Across the web, talk continues about the fallout from Rush Limbaugh's characterization of women who don't pay for their own contraception as prostitutes. (I suppose if they did pay for their own, they'd be Johns?) Frankly, I'd like to see that particular firestorm end.
You see, over the last few days, there has also been an explosion of interest in the Lord's Resistance Army, a guerrilla group led (or once-led,) by Joseph Kony that has brutalized the people of Congo, Uganda and Sudan since 1986. Personally, I'm glad to see the sudden interest. Over the last 25 years, the LRA has displaced over two million and abducted "60,000 people, including 30,000 children, forcing them to fight in his campaign of murder, rape, mutilation and sexual slavery." Since last Tuesday, a video about Kony's horrific war crimes has amassed millions of views and #StopKony has become a trending topic on Twitter. Since the US is already involved in efforts to stop Kony, who may or may not be neutralized as an individual, it seems a little late, but I'm still glad to see the interest.
It surprises no one that Limbaugh has his apologists. It should horrify everyone that Kony has his, too -- and that Limbaugh is one of them.
Just a few months ago, when the United States decided to aid the government of Uganda in their fight against Kony, Limbaugh weighed in. Here is some of what he had to say:
"Lord's Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them. That's what the lingo means, 'to help regional forces remove from the battlefield,' meaning capture or kill. So that's a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda, and -- (interruption) no, I'm not kidding. Jacob Tapper just reported it. Now, are we gonna help the Egyptians wipe out the Christians?"
Christians? Really? I don't know about you, but what the Lord's Resistance Army does doesn't seem particularly Christian to me. I suppose that to some particularly uninformed listeners, however, Christian and Muslim might serve as good enough shorthand for good and evil... and which one is that funny-named president, anyhow? Yes, Rush Limbaugh actually implied to his audience that US intervention was evidence of movement by Barack Obama toward the massacre of Christians. And, at the time, got away with it.
Are we to believe that Limbaugh is so ignorant about the topics he rambles about on-air that he didn't realize that what he was saying was completely unmoored from reality? Are we to believe that this kind of brutality is really okay by Rush, so long as one punctuates it with blasphemy? Unlikely.
More likely is that he just doesn't care, so long as he can defame the president (and, for the record, many Republicans in Congress), in a particularly reprehensible way to listeners so blinded by hate that they can no longer tell truth from fiction. After all, the man has to know how to use Google. It's a fairly straightforward process.
In fact, it is an inescapable conclusion that Limbaugh knew that he was completely in the wrong. He knew that he was taking the side of a mass murderer over that of someone he just happens to disagree with on a number of policy points. He simply counted on his audience to be more ignorant than he is, and to never bother to fact-check him. Even more disturbing: he thought it would play well with them to take the side of this horrific war criminal over that of the President of the United States. Please do take a moment to really consider how truly sick that is.
We know this is the case because Limbaugh continued on about the topic in a different, almost equally disturbing way. You see, Rush wasn't content to simply decry US intervention, or even to defend one of the world's ten most wanted men. He also felt it wise to repeat the propaganda spawned by this monster:
"Lord's Resistance Army objectives. I have them here. 'To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people.' Now, again Lord's Resistance Army is who Obama sent troops to help nations wipe out. The objectives of the Lord's Resistance Army, what they're trying to accomplish with their military action in these countries is the following: 'To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people; to fight for the immediate restoration of the competitive multiparty democracy in Uganda; to see an end to gross violation of human rights and dignity of Ugandans; to ensure the restoration of peace and security in Uganda, to ensure unity, sovereignty, and economic prosperity beneficial to all Ugandans, and to bring to an end the repressive policy of deliberate marginalization of groups of people who may not agree with the LRA ideology.' Those are the objectives of the group that we are fighting, or who are being fought and we are joining in the effort to remove them from the battlefield."
Rush Limbaugh knew that he was repeating the lies of a monster. I cannot stress this point enough: Limbaugh knew that he was using public airwaves to spread the vile lies of one of the most monstrous men alive. (The government of Uganda has its own history of human rights abuses, certainly, but they don't exactly stack up against those of the LRA. Even if they did, that would hardly amount to an argument for allowing the LRA to continue operation.) Limbaugh knowingly argued against action against one of the most brutal murderers on the face of the planet not for any logical or humanitarian reason, but for the sole purpose of spoon-feeding a willfully ignorant audience more reason to hate the current president.
These are the actions of a man who is not just sexist and socially backward, but either dangerously delusional or completely amoral. These are the words of a man who is so eager to portray political opponents as villains that he no longer cares about what or who is actually right or wrong, even when it comes to core moral principles relating to murder, rape and tyranny. Shouldn't this fuel more outrage than some stupid, sexist slur?
Let's let this be known.