Discriminating Between Discrimination
Rush Limbaugh has been dropped as a potential minority owner of the St. Louis Rams football team. I thought it would have been a slam dunk. There was a lot of controversy over the effort to keep Mr. Limbaugh from acquiring a piece of the NFL. A lot of people came out to defend him. One particular comment that struck a chord with me said that even though it might be true that Mr. Limbaugh is a racist and would discriminate against black people, how would all the discrimination people have against Mr. Limbaugh be any different? I thought the issue was cut and dry. But it looks like some people truly don’t understand the different faces and textures of discrimination.
The type of discrimination we are talking about is the type that leads to unfair prejudice. For example, when Mr. Limbaugh expressed his contempt for Donovan McNabb back when he did his brief stint as a colorful commentator for ESPN a few years back, he had dismissed Mr. McNabb’s talent as nothing special because Mr. McNabb was black and the league was so desperate to have a black quarterback. Because he had demonstrated his willingness to pre judge the black Mr. McNabb, Mr. Limbaugh was judged to be racist afterwards. The discrimination Mr. Limbaugh exercised is based on prejudice. The discrimination many people exercise against Mr. Limbaugh is based on perception.
We often practice discrimination based on perception. When we see somebody commit a crime and are duly prosecuted, we have no problem discriminating against this individual by taking many of his or her rights as a citizen away as punishment. No one would call this type of discrimination unfair. The individual made a choice and now must endure the consequences of his or her choices. Mr. Limbaugh made the choice to appear racially insensitive and make offensive racially charged comments and now must bare the consequences of that choice.
And speaking of consequences, it is rather interesting that many of these people who are here to defend Mr. Limbaugh like to compare Mr. Limbaugh’s plight to that of Michael Vick, another man who made bad choices and suffered the resulting consequences. Mr. Vick was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, had his future fortune stripped from him, he was incarcerated and humiliated, and he paid his dues. Look at Michael Vick today and you won’t see any evidence of the Michael Vick that participated in the dog fighting business a few years ago. He is much more humble and contrite. The Michael Vick of today acknowledges the mistakes he has made in his past, had made amends, and is doing his best to put his life back together. He is working to earn a spot back in the league.
The same cannot be said of Mr. Limbaugh. When Mr. Limbaugh made the choice to spew racism he hardly made amends. He was terminated from his part time gig as an ESPN commentator. But that hardly compares to the life changing experience of Mr. Vick’s termination. The same Rush Limbaugh we saw talking his hate on Donavan McNabb is the same hateful Mr. Limbaugh we see today. As a society, we put little emphasis on challenging the type of racism that is such a major contributor to Mr. Limbaugh’s character. He could not care any less about how your negative opinion of him. His arrogance knows no bounds. So what point is there to compare Michael Vick’s path to Rush Limbaugh’s?
Because most of us don’t give a rat’s ass about ending the racial disparity that keeps the black community in a perpetual second class state, we don’t see the problem of having an obvious racist against black people in such a high profile position as NFL team owner. In fact, many of us like the racial status quo and will go to bat to defend a man like Rush Limbaugh. What he says about black people and the black community is just commentary. I bet if he made similar statements about the Jewish community people would be singing a totally different tune.
Mr. Limbaugh is racially abrasive and he makes absolutely no apologies for being so. The very idea of Mr. Limbaugh taking responsibility for his contribution for the racial animosity that permeates our society is laughable. But then again, why should he? As long as there are people lining up to defend this racist, as long as there are people who are willing to tolerate his hate speech, as long as there are people who enjoy what Mr. Limbaugh has to say, what incentive does he have to change? All he is doing is perpetuating racism. It’s not like he’s out there killing dogs or anything.
It’s not like people were asking that he go to go to jail either. Denying Mr. Limbaugh a stake in a football team is a rather small act of retribution. Would he or any of his supporters think he had a hand in the development of all the force that pushed back against him? The more than likely answer is no. If anything, it will only make him that much more hateful. The very idea of a man like Rush Limbaugh getting some kind of comeuppance from the black community does not bode well for his perception of entitlement. If anything he’ll probably become even more hostile to the black community. That’s not based on any prejudice but on a perception based on the actual behavior of Rush Limbaugh.
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