I've always like Imus. I have not listened to him in a long time, but whenever he comes back -- wherever that is -- I'll be sure to support him.
What he said was stupid and wrong. No one reading these words of mine can claim they've never said things just as stupid or wrong. No one who knows Imus, who has listened to him for years, can possibly think he is a racist.
I don't care how many examples you bring up of him saying something you think is racist. Imus says things he thinks are funny, without regard to whether they sound racist. He is so non-racist that he does not even hear racism in the things he says, because the thoughts are so completely off his radar. There's a list of Imus quotes about women and minorities on Wikipedia, but you can find even more quotes by him that are offensive to Jews, Christians, Southerners, Northerners, Europeans, Asians, Americans
You can think he is wrong to do all that. But you cannot reasonably think he is a racist, if you listen to him very often.
Our culture has a long history of racism. But by treating everyone the same, no matter who you are, Imus has done more than most people to diminish racism in this country. And no matter how you look at it, what he said was not nearly as offensive as what Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson and Al "Interlopers" Sharpton have said, especially since Imus was only joking.
That's not to say Imus wasn't wrong -- and I feel terrible, and angry, for those young women whose lives have been upset by his stupid words, and the ensuing spectacle -- but let's get some perspective here. Imus has been a positive force against all sorts of discrimination for decades, and Sharpton and Jackson have been leading forces for isolation, segregation, and discrimination.
Essentially, Imus was made a scapegoat for societal unease over racism. It doesn't matter that he is not a racist, it doesn't matter that he was only joking, it only matters that we hate racism and want to take our anger out on someone. Even though that someone is one of the last people who deserves it.