What a week Rush Limbaugh has had. Some would say he deserves it. Let me start off by saying that I’m a Republican – a fiscal conservative and social moderate. I occasionally listen to Rush while I’m at lunch – maybe thirty minutes or so on any given day. Don’t always agree with him – in fact, about 50% of the time, I disagree with him. That said, I don’t think I could be described as a "dittohead" – to me, that term has come to mean "mindless drone – incapable of any coherant thought other than what Rush tells you to believe" – I think it was a term used with affection at some point, meaning "a regular listener to Rush Limbaugh’s program" but the term has been demagogued now (by who else but? Liberals.) to mean the first meaning I gave you. That said, I have frankly been mystified by what I have read and heard about the now infamous McNabb comment that Rush made Sunday Sept. 28th on ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown. Let’s take a look at what Rush said:
"I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL," Limbaugh continued. "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there’s a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn’t deserve."
There are several issues to tackle here:
His opinion on McNabb being overrated – was he right or wrong on that point alone?,
Was it a racist statement?, and
Was Rush correct in his commentary that there is a desire within the NFL to see black coaches and black quarterbacks do well?, and
If he was correct on #3, does the NFL engage in "social concern" and falsely pump up black quarterbacks because of that "social concern"?
1) On his opinion alone of McNabb being overrated, I’ll leave that to the sports experts to decide. I love football, but confess I don’t know a lot about the behind the scenes stuff, so the debate on whether or not he’s great or just average is one someone else should (and has) picked up and run with. 2) Was it a racist statement? I don’t think so. Rush Limbaugh is many things to many ppl – and I won’t mention most of those names in this blog in case kids are reading but, IMO, he’s not a racist. To be sure, Rush has made statements in the past that could be construed as racist – like the time in the early 70’s when he told a black caller to his program to "take the bone out of your nose." From that link to FAIR, you’ll see a few comments he made up until the early 90’s that could be (and have been) construed by some to be racist or race-baiting. The "bone of your nose" comment, there’s really no argument that that was a racist statement. The others are debatable, IMO, but I won’t delve deeply into them here as they are subject to wide interpretation. Why do I think it WASN’T a racist statement to make and furthermore, why do I think Rush is not a racist? Well, it’s quite simple. A racist wouldn’t have black friends. A racist wouldn’t have a prominent black scholar filling in as guest host for him from time to time. A racist wouldn’t have a popular black conservative talk show host defending him on national TV. To who am I referring? Talk to Charles Barkley – friend, Clarence Thomas – friend, Walter Williams – guest host, and Larry Elder – defender. Thomas Sowell has also praised Rush – I know this is true but haven’t found a link just yet. I’ll post an update with a link as soon as I find it. Now tell me something. Would any of the above mentioned have anything – and I mean ANYTHING to do with Rush Limbaugh if they thought he was a racist? I don’t think so! Somewhere between the time he made those questionable comments and now, it looks like he’s gained respect from some of the very people people think he’s prejudiced against. These are smart ppl (well, not so sure about Barkley but that’s another topic *G*) but the rest are very intelligent, well respected members of the conservative black movement. Surely they’d know about his past comments regarding race. Do they think he’s a racist? Apparently not. Should you consider him a racist after reading this? I don’t think you should, but that’s up to you. Remember, his friendship/associations with the above people mentioned are not my *opinion* – they are facts. 3) Was Rush correct in his commentary that there is a desire within the NFL to see black coaches and black quarterbacks do well? The answer to that is a resounding YES. Consider the following articles, written over the course of the last 5 years:
The answer is clearly YES: The NFL wants to see black quarterbacks (and coaches, for that matter) do well. But think about it: we all do. We want to see them do well – and they are. But the next question to ask, and this is an important one is: 4) If Rush was correct on #3, does the NFL engage in "social concern" and falsely pump up black quarterbacks because of that "social concern"? It’s arguable amongst avid football fans and commentators. Most of the op/eds I’ve seen about Rush’s commentary disagree with what he said – and some of them have made sure to include the bit about him being a racist and that that must be the reason he said what he said. Well, if Rush is a racist for saying that – for mentioning the word "black" (and let’s face it, a conservative can’t say the word "black" without causing an uproar – even if they are just describing the color of night) – then the following two sports page opinion writers are racists, too. Right?
"The fact is that race and the quarterback position have been linked as long as there’s been professional football, and Limbaugh isn’t the first person to notice. Certainly Grambling’s own Doug Williams noticed it, but he rose above it. Williams succeeded because he excelled on the field. I have no doubt about his abilities, and he has the Super Bowl MVP hardware as proof."
"But trust this also. Many white writers who would question the ability of a black quarterback pause, at least briefly, to consider what others might think of the opinion. Limbaugh seems to believe that has held some writers back from criticizing McNabb, and I think that’s what he was talking about Sunday, not questioning the ability of black quarterbacks."
And then there’s this piece, from Slate/MSNBC:
"Consequently, it is equally absurd to say that the sports media haven’t overrated Donovan McNabb because he’s black. I’m sorry to have to say it; he is the quarterback for a team I root for. Instead of calling him overrated, I wish I could be admiring his Super Bowl rings. But the truth is that I and a great many other sportswriters have chosen for the past few years to see McNabb as a better player than he has been because we want him to be. Rush Limbaugh didn’t say Donovan McNabb was a bad quarterback because he is black. He said that the media have overrated McNabb because he is black, and Limbaugh is right. He didn’t say anything that he shouldn’t have said, and in fact he said things that other commentators should have been saying for some time now. I should have said them myself. I mean, if they didn’t hire Rush Limbaugh to say things like this, what they did they hire him for? To talk about the prevent defense?"
So, all that said, what conclusions should be drawn? That his opinion on McNabb being overrated is arguable, but not because what Rush said was racist, but because there are differing opinions as to how great he (McNabb) is – and the NFL does want to see black quarterbacks and coaches succeed but it’s arguable if they (and the sports writing community) falsely pump up black quarterbacks in order to do so. THIS is the argument that should have been had Sunday Sept. 28th on ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown – not whether or not Rush was a racist and made a racist statement, but whether or not a) what he said about Donovan McNabb being overrated was true and b) the merit (or lack thereof) on what he said about the NFL falsely pumping up black quarterbacks. THAT should have been what this debate was about. Sadly, it didn’t turn out that way. Thanks to political correctness, of course.