Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bring back Imus
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Funny, but I never saw the hullabaloo over Don Imus’ offensive remarks
coming. Nor am I sure exactly what’s been accomplished with him gone.
For the time being, anyway. Does anybody doubt that the “I-man,” as talk
radio’s AM drive-time misanthrope likes being called, will resurface on
a different network peddling his peculiar blend of news, sports, insider
media gossip, satire and buffoonery? If only, I suspect, to prove that
he can. There’s no doubt that Imus’ nasty crack about the Rutgers
women’s basketball team was brutally offensive in ways nobody really
talked about. Maybe because the actual insult didn’t precisely fit
anybody’s script in the ensuing melodrama—neither Imus’ nor those who
demanded his firing. Here’s how it went: Imus: “So I watched the
basketball game last night between—a little bit of Rutgers and
Tennessee, the women’s final.” Sid Rosenberg: “Yeah, Tennessee won last
night—seventh championship for [Tennessee coach ] Pat Summitt, I-man.
They beat Rutgers by 13 points.”

Imus: “That’s some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and—”

Bernard McGuirk: “Some hardcore hos.”

Imus: “That’s some nappyheaded hos there. I’m gonna tell you that now,
man, that’s some—whoo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute,
you know, so, like—kinda like—I don’t know.”

McGuirk: A Spike Lee thing. The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes—that movie
that he had. ”

Charles McCord: “Do the Right Thing.”

Rosenberg: “It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look
exactly like the Toronto Raptors.”

Actually, they got the movie wrong. The 1988 Spike Lee film satirizing a
feud between “Jigaboos” and “Wannabes,” lightskinned social climbers at
a black college in the South, was “School Daze.” Like most of Lee’s
films, it sparked much controversy in the black community. Three
colleges expelled the production company from their campuses during
shooting. One of its big production numbers was called “Straight and

The Rutgers girls weren’t being mocked for being black. Most of the
Tennessee players were African Americans, too. Worse, they were being
lampooned for being, to Imus’ liver-spotted, New York wiseacres,
unattractive and masculine.

Nobody should have been surprised. Sports reporter Rosenberg has been
dropped from the show for making even uglier remarks about the
tennis-playing Williams sisters. He once mocked a woman entertainer’s
breast cancer surgery. But the I-man kept bringing him back.

Imus’ gang may have imagined that the Spike Lee reference would protect
them. Interestingly, Lee himself, no shrinking violet, played no active
role in the televised drama of accusation and recrimination that
followed. Maybe that’s why I missed the cue. A long-ago graduate of
Rutgers —“ The State University” —I’d watched some of the game, read
about the slur, figured most New Jersey people had thicker skins than
that. My freshman dorm was like one of those World War II platoons in
the movies—mostly first-generation college kids from every ethnic group
imaginable. Irish, Italian, Jewish, Greek, Polish, Russian, everything
but Hispanics, of whom New Jersey had very few in those days. If there
were few blacks, there weren’t many WASPs, either. We used to sit up
nights comparing the superstitions and foibles of our immigrant parents
and grandparents, secure in the belief, most of us, that Old Country
tribalism was behind us forever. I recall being thrilled by the
protagonist of New Jersey novelist Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint,”
telling his relatives to “Stick your suffering tradition...” —well,
somewhere very impolite.

Ethnic insults are a New York/New Jersey art form. My brother used to
have a routine where he’d outline who did what on a New Jersey
construction job—Mexican laborers, Irish plumber, Polish roofer,
Brazilian floor men, Jewish lawyer, etc. He’d close in a loud stage
whisper for his Italian partner’s benefit with something about not doing
business with “Guidos” at all. But African American is an ethnicity
people often don’t let you resign from. And the Rutgers girls were just
that: young college kids, 19 or 20 most of them, and not public figures
like Hillary Clinton (“Satan” to the Imus gang), or Dick Cheney (“war
criminal”), or Al Gore (“evil”). To me, everything that needed saying
about the episode was contained in a letter to The New York Times by
Lisa Wilson, a self-described “white, prudish suburban woman” from York,
Maine. “When I saw the young women of Rutgers,” she wrote, “I was shamed
as I have never been shamed before. I suddenly saw my very real
contribution to our racial divide. Indifference. I’d been willing to
dismiss the denigration of African Americans and women because it’s
become common and because it suited me. And I learned the true meaning
of grace and courage from those young women.” So should we all. As for
Imus, satire’s impossible without giving offense. These ritual
banishments only provoke resentment. I’d bring him back, assuming he can
find any sponsors.


Post a Comment

<< Home