In commenting on my friend Spencer's blog post last night about the Don Imus mess, I wrote that I just wish that the response from the African-American community wasn't being fronted by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, both men with some crappy junk in their histories. Al Sharpton has thrown too many stones over the years, and I find something about him (like Pat Robertson and others) to have too much self-righteous preacher man/snake oil salesman for my comfort. I'm not even going down the Tawana Brawley or Crown Heights paths. He just gives me the creeps in general. (I almost ran him over in Georgetown a couple of years ago when he jaywalked in front of me. If I can find the old Diaryland entry about it, I'll post it.)
Regardless, is Imus an ass in this case? Sure is.
Funny, funny, funny thing about Imus is in the script to Howard Stern's film "Private Parts" which was on TV yesterday:
Kenny, the WNBC Program Director, to Stern:
"You say a lot of offensive things, and occasionally you are real funny, but you've got to learn to do what Imus does.
See, he doesn't actually say the bad thing himself.
He says it through a character."
Gee, I wonder what "character" he was channeling the other day?
Then again, I wonder what character (or lack of character) Jesse Jackson was channeling back in 1984 when he told Washington Post reporter Milton Coleman that New York was "Hymietown" - full of "Hymies", as he called Jews. At first, Jackson denied saying this, vehemently. Then, he tried to manipulate the situation, by suggesting that Jews were trying working against his presidential campaign. This led to his friend Louis Farrakhan fanning the flames and making his famous threat to Jews for this imagined anti-Jackson campaign: "If you harm this brother, this will be the last brother you harm."
It was a load of crap.
Jackson finally admitted that he had said this in a speech at a synagogue, and he asked for forgiveness.
I still think that was a load of crap, too.
And now, here's Jesse Jackson, in an AP photo this morning on CNN.com, picketing NBC to have Imus fired. Was Imus a complete toad in what he said about the Rutgers women? You bet. Should he be fired? Hell, he probably should have been fired ages ago. But what makes Jesse Jackson's apology for his racism and Don Imus' apology for his racism different? Can anyone tell me?
Why isn't an African-American leader with less similar sin standing out there, righteously picketing and asking for the head of Don Imus? I simply can't take Jesse Jackson seriously in this situation. As I commented on Spencer's very well-written post, I’d rather hear more from the women of Rutgers, who can speak passionately on their own behalf, and with no baggage attached.
What's your take?
Update: Meredith Viera asked Jesse Jackson point blank about "Hymietown" this morning, and Jackson pretty much blew her off. Grrr. I would have given him serious points for addressing that.
I've always begrudgingly accepted the roles that people like Jackson and Sharpton play in our country as unfortunately necessary. In a society where there are many inequalities facing minorities and often with the establishment upholds these inequalities, they provide balance. They're not politicians - they're activists. Often activists have sullied pasts, and often aren't the smoothest in the sense of PR, but they serve a purpose. What you have to remember is that they are only concerned with the plight of black Americans; just as there are people focused on only the plight of jewish people, catholics, irish, etc. etc.
When the Klu Klux Klan is planning a protest, you want that equal response from the other side. If we didn't have people like Jackson, Sharpton, and even Farrakhan then society would be out of balance. There are many times when I wished they didn't speak for me - but there are times when you need that type of vitriol in response to a situation. For instance - if it weren't for Sharpton and the pressure he brought, I'm not sure if CBS and MSNBC suspend Imus.
Very valid points, Spencer. Thanks for that perspective.
I think you're right about the pressure on Imus from Sharpton. I mean, as it is, they're not taking Imus off until *after* he's done a charity event, and then, they're bringing him back just in time for radio sweeps.
Of course, if his advertisers keep bailing, maybe he will totally tank in the interim. We shall see...
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