On Imus, German rabbits, and more.
Apr 23, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 30 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
"Solidarity Forever, Pal!"
In the Don Imus vs. Al Sharpton celebrity tag-team cage match that obsessed Washington last week, and which ended with the radio jock's firing for racial insensitivity at the hands of his risk-averse CBS and MSNBC bosses, THE SCRAPBOOK has to confess that it couldn't work up a rooting interest either way. As National Review's Rich Lowry noted in his syndicated column, the controversy over Imus's calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" was "almost entirely a liberal conflagration." Which is to say, from our admittedly jaundiced point of view, it was a sort of pundits' version of the Iran-Iraq war.
With a few notable exceptions (John McCain, Rudy Giuliani), Imus's favorite interlocutors were a Who's Who of the Washington and New York liberal establishment: Evan Thomas, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, Tom Friedman, Frank Rich, Paul Begala, Howard Fineman, Tom Oliphant, Bob Schieffer, Jon Meacham, et al. Indeed, Oliphant--no one's idea of a man you'd take with you to a knife fight--had the misfortune, as Lowry put it, "to appear on Imus's show after the 'nappy-headed' comment and before it was clear that Imus was on his way to being expelled from polite company." So he made a great show of excusing Imus. But to be fair, Oliphant's parting remark might have been uttered by any of Imus's famous guests: "Solidarity forever, pal!" Or, until Al Sharpton says otherwise--whichever comes first.
Our normal instinct would have been to side with a man in Imus's position simply on the grounds that Sharpton led the charge against him. A slanderer and a race-baiter who has unrepentantly fomented deadly racial violence in New York on more than one occasion in the past 20 years, Sharpton doesn't have the moral standing of a cockroach to judge someone else's public discourse.
But good liberal that he is, Imus volunteered to appear with Sharpton and abase himself before this appallingly inappropriate arbiter. If CBS and MSNBC have now decided to outsource their Standards and Practices decisions to the velour sweat-suited demagogue--well, that too is something we can thank Imus for. So long, pal.
At the very least, we'd like to think Karl Szmolinsky meant well. Back in November, the East German rabbit-breeder was approached by North Korean officials who asked if he would be interested in selling some of his rabbits to Pyongyang for breeding purposes. Aware of the acute shortage of food in the Hermit Kingdom, Szmolinsky obliged, handing over 12 of his rabbits for 80 euros each. That may seem an awful lot for a rabbit, but Szmolinsky's breed, known as "German gray giants," can each weigh up to 22 pounds (including 15 pounds of meat).
The North Koreans then invited Szmolinsky to visit the rogue state in April to see how his rabbits were faring. But just before Easter, the 68-year-old pensioner was told by North Korean embassy officials that the trip was canceled. Szmolinsky now fears the worst, telling the London Times, "I don't think the animals are alive anymore, I think they've been eaten."
He suspects his rabbits, including his prized 23-pound male Robert, may have been the main course served during Kim Jong Il's birthday dinner last February. Said Szmolinsky: "North Korea won't be getting any more rabbits from me, they don't even need to bother asking." (The DPRK, on the other hand, maintains the rabbits are fine. And they deny ever contacting Szmolinsky.)
Not that any of this comes as a shock. After all, these rabbits are probably given more protein than the average North Korean. As Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post pondered, "How, exactly, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [intended] to parlay the small herd of German Flopsies into hunger relief for its 23 million citizens is unclear." It seems clear to THE SCRAPBOOK, however, that Robert and his fellow lagomorphs were destined to become rabbit stew from the get-go. We just hope Szmolinsky and his fellow Germans don't fall for any of North Korea's other hare-brained schemes.