Don Imus' mistake was not in his apologizing for it. If he felt an apology was in order, he was correct in apologizing. Although, my apology would have been along the order of "I'm sorry you can't take a joke."
Was he insensitive? Yes, but so what? We're all way too sensitive. We need to toughen up.
Were his comments racist? Well, to pull a Bill Clinton, it depends on what your definition of racist is. But I say no.
Merriam-Webster defines racism as:
- a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
- racial prejudice or discrimination
I've never met Don Imus. I have no desire to meet Don Imus. But I've heard him on the radio and seen bits and pieces of his simulcasts on MSNBC.
I don't think Don Imus is a racist. And I don't think his calling the Rutgers womens basketball team "nappy-headed hos" indicates a belief in the inferiority of the race of either the black or white players on the team.
Is it a disparaging stereotype? Of course it is. Just like folks calling me an ignorant redneck is a disparaging stereotype.
Or, like it would have been if Imus had called the Tennessee womens basketball team "bleach-blonde bimbos." But Imus didn't. Perhaps he should have. That would have been okay, I guess.
No, seriously, if he had, he'd have apologized. Maybe. If he had, Pat Summitt would have said something, and that would have been the end of it. Except maybe in the state Tennessee, where most folks don't care for Don Imus ... or anyone else from New York City ... anyway.
But Imus said what he said about the Rutgers womens basketball team. He apologized. And he lost the radio gig.
So, where did he go wrong?
He apologized to Al Sharpton. He allowed Jesse Jackson and others like him to get some press.
The mistake Don Imus made was in not being Don Imus.
He needs to stop apologizing and kowtowing to the Sharpton-Jackson crowd.
Although it's not my cup of tea, Don Imus is good at what he does, when he's being Don Imus. He needs to keep doing that.