Slipping Out of the Noose


"I see dead people”  Nora Ephron observed to Arianna Huffington apropos Imus and a number of other public figures who find themselves these days in career-ending danger.  Ms. Huffington went on to speak about the tribulations of Alberto Gonzales, Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, and John McCain.  I have some reflections on three other individuals in the public spotlight who I believe qualify as "dead people walking" and who I believe are no more or less honorable than Imus except that they know how to slip out the noose of public self implosion.

The Friday evening after Imus made his notorious comment, Jay Leno made the following joke:  "If the jokes don’t seem as good today, the Jewish writers are off for Passover. The Christian writers are off for Good Friday, so the entire monologue is written by Muslim extremists."

Are all Muslim’s exremists? In the days that followed I was confident that we were going to view a press conference that would include 10 young Muslim adults describing how their lives had been shattered and all their good deeds vanquished on the altar of late-night TV humor. I don’t know if Jay Leno is anymore or less bigoted than Imus, but his comment in my book was no less insensitive and intolerant of an American minority group.  Does Leno deserved to be fired?  I guess that’s a moral judgment for his sponsors to make.  As the Imus lynching suggests, the bottom line financial interests of big business determine American values and morality. 

Just a week after Imus showed his racist hand for umpteenth time, the Attorney General of North Carolina declared the innocence of the 3 Duke Lacrosse students charged with rape.  The only victim of this travesty appeared to be the local DA Mike Nifong who was roundly condemned for his rush to indict the 3 team members.

Excuse me, but what about all the race hustlers who hastened to declare back in March, 2006 that had the victim been white, justice would have been swifter?  What  about the remarks of the heroes of the Imus lynching, Rev.’s Sharpton and Jackson who wrote and spoke about the diabolical racist behavior of the Duke Lacrosse team and defended the character of the victim and her struggles as a single African-American mom?  I’m still waiting for these two ministers who are themsleves no strangers to making derogotary comments about minority groups and who have built their careers out of defending Black people who have or may not have been victims of racism, to offer some expression of regret. I’m not holding my breath.

All things considered, I respectfully suggest that the Imus’ rehab program need not consist of anything more than learning how to slip in and out of the noose of self implosion without any mutil-national corporations losing money or showing blood to preditory demagogues.

Mitchell S. Gilbert                                                                                                           April 16, 2007


About Mitchell S. Gilbert

Mitch Gilbert is a social worker, writer, and religious educator. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he has done community development work in Washington DC, Cleveland, Akron, Vancouver, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. Mitch earned a BA at Brooklyn College (CUNY), a Master of Science in Social Administration degree from Case Western Reserve University. In addition, Mitch has done graduate studies in Jewish tradition, history, and culture at New York University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Mitch serves as a volunteer Jewish chaplain in a state prison and a senior adult residential community. In addition to writing/blogging, he an avid volunteer and political activist.
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