Friday, October 16, 2009

Limbaugh and The Rams

Time for some full disclosure.

I've commented on these pages before that I've "caught a snippet of the Limbaugh show", inferring that I don't frequently listen to it. You'll also notice that I almost never link to his webpage.

Full disclosure: I love the big guy (though, he's not that big these days, I digress again...). I've taken him with me everywhere over the years and have been a regular member of his "Rush 24/7" subscription pages for years now (dating back to at least 2003). One of my favorite evening routines is to fold laundry in the basement with the day's commercial-free 24/7 broadcast playing on the laptop and a cold beer on the table. So, yes, dating back to the 1992 elections, I've been a regular listener and feel a personal kinship with him. He's been with me as I left for college in the mid-90s, he moved with me to Chicago; during my consulting days, where ever I had been stationed, he went with me either on 24/7 or the radio; I personally felt for him through the whole addiction fiasco and its subsequent legal problems leading to his arrest.

Now, that doesn't mean that he and I agree 100% on every premise and every issue. But, it is safe to say, 85% of the time, we're in lock step. He and I are especially in tune when speaking of the power of freedom and its natural by-product, capitalism. Anyone who listens to his show with any regularity knows that his message is not one of division or the like, but of believing in the greatness of the free individual. His message to those who "have not" is: believe in yourself, work hard, do what you love and freedom and capitalism will reward you for your effort. When I hear Rush say these things on the air, I cheer. Because he's dead on.

So, why do I avoid speaking of him, linking or quoting him? I have an issue with that, which probably isn't fair to Rush and something I need to work on. Dating back to my college days, when discussing issues of the day with people I'd say, "Did you hear what Rush said about that?" or the like. For a few papers for Political Science classes written in the mid-90s I'd even quote his books, much to the consternation of the professor in question. "He's not a real source," would be the insinuation.

That's an issue with me, I need to work on that. But, I consider Rush a personal friend, though we've never met I can tell you a lot about him from years of being a listener. And I really like the guy.

So it should come as no surprise that I take this constant drumbeat of "racism" against him very personal. More than any other reason, its frosts me because it is thoroughly unfair and thoroughly unwarranted, and anyone who listens to Rush with any regularity knows this. For example, just a few points off the very top of my head:
  • Rush's close friend and call screener is James Golden, aka "Bo Snerdley", a black man.
  • Dr Walter Williams, the great economist from George Mason University, and a black man, is a frequent fill-in guest on his show.
  • He was outspoken in his disgust of the real racism thrown at Condoleeza Rice upon her promotion to Secretary of State in 2004 (real racism, which, by the way, was almost completely ignored by the keepers of the racial grievance flame).
  • Several Black Conservatives have phoned his show over the years, thanking Rush for his inspiration.
If I spent the time researching it, I could go deeper. But you get the point.

So, most of you know the story behind Rush's failed attempt to join a group of people in purchasing the St Louis Rams.

Here are some quotes (bold emphasis mine):

  • Dan Lebowitz, executive director of the Center for Sports and Society at Northeastern University: "The league has 78 percent African-American players. Do you bring in someone who has made racist statements to own a team that's largely made up of players the owner has made slurring statements about?"
  • Al Sharpton: "It's remarkable in that he was denied by other powerful whites. At the end of the day, his own peers said, 'You are a liability.' Even the rich and powerful do not want to be identified with racism."
Others, such as former players DeMarco Farr and Warren Moon have weighed in, implying that they "know" Limbaugh is a racist. The reason that I bolded the comments above is because they display a willingness to believe what they are told about Limbaugh, without ever really listening to him, or knowing his associates, many of whom are black themselves. Classic stuff: believe whatever your "sources" tell you about someone, regardless of whether you have gotten to know the person yourself. Limbaugh is a racist, because his flawless Wikipedia page says so. It fits our preconceived notions, therefore, its true.

My heart breaks because after listening to him for almost 20 years, I can tell you, never once have I heard him utter a racial slur. Ever. Yet, blacks in the entertainment world can poke all kinds of fun at whites and there's never a word about that. Jessie Jackson can make anti-Semitic comments. He gets a pass. Limbaugh is accused of saying things that no one can find a transcript for, that he supposedly said years ago, and no one has made an issue about until now. Yet he's guilty and worthy of ostracizing. Sickening.

What about the McNabb comments on Countdown in 2003? It was NOT a poke at McNabb due to his skin color. It was a poke at the Media for overrating him based on his skin color. Whether you agree with his analysis or not, it was not a racial jab at McNabb. It was a jab at the media for its race obsession.

The Bloods and Crips comment? Accurate, and not racist. Often NFL players of all races act like street gangs on the field. Street gangs run the gamut of racial groups, not just minorities. His point was that the players are disgracing the game by acting like street thugs. Where was race mentioned?

NFL Commissioners have no problem letting reprobates remain in the league after committing offensive acts for real (this link is especially instructive in that regard). Yet Limbaugh has committed no reproachable acts with regard to race. And he's out. Go figure.

His staff has been raising hell behind the scenes, I hear. They want him to make a list of people who are responsible for this slander and sue for libel. I have to tell you, though I am sickened by the class of people that sue others for a living, I'm going to coopt the Tort Lawyers common refrain: people need to be held responsible for their negligence. I'd love to see him make an example of the people spreading these falsehoods. Until his accusers come forth with a transcript or tape of him making these comments, their defense is pretty damn weak.