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Friday, April 13, 2007

Imus: a commentary

Unless you've been hiding under a rock the past couple of weeks, then you know exactly what I'm talking about when I mention Don Imus. Without going into all the details yet again, the consequences of what was said on the Imus show have been the loss of both his radio show and the MSNBC simulcast of it. Probably a just decision, all things considered, but let's take a look at a few things from a broader point of view.

What Don Imus said on his nationally syndicated program was wrong. You'll get no argument from me that he should have said what was said about the Rutgers basketball players. Did he have the RIGHT to say what he said? If one looks at the Constitution, according to the First Amendment, yes, he was well within his rights to say whatever he chose to say. Should he have said it? No. Free speech means you have the right to say something, personal responsibility calls for self-censorship in NOT saying things of a hateful and vile nature. Imus is 66 years old. He should have known better. That being said, he has been allowed to make disparaging comments about others for long enough that I'm sure he didn't see any big deal in opening his mouth and inserting his foot one more time.

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (I refuse to refer to these men as "Reverend" for reasons that I'll get into in a few minutes) led a widely publicized campaign this past couple of weeks to have Imus removed from the airwaves. They used their influence and their energies to stir up an outcry of outrage that eventually led to Imus' dismissal from his contracts with CBS and MSNBC. In watching this spectacle unfold the past couple of weeks, several questions have come to my mind.

Where has the outrage been by Sharpton and Jackson, both proclaiming to be ministers, at Rosie O'Donnell in her hateful talk against Christians and against our nation on "The View?" O'Donnell shows absolutely no remorse in her comments, continues to spout off unchecked, and continues to show her ignorance in making statements about the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. All you have to do is look in the papers or in the news online to see that these detainees have gained weight during their detention, have been given copies of the Koran to read, allowed time to pray, and are even being allowed and encouraged to partake in sports, baseball in particular. Yet the great and all knowing Rosie lashes out at every occasion to tell how badly these people, who request the Harry Potter books in high numbers from the library at Gitmo, are being denied decent treatment.

Where is the outrage of Jackson and Sharpton at the hip-hop and rap industry in THEIR constant abusive language against women, against whites, against law enforcement? Where is their outcry against numerous black comedians when they cut down whites and other races? I've literally turned off Martin Lawrence and Dave Chappell, among others, for their racist and bigoted comments while doing their stand up routines.

Jackson and Sharpton are not without their own racist pasts, either. Jackson has referred to Jews as "Hymie's," Sharpton has referred to Jews as "Diamond Merchants." These are the words of people who would throw condemnations at another? And yet these two men are allowed to make their own apoligies for their statements and to continue on in their self appointed positions of being civic leaders? Where is the forgiveness for Don Imus in his situation? I'll tell you where; the Lady Rutgers basketball team. The very targets of the hateful comments have had the grace, dignity, and self-respect to vocalize their acceptance of Imus' apology. Will we see Sharpton and Jackson do the same? I seriously doubt it.

A double standard definitely exists in this country. It's ok for one group of people to be hateful and biased, bigoted and racist, but not for others. As to my refusal to refer to these two men as Reverend? I grew up in the church. I know what the duties and responsibilities of a man of God are. They are supposed to be the ones to promote healing, the ones to promote peace, the ones to be advocates, not instigators. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. promoted a message of unity and brotherhood. Jesse Jackson was WITH King when he was assassinated, which must mean that King thought that Jackson would be someone to carry on the message of unity and equality. As I see it, that has been the polar OPPOSITE of what Jackson has done in the years since. No, I will not refer to these two men as "Reverend" when their actions don't show that they deserve it.

And before anyone comes out with "he's just a white boy with a gripe about this whole thing," let me play my own "race card" here. Six hundred years ago, SOME of my ancestors on this continent had no idea what a white man even looked like. In the 1800's a great number of them where rounded up and herded from the southeast out into the Oklahoma territory. I may be a mixed breed, and may not look as Cherokee as others, but I'm damned proud of my heritage, and AS a mixed breed, I know that there's a difference between being someone promoting unity, and someone continuing to drive a wedge into a situation of disharmony that already exists.

The Trail of Tears, the Holocaust...two reasons I suppose that I've always been a Zionist, and have adopted the words of the Jew of "Never Again" as my own, as well.

Maybe this is something these two self-proclaimed religions and civic "leaders" should think about in their advancing years, instead of propagating more hatred.

Just the rambling thoughts of one who is...

Once and Always, an American Fighting Man