Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Notes on Don Imus

My note to MacYapper

I'm a reporter, not a commentator. It's not my job or habit to offer personal opinions, but I feel compelled to make a rare exception after reading John McIntire's MacYapper post about Don Imus.

MacYapper: "The dude was trying to be funny. Unlike Michael Richards, his tirade was, I believe, born of an attempt at humor, not pure racism. He tried, he failed. Now he apologizes. Profusely. Ad nauseam."

John, the fact that the remark was "born of an attempt at humor" doesn't make it one iota less racist. It's simply a perfect specimen of something that a person who is racist would think is funny. Saying "it's a joke" never removes any of the sting of hate from such comments--it simply provides a view into what's inside the person who is speaking. You don't squeeze an orange and have vinegar come out.

MacYapper: "the fact that these kinds of phrases are tossed around in the black community and by black comics doesn't make it acceptable for the I-man to utter. But that's why such phrases are in our heads. And that's why, in an attempt to riff and be funny, that kind of phrase mind come out of somebody's mouth."

Please--let's not pity the poor, confused, easily-influenced and misled white national talk show host who doesn't know any better, as though it's those darned rappers and black comics who put "such phrases in our heads". Heaven knows, he and we have never heard insults and jokes spoken by white racists all our lives, have we? He's never made a choice to think and speak his own words, right?

Here's a little flashback I'll share with you. Back in the 80s, my wife and I were vacationing in New York City and passing through the lobby of 30 Rockefeller Center. An odd, overbearing man came up to us as we were reading a building directory. He pointed to the map and said "here's where you find the gays, and here's where you find the blacks"... except he didn't used the word "gays" and he didn't use the word "blacks". He used words I won't write here. As the man moved on, a group of star-struck teenaged girls was following him, giggling. "Who was that?" we asked. They answered, "It's 'Imus In The Morning'!"


Jonathan Potts said...

Good post. Gwen Ifill wrote a good op-ed for the New York Times that described an ugly comment that Imus once made about her. Clearly this is a pattern of behavior.

Bram Reichbaum said...

Some perspective, maybe. On his show, McIntire has been known to describe DA Steven Zappala as "the kind of steely-eyed Italian who could have you killed."

Maybe its something about those studios.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote, in part:

"...the "new improved 2007 racist" vents his feelings by telling jokes."

[this comment was edited]*

* Click here for more information.

Anonymous said...

Giggling teengage girls really once followed Don Imus around? Whaa? Before Imus ended his career with his on-air racist comment, I doubt a single teenager would have been able to identify him. He's been irrelevant for a long time.