The amount of attention now on Don Imus is impressive, and understandable, given his influence and the nature of his comments. For me, one of the most damning columns I have read is Michael Wilbon's
"Out of Imus's Bigotry, a Zero Tolerance for Hate," in today's Washington Post.
I am also struck by the differences in people's reactions. Many white men (like me) are happy to criticize what Imus said, but are ready to move on, and not call for him to be removed from the air. Many blacks and women are more angry, and less willing to just accept his now countless apologies. This reflects differences in power positions, I'm sure, and it makes the dispute much more emotionally and politically charged, because it is not only about him, it is about us too.
What is odd for me is how Don Imus can be the subject of so much national debate this week, while the frequent appearance of Ann Coulter on television is more or less accepted.
Ann's Easter column, If at first you don't appease -- cry, cry again goes beyond anything I had seen before. She complains about the lack of efficiency in the Darfur genocide:
These people can't even wrap up genocide. We've been hearing about this slaughter in Darfur forever -- and they still haven't finished. The aggressors are moving like termites across that country. It's like genocide by committee. Who's running this holocaust in Darfur, FEMA?
And announces, "this is truly a war in which we have absolutely no interest."
She lectures us on the old testament (her favorite part of the bible), reminding us of the glories of a vengeful god. For Iraq, she says:
If you want a shorter rebuilding process, then we're going to have to wage less humane wars. The enemy -- as well as innocent civilians -- must be bombed into quivering terror. Otherwise, we displace aggression but don't destroy it.
These comments are only the most recent of a steady stream of shocking things that surely equal the I-Man's racist comments about the talented women on the Rutgers basketball team.
The response by major media companies and advertisers? According to Ann's web page, "COULTER ON GERALDO EASTER SUNDAY! -".
This, apparently, is the standard that we accept, for news and commentary, even on an Easter Sunday. No wonder Imus thought he could cross the line.