There’s an old joke that goes something like “gee, blow one guy and all of a sudden you’re gay.”
In the woke era you offend minorities once and all of a sudden you’re irreedemably racist, forever.
Poor Don Imus. I sampled his show back in the day and had to ask: where was the promised controversy? The first thing I heard was a parody song (last refuge of the morning zoo dj) mocking Rush Limbaugh’s racism (Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” became “All My Friends Have White Faces”); how daring! How relevant! Even for the nineties, it was bad. Cringe wasn’t a word yet.
I suspect the politcally incorrect image was exagerrated by the same establishment figures who lined up to appear on his show. They could engage in a sort of Kabuki, a mock engagement with controversy, knowing it would never go too far. Like the late Tim Russert on Meet the Press, the only people who praised his “tough interviews” were the interviewees, all establishment figures who appreciated Tim’s ultimate discretion. Like Conrad’s Lord Jim, to the powerful Imus was “one of us”–or at the least a dependable patsy.
But he was definitely not one of us.
His service to the status quo would not save him after he was fired from CBS for referring to players on the thuggish-looking Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes” in 2007. He managed to salvage a radio career and was allowed to live in a sort of partial exile from the powerful, but, he had to know this too, sadly, whatever penance he performed would not spare him the posthumous fate of all “racists” and–especially–“antisemites”; upon death his crimes would be ritually read out. He, like many better and more accomplished people before, would forever be “Don Imus, Racist.” The human stain that even in death does not fade but only grows.
You wonder what any aging white public figure–who sees the lies–is saving himself for, or from, the shellacked, multi-colored nails of a Jezebel hack?
On the morning of December 27th, known racist and radio host Don Imus died at the age of 79.
If you’re lucky, you grew up not knowing who Don Imus was. If you’re around my age, chances are you found out who Don Imus was in 2007 when he was fired from CBS for referring to players on the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes.” At the time, it felt like it was almost impossible to turn on the news without seeing someone offering their opinion on his remarks.
Gwen Ifill, who had previously been referred to by Imus as a “cleaning lady” appeared on Meet the Press and offered a sentiment that is, unfortunately, just as relevant today, over a decade later, as it was in 2007. Speaking with Tim Russert she said, “My concern about Mr. Imus and about a lot of people… is not that people are sorry that they say these things, they’re sorry that someone catches them.”
This was, of course, not the first or the last time Imus had been caught using racist language, which is not surprising given that he was, in fact, a racist.
Later in 2007 Imus appeared on Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio show to address his remarks. After becoming frustrated with the conversation, Imus remarked that he couldn’t “get any place with you people.” That comment obviously didn’t go over well with Sharpton.
A 2006 The New York Times reported that in 2004 he had referred to book publishers Simon & Schuster as “thieving Jews,” and had previously called Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz a “boner-nosed … beanie-wearing little Jew boy” in 1998.
In 2008 Imus, while discussing the suspension of Dallas Cowboys’ cornerback Adam Jones, asked “what color” Jones was. When he was informed Jones was Black, Imus cavalierly replied, “Well there you go, now we know.”
It’s unfortunate that Imus was allowed to continue making these kinds of remarks and spewing his vitriol into the airwaves until his retirement in 2018. After his firing from CBS, New York based radio network WABC picked up Imus’ show Imus in the Morning from 2007-2018. Fox Business Network also ran Imus’ show on TV from 2009-2015.
If somewhere there do exist fans of Imus’ work, they can return to Imus’ infamous quote, forever solidified in Nicki Minaj’s 2012 track Stupid Hoe, certainly a far more generous memorial than Imus deserves.
Someone who’s decided to nod along with the ongoing rape of the West has made something of a nihilistic determnation; he’s abandoned posterity for the present and, presumably, a respectable image in death. He fears the wrath of no god; he respects the desires of no ancestor; he protects no descendant.
Even after retirement almost to a man they maintain the respectable lie all the way to their death bed. Fear of God is replaced by fear of man–of a shameful reputation.
It isn’t as if Imus dared challenge a single operating assumption. He was only too glad to join the point and sputter mob and reinforce them. You see in his gaffes no substance, just crude insults. They are deplorable, and stupid. Especially so coming from a false renegade, establishment hanger-on who supported the system and narrative that elevated his dumb jokes to absurd heights of transgression.
He would never dare challenge the order that sustained him in comfort.
So his lame “racist” jokes only serve to harm, albeit not much, the cause of turning back that system, by serving up the image of the hate-spewing bigot. When someone calls out the system for one of its many contradictions, when someone points out the lie that is “racism”, for one, he at least forces the powerful to reveal their hypocrisy as they take him down.
Don Imus never dared go there. I hope he’s in a better place, and I hope he wishes he had.
Of course had he, you wouldn’t be reading this. We wouldn’t know who he was. So he got to have his career, money, even some status but in the end he will be forever “Don Imus, Racist”; this was the price he paid to play.