Translating Lingua Limbaugh

I see this story percolating through the left side of the blogosphere today.  It seems to be missing the context necessary to accurately interpret what Limbaugh was actually saying, which was a different kind of crazy than alleged, though just as explicitly vile.

If you’ve been following the movement Right’s reaction to this story, you’d understand that one of their central themes has been that this incident shows that in Obama’s America, white people are legally second-class citizens.  In their bizarre world, this bus incident was a hate crime, and the refusal to consider it as such is proof that the law doesn’t apply with equal force to white people.  As or even more disturbingly, they are also claiming that liberals are actively supporting the notion that the victim deserved what he got because he was trying to sit in the “black” part of the bus. 

Given that context, and given the full transcript of Limbaugh’s insanity, it’s pretty clear that Limbaugh was not actually advocating racially segregated busing.  What he was instead doing was claiming that the Left and Obama are advocating racially segregated busing of a sort. 

This is yet another step down the Right’s obsession with creating totally unsupportable claims of racial victimization of white people.  This obsession may well be a form of racism in and of itself, but it takes a different form than “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”  The form instead is “Don’t let TEH BROWN PEOPLE impose segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever on us decent and law-abiding whites!”  And yes, it really is that deranged.

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17 thoughts on “Translating Lingua Limbaugh

  1. The troubling thing is that all of this overreach is so unnecessary. there was a very real effort during thr campaign to paint all criticism of Obama as racist. That extended all the way to Bill Clinton, which was a feat of political triangulation we should all be in awe of. This attitude will not doubt return at various times when they inevitably start tinkering with affirmative action or some other program that has a heavy racial component. So why not just wait until the problem is real instead of crying wolf? It seems a lack of patience more than anything else.

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    • I don’t know, Mike. “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina” strikes me as, at the very least, rather insensitive for Clinton to have said. But admittedly most of the racism claims were marginal, and Obama himself didn’t add to them and, in fact, often refuted them.

      But I agree that this is a little sudden. I think it’s mostly just desperation. Ta-Nehisi Coates yesterday wrote that what makes the Limbaughs crazy is that Obama is essentially just a normal guy, not a buffoon like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, and all their arguments and assumptions about blackness and, by extension, liberalism, are basically going down the tubes. Perceptions are changing, times are changing. They’re freaked the hell out and they just can’t help themselves.

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    • I see what you’re getting at here, but I’m not willing to attribute this to something as benign as lack of patience. The gratuitous racial self-victimization claims of the movement Right have been fairly constant since before the election last year (e.g., the obsession with attributing Jeremiah Wright’s most extreme views to one or the other Obama; though, to be fair, the absolute worst offenders on this front were the PUMAs who were freaking out about the “whitey” tape rumors).

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      • There’s always been a belief on the Right, and i’ll include myself in this group, that racism is not just a white problem. So often there’s a tendency to pounce on anything that seems to proves that point. Obviously this schoolbus thing was an overreach.

        The Wright thing was interesting to me mostly because Obama was so clearly lying when he said he was never there for those remarks or knew anything about them. When he got away with that I knew the GOP never had a shot in that election.

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        • “There’s always been a belief on the Right, and i’ll include myself in this group, that racism is not just a white problem.”

          This is a perfectly justifiable belief (I also think it’s absolutely correct). The problem I’m having is that it often doesn’t stop there, and in the movement Right is now taking the form of “racism isn’t a white problem at all, just the obsession of a few whackos, but it’s a huge black, Latino, and Arab problem that is the obsession of all or nearly all of them.”

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          • See the anecdotal info I posted yesterday about my daughter’s experience at school (and stories I hear from other parents and School officials). At least at that level they almost never see racial remarks from white kids. There is a fair amount of black on white hostility though. Simply put all the kids I have talked to are terrified of black kids in groups who they believe will target them simply because they are white.

            This is just one school district in one city, but I DO think the tables have turned to a certain degree. Do I think white racism is gone? Not by a long shot. I’m honest enough to admit I have my own prejudices that are hard to overcome. But do I think black people fear the average white person like they might have 40 years ago? Absolutely not. If they have any fear at all anymore it’s directed primarily at law enforcement.

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  2. Eh. It seems to be a reflection of the whole “hate crime” thing.

    “So and so isn’t willing to call this a HATE CRIME!!!! THEY MUST NOT REALLY CARE!!!”

    “Hey, just because someone did something unpleasant doesn’t make it a hate crime.”

    And “the right” which, according to stereotype, opposed such things as “hate crimes” are now singing their praises and “the left” which, according to stereotype, thought we needed tons and tons more of are now downplaying.

    If there’s irony to be had, it’s that both sides are using arguments that the other side had used in the past.

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    • “If there’s irony to be had, it’s that both sides are using arguments that the other side had used in the past.”

      I totally agree with this. I’m hesitant to attribute the Left’s position on the school bus incident to switching sides, though, because in this case they also happen to have facts and evidence on their side. Now, if all other things were equal but the students had been shouting “take that cracker!” while beating the kid up, we’d have a different story. Then, both sides would be equally hypocritical. True, the Right would have the benefit of being factually correct; but they’d still be hypocrites for taking the whole “if it’s not a hate crime, you don’t care” line.

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      • Here’s the thing: I don’t doubt that both sides have a fairly large contingent of folks who earnestly and honestly believe every word they are saying.

        The folks who are saying “I see an uncomfortable racial dynamic in that bus video” *DO* see an uncomfortable racial dynamic there.

        The folks who are saying “it’s obviously just one bully beating up another kid and there are yet more kids yelling encouragement… the way it has *ALWAYS* been” are honestly and earnestly seeing *NOTHING* more than that.

        And both sides are certain that the other side is cynically using their argument as cover. (Note: This does not include folks like Rushbo, as he is, in fact, cynically using the arguments that suit him.)

        I wish that both sides would say “oh, that’s what it’s like to see something like this and feel that” rather than “the folks who come to a different conclusion than this one that I’ve reached cannot possibly have done so in good faith.”

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  3. “If there’s irony to be had, it’s that both sides are using arguments that the other side had used in the past.”

    And that’s the million dollar answer to the entire political debate in this country right now. The speed at which both sides have so nearly approximated the other’s pre-election positions is staggering…and it’s why the number of Independents in this country is at an all-time high.

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