Perhaps one reason the war between conservatives and the Obama administration has taken on such racial overtones in recent days is that the Grand Poobah of right-wing shock jocks is stoking the fires of prejudice.
Rush Limbaugh, the self-anointed czar of vitriolic talk radio, who makes a living steering his 10 million listeners on a crusade against the nation’s first African-American president, sounds a lot like the Civil Rights-Era segregationists who played up the fear that White children are at risk. During the 1960s, southern Whites spread the notion that White kids would suffer educationally, culturally and morally from the influx of Black children.
This week Limbaugh warned his troops about “Obama’s America,” in which White children are no longer safe. In a clumsy attempt to tie the brutal beating of one student by another student, he told his listeners, “You put your kids on a school bus you expect safety, but in Obama's America the White kids now get beat up with the Black kids cheering, 'Yeah, right on, right on, right on.' Of course everybody said the White kid deserved it; he was born a racist, he's White. …Now that we have a Black president, Blacks are rising up to attack White kids.”
In actuality, The St. Louis-Dispatch reports, Belleville, Mo., Police said the beating was triggered by a dispute over seating and was not racially motivated.
But as Limbaugh keeps pumping fuel into the fire, it’ll likely keep burning – and spreading out of control. Former President Jimmy Carter, noticing both the rapidity and ferocity of the blaze, says he has no doubt that racism is behind it.
President Obama, however, understands that acknowledging the role of racism can do him no good. In fact, such a pronouncement would likely have the opposite affect, helping polarize an already racially divided nation. On Wednesday, the president distanced himself from Carter’s assessment of the situation, but he had no explanation for why he is being poster-ized as Hitler, a clown and a bone-in-the-nose witchdoctor.