Thursday, April 07, 2011

Limbaugh's Prejudices Widespread defines "racism" as "a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others." "Inherent," in turn, is defined by the same source as "existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute: an inherent distrust of strangers."

It is a narrow, probably appropriately, definition of racism and probably fails to qualify Rush Limbaugh as a "racist." He does, however, give new meaning and power to the concept of "racially bigoted." Wednesday, he commented

Well, the simple fact is, speaking of dead and dying, the simple fact is that the Democrats are deathly afraid that we are going to take away their power to enslave people. The Democrat Party is to this government what plantation owners were to slavery. This is indentured servitude. This is how the Democrat Party looks at the citizens of this country. We are going to reduce the size of government. We are going to enhance individual liberty and economic liberty. Democrats get their power by enslaving minorities through welfare.

Let's just say it the way it really is. They create a class of utter dependent slaves, people who end up being addicts, who know no other way to get through the day, who know no other way to get through life. Enslave them to government for virtually everything.

And in case the listeners didn't figure out yet that Rush is proud to hate black people, he made sure to explain

The Democrat Party denies individual ambition. It retards it. In exchange for their never-ending votes to the Democrat Party, minorities and any other constituent group are given handouts for their needs, and they are told by the Democrats that their economic situation was caused by the Republicans.

The civil rights coalition goes further. They say that their problems, their economic situation has been caused by white people. Any cut in social spending, no matter where, no matter how little, threatens this arrangement. So the Democrat Party enslaves minorities, enslaves the poor.

This is a particularly reprehensible application of moral equivalence. Drawing- or rather, trying vainly to draw an analogy with the institution of slavery between the long-time support of the Democratic Party for programs geared to smooth out the vagaries of life or to give the least privileged among us increased opportunity is vaguely disgusting.

Limbaugh's prejudices, of course, go far beyond racial bigotry and embrace elitism. After six times using the terms "slave," "slavery," "enslaves," or "enslaved" (and, for good measure, "plantation," once) and assuring you he is thinking primarily of blacks, he complained about extending unemployment benefits, then remarked

And it's not just minorities, anybody who's too lazy or too afraid to look out for themselves. The Democrat Party is waiting to glom onto them and basically turn them into parasites.

Ah, yes: the American people as parasites. On March 9 Rush had told us who these parasites are:

We declared war on poverty, and what do we have? Thirty-five percent of our people living on the dole! Thirty-five percent of American citizens living on "handouts"....

So there is, we must say, there is a working system. There's a system for people to get on disability insurance, Social Security. There's a pathway. It's been spelled out, sort of like the Americans with Disability Act itself which has allowed a lot of people to jump on the dole....

It's just there. It's like it's etched in stone like the Ten Commandments. (That's what they mean by an "entitlement.") To other people an entitlement is something a bunch of lazy people think is theirs simply because they were born in America, and that, as Americans, they are entitled to their country giving them enough for these to live on....

I'm simply saying that 35% (and growing, by the way) of the American people receiving money that they are not earning is not a way to sustain anything that anybody thinks is great about this country. Not possible....

One more time, to me 35% -- and to have some of this called wages, folks, we're losing -- 35% of American adults on the dole, to me, is the single reason why I have been doing this show since I started in Sacramento, hoping that number would never be more than 20, 25%. It's the single reason....

The whole theme of the thing here was America on its knees. I'm telling you, go back, this number, 35% of our population living off of what others earn.

Minorities, unemployed individuals, recipients of Social Security disability payments, the elderly receipients of Social Security ("that's what they mean by an' entitlement'"), the elderly in need of health care: all parasites. (The CNBC article which sparked Limbaugh's diatribe began with" overnment payouts—including Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance—make up more than a third of total wages and salaries of the U.S. population.") If not among Rush's "producers," they simply are parasites, no more and no less.

If not a unique perspective expressed by Limbaugh, it is relatively unusual in American politics. Certainly, society has been practicing, or wrestling with, racism and racial discrimination for decades. It's always been easy to dump on individuals on the other side of town, "the other side of the tracks," or in another town. But these- the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly- are our neighbors. The spread of resentment the past 24-29 months may not be unprecedented, but it is remarkable, insufficiently understood, and too readily accepted.

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