Fellow leftists, progressives and liberals (in descending order of my ideological proximity): Cut it out.
Seriously, stop it.
Stop going for cheap shots. Stop acting like the other side.
Because now, today, I am having to do something I’ve never had to before to the best of my recollection.
I have to defend Rush Limbaugh.
I saw people on Twitter reposting Rush Limbaugh for saying that Republicans are struggling to work with Obama because he is black.
This is what Limbaugh said (in part of course):
“Let me just put it this way. The fact that we are living in the historic era with the first African-American president has everybody paralyzed and everybody scared.”
That is very true.
“Everyone” isn’t accurate, but Rush’s statement is true for a lot of Americans. Hell, sometimes I still can’t believe we have a black President. We’ll be pinching ourselves like this again for the second black President, for the first woman President, for the first Latina/o President.
What Rush said is what people need to admit. And by “people”, I don’t just mean Republicans. We live in a society with racial, class, gender, and sexual orientation divides. We all have fears we don’t like to admit.
Rush goes onto say something that I obviously don’t agree with, given how 2014 seems to be the first year we’ve really seen recovery that actually is starting to impact the average American both practically and psychologically, but is still something to bear in mind:
“Many American citizens are literally paralyzed, frightened to death to say anything to anybody about what they really think — and while this is happening, things are going down the tubes at a rapid rate. So once we get past this historical era, I think a lot of this is going to change. I think the paralysis will end. Even if we get the first female president, it’s still not gonna be near the paralysis that exists today. That paralysis was planned for and is being used to its maximum benefit by the Democrat and the American left.”
Okay, the last sentence is utter horseshit. But everything else is fair enough. That’s how Republicans perceive it: A black man comes into power and then shit gets ruined. Rush is saying that a lot of people are feeling this way.
Now, here’s the point.
Criticize Rush, take advantage of this statement to score political points, and you don’t even know the damage you’re doing.
If we want to get past our legacies of hatred and division, we have to be able to be honest without the other side using it to eke out some political advantage for a few days.
Want to know why our politicians aren’t honest? This shit. We punish them for honesty.
I’m not saying that politics needs to be a safe place like a multicultural classroom or a psychologist’s office. Obviously, what people say should have consequences.
But when someone on the other side admits fault, we have to take that as an opportunity to engage and build dialog rather than attacking.
And what’s going to happen if one of our politicians admits that maybe some people on our side might have some class or geographical prejudices against people in the Midwest, or other groups that might be part of the Republicans?
Now the other side has every excuse to give us a taste of our own medicine.
Rush Limbaugh has said a host of unacceptable things that he needs to be criticized for. He had a drug addiction, which is a tragedy and I feel terrible for him, and while he had it he attacked others in the same boat, which is amongst the worst things human beings can do. And that’s just one example.
But this time, he was saying something fairly reasonable, something honest.
We have to do better if we ever want to see real change.
How can we expect anyone to go through the hard route to change if we aren’t willing to swallow the momentary temptation to jump on the blogosphere and Twitter space and punish someone else for an honest admission?