Feb 052020 9 Responses

Rush Limbaugh Deserves Our Prayer

This week, long-time radio personality Rush Limbaugh revealed he is facing advanced lung cancer.

Growing up as a young conservative in the south, I listened to Rush early in my life. I even preached some of my first sermons in a Limbaugh tie. Yet the more I listened the more I felt a tension between Rush’s shtick and my conservative beliefs. I believed in Reagan’s optimism, George H.W. Bush’s nobility, George W. Bush’s compassion. In Limbaugh, I didn’t hear any of those things.

Instead, I realized he was playing a financial game. He brilliantly understood his task wasn’t to promote useful debate and dialogue so that our nation could move forward. His task was to engage in inflammatory rhetoric in order to garner an audience in order to make a profit. I don’t blame him. He found a way to make a great living. It’s not how I would want to do it, but it’s an option in a free market with free speech.

While I long ago stopped listening to Limbaugh, I did feel for him when his diagnosis was made public.

He Deserves Our Prayers

As any human-being, Limbaugh deserves our prayers. Cancer is horrible. Advanced lung cancer can be awful. No one who has been through it would wish it on even their worst enemy. We should pray for comfort and endurance as Limbaugh endures the treatment.

Yet, when a polarizing political figure like Limbaugh makes such an announcement, some do not respond the way they should. Instead of showing compassion, they celebrate. They judge. They rejoice in the suffering of their political rival. It’s wrong. Even as they say, “it’s what Limbaugh would do,” it’s still wrong. The truth is if something is wrong, it’s wrong even if the other person would do it. Too often in politics, we overlook in ourselves what we condemn in our opponents. If something is wrong, it’s wrong.

Rush Limbaugh should be prayed for with compassion and grace. Especially if you think he doesn’t deserve it, we should do it. That’s the nature of grace. (John 1.16)

But Not Our Awards

While Limbaugh deserves our prayers, he does not deserve our awards. During the State of the Union speech, President Trump “surprised” Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. According to an executive order, this award is for “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” While an argument could be made that Limbaugh made a significant cultural impact, we cannot overlook his long history of bigoted comments and we should not overlook that his genre of entertainment has failed to advance our nation.

Limbaugh was fired/resigned from ESPN following inappropriate comments regarding a Super Bowl quarterback. He claimed the player avoided serious scrutiny because of the color of his skin, this during a time when some still questioned aloud whether a person of color could play the quarterback position.

He unapologetically played a song on his radio show in which the words for Puff the Magic Dragon were re-written about the nation’s first African American President. While he didn’t use the ultimate form of the n-word, he did use an off-shoot.

While not the founder of the Birther movement, he was one of its major proponents in which he propagated the dis-proven idea that the nation’s 44th President wasn’t really American. This argument was possible because much of white America assumes to be a “true American” you have to look like them.

These are just three examples of many of Limbaugh’s racist comments. Had he recognized his wrongs, apologized, and made amends they could possibly be overlooked. Since he not only failed to apologize but actually reveled in the controversy, they should prevent us from awarding him anything, even in the time of his suffering.

I Can’t Imagine

As I watched the First Lady place the medal upon Limbaugh during the State of the Union, I tried to imagine what that moment must feel like for a person of color. What is it like to watch someone with such a history be given our nation’s highest award while so many of our nation’s leaders applaud? How do they feel as their fellow church members go online and cheer the selection?

I can’t fathom it. Sadly, people of color have grown used to it. Many feel no use in even mentioning it.

But we should mention it. We should recognize the wrongs that continue to be done when comments are ignored and awards are given. We need to see our neighbors and the pain they have experienced in the past as well as the pain they continue to feel. We need to say it’s wrong.

Failing to do so is failing to love our neighbors. Staying silent simply perpetuates the racism.

Of course, some will respond to an article like this by saying I’m “playing the race card” or I’m “stirring up division.” But one common theme of those who will say that, they won’t be people of color. Many white people have said I talk about race too much, but I’ve never heard that from a person of color. There’s no need to wonder why.

Pray for Rush. Pray for all of us.

9 Responses to Rush Limbaugh Deserves Our Prayer

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