What Would Imus Do?

If Cowboy Don could, he would continue to accumulate the millions of dollars a year he was paid By MSNBC and CBS for his television and radio shows. Imagine all this money made at the expense of individuals and groups who for years have suffered the venom of Don Imus’ brand of humor. Plus, Imus had his backup sidekicks-co-host Charles McCord and the producer of Imus’ show, Bernard McGuirk, both of whom entered the rancor rodeo with great gusto. For example, when Jill Carroll, the Christian Science Monitor reporter, was released by her kidnappers in Iraq, McGuirk said that Carroll was the kind of woman who’d wear a suicide vest into the Green Zone. Later, he piled on the malice with more smear, suggesting that Carroll was pregnant, carrying the baby of terrorist al-Zarqawi. McCord agreed. Imus attempted to persuade the two to apologize but they refused. Were these three laughing all the way to the bank?

That other cowpoke, George W. Bush, easily spews poison along with his backup buddies, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, who encourage carnage. These three are also laughing their way to the bank only they are making their money off the blood of our troops and the people of Iraq.

Don Imus has a history of churning out racial and ethnic slurs, but last week’s attack on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights was the one that had many taking to the streets and carrying signs for Imus’ ouster. Steve Capus, NBC news division president, said that people were asking: “When is enough going to be enough?”

Isn’t this the same question members of the peace movement have been asking about George Bush and his illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq which has killed almost 3,300 American troops and over a half a million Iraqis? Isn’t this the question Iraqi citizens are asking about the deaths of so many civilians in an unconscionable assault on their country?

Bush, at a No Child Left Behind event on Thursday, struggled to analyze the bombing of the Green Zone’s Iraqi Parliament building in which one person died and more than 20 people were injured. You can almost see and hear the synapses that are short circuiting, popping and crackling, inside the president’s skull. They become stressed and overloaded when he is unscripted. He labors to recall from a speech words someone has written, something appropriate, to say in a moment like this. Finally, with great effort, blinking, shifting in his seat, and bobbing his head, he manages to pull something out of the weak wiring and fog. We have heard it all before-this talk about “a young democracy” and the “type of person that would walk in that building and kill innocent life and that is the same type of person that is willing to come and kill innocent Americans.” When we kill the innocent, it’s called collateral damage, a phrase coined to make the deaths more palatable. But killing is killing and it is unacceptable to those whose lives are affected forever by loss. It should be unacceptable to each of us.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights activist, called Imus’ words brutal and obscene. So are the words of George Bush as he rides his vehicle of deceit through eight years of a presidency that many are not waiting for history to judge as the worst. Bush has brutalized and betrayed military families by sending our troops to fight a war that should never have been waged. He has brutalized the Iraqi population. All of Bush’s words and actions to promote war by linking Iraq to al-Qaeda are brutal and obscene. The escalation of troops is brutal and obscene as is the extension of tours of duty from 12 to 15 months.

So, back to my title question. What would Imus do? Exactly what Bush is doing and will continue to do. The same thing. Until held accountable. Until we, the people, march in the streets as outraged about the slaughter in Iraq, committed in our names, as we are by the words of Don Imus. Cowboy Don has been fired. Cowboy Bush should be.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com


Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com