What the Imus Mess Says About Us

I was set to blog about my trip to golf’s holy ground, Augusta National for the final round of the greatest golf tournament in sports. But then, Don Imus opened his mouth and started a stream of controversy and craziness that says a lot about how we view racism – and ourselves.

For those of you who have not heard yet, Imus is a popular radio talk show host in the northeastern whose show is now carried by MSNBC. He is known for making shocking remarks on air as well as landing interviews with big name politicians. Following Rutgers loss in the NCAA Womens basketball tournament, he called the team a bunch of mean-spirited things that I won’t repeat. They were, at best, insensitive and, at worst, racist.

Then, the real firestorm began. Two days after Imus’ comments, the mainstream media got a hold of the story and made it front-page news. Soon, Reverend Jesse Jackson was leading protests and Al Sharpton grilled Imus on his talk show. Imus apologized – twice – and the latest is that he will be suspended for two weeks by CBS Radio ( which syndicates his show ).

So was Imus’ comments racist? Yes, and I won’t repeat them because I find them so heinous. Was his apology good enough? No. But he needs to apologize to the people he offended – the Rutgers womens basketball team which he has still not done. He does not need to apologize to Al Sharpton or Jessee Jackson because neither man is the moral compass for African-Americans and both have enough skeletons in their closet.

That leads to the final question – and Sharpton’s request: Should Imus be fired? I say no. While what he did was reprehensible, it should not be the choice of a bunch of radicals to decide for us what is racist and what is not. Let the market decide. Let us as listeners decide Imus’ fate. If we boycott the sponsors or turn off the program entirely, changes will be made. I don’t expect either CBS or MSNBC to fire Imus now for one simple reason: It’s a bad business decision to can a man that make millions for your company because of a controversy that may blow over.

Imus was wrong and I hope he pays the price but let me – Joe Citizen – make that decision and not a bunch of people who think they speak for me but have no idea who I am or what I think. That being said, I listened to Imus while I lived in the northeast but I won’t be listening anymore – or at least until he apologizes to the one group that deserves an apology: Coach Vivian Stringer and the Rutgers womens basketball team.
I’ll be back to talking golf tomorrow.
(Photo Courtesy: WFAN )

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