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Don Imus, Slander and the American Way 

Racism takes many forms, some more obvious than others.

Hey Joe: Do you think Don Imus' labeling of the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos" was a comic observation meant to be brushed off, a firing offense or a commentary on hair care?

Al Campanis, Crypt 520, Loma Vista Memorial Park, Fullerton, California

I love Don Imus. He represents the flip side of "America the Beautiful." You know, the part about slave quarters where blacks were stripped of their names and women were called "nappy-headed hos" by slave masters who raped them at will after they'd been kidnapped from their African homeland and forced to serve. I've heard a zillion stories about how blacks got to America. Had the people who purchased them been civilized, conscience would have dictated differently.

If I were Imus, I would petition the government claiming that I'm being slandered and that my freedom of speech rights are being violated. Then he wouldn't have to vow that the phrase he used was originated by rappers in the black community. This part of America is only an extension of the slave quarters. By the time it became available, evil forces had characterized blacks as animals. Remember the phrase "association brings assimilation." The ill-fated U.S. Constitution covers all these destructive laws.

Biblically, it included freedom of religion, which is man's law. America chose Christianity as her religion. Her offspring, unfortunately, included people like Imus. They forgot (or distorted) the fact that God was father of the universe. Instead America came up with her founding fathers, two of whom strayed from certain policies.

John Adams signed a treaty with Tripoli stating that America wasn't a Christian nation. I concur. Money is more contagious than Christianity. The financial actions of churches are evidence. Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, was named after James Monroe. Would-be slaves were detoured there to avoid bondage.

God's name has been used in vain. He said He would separate the wheat from the tare. Somebody stepped into His shoes, thus violating His commandment about "There shall be no other Gods before [Him]." The national anthem's closing line — "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave" — gives a better description. The free are those who, after running away from their homelands to escape oppression, orchestrated the building of their own promised land in America. The brave were people like John Adams, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln and, most of all, John Newton, a captain in the slave trade who demonstrated the meaning of change by converting himself to God and becoming an evangelical minister. In doing so, he denounced slavery.

In the case of Imus, everyone who denounced his remarks was of good will. They refused to be overcome by evil. Those who didn't exercised their Constitutional right. Maybe Imus should check what slave masters did to black women in the slave quarters before pointing fingers at black rappers, who realize they have been wrong to withstand what the Constitution did to both black and white women.

Although Imus lost his national advertisements, people of good will decided his fate. To top it off, the Rutgers women's basketball team forgave him. Now that's what you call class. Imus' supporters should change their alibis; they are too weak to hold water.

Prince Joe Henry, one of professional baseball's original "clowns," was an all-star infielder for Negro League baseball teams in Memphis, Indianapolis and Detroit throughout the 1950s. But up until the late 1940s, Prince Joe didn't know anything about the Negro Leagues. His knowledge of organized baseball was limited to the Cardinals and Browns games he attended during his preteen years at Sportsman's Park, accompanied by lifelong buddy Eugene "Gene" Crittendon, who could pass for white.

Perhaps Henry's most vivid memory of those games: Upon entry, white ushers would politely escort the boys to a small section of the left-field stands reserved for "Colored." After climbing past several tiers of bleachers, they'd arrive at their stop, rows and rows behind their white counterparts.

Even at a young age, the boys were conscious of the double standard -- and determined to vent their disdain. The opportunity would arise with the urge to urinate. Rather than head for the latrine, the boys would edge their way to the front of the section and let fly. As the liquid foamed its way down the concrete steps toward the white kids, Henry and his pal would ease back and relax, politely rooting for the visiting team to beat the hell out of the Browns or the Cards.

After all, Henry and Crittendon hailed from Brooklyn, Illinois, a small, predominantly black township just east of the Mississippi River. So hospitable were the residents of Brooklyn that they were known to take in a rank stranger, treat him to breakfast, lunch, supper and a night out on the town -- and afterward, if he messed up, treat him to a good ass-whippin'.

Direct questions on any and all topics to If we don't like yours, we'll hit Joe with our own.

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