Opinion: Rush Limbaugh's Hate Doesn't Deserve a Special Day

Honoring a life of hate, Republican legislators in Missouri want to create "Rush Limbaugh Day." - DonkeyHotey/FLICKR
Honoring a life of hate, Republican legislators in Missouri want to create "Rush Limbaugh Day."

A special day for us to celebrate Rush Limbaugh every year? Have we gone mad?

Last week, state Rep. Hardy Billington (R-Poplar Bluff) introduced HB1200, designating every January 12, Limbaugh’s birthday, as “Rush Limbaugh Day.” Billington’s bill now has 30 co-sponsors, including Rep. Justin Hill and many of his unabashed “Stop the Steal” election effort. Speaker Rob Vescovo has just assigned HB1200 to the Special Committee on Tourism so you know they’re serious.

Not to be outdone, State Sen. Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston) filed a companion Limbaugh Day bill, SB532.

NO. Just NO.

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley said upon hearing of Limbaugh’s death, “he lived the first Amendment and told hard truths that made the elite uncomfortable”.

Missouri GOP Chair Nick Myers told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “To some he was the ‘most dangerous man in America.’ To others, he was a comforting daily presence giving voice to the ‘the way things ought to be’ … he let millions know daily that they were not alone in their common-sense conservatism.”

“Hard truths that made the elite uncomfortable?”

“The way things ought to be”?

We liberals are really good at interpreting the dog whistle of “common-sense conservatism.” For years, Limbaugh said those quiet parts out loud on air to over 20 million weekly listeners.

Limbaugh’s style was blatant hate speech, cloaked as entertainment.

He left no marginalized group and minority untouched. Sexism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism were his specialty; his bigotry and promotion of “birtherism” skyrocketed after President Barack Obama was elected. He described marriage equality as “perverted,” “depraved” and a movement to normalize pedophilia, called transgender people “mentally ill” while celebratorily mocking deaths of AIDS victims and those with debilitating diseases, including actor Michael J. Fox.

Limbaugh despised immigrants, refugees, those in poverty and regularly mirrored white nationalist talking points. He treated women with such disdain that his misogyny could be summed up with his oft repeated tirade, “feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.”

In the past year, Limbaugh criticized the media for overhyping COVID-19, repeated destructive theories linking the pandemic to Chinese biological weapons and insisted the virus threat was an anti-Trump effort.

Limbaugh took no prisoners as he exacerbated his abusive attacks and was called the most dangerous man in America.

Limbaugh proudly became the official national GOP voice and held the door wide open for Donald Trump’s unabashed hate. GOP leaders acquiesced while Trump pushed hundreds of thousands of lies from the White House, urged followers to “stand back and stand by,” said “there were fine people on both sides” of white supremacist anti-Semitic violence. Trump eventually attacked the 2020 presidential election results, culminating in the inciting of the U.S. Capitol insurrection, killing five people and wounding over 140 law enforcement officers. We watched the whole thing in horror.

Before Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year by Trump, the Missouri GOP installed Limbaugh’s bust in the State Capitol’s Hall of Famous Missourians.

I was there in 2012 as a state representative but completely locked out of the House chamber with my Democratic colleagues, as was the public. We were prevented from attending the secret unveiling ceremony while Highway Patrol guarded the hallways with firearms, making sure we were kept out of the people’s house. The very house where we served.

Thousands of Missourians expressed outrage that Rush Limbaugh’s bust would be placed next to Harry Truman, Stan Musial, George Washington Carver and other beloved Missourians. The bust is still there today in the Capitol rotunda, right outside the House chamber with its very own security camera, just daring to be spat upon.

Hate is not comical. Hate is evil and ugly. Hate wounds and destroys.

We understood Limbaugh’s intent, loud and clear. Liberals or conservatives, right wing or left wing, we all knew exactly what was being said and to whom.

Hate such as Limbaugh’s cannot be allowed to prosper any further in our state. His hate has already caused way too much damage and pain to real people we know and love.

I’m not the only one repulsed with these Rush Limbaugh bills. Thousands of Missourians of all zip codes are as disgusted and have been signing onto the ProgressWomen petition to shut this whole “special day” thing down.

HB1200 and SB532 must be buried by the Missouri legislature.

Just no. We are firm.

Hate has no place here.

Stacey Newman, a former Missouri state legislator who served nine years, is the executive director of ProgressWomen, a statewide social justice group focused on justice and equality along with fighting hate.

click to enlarge Hon. Stacey Newman. - COURTESY STACEY NEWMAN
Hon. Stacey Newman.
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