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Monday, August 29, 2011

Limbaugh: "Melanin Is Thicker Than Water"

A few minutes ago on his radio show, Rush predicted that Colin Powell would vote for Obama again, despite refusing to declare anything on Face the Nation yesterday. According to Limbaugh, “Melanin is thicker than water.”

This openly racist claim that all black people support each other because of their genetics is a common refrain from Limbaugh. I've documented Limbaugh's bigotry extensively on my blog ( and my book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason. My book is now on sale for $4.61 at Amazon, which is both a great bargain and an indication that very few Limbaugh fans are inclined to read anything critical of El Rushbo.

When Republican Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president, Rush claimed it was all about race. Powell said: "I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without."i Rush responded: "I just think he's just mad at me because I'm the one person in the country that had the guts to explain his endorsement of Obama. It was purely and solely based on race. There can be no other explanation for it."

Limbaugh declared, “Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race. OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with.” Of course, Powell did endorse an inexperienced white candidate whom he had some disagreements with, a man named George W. Bush. But Limbaugh could only see race.

Powell retorted on CNN, “And when you have non-elected officials such as we have in our party who immediately shout racism or somebody who is quite prominent in the media says the only basis upon which I could possibly have supported Obama was because he was black and I was black even though I laid out my judgment on the candidates, then we still have a problem.”

When Powell was a loyal Republican, Limbaugh had nothing but praise for him. In 1997, he said about Powell, “Look at him. He is dignity. He is honor. He's a four-star general. He is a man who is perceived to be the epitome of honor and integrity, and he's a leader.” How did Powell go from being the “epitome of honor and integrity” to being a racist? The answer is purely political: Powell endorsed a Democrat, and therefore Limbaugh used the accusation of racism he makes against every non-white liberal.

Yesterday, I appeared on Robert McChesney's excellent radio show Media Matters (listen to it here) and one of the callers was a Limbaugh fan who simply dismissed any possibility that Rush is a racist.

It's difficult to break through a corporate media stranglehold on public debate, one where discussing the racism of the leading conservative voice in America is simply forbidden. But it's important that we continue trying to raise these issues. A few weeks ago, I wrote about persuading a Republican defender of Limbaugh, D.R. Tucker, that Rush is a racist.

The declaration that “melanin is thicker than water” is the embodiment of a racist viewpoint, and we need to keep stating the obvious, and asking Republican officials if they agree with this claim, until the mainstream media and Limbaugh's supporters are forced to defend it. And when you have someone as indefensible as Limbaugh is, that would be a victory.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Media Appearances

For those of you who heard me mention it on This Is Hell, here's my debate with Paypal founder Peter Thiel (before he became a billionaire) in 1996 at the Heritage Foundation on C-Span. Thiel was discussing the book he co-wrote, The Diversity Myth, while I was discussing my book, The Myth of Political Correctness. (You can see my other C-SPAN appearances about my Obama book here and here.)

If you didn't hear me on This Is Hell, the podcast of today's show should be up soon. My interview begins about two hours into the show.

And you can listen to me Sunday, August 28, at 1pm CST on Robert McChesney's show Media Matters on WILL, discussing my Rush Limbaugh book.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Joe Scarborough Is Right, and Rush Is Lying

Today, Rush attacked Joe Scarborough for daring to say, “We all are rooting for the president. If Rush Limbaugh is still rooting against the President, then he's also rooting for America to be in a fast decline, rooting for his stocks to collapse.”

Rush claimed, "I was rooting for the country when I said, 'I hope he fails.' But it's too late, Joe. He's succeeded."

Rush is lying.

In fact, Limbaugh had made it clear that he wanted the country to fail. Limbaugh said: "Of course I want Obama to fail. And after this stimulus bill package passes, I want it to fail."

On February 13, 2009, Limbaugh told his listeners about the stimulus plan: “I hope it prolongs the failure. I hope it prolongs the recession. Because people are going to have to figure out here that this is not how economies recover. Government is not the central planner.”

Back in 1993, Limbaugh had a very different approach to Democratic failure when writing his second book, See, I Told You So: “I sincerely don’t want Bill Clinton to fail, unless failure is defined as the defeat of his current economic policies.” Now, openly hoping for the recession to be prolonged—and then lying about this fact over and over again—is considered the norm for the conservative movement.

Scarborough is one of the rare Republicans who has the freedom to criticize Rush Limbaugh, because he doesn't need to win a primary or keep a job on Fox News.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guest Blogger: D.R. Tucker's "Robbed of Credibility"

I've never had a guest post on this blog before, but I'm making an exception for D.R. Tucker. I first met Tucker when he invited me to appear on the podcast he co-hosts, Patriot Games Radio, and I was impressed by his willingness to engage in intellectual debate about Limbaugh even if he didn't agree with my critiques. I may not have convinced Tucker then, but last week I posted a blog entry about Limbaugh's depiction of Obama as a burglar on the cover of The Limbaugh Letter.

In a blog post on his site “The Urban Right” titled, “Talent on loan from the devil: Rush Limbaugh embraces old-school bigotry,” Tucker concluded, “I can't defend Limbaugh anymore after seeing that sickening image.” I asked Tucker to explain what changed his mind, and he wrote the following essay about it:
Robbed of Credibility
By D.R. Tucker

What did they see that I didn’t see?

Years ago, I’d get into huge arguments with liberals, particularly black liberals, over Rush Limbaugh’s views on race. Liberals would insist that Limbaugh’s rhetoric was racially inflammatory and that he seemed to look down upon black people. I always responded that nothing Limbaugh said or did fit a traditional definition of racism, and that while Limbaugh said and did things that were certainly politically incorrect, he was not a bigot.

I started listening to Limbaugh on Boston’s WRKO-AM in the mid-1990s. I didn’t think he was as good as the late Boston radio star David Brudnoy, but he was certainly entertaining and quite insightful at times. I was outraged when President Clinton tried to link Limbaugh’s rhetoric to the Oklahoma City bombing; while Limbaugh was a harsh critic of the federal government, he certainly wasn’t encouraging his listeners to go blow up federal buildings.

Liberals in my social circle couldn’t understand why I was so defensive of Limbaugh. To me, it made common sense: Limbaugh was an articulate voice for the conservative agenda I supported, and I had no intention of leaving Limbaugh to bleed on the battlefield of ideas. I liked Rush, and I hated the liberals who found fault with him.

To be fair, there were times when Limbaugh made statements I found distasteful. As a pro-choice Republican in the late-1990s, I found Limbaugh’s scorn for those on the “wrong” side of the abortion question intolerable, and inconsistent with his stated support for the concept of limited government. Limbaugh’s contempt for libertarians struck me as bizarre, as did his October 2000 declaration that George W. Bush would defeat Al Gore as decisively as Ronald Reagan had defeated Jimmy Carter in 1980, despite the fact that no poll indicated such an outcome.

Yet I stood by Limbaugh, especially when the left suggested that he was bigoted because of his controversial remarks about football star Donovan McNabb and his promotion of an anti-Barack Obama parody song. Standing by Limbaugh wasn’t easy: I found his 2008 attacks on the “conservative intelligentsia” (i.e., David Frum, David Brooks, William Kristol and Ross Douthat) to be over-the-top, and his suggestion that race was the main factor behind Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama to be unsupported by facts. However, I felt compelled to defend him whenever liberals would question me about his remarks.

In January 2009, Limbaugh’s attacks on Obama and conservative pundits who were allegedly too deferential to the new president became so repetitive and so negative that I temporarily abandoned the show. I resumed listening in April 2009, but in March 2010, his show moved from WRKO-AM to WXKS-AM, a Clear Channel-controlled station with a weaker signal. WRKO replaced Limbaugh with veteran Massachusetts-based GOP consultant Charley Manning, a lively personality who I found to be much less predictable in his views than Limbaugh; by the summer of 2010 I found myself completely uninterested in listening to “El Rushbo.”

Even after I stopped listening to Limbaugh, I still felt compelled to give him the benefit of the doubt on the question of race.

Until now.

I was repulsed when I learned that Limbaugh had depicted Obama as a burglar on the cover of the August 2011 issue of his publication, The Limbaugh Letter. Some images are politically incorrect but not bigoted. This image was bigoted.

I became a conservative because I disliked what I saw as the culture of victimology on the left, the tendency to blame all social problems on racism, sexism, anti-Semitism or homophobia. I felt the left promoted a “grievance industry” that encouraged minority groups to hate members of the majority.

Of course, there’s a difference between saying social bigotry is not the cause of the woes of certain groups and saying social bigotry doesn’t exist at all.

I’ve been in restaurants where white women have reached for their purses when I’m walking nearby. I’ve gone into elevators where white women have shifted nervously once the doors close.

It’s an ugly, unpleasant feeling. I thank God it’s not a commonplace occurrence in my life, but when it happens, it hurts.

I try to rationalize it, to understand that these women are not reacting to me personally, but to what they see in the news media. As Boston talk-radio star Dan Rea, who inherited David Brudnoy’s old job, noted in a 2008 interview,“[L]ocal television news is one of the great purveyors of racism of our time…[i]f you are somebody who lives out in one of the…suburbs, and never have a reason to really interact with people of color, the only time you’re going to see young black males is when they’re being arraigned, they’re being arrested, or they’re dying in the street.”

It’s painful when someone reacts to your body based on a media stereotype. I try not to let it bother me. Yet I wish prominent figures in the media would be a little more cautious about peddling stereotypes.

Rush Limbaugh, I now realize, is not one of those figures. By depicting Obama as a burglar, he’s peddling the old-school stereotype of the black man as shady, shifty thief. Even a black man who graduated from Harvard Law School can’t be trusted not to take your stuff when you’re not around.

I didn’t vote for Obama. He was too progressive for my center-right tastes. I wanted judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas on the Supreme Court, not Ginsburg and Breyer. I admired the fact that he chose to run—he had more courage than Powell in that respect—but my support went to John McCain.

Do I regret that vote? No. What I do regret, however, is my inability to see Limbaugh the way the folks I used to debate saw Limbaugh. Because I was obsessed with defending Limbaugh from any criticism, I couldn’t distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate criticism of the man.

Does Limbaugh personally dislike blacks? I can’t credibly make that claim. Has Limbaugh exploited racial stereotypes to make money? The evidence for that is obvious.

Obama is not a burglar, in fact or political theory. While I’ve criticized his decisions and his leadership, I’ve never forgotten that he’s a citizen who’s doing what he believes to be best for the country. Previously, Limbaugh has characterized Obama as a “man-child,” a secret hater of the United States, a white-hating fiend whose economic program constitutes de facto reparations for slavery. Now, he depicts Obama as a thief. Having defended and supported Limbaugh for fifteen years, I realize, perhaps too late, that I must have been robbed of my common sense.

D. R. Tucker is the operator of Massachusetts-based blog The Urban Right ( He is also a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in the Boston Herald, Human Events Online,, and In addition, he hosted The Notes on Blog Talk Radio ( from August 2009 to June 2010.

For more about Tucker's essay, see my DailyKos blog entry about it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Limbaugh's Racism: "Obama the Burglar"

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.