So many wrong conclusions have been drawn in the free-speech debate as it relates to Don Imus and the racial hustlers known as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
Imus had every right to call the Rutgers women’s basketball players “nappy-headed hos,” just as the CBS brass had every right to first suspend the crank and then fire him after advertisers started pulling out and public opinion reached a critical mass.
Jackson and Sharpton, of course, say all kinds of racially incendiary things and seemingly are granted a free pass. The difference is that Jackson and Sharpton answer to no one but themselves and their donors.
Their donors support Jackson and Sharpton, no matter how hypocritical and counterproductive their self-serving objectives may seem to outsiders.
Many whites do not understand this free-speech distinction between Imus and the two reverends, judging from the call-in-radio brigade.
We all have the freedom to say whatever we like, but you can be certain there will be repercussions if you overstep the boundaries. We may have free speech, but it is a free speech with qualifiers and footnotes.
That is the way it always has been and always will be until the mullahs take power. Then the Imus flap will appear quaint.
Is there a double standard?
You bet there is.
To which can be added: So what?
We all know the rules. Imus knew the rules.
He could have poked fun at the Tennessee players by doing redneck jokes, and no one would have objected. Sharpton, on his radio show, could have done the same, and it is doubtful anyone would have noticed or cared.
The point is the double-standard question is so last century. And any white with at least two brain cells knows it. So get over it already, to borrow from D.C.’s mayor-for-life.
Besides, a racist comment coming from a white has the sense of piling on the subject, given the deep social issues of the black community. The black community’s 70 percent illegitimacy rate is unthinkable, the results all too predictable.
Kansas City-based Jason Whitlock, who pens a cutting-edge column on AOL Sports, has been taking a hard and even unpopular look at his race, dating to the NBA All-Star Game, when he was one of the few columnists, if not the only one, to write of the lawlessness of the hip-hop crowd that descended on Las Vegas.
Whitlock condemned these so-called artists for the malignant crud they inflict on the black youth of America.
Who can argue?
When a geezer shock jock in a cowboy hat is employing the black-spun word “ho” instead of whore, the power of the so-called artists is fairly obvious.
Whitlock shares a place on the dais with Bill Cosby, who is urging blacks not to embrace the debilitating state of victimhood.
Those who see themselves as victims of the man have it both right and wrong.
There is a man, but he discriminates on the basis of green. If you do not have the green white or black the man will keep you down, no question about it.
I am piecing together this column because of the man. Otherwise, I might be kicking back on a beach somewhere. But that is the man for you. That is why he is the man.
Staying in the good graces of the man requires having only half a brain and the self-discipline to show up each day to work for 40 years. If you meet those two requirements and can balance a checkbook, you won’t have any problems with the man.
The man just wants to be paid. His is a fairly simple demand.
John Thompson, the WTEM-AM commentator who had Whitlock on his show Friday, made at least one stunningly accurate assessment about the white-black discord. The two groups do respond differently to each other if they are segregated.
Integrate a group and the self-censorship begins, almost subconsciously, as Thompson noted.
Older blacks have earned the right to resent whites, but it is equally true that whites have earned the right to resent the resentment.
You know the black guy whose resentment is just below the surface. He is the black guy who blamed the deluge of rain on the white man yesterday. That is an embellishment, to be sure. But you know the sort.
He probably does not understand the crippling nature of going through life in that fashion, of truly believing that a group is out to get him, when, in fact, his attitude restricts his progress more than anything else.
This is not to suggest he never has been a victim of discrimination based on race. But we are all victims at one point or another of one of the isms.
They don’t put ugly people on the cover of fashion magazines, do they? We could cite countless examples of an ism working against a person.
Yet how the person reacts to an ism is more important than the ism itself. If the person elects to wallow in it, rest assured the person has attached an all-powerful accessory to the ism.
It is always amusing to read this or that study that finds good-looking people earn more money or advance faster in a profession than people whose genetics were not so kind.
Of course, racism, even the hint of it, is far uglier than most isms because of our nation’s slavery past, segregation and Jim Crow laws, which is why Imus is among the unemployed.
It also is true that his lame attempt at humor was far less egregious than what comes out of the mouths of rappers. And it is doubtful any of the Rutgers players will be “scarred for life” by what he said. Please. They hear worse on their iPods.
And, as Whitlock has written, the latter is far more damaging to the black community than what some old coot might say to an audience that is predominantly white.
But again, Imus knows the rules, even if the rules are not always clear in shock radio.
Race remains America’s touchiest subject and will be long after many of us are gone.
That is partly because of an intellectually dishonest media elite that is addicted to its moral indignation and liberal pieties.
That dual sense framed the coverage of post-Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans on so many levels and still drives it today.
It is enough to make you forget there also was extensive damage in Mississippi and Alabama. But the damage in those two states did not satisfy the liberal template, as the needy in Ward 9 of New Orleans did.
The media elite even found a way to mostly absolve the first responders at the city and state level because of the D next to the leaders’ names.
In the end, two groups of Americans are bound to look at one another more warily with a media elite continually driving a wedge between them.
None of it is intended to be fair.
That was obvious late last week, when the Imus flap was at its hottest.
Michelle Malkin, guest hosting on Bill O’Reilly, was interviewing Malik Shabazz about the Duke lacrosse case that pitted a black female accuser against three white ex-athletes.
Not surprisingly, the member of the New Black Panther Party imagined a conspiracy after the charges were dropped and saw no wrong in his group’s prejudicial actions early in the case.
When urged to apologize by Malkin, Shabazz exercised his name-calling rights.
He called Malkin a “political prostitute for Bill O’Reilly, a white man and white racist chauvinist.”
So much for the Imus fallout initiating a genuine dialogue on race.