Radio talk show host Don Imus has offended black Americans again—but says he was misinterpreted. Law-abiding people should be even angrier.
Radio talk host Don Imus is in trouble again (surprise, surprise!).
You’ll remember that he was fired last fall for referring to a women’s college basketball team in a highly insulting way. He was rehired a few months later, promising to be more sensitive to the offended groups.
The most recent fracas concerns his comment on a report on suspended NFL Dallas Cowboys defensive back Adam "Pacman" Jones, which noted the player’s long string of arrests during his off hours.
"What color is he?" Imus asked.
Sports announcer Warner Wolf replied, "African-American."
"There you go. Now we know," Imus replied.
African American organizations immediately jumped to criticize Imus, claiming he was saying that black people in the United States are more likely to commit crimes than whites. That is actually a factually true statement, but saying so is not permitted, so a firestorm arose.
Imus apologized profusely for what he said was a lack of clarity, not a slur. The next day he explained further, claiming he was trying to point out that blacks are frequently arrested unfairly:
What people should be outraged about is that they arrest blacks for no reason. I mean, there’s no reason to arrest this kid [Jones] six times. Maybe he did something once, but everyone does something once.
It is indeed a scandal whenever people are arrested for no reason at all, and I’m sure it does indeed happen to black Americans much more than to whites. But such arrests happen most often to people who frequent places where crimes are known to happen. That has been the case with Pacman Jones. For Imus to say that Jones’s problems are caused by police harassment and not his own asininity is outrageous. His multiple arrests are no mistake; they’re the result of his own bad judgment.
The NFL has dozens of African American players who have never been in the slightest trouble with the law. For Imus to suggest that Jones is merely unlucky denigrates their good and law-abiding behavior by suggesting they’re just lucky not to have been arrested and are no better as citizens and men than Pacman Jones, who is rightly notorious for getting himself into trouble.
In apologizing for uttering a politically incorrect truth, Imus spoke an outrageous lie.
Of course, nobody but us has criticized him for that.