Tag Archives: Rush Limbaugh

Racism in the Wake of Paula Deen and Trayvon Martin’s Murder

19 Jul
We Have a Long Way to Go.

We Have a Long Way to Go.

Recent events dominating the news have coalesced to demonstrate how far our country has to go around the issue of race. This is a difficult and complex piece to write and a difficult time for our country, as the dominant culture — white, hetero, male — reacts to these events in yet another wave of racist behavior.  United States history never starts from a place of innocence, and our entrenched history of marginalization and racism is quite long.

When the story first hit about Paula Deen, I had dozens of readers emailing me to make her Bigot of the Week. I was reluctant to do so and even more reluctant to call her a racist without more facts. As a social worker, I understand that someone can practice racist behavior without being fundamentally racist. Applying that label is very powerful and gives the person no place to go, no way to address the negative behavior.

I have never been a very big fan of Paula Deen, so seeming to defend her — especially given the nature of the charges —  was somewhat painful for me. We were dealing with partial information, taken from an adversarial process as she responded to an attorney representing a woman suing her companies, mostly deriving from the actions of her brother. I felt I needed to take the time to let more context emerge before passing judgment, something our media are incapable of doing anymore.

Sadly, her behavior in conjunction with her silence certainly do qualify her behavior as racist and sexist behavior. She has admitted to her own shortcomings and seems remorseful, but does not seem to want to do any type of repair work. Far more disturbing is the fact that as the person in charge, she did nothing to put her brother’s horrible behavior in check. By turning away, she became complicit and thus colluded with his behavior.

While I’m glad the media picked up on the racism of Deen and her brother, they certainly did not do justice to the misogyny.  After spending two weeks gathering information, I was not only sad to learn of the awful racist behavior on behalf of this family, but why was no one talking about the issue of women, sexual harassment. and power?

To make the mar even larger on our country’s history, the George Zimmerman verdict came in last Saturday declaring Zimmerman innocent and declaring to the United States that it is still not safe to be a black man. This chilling decision, that lethal violence was justified because a scared kid reacted badly to being hunted by a man with a gun, has given racist America permission to demonstrate its ugliness.

Pat Robertson said we all need to “chill out” because Martin was a “fully formed African-American male” and “justice was served.” Sadly, I’m not sure what century Robertson is living in currently. Rush Limbaugh boldly declares that he’ll be using the word “nigga” because it’s a term of affection in the African American community so it isn’t racist–I’m sorry Rush, but you DON’T get to decided what people of color are allowed to find racist!  Dozens of pundits blame Martin for his own death because he made the mistake of wearing a hoodie — something millions of kids do every day without being hunted and shot.

As our history shows, our laws and policies were created to justify racist behavior and to ensure that white people were treated better and with different rules.  This was reaffirmed with the United States Supreme Court decision that struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act. When laws and people in power, such as the Supreme Court normalize racist behavior, it paves the way for individuals to exercise their racist views. When President Obama was elected, the bigots felt threatened and reacted with coded language and horrific behavior. The Deen case shows just how horrifically people still use their power in racist, misogynistic ways. Tragically, the Zimmerman verdict has given the forces of hate permission to bellow their bigotry loudly with a hideous, we-told-you-so attitude.

A recent study published in The Root disclosed that over a 1/3  of white Americans believe African Americans are racist. Nothing demonstrates more clearly how fundamentally our nation misunderstands — or worse, willfully ignores — how power, privilege, and multi-generations of oppression and marginalization have created our modern dynamic. There is much work to be done. Those of us who believe in equity and fairness must use this tense, powerful moment in the American conversation to demand positive action towards racial equity and equity for all those that are marginalized.

Number 3 Bigot of the Year 2012: GOP Rape Apologists

29 Dec
Number 3 Bigots of 2012

Number 3 Bigots of 2012

There were plenty of examples of the Republican War on Women in 2012, ranging from battles over contraception to the stunning failure to renew the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act. Nothing was quite so vile, however, as the shockingly repeated misogyny regarding rape. No fewer than five candidates for Federal office said something appalling about rape victims, often relating to shutting down a woman’s right to choose.  For a party that consistently demonstrated how much it HATES women, the GOP was determined to own every vagina in the land.

The most famous are Senate wannabes Todd Akin (MO) and Richard Mourdock (IN). Let’s take a quick look at the whole fool’s gallery.

  • “The right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, [...] gift of human life and accept what God is giving to you.” Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (PA), Jan. 20
  • “If it’s an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room; I would give them a shot of estrogen.” Rep. and Presidential candidate Ron Paul (TX), Feb. 3
  • “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” Senate candidate Todd Akin (MO), Aug. 20
  • “It was really an issue of the Catholic church being forced to offer those pills if the person came in with an emergency rape.” Senate candidate Linda McMahon (CT), Oct. 15
  • “When life begins with that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.” Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (IN), Oct. 23

Sadly,the media largely overlooked the first two, but Akin’s bizarre comment went viral and sunk his nearly sure thing candidacy. The GOP tried to get him out of the race, but he stayed put. With all their hopes for the Senate evaporating, the GOP leadership stuck by Mourdock. That included another lovely “gift from God” quote from Sen. John Cornyn (TX) and an endorsement from Mitt Romney. Happily for the nation, sensible voters said no to false KKKristianity and blatant misogyny.

Dishonorable mention for misogyny even beyond the GOP standard goes to radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh. Not content to rail against the contraceptive provisions in the Affordable Care Act, he targeted Sandra Fluke, a woman testifying before Congress about the need for contraceptive coverage. Limbaugh called her a slut and raved about contraception in a remarkably ignorant way, even for him. He devoted days of his show to the topic, resulting in a costly backlash as sponsors fled from his toxic spew.

Bigot of the Week Award: May 10, Right-Wing Response to Presidential Courage

11 May

Bigot of the Week

The dominant story in this week’s news has been President Obama’s clear, principled statement in support of marriage equality on Wednesday. Beyond the media frenzy, it is interesting to see how those on the other side of the political spectrum have responded. Setting aside the predictable shrieks from the professional haters like NOM, Tony Perkins, Bryan Fischer, Bill Donahue, and their ilk, what do the key politicians and pundits say? Well, that’s sadly predictable too.

Mitt Romney:

[I have] indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name.

Still sounding like a broken robot, Romney stakes out a move-the-rights-backward stance, just like his signing a pledge that makes it legal to discriminate against the LGBT community. And he wants to lead this nation?

House Speaker John Boehner:

I think he made his position very clear. I’ve always believed marriage was between a man and a woman. But Republicans here on Capitol Hill are focused in on the economy.

Nicely put, since it avoids the fact that they are focused on destroying the economic recovery.

Faux News shrieked that the President had declared “War on Marriage!” I don’t think they were listening to the same interview I was. Radio semi-personality Mike Huckster — oops, Huckabee — used the announcement to raise funds for his PAC. Misogynist blowhard Rush Limbaugh, drawing on his four-time success with heterosexual marriage, echoed the Fox WAR talking point. How pathetic that they think they can take our focus off of the real War Against Women and create a war that does not exist. It echoes of the war in Iraq because of those mythical weapons of mass destruction!  I could have entitled this article, “Lies Told By the Republican Party.”

Easily the most tragic responses came from the two LGBT Republican (just typing that nearly set my keyboard on fire) advocacy groups. The Log Cabin Republicans:

That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous.

and GOProud:

It is good to see that after intense political pressure that President Obama has finally come around to the Dick Cheney position on marriage equality.  I am sure, however, the President’s newly discovered support for marriage is cold comfort to the gay couples in North Carolina.

What kind of Big Ball of Crazy do we have here? It takes more than a little gall to use Dick Cheney as your model for civil rights. How sad that these groups cannot celebrate a victory for LGBT rights, even coming from the other side of the aisle. What a tragic display of self-loathing, internalized oppression, and toxic political blindness.

Special dishonorable mention to CNN, by the way, for continuing to go to a certified hate group for “balanced coverage.” Wolf Blitzer brought on Tony Perkins to respond to the President…

Now if you will excuse me, I have to put on my battle fatigues and get on the front line of War, as per the gay agenda to destroy all hetero marriages. BWAHAHA!

Of Actions and Accountability: A Tale of Two Apologies

1 May

Isn't it ironic which one we say is on the "right"?

Cast your mind back two months. Remember when right-wing millionaire bloviator Rush Limbaugh attacked a law student for speaking facts when invited to a Congressional hearing? Limbaugh grossly misrepresented the situation and avoided any factual information in his character assassination of Sandra Fluke: he called her a slut, said she wanted Federal money so she could be promiscuous, and demanded that she post sex videos online so he could see what he was paying for. When reasonable people expressed concern, rising to outrage, at his behavior, he doubled down, spending three days of broadcasts generating further lies and more hysterical behavior. Fortunately, Fluke stood her ground, public pressure cost Rush advertisers, and his eventual non-apology was too little too late. What’s telling, however, is that he thought he could use his bully platform to say whatever he wanted, shaping reality to his own ends, and suffer no consequences.

Fast forward to last week. Gay rights advocate, writer, and It Gets Better founder Dan Savage appeared at a high school journalism conference to discuss the issue of bullying. Reasonably pointing to the all-too-frequent use of religious faith to defend homophobic bullying, he pointed out the many inconsistencies between biblical teaching and modern “Christian” practice, using the robust defense of slavery in the Bible as a repeated example. His references to outmoded biblical requirements as “bullshit” outraged some attendees, who walked out of his presentation. As he transitioned from this part of his presentation to his broader theme of bullying, he commented on the walk out.

You can tell the Bible guys in the hall that they can come back now, because I’m done beating up the Bible. It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.

Cue the right-wing outrage machine. Savage was attacked for his use of language and for belittling the faith of his audience. Now for the real point of contrast between his story and Limbaugh’s. Rather than react immediately to the furor, Savage took the time to reflect on the situation. He then crafted a smart, careful response, addressing all the nuances of the situation. He accepted responsibility for the name-calling use of the term “pansy-assed” and apologized to the students who had walked out while making an excellent point

I wasn’t calling the handful of students who left pansies (2800+ students, most of them Christian, stayed and listened), just the walk-out itself. But that’s a distinction without a difference—kinda like when religious conservatives tells their gay friends that they “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

Nicely done, Mr. Savage. He then wittily stood by his thesis

I didn’t call anyone’s religion bullshit. I did say that there is bullshit—”untrue words or ideas”—in the Bible. That is being spun as an attack on Christianity. Which is bullshhh… which is untrue.

It’s an interesting study in contrasts isn’t it? On one side: lies, hyperbole, and false outrage defended and compounded for days on end; on the other: a careful analysis of the situation, a reasonable (if somewhat unnecessary) apology and a careful restating of the thesis.

Sadly, this contrast plays out all too often. Calling out bigoted actions and unreasonable behavior by people ranging from right-wing pundit Juan Williams to narrow-minded “celebrities” results in their digging in their heels, counter-calling for apologies, and refusing to take responsibility for their actions. Vice President Biden reminds Americans that Mitt Romney said going into Pakistan after Bin Laden would be a horrible mistake and Romney adopts a “how dare you repeat exactly the words I said!” attitude. Yet Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, who caught hell for merely repeating Ann Romney‘s own claim that she did not work, looked carefully at what she said and how she said it, then responded to the criticism directly and honestly.

I apologize. Working moms, stay at home moms, they’re both extremely hard jobs… I’ve fought my whole life for women to have the choices that Ann Romney talked about. What I meant was that Mitt Romney is using his wife as an economic surrogate. He himself said it. And I just thought that that was off-base.

Denial, finger-pointing, lying, and dodging responsibility for one’s own actions or thoughtful responses and personal accountability — it shouldn’t be hard to determine which of these is the more desirable approach from our leaders, role models, and commentators. Looking at the examples sure makes the gridlock in Congress snap into focus, doesn’t it?

Hero of the Week Award: March 9, Peter Gabriel

9 Mar

Hero of the Week.

This week TSM is pleased to present the HWA to a lifelong activist who unequivocally stood up for justice and stared down a bully. Rush Limbaugh’s latest vile rant is the gift that keeps on giving. His bizarre, logic-deprived, misogynistic rant against Sandra Fluke has coalesced opposition to his behavior at unprecedented levels. This sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot is not just bleeding sponsors so fast that he’s running dead air instead, he’s also proving that he doesn’t care about little things like copyright law. Enter Peter Gabriel.

Rush was tactless enough to play Gabriel’s #1 smash Sledgehammer as the soundtrack to his attacks on Fluke. Peter Gabriel will have none of it. He was

appalled to learn that his music was linked to Rush Limbaugh’s extraordinary attack on Sandra Fluke. It is obvious from anyone that knows Peter’s work that he would never approve such a use. He has asked his representatives to make sure his music is withdrawn and especially from these unfair aggressive and ignorant comments.

It’s telling — and in character — that Gabriel focused on the context more than his own rights to his music. He is a staunch victims’ rights advocate, a proud member and vocal supporter of Amnesty International, and an unceasing activist for supporting the oppressed. While an active member of the Labour Party, he places conscience above politics and has spoken out repeatedly against Labour’s support of the Iraq war and other atrocities. The rare times he has permitted the use of his songs for political causes, he has vetted them carefully and thoroughly. Congratulations, Mr. Gabriel, on a lifetime of good works and another example of standing up against oppression.

Women’s History Month 2012: Sandra Fluke

4 Mar

The past few weeks have been a hotbed of action in the evolving tapestry of women’s history. The Republican war on women has amped up to a fever pitch with efforts to restrict birth control, make abortions more difficult, force invasive procedures, and defund women’s health organizations like Planned Parenthood. When the Obama administration followed through on its promise to require employers to include contraception in their insurance plans, Republicans went nuts (okay even more nuts). Even though the plan allowed a narrow exemption for religious institutions and a method of accommodation for employers with religious affiliations (like some hospitals and community centers), the GOP trotted out their old “war on religion” lies. The odious Rep. Darrell (I hate women and gays) Issa held hearings about the mythical violation to religious freedom that the contraception rules created, inviting not one woman to testify about women’s health–talk about policing women’s eggs!. The ranking Democrat on the committee holding the hearings, Rep. Elijah White, asked to invite a woman to testify and was rebuffed. That woman was Sandra Fluke.

She was an exellent choice. A third year law student at Georgetown University, Fluke had already racked up impressive credentials in working for women’s rights. Since obtaining her degree in Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies from Cornell in 2003, she has worked tirelessly against domestic violence and human trafficking. While working at Sanctuary for Families in New York, she she co-founded the New York Statewide Coalition for Fair Access to Family Court, which after a twenty-year stalemate, successfully advocated for legislation granting access to civil orders of protection for unmarried victims of domestic violence, including LGBTQ victims and teens. At Georgetown, Fluke is the Development Editor of the Journal of Gender and the Law, and served as the President of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, and the Vice President of the Women’s Legal Alliance. In her first year, she also co-founded a campus committee addressing human trafficking. It’s no wonder Issa didn’t want her near a microphone.

The Democrats, showing delightful backbone for a change, held their own hearing and allowed Fluke to testify. She told a moving story about a colleague who lost an ovary due to the lack of birth control coverage in her insurance. What did Sandra Fluke get for her efforts? An attack by Rush Limbaugh. In a diatribe that is mean-spirited and idiotic even by his own standards, the gasbag called her a “slut” and a “prostitute” just for mentioning birth control. When he was called out for his bad behavior, Limbaugh upped the ante and became even more offensive on two successive broadcasts. Not one Republican legislator or leader has offered more than a tepid response to Limbaugh’s ranting, certainly no repudiation. As a result, Fluke’s grace and eloquence have helped rip the mask off the Republican myth of victimhood and shown the true misogyny that lurks behind so many of their legislative agendas. She even managed to squeeze a very rare (if weak) apology from Limbaugh. What does she have to say about the whole situation?

Initially, you’re stunned, but then very quickly, you’re outraged, because this is historically the kind of language that is used to silence women, especially when women stand up and say that these are their reproductive health care needs and this is what they need.

Well said, Ms. Fluke. Thank you for your role in removing that silence and adding a ray of hope to women’s history.

Bigot of the Week Award: March 2, Motion Picture Association of America

2 Mar

Bigot of the Week

This week an antiquated, discriminatory organization proves that it exists for itself and not for its customers. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is responsible for the rating system that has become such a fixture of movie-going life. Ironically, the modern ratings system was created by the nefarious Jack Valenti to acknowledge that the Hays code still in place in the late 60s was outmoded and did not reflect the evolving culture. Since the creation of the ratings, they have changed slightly, last in 1990 when the PG-13 and NC-17 ratings were added and X was dropped.

MPAA ratings have come under increasing protest over the past two decades. Movies with mildly sexual content, especially LGBT content, are routinely given more restrictive ratings (Homophobic much?). Violent movies often sneak by with a PG or PG-13. The game is also quite political; appeals are possible and elimination of specific scenes — integral to the film but offensive to a rater — are the frequent result. Because of the tight connection between the MPAA and the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), the commercial fate of a film may depend on the rating. This bigoted hostage-taking and application of antiquated “values” is a major problem with the modern movie industry.

Last week it took a very nasty turn. The Weinstein Company has produced a powerful film, Bully, designed to empower youth and share the horrific impact of bullying. Because of “some language” the MPAA rated the film R, virtually ensuring that the people who most need to see it would not be able to do so. Harvey Weinstein filed an appeal, bolstered by impassioned testimony from Alex Libby, one of the bullied kids from the film. The MPAA rejected the appeal.

So here’s their message to America: Blow things up? GREAT! Degrade women? No problem. Crack juvenile, homophobic jokes? Kids need to see that! Craft a meaningful message of empowerment and education for kids and schools? Oooh, that’s too scary. Kudos to Weinstein for stating his intent to take a leave of absence from the MPAA. They’ve held too much power for far too long. Finding ways to inform moviegoers about film content? Great! Arbitrarily enforcing antiquated mores? Just say no.

Dishonorable mention goes to NATO (the theater one) for standing with the MPAA on this issue. When Weinstein declared his intent to release the film without a rating, they said that they would then tell their members to mark it NC-17. Way to take care of the next generation of moviegoers, NATO.

And of course, a Huge Dishonorable Mention to Rush Limbaugh, for once again exposing his misogyny and insisting that no one else be given access to prescription drugs! Yet another misogynistic fool that thinks he owns women’s vaginas.

Ironic Much

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 438 other followers

%d bloggers like this: