Thursday, April 12, 2007

Where Don Imus Went Wrong

No, it wasn't calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" that was Don Imus' mistake. Don Imus has said lots of things that he's regretted. We all have.

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:

  1. 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

  2. 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.


  1. Al Sharpton is a Nappy Headed Ho...

    pray that black people wake up to the fact that this is not 1950 and the enemy is not white people but greedy, self-aggrandizing, publicity-grabbing, money-laundering, drug-dealing, race-baiting, self-loathing black demagogues like Al Sharpton....

  2. Basil, I agree with you. I don't care for him, either. But, he should never have agreed to be interviewed by Al Sharpton. And, as you said, he had no reason to apologize to Al Sharpton - only to that basketball team. And it bothers me that MSNBC kowtowed to them, too. The more people do it, the worse those guys are going to be.

  3. If anyone's a nappy-headed Ho, it's that person who falsely accused the three Duke lacrosse players of rape! And guess who's "defending" her? Yep, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

  4. Imus endured death threats for supporting Harold Ford, Jr., who is black, over Bob Corker, who is white, in the recent election for the open Senate seat in Tennessee. Obviously a racist person would NEVER openly support a black candidate over a white candidate. So the racist charge is off the table.

    It's all about a double standard and opportunism. If you're black you have a small cache of words that you can use to refer to other black people with immunity. If a white person dares utter one of those words they are considered a racist. Sharpton and Jackson troll around looking for white people who use language that is the exclusive domain of blacks and then go for the jugular. Imus played his cards wrong and they got his scalp. Now they feel empowered and they'll go for more.

    For the record, I don't use the words "nappy" or "ho" as part of my vernacular. But, there are innumerable rap artists (many on record labels owned by the likes of NBC and CBS) who use those words, and far worse ones, with reckless abandon. Why aren't Sharpton and Jackson pursuing them with the same fervor?

  5. I think Sharpton & Jackson are a couple of nappy headed hos...and I mean that in the kindest way. :)

  6. Basil,

    I'm a black female and couldn't agree more that Imus went wrong by apologizing to Al Sharpton. He actually gave power to Sharpton by appearing on his show.

    Having said that, I've got to say that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are NOT role models or leaders for the black community and I take offense every time I hear it.

    Imus was fired because of public outrage and declining sponsorship, not because of the "power" of Sharpton.

  7. cujokay:

    I think most White folks think of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as "the leaders" of the Black community. And that's part of the problem.

    If more White folks paid attention to what Black folks ... and not the self-appointed "leaders" like Sharpton and Jackson ... say, we'd all understand each other a lot better.

  8. You're right again. Mainstream (white) America has given these two clowns more power and influence than they have ever received in the black community. I'm not sure how it happened that folks feel the need to apologize to them when making an apology to the black community at large.

    For the most part, they are both considered has beens, (or in the case of Sharpton, never have beens), out of touch with today's reality. Sharpton and Jackson are looking out for their own adgenda.

    This is my first visit to your blog and enjoyed your article and decided to comment.

    Thanks for welcoming me with your kind response.

  9. cujokay:
    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for your comments.

    Don't be a stranger.

  10. Now, had Imus called Sharpton a "nappy-headed ho" (as Bernie's tracked back post does... sorta), he'd owe nappy-headed hos an apology for the slur...

    Yeh, I told bernie he should apologize to nappy-headed hos for the slur on their character. Sharpton, Jackson and all their slanderous, race-baiting ilk are just one sign of our society's "victim" industry, though.

  11. [...] those of you demanding mroe about Imus, i give you this - Basil is more tolerant than I. He also links to a fellow from his blogroll, A Typical Joe, who goes [...]

  12. Any of you that may me glad Imus is gone, please think of this.. Yes, he's gone, but how about the way he was dismissed?

    I don't want to be in the position of defending Imus, because I don't like him myself, although I have been defending him all week.
    But not for my liking him, that's for sure. But for his right to say what he wants to say, and for what he believes!

    Free Speech does not mean, we have to right to say whatever is popular and ONLY what you and I believe in . It means we have the right to say what we "Want" to.. So we can't say it's ok to have Free Speech as long as you say what I like.

    I don't want to see anyone fired because of the result of a Phoney Race Baiter like Sharpton. The bottom line is, if we don't like what a Talk Show Host is saying, we just don't listen to them and their rating will go down and then and only then the show will go off the air..

    The next thing we can expect is to have the gang of Libs wanting to Fire Rush and Hannity and Levin because of the fact that they don't like what is said on their shows.

    If we are going to defend Free Speech we have to defend it period, We can not be selective.

    BTW, the advertizers pulled out because SHARPTON the Sharpie, said the following.

    "We are going to picket the station until he is fired and if they don't fire him, we won't buy any of the products that he sells on his program"

    That to me is nothing but Black Mail. If you defend Free Speech, you have to be against Black Mail!

  13. Fireing of Imus......
    I didn't even know he was still on the air . I used to listen to him back in the 70's and he had a big mouth then ! . He was a drunk and a doper then also , and still looks it today . Anyways , Imus was fired ONLY when Proctor & Gamble , Staples , Ford and the other major advertisers HAD to disassociate with his show ! MNSBC knew what they had on their hands for years , and loved him , hell , he brought in the revenue ! . As of just last tuesday , he had been ONLY suspended for two weeks . By thursday and MNSBC started getting calls from advertisers backing away from the show did he get fired . It wasn't the people who got Imus fired , MNSBC couldn't care less what they did or said ( hence the 2 week vacation...i mean suspension to make it look like MNSBC cared about what you thought !! ) , it's only when MNSBC saw their income from the show fall away did they conclude they needed to dump Imus . It is all about money , not ANYBODYS feelings !! . Look at Howard Stern......shock jock guru !!......hell......he's said and done more then Imus ever has.....the difference ???......Stern is intelligent , he knows how to say it and get away with it . Imus ??........just not smart at all.............with that stupid hat of his , and his unkept look , he comes off looking like the * trailer trash * you see with the big mouths at your local small town bar , and by the way , usually the one laying beat up in the dirt after someone gets tired of that little brain , big mouth drunk !! .

  14. STICKS AND STONE WILL BREAK MY BONES BUT NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It is not against the law to say rude offensive stuff Don Imus is paid to be rude and insensitive...

  15. Speaking of "just not smart at all..."

    It's the fact that companies like Proctor & Gamble, Ford, Staples, and so on would pull their advertisements that makes this whole situation ridiculous. They pulled their support because Imus was VIEWED as a racist by people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. It seems like they're disassociating with Imus in order to reassure the "black community" that they didn't support this so-called racism. Howard Stern, by the way, was fired from NBC radio because of his intelligent sketches and remarks, and then left CBS radio because of the censorship he had to endure because of it. I wouldn't be surprised if Imus went to satellite radio as well, though. On satellite radio, you actually get your right to free speech.

  16. Don Imus, like Howard Stern is a "shock jock." We know the term. They are being paid to shock us. Seems simple enough. Until they do shock us. One might think that is part of their job, hence the title. But no. When they fulfill that part of their duties, all hell breaks loose. If they can't offend, how are they shocking us? And without touching nerves, how are they doing their job? I'm not sure if it's a paradox or a vicious circle but whatever it is, it's a perplexing set up.

    For the rest of citizen journalist Scott Cooper's opinion on this topic, go to

  17. I agree that it was ridiculous for Don Imus to say what he said. He was fired because advertisements pulled out!
    Yes, on satellite you have the right to free speech.
    If Don Imus is racist, then is so Jesse Jackson, and so on....If you want to call him a big mouth drunk..past or present...why is it ok for radio callers, calling us whities.
    This is absurd. Being of caucasian, I am beginning to feel I am blasted by another race.
    Sharpton is another and Jesse look for people to blast. Jesse and Sharpton would like us to divide as races and I say to all black and whites,yellow and stand tall and stand together.
    We are America...and all races are over there fighting for us!!! For our country!!!!
    And Howard Stern has been a pig for years, broadcasting against women of all races, and women let him and took advantage of it! Let's be of all race and color....women stand together....all colors!!!! Men fighting for our country and home land..stand together....Don't let racists come between us to make a whole society where all colors unite!
    Love to All

  18. As a Christian, one of the things that I have a problem with it that the "Reverends" Al and Jesse are more than willing to put themselves in a place of power over others. In this situation, it was their "power" over Don Imus and him asking (them) for forgivness. They were not willing to lead by example and forgive Imus, because that is NOT what they were looking for. They want to (try to) improve their position by throwing as many "objectionable" people under foot, so that their position is based upon the loss and pain of others.
    I don't know what they think they are a Reverend of, but they are certainly not following in the footsteps of the Almighty, and He is watching!

    The bible says in Matthew 20:16
    "So the last will be first, and the first will be last."
    This means that until they start to serve others first and themselves last, they will only hurt themselves.

  19. If nothing else, Don Imus gave us a gift. His huge gaff has encouraged people to inspect their own behavior. We have all displayed insensitivity towards others and now is an opportunity to learn from another's mistake. It would also behoove each and every one of us to refrain from hypocracy. Unlike Imus, many of us will not find ourselves in a position of censure, or termination, should we violate the rights of others. So, let's all take a collective breath, be thankful that our mistakes are done in the cloak of amonimity and go forward. We can, and must, assemble as people, not separate groups.

  20. power 105.1's "are you smarter than an asian?"

    The hits don't stop... more racist radio news. Last week, around 9:00 am on Wednesday, the Ed Lover Show with Egypt and Ashy on Power 105.1 in New York aired a segment called "Are You Smarter Than An Asian?" Yeah. That title alone makes me scream that's racist! But it gets a lot worse.

    In the segment, an "Asian" guy named Mr. Hung Lo spoke broken English with a stereotypical Chinese accent, with "Kung Fu Fighting" music playing in the background. A listener then called in and competed with Mr. Lo to answer jacked up questions like "How does an Asian pronounce 'fried rice'?" That's racist!

    Some needs to answer for this. This kind of stuff has happened more times than I can count now, and nothing seems to change. The Asian American community continues to struggle for respect, while the rest of America conveniently writes us off as the punchline for a joke. Or a racist, idiotic radio gag.

    Don Imus makes an off-the-cuff racist, sexist remark, the entire nation goes into an uproar, and he gets fired. Rightly so. He should have to face those consequences. But radio stations across the country purposely build entire segments and jokes around Asian stereotypes all the time, and no one does a goddamn thing. Where is the justice? They need to know that we will not allow this any more. If this is going to happen, someone's ass is going down. That's racist!

  21. Mary Alice BentleyApril 18, 2007 at 3:31 PM

    I watch Imus every morning and was unaware of his "racist" remark until the bru-ha-ha later in the day. Made me wonder if I missed something or if I had become insensitive to his remarks. But no..... he was actually speaking of the Rutgers team as a "force to be reckoned with" - as they had tatoos followed by his terrible "nappy, etc" an attempt to appear cool.

  22. to richard and mike.............well said guys......points taken ....

  23. Great Blog ya got here. As for Imus, I don't think Imus Went Wrong at all.
    He is just a victim . The Victim of a Big mouthed Race baiter

  24. Well, this will make you laugh. We need it!!! Nappy Headed HO T-shirts!

  25. What a lot of people fail to realize is that Imus' freedom of speech is absolute.

    The sponsors reaction (pulling out) is also absolute.

    Imus can say whatever the hell he wants, and sponsors can respond however they want, it's as simple as that.


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