Monday, September 28, 2009

Letter From the Editor: Beck and Limbaugh Must Be Held Accountable For Race-Baiting

The Two Most Visible Right-Wing Figures in the Media Have Crossed the Line With Beck Calling the President a 'Racist' Without a Shred of Proof and Limbaugh Falsely Claiming Obama Is an Arab and Calling for Racial Segregation of School Buses


Did Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, ever accuse Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck of being racists? Of course not. But they sure called him one, without furnishing a shred of proof. Did the president ever call for the re-imposition of racial segregation of school buses -- in spite of the fact that such segregation has been illegal for a half-century? Of course not. But Limbaugh sure did. Did Obama ever question Limbaugh's heritage? Of course not. But Limbaugh sure questioned Obama's. Has the president spent the last year stirring up fear and loathing among white people toward blacks? Of course not. But Limbaugh and Beck sure have -- and are still doing it. So who's the real racist? (Photos: Los Angeles Times and Fox News Channel)

(Posted 5:00 a.m. EDT Monday,September 28, 2009)


Can you believe their chutzpah?

Just who are Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck trying to impress with their wild, unprovable claims that President Obama is a big, badass black boogeyman who's out to make life miserable for white people in this country?

Has Limbaugh's admitted past addiction to OxyContin and other prescription drugs driven him totally paranoid? Has Beck's own admitted past addiction to cocaine and alcohol similarly pushed him over the edge?

Or have America's two most visible and controversial right-wing pundits come totally unglued by the changes in America's political and social landscape that they both know they cannot stop?

It's indeed a blessing that Obama is as cool as a cucumber. Rather than take Limbaugh and Beck's racially-charged bait, the nation's first African-American president has ignored them, instead moving on with the same calm demeanor of optimism that won him the presidency at a time when America is facing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Indeed, it would be very un-presidential of him to do otherwise.

But it would be the height of irresponsibility at best -- and outright enabling at worst -- for anyone else to either ignore or dismiss as "boys will be boys" the racially-charged venom that Limbaugh and Beck are injecting into the public discourse.

We absolutely don't buy Limbaugh's lame excuse that he's merely an "entertainer" and his rants are merely sarcastic parodies. As we said in an editorial last week, that's a crock of pure, unadulterated B.S. What Limbaugh has done -- and continues to do -- is ugly and poisonous.

Indeed, it is beyond ugly. It is beyond poisonous. Limbaugh and Beck have crossed the line into deliberate race-baiting that, in the opinion of The 'Skeeter Bites Report and many others -- including a growing chorus of conservatives -- a flat-out abuse of the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. The time is long overdue that they be held accountable.


Limbaugh and Beck also crossed a line into outright slander and defamation of character, for which both clearly deserve to be sued in a court of law. Limbaugh's claim that the president is an Arab was a thinly-disguised attempt to demonize the president as a Muslim, when in fact, he is a Christian.

In making that comment, Limbaugh gave tacit --if not overt -- support for the "birther" movement, which insists -- despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary -- that Obama is not a native-born U.S. citizen but a native of Kenya, his father's homeland.

He also, whether consciously or unconsciously, stoked the rabid Islamophobia of so-called "Birther Queen" Orly Taitz, whose ties to a radical Jewish extremist group that considers Obama a threat to Israel were exposed by The 'Skeeter Bites Report on September 7 and whose latest lawsuit against the president was thrown out as "frivolous" by a federal judge -- ironically, an appointee of Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush..

Beck's accusation that Obama "is a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" was a clear attempt to stoke the passions of rabid white-supremacists. It was also so patently false and defamatory toward the president that the only reason Beck hasn't been sued is that the president, being the nation's chief executive as well as a public figure, cannot take legal action against Beck -- or anyone else -- until after he leaves office and becomes a private citizen.


Limbaugh went over the line when he called for the re-segregation by race of school buses. "We need segregated buses," he said, commentating on an incident aboard a school bus on September 15 in which a white teenager was attacked by two black teens.

Seizing upon the incident to fire yet another slam at President Obama, Limbaugh said, "I think not only it was racism, it was justifiable racism. I mean, that's the lesson that we're being taught here today. [The] kid shouldn't have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses -- it was invading space and so forth. This is Obama's America."

One big problem with that, Rush: Segregation by race on buses and other public accommodations is illegal. It's been illegal for more than half a century. But apparently, Limbaugh doesn't care about that.

Nor, apparently, does Limbaugh care about the long struggle by African-Americans to end the practice that began in 1955 when Rosa Parks, an African-American seamstress, refused to obey the bus driver's order that she give up her seat at the front of the bus to a white passenger and move to the back of the bus where blacks were required to sit.

Parks' act of defiance became an important catalyst to the modern civil rights movement with the subsequent launch of the Montgomery bus boycott, led by a young African-American minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. The boycott launched King into national prominence in the civil rights movement and made Parks an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.

The Federal Communications Commission takes a dim view of broadcasters using the radio and TV airwaves to openly advocate breaking the law, but is generally powerless under the First Amendment to do anything to stop them -- unless they openly incite violence or the violent overthrow of the government, the latter of which is illegal under the federal Smith Act of 1940.

While neither Limbaugh nor Beck have gone so far as to advocate the violent overthrow of the government -- yet -- one has to wonder how much longer will it be before they cross that red line.


This isn't the first time that Beck has gotten himself in trouble over racially-charged remarks. In fact, Beck has been playing the "race card" on the radio for years.

According to columnist Joe Conason, long before he went national with his syndicated radio show, Beck, while a "shock jock" morning-show host on a Kentucky radio station, "regularly mimicked African-American speech patterns for fun." Conason, citing a lengthy profile of Beck written by Alexander Zaitchik for, quotes a former colleague of Beck's as saying that Beck “used to do a funny ‘black guy’ character, really over the top.”

Conason also writes that Beck is a devotee of author and conspiracy theorist W. Cleon Skousen. "Among Skousen’s pet theories was that Southern slave owners were actually the victims of the plantation system, which according to him, favored the lazy and pampered slaves, whose children he called 'pickaninnies.'"

Does that mean Beck is a bigot? "If Obama had ever endorsed the writings of Louis Farrakhan,"Conason wrote, "replete with vile slurs against whites and especially Jews, that would certainly be enough for Beck -- who says he believes that the president has 'a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture.' That must be why the Obama White House has so many whites of all ethnic and religious backgrounds advising the president, from the Cabinet down."


Beck's increasingly bizarre comments are drawing ire from a growing number of conservative commentators. Lat Tuesday, MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough, a conservative former Republican congressman, lashed out at Beck, telling viewers, "When you preach this kind of hatred, and say that an African American president hates all white people -- hates all white people, you are playing with fire. And bad things can happen. And if they do happen, not only is Glenn Beck responsible, but conservatives who don't call him out are responsible."

Scarborough went on to say that he was starting an "honor roll" of conservatives willing to come out against Beck. He made multiple references to Beck's "race-baiting," and "wallow[ing] in conspiracy theories."

Other conservatives, however, are going after Beck's assertion made during an interview with "CBS Evening News" Anchor Katie Couric on her new Web-only program that John McCain would have made a worse president than Obama -- apparently coming to the realization that Beck is a totally unpredictable "loose cannon" whose growing popularity with the radical right-wing fringe is posing a direct threat to the mainstream conservative movement.

A "loose cannon" who apparently doesn't care for an African-American being president of the United States. Make that two "loose cannons."

Skeeter Sanders
Editor & Publisher
The 'Skeeter Bites Report

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Volume IV, Number 73
Copyright 2009, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.


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