Honky Honky

by Jeff Siegel

In 1975, Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase said everything that needed to be said about racial epithets. So, of course, 32 years later, we have to go through the whole thing yet again, thanks to Don Imus.

One more time, because all of this makes my head hurt: It's not nice to make racial slurs, and we shouldn't do it. The rule of thumb? If you're a white male, and you would be offended if a non-white radio host called you a honky or an ofay on the air, then you probably shouldn't call anyone a "nappy-headed ho."

This entire pathetic episode is just another example of how white males have convinced the rest of the country that they are persecuted, downtrodden and discriminated against because they are white males, all in the name of political correctness. Imus, no doubt, really does believe he's a good person, despite this incident – and despite calling Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, an American Indian, "the guy from F Troop" and the New York Knicks basketball team "chest-thumping pimps."

But Imus and his like – Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern and whatever talking head is on FOX News at the moment – have no doubt also convinced a few women and even some minorities that white men are oppressed, too. The media, too, play into this. Look at any wire story detailing the Imus incident, and you'll see minority gadflies like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson quoted -- people that the news bosses know raise the hair on the back of white necks. Missing are quotes from white people saying Imus is wrong.

This is not necessarily because the media are evil, but because – as with so many other stories these days – they are lazy. Geez, someone would actually have to make a couple of phone calls to find a white guy who thought Imus acted stupidly. Which turns the incident into a black/white story, which it's not. It's a good guy/bad guy story, with Imus as the bad guy.

Why is it that Imus and his ilk can't figure that out?

(The photo is the cover of a comedy LP by Don Imus released by Bang Records in 1974.)

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Anonymous said...

I agree Imus is clearly the bad guy here. His language does clearly go well over the line.

For those who don't seem to understand the outrage at Imus I ask how they would feel if the same Imus would have refered to a team of white female players (just for extra effect, pretend one of the players is someone you love like a daughter), a "bunch of lice infested sluts"

The above hypothetical statement is pretty much equally offensive if used to refer to a white woman instead of a black one and as a white man, if a radio announcer referred to my little sister or my daughter that way, I assure you I would find it highly offensive.

Imus could have been funny towards the Rutgers team without being nearly so vicious, and does anyone really believe he would have been quite so vicious if the players had indeed been white?

That is the problem.

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