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Nelson Mandela chose to forgive: Why can't we forgive Don Imus?

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I suppose that I could write of a million items, well not really maybe a few, but today I chose to write a responsorial column after reading  Alternet.org’s column concerning the return of Don Imus chastising those who are now coming out from the shadows to appear on his show.


As we all know, pressure was brought to bear on Don Imus which led to his firing from both MSNBC and CBS for his comments of the Rutgers Women’s basketball team for calling them a bunch of “nappy headed hos’” Most of this pressure came from Al Sharpton who is far from being an angel especially since he was the voice of Twana Brawley who alleged that she was raped by six white men some of them police officers from Wappingers Falls, New York.  According to Wikipedia, “There were no indictments in an investigation conducted by a grand jury in October 1988, which cited a lack of evidence, concluding she had not been abducted, assaulted, raped or sodomized.” Also reported by Wikipedia, “She later told others that there had been no rape, only other kinds of sexual abuse. Forensic tests found no evidence that a sexual assault of any kind had occurred.”


Given the fact there was no case, where was the apology coming from Al Sharpton towards those falsely accused? There was none.  Yet, he made damn sure that Don Imus apologize over and over when it came to his comments made on-air which I did write about in a previous column.  In that column, I compared Don Imus to Ann Coulter and wrote, "Exactly where was the wall-to-wall coverage showing any public outrage to her statement? It was no where to be seen.  No one treated her as a pariah as is being done with Imus." The statement made by Coulter was when she called the Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards a “f*ggot”


I liken the Twana Brawley case to the Duke University case in which three lacrosse players were vindicated after a false rape charge was filed against them by an overzealous DA, Mike Nifong who has since been disbarred for “dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation," This did not only affect the lacrosse team members falsely charged but resulted in the resignation of their coach Mike Pressler.  It caused the cancellation of the team’s 2006 season.  The three young men have since gone on to other universities, but their lives have forever been smeared and I call that unfair especially given the fact no proof of this attack happened.

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In Alternet.org’s column they use former President Bill Clinton as an example when they wrote of James Carville “who had the temerity to compare the travails of Imus to those of his former boss Bill Clinton.” Carville had this to say, "I think I've had some history of defending friends of mine that have been in uncomfortable circumstances," Carville told the Observer. "I defend the speaker, not the speech. If there's no redemption, what are we here for?"


Now that is a good question coming from Carville especially when CNN reported, “The Rutgers University women's basketball coach said Friday her players have accepted radio host Don Imus' apology for racist and sexist comments toward the team and they are "in the process of forgiving." They were the ones affected by these comments coming from Don Imus and if they saw fit to accept his apology; why can’t the rest of America?  They were the injured parties here.  Yet, they had the grace to accept it.  Where is our grace? Again, I cite; did Sharpton ever apologize to those men affected in the Twana Brawley case?


In writing this column and doing research on him, I have not seen the same level of attacks brought to bear on pundits like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh and yet Coulter is still invited on several programs for her hateful speech.  Rush Limbaugh still has an audience of millions, yet no force has been present to force him off the air and exact an apology.  Also in the case of Coulter, she had this to say of these 9/11 widows, “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband's death so much." She has never seen fit to apologize for that remark.  These widows have felt the pain that many cannot even conceptualize.  I am left to ask; why are some held to a higher standard such as Don Imus?

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Where is the apology coming from Coulter to John Edwards when About.com reported this wonderful quote coming from her “If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot." Quite frankly since he is running for president; shouldn’t the Secret Service be looking into her? No, she is left to spew her venom.  Let us also remember that John Edwards has children and should some whack-job follow her words, they would be left without a father.  Let us remember that his wife still has cancer, and is fighting it.  How come no one and I mean no one is sticking up for the Edwards family demanding an apology coming from Ann Coulter?  How come every show including Hardball will have her on as a guest?


I would like to challenge the Reverend Al Sharpton to demand an apology from Ann Coulter as a representative of the Edwards family.  Why isn’t he demanding of stations around this country not to invite her on?  As for Ann Coulter, I have never taken part in any boycott of her since I believe in the First Amendment, yet her words go unchallenged in which stations will continually have her on as a guest.  NBC was a part of firing Don Imus, yet Coulter has been seen also on The Today Show being interviewed by Matt Lauer.  I find that to be hypocritical of NBC.


In a column written shortly after she appeared at a local bookstore here on Long Island, I wrote this column, We must decide who stays on air through the power of the purse and contained within that article is a picture of supporters of Ann Coulter reacting to Huntington Town Councilman, Mark Cuthbertson who made a speech denouncing statements made in the book. This book was Coulter’s “Godless: The Church of Liberalism” In fact at that book signing she tore up a letter written by Councilman Cutherbertson demanding an apology come from Coulter towards the widows of 9/11.  Please take a look at their faces.  When I first viewed them, I was abhorred since Long Island is my community and we are not that far from Ground Zero.  I saw absolutely no compassion only acceptance of Coulter’s hateful prose.

Case in point of the disparity between Coulter and Imus is when RawStory wrote this of Coulter, “The word raghead -- whose only function is to denigrate -- seems as legitimately offensive to Muslims as Imus' utterance was to blacks. The difference is that Coulter didn't apologize." She has continually called Muslims “ragheads”.


Don Imus has done his penance and has done so publicly and if the Rutgers Women’s basketball team can see fit to accept his apology with the utmost grace; shouldn’t we be big enough to allow him to come back on-air?  While I reviled those comments coming from Imus any person of faith should be big enough to move on. 

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I will leave you with this quote coming from Nelson Mandela who stated upon leaving office, “South Africans must recall the terrible past so that we can deal with it, forgiving where forgiveness is necessary but never forgetting" Let us remember how many years he was locked away in a South African prison during its most heinous time called Apartheid.  If that was his lesson to his citizens; shouldn’t we as Americans do the same when it comes to Don Imus?


Author’s email address is, xmjmac@optonline.net


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I am a writer who currently writes pieces for my own blog http://www.mary-macelveen.blogspot.com I have been published by Buzzflash.com, TheLiberalPatriot.org and MikeHersh.com. I was a guest on the Jay Diamond Radio Show on WRKO in Boston and have (more...)

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