Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hos, Hymies and Hitler

Now that morning TV has been freed of Imus in less time than it took to topple Saddam Hussein, we can try to assess what happened.

In the entire cast of this social/political drama, the only figures to emerge with dignity are the Rutgers coach and players, who expressed their hurt and dismay in human terms, without the posturing and pomposity of everyone else who was involved or chose to be involved.

Imus, shaken out of his cowboy certitude, kept falling back on “I’m a good person,” but seemed incapable of fully understanding the depth of his atrocious behavior.

His employers, as always, kept ducking and weaving with the tide of public protest. Last night, in announcing the firing, Steve Capus hid behind NBC’s journalists without owning up to the effect of ratings and advertising on his decision.

In the same hour, Jesse Jackson quoted every slur and alleged slur in the Imus canon (without worrying about the possible effect on children who might be watching) and lectured Keith Olbermann on the lack of African American anchors on his network. Olbermann meekly observed that, when he is on vacation, his replacement is a black woman.

But it was the combination of Bill O’Reilly and Al Sharpton that was most illuminating. O’Reilly, obviously torn between his hatred of MSNBC and his distaste for the Reverend, kept mumbling “fair and balanced” as he brought up Jackson’s characterization of New York as “Hymietown,” which Sharpton dismissed as an off-the-record remark unworthy of being equated with “nappy-headed hos.”

Sharpton’s lecture on hurtful speech recalled his own remarks in 1988 during the Tawana Brawley fake rape race, when he noted that having her interviewed by Attorney General Robert Abrams (obviously Jewish) would be “like asking someone who watched someone killed in the gas chamber to sit down with Mr. Hitler.”

But golden oldies aside, all this has become very “Bonfire of the Vanities.” A magazine like Esquire or Vanity Fair would be well-advised to put Tom Wolfe on the case.

1 comment:

Daniel DiRito said...

Frankly, we are fast becoming the epitome of a Jerry Springer society. It seems to have become more important to have an audience and notoriety when confronting conflict than it is to attain resolve and mutual respect. That model seems to serve the needs of the exploited and those who seek to exploit; reinforcing all that relegates objectivity to the outhouse while making the frailty and imperfection of the human condition a spectacle that harkens back to the Coliseum.

This situation isn’t and shouldn’t be about whether liberals or conservatives, this race or that race, hip hop or honky-tonk, one group or another, are more offensive and therefore more responsible for all that is wrong with America. I am not capable of judging the whole of Don Imus nor am I capable of crafting a recipe to fix all of America…and neither are the countless pundits and partisans who have sought to frame it so.

I’m not a religious person…but I often find kinship with the imagery surrounding the portrayal of one called Jesus and his teachings of understanding and forgiveness. For all the banter I hear about the Bible and Christian values, it certainly seems to me that we are fast abandoning what many view as the sacred “tablets” in favor of the sacrosanct tabloids. If I’m right, all I can say is heaven help us.

Read more about the dynamics that lead a situation to become larger than the sum of its parts…here: