As readers of this blog know, my day job has prevented me from posting more frequently in recent weeks. Thankfully, this project consuming so much of my time should be concluded in another ten days.
In the meantime, I wanted to put in my two cents about the Don Imus controversy. Ironic that as we approach the sixtieth anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s Major League Baseball debut, Don Imus's tastless joke about the Rutgers University women's basketball team cost him his radio job.
Sixty years ago that would've been unthinkable. In Jackie Robinson’s lifetime, hate speech was common in the public square. Father Coughlin for example stoked anti-Semitism on his radio program as the Holocaust raged in Europe. Imus is hardly the rabble-rouser or hate monger Father Coughlin was. Nor is he as bad as more contemporary radio personalities such as the infamous Bob Grant who polluted the airwaves with racist diatribes for three decades. Nonetheless, I’m gratified at the condemnation Imus received. I readily acknowledge the man’s charitable work but it doesn’t excuse the damage he’s caused throughout his career.
What especially irked me is how Imus ignored a basic rule we all learned on the playground: pick on somebody your own size. These are kids without a platform to fight back. For that alone Imus deserved to be fired. If people want to accuse me of “political correctness” so be it. Imus would have never apologized if people had remained silent.
I’m also irked by celebrity elites such as senators John McCain and Chris Dodd who frequently appeared on his program. Their appearances allowed Imus to enjoy a veneer of legitimacy and that in turn ceded legitimacy to his over the top sexism and bigotry. More than Don Imus is guilty for the power and influence he wielded in his career. He had plenty of enablers and we should never forget that.