Haven’t had enough crazy talk from Christianist conservatives this week? Following on from Pat Robertson’s nonsense about the Haitians’ “pact to the devil”, here is the controversial US radio host, and de facto leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, mouthing off about the tragedy in Haiti:
This will play right into Obama’s hands. He’s humanitarian, compassionate. They’ll use this to burnish their, shall we say, “credibility” with the black community — in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It’s made to order for them. That’s why he couldn’t wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there.
It is this mindset, perhaps, that prompted lefty bloggers like Sunny Hundal to welcome news of Limbaugh’s temporary incapacitation (despite feigned outrage in the Tory blogosphere). Rush spews pure evil. Pure. Evil.
Limbaugh has his own pathology, and you don’t have to be Sigmund Freud to think that a man in whose luggage DEA agents found a bottle of Viagra on his way back from a trip to the Dominican Republic might have picked another way to express his disdain for the Haitian people than by observing last year: “Haiti? You can’t even pick up a prostitute down there without genuine fear of Aids.” But crude racism — the same crude racism that scotched Limbaugh’s plans to buy the St Louis Rams football team — is only part of what’s going on here.
It’s true that a certain kind of white person will never forgive the Haitians for freeing themselves from the French — just as another kind of person, white or black, will recall that same glorious history as one of the reasons not to write off Haiti or the Haitians. (And if you have any interest in the history, I urge you to read C L R James’s great The Black Jacobins, published more than 50 years ago and still one of the best books about Haiti ever written.) But it’s also a sign of how crazed the American right has become that Limbaugh could claim the Haitian earthquake was “made to order” for Obama because it would allow the president to “burnish his credibility . . . with both light-skinned and black-skinned” African Americans.
Now there are plenty of reasons to be disappointed with Obama — we write about them every week in the Nation. But you’d need more than a serious OxyContin habit to think Obama needs any burnishing among African Americans. No, what Rush is really doing is what he gets paid for: speaking aloud the things his millions of dittohead followers would love to say, but know they shouldn’t. Will this make some Americans switch him off? It would be pretty to think so. Even prettier to think that millions more will be outraged enough to give to Haitian relief.
But you needn’t remain a bystander in this fight. Limbaugh’s employer, Premier Radio, is a subsidiary of Clear Channel, the largest provider of outdoor advertising in the UK. It would probably be unlawful to scribble “Shut Up Rush” on all their billboards, but you could certainly make your feelings known by telephone (+44 20 7478 2200) to their offices at Golden Square — or via their corporate website.
Here’s something else we can do. Limbaugh is telling Americans not to donate to the various Haiti earthquake appeals (can you believe this guy??) because, through foreign aid, “we’ve already donated to Haiti — it’s called the US income tax”. So let’s show America’s “far-right agitators” (to borrow Andrew Stephen’s phrase from this week’s magazine) how much the rest of us do care about the suffering of our brethren in Haiti, and donate generously to the DEC appeal. It’s the least we can do.