I don’t think I’m surprising anyone when I note that I disagree with Rush Limbaugh on several issues (while perhaps we’re pretty close on some others). That said, I was fascinated by the backlash he faced from the NFL community after being mentioned as a minority shareholder in a bid to buy John Bishop’s woeful St. Louis Rams, and his response in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.
I get frustrated with political “talking heads”, whether they be on the left or the right, who seem to have convinced large portions of their audiences that those who have political differences with them are either evil, intellectually bankrupt, socialist, racist, or hate America. There’s hardly any room in this country to have legitimate political disagreement on some of the most complex, evenly-divided issues our country is facing, without being portrayed as an ultra-villain by your opponent, and therefore a target of absolute hatred, thanks to this culture of over-amplification of political difference.
While I do think Mr. Limbaugh is certainly one of the purveyors of this damaging culture, he’s certainly not the worst, and I’m at least a fan of the fact that from an industry perspective, he certainly knows how to make good radio, as he was a radio guy before he was a ‘famous conservative’. That’s not the case with the majority of his fellow political rabble-rousers from either side of the spectrum. But even when he does frustrate me by encouraging the “overamplification culture”, I don’t find him to be a racist. Put simply, I think he has an unreasonable amount of distaste for those who disagree with him, whether they’re white, black, brown or otherwise.
That said, I think Limbaugh was right in the WSJ article when he asserted that there’s often a rush to demonize he and other conservatives as racists, whether it’s by the news media or people on the ‘left’. Limbaugh called the racism accusations “the sledgehammer,” used to hinder conservatives and unfairly affect their perception. I agree.
But that does remind me of the “sledgehammers” Rush and his allies also tend to use pretty frequently: accusations of socialism and hatred of the United States, to name a couple. These characterizations make it easy to dismiss disagreeing voices in the most overly-dramatic and polarizing way possible, and it’s making the political dialogue in our country complete crap, not to mention starting to render nearly everyone in this country into two factions, shouting their positions to each other, but never actually making arguments and counter-arguments.