Don Imus mentioned this morning that he will be going on Al Sharpton's radio show today, although Sharpton is one of the people calling for people to be fired.
Imus also offered some "context" to his remarks about the Rutgers basketball team this morning, that he "makes fun of everybody." Not out of offering an excuse, as he said, or excusing what he said, especially since the girls from the team did not deserve to made fun of, a concept that seems to have previously eluded him.
He mentioned that he has black friends and that many of the children at his ranch for kids with cancer are black, although at 10% that seem proportionate to the population. Also he has Hispanic, Asian, other minority children on the ranch.
Mentioned he had occasionally asked a politician about increasing spending on research for cancer and sickle-cell anemia. Other incidents, like attending black children's funerals, etc.
The upshot is that he is "a good person who said a bad thing". Getting almost tearful, he said he received hate mail from white racists calling him a n***** lover because he supports Harold Ford. (Really?)
Clearly, bloggers and others have pointed out Imus' hateful remarks on a variety of subjects for years, but this, both for what he said and how he said it, and most especially who he said it about. While his remarks about Hillary Clinton and Al Gore are frequently grotesque and insane, political insults of a broad kind have a long history. And most of the people Imus attacks are relatively high profile figures or people in the news for other reasons.
But Imus and his gang frequently engage in the most extreme rhetoric, especially when it comes to racial and ethnic minorities. They clearly seem to think this is funny. As Imus himself said today, anyone who did not know who him, who heard what he said, who have to assume he was a hate-filled white supremacist, and a vulgar one at that.
It has seemed to me for a while that Imus may be a good person - he has occasionally show decent instincts and has his charity, but of course he is known by the rest of us a radio personality, and he makes millions of dollars a year making cruel and hateful statements, and he knows it.
It also seems to me that Imus, on his show, is often making of the "idea of being racist." Making racist jokes, nowadays, is often hidden behind the "idea" of what a stupid racist "would say" (ha ha) but of course the person saying isn't really a racist. Having black friends, liking one black politician, caring about kids with cancer, advocating for a cure for sickle cell anemia, all is assumed to forgive an endless stream of patently racist jokes because they are mocking the "idea" that someone would the Rutgers basketball team "nappy headed hos."
But as I've said before, if you spend three hours a day, every day, cracking hateful jokes about all kinds of people, are you making fun of the idea of being nasty, stupid, and cruel, or does it just make you a jerk?