The big uproar over radio talk show host Don Imus's defamation of 12 young scholars, and potential leaders who happen to also be the Rutger's University women's basketball team is appropriate. The entire country should be outraged when anyone abuses power and access to the public, to defame and malign others unjustly.
Unfortunately, as with most things in the US media, the response of those who are hand picked by the media to respond, are missing many of the real issues at play in my opinion. In an attempt to stir up a debate about free speech, and race in the US, many have attempted to cast the debate about whether to fire Imus.
Should Imus be fired for exercising his right to free speech? Imus doesn't talk on the radio for free. His speech is not free. Those who say that he should be fired, seem to be upset mostly because they feel that he is a closet racist whose demons pushed him out of that closet via his tongue, and his radio program. As far as they are concerned, his statement was intended as an insult to all African American women. Well, not every member of that team is black, or nappy (curly) headed.
On the other side of the debate we have the closet racists who secretly snicker, delighted at the very idea of being able to say publicly, what many of them feel in their hearts secretly. They believe honestly that all African Women are ugly, nappy headed and without morals or self restraint when it comes to sex. We should ask ourselves where they might get such ideas? Does the media, including movies, and Black actors have anything to do with that?
There is a third view, and that view says that Imus is not a racist. He's simply mean mouthed and is accustomed to being paid millions of dollars to say such things. That could spoil any of us into believing that we can say anything and whatever we want. Even when it is not true, and causes great harm to others who are innocent. There is a class of people in this country who say what ever they want, and get away with it everyday. They are called "media" and the "press," and politicians, and don't forget Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Who said that the prophet Muhammad is a pedophile, and a terrorist? Is that person still employed?
Imus is a member of that industry that led the US into war in Iraq based upon lies. He seems to be the poster boy for those who support the war, and who feel that the war is justified by the fact that we are at war, as they desired. That being the case, we must now support the troops by killing them in an unecssary war. In other words, they do things because they can.
Then, there is my view. The view of a woman of African heritage who was born in St. Louis Missouri, and grew up on the South Side of Chicago. I spent most of my adult life between Washington DC and Jersey City New Jersey. In other words, I know a "hoe" when I see one. They don't routinely organize basketball teams for universities or join such teams. They usually work nights, and most don't have 3.0 GPAs.
Many people like myself, (non-Hoe)are not upset by either the word "hoe" or "nappy headed" or the two words combined. What upsets us is when decent women who are not "hoes" are called "hoes." We get extra mad when they are called "nappy headed hoes" as if that is an especially low class of "hoe." There are all types of hoes, all equally challenged morally according to most standards. Let me add that I disagree with the argument that women are appalled only by men calling women hoes. We are also appalled when women call other women hoes, or when anyone else calls women hoes, when they are speaking about women who are not whores.
Did anyone else pay notice to the timing of the Imus incident and today's dropping of all charges against the Duke Lacrosse players accussed of rapping an exotic dancer who is also African American. Today they said that the dancer can't remember if any sexual intercourse actually took place, after the media reported earlier that the hospital had documented trauma typical of rape. The supposed victim didn't say today that she forgot that during that party she was called nigger, and whore, as originally reported. She only forgot whether or not she was raped. Are we ready to riot yet? Someone might hope that we are.
This is a situation where a very powerful man, with practically unequalled access into our homes, our offices, our cars, and our hearts, chose to abuse that privileged position by accusing 12 young brilliant scholar athletes of being whores. Did he think that we would believe him? Did he think that they are really hoes? Or was he looking for a cheap laugh at someone else's expense? Or, is he trying to provoke some type of political reaction?
You can only air Roots so many times. You can only show movie after movie about the Holocaust so often. You can only talk about the Spanish Inquisition, and the Crusades, and the Islamo fascists so much. In the US, we are almost numb to racial slurs, innuendo and hate mongering. So, if a group of people, who love to cause chaos wanted to get us all to tear one another's eyes out, how would they do it? If they wanted to distract us from the war, or a pending attack on Iran, what would they do?
Did anyone hear today that our military leaders in Iraq say they have "proof" that Iran is manufacturing and delivering explosives to Iraq to be used against coalition forces? Did anyone pay any attention to the fact that the Executive Branch is about to grow again. It was in the news today. This time it will be a "war cazr" that is added. What happened to the State Department, and Department of Defense? The media had very few questions as to why a Republican administration is growing, rather than limiting government. Did anyone read that our National Intelligence Czar wants to increase survelliance on American citizens? Is "czar" an American English word? Where are we getting these "Czars"?
Imus said that the ladies of Rutgers basketfall fame were covered with tattoos. I watched their press conference, and did not see a single tatoo. No nappy hair, and no subtle solicitation of any male or female viewers of the game for sex for pay. Imus got it wrong. That's part of his crime. He doesn't know a whore when he sees one, and he thought "nappy headed" might be seen as a rank, rather than a racial distinction. He does not deserve to be trusted to report anything honestly.
Imus apologists are arguing that its all the Black community's fault because Blacks haven't done enough to demand censorship of rap performers and artists, something that the anti-free speech crowd would simply love. They would love to have the Black community be their vehicle for a censorship movement, just like they used Blacks to spear head a civil rights movement that we barely benefited from, while they made major gains from civil rights laws, and government 8(a) programs. They would also love for the day to come when no one can criticize any race or group of people, including, and most especially their own favored groups.
Now hear this: "When rappers use the word "hoe" they are talking about real "hoes." People who trade sexual favors for material things, or job interviews,undeserved promotions, free car tune-ups, movies and recording contracts, etc. It can also mean people who sell their souls for material and political advantages or gains. Rappers are not talking about young women like the Rutgers basketball team. Also, they don't mention in their songs any particular person, or group of people. They would never say what Imus said. They speak in generic terms, suggesting that the term applies only to those whose feet fits that "hoe" shoe.
Should Imus be fired? Of course. Why? Because he abused his power, and used it to hurt 12 innocent young ladies who sacrificed tremendously to entertain us, to represent their school, their sisters, their families, etc., in a way that only especially talented people can.
Imus mocked excellence, and tried to tag it with vulgar, antiquated and overused racial epithets. He sought to incite hate and perhaps to cause riots, to divide our country, and to destroy the hope that one day, the United States will escape a dark past that is stained by racism, and genocide, and now torture, warmongering, religious fanaticism, and support internationally for the same. That puts him a class of people that are not suited to the amount, or type of power and privilege that society had awarded him for years of making us laugh at ourselves, and sometimes good heartedly at others. I don't think that a single Imus sponsor or listener would say that they would ever pay Imus, to call 12 of America's best, "nappy headed hoes," because it's not funny. Most importantly, it's not true.