A foot in his mouth and no clue in his head

April 11, 2007|By GREGORY KANE

Dear Don Imus:

So how's that suspension working for ya, buddy?

You know, Don, you really ought to, as the current slang expression goes, "holla at a brother" sometimes. And I don't necessarily mean me. Any brother would do. You need to stay in the loop when it comes to black folks.

If you'd bothered to holla at a brother, Don, you wouldn't be in the fix you're in now. Suspended from your job. The Revvum Jesse Jackson calling for your head. Having to go on the Revvum Al Sharpton's radio show and eat crow. Issuing apologies up the wazoo. And all because you had no better sense than to call members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team "a bunch of nappy-headed hos."

See Don, if you'd hollered at a brother, he could have told you to put the kibosh on that kind of talk, and not just for the racial slight. I've seen black women hand out beat-downs just for being called "nappy-headed." I've seen black women hand out beat-downs just for being called "hos." But to combine the two?

It reminds me of the time I was doing police reporting here in Maryland's Anne Arundel County. I came across a police report of an interracial couple - a white man and a black woman - who'd gone a few rounds. What started the fracas was the guy calling the woman black, followed by the dreaded N-word, followed by the ever-offensive B-word.

Had that white guy bothered to talk to anybody black, not necessarily just a brother, he'd have learned that under no circumstances should he have called a black woman the N-word. And under no circumstances should he have called her the B-word.

And what he should never, never, NEVER have done is combine the two.

You see Don, black folks have this expression: "If you don't know, you'd better ask somebody." The white guy in the example above didn't know. And in your comments about the Rutgers women, you sure as heck didn't know. And your crawling to Sharpton to explain yourself on his show indicates you still don't know.

Here's a flash, Don: Black folks have never elected Sharpton to anything. You don't owe him any more explanations or apologies than you do to any other black folks in the United States. It would have made better sense for you to make amends to the Congressional Black Caucus. They're not worth a tinker's dam, but at least they've been elected to something.

There's a wealth of information you could have used against Sharpton on his show. You could have opened by pointing out that no one has ever accused Sharpton, on his better days, of being Mr. Racial Harmony. You could have pointed out that Les Payne, a black columnist for Newsday in Sharpton's own hometown of New York, opined that Sharpton "is as immune to irony as he is to shame" and that the good revvum is "a noisy answer for which there is no known question."

Then you could have asked Sharpton about those allegations that first appeared in the Village Voice - which is about as far from a right-wing, Republican rag as a paper can get - accusing him of allowing his 2004 presidential campaign to be run by a Republican operative in exchange for dollars. You wouldn't have even had to bring up that nasty Tawana Brawley business.

After that, you could have focused on Jackson. More than two decades ago, Jackson had to do some apologizing of his own, at the Democratic National Convention. Jackson went before his fellow Democrats (Jackson is one of a laundry list of reasons I switched my party affiliation to Republican) and said how sorry he was for calling Jews "Hymies" and referring to New York as "Hymietown."

So what Jackson is saying is that he can utter an ethnic slur and should be forgiven when he apologizes. But when Don Imus makes an offensive racial remark and apologizes, the apology doesn't count. Imus should be fired.

Detecting a little bit of hypocrisy and a double standard there, aren't you, Don? Jackson and Sharpton call themselves Christian ministers. Aren't Christian ministers supposed to be about forgiveness? Shouldn't Jackson and Sharpton be the ones eager to accept your apology, say all is forgiven and move on?

Flesh-eating zombies will crawl out of their graves and walk the earth before any of that happens. But I suspect you already know that, Don. And you know there is a fundamental difference between your "nappy-headed hos" crack and Jackson's "Hymie/Hymietown" remarks.

Jackson made his remarks off the record, in an attempt to hide his bigotry. You were doing what you're being paid to do: say controversial and stupid things for ratings. That's what your bosses pay you to do. I hope the hot seat you're sitting on is a big one, Don.

Because it looks like you may be getting some company.


Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.