Sunday, March 29, 2009

No, Thanks

Andrew Klavan of the Los Angeles Times has a challenge for us liberals out there who have been dissing Rush Limbaugh:

If you are reading this newspaper, the likelihood is that you agree with the Obama administration’s recent attacks on conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh. That’s the likelihood; here’s the certainty: You’ve never listened to Rush Limbaugh.

Oh no, you haven’t. Whenever I interrupt a liberal’s anti-Limbaugh rant to point out that the ranter has never actually listened to the man, he always says the same thing: “I’ve heard him!”

On further questioning, it always turns out that by “heard him,” he means he’s heard the selected excerpts spoon-fed him by the distortion-mongers of the mainstream media. These excerpts are specifically designed to accomplish one thing: to make sure you never actually listen to Limbaugh’s show, never actually give him a fair chance to speak his piece to you directly.

[…]

Let me guess at your answer. You don’t need to listen to him. You’ve heard enough to know he’s a) racist, b) hateful, c) stupid, d) merely an outrageous entertainer not to be taken seriously or e) all of the above.

Now let me tell you the real answer: You’re a lowdown, yellow-bellied, lily-livered intellectual coward. You’re terrified of finding out he makes more sense than you do.

[…]

Therefore, I am throwing down my gauntlet at your quivering liberal feet. I hereby issue my challenge — the Limbaugh Challenge: Listen to the show. Not for five minutes but for several hours: an hour a day for several days. Consider what he has to say — the real policy material under the jokes and teasing bluster. Do what your intellectual keepers do not want you to do and keep an open mind. Ask yourself: What’s he getting at? Why does he say the things he says? Why do so many people of goodwill — like that nice Mr. Klavan — agree with him?

The mainstream media (a.k.a. the Matrix) don’t want you to listen to Limbaugh because they’re afraid he’ll wake you up and set you free of their worldview. You don’t want to listen to him because you’re afraid of the same thing.

Don’t believe me? Well, then, gird your loins. Gather your courage. Accept the Limbaugh Challenge. See what happens.

I dare you.

I don’t need to take the challenge. I already did. For almost six years I worked in a company where Rush Limbaugh was on the radio in both the warehouse and the office every day. The people I worked for loved him. At first I heard it and silently objected and seethed — and this was during the Lewinsky/impeachment era — but over time it became like the background noise you get used to when you live in a house next to a train track or a freeway; only when it stops do you notice that it’s gone.

I got used to the three hours of incessant narcissistic, privileged, patriarchal, homophobic, misogynistic, hypocritical and pompous arrogance. Yes, I will admit he can be very funny, the same way Andrew Dice Clay is funny, and yes, Rush Limbaugh does have a great deal of insight into what it’s like to live in world of entitlement and barely-concealed contempt for people he thinks are less than him. Most of it, though, seemed to grow out of an undercurrent of envy for a world of stature and class that he could never achieve, even if he was the richest man in broadcasting. The one thing he couldn’t have was the true sense of dignity and security that are natural to people who don’t feel as if they have to prove themselves to anyone or impress the rest of the world with their greatness. In other words, all the bluster and bloviation and cruel humor he exuded was there to cover up for the fact that he’s nothing more than an overpaid carnival barker, and he’s scared to death that the world will find out.

As for Mr. Klavan’s taunt that “[y]ou’re terrified of finding out he makes more sense than you do”, that is the same line I heard from people who told me that I was afraid to listen to David Duke speak out about race in America because I was afraid he was right. Mr. Duke, like Mr. Limbaugh, can at times can be very charming, self-deprecating, and even sound like the voice of reason, doing all he can to shed the image of the Klansmen in white robes frothing hate as they burn a cross. But venom is still venom no matter what kind of pretty packaging you put it in.

So I think I will pass on Mr. Klavan’s challenge. I don’t have to listen to a fool twice to know that he is still a fool.

Cross-posted from The Reaction.