Religion and Rush

alex01thumbDear internets: Though the bacon flu popped up within the World Bank, where my mother works and where I’ve been hanging out a lot in the past couple of weeks, we are both non-infected. (We hope.) If I start shambling around and drooling, however, please note that the only way to really kill a zombie is by removing the head or destroying the brain. And, as a tip, they can be easily distracted by Michael Jackson.

But on to the real point. (Yes, occasionally I do have one.) According to a Pew Forum poll, a higher proportion of Christians (white Evangelical Protestants, white non-Hispanic Catholics, and white mainline Protestants) surveyed believed that the use of torture against suspected terrorists could often or sometimes be justified, as opposed to rarely or never. As an agnostic, I have to work very hard not to say something that could inadvertently offend about issues of religion. I know that for many people, religion is an issue of identity, and some respond to negative things said regarding their religion or followers thereof as an attack on them personally. And I wish I could say I was surprised by this study. I’ve spent enough time on the internet, lurking around both liberal and conservative fringe sites, to know that those who self-identify as strongly religious are the first to want to go to war. I’m reading Reza Aslan’s new book, How to Win A Cosmic War, and it’s teaching me about why people see these wars as more than just earthly wars. To some, it’s a battle of Good and Evil. We are Good. The terrorists are Evil. Therefore, it is okay to torture the terrorists, because they are Evil, and would do the same to us. Aside from the fact that we’re Americans, the Eaglelanders and defenders of Truth and Justice and The American Way, and We Don’t Torture. How strange that we should lose our respect for the sanctity of life first from a group that calls themselves the Moral Majority. (Yeah, torture them, kill them, they’re not like us, they’re different, it’s okay! But you know, heaven forbid we harm the unborn. It’s like George Carlin said, “if you’re pre-born, you’re fine; if you’re pre-school, you’re f–ked!”)

So before I engage in full-on Rant Mode, I’m going to switch topics. To, uh, lessee…how’s about my favorite right-wing radio jockey, Rush Limbaugh? Hey, Rush! Stand up and take a bow, attaboy. I won’t take the piss out of him too much for this, because I really like Lie to Me, but when multiple networks are airing the same thing (e.g., the Obama presser), it is standard practice to count all the viewers for the event as one group even if they’re not watching the same channels, am I right? Rush says no. Insert your own joke about “lying to me” here – it’s too cheap a shot, and I shan’t take it. But good game, bucko. Highlights courtesy of Media Matters’ transcript because I’m feeling a bit peaky (bacon flu ohnoes!) and don’t feel up to listening to Rush himself:

LIMBAUGH: Steve Gilbert at the Sweetness & points out a story from the UK Times online December 3, 2008 — “Beatings and abuse made Barack Obama’s grandfather loathe the British”: The President-elect’s relatives have told how the family was a victim of the Mau Mau revolt. Obama’s grandfather imprisoned and brutally tortured by the British during the violent struggle for Kenyan independence, according to the Kenyan family of Barack Obama.

I’m…I’m sorry. Just the last part of that…seriously, if Obama had been half Belgian, would there be any need to mention where his father’s side of the family comes from? There would not. “Beatings and abuse made Barack Obama’s grandfather loathe the Nazis” doesn’t have the same kick to it. Furthermore, his citizenship has been well established. The Kenyan connection is irrelevant. Do I have some grudge against Moroccans because my father was Saharawi? I do not.

LIMBAUGH: I actually thought — what’s that whorehouse out in Vegas? What’s the name of the place? The Bunny? No, the Bunny — I thought they let the inhabitants of the Bunny Ranch out to start pretending to be the press corps last night. When I watched highlights of it — I didn’t watch it last night.

Ha! Ha! The press are whores! Ha! Ha! Good one. And also, where do you get off judging the whole by parts? Proudly proclaiming that you “didn’t watch” the press conference you’re now pontificating on is about as sensical a claim to make as proudly proclaiming that you “didn’t read” the manual for your new rocket launcher. At least when I judge highlights, I do so of the individual highlights themselves, not using them to disparage the whole. Like I’m doing now. I mean, to do otherwise would be like all those YouTube videos out there supposedly proving Spongebob is gay.

(Word of caution: That link I posted earlier, the “Eagleland” one, is to TVTropes, which is hilarious and fascinating and will probably eat your life. It’s not uncommon for people to literally spend hours wikisurfing on it. Not, uh…not speaking from experience or anything.)


  1. oh hai….

    you know lolspeak…


    Alex…Im totally with you on this religion stuff…

    fellow Agnostic here…

    who are we to decide what is or what isn’t…

    I don’t know from that…Im just a hooman….

  2. Alex,

    As I mentioned, I do listen to “El Rushbo” (the podcast, not the radio show). Regarding Limbaugh comments about the president side of the family you are leaving out the context of his remark. Limbaugh was calling on Obama for, during his press conference evoking the name of Winston Churchill in saying the British Empire didn’t torture ( says that they did torture.

    The context you left out of Limbaugh remarks is that Winston Churchill was prime minister during the time the British government is alleged to have tortured Obama’s grandfather…

  3. Michelle: y uf cors, i sp33k lolcat. wer iz mai chzbrgr? oh teh noes!

    Ulises: Thing is, that wasn’t my point – the point is that his ancestry is still an issue, when in this melting pot, it shouldn’t be. Would there be something about Hitler supposedly having Obama’s Belgian grandfather tortured in Rush’s show if his father had been Belgian? Again, I don’t believe that’s so. If that is indeed what Limbaugh said and what Obama said, then the point Limbaugh was making may be valid. I had an issue with the machinery he chose to make his point, nothing more.

  4. “Thing is, that wasn’t my point – the point is that his ancestry is still an issue, when in this melting pot, it shouldn’t be.”

    But, if you left out the context of his remark you’re not giving us the whole story. You’re just saying, “There’s Limbaugh again speaking about Obama’s ancestry”.

    “Would there be something about Hitler supposedly having Obama’s Belgian grandfather tortured in Rush’s show if his father had been Belgian?”

    I don’t know; let’s do the whole exercise. Let’s say that instead of president Barack Obama it is president “Albert Rompuy”, the son of a Belgian immigrant whose grandfather was tortured by Hitler in WWII. Let’s have “president Rompuy” stated in a national press conference that Hitler didn’t torture. You think no one will point out that not only did he torture, but also people under his command tortured his grandfather?

    It is indeed a sad day in America when you cannot say anything about the president that even marginally references his background. Except Obama, of course….

  5. He just said the word “Kenyan” so many times I thought I was watching Powerthirst. Maybe it’s because I don’t racially identify, but I find the whole idea of pointing out where someone’s parents came from again and again and again a little odd. Ditto for supposing things about religion. Let’s take this exercise a little further – say that President Rompuy’s father was, I don’t know, Hindu, while Rompuy himself was Christian. Would people be running around calling him Hindu, like they’re calling Obama a Muslim now? (Let us also presume that we’re at war with Nepal, for some reason, which leads to…fear of followers of Hinduism. Hey! Alternate history is fun!)

    That’s just something that bothers me, because I don’t understand it at its core, why where someone’s parents came from is important at all in this global society. Hey, you know, if Obama doesn’t care and if he makes references to his own race, that’s his prerogative because he’s talking about himself, good for him, but it’s something that confuses me when I read about other people making a big deal about it. “Oh, his father’s from Kenya, he must not be a real American!” For a nation of immigrants…that is just rich.

  6. “Hey, you know, if Obama doesn’t care and if he makes references to his own race, that’s his prerogative because he’s talking about himself, good for him..”

    The difference is, he wasn’t talking about his race or backgroud out of pride. He was using it to attack his opponents. From the ABC story I linked to:

    ‘Sen. Barack Obama’s chief strategist conceded that the Democratic presidential candidate was referring to his race when he said Republicans were trying to scare voters by suggesting Obama “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”‘

    He didn’t offer any evidence to back his claims that “Republicans were trying to scare voters”, he just said it, blatantly playing the race card. Nice position to have, I admit. I can shout “racism” to distract attention from honest policy differences and it works!

    I mean, you still are not addressing the fact that Obama was just plain wrong about Winston Churchill and torture, which was Limbaugh original point. I would just love to see, if you were interviewing Obama as a White House correspondent and you know that he was wrong about this particular topic… would you not mention the fact that Obama’s grandfather was tortured by the British government while Churchill was prime minister because that would point out the widely known fact that his father was Kenyan?

  7. “If that is indeed what Limbaugh said and what Obama said, then the point Limbaugh was making may be valid.” Concession enough for ya? 🙂 (Source: Me, a few comments ago)

    Obama was calling attention to a truth – he doesn’t – and he knows that people are scared of things that are different. Racism’s one of those things everyone knows is there but nobody really talks about. Yeah, some people may have been and still may be uneasy with Obama’s race, even thought it’s not PC to talk about it. That’s why he’s being called a Muslim by so many on the right who are violently opposed to both him and his policies – when used in a derogatory manner, it’s the new n-word, one more way of denigrating him and making him Other. He’s not like Us, and if he’s not Us, he must be Them. The Republican base is generally older and white, and was alive during the days of de facto if not de jure segregation, and if they weren’t their parents were; some of the old ugly attitudes may have been passed on. Remember George Allen and the “Macaca” incident?

    If I were a WH correspondent and I had a better grasp of WWII history, sure, I’d try to point it out…just depends on if I’d be called on, of course.

  8. I really never intented to be discussing this matter even today, I’m actually very self-concious about talking (or commenting) a lot… but I do have a suggestion to make: Why don’t you call Limbaugh radio program? I mean, if you have a beef with something that he said, why not tell him about it? I’ve been listening to him for two or three months now, he gets a lot of calls from conservatives, but he seens to enjoy more engaging liberals.

    I’m pretty sure that if you tell his call screeners that you are a liberal blogger they will put you at the top of the queue. I’ll really love to hear that… his show phone number is 800-282-2882 if you’re interested…if you get trough, tell him that you would like an interview for your blog…

  9. Goodness, I’m quite shy myself, and nonconfrontational. I’d have to listen more to his program before I’d even think about calling in. I’m also quite new to this blogging thing…but I would like to do that someday, thanks for giving me the number!

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