Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus Must Go

Michael Meyers, executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition and a former assistant national director of the NAACP, writes in The Washington Post article Let the Idiocy Be Heard that Imus's radio program should be kept on the air.

I could not agree less.

After decades of studying history, politics and psychology, I am convinced that the minds of people are as malleable as water. They will fill with whatever is poured into them over time.

As a result, people become what they hear and see. Their minds can rise to greatness, or descend to the depths, depending upon that to which they are exposed.

And you know all the rubbish we are exposed to today, from all corners.

This is why we must continually call upon God to purify our thoughts, to fill us with love and guide us in right action. It is so easy to take offense, to disdain, to demean, to diminish and to laugh at others.

A glance at the events of the twentieth century alone shows us that there is, apparently, no limit to the ability of people to scorn, abuse, torture and kill their brothers and sisters without conscience.

It is psychological fact that most people need very little encouragement to behave inhumanly. Approval or encouragement to do so is often enough.

For instance, put an individual into a group of people banding together in hate - and as in Rwanda, spurred on by radio hosts - and that person easily becomes a different human, a human that knows no moral bounds.

All it can take is to believe that those we hate are different - and less - than we are. Yet, if you look around the world today, you see that belief is rampant.

Yet, as Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram demonstrated in his experiments - and documented - it doesn't even take that. People easily subvert their own morals to the authority of someone else:

"Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."

So how does this relate to Imus and the fact that MS NBC has decided to drop him?

I maintain that, to allow a person such as Imus to encourage people to disdain others - not for the quality of their thought or the morality of their actions, but for the color of their skin - is the most basic type of injustice, and something we can no longer afford because it feeds the injustice and inequity perpetrated against people of color in this nation and abroad.

Thomas Aquinas addressed the idea of injustice and clearly came out against ignoring it when he wrote, “Unreasoned patience sows the seeds of vice, nourishes negligence and encourages not only evil people, but good people to do evil.”

In other words, he who does not feel anger in the face of injustice and does not act to try and remedy that injustice is, himself, feeding injustice.

If we would, as a nation, be on the side of justice we must begin to stand up against planting the seeds of injustice. Those seeds have born too much fruit, including the torture that has gone on in Guantanamo.

Allowing Imus to infect us with racial hatred makes us complicit in the perpetration of injustice we see being inflicted upon dark-skinned men and women at home and across the globe.

Those who do not insist he be taken off the air, and who think that giving racists a voice somehow weakens their cause, are deluding themselves.

Worse, as good men and women of conscience, they put themselves in the position of abetting the injustice which they despise.

Imus, one of the indicators - and insidious fertilizers - for thoughts that have, collectively, worked to keep racism alive, must go.

He has been a test of our tolerance for racism, smallness, meanness. We have tolerated him up until now, but even MS NBC now sees that it is now time to take a stand and say to him and to those who would continue to poison the world with racism:

"No more. We will no longer support this."

I applaud that move.

The best we can do for Imus is pray that he awakens from the profit-seeking delusions that made him cater to the worst in human beings.

The least we can do is thank God that MS NBC has finally seen the light.

There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

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