Rush Has Gone Dangerously Mad
Maybe it’s the diet pills that have Rush Limbaugh dishing out a combustible stew of red meat propaganda, fear mongering and Nazi name calling. The blow hard radio host, who claims to have dropped eighty plus pounds in mere months, can’t stop making ridiculous comparisons between President Obama and Adolph Hitler. To be fair, Rush also likes to call Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a Nazi too. And just yesterday he asked, “Why can we NOT use Hitler?”
Media Matters the watchdog website that tracks all media, has archived all of Limbaugh’s defamatory dirges, as well as those of other bloviators like Michael Savage and Glenn Beck (who has been hemorrhaging sponsors from his FOX News Channel Show since his incredulous comment, “I think the President is a racist. He has a deep hatred of white people”). But besides MSNBC—where Keith Olbermann stands guard nightly as liberal pit bull—the mainstream media has largely ignored the rampant, racist rabble rousing.
My advice to friends who bemoan such shows is usually to ignore them too. Change the station, read a newspaper, pick up a book. I’m a big proponent of the First Amendment. I don’t condone censorship; unless it’s self censorship. I’m a radio talker myself. I know the drill. You’ll never make everyone happy. That’s not the gig. I know fans will say these guys are just entertainers, provocateurs; they’d say I’d be more successful if I were more obnoxious, more outrageous, more conservative.
That’s probably a fair assessment. But along with the power all that wattage behind the microphone affords, comes some responsibility. To facts, verbiage, society. And when radio hosts—especially syndicated stars who captivate millions of people every day—cook up undeniably racist rancor, they must be publicly chastised for it. By those of us in the media.
Limbaugh—who also fueled the whack job “Birthers’” Summer of Obama’s Dubious Citizenship—knows exactly what he’s doing. He wants to work his Ditto heads into a frenzy. He’s content to sit back, munch on his diet dinners while he watches the petulant parade of the misinformed storm the Health Care Town Hall Meetings in the name of righteous indignation. He loves it when they show up with signs brandishing Swastikas, slogans calling for bloodshed and defaced pictures of the President with a Hitler mustache.
He rejoices when some nutso strings up a congressman in effigy, when another yahoo shows up at one of these standing room only shout fests with a loaded gun strapped to his ankle in places like New Hampshire and Arizona that inexplicable allow such potentially dangerous behavior (and there are right-wing congressmen, cloaked in the Second Amendment, who go on TV and defend the practice).
He doesn’t let pesky facts get in the way of a robust rant, tosses around “death panels” with fear mongering aplomb and uses fascism, socialism and communism interchangeably, without ever explaining the concepts. I don’t think he’s ever outlined the real nuts and bolts of the proposed plans, or let anyone else do so. Remember Limbaugh is the guy who called Obama “halfrican American” and stirred the Rev. Wright pot during the election campaign.
He’s never disguised his blatant disdain for the President. Put simply: he wants to take Obama down. He’s said from day one, “I want Obama to fail.” I can’t think of a more un-American comment. Had some loco lefty (and there probably was) said such a thing, Rush and his bunch would have splattered red, white and blue paint all over his/her “unpatriotic” tongue.
Look, I don’t believe in ambush broadcasting. I decried the ex-Air America host—whose name eludes me as her career was quickly kicked to the curb—who called for George Bush’s assassination a few years ago. I think the so-called “911 Truthers”– who have been spewing all sorts of unsubstantiated garbage all over the Internet claiming Bush and Cheney orchestrated the worst terrorist attack in U.S, history for nearly a decade—are deplorable. Irresponsibility and hatred know no party lines.
Those of us in the media have an obligation to vet the facts and to be honest with our readers, listeners and viewers. We should encourage spirited, but respectful conversations; try to create a mosaic of voices that don’t sound like an echo. As Don Russell, a venerable host I had the privilege to work with at WGCH Radio always said, “You can disagree without being disagreeable.”
That’s not as provocative or entertaining, I guess. But after a summer of tumult, largely caused by hatred and misinformation, it’s time to do a reverse Emeril and kick it back a few notches. Who knows? Maybe we’ll actually learn something. It might even be a real health care reform bill passed.
Amy Beth Arkawy is a pop culture and politics junkie. She is also a radio talk show host and DJ. You can visit her blog, Radio Graffiti, here.