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Pre-2008 Posts

Freedom Rider: “Does White America Love Imus?”


 Freedom Rider:

The Don Imus debacle just gets worse. For years he has been the biggest purveyor of racist hate speech on the air waves. He is also very powerful, so even prominent liberals like Frank Rich will bow and scrape in order to stay in the very lucrative Imus circle.

After describing the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy headed ho’s” he first apologized and then had a two hour long come to Jesus meeting on Al Sharpton’s radio show. He was still slapped with a two week suspension. Clearly his bosses were not amused by his comments and were not impressed with his contrition. Thank God for small favors.

Now the truth is coming out. Don Imus is popular because he is so hateful. Like Howard Stern, he has a large white, male audience because he gets away with making the racist, misogynistic statements they wish they could get away with saying. It is at the very least impolite to call anyone a “ho” or to talk about a former first couple as “Bill Clinton and his fat ugly wife, Satan.”

Now the apologists are coming out of the wood work and some of them are black. Congressman Keith Ellison says that black people should think of “redemption and reconciliation” if Imus is truly contrite. Gwen Ifill, host of Washington Week on PBS, was herself a victim of Imus’ bigotry when he called her a “cleaning lady.” She criticized Imus, but in a strangely detached way. In a New York Times op-ed she asked, “Why do my journalistic colleagues appear on Mr. Imus’s program? That’s for them to defend, and others to argue about.”

Ifill knows the real deal. Don’t complain too much about powerful white men. They can do what they want, including insult and offend, with impunity. Why shouldn’t she ask about her colleagues who sully themselves to suck up to this misogynistic bigot? Ifill certainly knows her bread is buttered with the corporate media and that she had better not step out of line if she wants the spread to stay on the loaf.

Here is a good rule for everyone to follow. Don’t trust anyone who apologizes for Imus. They are all believers in white male supremacy, whether they admit it or not.

Read the whole thing.   “Enabling Imus” is also good, same article is also here.

I look at those girls’ faces and want so bad for Imus to get exactly, precisely everything that is coming to him doubled and tripled.   What an irredeemable ass.




24 thoughts on “Freedom Rider: “Does White America Love Imus?”

  1. Clearly his bosses were not amused by his comments and were not impressed with his contrition. Thank God for small favors.

    Bullshyt. His bosses could have care less. They only became “un-amused” when places like media matters and others started complaining to the point it was causing problems with sponsers. They were his enablers all along. I hate this technique of trying to act like Imus is an island. He has been able to survive exactly because of this:

    “he has a large white, male audience because he gets away with making the racist, misogynistic statements they wish they could get away with saying. ”

    And as bad as the “nappy-headed” part is/was, I am sure the “ho” part would have went unchecked if it stood alone.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | April 11, 2007, 7:06 pm
  2. Yeah, cm, I think Freedom Rider was being sarcastic with that “Thank God for small favors.”

    It makes me ILL. Me, the pacifist, wants to start knocking heads together.


    Posted by womensspace | April 11, 2007, 7:31 pm
  3. I think we should all throw out our television sets. I’m not outraged at Imus, becaues it’s typical of shock jock behavior.

    I’m outraged that people continue to let themselves be used as tools by cable TV and corporate media.

    Everyone is rushing around and googling Don Imus, pushing his profile higher, but its not Imus that is the issue it is his bosses. It is this culture of as long as it get ratings and catering to the lowest common denominator of society and that’s what the corporate media does.

    It distracts people from talking about the real issues like how we’re all going to die if we don’t stop polluting and how the US tried to get that toned down in the report. To me that’s what we should be talking about right now, but we’re not, because we’re talking about this idiot and the idiots that are his bosses.

    I wonder is there a connection in that…


    Posted by Lo | April 11, 2007, 7:37 pm
  4. There is an element to the media deciding what topic and when that said topic is discussed. To me the scary part is after the topic is beaten to a pulp there will be a mainstream sentiment that the problem is solved because that topic was covered already. Old hat and all that jazz.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | April 11, 2007, 8:04 pm
  5. I was appalled when I heard about what he had said – more appalled when I found out people didn’t think it was a big deal. I don’t listen to Don Imus, never have, and more than likely never will, but I know that Opie & Anthony of XM Satellite fame like him, and that’s enough to let me know there’s something wrong with him.

    Posted by gingermiss | April 11, 2007, 8:12 pm
  6. i love how kia vaughn, one of the rutgers players, responded to imus’ comment:

    “I achieve a lot, and unless they have given this name of ‘ho’ a new definition, then that is not what I am.”

    such a beautiful, strong statement. brava, i say.

    Posted by ladoctorita | April 11, 2007, 8:13 pm
  7. That should finish his career if I could have any say in the matter! It is beyond infuriating that his ilk get so supported, fawned over, yadda yadda.

    I particularly can’t believe Keith Ellison’s remarks.

    GAH!! Sorry, no eloquence here, just sputtering rage…

    Posted by anon | April 11, 2007, 8:50 pm
  8. Sure guys like this are hired to do what they do. No question. Controversy, what they’re getting away with is what sells publications who employ columnists like him, and what sells ads for radio and tv shows like Imus’s. Whom I’ve never heard of by the way. Oooh sorry guy.

    I gave up tv long ago, 11 years now, and never listen to commercial radio. Recently I visited a home which had over 80 channels, and a wall sized tv. I could not find a damn thing I wanted to watch. I believe I spent 25 minutes one night flipping through trying to find something. Nada.

    The more people like him are tuned out, and the advertisers who back his show hear from angry consumers who tell them they refuse to buy their product, the sooner he’ll be gone.

    Posted by Pony | April 11, 2007, 10:57 pm
  9. OT, but the Duke Lacrosse Players have been declared ‘innocent’ by the Attorney General of last year’s rape of Crystal Mangum.

    It’s a good day to be a wealthy little white boy. I can’t see their smug, cleanshaven faces without wanting to stab them through the eyes, and I already got into one argument with a family member about this.

    Crystal Mangum wanted to go forward with the charges. She wanted to take it to court. That tells me that she was serious about the accusation.

    Sorry. Needed to vent.

    Posted by Miranda | April 11, 2007, 11:12 pm
  10. There are no words for the level of sadness and frustration that I feel. How do people sleep at night with that much hate inside them?

    Posted by hurricanecandice | April 12, 2007, 12:33 am
  11. Hmmm. Turnabout is fair-play:

    Imus makes male chimpanzees look cultured. Obviously, the reason why he is such a testosterone-shrew is that he and his hairy-palmed right hand have broken up. If he took care of his skanky-looking body better and maintained his spinal flexibility, he could just bend over and suck on his own dick, which would be an appropriate use of his oral skills, and I’m sure he’d be happier as well as a lot less hormonal. I think however, that there is a distinct chance of his sad little sausage scuttling right into his abdominal cavity when it gets a look at that gnarly grimace headed for it– he needs at least a half-dozen face-lifts to even begin to pass for human. Butt-implants and a new wardrobe wouldn’t hurt, either. Since he has given up thinking and is settling for being a tinker-tool, he needs to start working on his looks. I suggest he starts with a flea-dip, deodorant, clean underwear and lots of periodontal work. Then, as soon as he’s presentable, he can hustle his punk little ass up to the bar, and bring the Rutgers Women their beer.

    Ah, Free Speech…

    Posted by akkarri | April 12, 2007, 5:18 am
  12. HA!! 😀

    It is interesting, really interesting, turning the tables on these guys rhetorically, doing to them the rough equivalent of what they do to us. How would it fly if we did, said, what they do and say to us all of the time?


    Posted by womensspace | April 12, 2007, 11:19 am
  13. Nappy headed ho’s? And who does he imagine himself to be? The cracker pimp who gets to sell us all?

    Game over, Imus. There will be no overtime.

    Posted by Luckynkl | April 12, 2007, 2:07 pm
  14. It hasn’t escaped my attention that similar remarks haven’t been made about men’s/boys’ college sports teams even though many of those players are also black. Separatists can say what they want to say but the truth is that even racial remarks are okay just so long as they’re said about women and not men.

    Posted by CoolAunt | April 12, 2007, 2:14 pm
  15. It hasn’t escaped my attention that similar remarks haven’t been made about men’s/boys’ college sports teams even though many of those players are also black.

    Well, I don’t know about college, but the NFL sure didn’t find anything to smile about when Jimmy-the-Greek, NFL tv sports commentor, made racist remarks about the black players’ physiques being a result of their great slave breeding. They fired his sorry ass. Oops, Jimmy, guess people didn’t find it oh so great.

    Posted by Luckynkl | April 12, 2007, 2:45 pm

    So Snoop says that rappers are different. Lets connect the dots…Snoop MSNBC is owned by NBC and Universal and Snoop is on what record label, oh Universal….oh ok, so what he says means what…How long people are you going to keep watching corporate crap? How long are we all going to be tools to these assholes?


    Posted by Lo | April 12, 2007, 4:05 pm
  17. Excellent post and links – thanks – Z

    Posted by profacero | April 12, 2007, 5:04 pm
  18. Glad to bring a smile to you, Heart!

    I see doing ‘turnabout’ things as serious Heyoka Magick: when taken-for-granted ‘truths’ are reversed via the Sacred Trickster-energy, it is really easy to see both the inequity in certain things as well as how that inequity is enforced. This is why xtianity is so quick to demonize the Sacred Contrary as ‘Satan’– the male hierarchy running the show does NOT want the basic inequity of their religion pointed out by the inversion-joking and gender-bending of Heyokas holding up a Trickster-mirror to what they are doing.

    As far as actions go, I think hordes of secretaries ought to band together on their lunch hour, go to construction sites, and whistle and yell obscene anatomical comments at the workers. Undoubtedly, the police would soon be called, which would clearly point up the inequity: men have harrassment protection and privileges in everyday life, but Women don’t. If any of the men even think to ask why the Women did this, the response could be, ‘Well, you know– girls will be girls…’

    I also read Lo’s link to the ‘Snoop’s Ho’s’ article above, and I have to say that corporate sponsorship of rap strikes me as a white slave-owners’ distraction-measure: make sure that when black men lash out, they do it in a ‘safe’ direction, i.e., at Black Women and not at white men. More ‘divide and conquer’ is the way I see it, and Snoop is part of the problem. He needs a dose of Heyoka-wisdom: trick him up, pimp him out, and let him walk a mile in the moccasins of all those ‘b*tch ho’s’ he complains about. Then he’d *really* see what the word ‘abuse’ entails.

    Another thing that the above issue brings up is the inequity between men and Women when it comes to the Arts. How is it that the most puerile ravings of men are automatically ‘great poetry’, ‘serious music’, ‘true fine art’, ‘profound’, while Women still have to deal with labels like ‘Women Poets’, ‘Female Rock-Stars’ and ‘Feminist Artists’? I’m sorry, but the default setting for ‘creativity’ is not ‘male creativity’, and I long to see Women do a ‘creative Heyoka’ thing in the arts, and fetishize male subjects in photos, paintings and poetry in the same way that Women themselves have been. I see this as an area where Women could do some serious Heyoka-Work without facing immediate jail-time for ‘harrassing the massa’…

    Posted by akkarri | April 12, 2007, 8:45 pm
  19. Imus has been fired by CBS:

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | April 12, 2007, 9:38 pm
  20. I suppose that it’s not terribly surprising that a white, male “shock” jock would say something like this, but it seems especially cruel. I mean, you’ve got the Rutgers’ women’s team, who just kicked some serious ass in the NCAA tournament, and despite not winning it all were probably on a serious emotional high, and all Don Imus has to say about them is that he thinks they’re “nappy headed hos?” What a dick. Like, even by the racist and sexist standards of shock jocks, that’s a real dick move.

    Posted by Metal Prophet | April 12, 2007, 11:24 pm
  21. I wonder how Imus managed to convince the Rutgers team he was really sorry. I doubt that. He is probably sorry that he lost his cushy job, but the coach C. Vivian Stringer seems to think he deserves a chance to move on, whatever that means.

    She also said, “These comments are indicative of greater ills in our culture. It is not just Mr. Imus, and we hope that this will be and serve as a catalyst for change. Let us continue to work hard together to make this world a better place.” I agree with that.

    Posted by Aletha | April 14, 2007, 8:29 am
  22. Barbara Ehrenreich has some good things to say. Try to avoid the comments though, unless you are feeling particularly masochistic. Argh. Why do feminists allow these idiotic white male supremacist comments through? They are EVERYWHERE, why are they allowed on feminist blogs?


    Posted by womensspace | April 14, 2007, 6:48 pm
  23. Robin Morgan: Beyond Imus — It’s the Hypocrisy, Stupid!

    April 16

    Periodically, some new wound rips the scab off our national, livid scar where sex and race intersect: the young law professor, Anita Hill, shaming Congress by her dignity and inspiring women with her truth; the O.J. Simpson circus trials; the Duke-Lacrosse mystery; Don Imus v. the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team.

    We’re an adolescent country, ahistoric, not that well educated. Most Americans still don’t know that “races” do not exist, that what gets termed “races” are miniscule physical variations across our species, due to different survival adaptations we’ve developed since our human ancestors migrated from Africa to other geographical regions. (One instance: in a sun-drenched sub-Saharan climate, melanin in our pigmentation created darker skin as a protective necessity; under cloudier northern skies, paler pigmentation suppressing melanin became necessary so we could absorb more Vitamin D from the sun.)

    Yet ironically, while believing “race” is real, many Americans think racism, sexism, and other bigotries are myths—a staggering feat of collective denial. How many times have you heard someone start (or finish) a diatribe with “Well, I’m no racist (sexist, homophobe, etc.), but . . . ?

    Michael Richards follows his melt-down by proclaiming he’s not a racist; Mel Gibson weeps he’s not an anti-Semite; actor Isaiah Washington calls a colleague “faggot,” but insists he’s no homophobe. Politicians spew blatant or coded hate speech, then muster blame-the-victim, nonapology apologies (“Sorry if anyone mistook what I meant”). They all scuttle behind the excuse of work-stress or alcoholism while fleeing to the latest damage-control hideaway: rehab.

    Howard Stern, who built his career on every form of bigotry, “libertarian” Bill Maher, and new neocon Dennis Miller all boast about attacking “the Establishment” while they parrot and reinforce its basest values, and hide behind the “equal-opportunity insulter” justification—as if pain lands with the same impact on the powerless as on the powerful. A few others walk a fine line of satirizing prejudices while trying not to reinforce them. Stephen Colbert has built a not-so-bright, archconservative character deliberately to skewer that character’s politics. Yet even Jon Stewart, whose work I admire, at times jettisons his political conscience where sexism is concerned—perhaps too eager to court that age 18 to 24 pale-male consumer demographic?

    But all of these “truth-telling,” “ground-breaking,” “ballsy,” so-called rebels, however much they might now tiptoe around “the N word,” tiptoe more around words that would be really dangerous to use, especially in self-examination:

    The R word: Racist. The S word: Sexist. The H word: Homophobe.

    Well, after a lifetime of activism—from the civil-rights movement through antiwar, antipoverty, the birth of lesbian and gay rights, the founding and flowering of the contemporary feminist movement in the United States and globally—I am still a racist, a sexist, a homophobe. How could I not be? How can any of us—no matter our sex or ethnicity—not be sexist, racist, and all the other –ists? Our society sowed these seeds in our formative consciousness.

    I remember my mother and aunts—good women, liberal whites, working-class, apostate Jews, proud members of the NAACP—unthinkingly saying “That’s white of you,” or “I’m free, white, and 21,” or even “You can’t wear those new shoes yet! Stop acting nigger-rich.” Yet these women once soaped out the mouth of a playmate who used “nigger” as an epithet; all the while they chuckled at “Amos and Andy” stereotypes on the radio and made “No tickee no washee” jokes at the Chinese laundry. Conveniently, they didn’t connect the dots.

    As a child, I sure got their double message, though. Never since have I been able to cleanse myself totally of those messages, not under the blast of Southern sheriff’s fire hoses, not on picket lines or at sit-ins or in jail cells. I wrestle with those toxins—whispery, seductive, semiconscious—every damned day, in myriad ways, and will do so until I die. Hannah Arendt termed this a necessary vigilance about “the Eichmann within,” who gets loose only when not acknowledged. It’s the hypocrisy. I believe that each of us truly commits to fight bigotry only when we get royally pissed at how it has warped our own humanity. At least then, with enlightened self-interest, we’re less likely to play Lord or Lady Bountiful but abandon the direct victims when the going gets rough. There’s no vaccine for these poisons siphoned into our systems, no individual-case cure. But recognition is the prerequisite step in treating such diseases until we can eradicate them outright. For that we need to come off it and tell the truth.

    It’s not about blame, but about responsibility; not about guilt, but about change.

    The same is even truer of sexism—where denial and collaboration are epidemic. Racism is still taken more seriously because men suffer from it, too—and whatever any men do or feel must be more important than what happens “only” to all women. When a man says “I’m no sexist, but . . .” I groan inside. But when the rare guy begins, “I guess I must be a sexist, but I don’t want to be, so how . . .” he gets my attention: he’s owning up to reality, and already addressing not what but how.

    Everyone over age 45 shares some version of my childhood brain-soiling experiences. Younger Americans share different pernicious messages: It’s cool to make fun of geezers, fat people, spastics, amputees. If certain hip-hop lyrics reek violent woman-hatred, it’s hip for everyone to echo that (and it rakes in dough for the pale-male-owned record companies). If chic fashion spreads celebrate sado-porn rape poses, well, that’s just edgy. If talk-radio’s crude propaganda spews words like “feminazis,” “retards,” “Lezzies,” “ragheads,” and “wetbacks,” gee, lighten up, nobody takes that seriously. (Who is nobody?) If “Hey, man,” “What’s up, dude,” or “You guys” have been resurrected as generic terms for greeting a friend/friends, then to point out wearily that these terms erase female presence is to invite rebuttals revived word-for-word from the 1970s: to be overly sensitive, uncool, and, naturally, one of those humorless, dreary PC types. (About 15 years ago, I wrote a Ms. editorial explaining “PC” as really standing for Plain Courtesy.) D’uh. We’ve been here before, oh yeah. But it still hurts.

    It hurts. What part of “It hurts” don’t they understand?

    I know, I know, it’s positive (however maddening) that our memory-challenged pundits now claim the Imus affair will “open” a national dialogue about which some of us Americans are already hoarse, yet still babbling. I know patience is not my strong suit. I know that over time, consciousness is contagious. Once you start connecting dots, you can’t help but connect more. Rep. Linda Sanchez recently suspended her membership in the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, the second to leave the group charging sexism; her sister, Rep. Loretta Sanchez resigned after accusing caucus chairman Rep. Joe Baca of referring to her as a “whore.” Star athletes, members of Congress, law professors, single moms dancing at frat parties to support their kids, presidential candidates—when in doubt, call ‘em whores. We’re none of us immune to the hurt. And we’re none of us immune to being agents for the hurt.

    I don’t only mean obvious offenders, serial right-wing purveyors of hate like Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, et al. What about liberal compartmentalizers? Wasn’t that left-leaning Hollywood awarding an Oscar to the song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”? In a coyly intellectual version of “Ooops, my bad!” progressive politicians and journalists—Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Rep. Harold Ford, Frank Rich, Jeff Greenfield, a depressingly long list—now sheepishly admit to having been (caught as) enablers by appearing on “serious” segments of Imus shows, while they conveniently overlooked vicious sexist and racist “jokes” bracketing their discussions. I’ve heard feminist spokeswomen defend appearing on shock-jock shows or political shout-fest programs claiming the “need to reach those audiences.” To help generate more heat than light? To be a guest or a dartboard? To do outreach or to collaborate—conveniently compartmentalizing while hyping a book or oneself?

    Language reflects and defines attitudes. Attitudes reflect and define action. It’s the hypocrisy, stupid.

    From the media, as usual, we relearned Compartmentalization 101: Whatever Men Say and Do is More Interesting than Whatever Women Say and Do.

    Feminist movement support for the Rutgers team has been close to eradicated in coverage, which positioned Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as leading the protests. Most pundits chose to play a sick Competition of Oppressions game, presenting the Imus debacle as more a racist story than a sexist one—as if human suffering should be compared, women appear in only one skin tone, and bigots can’t hate and chew gun at the same time. The Sunday morning TV political shows ignored the sexism entirely. Some commentators justly praised pressure brought by a 200,000 member African American women’s organization joining the protests, but neglected to mention that The National Council of Women’s Organizations—11 million multiethnic women in 210 organizations—was among the first to demand firing Imus and his producer. Eleanor Smeal of the Feminist Majority Foundation met privately with the team at the start, and her speech brought down the house at their Rutgers rally. NOW’s President Kim Gandy has been denouncing Imus for years, and from the first moment this story broke, she, together with heads of other national feminist organizations, attended those same pressure meetings with CBS and NBC executives. These were meetings where Sharpton and Jackson—each bearing personal baggage as an apologist for his own past sexist actions and ethnic hate speech—garnered the media spotlight.

    The fall-out from such destructive divide-and-conquer reporting implies that African American male leaders cared, but women of all other ethnicities did not. Erasure again—partial-truth reporting that feeds racism and sexism.

    By now, we ought to know better, right? We ought to know that, despite persistent, erroneous media references otherwise, women are not another minority: we’re 52% of the population—and of the species. And you can damned well bet we come in all sizes, shades, shapes, ages. You name it, we are it. That’s the F word: Feminism.

    At least the women athletes from Rutgers (two of whom are stereotype-breaking European Americans, by the way) got it right. Refusing to compartmentalize, and continuing to demonstrate not only physical but moral grace, they made clear they felt all women had been degraded by Imus’s remark. As team captain Essence Carson said: “We’re just trying to give a voice to women who suffer from sexism. . . . Not just African American women, but all women.”

    Slam dunk.


    Posted by womensspace | April 17, 2007, 8:27 pm

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