Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On Imus - Last thoughts from a long-time listener

I have listened to Don Imus for what seems like most of my adult life. I never saw the MSNBC simulcast, since I never did understand why a radio program needed to be televised. Like others, from time to time, I would make the mistake of endowing the program with a character that it was never meant to have. Especially in recent years, since Washington's invasion of Iraq, and as my politics have drifted away from support of Republicans, I wanted Imus to be a voice that is seldom heard on the airwaves. Since there are so few voices on radio that do not engage in worshipful awe of the neocons and theocrats who rule DC (what with "conservative" talkers out-ranking any other kind by 10 to 1), dissent from any quarter was welcomed.

Whenever I thought about Imus's program, the scatological shenanigans were not what came to mind. What I remembered were the day's politics, and the discussions with his guests, who might have roused my ire or found me in agreement. I was certainly well aware of the rough male humor on the show, which I viewed as one of the many futile behaviors that some men try to adopt, in reaction to the feminization of just about everything in this society. To me, the show was a sort of old-fashioned men's smoking car, where boorish males, out of the hearing of scolding women, could flex some rarely exercised troglodyte muscles.

Civil rights attorney Constance Rice, who was also a listener, in the Los Angeles Times described the show as "a seventh grade white boys' locker room." Well, I'd put them a little higher than the seventh grade. After all was rudely said and done, you knew that at some time in the course of the day, each of these men probably got his ears boxed by some woman, but for these few morning hours, the boys behaving badly could play at being liberated from the skirt brigade.

As a long-time listener, my greatest surprise came with Imus's decision (or was it his advisers or his wife's) to prostrate himself before Al Sharpton -- a man whom Imus had insightfully parodied over the years. No one did better takes on Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as transparent opportunists. Yet, it seems that all knowledge of what Sharpton is about, and has always been about, fell from the head of Imus, as he behaved like a clueless bumpkin. No one knew Sharpton's history better than Imus, so it is incomprehensible that he would offer himself up to the quintessential charlatan as a gift on a silver platter. When he panicked, did he lose his mind?

Did that weekend, in which he was deluged with telephone calls, terrify Imus into trying to rescue not only his show's corporate sponsors, but his wife's business interests, and the loss of the thousands of funders of the children's ranch? Was he so panicked that he thought he could be a match for the country's ultimate shakedown artist? What in the world was he thinking?

Or was he just engaging in what is described as the Trent Lott Crawl, which is coming to be known as the White Man's Crawl? If you thought that Senator Trent Lott's fawning before multiple black luminaries epitomized a man's loss of dignity and pride, Imus has gone and topped that performance. He even topped Doug Tracht, the radio jock otherwise known as The Greaseman, who, back in 1999, after some intemperate remarks on the radio, dragged himself around to various self-appointed black leaders in the Washington-Baltimore area to do public penance. [See my article on this episode here.]

Although other whites had disgraced themselves in their various apology stances, Lott set a precedent for white cringing and submission over the race issue. In addition, he sent strong messages, not only to white children, who learned how best to behave when confronted by howling blacks and their confederates, but also to black children, who learned what simple steps are required to bring about the subjection of The Man.

The day that CBS canceled Imus's show on WFAN, Mike and the Mad Dog, the afternoon sports entertainers on the station (now subbing in the morning), expressed their shock that so many "friends" had deserted Imus. Don't they know that the one thing you can count on white men to do is abandon other white men? Where have they been? The idea of loyalty among whites is a notion that abides only in misguided brains. Blacks often mistake class solidarity among particular circles of whites for a race bond. Do you think the tightly knit Bush social-financial circle of relatives and friends is focused around skin color?

There are thousands of Mike Nifongs out there, in one capacity or another, waiting to pounce upon what they consider the vulnerable, and supposedly hated, white male. Just as blacks, like Sharpton, use members of their race to enhance their profiles and careers, so do whites, especially when it offers a chance to show the world just how "anti-racist" they are, how good and moral. Those Duke University students were viewed by prosecutor Nifong as dispensable fodder, who can afford to take a hit or two, and even go down a time or two. After all, they've got the world on a string, according to this illusion, and their white skin allows them to bounce back from anything.

The Imus show was unique unto itself due to its focus and purpose, which were often misinterpreted. Imus would anger me at times, and I'd cease to listen for a couple or more weeks. The annoyance with him was not for his vulgar and irreverent humor, but due to what I saw as his wishy-washy approach to most political matters. As the country's political fortunes took a turn for the worse, I grew impatient with Imus and his ambivalence on certain issues.

Especially during the 2006 election, I felt it was imperative for every American to do all he could to expel the warmongers out of Washington. This was no time for satirical putdowns of candidates who might stand a chance of replacing the incumbent Republican cranks. Imus finally did come down on the antiwar side, but went on supporting Joseph Lieberman, a chief warmonger, thus, making a mockery of his position on the war. He also spent inordinate amounts of time sneering at Ned Lamont, Lieberman's chief political rival.

With young American soldiers dropping like flies in a totally unnecessary military escapade, there was Imus giving the benefit of the doubt to White House apologists. In his jocular manner, he'd claim, Well, maybe this view is right, or maybe that view is right. Sometimes I would cry out, "Oh, take a stand, damn you, Imus!" This was not a time for playing ribald word games.

In terms of presidential candidates, for weeks Imus would play at supporting this Democratic candidate or that one, or even Bush. As long as the country was being run by certifiably demented kooks, I had no use for irrelevant humor. A rather foolish posture, I admit, given the nature of the Imus show. But that was the confusing thing about it. The mix of politics and entertainment blurred the show's identity.

One of the most unfortunate consequences of this episode is the fact that yet another white man has helped to restore credibility and social power to those two cynical buffoons, Jackson and Sharpton. Just when it looked like their stars were waning, along comes the groveling Imus, to remind us blacks of who our "leaders" are. In his remarkable column in the Kansas City Star, writer Jason Whitlock sarcastically thanks Imus for extending Black History Month to April, so that blacks "can once again wallow in victimhood and protest like it's 1965."

This is how so many blacks felt upon learning that Imus sought out Sharpton and planned to go on his radio show. Writes Whitlock, "At this time, we are our own worst enemies. We have allowed our youths to buy into a culture (hip hop) that has been perverted, corrupted and overtaken by prison culture. The music, attitude and behavior expressed in this culture is anti-black, anti-education, demeaning, self-destructive, pro-drug dealing and violent. Rather than confront this heinous enemy from within, we sit back and wait for someone like Imus to have a slip of the tongue and make the mistake of repeating the things we say about ourselves."

Talk show host Tom Joyner concurs, and adds that Sharpton's focus "is to catch a mistake made, fan the issue for personal publicity and, stepping around the carnage, move on to the next photo opportunity." These are views on Sharpton, and his myriad wannabes, that many blacks have been expressing for years, yet timid whites choose to ignore what they consider dangerous dissent. I don't think that Sharpton and his clones knew that they still possessed the power endowed upon them by the media over the past several days. Thanks to Imus, they know it now.

On his radio show, Sharpton had the upper hand over Imus to the extent that Imus could not get away with calling himself an "old cracker." When he used this epithet to denigrate himself, the wily Sharpton took the moral high ground, insisting that Imus should not use this term, but should "respect" his own race. Wow! Gotcha!

Let's face it, when you allow someone to box you into a corner and force you to whine, "I am not a racist, I am not a bigot, I am a good person," you deserve little more than contempt.

So, after all this cringing and groveling, what was accomplished? Nothing more than could have been, if Imus had initially said, "Take this job and stuff it!" And how many more white men will feel compelled to prostrate themselves at the feet of blacks? While he was down there, it's surprising that Imus failed to wash Sharpton's feet -- a practice that actually was performed on the feet of black men by the contrite white members of the "Christian" organization Promise Keepers. What a wonderful set of role models they make.

Being Al Sharpton means never having to say you're sorry for any incendiary speeches that might act as fuel for the weak-minded. No one should be held accountable for words, which others may then misinterpret. It is the perpetrator of criminal acts who should be held responsible for his deeds. This rule obviously works for Sharpton, but not for all Americans, as "anti-racist watchdogs" hound their political opponents, to link them with the criminal acts of others. These unappointed guardians of society almost succeeded in the case of the white nationalist Tom Metzger, and did succeed with the railroading of the religious separatist Matt Hale. See
and here. Because these "anti-racists" tend to share the same politics as Sharpton, he gets a free ride as the Teflon man. That's why his connection to the deaths of young Yankel Rosenblum and those unfortunate souls who died in that Harlem fire gets brushed aside.

Being Al Sharpton also means that you can claim to oppose the "gangsta" culture, while knowing there are now organizations, with the NAACP in the lead, that are major recipients of big donations that come from these "artists" and "entrepreneurs." See my articles on the noble, but short-lived, campaigns to enlighten the public about the rap/hip-hop poison conducted first by
Delores Tucker
and then by
Abysssinian Baptist pastor, Rev. Calvin Butts.
And also

As I write this, Sharpton is preachifying about how he is going to go after the actual producers, the companies, those corporate executives, who are responsible for the very existence and dissemination of the filth they have the nerve to call "music." Let's see what happens when the NAACP brings him back to reality. In the past, neither Tucker nor Butts could get support from Sharpton or Jackson for their campaigns against those very corporations. After all these years of failing to disavow the black cultural dreck that has poisoned mainstream society, are these "civil rights" folks suddenly going to get down to the business of challenging blacks themselves? Perhaps, but only after they have taken down a few more white men. First blame Whitey.

See follow-up:
The humorless Imus escapes another mess


Anonymous said...

What a great article. Like you, I'm a longtime Imus listener, and I knew how politically correct he was, deep down inside. Ironic that it wasn't enough to save him.

Anonymous said...

I found Imus unlistenable, between his gravelly voice, his bland center-left politics, and his anemic aping of Stern's crudeness.

So I could care less that he was fired.

I do love the irony that millions of non-listeners such as me were exposed to his rudeness and thus the "humiliation" of the athletes was in fact far greater than it would have been if people had simply ignored it as the ramblings of a C-list media personality.