Religion & Beliefs

Shalom, Imus

I have to be honest and say I’m surprised and impressed by the way things have turned out with the whole “nappy headed hos” incident. When Michael wrote about it at the Daily Shvitz he predicted that, “This episode will … Read More

By / April 12, 2007
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I have to be honest and say I’m surprised and impressed by the way things have turned out with the whole “nappy headed hos” incident. When Michael wrote about it at the Daily Shvitz he predicted that, “This episode will sink before the new wave of grim headlines out of Baghdad.” Guess not. But why not? Because of money, basically. Yes, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton pulled out their soapboxes and gave the same old indignant speeches, but in the meantime advertisers realized that by pulling out of the Imus show they’d get credit for being anti-racist, which would translate into revenue. Meanwhile, CBS was left with a huge deficit. According to this piece from NPR, Imus in Morning brought in tens of millions of dollars worth of advertising. With the ad money gone, they had no reason to stick by Imus, and this morning they gave him the ol’ heave-ho. Now, let’s get some things clear. I think Don Imus is a schmuck, and every time I’ve tried listening to his show I get bored. I am hardly saddened by his downfall, but I am frankly confused by anyone who listened to him to begin with. As Dov Baer points out, Imus has had some pretty nasty things to say about Jews in the past. Once, he called the editors at Simon & Schuster “thieving Jews” and then later apologized by saying the statement was “redundant.” Charming. But you know what Don Imus was doing this morning? Raising millions of dollars for kids with cancer. Here’s an excerpt from the latest NYT piece on his demise:

The firing of Mr. Imus came on a surreal day, one that served as a reminder not only of the millions of dollars he has raised for children’s charities over nearly two decades, but of the millions of dollars in future donations that he may have been lost as a result of his ill-considered remarks. For four and a half hours this morning, he turned his radio program into a live fundraiser for three charities — two benefiting children with cancer, and the other for families that have lost babies to sudden infant death syndrome — an endeavor he has undertaken each of the last 18 years. Among the guests were children and parents who had been the beneficiaries of his efforts — particularly the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer, a program that the host founded on his New Mexico ranch along with his wife, Deirdre. “It was an honor to be at your son’s funeral,” he said to one woman, whose cancer-stricken son had been a guest at what is essentially a western-themed camp for sick children.

The whole thing, how ugly it is on every side, reminds me of synagogue politics. The hiring and firing of rabbis and cantors is an ugly business that often has little to do with whether or not the person in question is good at their job, and more to do with money, and which big donor/block of members will leave the shul if the rabbi or cantor doesn’t step down. Invariably the synagogue board doesn’t make its decision until the worst possible moment—often on the eve of the High Holidays—and the rumors and ripples through the community just serve to show how far from spiritual a synagogue can get. I’ve been to shuls where congregants have gotten into actual fistfights on the premises, and where microphones were turned off during Yom Kippur services so that a sermon praising a community member in question wouldn’t be heard. It’s nasty stuff, and it comes precisely at the time when we’re trying to raise ourselves to a higher level. I wish I could send you to a site where you could make a donation to one of Imus’s charities, but they seem to be under investigation for sketchy spending, so instead, check out Camp Simcha, a camp for kids with life threatening diseases run by Chai Lifeline. Chai Lifeline gets four stars from Charity Navigator, which rates based on efficiency. I just gave twenty bucks. Let’s at least have something good come out of all this. For a fascinating article about why being called “nappy headed” is worse than being called a “ho,” click here.