by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University – Scholarship in Action
It appears that the “great” Rush Limbaugh doesn’t believe that Barack Obama is black. On his show, Limbaugh responded to Obama’s suggestion during a meeting that some of the animus being shown toward him was driven by race (which we all know plays a huge role in the unprecedented attacks he’s been facing from his political opponents). On his radio show, Limbaugh had this to say:
"Let me ask you a question. How many people really think of Obama as black? …One of Obama’s parents is black. Undeniable. But he was raised by a white mother, by white grandparents. He went to a highly exclusive private school in Hawaii with rich, white students and white teachers. He went to exclusive colleges that were practically lily-white. Barry Obama is from a very white, albeit radically left, cultural background. He’s not from the hood. He’s not from the movement…I’m telling you, there is a chip on this guy’s shoulder, and it is a factor in every policy decision that he makes."
What’s interesting is that Rush Limbaugh’s statement is a powerful reminder of the kind of racism he embodies with his typical rhetoric. Somehow, Limbaugh was made to believe that being black means that you are “from the hood” or “from the movement.” The truth is that being black can also mean that you were born middle/upper class, attended elite universities, or are a sociopolitical conservative. By confining blackness to mean that a person must have had a specific background or be confined to a particular economic or social class, Limbaugh comes off as the standard sort of racist who remains hell-bent on disrespecting our humanity.
The bottom line for Limbaugh is that there is no one way to be black. What is also true is that anyone with two eyeballs fully understands that many of the attacks on President Obama are most certainly being driven by race. Even I have personally expressed my disappointment in Obama’s style of governance, but what’s happening now is that Obama is being “Michael Vicked.” In other words, those on the right wing are taking what might normally be considered to be standard disagreements and making them into rallying cries for impeachment. They’ve taken a patriotic American and defined him to be an enemy of the state and one of the most atrocious human beings known to man. It’s one thing to disagree with President Obama and another thing to disrespect both he and the presidency through the utilization of lynch mob –style attacks on the White House. Ultimately, America’s commitment to both greed and racism may come to destroy our nation. I pray that day never comes, but with men like Rush Limbaugh making a living off of our nation’s pending demise, it’s hard to remain hopeful.