Commentary: Rush Limbaugh Compares Boston Bomb Suspect to Trayvon

In yet another controversial statement, the conservative radio talk show host sullies the memory of the late 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Posted: 04/24/2013 09:00 AM EDT
Trayvon Martin, Dzhokkar Tsarnaev

There seems to be no limit to the mindless ravings that come from the mouth of Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host.

This is the man who once spoke about a Georgetown University law student who was denied being able to testify at a congressional hearing about contraceptives, calling her a “slut” on his nationwide radio program. This is the man who once said that the only explanation for President Obama’s popularity – and that of Oprah Winfrey – is that he is Black. This is the man who made light of the NAACP’s commitment to nonviolence, saying: "The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies." He is no stranger to intemperate, stupid proclamations.

Not surprisingly, Limbaugh’s rants appear to be far from coming to an end as evidenced by a statement he made this week in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. In his latest controversial comment, Limbaugh has compared Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, to Trayvon Martin.

"You notice also that the news media are doing to Dzhokhar what they did to Trayvon Martin," Limbaugh said on his radio show. "They're regularly showing a photo of Dzhokhar that was taken when he was about 14."

The conservative host continued, saying that the photo in the press portrayed Tsarnaev as "soft, angelic, nice little boy, harmless... cute big lovable eyes. Not at all what he looks like today, but the news media seem to be making him look like an innocent little angel. This is how this stuff ends up getting bastardized," Limbaugh said. "This is how we end up... not thinking ill of bad people."

Of course, Trayvon Martin was the 17-year-old Black high school student who was walking to the home of his father’s girlfriend in a gated community in a suburb of Orlando when he was gunned down by a neighborhood watch volunteer who was earlier advised by police not to follow the teenager.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a 19-year-old resident of the Boston area who has been charged with using weapons of mass destruction.

The comparison requires a flight so far from fantasy that it wouldn’t be unreasonable to question whether Limbaugh is truly operating with a full deck. At the same time, it betrays a level of insensitivity and unvarnished racism that is breathtaking. In fact, it would be easy to dismiss Limbaugh as an irrational representative of a segment of deranged Americans.

But the unpleasant truth is that Limbaugh remains one of the most widely listened to voices on the American airwaves, despite some ratings declines in the aftermath of his comments a year ago about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student. In fact, a list of the top 100 Talk Shows of 2012 released by Talk Stream Live ranked Limbaugh at the top.

With that in mind, it is critical for progressive, sensible voices to continue to be vigilant in monitoring the messages sent by Limbaugh and his vitriolic brand of intolerance. Just as his ratings fell and stations dropped his program after the controversy over Sandra Fluke, public pressure can continue to play the same role in this and other senseless ponderings from this bully behind the microphone.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photos from left: Courtesy Trayvon Martin Family, AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Investigation)        

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