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Yoga Korunta

Life & Politics

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Location: United States

One learns, as nothing endures but change.

16 April 2007

Tuesday's Word: intolerance



Nice try, but Imus isn't a nice guy

Friday, April 13, 2007
Connie Schultz Plain Dealer Columnist

This time, they win.
With grace and courage, the fine young women of the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights proved themselves to be warriors on the basketball court. Now they are poised to be the victors in a much larger arena.
All they have to do is keep their hold on the high ground, where, so far, so few have dared to tread.
I am weary of the many past guests on Don Imus' show, mostly East Coast journalists and Washington politicians, trying to explain why they were willing to go on the shock jock's show time and again despite his track record of misogyny, racism and homophobia, to keep the list short.
Many of them are now denouncing his behavior, and my only question to them is: Where've you been, guys?
The ones really grating on the nerves are those insisting that, despite Imus' recent vile, racist take on the Rutgers team, he's a nice guy.
Here we go again: the Nice Guy Defense. Just like Mel Gibson was a nice guy even though he got drunk and bashed Jews. And Michael Richards was a nice guy after he lost his temper and started hurling the n-word like hand grenades. That's some club they've got going, those nice guys.
Maybe something happens to your common sense when you breathe in all that ocean air, but here in the Midwest we know nice, and Imus ain't it.
Nice guys don't make a career out of bashing the usual AM talk-radio targets: women, minorities, gays and lesbians and just about anyone unable to defend themselves.
Nice guys accept real consequences fAnd nice guys don't mine the dark wells of racism to rob innocent young women of their dignity and achievements, and then call it a joke. I'm reminded of my friend and Plain Dealer book editor Karen Long's take on such claims of humor: A joke is just the truth that went out and got drunk.
Two weeks ago, I saw for the first time the Rutgers women in action. They were here in Cleveland for the NCAA Women's Final Four, and they were a sight to behold -- strong and fast, with a poise I couldn't have even imagined possessing at their young age.
They won the semifinals but lost the championship. They're a young team, though, and so they left knowing most of them would have another shot at it next year. They set their sights high.
Then Imus tried to take them down, but he took on the wrong women this time.
On Wednesday, newspapers across the country, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, ran the kind of photo that makes you stop and stare. There they were, the beautiful, talented black women of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, lined up in a row, wearing red jackets and faces that looked more stricken than defiant.
Every last one of them is somebody's daughter, and like parents everywhere, I imagined my reaction had Imus aimed his ugliness at mine. My heart pounds at the thought of it.
What will all this hoopla do to those young women? Barbara Danforth insists the news on that front is all good. She is black, the mother of a teenage daughter and the president and CEO of YWCA of Greater Cleveland. She lives what I only have to think about, and she is optimistic about their future.
"The question, of course, is, How do you get over something like this?' " Danforth said. "If these young women had been isolated, if there had not been widespread support for them, then it would have meant society didn't care about them. That carries long-term consequences, and it could have harmed them a great deal."
But this time, just about everyone seems to care. And that makes all the difference, Danforth said.
"When you have such a critical mass of people standing up for you and expressing outrage, then this sort of thing can pass, and it can pass quickly."
So, the good news: The nice guys win.
Even better news: The nice guys are the women of Rutgers.


To reach Connie Schultz:
cschultz@plaind.com, 216-999-5087
Previous columns online:
cleveland.com/columns

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6 Comments:

Blogger Melissa said...

"A joke is just the truth that went out and got drunk." --I like that one. It reminds me of this:

"Maybe something happens to your common sense when you breathe in all that ocean air, but here in the Midwest..."

hmmm...

21:36  
Blogger Yoga Korunta said...

Don't know about the other Midwest states, but only 49% of us are nice. Connie is one of them. I saw her at a political rally with her husband Sherrod Brown (D), a US Senator for Ohio.

Ocean air sounds great!

Next post tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

12:48  
Blogger Melissa said...

Did you notice I was picking on you in my last comment? It was a joke that went out and stayed sober.

20:30  
Blogger Yoga Korunta said...

Melissa, your joke was noticed, hence the mention of the 49 Club. I hate this place and long for your ocean air. Moving will happen; timing TBA.

22:39  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Being soft on racism is innate in conservatism. Notice how they tried to shift the discussion to rappers? They never fight racism, because they oppose mobility in a class structure.

04:38  
Blogger Yoga Korunta said...

The conservatives' opposition to human rights sets them apart from those who would promote social advancement.

18:25  

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