In defense of Imus
To watch Imus bow before the likes of hypocritical demogogues like the reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson was a blow to my gut, an act that almost caused me to vomit.
By Dell Franklin
I shall miss Don Imus. For more than ten years now I have manged to get up at three in the morning to listen to his show on MSNBC. Imus cheered me up with his incessant instigation of derision and dissension. Imus held no sacred cows. He picked on everyone. He denigrated, demeaned, degraded, disgraced and sometimes destroyed his guests, be they senators or morally upright icons. His regular on-set comedians poked fun at Rev. Jerry Falwell, Dr. Phil, Bill Clinton, Teddy Kennedy, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and Hulk Hogan, to name a few.
His sidekick and producer, the brutally cynical Bernard McGuirk, satirized the imaginary Catholic Cardinal Egan as well as the unctuously transparent, narcissistic and incompetent mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, imitating them both with such subtlety and accuracy that I drank coffee to stay awake so as not to miss them and their rare, irreverent humor.
I shall miss Imus’s refusal to be politically correct or to hold anybody in high regard. Imus’s contempt for the frailties of the human race tickled me. His vicious banter with the usual guests made me feel good about myself. To be insulted and belittled on his show was, to these grandees, flattery to the vanity of those who were used to having their asses kissed fifty times a day by sycophants, phonies, opportunists and greed-mongers.
To watch Imus bow before the likes of hypocritical demogogues like the reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson was a blow to my gut, an act that almost caused me to vomit. Even a lifetime liberal and civil rights backer like myself finds these two men self-promoting grandstanders and charlatans, whose eloquent if not vacuous oratory is a stench to the legacy of Martin Luther King.
So Imus screwed up badly, referring to female basketball players from Rutgers as “nappy-headed ‘ho’s,” and robbing them of their humanity and moment of glory. These black female hoopers, who proved, surprise of surprises, to be intelligent, mature, classy, talented and dignified, were a startling contrast to the nauseatingly sanctimonious commentary of black and white pundits that ran continuously on 24-hour cable stations for a week!
Well, there are a lot of black people worthy of this kind of praise, and they are not superjocks and comedians and singers and evangelical poseurs—they are working class blacks who go to church regularly, trim their lawns and wash their cars on Saturday afternoons, drink beer on Friday nights, and send their children to school in new, clean clothes, with fine manners.
Not all blacks are gangbanging thugs spewing a toxic effluvium of mysogyny, though Imus, along with McGurik, parroted and parodied black lingo over the years, seeming to have fun with it much like Richard Pryor once had a ball with his outrageously hilarious imitation of tight-assed whites who walk around like they’ve never been properly laid.
Imus swung wildly at blacks, Jews, Italians, Mexicans, women, gays, fatties, skinnies, rabbis, priests, gangsters, politicians (in a class by themselves when it comes to deserving flak), jocks, etc. A point of interest is the bashing Imus himself received from McGuirk and jocks like Boomer Isaison and Terry Bradshaw, who, as football players, know how to give it back and then some from spending years in locker rooms, where no deficiencies or vanities, by they physical, mental, emotional, racial or sexual go unnoticed. Nobody laughed harder than Imus when he got his verbal comeuppence.
Yes, I shall miss Imus, but not as much as Imus will miss his job, for he would not have groveled before the likes of Al Sharpton if he did not love his job, love the people he abused over the years, loved his crew, and, more than anything, loved to browbeat and shame politicians and millionaires into donating vast sums of money to cancer victims, autistic children, and horrendously wounded Iraq veterans of all colors—victims who receive lip service from the white bastion of powerbrokers who run this country like the incompetent corporate pimps and whores and thieves they are.
I’m sorry Imus said “nappy headed ‘ho’s.” It stuck a dagger into a lot of people who count, and so now we won’t have Imus to kick us around anymore. But a racist? No. I’ve worked and lived on the Mississippi River as a young man and faced real racist haters, and believe me, the sight and sound of their innate viciousness still sends shivers up my spine.§
Dell Franklin is publisher of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.