Thank you, Don Imus. Thank you for giving us one more shot at getting serious with each other about race in America.

Now that the spectacular fall of the once-invincible shock-radio icon is complete, America—and that includes the American church—needs to sit down for a national rap session on the meaning of it all.

In the classic 1993 film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays an egocentric TV weatherman who keeps reliving the same, sorry day over and over again until he finally gets over himself and gets it right. I sometimes feel we're trapped in an unrelenting Groundhog Day of cynical behavior when it comes to race relations in this country. We go from one racial flare-up to another, replete with national outrage, around-the-clock media coverage, high-profile public apologies, the threat of boycotts, and Internet message boards teeming with fiery opinions. But at the end of the day, it's back to February 2.

We've now heard Don Imus's racially charged quip about the Rutgers women's basketball team ad nauseam. "That's some nappy-headed hos," he scoffed on his morning show. His producer, Bernard McGuirk, deepened the racial acrimony when he added that Rutgers' Scarlet Knights playing Tennessee's Lady Vols was like watching "the Jigaboos versus the Wannabes." By the time CBS and MSNBC meted out their initial two-week suspension to Imus nearly a week later, one had the sense that his fate was sealed. The eruption of coverage by cable news, YouTube, and activist bloggers, not to mention the old-school tactics of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, was simply too much.

After the smoke clears

In some ways, the most disturbing thing about the Imus fiasco was not his offhanded use of racist and sexist language to describe a group of ...

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Christianity Today
Our 'Don Imus' Moment
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April 2007

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