Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Importance of Being Other

Among many other (non-bloggable) topics, Ken Starr and Don Imus have been on my mind much more than I would like lately. I have been trying to decide what is worth saying about Starr's star turn on Monday--that he simpered and preened (I've never seen a man so charmed with the dimple in his own cheek) and oozed his sanctimonious nonsense all over the room? Maybe, but I could have written that in advance of the event as it merely confirmed my own prejudices. But I was, as far as I could tell, the lone heretic in a congregation of true believers. What strikes me in reflecting on the event is that Starr made crystal clear his contempt for his hearers, who obviously were expected to be (and for the most part were) grateful for anything it might occur to him to say (he clearly had not prepared anything in advance) on his way to the Dodgers game. His rambling remarks began with Jesus and ended twenty minutes later with an admonition to pray for Randy Wolf (Dodgers starting pitcher and Pepperdine graduate, 1-1 with a 3.75 E.R.A.). In between were references to love, "freedom of conscience", parables, networking, and litigation involving "non-denominational Christian evangelicals." The only unifying theme I could discern was a careful distinction between Christians and those inexplicably or erroneously opposed to them, and an equally careful identification of Starr (and other important and successful lawyers whose names he dropped) with his hearers as the unfairly beleaguered Christians. Before my own eyes the majority became the minority, justified in fighting (back) to defend their embattled interests, while the unscalable wall between these working class climbers and Starr and his corporate masters vanished, though standing as tall and strong as ever.

Which brings me, somehow, to Don Imus and his casual and unforgiveable defilement of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights' moment in the national spotlight (to say nothing of what he did to the Tennessee Lady Vols who, it may be recalled, actually won the national championship). One minute Kia Vaughn, Essence Carson, Matee Ajavon, Heather Zurich, Ephiphanny Prince, Katie Adams, Dee Dee Jernigan, Rashidat Junaid, Myia McCurdy and Judith Ray were the talented, lucky athletes on an amazingly successful college basketball team, the next they were nameless, faceless others unworthy of respect or consideration, and by the end of the day they were mere tokens in the always confused, often malicious, seldom productive national cacaphony on the subjects of race, gender, sex, sports and free speech.

I know there's a connection here.

Update: an interesting angle on the Imus coverage at Long Sunday.

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