I have family visiting for the summer. In addition to the pleasure of their company, I am also treated to tidbits of
gossip news from my hometown and state. It is thanks to them that I was apprised of this delightful development:
Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians on Monday during a secretive ceremony in the state Capitol as police stood guard to keep out any uninvited political opponents of the sometimes divisive radio show host.
Limbaugh, a native of Cape Girardeau in southeast Missouri, addressed a crowd of more than 100 Republicans during a closed-door event in the Missouri House chamber. Speaking from the chamber’s dais, he thanked his family for their support throughout his career, denounced liberals and Democrats as “deranged,” then helped lift a black curtain off a bronze bust of himself, which he hugged – head to head – for photographs.
Nothing says “good idea” to me like the words “secretive ceremony,” especially when said ceremony is supposedly to confer a public honor. Strong work, Missouri Republicans!
My opinion of Mr. Limbaugh has been made known before. I think he is an odious, hypocritical misogynist who is one of the single most corrosive influences on American civic discourse in recent history. The idea of schoolchildren on field trips to the Capitol dutifully filing past his esteemed visage, enshrined in the same location as Mark Twain’s, makes me want to run into traffic. I’m surprised the Thomas Hart Benton murals didn’t spontaneously combust in protest. (However, the sculptor is to be congratulated for achieving the amazing feat of creating a bust with an even bigger head than its subject.)
Look, I get that Limbaugh is technically both “famous” and a Missourian. I can think of plenty of well-known reprobates from my home state that don’t merit such public acclamation as is implied by this ridiculous decision. Surely even his fans (at least the level-headed ones, assuming any exist) must agree that he is a deeply, gleefully divisive figure. He veritably revels in being polarizing and in alienating people. If one can safely guess that at least half of the state’s residents would prefer to pretend that the honoree was from Kentucky, maybe he doesn’t warrant the honor? Maybe it speaks to that fact when you have to hold the unveiling ceremony in secret?
I understand that there is always some potential for protest when high-profile public honors are conferred. Walt Disney also has a bust, and there have been unsavory (though poorly substantiated) rumors about him. Harry Truman dropped nuclear weapons on Japan. But Limbaugh has made a career out of being objectionable, such that calling a woman who wanted contraception covered by her insurance a “slut” was hardly a one-off. As much as his fans may inexplicably love him and his sycophants may still crave his support, his image has no place in such an honored setting.
[Image via the Associated Press]