The Stench They Call the I-Man
The execs at CBS and MSNBC must be feeling really good about themselves today. At the start of a fresh work week, they can be relieved that they washed the I-Man out of their hair, finally ridding themselves of the show that was sometimes racist, sometimes sexist, and most of the time obnoxious. They probably are proud to wear their “I’m not a racist” merit badges on their sleeves, having pacified the many people that were calling for Don Imus to get fired. Now that the Shrek-like ogre hunt is over, can we honestly say that we have rid ourselves of the stain of racism that plagues this country? Of course not. The whole Imus thing, from start to finish, just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
First and foremost is the comment that Imus made. When I heard what happened, I was reminded of why I chose to no longer tune in to “Imus in the Morning” a few years ago. Why some people think it was remotely okay for Imus to say this is beyond me.
Why some people use his stupidity to begin a finger-pointing party at hip-hop music makes no sense to me. These are two totally different contexts and while a new dialogue on hip-hop could be inspired by this, it is wrong to shift responsibility from one thing to another.
The fact that Imus was fired from both corporations only after they lost some heavy-hitting sponsors sickens me. Offering some self-righteous comments denouncing Imus, these execs claimed to “do the right thing” by dropping the show only when retaining it seemed to threaten their ability to retain the almighty advertising dollar.
Then you have the comments of some of his friends and former guests. It’s like this: You have a friend with bad gas. He farts all the time in public; it stinks, but no one calls him on it. Instead, you laugh and giggle (maybe uncomfortably), but you continue to encourage and support the fart problem. Finally, one day, the fart stinks so badly that lots of people notice it. You no longer have a choice. You jump on the bandwagon and try to distance yourself as much as possible from your friend and his fart, fearing that its stench will somehow affect your life. While many people have made convenient statements to offer a sort of obligatory disassociation concerning a personal or professional relationship with Imus, how can we ignore the fact that he just became another cog in the 24/7 news wheel?
Last week was a week of outrage. Imus’s comment was deplorable, but I question the motives of the people that fired him. I question the sincerity of the many friends and former guests that ran away from his last bad stinky fart. I question the commitment of so many of these publicly outraged people to get real and do tangible things to rid America from institutionalized racism.
And I’ll be honest here- I think it’s too bad that Imus is no longer on the air to right his wrong. Imagine if he were given his suspension followed by a sort of probationary period, a set amount of time when he was compelled to take up the cause of American racism with a fervor similar to his efforts for kids with cancer and kids with autism. The corporate execs may have silenced the public outcry, but they also silenced a loud voice in the fight to keep kids in this country healthy. I encourage you to read David Kirby's entry in today's Huffington Post because as much as I think Imus should kick his farting habit and ban his farting friends from his show, I do fear some children and their families just lost their biggest advocate.