Truth to Power

Rush Limbaugh is the health of America

Here’s a sobering fact to ponder: Rush Limbaugh earns more per year than Jay Leno.

Put another way, we as a nation have placed a higher value on fear than laughter. Regardless of the relative merits of either performer, Leno is paid less to crack jokes than Rush is to instill fear. One is positive, the other negative. What does this say about the state of our nation?

An entire cottage industry has formed solely to track the utterances of Limbaugh, and there is little use in recounting his vile litany once again. Limbaugh has created a career out of championing American Exceptionalism, prejudice masquerading as patriotism, and class envy. This is not to blame Limbaugh, so much as he’s only filling a need. There will sadly always be those who will pay money to watch a monkey fling his feces at a wall- the question must be why, at this point in our history, do so many people stand in line to do so? Both Leno and Limbaugh create a faux reality, Leno’s being a world of good, happy people laughing at silly gags and fawning over celebrities. Limbaugh’s is a darker place, full of imagined threats to your freedom, which in nearly all cases can be reduced to the amount of money you never had in the first place – but which you secretly crave, and will one day achieve if only evil forces weren’t constantly taxing and spending it away. It’s a place where torture is applauded, heroes are villains, and dissent is the coin of the weak and misguided- until, of course, it is about taxes, at which point marching in the street waving tea bags is promoted as the only thing saving us from tyranny. Fox News, an entire network devoted to the same sort of fear mongering and demagoguery, is cable’s highest rated network, pumped into waiting rooms, bars and discount stores, serving up an endless river of hysterical ranting disguised as information, packaged to people too busy or biased to actually question the vision it offers.

Voltaire’s “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” loses none of its wisdom even when packaged on a bumper sticker. A country that can be led to believe in the myth of America- that we alone amongst nations are that “shining mansion on the hill”, the paragon of faultless virtue that simply cannot exist, that nation cannot see oppression when it is all around us. A nation that is so proud of itself that it cannot abide the notion that there may well be those on the planet who, for very very good reasons, despise us. Our country is a history of injustice meted out by the assuredly just, of war by the peacemaker, and greed packaged as a god-decreed destiny. In fact, to not participate in this inhumane ritual is viewed by many as being the personification of anti-Americanism, and they revel in their cruelty. It is this America that needs a Rush Limbaugh, that requires the soothing lull of the constant cable news lies that proclaim to us in all our public places that we are truly blessed, always correct and just, and that our nation, if it were an emperor would be clad in the most resplendent finery. A survey a few years ago showed that viewers of Fox and listeners of right wing radio had a poorer grasp of current events and history than those who watched The Daily Show, for example. Only a people so willfully- so proudly – ignorant and resistant to reality could stand to never hear the truth, or to have their beliefs questioned.

It is this mentality- and the Rush Limbaughs who oh so carefully cultivate it- that keeps our nation mired in wars both domestic and foreign that we cannot win, so consumed with envy and hate that we can’t let gays love in peace, and keeps our people fat, our children stupid, our nation at risk from enemies from all corners. It is a nation that imprisons more than the rest of the West, who spends more on defense than the rest of the planet, and has allowed our food, media and healthcare to be controlled by a tiny group of people who sole purpose is profit. And tomorrow, if it makes them more money for us to not eat, we won’t eat. Scoff if you like, but these powers decided that war is more profitable than peace, hence we are at war. They learned the secret of cheaply fermenting alcohol, hence beer is legal where pot, a weed that anyone can toss in the yard and grow, is something a multi-billion a year war must be fought to eradicate. It is almost as if you simply have to take the opposite of any supposed American achievement to find the truth. We are called a melting pot, but that pot is heated from the ashes of our genocide against the Indians. We called ourselves the land of the free, yet our conquering of Hawaii is protested to this day.

Without this disconnect from reality, without our national myopia and our disdain for self-inspection, Rush Limbaugh would probably be a car salesman. But instead he is, to millions, the face of America, richly paid to slander the very strengths he professes to love. Rush Limbaugh is the health of America, for a healthy nation would have no use for him. If I were to awake from a decade-long coma, I would only have to ask a single question to determine if my country had changed while I was asleep. If the answer is yes, he’s still on the air, then I will know that we the people are still sick.

Note: Welcome! I’m truly honored. Buy my book, and thanks for so eloquently proving the premise of the piece.

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