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Racism and Bigotry in America

The recent uproar about CBS’ firing of Don Imus is funny on so many different levels I don’t quite know where to begin. On both ends of the political spectrum you’re hearing people screaming about “freedom of speech” — when the reality is that this had absolutely nothing to do with freedom of speech. Once again I have to wonder just how many people in this country ever took, much less passed, high school civics class. The constitutional right to “freedom of speech” only applies to what the government can and can not do to you based on what you say. The government wasn’t even involved in the Imus affair! Imus made his comments as part of his job working for MSNBC and CBS Radio. Those companies are his employer, and as such they can do whatever they want to reprimand him. There is no freedom of speech in the corporate workplace. In fact, when you walk in to your place of employment, you lose many of your rights as a citizen — truth is, there just isn’t a whole lot of democracy in the corporate work place. But that’s a story for another day. Bottom line with the Imus firing is that he was an employee of a corporation, he did something the corporate powers didn’t like, and he got fired for it. Happens every day to many people all across this country.

In fact, at least as far as the right-wing critics go, this is yet another great example of just how hypocritical these folks are. What we really have here is an example of capitalism and free markets working exactly as they should! Imus made some outrageous statements that offended a lot of people, and many of the show’s advertisers freaked out over appearing to be associated with this bigot, and so they walked. No advertisers means no revenues which means no profits for MSNBC and CBS. And since as we all know, profit is the sole reason why any corporation exists, they had no choice except to dump Imus. It’s that easy, wing-nuts. That’s how your beloved corporate world works — it’s not liberal, it’s not conservative, it’s not middle-of-the-road — it’s all about making a buck. The system worked the way it’s supposed to. You should be happy!

But again to be fair, we also see those on the so-called left now comparing this incident to the hate-mongering that you see on a routine basis from right-wing talk show hosts like Limbaugh and O’Reilly, and wondering why these other bigots aren’t being fired as well. And again, that’s also laughable for pretty much the same reasons as above. With Limbaugh and O’Reilly, the advertisers know up front exactly what they are getting — someone who will cater to the racists and the bigots in this country. Indeed, if ever people like this actually stopped their hate-mongering, inevitably they would lose their popularity and end up being fired for not catering to the far-right extremist element in our society. The mistake that Imus made was they he tried to have it both ways — appearing at times to be a moderate and maybe even a little progressive, so that his audience was a bit more mainstream. Which of course ended up being his undoing — that audience is not going to tolerate what he did. Unlike the Limbaugh/O’Reilly audience, which revel in this type of bigotry. So bottom line, in both cases, it’s the good old market place working the way it’s supposed to.
Which brings us to the real problem here. It’s not the jerks like Limbaugh that are the problem — it’s the millions of people in this country that worship at the altar of these jerks. Limbaugh and O’Reilly are just the symptoms of the disease. The real problem is that there are just a lot of very bigoted people in this country. The rest of us just have to make sure that these folks don’t absolutely destroy the country, as they’ve been doing their damnedest to do over the last six plus years. That’s the real task at hand.