I’ll freely admit it, I teared up a bit while watching conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from first lady Melania Trump during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. As a wide-eyed college student working on his first political campaign only to be absolutely devastated when Bill Clinton upset George H.W. Bush in ’92, discovering and listening to the bombastic, confident Limbaugh pack more hard-hitting truths with half his brain tied behind his back than most mere mortals could with their entire faculties was comforting, encouraging, cathartic even. We were in the bunker together (“America held hostage,” remember?) - and we were going to mobilize and find a way out - and save America - together. Ever since then I’ve been a regular or semi-regular listener, and even when I couldn’t tune in, it was always good to know that millions of others were getting their daily dose of truth from the seemingly unstoppable El Rushbo.
Regardless of how many months or years Limbaugh has left to grace the airwaves, receiving the nation’s highest civilian honor was and will forever be the crowning point of a legendary 30-plus year broadcasting career, and watching the surprised, humble, almost childlike reaction from a 69-year-old who had likely seen and experienced everything but this was an emotional moment for me and doubtless many others. It was beautiful. However, since we have this movement in America called the political left, the aftermath was anything but. Rush Limbaugh, over the years, has arguably done more damage to the left than any person in the last 50 years, so here was a chance to exact a bit of revenge. True to form, it didn’t take long for the knives to come out as lefties trotted out the tried and true “racist” slander to try - for the umpteenth time over the past several decades - to “cancel” the legendary host.
Among the most absurd examples was New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who called Limbaugh a “virulent racist” who doesn’t deserve such an “extraordinarily sacred” award: “And to do that and to give it to Rush Limbaugh when there were plenty of people in that audience that have contributed positively to the fabric of American society, much more frankly, than he has. But it’s red meat to his base — Trump knows what he is doing and he wants to assert that Rush Limbaugh is somehow on the same level as Rosa Parks. It’s truly nauseating, and this is one of the many reasons why I did not go.”
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez labeled the radio host “a very different Medal of Freedom” winner who “now joins the ranks of a long list of entertainers, athletes, academics, activists and heads of state to receive the medal. The elite group includes Rosa Parks, a civil rights pioneer, Elie Wiesel, a Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, and Mother Teresa, a literal saint.”
The New Yorker contended that, by honoring Limbaugh, Trump was “celebrating racial division.” “For the president of the United States to bestow one of the nation’s highest laurels on Limbaugh is a morally corrosive and politically cynical act,” wrote David Remnick. “It is a kind of assault on the achievements of so many previous award winners, a list that includes Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Václav Havel, Rosa Parks, and John Lewis. It is appalling to see Rush Limbaugh’s name listed alongside theirs.”
What a ridiculous, apples and oranges comparison, of course. One could have easily compared Limbaugh to the likes of radio legend Paul Harvey, who received the award in 2005 from George W. Bush. But no, we’re comparing him to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. to own the cons. Incidentally, Limbaugh is only the third “radio” person to receive the distinction, and it’s hard to imagine any single individual (save Harvey) having as great an impact on the medium.
Rush’s critics surely realize that hundreds of Americans from all walks of life have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, no? Take a moment to browse the list. There are hundreds of names you’ll recognize. To scratch the surface, how about American celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Lorne Michaels, and Oprah Winfrey? They were all bestowed the medal by Barack Obama, who also awarded 13 musicians during his presidency, including Barbra Streisand and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Before labeling someone with such an ugly word, it seems like a respectable journalist would want to have real evidence. For example, Rush’s longtime producer, Bo Snerdley, happens to be a black man. Here’s a thought: Maybe ask him?
Responding to an assertion by CNN’s Jim Acosta, Snerdley tweeted: “I just saw the footage from CNN's Jim Acosta saying Rush has a ‘history’ of saying disparaging things about African Americans. I have been in the studio with Rush for 30 years. I would like to formally challenge CNN and @Acosta to provide the list.”
But what of those “disparaging things”? Media Matters labeled Limbaugh as “a racist, misogynist, homophobe, conspiracy peddler and all around bad human being” in a mass email that linked to several comments and radio bits over the years that were supposedly offensive, items that were also mentioned by several of the aforementioned writers. We’ve heard them all, of course, including the hilarious yet politically-incorrect all-time classics “feminazis” and “infobabes” (I still laugh).
Sure, there were a few mildly offensive Obama bits and the NFL brouhaha that got him into some trouble with ESPN. Still, none of the examples these media outlets keep trotting out rise to any sort of level anyone but a pencil-necked, pajama-boy snowflake would call *real* racism. Surely, if you could ask folks like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela what constitutes *real* racism, a few cringy statements by a radio host wouldn’t even scratch the surface.
Do I agree with every word Rush Limbaugh has ever uttered over the airwaves? No. Would I say all those “offensive” things out loud today, especially in this uber-triggered age in which we live? No, but we’re talking about a decades-old career, a man saying thousands upon thousands of words for three hours a day, five days a week, for year after year, decade after decade. And yet, these lame “examples” are all they have to try to slur Limbaugh as a “racist.”
Sorry lefties. Even with advanced lung cancer and half his brain tied behind his back, Rush Limbaugh is better, smarter, and nobler than all of you put together. God, not you, will decide when he is finished, and when that day does come his legacy, borne by others, will long outlive the putrid stench of leftism.