In an earlier post, I suggested that the Don Imus affair might provide the impetus for a re-examination of the way in which black women have been regarded in the media. In this, I was hardly alone, nor even the first to express the idea.
Others saw a broader issue: the way in which we talk about each other in general. Is there a difference between Don Imus' stupid remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team and the homophobia of Russ Limbaugh, the xenophobia of Glenn Beck or the ravings of Ann Coulter? No, no, and no, except that Imus got his comeuppance for his maundering.
On further thought, I suspect that I was mistaken in viewing the Imus contretemps as the start of a national discussion about how we talk about one another. It now seems that this incident is part of a revulsion at incivility that started--as usual--among "ordinary" Americans before the media noticed. Its most clear expression to date was not have Imus's demise, but the November 2006 election. Voters there turned their backs not only on Bush's policy in Iraq, but on a political style that assumes a monopoly on truth and good.
So Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter and their ilk will continue their smirking bigotry but they, like Don Imus and George W. Bush, are part of the past.
The same, I suspect, is true of those rap and hip-hop artists I wrote about--although being totally ignorant of what passes for music these days, I can speak from a vantage point of absolutely no authority.
For someone who does speak with authority, take a look at Russ Mitchell's CBS interview with Maya Angelou, who takes on the rap and hip-hop artists I spoke of in my earlier post. She is magnificent.