April 11, 2007
He's a good man.
He's under fire.
Don Imus is so many things.
If you're a soldier wounded in Iraq, who is caught in a rotting ward at Walter Reed Hospital, he is the best man to have on your side. That goes for a kid of any race or religion with cancer. Or a parent who has lost an infant to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
He's built hospitals and a ranch in New Mexico for kids who face an early death, and if you have a good cause he is by your side and he puts his money where his mouth is.
If you're a phony this is your time to come out from under your rock. He's reeling and he's in trouble.
Who is Imus?
He's wild. He's funny. He's nuts. He's tough. He's compassionate. He's smart. He's paranoid. He's impatient. He's obsessive. He's loyal. He's a lot of things . . . but there is one thing he is not. He is not, nor will he ever be, a racist.
Don Imus is not a racist. Racists are not the people who say wild, silly, stupid things like Imus did the other day when he called the members of the Rutgers women's basketball team a bunch of "nappy-headed hoes." It was an incredibly dumb thing to say — tasteless and cruel — but that's not what a racist is all about. A real racist would never blurt out something outrageous like that because a real racist is always on guard. You won't catch him or her blurting out a statement that can be called racist. Have you ever heard Bill O'Reilly make a racist statement? Rush Limbaugh?
There are a lot of forces trying to get you and me to believe that with this one stupid statement, Imus has ruined the lives of these young girls. I have to wonder if any of these girls have ever heard Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle. Or listened to gangsta rappers using degrading words about black women.
I'll bet that if you asked any one of the women on the Rutgers basketball team to let you hear the songs they have on their iPods, you would hear some disgusting anti-women lyrics that would shock you far more than Imus' incredibly dumb words. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming these kids for what Imus said — I'm blaming the world and the media that is making this a double standard world.
And before you tell me that it's OK for an African-American to make millions demeaning African-American women, stop. That's the equivalent of me saying since I'm an Italian-American, the only people who can call me a guinea or a wop or my wife and daughters "putanas" are Italian-American comedians, because when it comes from the mouth of an Italian-American comedian it's funny, but when it comes from the mouth of anyone else it's an insult.
Speaking of insults, how dare Al Sharpton say he's getting ready to march on WFAN if Imus is not fired? This is not the first time Sharpton marched. Who can forget his shrieking speeches when the Tawana Brawley case attracted national attention in 1987? Have we forgotten that Sharpton and two cohorts used an unbalanced young girl in order to boost their profiles at the expense of a man whose life they virtually ruined for no reason?
The man, Steven Pagones, won a civil judgment. But just as Sharpton claims Imus' apology was not enough, Sharpton neither made an apology nor paid out the judgment against him that Pagones won. Twenty years later Sharpton is yelling for Imus' scalp. He's not going to get it. The minute the media turns its cameras off Sharpton will stop marching.
It is unfortunate that WFAN and MSNBC have suspended Imus for two weeks starting next Monday. For a lot of years Imus has joked on the air about being born with three balls. Unfortunately, that happens to be three more than most executives in the broadcasting business have.
I have a number of advertising clients who advertise on WFAN just to be on Imus' show. Naturally, as a good advertising man — and, yes, I am a good advertising man — I will recommend that for the next two weeks they suspend their advertising on WFAN and MSNBC.
I tuned into Imus this morning, as I have for the past 30 years. He was sadly subdued. As I listened to Don trying to be politically correct, I was reminded of the story of the centipede that was about to eat an ant when the ant asked, "How can you walk with all those legs?" The centipede thought about this for a second and then collapsed, unable to walk again.
Don, when his show cannot be totally spontaneous and wild with material that will offend every group equally, loses that magic that has made him the greatest radio personality in history. Let's hope after two weeks he comes back tougher and funnier and more insightful than ever. Until then, for me and millions of others Morning won't be Morning.
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