Rush Limbaugh once defended his commentaries by saying he never said anything for shock value—he only said things he believed.
That was his defense. Apparently, he did not realize that the statement was more damning than if he had said the opposite. If he were simply going for cheap laughs when he launched a tirade against a woman, a minority, a physically challenged or transgender American, we could almost tolerate it: comedians have always pushed the envelope—Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Sarah Silverman, etc—but to admit he believed it all is an admission of his bigotry, prejudice, homophobia, and a laundry list of other social transgressions too long to mention.
I’m not sure which particular blasphemy earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Perhaps it was more of a lifetime achievement award.
I’ve read a lot recently from people who ask that we not profane the dead. I agree. There is nothing to be gained from it and it makes us small and petty, i.e, it reduces us to the level of the person we profane. So we can forgive—it’s the Christian thing to do. But if we gloss over the harm he did, if we suddenly forget, we insult millions of marginalized people who fought ignorance and prejudice while Rush Limbaugh promoted the selfsame properties.
He himself was not an ignorant man, but he sought ignorance in his listeners...people who had lived in and longed for a white-male dominant society, who had never had a gay friend or met a transgender person, who had seen Muslims on television and nowhere else, who worried about the other taking over, be they Black, Jew, Asian, Mexican, liberal, environmentalist, et al., and whose only interaction with a physically challenged person was glaring longingly at a handicap parking space on a rainy day.
His fans were not bad people, and not ignorant in an academic or intellectual sense, but the blind spots were glaring. He sought an older audience, and I know why. My adult life was an unlearning of many of the prejudices that existed in my childhood. Being a classroom teacher allowed me to see a more complex and varied world and made it difficult to pigeonhole anyone. Following the dictates of Rush Limbaugh probably made it easy.
Of course when he made a completely indefensible comment, he reminded people that he was merely an entertainer. He wanted to have it both ways, but it never works that way. Nor does it work that way when an evangelist like Franklin Graham, issues the following eulogy:
“My heartfelt condolences and prayers for the family of Rush Limbaugh, who passed away today after a battle with lung cancer. He was a conservative voice of reason for so many years and will be greatly missed.”
Voice of reason? Apparently doesn't realize that in the spiritual realm you can follow Jesus or you can follow Rush—you can’t do both. You can observe the greatest commandment or you can hate your neighbor. Pick one.
So no, I take no pleasure in the death of Rush Limbaugh or in his family's loss. His legacy will extend well beyond yours and mine, and his influence will continue in QAnon and Infowars and every other whacked out group willing to sacrifice its humanity for venom and cruelty. We don't have to forget that legacy.