We're Not Letting Rush Limbaugh Slide This Time
The uproar over Limbaugh's comments may be the final and long overdue straw
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not reflect that of Loop 21.
Earlier this month right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh ignited a national controversy when he called Sandra Fluke some rather disgusting and misogynistic words. I’m sure most of you have heard his words, so I won’t repeat them. Suffice to say, the outrage was loud and swift. Thousands of people signed petitions calling on his advertisers to drop him and thousands more took to Twitter asking the same thing. He has since offered a very insincere apology for using those two words, but he sure didn’t back away from the rest of what he said or the sentiment.
Among the ridiculous things he concluded was that Ms. Fluke must be having an unusually large amount of sex because she needs all those pills. Limbaugh must think using birth control is like using Oxycontin or Viagra. No, you don’t take birth control pills in relation to the amount of relations you’re having—it’s just usually one a day. But I can see why he’d confuse birth control with his own experience with pill popping.
[ALSO READ: Are You Supporting Rush?]
What, too harsh? That is nothing compared to the vitriol he spews on a daily basis. My ThinkProgress colleagues gathered the 70 most sexist things Limbaugh has ever said, lest you think his recent comments are some sort of aberration. They most certainly are not.
When this dies down, and it inevitably will weeks from now, let’s not forget that Sandra Fluke was not the first target of Rush Limbaugh’s venom. For years, Rush has said awful, terrible things and not just about women. Pretty much every group out there has found themselves in his sights. But it’s interesting to ponder—why all the outrage now? Why after years and years did folks finally say enough is enough and move to action?
I have two theories. The first is that this was a perfect storm of events. Fresh off the mega blunder of the Komen Foundation and the state-sponsored vaginal intrusion bills, this incident fit nicely into the war on women those on the right seem to be fighting with much vim and vigor. It makes sense that people, especially women, thought, “Enough of this mess.”
My second theory isn’t as generous. Sandra Fluke—a young, pretty white woman—was getting attacked. Naturally that sparked outrage from all corners. Women are clearly a larger demographic than other groups like African Americans or Latinos, making up more than 50 percent of the population, but I don’t think that lets the collective US off the hook for giving Rush a pass when he attacks everyone else. We should be equally outraged and moved to action when he makes racial slurs at President Barack Obama and other people of color as we were when he demanded to see the sex tapes of Ms. Fluke as payment for her birth control. (Really, how vile is he?)
[ALSO READ: Rush Goes in on Michelle Obama]
An attack on one group should be swiftly and loudly condemned by all even if it doesn’t directly affect you. An example: Last week thousands of activists came together to mark the anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Alabama. What was especially great and moving about this year’s march was the inclusion of immigration reform activists. While African Americans aren’t the ones being targeted by harsh anti-immigrant laws like those in Alabama, Arizona, and other states, there is recognition that these laws and the sentiments behind them are an attack on the civil rights of a people and should be fought. The movement toward equality is made stronger when it is not just the aggrieved speaking out.
So I hope we learn a few lessons from this incident.
1 - A better understanding of birth control, how it works, why people use it and how expensive it can be.
2 - An appreciation for the power of Twitter (in case you didn’t already know).
3 - The importance of everyone rallying around those who are unjustly and unfairly attacked, no matter if their race, gender, or sexual orientation matches yours.