Tuesday, April 17, 2007

It's All Entertainment 

Is Imus a racist? Yes, but not for what he said. His failed joke was stupid and infantile and hurtful -- pretty much par for his course. He reached for a shock and found one of the few remaining ones that our media overlords will not accept. But his real act of racism was the apology he made for the failed joke. He didn’t apologize first to the individuals he insulted, because in his mind (and the minds of most of the hounds baying for his blood) his crime was not against the individuals, it was a crime against a group identity.

Call Dick Cheney “pasty,” or call me “white bread” and you’ve insulted just one man, because white people are given a primary identity outside of being white. That’s why Neil Armstrong is not known as the “first white man on the moon.” Modern media culture treats blacks quite differently. Every black person is treated as an emissary of “black people.” Offend him (or hers) and you have offended the great unknowable mass called “Black People”, or “African Americans”, or “People of Color”, or in the case of advertisement lingo, “Our Community” -- a phrase usually delivered in Barry White style voice-over work for commercials.

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