By Aaron D. Johnson
When speaking about the notions of racism, it is important to know what it is, where it comes from, and how to identify it. If American society ever wants to rid itself of the disease of racism, there needs to be a universal acceptance of its existence and understanding of its tenets. Ways to deal with this truly vile concept have to be explored collectively.
If individuals in our society continue to pretend that racism does not exist, we are in trouble. If people attempt to prove without evidence its disappearance from our cultural landscape; we are doomed. Americans will never be able to honestly claim that we are one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all, if racism persists.
Rush Limbaugh, in his latest brainless commentary, exemplified why it is highly unlikely that racism is going anywhere in the near future. He and other peddlers of filth, who cloak themselves in conservatism, constantly discount the presence of racism in American society. They have really given the term conservative a terrible name.
Last week, Oprah Winfrey told Entertainment Tonight that she had a brush with racism while in Switzerland. She said that she asked a store clerk to show her a $38,000.00 handbag, but was denied. The store clerk refused to show her the bag and went on to tell Oprah that she “would not be able to afford” the $38,000.00 price tag. The clerk clearly did not know she was talking to a billionaire and had some assumptions about Blacks.
Limbaugh had a completely different take on the situation. Keep in mind; he did not experience it himself. Also be mindful that he is a wealthy White man who lives in a world that pivots around White privilege. He has never experienced, nor will he ever experience what it means to be a Black person in America or the world.
“Maybe the judgment that The Oprah couldn’t afford a $38,000 bag had nothing to do with her race, because aren’t the Swiss enlightened in that regard?” Limbaugh asked. “There isn’t any racism in Europe, right?”
He goes on to ask, “Don’t most people think that the fat and the obese are poor and stupid? Where do you see fat people? You see them at places where things don’t cost very much.”
There are few things wrong with his comments. Let’s start with the ‘fat’ comment first. Rush Limbaugh is an obese man. I’m not attacking his weight, but making an observation based on his actual size. Rush Limbaugh is 5’11” and about 220 to 230lbs. If he is happy with his size, that’s great; but how can a man that is morbidly obese attack someone’s weight?
That leads me to believe that the fat remark was more of an insult intended to misdirect and confuse his listeners. They are not the most objective. His listeners listen to his show either because they share his views or they want to be guided on what and how to think.
His attack of Oprah is more of an outgrowth of a problematic pathology. Limbaugh, Hannity, and O’Reilly, are commentators that wrap themselves in the virtues of conservatism. They make an extraordinary amount of money tapping into the most hateful and racist elements of our society. They are divisive and they profit handsomely off of the hatefulness and ignorance of their listeners.
Mostly everyone who has heard the story can see that the incident was dripping with racism but Limbaugh could not. Is it because he truly looked at the situation differently, or was he pandering to a hateful listenership that enjoys his quips about the exaggerated fairytale of racism? Does he really believe that racism doesn’t exist?
He seems to always take stories that have racist overtones or undertones and twist it to fit into totally different social molds. This is consistent with the other so – called conservative talking heads. In their minds, the complaint of racism is a vestige of our past and not an element of our present.
This way of thinking stunts our societal growth. It provides cover for racists and gives them talking points about the extinction of America’s most enduring disease.