Tag Archives: Rush Limbaugh

Don’t Rest In Peace

A witticism attributed to Mark Twain has always resonated with me. (I tend to be bitchy.) Twain is quoted as saying “I’ve never wished for a man’s death, but I’ve read several obituaries with pleasure.”

Precisely my reaction when I learned of Rush Limbaugh’s demise.

There has been no dearth of columns/obituaries marking the death of this truly horrible man, and ordinarily I wouldn’t bother to add to their number–had I not been in the middle of The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee, and had I not come across this article from Vox.

I referred to The Sum of Us a few days ago, reporting on Michelle Goldberg’s column describing the book. I can now attest to its importance; McGhee paints an absolutely devastating–and overwhelmingly documented–picture of the ways in which racial animus has hurt not just the Black and brown objects of that animus, but everyone else. Racism, as she amply illustrates, is why Americans “can’t have nice things,” the none-too-veiled reason for the country’s disinvestment in public goods and refusal to construct an adequate social safety net.

Limbaugh, of course, was one of the loudest and most effective purveyors of that racism–along with generous amounts of misogyny, homophobia and Christian Nationalism.

Which brings me to the Vox article, which traces the considerable role played by “Christian” radio stations in abetting Limbaugh’s rise. The article reminds readers that Limbaugh “didn’t emerge from a vacuum.” He and his toxic message were part of a “Christian-based radio ecosystem” that promoted his message and allowed it to thrive.

The late Rush Limbaugh’s far-reaching and toxic impact on conservative America and the Republican party is well-known and well-documented. Still, there’s one aspect of his legacy, specifically his cultural dominance in the 1990s, that’s difficult to convey in the post-internet era: Limbaugh’s pivotal role in the ascension of conservative talk radio and the pivotal role that conservative radio played in emboldening modern conservative populism.

For many years throughout the Clinton era, Limbaugh’s daily radio program, The Rush Limbaugh Show, was synonymous with conservative political media and part of a larger burgeoning conservative radio ecosystem. The show, which aired for three hours each afternoon across America, began syndicating nationally in 1988 — incidentally the same year that famed evangelist minister Billy Graham delivered the benediction for both the Republican and Democratic national conventions. If you can’t imagine that happening today, it’s due in large part to the political polarization Limbaugh himself helped engender. In fact, Graham’s brand of evangelical Christianity spread across many of the same airwaves that also aired Limbaugh’s brand of toxic conservative bigotry.

That radio ecosystem also featured Dr. James Dobson’s daily Focus on the Family spots,  promoting “pro-life,” creationist, and anti-gay political opinions. Dobson was then the head of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classified as an extremist group.

It was within this pervasive atmosphere of pumped-up, aggressively combative evangelism and overtly polarizing political messages that Rush Limbaugh gained popularity. His show was another piece of the rapidly coalescing image of America’s new conservative — one in which Limbaugh’s lack of Christian empathy somehow became a feature, not a bug, of the modern conservative movement.

For at least three decades, Limbaugh and his ilk have been the public face of conservative “Christianity.”  It took a long time for those I consider to be authentic Christians to speak out–to publicly reject the hateful and aggressive politicized version of the religion that was repelling young people and Americans of good will. Those dissenting voices have become stronger, but whether they can counter the appeal of the White supremacy/Trumpian version of Christianity remains to be seen.

As the Vox article makes clear, the effect of Christian conservative radio on America’s political discourse has been profound– well before the 2016 election, the format played a huge role in shifting the views of once-centrist Republicans toward the far right. As the author notes, “Many of us haven’t listened to Rush Limbaugh in decades, but we’re all still feeling his influence daily, like it or not.”

His voice will most definitely not be missed.

 

Degradation

No wonder the KKK has endorsed Trump for re-election.

In case there was any doubt about the slime this “President” represents, his awarding of the Medal of Freedom to one of the most despicable people in the country should erase it.

Limbaugh is as close as Trump could come to awarding the medal to himself.  He has mocked all manner of human suffering, and he shares Trump’s obsessive hatred (actually, jealousy) of Barack Obama, whom he has referred to as a “Hafrican American,” and about whom he liked to play a mocking song called “Barack the Magic Negro.”

And of course, Limbaugh was an enthusiastic birther.

As Ed Brayton has noted, barely nine months into the Obama presidency, Limbaugh declared (with no evidence at all) “In Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the Black kids cheering.” It was only a small part of his constant insistence that that “race riots are part of the plan that this regime has.”…Brayton also reminded readers of Limbaugh’s constant attacks against immigrant communities.

In 2019 alone, he said that “the Democrat party has imported the third world into this country and they have not assimilated,” compared asylum-seekers coming to the U.S. border to the invasion of Normandy, and quipped that “maybe toilet water is a step up for” some migrants.

Both CBS and the New York Times have published lists of the incredibly offensive, racist and sexist garbage that Limbaugh has regularly spewed–ample evidence that bestowing the Medal of Freedom on this pathetic gasbag makes a mockery of an award intended to highlight human–and humane–achievement. Rush Limbaugh doesn’t belong in the company of people like Elie Wiesel, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa. In a just world, he would be shunned by all decent people.

But of course, Donald Trump is not a decent person.

This travesty is just one more bit of evidence–if any more evidence is needed–that the political divide Trump exemplifies is not between Republicans and Democrats. It is between white nationalists and the rest of us. It is simply no longer possible for voters to pretend that they support Trump because they approve of his non-existent economic “policies” or because they they are grateful that he’s been putting unqualified ideologues on the federal bench.

What Trump voters really approve of are the attitudes, bigotries and ignorance constantly and crudely expressed by the Rush Limbaughs of the world and parroted by Trump–and the “policies” that give aid, comfort and encouragement to the KKK and Neo-Nazis.

There is a meme I’ve seen several times on Facebook, a quote by a self-identified German (whether accurately attributed or not, I don’t know):”Dear America: You are waking up as Germany once did, to the awareness that 1/3 of your people would kill another 1/3, while 1/3 watches.”

In November, we will be in a position to assess the accuracy of that numerical observation.

 

 

 

 

 

About Those Positive Omens….

A few days ago, I posted about emerging indications that American society might be coming to its senses. One of those signs was the diminishing reach of Rush Limbaugh and the hate-filled rhetoric he spawned on the nation’s airwaves.

There’s continuing good news on that front. Evidently, WRKO-AM, a longtime distributor of right-wing content in Massachusetts, has decided to drop Limbaugh’s radio show after carrying it for nearly two decades.

Limbaugh, of course, has never recovered from the advertiser backlash following his 2012 rhetorical assault on Sandra Fluke. As former iHeartMedia executive Darryl Parks noted earlier this year, Limbaugh has essentially killed his own industry:

Today’s talk radio, as we know it, is fast fading into the sunset because of a format stuck with 1990’s rhetoric, each day addressing topics few care about. A constant right-wing political drumbeat that no longer resonates. A format where its practitioners can’t define the word entertainment. A format attracting fewer people, men or women, under 65.

Probably the most important problem for rabid rightwing media is that the audience–not just for Limbaugh and his clones, but also for Faux News, and other propaganda outlets– is increasingly aging. As Parks put it,

All was good until the world changed and the aging, pissed off Baby Boomers (I’m one of those too – Baby Boomer – not pissed off) were no longer relevant. Extreme political ideas no longer resonated with listeners as generational power shifted from Boomers to Gen X’ers and now Millennials, groups that have a more centrist belief in regards to many social issues. They’re mostly OK with Hispanics, lesbians, smoking pot and women using birth control. Many are even OK with the first African American President.

A relative of mine in the radio business once told me that the primary audience for talk radio was over-50 white guys who wanted to hear their resentments and prejudices validated.

That audience, thankfully, is shrinking.

Crying Wolf

Not being a fan of right-wing conspiracy blogs/commentators, it was only a couple of days ago that I became aware of the latest “outrage” perpetrated by the Obama Administration–a Halloween party kept secret until now, where liberal Hollywood stars mixed with costumed members of the First Family and Staff in an expensive, decadent party paid for by our tax dollars.

I saw a clip of Rush Limbaugh–red-faced and shouting, vein in neck throbbing (okay, that’s his normal look)–accusing the White House of cavorting at taxpayer expense while average Americans suffer through the recession, and darkly asking “If they hide these extravagant, indulgent parties from the American People, what else might they be hiding??”

I consulted the Google oracle to find out more, and discovered that those crafty Obamas managed to “hide” the fact of this party, which turned out to have been held for the children of veterans, by posting about it on the White House Web site, Facebook and Twitter, and inviting the media to attend.

Oh, those crafty Obamas–it’s the Purloined Letter all over again! Hiding in plain sight!

It’s tempting to simply dismiss this silliness as another manifestation of Obama Derangement Syndrome, but there’s a darker side to these constant attempts to demonize the administration. Remember the Boy Who Cried Wolf? He was a shepherd who kept insisting he saw a wolf menacing his flock. When the real wolf came, no one believed him.

When everything Obama does–including, apparently, breathing–prompts accusations of high crimes and misdemeanors, what happens if and when the administration actually does engage in behavior that we really should worry about?

When the level of outrage is set on maximum all the time, how do we distinguish between a Halloween party for the children of our fighting men and signing the Defense Authorization Act?