Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Imus On the Cross

So it turns out that numerous media personalities, from Pat Buchanan to the Times's Frank Rich, are referring to the firing of Don Imus as a "lynching." The meme is apparently spreading like wildfire: Google "Imus lynching" and you get over 186,000 hits, most of them evidently right-wing rants about the injustice Imus is enduring. (The words "Al Sharpton" also appear prominently on most of the relevant websites, close to such words as "farce" and "hypocritical.")

I know that these guys are using the word "lynching" metaphorically, not literally. I am an old English major so I understand about metaphors. But my understanding of metaphor is that it is supposed to be used by writers to illuminate profound truths by revealing the unexpected similarity between two things that, on the surface, appear to be very different. I don't think that is how Imus's buddies in the media are using it.

Just to be clear, this is what someone who has been lynched looks like:

By way of contrast, this is what Don Imus can look forward to:

Imus's "lynching" consists of his being forced to retire--at least temporarily--to the Imus Ranch in New Mexico, which is described this way:
The ranch is a magnificent facility. Nearly 4,000 open acres surround an old western town that rivals any movie set in Hollywood. . . . The ranch also features a state of the art greenhouse and two acre garden, gigantic old-time barns, an indoor riding arena, an outdoor professional rodeo arena, a gorgeous, magnificently designed swimming pool, miles of trails and thousands of trees. There are two ponds for watering cattle that also contain hundreds of fish; trout in one, bass in the other.
If Imus gets bored in New Mexico, he may have to fall back on his home in New York:

The Imuses purchased the home in Westport, spread over roughly five acres on Long Island Sound, for about $4.5 million in the late 1990s. They promptly tore the main house down and built the new one from scratch. Deirdre decided to decorate it in the neoclassical, Swedish Gustavian style, named after King Gustav III and known for its clean lines and sense of restraint. . . . There is a spectacular view of Long Island Sound. The [great] room is impeccably decorated, with a custom-built Indian-redwood Steinway & Sons piano and an 18th-century Gustavian-style daybed. Various books cover the tables: the complete photographs of Julia Margaret Cameron, the views and plans of the Petit Trianon chateau, at Versailles, as well as a bound volume of the July 2003 Architectural Digest, which featured the Westport house.
Oh, the suffering! Oh, the humanity!

Journalists and politicians get appropriately chastised when they misuse Holocaust analogies. (Tom Delay recently compared his own prosecution to the Nazi persecution of the Jews, which sets some kind of a record for grandiosity, to say nothing of bad taste.) It's about time that the same standard got applied to lynching analogies.

It would be even better if the rich and powerful could try to develop a bit of perspective about the misfortunes experienced by them and their rich and powerful friends. But I'm too old and cynical to expect that to happen.

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