Apr 13th, 2007 · Categories: Culture · 2 Comments

Culture: Imus and Jackson

Among Don Imus’ critics was a relatively subdued Jesse Jackson. I was surprised he had the nerve to speak up at all. In their feeding frenzy, the news outlets I’ve seen and heard have been strangely silent about Jackson’s anti-Semitic remarks in 1984.

I was taught that character is what you do when you think no one is looking. When Jackson referred to Jews as “Hymies” and New York as “Hymietown“, he was having what he apparently thought was a private conversation with a journalist. He thought no one was looking.

It can hardly be said that Imus thought he was speaking privately. Insulting people and being hip were part of his broadcast schtick. On the few occasions when I watched his show on MSNBC, I briefly wondered where the offensive humor ended and the man with a heart for kids* began. It seems unlikely that he actually bore the women – black or white – of Rutgers’ basketball team any ill will. I suppose he was just a foolish old white man trying tart up his trademark insults in gangsta chic.

But Jackson was in what he thought was a safe environment. He spoke freely, apparently never considering that his bigotry would be made public. According the Washington Post story cited above, Jackson first denied the remarks then tried to blame his victims. I don’t recall Imus blaming the basketball players for his remarks. So who’s the greater bigot?

Come to think of it, what about all the racial invective directed at three innocent Duke lacrosse players? Who’s going to get fired for that?

I don’t consider the end of Imus’ show much of a loss. Like Howard Stern and the gangsta rappers he seemed to want to emulate, Imus made a substantial contribution to the coarsening of American culture. It’s the shrill hypocrisy of those who brought him down that seems to be getting lost in the coverage.

* [The Imus ranch’s] sole purpose is to provide the experience of the great American cowboy to children suffering from cancer or serious blood disorders, and children who’ve lost brothers and sisters to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)…. All expenses are provided including airfare and transportation to and from the airport in New Mexico. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3359675/

This entry was posted on Friday, April 13th, 2007 at 1:49 pm and is filed under Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Culture: Imus and Jackson”

  1. will spotts Says:

    May 21st, 2007 at 12:14 am

    I always found Imus difficult to fathom. I think my distaste for his show probably influences my opinion – but it is hard to figure out what was real and what was not. The hypocrisy of many commentors on this incident is glaring.

  2. Lunette Says:

    November 10th, 2008 at 6:36 am

    Well written article.

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