As we come off the heels of Don Imus’ infamous public plunge, Rush Limbaugh served up a similarly distasteful nugget on his syndicated radio show yesterday exposing a side he seemed all too eager to share with his audience. Limbaugh “played a song parody in which an Al Sharpton impersonator (played with stereotypical gusto) sings a song filled with idiotic assumptions about black people called Barack the Magic Negro,” (view the video and read about the routine). Like Imus’ show, Rush’s performance are reliant on sometimes latent and sometimes unconcealed racism that masquerades as cultural or social critique, typically centered on the criminality or simian comparisons of minorities and African-Americans in particular.
But Rush’s ‘critiques’ have never been critiques, rather venomous attacks based on race that seek to undermine and delegitimize the abilities of African-Americans. This latest attack is the exemplification of the angry white male mystique that Rush exploits: Barack Obama is not a successful, articulate politician in his own right, but a successful, articulate black politician — another black male who enjoys a position of prestige and power simply by being black. He satisfies his audience by railing against a society perceived to prop up blacks of lesser merit at the expense of the anonymous white male through the welfare system, affirmative action, and all things politically correct.
After getting in trouble for more blatant racism in the beginning of his career (including the infamous “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?” line and a litany of other well-documented statements), he moved onto the subtle art of undermining the respect that one should give to blacks. Limbaugh was forced to resign from ESPN Primetime, a NFL pregame show, after saying the following:
“I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well,” Limbaugh said. “There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.”
Limbaugh sees McNabb, a former MVP and quarterback who took his team to the playoffs for 5 years in a row, as a fraud perpetuated by a media with a vested interest in a black quarterback. And yet last year, discussing football on his radio show about the constantly embattled Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, brought up Grossman’s race — white in this case — as to the reason why he was being criticized, rather than his performance, which any sport fan would eagerly tell you was terrible (Read more about this incident on Media Matters):
“The media, the sports media, has got social concerns that they are first and foremost interested in, and they’re dumping on this guy — Rex Grossman — for one reason, folks, and that’s because he is a white quarterback.”
This is the world as perceived by Rush Limbaugh, a world absent of meritocracy where minorities gain on reverse racism and whites are unfairly punished merely for skin color. Limbaugh’s views are the embodiment of 21st century racism: an implicit discrimination that allows an immediate dismissal of others qualifications and respect simply because of race.