On Sunday, Sept. 28, Rush Limbaugh volunteered on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" that Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb was "overrated" and that sports writers cut him slack because he is black.
Three days later, Rush resigned as an ESPN commentator.
The size of the posse that pursued him and of the mob that lynched him reveals less about Rush's views on issues of race than it does about the malice of our media elite. Let's review Rush's offending words in their entirety. After saying McNabb was overrated, Rush gave the following as the reason why sportswriters consistently praise McNabb beyond his desserts:
"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. ... There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."
Has McNabb been given excessive credit for the Eagles' success? Has the defense "carried the team"? Let's look at the record.
Before 2003, McNabb had been starting quarterback for three seasons. According to sports author Alan Barra, writing for Slate, not once in those years was the Eagle offense rated any higher than 10th in the NFL. The Eagle offense's "10th place rank in 2002 was easily their best," writes Barra "In their two previous seasons, they were 17th in a 32-team league. They rank 31st so far this year."
Adds Barra: "In contrast, the Eagles defense in those four seasons has never ranked lower than 10th in yards allowed. In 2001, they were seventh; in 2002, they were fourth, this year, they're fifth. It shouldn't take a football Einstein to see that the Eagles' strength over the past few seasons has been on defense ..."
Rush's comments, both about the Eagle defense carrying the team and McNabb being overrated, appear, from the stats, to be dead on. His opinion was rooted in fact.
Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Rush was not purged for saying McNabb is overrated, but for saying that sportswriters cut him slack because they have an emotional investment in the success of a black quarterback. Rush was saying, in effect, that these sportswriters are guilt-ridden scribblers who can't call it straight when it comes to black coaches and black quarterbacks.
Which is why the writers howled louder than McNabb. For Rush had told the truth not just about McNabb, but about them -- and they can't handle the truth. "Rush Limbaugh is right," writes Barra, "He didn't saying anything that shouldn't have been said, and in fact said things the other commentators should have been saying for some time now. I should have said them myself."
Now, there is nothing wrong with black folks or sportswriters wanting to see a black quarterback enter the pantheon of greats with Johnny Unitas, Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana. Half a century ago, Catholics wanted Johnny Lujack of Notre Dame to become a second Sammy Baugh. But it did not happen. And it would be less than honest to say that Lujack achieved greatness in the NFL. And if some of us should write that Lujack ranks among the great pro quarterbacks of all time, any sportswriters should have a right to say, "You're cutting him slack because he played for Notre Dame."
And they ought to be able to say that without being hounded out of their jobs for anti-Catholicism the way Rush was on this absurd charge of racism.
Which brings us to the question: What, exactly, is "racism"? What does the term mean? Certainly, a hatred of another race or ethnic group would qualify one as a racist. And a segregationist might qualify, although no one condemns the Black Caucus as racist for refusing to admit white congressmen or black students for demanding separate graduations.
The answer? The term "racist" is a branding iron that has become the exclusive property of African-American media and politicians and their allies that they apply, at their discretion, to any critic who challenges their motives or actions on the racial front. It is used to smear adversaries and silence them. It is one of several terms used to blacklist and destroy the careers of those who challenge a power elite.
Rush did the right thing in refusing to apologize. But, as a friend said wisely, Rush should not have resigned. He should have forced the weenies at ESPN to fire him and to publish the reason why they were doing it, so the world could see how craven they are.