When Rush Limbaugh first hit the
scene big in the early 90s he was a breath of fresh air to a country
where political correctness was out of control and unchecked.
Back then dead white men were the ultimate bad guys. Television
and radio had been overwhelmed by the hippy ethics of the 1960s.
Watch some of the last episodes of M.A.S.H. and you'll come away
thinking that guys like Gen. MacAuther were nothing more than
knuckle dragging Neanderthals who slaughtered children for fun
and slapped women around just so they could brag about it to their
buddies. The media at that time was mostly left-wing self-congratulatory
came Limbaugh. Filling Morton Downey Jr.'s vacated spot on a Sacramento
radio station Rush helped redefine Republican politics after the
fall of Communism. The new enemy would be the "liberal," a straw
man who possessed the exaggerated ideals of the Left as portrayed
on television. At the time it was like shooting fish in a barrel.
By using the most lunatic fringe as an example of anyone even
slightly left of the political center Rush reinvented talk radio
and produced a mountain of imitators. It proved a successful formula
and Limbaugh clones popped up everywhere. A few of them, like
G. Gordon Liddy and Neal Boortz, do the shtick even better than
AM radio has divided the country into two camps.
The "conservatives" are pro-gun, anti-abortion, pro-capitalism,
anti-socialism, pro-Christianity, anti all other religions, pro-Bush,
anti-Clinton, pro-White, anti all other races, (With allowances
made for Thomas Sowell, Ken Hamblin and Walter Williams who have
made careers out of trashing other Black people.) pro-tobacco,
anti-marijuana, pro-men, and anti-women. They firmly believe that
Western European anything is the best and, oddly enough, seem
to be pro-pollution. The "liberals" believe exactly the opposite.
Neither one of these extremist views represented your average
American but this is the cartoon black and white world of talk
According to the current Rush du jour Sean Hannity
"...this is a new world in which we live. It's a world of good
versus evil." That's all fine and dandy until you start wondering
what he means by "good" and "evil." In the post 9-11 world you
might think he's referring to "terrorists." But he's not referring
to the IRA or the vandals responsible for the Boston Tea Party.
"Good" to Sean Hannity is virtually everybody and "Evil" refers
to a handful of deranged and violent lunatics who kill without
remorse or hesitation. Unfortunately these evil people are not
exclusive to or excluded from any class, race, religion, nation,
age or sex. So all of Sean's listeners get to be "good" and anybody
who they disagree with gets lumped in with the deranged violent
lunatics. But who cares? It's just a dumb radio show.
We Birminghamsters have done our best to distance
ourselves from the stereotype of the racist hillbilly as portrayed
by the politically correct media that Rush Limbaugh helped to
dismantle. Despite trying to put our best face forward local Limbaugh
wannabes are constantly dragging us back into the gutter. As any
local who ventures out into the big world will testify, there's
a lot of baggage that comes along with being from the deep South.
I guess if youre Black you can avoid being labeled a racist,
but a lot of people are still going to think that you're stupid.
It should have ended a long time ago, but vocal advocates of hate
and ignorance make such good press the media can't resist them.
It's not enough that the big news outlets in New York and LA delight
in trashing the South we have to provide them with fodder for
Hank Erwin has traditionally been the chief embarrassment
broadcast from the local airwaves. Erwin, an Evangelical, promoted
junk science, attacked all religions save his own and particularly
vilified homosexuals. Before moving on to the state Senate, Hank
worked for Crawford Broadcasting which now owns 101.1 FM. The
current darlings of Crawford's local enterprise are Russ and Dee
Fine. It was very
telling when Crawford was renewing Russ and Dee's contract live
on the show. The boss at 101 pretty much came out an said that
Russ and Dee's anti-gay politics were such a plus that he could
forgive the fact that they were Jews and thus, in his opinion,
were going to burn in Hell for all eternity.
The Russ and Dee show often runs a copyright notice
which is designed to prevent guys like me from writing about how
Dee equated frat boys dressing in black face and posing in front
of the rebel battle flag to kids dressing up as witches on Halloween.
"You don't see the witches out protesting," she said. That was
a rare slip. No one can be overtly racist on the radio these days.
The trick is to scour news sources and clip out articles involving
Black folk doing stupid things. If you keep it up you can create
the illusion that these carefully selected news stories represent
all Black people. It's a simple trick that can be used to portray
any group in a bad light. It's almost comical to hear Russ quote
some Norwegian weekly while ignoring local stories that might
not mesh with his political agenda. Last Martin Luther King's
Birthday (which is a big deal in Birmingham) Russ and Dee decided
to boycott the celebration. Though it was King ad nauseam
throughout the Magic City, Russ and Dee dedicated their entire
show to rising cable bills.
Though covertly anti-Black, Russ and Dee are blatantly
anti-Brown. The rising Hispanic population is fair game. There's
no stopping immigration and the US's demographics are changing
quickly. In order to insure racial hostility in the new century,
talk radio pundits are moving quickly to paint the Mexicans in
a bad light. This straw man is still being constructed and is
guaranteed to revitalize the kind of racial insanity that we've
been trying to overcome for the past 50 years. It's important
to remember that free trade always works and that Mexicans are
While dehumanizing people of different races is
an old populist trick used by many demagogues, Russ and Dee reserve
their special venom for the gays. They're always calling for ineffectual
boycotts of companies like Disney and Home Depot because they
provide insurance coverage for domestic partners. For most Americans
it's hard to get worked up over a total stranger's insurance package,
but if you hate gay people any sign of equitable treatment under
the law is unbearable. By once again using militant extremists
as examples of the mainstream right-wing radio hosts would like
to deny any human dignity to homosexuals.
Once when cornered Russ explained that he hated
gays because they are condemned in the book of Exodus. A pretty
sad argument from a Jew who eats pork and ignores the Sabbath.
Just as the Blacks are supposed to forget and forgive, the gays
are expected to live up to a higher standard than Russ and Dee
themselves. The book of Exodus is only 51 pages long and if it's
the cornerstone of your philosophy it seems you might want to
read it. But holy text is rarely read. Rather it's revered as
an icon or waved like a flag. If you actually read the Bible,
the Vedas or the Koran you can't just pretend they say what you
want them to say. Of course the other extreme is to study them
vigorously and pull out the parts you agree and dismiss or explain
away the parts that you don't.
Let me explain a few of the debate tricks used
by Russ Fine and others of his ilk on the radio:
First, act like you're reporting the news but
only find stories that support your political agenda. If someone
shoots a burglar, celebrate the story as an example of why we
need more handguns. It might be a good idea to follow it with
some canned applause. Be sure to ignore the 10 children that are
accidentally shot that day.
Second, if you get cornered rephrase your argument,
then change it to something your opponent agrees with and claim
victory on your original point. Russ is great at this. One time
he was going on about how the mentally ill shouldn't be allowed
to vote. Sounds good on the surface, but then a caller phones
in and says he's clinically depressed. Rather than admit he was
making a dumb point Russ redefined mental illness until it only
included the most deranged lunatics.
Third, be incredibly gullible when it comes to
believing bad things about your enemy and good things about yourself.
According to Russ and Dee, Palestinians don't love their children,
they only love murderers and terrorists. The Koran overtly advocates
violence but the Bible would never do anything like that. Be sure
to keep it simple, 100% good vs. 100% bad.
Forth, if a caller is making a sophisticated point
that you don't agree with catch him on a technicality, like a
mispronounced word, then declare his whole argument wrong. Sound
bites are much better than complicated explanations on temporal
media like talk radio.
Fifth, let your callers lie for you. Be sure to
object to an occasional wild accusation to maintain some credibility.
Sixth, compare your opponent to Hitler. Russ is
the King of this. Bet you didn't know that Hitler was a "liberal"
and the Nazis were politically correct.
Seventh, if you bring on guests to debate find
the dumbest burned out hippy to represent the Left.
Finally, if all else fails go to a commercial.