By Kyle | June 24, 2008
I’ve just listened to the (audio) clip of Don Imus’s remarks about Adam “Pacman” Jones, the talented but wayward former Tennessee Titans cornerback who has yet to play a game for the Dallas Cowboys. Jones, who is black, is not going to win Sportsman of the Year anytime soon. But Imus was actually defending Jones in this clip. Imus, told about a nightclub shooting Jones was involved in, defends it, saying it’s no big deal (“Stuff happens“), then learns that Jones has been arrested six times, then asks what color Jones is and replies, “There you go.” This is Imus bending over backwards not to be racist; he’s trying to sound as much like Al Sharpton as he possibly can. The meaning is that Jones is being repeatedly, unjustly persecuted. The example of the kind of thing he’s been arrested for was not (to Imus) much of a crime to begin with. Picture Sharpton in this argument: would it have been surprising if Sharpton, learning that a man had been arrested six times and was black, replied, “There you go”?
I’m no fan of the I-man. I listened to him for a few months in the early 90s and thought he was a bore. (Then I switched to Howard Stern for a decade until my girlfriend made me stop.) He’s blustering without being funny. He appears to hold a job solely because of the authoritative register of his voice. But I doubt he’s a racist. All of the journalists who are joining the Imus-is-a-racist gang are not doing themselves any favors. Journalists appear on talk shows and say unscripted things. The same people trying to take Imus down now can also be ruined by having non-racist (if anything, pro-black) comments quoted out of context.