole thing is preserved in the Don Imus Wikipedia article. Since the same exchange also appears on the Media Matters site, I'll take it as accurate, and you can read it in either place. I'll wait until you come back.

On balance, it is actually Imus's Executive Producer who made more racist comments, both in quantity and tone. When Imus describes the women's team as rough girls -- they have tattoos -- it's his producer, Bernard McGuirk who chimes in with "hard-core hos", Imus's "nappy-headed hos" comment almost seems reflexive. Now, in the original coverage, this is where the exchange stopped: "That's some nappy-headed hos there." Let's look at what followed in the conversation:
IMUS: ...I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.

McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.

IMUS: Yeah.

McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes -- that movie that he had.

IMUS: Yeah, it was a tough --

McCORD: Do The Right Thing.
Now, re-read this carefully, because it becomes obvious that McGuirk is the one driving the bus. Imus compliments the women, no hint of racism there, and then McGuirk runs with it. (Note, though, that his reference to "jigaboos" is accurate, even if co-host McCord names the wrong film. It was actually School Daze in which darker and lighter skinned college co-eds faced off against each other in a musical number, each accusing the other of being various not polite things.)

The point here is, in retrospect, it looks more like Imus was caught in the middle here, rather like the person with a bigoted father-in-law who can only stand there and fume silently while their spouse's dad reels off one racial epithet after another.

Now, to Imus's latest alleged faux pas -- I'm much more willing to give this one a pass knowing that there is very obviously a missing piece without which no one can truly judge. Here's the relevant exchange:
WARNER WOLF: Defensive back Adam "Pacman" Jones, recently signed by the Cowboys, here's a guy suspended all of 2007, following a shooting in a Vegas nightclub.

DON IMUS: Well, stuff happens. You're in a nightclub, for God's sake. What do you think is gonna happen in a nightclub. People are drinking, and doing drugs. There are women there and people have guns. So there, go ahead.

WARNER WOLF: Also, he's been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005.

DON IMUS: What color is he?

WARNER WOLF: He's African-American.

DON IMUS: Well there you go, now we know
And suddenly -- controversy. But there's one problem. This is radio. People talk and talk and talk -- so something came next, and it's been left out. There is a huge, huge difference between someone following this sentence with something like "If he were white, that never would have happened", instead of "That's just a typical n----- for you." Given the expanded version of the Imus quote (and his apologies therefore) and his explanation in light of the quote coming out, I'm inclined to believe that his intent was more along the lines of the former; actually supportive and pointing out the sad fact that, in America, a person of color is far more likely to be arrested for minor offenses than a white person.

Sports reporters say more offensive and stupid things every day -- that's their job. So why is this suddenly becoming a big issue?

I wouldn't be at all surprised if this were an intentional attempt at media-manipulation of the public, either on behalf of the mainstream media, or because of well aimed and timed press releases. With, presumably, an old white guy and a young black man about to face off for the presidency, there is some benefit to those who want to stay in power to stir up the racial tension in this country, in hopes that an over-reaction by the usual suspects (Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and, oh they pray, Reverend Wright) will hurt Obama and favor McCain.

Don't fall for the bullshit. Find the details that are left out of any controversial story this time of the election cycle, and you'll find out who is trying to manipulate the truth and steal the election.

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Comments:
Man, you know that's all fine and well with us intelligent Americans. We see right past the bullshit because we do what you've done here. Research it beyond the sound bite.

But you know as well as I that the intelligencia of this country is clearly in the minority. (no pun intended)

This country is chock full of racist, homophone, bigoted, nationalistic dumbfucks.

I think you really nailed this one. And knowing how the neocon shitmouth machine works, they're paying their minions plenty of money to sit on their fat asses and listen to every word said of anyone who could possibly give them a soundbite to be used for the exact reason you implied here.

Some days, I just want to leave. Just let these fuckers run this country straight into the ground and then watch from a distance as their followers look up from the bloody gutter at those they once faithfully followed as they say, "but you promised." Just watch them get pissed because they finally realized that they were the suckers the neocons expected them to be. Then, watch them lynch every single last one of the greedy, lying, lower than shit so-called human beings.
 
But tell us what you really feel, BZT! ;)

I tend to be optimistic because I subscribe to the "pendulum" theory of history, something explained dramatically in many of Anthony Burgess's novels. The basic idea is that any given country constantly swings back and forth in its national politics, from ultra-liberal to ultra-conservative. In fact, the excesses of either extreme, as they effect the moderates, are what swing the pendulum, sometimes violently, back in the other direction.

The more extreme and rapid the push one way the more rapid and extreme the swing back.

Several American examples: McCarthyism was the conservative swing that pushed us into the liberalism of the 60s...

The extreme liberalism of the 70s pushed us into the Reagan Conservatism of the 80s.

McCarthyism rose in a decade -- and was replaced by Hippies in exactly a decade. That pendulum swung all the way to the left in another eight years, then swang back to the middle in six. It took eight years to drift to the far right, then four years to come back to the middle.

It only took maybe five years for W to swing it from middle to extreme right -- far faster than his predecessors, so this swing back to the far left is going to be swift, inevitable and extreme. Expect it to be complete by 2010, but don't expect it to last for more than four years.

Make the most of it while it's here.
 
You're right.

It's not easy for me to be positive or optimistic by nature. Sucks to be me.
 
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