Fox News ran hours of tributes. Republicans called for the nation’s flags to be flown at half mast as if Rush Limbaugh was some sort of national hero. But he did not earn the accolades any more than he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom that was hung around his red neck by Trump’s tiny fingers.
What Limbaugh rightfully earned, instead, is the never ending contempt of all those who believe in truth, science, courtesy, patriotism, and reason.
He was not, as some claim, a conservative icon and a patriot. He was neither. He more rightfully should be remembered as a domestic terrorist. He may not have fired a weapon against his country (other than his feral mouth). Still, he did more damage to our nation than Osama bin Laden and Timothy McVeigh combined.
When the Fairness Doctrine was repealed, Rush saw an opportunity to build an audience by filling the airwaves with baseless conspiracy theories and lies. His audience, comprised mostly of blue collar workers, ate them up. They believed him when he told them they were overtaxed, that immigrants were coming for their jobs, that it was Democrats and pointy-headed liberals keeping them from attaining the wealth and respect they deserved.
He portrayed large cities as dangerous hell holes filled with “welfare queens” and drug dealers. He vilified drug users even when he, himself, became addicted to opioids. He told his audience that the Clintons were criminals and murderers and that President Obama was a foreign-born Muslim. He told them that Washington D.C. was a swamp.
Sitting behind his tacky gold-plated microphone, Limbaugh taught his millions of listeners – his “ditto heads” – to hate. To hate the poor. To hate people of color. To hate the LGBTQ community. And, most of all, to hate our government. He was part Senator Joseph McCarthy, part Tokyo Rose, and part Joseph Goebbels combined. But, instead of aiming his hatred at communists, socialists, GIs, and Jews, he aimed it at Democrats, liberals, and civil servants. He destroyed countless lives and helped divide our nation as never before, all the while filling his bank accounts with millions.
Moreover, as the Pied Piper of aggrieved white nationalists and the radical far right, he paved the way for dozens of other radio hatemongers, as well as Fox News, NewsMax, OANN, and Breitbart. He set the table for Donald J. Trump to become the most treasonous and corrupt president in history. And he no doubt perpetuated the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.