Nile nisi bonum. Don't speak ill of the dead. The Latin proverb has given wise advice for centuries, but the death of Rush Limbaugh has led some to turn to another thought leader: Mark Twain, who once remarked, "I did not attend his funeral," upon the death of a famous public figure but I sent a nice letter saying that I am okay with it. "
The radio provocateur who coined the term "Feminazi" described Chelsea Clinton as the "White House dog" and suggested that most of the faces on sought-after posters look like Jesse Jackson. He died on Wednesday at the age of 70. Loyal Fox News viewers might be forgiven for thinking that this was the equivalent of the death of a Pope or King, or at least a Mark Twain-like literary figure. These were the round-the-clock compliments and reminders, often from people who barely knew the man.
And while we are confused by these honors, we find no joy in his death. Limbaugh treated serious public order matters as well as certain teen comedies of the 1990s the awkwardness of puberty. He wasn't looking for insight; He was more interested in scorn, outrage, and ridicule, which helped him build a large audience that found it all so entertaining.
When Fox-speaking heads compare him to William F. Buckley Jr. – with a straight face – a little fact-checking is clearly in order. No, this was not an intellectual, not a pioneer of the conservative movement. He was an entertainer and, in the modern slang of social media, a social influencer with a checkered broadcasting past who stumbled into the zeitgeist of disaffected white working-class men. What MAGA media is getting right is that there is a line that can be followed from Limbaugh's rise to Donald Trump's political rise. Not only in politics, but also in personality. Without Limbaugh, there would certainly not have been a Trump presidency.
Our goal, however, is not to retell this unfortunate past or to believe his overt racism, sexism, or even his recent role in deliberately misleading his audience that the last election was stolen, a particularly disgusting piece of demagoguery that rolled into one The attack on the US Capitol culminated that left five dead. No, it's about his broader legacy of grossing up the political debate so deeply. It is in the creation of "ditto heads", forerunners of the "Trump Deplorables," who treated his comedic shtick as gospel. Add to this Limbaugh's furious disdain for those who did not share his conservative beliefs, his disinterest in the facts (he rarely bothered to speak to political experts about his program), and obsession with white men's grievances, and you have the public Place successfully poisoned. Social media has simply exaggerated the worst effects that helped create an echo chamber, a bubble in which opposing views have not even been addressed, let alone fairly explored.
Make no mistake, the trend has long passed Republican politics. There are left-wing commentators who also trade on attribution, although they appear less common and wealthy than their right-wing counterparts. Talk Radio doesn't have really moderate voices, let alone curious voices. Cable television is much more derisive and divisive than it used to be.
So we don't want to celebrate the death of a man, but rather ask Americans, Democrats and Republicans, young and old and regardless of race or religion, to perhaps use this moment to mourn our loss of courtesy and respect and to pledge to to do better. Certainly none of us are sinless in this regard. But we can all try a little mutual respect. A harmful and harmful fad has now officially ended. At least we can hope that it does. Long live the civil debate.
The Baltimore sun