Members of Salon's community, Table Talk, respond to the Don Imus outburst about the Rutgers women's basketball team.

Published April 13, 2007 10:24AM (EDT)

White House

Beat the Press -- Media Atrocities

Campbell -- 04:56 pm Pacific Time -- Apr 9, 2007 -- #3913 of 4310

MSNBC is suspending the simulcast of the Imus show for two weeks, to which I can only say, it's about time.

I know that playing the grumpy old bastard is his schtick -- and god knows I love it when he dumps on Bush and Cheney -- but his remarks about the Rutgers women were beyond forgiveness. Actually, I had stopped watching a year ago after he and his on-air buddies cracked that released Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll had returned from Iraq "carrying Zarqawi's baby," a misogynistic point-of-no-return for me.

Finally, although Imus has been apologizing all over the place Trent Lott-style, his affect (unsurprisingly) seems to be more one of irritation than actual contrition. He should go on Glen Beck's show and they can talk about how hard it is to be a white male these days.

McCamy Taylor -- 06:15 pm Pacific Time -- Apr 9, 2007 -- #3918 of 4310

Imus is pissed because rappers on MTV make fun of "hos," so he thinks he ought to be able to do so, too.

African-American women get treated like shit twice over, once for being black by the white establishment and once for being women -- and here the abuse comes at them from their own brothers of color.

How dare Imus pitch a hissy fit because he is not allowed to act as badly as a male victim of racism who thinks that the only way that he can affirm his manhood in a society that treats him as boy is by shoving his sister even deeper into a hole? The rappers on MTV just might have a tiny smidgen of an excuse for their bad behavior. Disparity brings out the worst in people. Imus has none.

Paul Avery - 08:09 pm Pacific Time -- Apr 9, 2007 -- #3927 of 4312

I suppose one could argue from context, i.e., Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor used such language to confront racism and sexism whereas Don Imus and rappers seem to perpetuate racism and sexism. Of course we shouldn't completely overlook the fact that Bruce and Pryor were funny; Imus isn't. This can be measured objectively by the number of laughs they got. Remember Imus at the Press Club dinner? Rest my case.

Another factor is that the rappers didn't get rich alone. One doesn't see the invisible pockets of the white-owned recording companies and the white market managers.

Bottom line: I think the government should stay out of it and let the public decide for itself what is acceptable in such cases.

Chickadee Whisperer - 08:06 am Pacific Time -- Apr 10, 2007 -- #3959 of 4313

I don't give a hoot whether prominent people side with or against Imus -- as far as I'm concerned, most people weighing in publicly on the mess are making points in part to promote themselves one way or another. But as a mother, I really do care about 66-year-old blowhards demeaning powerless young women. Those students were playing their hearts out in a game of basketball. If one of them made a stupid play, she'd expect (but be devastated by) public comment and ridicule. But for the whole team to be publicly disparaged with such an ugly comment that manages to ridicule both the women's appearance and their fundamental selves -- well, I'd just like to ram his microphone into where the sun don't shine.

Macdaffy - 10:56 am Pacific Time -- Apr 10, 2007 -- #3987 of 4313

One of the primary lessons one learns in order to retain some semblance of sanity as an African-American is to be prepared for the absurd.

No matter how much you achieve, no matter how hard you work, no matter how much money you make, there has always been someone inclined or something designed to reinforce that monolithic image created for a race of slaves. Don Imus and all those who enable him make it achingly clear that that template is still laid on us with all the cruelty and ferocity and callousness of its original intent.

The young women of the Rutgers team are individuals; one by one, they've studied and worked and played to reach what will probably be the pinnacle of their lives in sport and in school. Parents and coaches have reassured them that their perseverance and their adherence to the rules will serve them well. But because of a self-important, decrepit, amoral bunch of pathetic racists, they are no longer finalists in the March 2007 Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament. They've been robbed of that. They're now "The Nappy-Headed Hos of Rutgers." For life.

Gwen Ifill (an enabler of the absurdity that has been the Bush administration) does have it right. These young women have been too busy to build up that reservoir of experience that could help quench the pain of being reduced to an absurdity by an absurdity for the mere enjoyment of an uncaring, unfeeling audience. Don Imus has laid on what is probably the first and bitterest level of the "carapace" for many of these women.

He has also validated the hopelessness of a great many African-Americans who have been convinced that striving for something in this country can get you scalded and scarred just as deeply as can remaining in the known confines of poverty and despair. And Imus' scurrilous attempt to take refuge in the belief that he's justified in using the language of the troubadours of that hell -- the rappers and hip-hop stars -- makes him all the more despicable.

"Nigger" is not just a word. It means something very specific. Don Imus came as close as anyone possibly could in attempting to define the women of the Rutgers team as epitomes of that meaning. But I'm sure that those young women will define themselves when it's all said and done. That will be the best, longest-lasting legacy of this whole ugly spectacle.

The other will be that Don Imus again has unmasked the ugly, vicious absurdity that is race in America in this time. He has done it too often and too callously and too gleefully and too lucratively to let another apology loose him on this nation's airwaves again: He must be fired.

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