Good Riddance to Rush Limbaugh
When is it acceptable to celebrate a person’s death?
We are taught as a society to not speak ill of the recently deceased, but what happens when truly horrible people meet their maker? Americans were universally ecstatic when Seal Team Six members took out Osama bin Laden 10 years ago. Nobody in this country wept for Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin when they died decades ago.
But those three consist of a sort of all-star team of evil. How about your run-of-the-mill despicable human being?
Enter Rush Limbaugh.
The rotund, conservative broadcaster died this week at age 70, having recently been awarded a worthless Presidential Medal of Freedom that he didn’t deserve, ostensibly for lying in the service of America’s worst president. Limbaugh’s descent into a propaganda machine for Donald Trump, however, was hardly his only sin.
Limbaugh, perhaps more than anyone, is responsible for our current poisonous political atmosphere and dysfunction. A talented broadcaster, to be sure, Limbaugh sparked a wave of imitators in the conservative talk-radio game who, like him, stoked division for personal financial gain.
His success laid the groundwork for Fox News, which in turn laid the groundwork for One America News Network, Newsmax and a slew of other internet propaganda outlets more concerned with profits, electing Republicans, and keeping them in office, than informing the public with the truth.
For years, Limbaugh was just offensive. By the end, he was nothing more than a mouthpiece for Trump, willing to spew whatever lie the former president needed in a futile attempt to maintain him in office.
Before becoming one of Donald Trump’s frontmen, Limbaugh offended plenty of others in the shock-jock style of his era. He ridiculed a 12-year-old Chelsea Clinton in the early 1990s as the “White House dog,” openly celebrated the deaths of AIDS patients and called then-law student Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute for advocating access to contraception.
He spent much of the last year of his life downplaying the COVID-19 crisis, which undoubtedly cost people their lives. In February, he compared it to the common cold. Over the summer, he said it was a bunch of hype meant to take down Donald Trump.
Despite the wall-to-wall tributes to him in conservative outlets, the simple fact is that Limbaugh died a seditionist and a traitor. Two weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, as President Joe Biden was to be sworn in, Limbaugh continued to tell his audience, without a shred of evidence, that the election result was not legitimate.
Rush Limbaugh didn’t just poison our politics. He didn’t just poison our media landscape. He also poisoned the minds of his listeners, who took his word as gospel and then spread the hate he disseminated to their families and their communities.
Our country is not a better place because of Rush Limbaugh. Quite to the contrary. We are far worse because of him. By the end, he was just another on-air propagandist-for-profit whose credibility was destroyed for all but the true believers.
No, Limbaugh was no bin Laden, Hitler or Stalin. He didn’t murder millions of people. But he is deserving of our scorn and undeserving of any tributes. He has done lasting harm to our country, and his lies have cost people their lives. Nobody who is happy he is gone should feel any shame.
Good riddance to him.