Warning: some readers may find the subject of this article distressing
Rush Limbaugh passed away on Wednesday February 17, 2021. He was a highly contentious individual in the eyes of many. He was extreme in every sense of his manor and tonality. This was a man who invented the term “feminazi’s”, lambasted environmentalists as “tree-hugging wackos”, ridiculed and impersonated someone with Parkinson’s Disease, dehumanised homosexual men who were victims of AIDS in the late 80s and, described a female student from Georgetown University by using a highly offensive and derogatory term for campaigning for health insurance coverage to include contraceptives for women.
Though to offer some credence to Mr. Limbaugh, he did at least lamely apologise for those last two claims he made. It is hard to believe that the word ‘apologises’, and ‘Rush Limbaugh’ are even used in similar context, but it is even more unfathomable that nearly 15 million people would tune into his talk radio-show and listen to his bully pulpit narrative. He pandered to his base and his base pandered to him; Limbaughism was Trumpism before Trumpism even existed.
It is no coincidence that the two were huge fans of each other. Former President Trump gave Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honour available to a US citizen and in return, Limbaugh defended Trump on every single issue no matter how divisive. In no way of trying to defend Rush or his views, he also was known to have given money to charities researching diseases and was known for leaving $10,000 dollar tips in restaurants.
It is his means of discussing politics and culture that his impacts were most egregious and infamous. He almost had a predetermined rabid mockery like nature towards anyone who might disagree with him, without them even saying a word. On his show, he hardly ever let anyone who he disagreed with speak, and therefore anyone who listened would only get his hawkish rhetoric with no counteractive rebuttal. It is becoming more and more common these days for people to shield themselves from things that they disagree with, to the point that they want to remove every shred of a differing viewpoint from their life path or peripheral vision.
That toxic partisanship that Rush Limbaugh in many ways typified, still has such a hold over how many perceive and take part in societal life today. The way the Press and certain character like politicians acted in the European Union membership Referendum or in the 2016 US presidential elections and even before and certainly after them, furthered this constant outrage at anything their political advisories do. In fact, it normalised raw adversity.
Most pertinent, it changed how political grievances seeped into individuals lives and how it broke up families and tarnished friendships. The saying about the preacher preaching to the converted, and the converted attending mass on the Sabbath sums the whole way our lives now are set out. Whatever socio-political class you belong to, you most likely will read and take in media information that you associate with, this constant echo chamber of catered news/ media pundits. How we all got so angry with each other, on global scale, is a question that may go un-answered for a long time.
Many individuals of all socio-political persuasions like to point at ‘political correctness’ as this beating horse of the breakdown of civil discourse, and that it has become out of control. Political correctness is an awkward cloddish negotiation that our society has gone through, over many years, more rapidly in the last 20 years, to try a gain a more formal inclusive language around many vices in our social and moral history.
Despite its many snags, it is significantly better to how society, not that long ago, liberally used its words. The English comedian, Stewart Lee, who is keen supporter of PC culture, often talks about the nastiest of culture in his childhood. In a piece in the guardian in 2007, he spoke very candidly about, how in his primary school the Teacher, when he arrived at the name of the only Asian boy in the class when doing the roll call would regularly refer to him not by his name, but rather with racist slang which was often present in the colloquial language back then.
Lee also talks about how in the 1960s, there was a by-election in Birmingham where he lived at the time, where the Tory Party had children pass leaflets through letter boxes with slogans that contained racist and inflammatory language which is inappropriate for use in this article.
He points to stories like these to highlight the brazen and unwavering conviction in discrimination which was normalised before Political Correctness. Lee always finishes his stand-up piece on this issue, essentially saying that, political correctness is a small price to pay for the David Brent office like uncomfortable quips for a grander more harmonised society.
We have come a long way from slogans like that in society, but there are rifts of that realm still in existence in society today. Being polite to people that you don’t necessarily agree with and not doing the Limbaugh like predetermined hatred or often condescending stature of others, is crucial in trying to harmonise those rifts. Be polite because it’s a lot less effort than being divisive and you might just get your opinion across more effectively, or even worse, you might learn something.