When President Donald Trump awarded longtime conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh the Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union speech, having First Lady Melania Trump drape it around his neck in view of the whole world, most watching found it to be a beautiful moment.
Rush, who single-handedly changed the face of news and opinion media, has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. The gesture by the president and his long-term golfing buddy Donald Trump could not but be a morale boost as Rush enters into the fight of his life.
Naturally, several people were pleased to disagree with the award. Limbaugh has taken an impish delight in triggering the left for three decades. In return, the left has heaped upon the conservative radio talk show host hate and ridicule. To see the Medal of Freedom awarded to Rush was as bitter gall and wormwood.
Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York was one of the people who objected to the award. According to Fox News, she smeared Rush with the accusation of racism.
“First of all, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is an extraordinarily sacred award. We’re talking about putting someone on the same level as Rosa Parks, for example, in terms of their contributions to American progress,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Rush Limbaugh is a virulent racist.”
Rush’s friend and producer “Bo Snerdley” sprang to the radio talker’s defense. He noted on Twitter:
“Those of us who listen to Rush, and have for 30 years understand his love of America and his oft-expressed dream that ALL Americans share in our American Dream. Those who don’t listen – are sadly willfully, or purposefully misinformed. Hate? Mirror.”
Snerdley, whose real name is James Goldin, is African American and is in the position to know what is in Rush’s heart.
AOC did not offer any examples of Rush’s “virulent racism.” Some other critics claim that he called former President Barack Obama a “magic negro.” However, Rush was quoting a 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times in which David Ehrenstein bestowed the then-senator and presidential candidate with the moniker.
“Magic negro” is a well-known concept in both literature and cinema. It refers to a black character endowed with superhuman powers whose purpose is to aid a white protagonist at a critical juncture. The purpose of the black character is also to assuage white guilt over slavery and Jim Crow by being a friendly figure who is disinterested in stoking racial animus.
Rush, being who he is, mercilessly mocked Obama with the term. He noted that many of Obama’s supporters voted for him because they thought, erroneously as it turned out, that electing an African American as president would bring to a close America’s long, twilight struggle over race and bring about the dream of Martin Luther King in which all would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.
As it turned out, race was to convenient a cudgel to be set aside, especially by President Obama’s supporters. Opposition to Obama and his policies was, without fail, ascribed to racism.
Ironically, a recent Gallup Poll noted that American satisfaction with the state of race relations increased by 14 percent during the Trump presidency. Analysts ascribe the increase to the vast improvement in the economic wellbeing of African Americans under Trump. The numbers should be a sobering wakeup call to Trump opponents who think he is a racist as well.
AOC also mocked Rush for pretending to be “surprised” when President Trump announced that he was getting the Medal of Freedom. Indeed, Limbaugh seemed to be gobsmacked when the announcement was given, even as he assumed the position to receive the medal.
However, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was likely not aware that Rush, besides having cancer, is profoundly deaf. He gets by with a cochlear implant and a hearing aid as well as a texting arrangement when he is on the air.
However, the hearing aid does not work as well as it might during crowd situations, not able to distinguish the sound of individual speech against a lot of noise. To be sure, news of the award had been announced hours earlier, but neither Rush nor anyone else was likely aware that the award was to be bestowed at the State of the Union and not at a White House ceremony.
Thus, AOC has been caught mocking a man with a physical handicap. She has not, as of this writing, apologized.