One major source of the escalation of overt public racism over the last year lies in far-right talk show hosts. like Rush Limbaugh. Even he went beyond his usual reactionary commentary recently in comments about a local incident in which a white student was beaten by black students on a school bus.
photo credit: carlosgomez
He called for racially segregated buses as the solution:
I mean, that’s the lesson we’re being taught here today. Kid shouldn’t have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses — it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama’s America.
Limbaugh seemed intent on making it a racial incident even though the local police backed away from their earlier report that it was racially motivated. According to AlterNet, other conservative bastions like the Drudge Report also played up what was a relatively minor local incident. Limbaugh also noted that
It’s Obama’s America, is it not? Obama’s America — white kids getting beat up on school buses now. I mean, you put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety, but in Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, ‘Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on. I wonder if Obama’s going to come to come to the defense of the assailants the way he did his friend Skip Gates up there at Harvard.
He is intent on linking our first black president to local incidents on a school bus, with racial issues in mind. Did prominent commentators do that so easily with George W. Bush? Then Limbaugh continued with his confusing alternation between mocking and seriousness, much of it out of his own version of conventional white racial framing of society:
White Americans are racists who have created what they call free markets that really just enslave the rest of America and her trading partners. . . . No, look, let’s just follow Eric Holder’s advice and not be cowards about all this. Let’s have an open conversation, an honest conversation about all of our typical white grandmothers. You had one, I had one. Obama had one. . . . If homosexuality being inborn is what makes it acceptable, why does racism being inborn not make racism acceptable? . . . But apparently now we don’t choose racism, we just are racists. We are born that way. We don’t choose it. So shouldn’t it be acceptable excuse — this is according to the way the left thinks about things.
A bit confusing and confused, but he seems to be excusing racism in this odd way. Media Matters made these suggestions about Limbaugh’s racially framed commentaries:
Regardless of what he says he was trying to do, what he succeeded in doing was exaggerating the racial element of the story and linking purportedly race-based violence to the first African-American president. . . . And whatever point Limbaugh says he was trying to get across, all he ended up doing was using the sensitive subject of race as a political weapon. . . . This, of course, fits neatly into the dangerous, radical right-wing effort to demonize Barack Obama, which Limbaugh has been spearheading for months. A few weeks ago, he was smearing the president as a Nazi . . . and by Thursday’s show, he was proclaiming that Obama “is racism.” The following day on his show, Rush continued to rant about the media’s tendency to talk about whether criticism of Obama was racist, which led Rush to ask his audience this “legitimate” question: “[C]an this nation really have an African-American president?”
If Limbaugh is the most influential commentator on talk radio, as is often claimed, this type of racist discourse and commentary is surely having a very negative important on the thinking of ordinary (especially white) Americans, many of whom do not know U.S. history on racial matters such as Jim Crow segregation and contemporary patterns of widespread racial discrimination, much less the history of European Nazism. It is also strking how quickly we have gotten to a post-post-racial America. Post-raciality did not last long.