50 years ago, when Barack Obama was born, the idea of a black president in America was unthinkable. The fact that he is president shows how much racial progress has been made in America. But there is still a large core of racism in this country, reflected in the open bigotry of leading conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh.
I just received the August issue of “The Limbaugh Letter” (Rush's highly profitable 16-page “magazine” consisting of ghostwritten pieces cobbled together from his various radio rants).
The cover features the latest in Rush's racial provocations: “Obama the Burglar.” Obama is dressed as a burglar with a black cap, carrying a bag of stuff and a silver candlestick as he exits the ransacked home of a rich man—Rush Limbaugh, to be precise, who looks on startled at this black robber in his castle.
Ah, yes, Obama as the dangerous black man coming to steal the white man's property. It's an ancient racist image.
In the article, Limbaugh accuses Obama of “robbing this country blind” and proclaims: “He's a burglar. All liberals are burglars. All liberals are thieves. That's what they do. It is who they are.”
Limbaugh depicts Obama's critique of tax loopholes and breaks for corporate jet owners as an attack on technology itself, predicting that he would go after the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5 and “tax the hell out of it so it ceases to exist.” According to Limbaugh, “You leave it up to Obama, and we won't need to be defeated by al Qaeda; we'll end up in the seventh century on our own.”
Of course, I'm sure that Limbaugh and his defenders will claim that he is not a racist because he believes that all liberals, black and white, are burglars. That's true. But it's no coincidence that Limbaugh depicts the black guy as the stereotypical burglar. Limbaugh hates Obama because he's a liberal, not just because he's black. But Limbaugh's racism shapes the bigoted way that he talks about Obama.
Perhaps one picture does not prove Limbaugh's racism beyond any doubt. But I wrote an entire chapter in my new book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, proving Limbaugh's racism. Here are a few examples of Limbaugh's racist statements about Obama:
Limbaugh is fond of using racial insults against Obama, calling him “a Chicago street thug,” “a half-minority,” a “Halfrican,” and even “the little black man-child." This was Limbaugh’s variation of the ancient insult “boy” (which Limbaugh also used to describe Obama) wielded by racists to demean black men. And let's not forget Limbaugh calling Obama a “spade.” In 2009, Limbaugh claimed that food safety advocates were "going to go after Oreos" but would wait until Obama was out of office, which was Limbaugh's way of calling Obama an “oreo” (black on the outside, white on the inside).
Limbaugh often uses racially demeaning language, declaring that, “Obama is essentially a primitive indigenous guy.” When Limbaugh describes the man who ran the most technologically sophisticated political campaign in history as “primitive,” race can be the only explanation. And there can be no doubt that Rush would never describe a white person born in America as “indigenous.”
Limbaugh claimed that because Obama calls himself an African-American, “Obama is telling us he is a black American first and an American second.” Of course, Limbaugh is too smart to believe that Obama is black. Limbaugh said: “He's not black. Do you know he has not one shred of African-American blood? He doesn't have any African -- that's why when they asked whether he was authentic, whether he's down for the struggle. He's Arab. You know, he's from Africa. He's from Arab parts of Africa. He's not -- his father was -- he's not African-American. The last thing that he is is African-American.” The fact that all this is completely untrue should be less important than the open racism of Limbaugh's obsession with Obama's ancestry.
After Obama became president, Limbaugh called him "the greatest living example of a reverse racist" and accused him of “fooling white people.” Limbaugh claimed, “the only reason Obama's anywhere is because whites are willing to support him because they feel so guilty over slavery.” He also accused Obama of “inciting racism” and “inflaming racial hatred.” Limbaugh claimed about Obama, “You organized riots and communities and stuff in Chicago.”
Limbaugh (the college dropout) asserted that Obama (the magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School as president of the Harvard Law Review) "probably didn't get outta Harvard without affirmative action."
When a racist caller declared that Obama was fighting “against white America,” Rush agreed with him wholeheartedly: “you're right down the line” and supported the idea that “Obama hates white people."
Today, as we celebrate the 50th birthday of America's first black president, we should also think about all the people like Rush Limbaugh who hate him because of his race.
Crossposted at DailyKos.