Monday, January 25, 2010

“I Hate Him, and You Should Too”

I am discouraged. Specifically, I am discouraged about the political situation in the United States. A wave of discouragement hit me last Wednesday morning when I heard the results of the senatorial election in Massachusetts.
I am discouraged partly because the health care bill, which I thought would surely be passed this month, is in jeopardy. It now seems likely that millions of people will continue to be without health care. This is sad. According to the February 2010 “Harper’s Index,” the estimated number of U.S. veterans under 65 who died in 2008 because they lacked health insurance is 2,266. That is five times the number of U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan last year.
I am discouraged because of the extreme polarity and partisanship in this country, largely due, I think, to the vitriolic voices of the extreme Right. I listen to those voices very little, but coming home from Rockhurst University last Thursday evening I listened to Mark Levin’s outrageous ranting about liberal Democrats wanting to deprive citizens of the freedom of speech. As I was making some rounds the next day, the radio came on again to KMBZ “Talk Radio” and I listened some to Rush Limbaugh.
I am discouraged not just about health care for the citizens of the country but about the very health of the country itself because of people like Limbaugh. He railed on and on about the President, ending with the words, “I hate him, and you should too!”
Regardless of how much one disagrees with some politicians or their political position, it is contemptible for someone on nationwide radio to not only declare their hatred for the President but to encourage others to join in that hatred. At the end-of-the-hour station break, the announcer proclaimed, as I assume he does daily, that Limbaugh is “the man who runs America.” That’s scary!
According to The Huffington Post (1/22/10), Limbaugh receives a yearly salary of $50,000,000, and he has 12,000,000 listeners daily. That is less than 6% of the people of the nation who are over 18 years of age, but still that is a lot of people. And he is just one of many radical rightwing ranters on the radio.
For those of us who believe in civility, what are we going to do, what can we do, when a Limbaugh with twelve million listeners says of the President, “I hate him, and you should too”?
Is there any encouraging word?


  1. My best advise is that to protect your own health, don't listen to Rush Limbaugh.

    Other than that, we must continue to be "salt and light."

  2. My good friend, Don Wideman, whom many of the readers of this blog know, asked me to post his comments:

    "I share your disappointment and concern. We have an uninformed and misinformed electorate. Most do not read newspapers, magazines or books that would help them to make informed decisions. They depend on radio rabblerousers like Limbaugh and the countless other lesser lights on radio stations across the country, including so called Christian stations. I remember when we had Father Coughlin and Joseph McCarthy, but they did not have the exposures as our current hate-mongers have. We were able to live through those in the past when larger issues forced us to come together. I fear that I will not live to see the end of this hate and its results. Unless, a tragedy occurs, and I fear the outcome then."

  3. I wish there were more encouraging things to say for reassurance. My friends are not abandoning the conviction that broadening health care is the right thing to do. That loyalty is heartening to me. And, yes, I admit receiving some comfort in the proverbs that try to capture the way of things of their day; their appropriateness has not slackened,it seems: "You may pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle, but his folly will never be knocked out of him: (27:22); "Do not answer a fool as his folly deserves, or you will grow like him yourself..." (26:4); and one of my favorites, "Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if he rolls a stone, it will roll back upon him" (26:27). It's the way of things, I think. And I have for a long time now dismissed the vitriolic silliness of Mr. Limbaugh; if anyone could convince me that his interests are for the common good, then I might listen to him. Even his supporters will not take up that challenge, though. They cannot, because they only know how to "ape" him, not think beyond him. But, I have long ago decided that he's one fool I cannot afford to waste precious time thinking about.

  4. I think that someone that has such a base of influence (12 million listeners) ought to have some discretion of their words as. Honestly, I think Limbaugh says things more for ratings and money. He is in the entertainment business in my eyes, rather than truly trying to change the world in which we live (and so many try to give him credit that he is changing the world?).
    I recently had a conversation with a security guard and he told me I needed to listen more to the right wing radio personalities (my words). As he was giving me quotes from these people, I has countering him with some information from NPR. It's amazing how each slants were totally different on many of the same issues. In the end, the guy was a nice guy, I just couldn't agree with him, just as I don't agree with Limbaugh and his tactics of entertainment.

  5. Jesus advises us to get the beams out of our own eyes, so that we can better see to get the splinters out of the eyes of others. Hard advice, especially when I am filled with hard feelings. Still, it is good advice. Especially when the stakes are high. Indeed, more than good advice, it is a commandment. Just like the commandments David mentions above.

    This does not mean we cannot forcefully respond to outrageous claims. I just read an eloquent example on titled "The Real Demons That Have Destroyed Haiti." I highly recommend this response to Pat Robertson.

    People are nonlinear and irrational. We have our limits in our information, our comprehension, our tolerance for risk and ambiguity, our basic flexibility. Right now people are scared and confused, overwhelmed with difficult and dangerous choices. And we know we are overwhelmed. How do we encourage good decision making in such a situation?

    We return to the center. We rebuild from first principles. We reaffirm what must be said. We clarify what must be said better. We form a new game plan. We prepare for the future. We pray. And we remember that the commandment Jesus seems to give more than any other is, "Pick up your cross and follow me."

  6. Previously there have been comments from one of my Thinking Friends, an Indonesian seminary professor. But this is the first time anyone has written in Chinese, and I don't know who it is from.

    The first two Chinese characters mean "hardship" in Japanese and, no doubt, something similar in Chinese. The last six characters express a blessing, and I appreciate that.

    To whomever wrote this, I say 謝謝(thanks).

  7. I am continually amazed at the power of the Internet. I did a quick Google search for a translation site, pasted in the message, and got back, "Worked hard! I wish you getting better and better!" The same site translated the name as "Work" with alternates such as "Be on Duty," "Go to Work," and "Start Work." May we all "Be on Duty!"