I’ve been sitting on this story for a couple of days because, while I knew it bothered me, I couldn’t quite articulate the breadth, depth, and height of my objection.
I think I got it now.
Ironically, the misogyny Rush Limbaugh spewed for three days over Sandra Fluke was not much worse than his regular broadcast of sexist, racist and homophobic hate speech:
–Women cabinet members are “Sex-retaries.”
–”The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.”
–The National Organization for Women is “a bunch of whores to liberalism.”
–[Said to an African American female caller]: “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”
These are just a few samples from the arsenal of degrading language Limbaugh deploys on women, people of color, lesbians and gays, immigrants, the disabled, the elderly, Muslims, Jews, veterans, environmentalists and so forth.
Limbaugh doesn’t just call people names. He promotes language that deliberately dehumanizes his targets. Like the sophisticated propagandist Josef Goebbels, he creates rhetorical frames — and the bigger the lie the more effective — inciting listeners to view people they disagree with as sub-humans. His longtime favorite term for women, “femi-nazi,” doesn’t even raise eyebrows anymore, an example of how rhetoric spreads when unchallenged by coarsened cultural norms.
First, a hat tip to Best of the Web’s James Taranto:
[Y]ou have to marvel at [Jane] Fonda, [Robin] Morgan and [Gloria] Steinem’s chutzpah in comparing Limbaugh to Goebbels and then, in the very next sentence, denouncing him for using a Nazi analogy. The technical term for this sort of thing is “comedy gold.”
I left in the worst of the accusations against Rush because I don’t want to hide anything—and because they are irrelevant. Oh yeah, at least one of them is spurious, too.
How many years has feminism been set back by these three stalwarts of the women’s movement asking, nay, demanding, to be protected from the opinions of this beastly man? And to what depths has journalism sunk when a news organization (correction: CNN) publishes calls for censorship?
Limbaugh has been Limbaugh for years—I guess I have been a fairly regular listener for about three—and to demand his broadcasting execution for his admittedly and intentionally offensive terms like femi-nazi and sex-retary plays into the worst stereotypes of the humorless feminist. (How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb? That’s not funny!)
The race-baiting is more troublesome, but as referenced above, is largely made up—another problem I have with this piece. I had always dismissed Rush on the basis of these allegations, but in all the hours I have listened, I have never heard anything remotely like it. Rush opposes the organizational liberalism of most black and women’s groups, as do I. Slavishness (not funny, BTL) to political dogma leads to silence when Sarah Palin is called the c-word or Herman Cain the n-word. Rush has never wished to cut off Obama’s “nuts”, as Jesse Jackson has; has never said Obama should be serving coffee, as Bill Clinton has; has never commented on his “Negro dialect”, as Harry Reid has; has never called him “clean”, as his Vice President has.
What’s more, this amounts to piling on. This piece appeared almost ten days after his original comments and more than a week after his apology. It’s not as if Rush wasn’t roundly criticized for what he said about Sandra Fluke. It’s not as if he hasn’t lost sponsors and stations. I get the sense that these feminist celebrities just wanted ink.
I offer no defense of Rush Limbaugh, except to say that I enjoy his show and learn a lot from it. When I don’t like what he’s saying, I switch the station. I recommend that solution to this problem—and repeat my disgust with CNN and these three women.
PS: Now, this is how you handle a jackass and a bully:
RUSH: Here is Terry O’Neill. She’s the NAG president, National Organization for Women, the NOW gang. (We affectionately call ‘em the NAGs.) It was in New Orleans Saturday at their convention. All this outrage, all of this outrage that they have been spewing for a week — how horrible it’s been, how uncouth — listen to her describe it.
O’NEILL: The work we have ahead of us is not gonna be easy. Right now it really seems like, you know, we’ve got this godsend named Rush Limbaugh –
O’NEILL: — who has, like dropped this thing in our lap, which is just wonderful.
RUSH: Hey, it’s been dropped in our lap! It is “just wonderful.” This Rush Limbaugh thing was just wonderful. I thought they were outraged. I thought they were offended. I thought it was the worst thing they ever heard anybody say. It’s “wonderful.” What a political opportunity!
A godsend! The NAGs called me a godsend. So not only am I God’s gift to Obama, I’m God’s gift to women.
Eighty percent of the people in the CBS/New York Times poll are not better off. That has to be worse than it was under Carter, folks. And what the women of America want is jobs. They want an expanding economy, so we don’t have to beg the government for their birth control pills.
When life gives you Limbaugh, make Limbaugh-ade. Terry O’Neill gets it. And Rush gets it too.