Book Review: Burying Don Imus

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In Burying Don Imus, Awkward argues persuasively that Imus forgot “that big business and media corporations can tolerate association with virtually anyone who can increase their earnings or cultural capital . . . except a person widely recognized as a racist” (p. 135). But that is only part of Awkward’s story. Awkward also maintains that it was because Imus was seen as speaking for himself, and not in comic character as “a young black man,” that he was labeled a racist and sexist (p. 125). He suggests that scapegoating Imus for his racial offense allows the wider public to escape self-examination and acknowledgment of our nation’s history of racial offenses; namely, the offenses of slavery and segregation. By avoiding our own culpability in these events and in their forgetting we allow ourselves only to initiate this conversation repeatedly and never to resolve it. So, once Imus disappears and pays for his racial transgression, “we” (the audience) can move on to the next equally “shocking” and “offensive” scapegoat like Schlessinger.

"Michael Awkward's 'Burying Don Imus: Anatomy of a Scapegoat,'" International Journal of Communication 4 (2010): 1006-1008.