Imus Imitates Kramer With A Twist – Turns Apology Into Indictment Of The Right
If you missed the Letterman leg of the Michael Richards Apology Tour, you could have caught the three-hour extended off-Broadway version pf the one-man show this morning with Don Imus doing a magnificent impersonation of the former Seinfeld former star.
I watch Imus in the Morning every weekday without fail, though I record it so it doesn't take three hours of my time, nor do I usually watch in the morning. I watch because Imus is the best political interviewer around, bar none, and because the show is often hilarious – and sometimes shocking. Usually though, what's shocking is his comments about conservatives in general and the Bush Administration in particular – and those comments actually often venture into the realm of the outrageous (examples available on request). As a result, my wife won't even watch him anymore.
Well, last week, Don Imus was doing his usual schtick, and he referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." He did it because the women, who had just lost in the national finals, were apparently big and tattooed and (some) probably nappy-headed. In other words, he was mocking them because they presented a less than flattering appearance of black women, and because, as Imus pointed out today, he and the crew make fun of everybody.
Anyway, I had it all recorded, but I erased it because I didn't think it significant, so that should tell you something – that I'm no Matt Drudge.
Now I should say that I'm one who believes in anyone's right to look any way they please, but I also believe that if you look like a derelict or worse, you shouldn't be surprised if you're treated as such. I also believe that stereotypes exist for a reason. That's not to say that I feel the Rutgers women are trash, because I didn't even see them, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some of them looked like ex-convicts either, owing to the way so many athletes look nowadays.
So Imus was wrong to disparage these people, but they should be ashamed if their appearance might in any way justify such comments. Nevertheless, when Imus & Co. said what they said, I cringed the same way I cringed when Ann Coulter dropped the gay slang in a botched joke about John Edwards.
And that's all I did. Because both Imus and Coulter meant no real harm and they certainly didn't mean to imply that the people to whom they were referring were actually like the terms used to describe them.
So Imus apologized profusely today – all morning – and I was a bit surprised because he's normally very combative. Yet his conduct today was beyond humble and bordered on groveling. And don't get me wrong, he would have been insane to try to defend his remarks, but I thought that he just might realize that as ultra-leftist as he is, even he is a target of the PC crowd who are now not just calling for an apology, but are demanding his ouster.
But here's where ("I'm a good person") Imus went terribly wrong: he related parts of a conversation he'd had with a black minister (No, not Sharpton or Jackson, a real minister), in which the gentleman said that he understood Imus was a good person, but that if he could say the things he did, "what are THEY saying?" (not an exact quote)
Now Imus could have left it there and it would have been perfectly clear – that bigots are far worse. But Imus chose to label those bigots as right wing, and anyone knows that leftist bigotry is at least as strong, even if it shows itself differently. And in fact, Imus' comments that triggered his near demise are a perfect example of the lighter side of leftist bigotry.
So in retracting and apologizing for his remarks of last Wednesday, Mr. Imus has chosen to disparage not just one basketball team, but approximately a third of Americans.
At least that should help appease those calling for his head.
But I must say that while Imus has the funniest comedy team around, if the protected groups are no longer fair game for him, will conservatives be the brunt of a lot more "joking"? And I put that in parentheses because conservatives already are viciously targeted at those times when Imus is not in a joking mood.
Epilogue: As if to confirm what I last said, in his eight o'clock hour, Imus had on one of his usual filthiest of liberal scum guests, Tom Oliphant, who took the following gratuitous shot and which Imus let pass without comment:
"I'm thinking of an eight-year-old black kid being driven to school by his dad or mom who hears this and wonders what he just heard, and it's in that initial hurt that all these problems begin to show up… you should also know that our good friends, those journalistic giants at Fox News, are wondering how your regular posse possibly appear, and the answer is, it's simple, we know you."
Yep, Tom, and WE know YOU.
And you are the guy backing the guy who said what he said, and the guy who savaged Ann Coulter (probably because you don't know her, I'm sure), and we and Fox are the guys who didn't put the words in Imus' mouth.
Have any conservatives even condemned Imus? If not, I'm sure it's because we're all gleeful bigots.
Epilogue²: Imus has been suspended for two weeks from MS. NBC.
Even if you don't watch, it's our loss, believe me, because Imus may be (or may have been) the lone remaining prominent defender of politically incorrect speech. To put this in perspective, I turned off a Lewis Black performance on Comedy Central yesterday because most of his punchlines were profanities. Imus' problems won't just affect him, they will affect People like Bernard McGuirk and Rob Bartlett who are hilariously shocking at times, but who never engage in wanton profanity tossing, and they aim their barbs at, as Imus said, everybody.
That universe has now shrunk considerably, and it may have become, ironically enough, a black hole, and because of Imus' tail-tucking acquiescence, I now feel a little more hostile.