The End of the Beginning
I took a day to think about the death of radio personality Rush Limbaugh. My immediate thoughts were snark-provoking. Although Limbaugh spent over 30 years mining the cavernous depths of cruelty, I wanted to suppress the urge to welcome the death of his brand of political divisiveness—but who am I kidding. Limbaugh was a mediocre thinker, catering to a mediocre base of Ditto-Heads, luring them in with his great entertainment skills. While he ushered in words like Femi-Nazis, he wondered aloud why he could not use the N-word. After all Trayvon Martin’s friend used it, he ruminated. I, like a lot of my friends, have found that a curious question coming from a white person, and my response always comes in the form of a question, “ why do you want to use the N-word?”
Long before the current crop of conservatives made it a sport, Limbaugh was the most famous purveyor of making ‘cruelty the point.’ The popular consensus is that Donald Trump was the symptom of a long incubating disease in the Republican party. If so, Limbaugh was the transmitter of the virus. He used the airwaves to infect an angry, underachieving population looking to displace blame. At that point, his success was benign. He later metastasized in the body politic with his brand of neo-conservatism luring the powerful and ascending forces in the Republican party to abandon governing for owning the libs.
Mr. Limbaugh was like a Zamboni resurfacing the landscape to accept hateful rhetoric and insult as good-natured humor. He attacked and mocked actor Michael J. Fox who struggles with Parkinson’s disease. Limbaugh crashed through the wall of unwritten propriety when he attacked the then 13-year old daughter [Chelsea Clinton] of former President Bill Clinton. Subsequently, he degreed in bigotry with a master's in racism, promoting the trope of Barack the Magic Negro. His matriculation even included a short mainstream stint to expose himself to the unindoctrinated with ESPN—where of course he was eventually fired/resigned for advancing a long destroyed image about black quarterbacks in professional football. Of one time Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Limbaugh said,
“I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.”
By the way, McNabb was one of the most successful quarterbacks in the club’s history. Limbaugh was the best bet at the window, in his long career, he hit the trifecta repeatedly. He mocked women, children, and race. Nothing was too fine, tough, or rough to be grist for his mill. When you create a surreal version of truth it is an easy leap off the conspiratorial cliff. Mr. Limbaugh perpetuated a bastardized reality for the most cynical of reasons, the sheer fun of it. It is undeniable he set a radio standard that will be copied for years and therein lies the problem. He was truly the end of decency and the beginning of radio savagery. I am not celebrating his death but mourning his life.
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