Things are bad enough, aren’t they?
We have a police culture that is maybe a little trigger-happy right now. We have a black population that is feeling victimized and angry. We have politicians and talking heads fumbling at the ragged edges of this issue. We have social media activism and god almighty my Facebook feed is choked like a propeller in a weed swamp with sanctimonious links saying “THIS” and “SO MUCH THIS” and I just can’t take anymore.
Everybody’s a poet, everybody has something profound to say, and that’s great and that’s fine, but unfortunately, social media activism is just about as effective as prayer: we think about these things for a little while until the media firestorm dies down, and then we move on to the next thing. This is fine, and it’s probably not going to change anytime soon, because the posts and the shares and the virals are generally the province of people who have relatively small spheres of influence. Pockets of activism spring up, get loud for a little while, and then peter out. This is the way of things.
But not everybody has a small sphere.
Some spheres are rather large.
In fact, some spheres are so bloated they defy belief. So massive they develop their own gravity, which spreads and expands and pulls people in.
Rush Limbaugh is one such sphere. (And in a curious twist, he’s roughly spherical in shape himself.)
If you’re an American, you know Rush. If you’re not, in short, he’s a fat, angry, sweaty ball of grease and hatred with an audience of millions who listen to his radio program daily. He’s a bloated, vindictive, hateful sack of phlegm and poison who vents his spleen to otherwise intelligent people on the “right” side of our political spectrum.
And on his program Friday, he said that the Black Lives Matter movement are terrorists.
Now, I get it. He’s an “entertainer,” it’s his job to get ratings and to get people tuning in. It’s his job to be provocative.
But the problem with being provocative? The root of that word is “provoke.” Which means inciting action. Which means stirring people to do things.
Everybody’s on edge in this country right now. Everybody’s touchy. Everybody’s overly sensitive. You can’t say “black lives matter” because that means you’re anti-cop, and by the way, ALL LIVES MATTER. You can’t say “all lives matter” because you idiot, there’s a pattern of violence and prejudice in law enforcement against people of color, and you’re totally missing the point.
Look around the country at all the protests and the rampant social media activism, and you’ll see that we’re approaching a boiling point. People are angry. Upset. Scared.
Discourse must be had. We have to talk these things out. We have to share uncomfortable ideas, we have to communicate our fears, but more importantly, we have to LISTEN to each other if we want to make it through this.
And here comes Rush, throwing into this volatile mix of mistrust and fear the word “terrorism.”
Don’t forget, too, that Rush’s audience is primarily folks on the “right”. People who feel their country is being taken from them. Rush tells these people that this group of people over here? This group of people that look different from you, that act different from you, that you probably don’t understand very well?
Those people are terrorists.
Rush is telling people who are angry about the state of their country that these people — their own countrymen, other citizens and civilians like them — are terrorists.
Somebody in his audience is going to believe him. Maybe several somebodies.
And somebody in his audience is going to act on those beliefs. Maybe several somebodies.
There will be more blood shed. There will be more protests, more violence, more arrests, and on and on and on.
Demonizing the other side doesn’t help. Sowing the hate and the fear and the distrust even deeper is not a solution.
It’s not like this happens in a vacuum — Rush is always squeezing off tidbits like this, designed to enrage and incite — but this one is particularly bad, because he’s going to get people killed. Blood will be on his hands.
This is how you incite a race war.
Rush Limbaugh is the terrorist. And he has an audience of millions.