It’s one thing to be a rabble-rousing contrarian. It’s quite another to engage in dangerous rhetoric that will get people killed.
And Rush Limbaugh’s recent rhetoric on the Cvid-19 outbreak absolutely will get people sick, and possible dead. This morning, Salon reported:
On Friday, the 69-year-old Rush Limbaugh argued that health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) cannot be trusted because they are part of “the Deep State” and have an anti-Trump agenda.
In audio that Media Matters has posted on its website, embedded above, Limbaugh can be heard on Friday telling listeners, “We’ve talked about the Deep State all these years since Trump was elected — the Trump-Russia collusion, the FBI — well, the Deep State extends very deeply. And the American people did not elect a bunch of health experts that we don’t know. We didn’t elect a president to defer to a bunch of health experts that we don’t know.”
Limbaugh added, “And how do we know they’re even health experts? Well, they wear white lab coats, and they’ve been in the job for a while — and they’re at the CDC, and they’re at the NIH…. But has there been any job assessment for them? They’re just assumed to be the best because they’re in government. But these are all kinds of things that I’ve been questioning.”
The full article goes on to add more nonsense he said re: covid-19. Go give them a click.
This shit is destructive and dangerous, and will result in people unintentionally doing harm to themselves and others. It’s so irresponsible it’s nuts.
And I say this as someone ON BOARD with questioning the sweeping government mandates we are all facing, worrying about how far is too far and if the potential financial ruin of millions won’t be worse than the outbreak itself (I do not pretend to have an answer to that), and being skeptical about giving up basic civil liberties …
… even while recognizing that these measures are the right thing to do, understanding that experts have been warning us of outbreaks for YEARS, having a solid layman’s understanding of pandemics, and accepting that as uncomfortable as all this is (especially to my principles re: liberty), most of these measures really are the right way to address a pandemic. In a smarter world, we’d be so used to temporary shutdowns every few years this would be no big deal (assuming, of course, we also had a smart enough and compassionate enough world that we took care of people when we did it).
I recognize that this whole Covid-19 thing ISN’T EASY. It’s a complicated, messy thing that will result in a lot of hurt people no matter what we do. That’s just reality.
Moronic rhetoric that encourages irresponsible behavior and willful ignorance doesn’t help. What Rush Limbaugh is doing here is dangerous. Worse still, it’s yet more of that “don’t listen to the experts” anti-intellectualism that seems to run rampant among certain sectors of society.
And man, that stuff really gets under my skin.
I actually used to be a Rush listener, back in my 20s when I was commuting a lot and was dabbling with conservatism. (Talk radio has been a really effective recruitment tool, in no small part because it is consumed by people alone with long stretches in their vehicle.) He was entertaining and had an engaging way of talking — his purposeful mispronunciations were/are something I do too, for effect and humor, so weird as it sounds, I liked that — and I’m always up for people taking shots at those in power. Question Authority. It’s important. It’s something we should all do, and it seemed like Rush was doing exactly that.
But it didn’t last.
I’m a science guy. I believe in data, I believe in science, I believe in research, I believe in changing your views when the data doesn’t support them, etc.. You’ve got to be willing to change position when you realize the facts (or human decency) don’t support it. His profound ignorance was especially glaring when it came to talking about the environment and environmental policies, a topic that has long been important to me. As far as I’m concerned, strong environmental policies SHOULD be a part of the conservative movement. What’s more conservative than ensuring you don’t wreck things and that you maintain what we have and all that, right?
The worse “conserve” is literally right there in the name!
(Yes, I understand it’s not actually part of the conservative movement, so no need to correct me. My point is that it SHOULD be. Hell, for one fleeting moment in time, it was.)
So Rush’s anti-science, anti-intellectualism, anti-environment rhetoric wore on me pretty fast. As a listener, I found myself more and more frustrated by how easy it was to poke holes in his stupid, stupid logic, and was often dismayed at how his position so often boiled down to a childish version of, “If you like A then I like B, and I like it double, nyah nyah nyah!” He seemed to take glee in environmental destruction for no reason other than the fact that it upset liberals. If someone with an education pointed out that drinking motor oil is a bad idea, he’d urge his listeners to drink it by the gallon just to spite the “elite.” (The idea of a guy worth half-a-billion who has had the ear of presidents griping about the “elite” is a whoooole ‘nother topic!)
This was the leading voice of the conservative movement?
Because It Makes People I Don’t Like Angry is not just a juvenile way to pick a position, it’s also so colossally stupid it’s difficult to imagine any thinking, emotionally mature adult taking that approach.
I finally had to bail out on him (and not long after, on most of the conservative movement, though I still retain some beliefs that could be construed as conservative).
I was all for scrutinizing the Clintons (still am, and anyone else in power or seeking power), questioning policy (still am, no matter who it come from), and all that jazz — as human beings, we have a DUTY to question our government, criticize our leaders whenever warranted, and to hold fast to our basic liberties whenever possible — but pure ignorance simply for the sake of being contrary and pissing off “tree huggers” was and remains moronic in the extreme.
Yet that’s all Rush was.
And that’s all he remains. A toxic loudmouth who thinks that being contrary just for the sake of being contrary is the same as having principles.
We have a growing problem with anti-intellectualism in the U.S. today. Hell, in the world. Skepticism is good. So is questioning authority. But deciding that educated people who are experts in their field are somehow the enemy is not just stupid, it’s dangerous and does harm to society as a whole — and in conjunction with the rise of people like Sara Palin and Donald Trump, urged on by the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys of the world, a HUGE segment of society now defaults to, “If an expert said it, it must be a lie and part of a political agenda.” We now have people who cheer at the idea of disregarding facts, data and truth simply because it comes from a scientist, or a medical professional, or an historian, or an investigative journalist.
It’s a sad state of affairs, and I wish I knew how to fix it.
In the meantime: Rush Limbaugh is a fucking idiot and he’s going to get people sick or dead.