Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sharpton Has No Right to Slam Don Imus

By Lisa Haddock

Radio personality Don Imus is taking a beating for insulting the Rutgers women's baskeball team and quite deservedly so.
I'm not going to repeat his loathsome racist, sexist remarks on my blog, but you can find them on many media outlets, including CBS. The anti-Imus firestorm of criticism is more than justified. Imus was hateful, nasty, and disrespectful. He's been on the radio long enough to know how far is too far.
And clearly, the I Man went way over the line.
But as far as I'm concerned, the Rev. Al Sharpton has no right to take part in the condemnation.
Despite Imus' numerous groveling apologies and explanations, the reverend (and many others) say Imus should lose his job.
That opinion is well-founded, but Sharpton is not the right man to deliver the message. Why? Sharpton is guilty of life-destroying comments he won't back down from.
Let's take a stroll down memory lane.
Twenty years ago, Sharpton was the spokesman for Tawana Brawley, a young black woman who concocted a story that she had been raped by several white men in Wappinger's Falls, N.Y. (See official documents on Court TV.) Though her story was quickly discredited, Sharpton engaged in a non-stop, vicious attack campaign against anyone who disagreed with Brawley. Alleging rampant racism and conspiracy, the civil rights activist made one brutal comment after another.
Sharpton defended Brawley's refusal to meet with the New York state attorney general, comparing the proposed discussion to forcing "someone who watched someone killed in the gas chamber to sit down with Mr. Hitler." (Slate.com)
Slate also reports that, at one point, the preacher alleged that the Irish Republican Army was involved in a coverup.
Sharpton's imprudent comments eventually landed him in court. Steven Pagones, one of the people falsely accused in the hoax, won a slander case against Sharpton and two other activists.Worse still, the reverend has never repented of his comments -- despite the fact that one of the men Brawley falsely accused committed suicide.
What does he say now?
"I've stood by what I believe," he said in 2002, according to the Slate story. The jury who found him guilty for slandering Pagones? Well, according to Sharpton, they're just plain wrong.
My bottom line?
Imus' words are inexcusable. And maybe he should lose his job. But Sharpton is in no position to dish out condemnation when it comes to hateful, damaging speech.
As the Gospel of John says: "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone."
Repentance begins with admitting one's sin. At least the foul-mouthed Imus has done that. Sharpton hasn't.

(Imus photo from NNDB.com.)

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