It is hypocritical for those of us in the west to criticize radical Muslim societies over women’s rights while we openly tolerate the misogyny in the entertainment industry, which basically redistributes wealth from young people, white and black, to line the pockets of wealthy entertainment moguls and a few misguided entertainers. It is not for me to decide when it is time for black comedians to give up the N word. That choice must be made by the black community. However, I feel more comfortable taking a stand here and now against misogyny. It is time to give up the misogyny. Until we all stand for equality among men, women, all races, here in this country, we cannot expect the same in other countries.
The Imus controversy and ensuing public discourse has given me a new outlook on the earlier debate over the publishing of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohamed. Previously, I was in full support of the cartoons for the sake of free speech. (And perhaps if I search my soul, for the sake of showing the Muslims, “We reserve the right to offend you.”) But now I am persuaded a compromise must be reached between free speech and sensitivity. Do I agree with the acts of violence that resulted from the cartoons? No. Nor do I support terrorism in general. But I understand. I understand how those societies had a reason and a right to be upset.
This Imus controversy provides us all with a great opportunity to truly change course in our world. If we use this lesson as a wake up call to all start behaving with more decency and compassion toward others, toward women, toward different ethnicities and toward different religious viewpoints, then perhaps there is hope yet. To be sure, there is a radical strain within the Muslim world that is intolerant of other views. But the way to defeat it is to start by defeating our own intolerance and backwardness, within our hearts and our nation. Then we will start showing moderate Muslims the respect and sensitivity, which they, like everyone, deserve. This will empower them in the broader fight against intolerance and backwardness the world over. This is the only way forward. Please. Let us help each other. It will take courage.