Monday, January 13, 2003

More Rush racism

Media Whores Online today begins tackling the sticky subject of Rush Limbaugh's racism. Sticky not only because Rush is such an icon of mainstream conservatism now, but because he's canny enough not to make it too blatant -- while still serving up great winks and nudges at the racists out there in his audience.

Conservatives always sputter when you bring this stuff up. It's not naked racism, they say. Perhaps not, if you live in a cocoon. But out in the real world, those of us who have spent any time around bona fide racists (and I'm not just talking about neo-Nazis, but the working-class and white-collar racists we all know about) know exactly how this kind of talk is perceived. It is an unofficial -- but high-profile -- endorsement of their own private views.

Most of the examples MWO cites fall into this category. As does one of the more egregious instances I witnessed (there are no links, BTW, because no one archives Limbaugh's material, which is one of the main ways Limbaugh insulates himself from being called to account for his words).

It came on Limbaugh's thankfully short-lived TV program. Limbaugh promised to show his audience footage of everyday life among welfare recipients. He then ran video of the antics of a variety of great apes -- mostly orangutans, gorillas and apes -- hanging about zoos.

The audience, of course, applauded and laughed.

Limbaugh is important, by the way, not merely because he now is one of the primary drivers of the conservative agenda. He also has played a significant role in the transmission of ideas and agendas from the extremist right into the mainstream over the past 10 years.

I've been promising to tackle the problem of the growing commerce between the extremist right and mainstream conservatism, and will do so more this week. Limbaugh plays an important part in all this.

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