Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Imus: Racist Fuckwittery at its Finest.

For those of you who haven't been following the news, shock jock Don Imus referred to the Rutgers Women's Basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." He apologized and was suspended for two weeks, and the mainstream seems to be saying now that we should forgive, forget, and move on, while the progressives - at least the ones with any kind of race conciousness - are saying he should be fired because this sort of thing is simply unacceptable.

MSNBC is, predictably, distancing itself from Imus in a very "boys will be boys" sort of way. Here's a link that explains how (thanks to Pandagon, once again), and that also provides a good sense of what else Imus had been up to before this particular shit hit the fan. (Hint: it's the same old shit.)

What I think - I'm not as irate about this as everyone else in the blogoverse seems to be. I think it's simply because I'm not shocked, nor am I surprised, that he felt it would be ok to say this. I can't quite work up the juice to get angry, either, because the whole thing leaves me feeling so hopeless. After the whole Girls Gone Wild deal, I've been thinking a lot about how we get to a point where individuals can think it's ok to do things like coerce women into taking their clothes off or make comments on public airwaves (or, really, anywhere else) that are so horribly racist and misogynist.

When Mel Gibson did his bit of crazy last summer (following a fairly anti-Semitic movie, of course), and when Michael Richards had his moment, I felt open to the possibility that they both might just be, after all, white men who had been surprised at what came out of them under stress (or the influence of alcohol). I don't know what either have gone on to do in the service of what is known as "dealing with one's racism." And I've pretty much had to give up on Mel, I will admit - he's too far gone. (I don't know about Richards. He keeps a lower profile.) My point is, I'm willing to give people a chance to change, though it seems that many, many don't take this chance. But in the case of Imus - Imus has a long history of making or endorsing shit comments like these, as we see from the link above. This was not an aberration - this was business as usual, and it should have been stopped long ago.

I do, I confess, feel uncomfortable about taking someone down for one "mistake." But that's not what this was. It was no mistake. He simply figured that, having gotten away with it in the past, he'd get away with it again. Amanda Marcotte says it well:
"Let’s be perfectly clear. People aren’t mad at Imus for the sounds “nappy-headed ho”. We are mad because Don Imus is a racist fuckwit, everyone knows he’s a racist fuckwit, and when politicians go on his show and people go on TV defending him, they are saying, loud and clear, that racist fuckwittery wins and you people who are opposed to racist fuckwittery need to suck a lemon. We are mad because we want simple, basic justice and Imus and his buddies are resisting that. We want women to be athletes and we want black people to have the same access to education as white people and Imus and his buddies are resisting us. The exact language he used to convey the idea that he opposes female athletes and black scholars is interesting but not the ultimate point. The battle is over whether or not we as a society are going to grant full equality to women and black people or not."

So, yeah, I think he should be fired. If only that wouldn't create a martyr for all of those who think that the rest of us can't take a joke. But I can live with that.

Vote in online polls on whether or not Imus should be fired.

Sign the Feminist Majority petition calling for his termination.

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