Black rappers made him do it!

Joe Scarborough and John Ridley peddle the dumbest Imus excuse of all: He learned his racist misogyny from hip-hop!


Joan Walsh
April 12, 2007 8:19PM (UTC)

My superstitious Irish grandmother is shaking her head. Why, it was just Tuesday when I said I've only been called the c-word once online in nine years. And then Wednesday, the very next day, it happened twice -- in my own blog comments! And suddenly my in box is filled with e-mail calling me a slut or a bitch and several people fantasizing about black studs and black rappers abusing me. No, it's not Kathy Sierra-level abuse, but it's the worst I've seen since the bad old days of Clinton impeachment insanity.

It happened after I became the piñata Wednesday night on "Scarborough Country," the only one who challenged John Ridley and Joe Scarborough's truly crazy notion that black rappers are to blame for Don Imus' deciding to call the awesome Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos." I honestly didn't expect the avalanche of anger, either on the show or afterward. After all, I went up against Joe and Bill Donohue last week, and it went fine. But the moral high ground of having Ridley, a black writer and NPR commentator, on his side insisting that black rappers, not Imus or MSNBC, should take the blame for Imus' racism was a big advantage for Joe.

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I usually get a couple of e-mail messages right after I finish up on "Scarborough Country," but last night I got a couple of dozen, plus dozens more in the comments thread of my last Imus post. I was going to publish them here, but I decided not to act like Michelle Malkin. I deleted the posts in my comments thread that called me the c-word or used comparable words to attack letter writers who defended me. All in a day's work.

But really, are they serious, Ridley and Scarborough? Rap is to blame for the misogyny and racism of Don Imus? The man who called Sen. Barack Obama a "colored fella"? Who countenanced Bernard McGuirk calling Hillary Clinton a "bitch" who'd "have cornrows and gold teeth before this fight with Obama is over" and doing Ebonics versions of Maya Angelou's poetry? How about referring to Hillary as Bill Clinton's "fat wife, Satan" -- did rappers teach him all that? Imus is a 65-year-old white guy in a cowboy hat; he's not hanging with T.I. and 50 Cent, picking up new ideas about the black women he has always respected, suddenly deciding to call them "nappy-headed hos."

Nevertheless Wednesday night I got a ton of e-mail and blog comments from right-wing blowhards saying I "defended" rappers' misogyny on "Scarborough" -- when in fact I opposed it -- while it was Ridley, interestingly, who praised JayZ ("I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one") and P. Diddy as "entrepreneurs," and who said "there's nothing wrong with [rap] intrinsically" and "I don't want to get rid of all of it." But I can't see his e-mail in box; maybe he's getting the same abuse I am. Somehow I doubt it.

I hate the misogyny of some rap music -- it's not all misogynistic -- but rappers didn't invent sick notions of black women as sexual objects in America; those ideas have an old, old history here, going back to the days when the chains black men wore weren't bling. As I said to Scarborough and Ridley, when we have "Snoop Dogg Country" on MSNBC, and Young Jeezy's doing the morning drive-time show instead of Imus, then let's talk about how rappers deserve the outrage Imus brought on himself. In my opinion, hundreds of years of the racist misogyny of white men like Imus and McGuirk are far more responsible for misogynistic rap music than the reverse. And as I type this I'm thinking, is that even up for debate? Fellas, please.


Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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