On Rush Limbaugh and the power of social media

16 May 2014

* May Article of the Month *

 

“Speaking of Satan, I was watching Rush Limbaugh the other day...” 
– Bill Hicks

Education is a powerful tool, and something that every human being should have access to, regardless of gender, race or class. However, it appears to a certain group of extremists education isn’t a right for those born with a different set of genitals to them, and have taken it upon themselves to kidnap nearly 300 schoolgirls for merely trying to gain an education. 

 

As Christopher Hitchens once famously stated, terrorism is demanding“impossible things at gunpoint.” Boko Haram, the kidnapping group, won’t win; the international pressure is too great. The #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign has been tweeted the world over, and has helped the powers that be focus their attention on this issue. However, just as I thought this campaign would bring me out the misanthropic stance I usually take on issues, everyone’s least favourite political commentator Rush Limbaugh waded in to give his statement on the subject. 

Now, to give an insight into those who aren’t familiar with Rush, he is one of the most well-known conservative radio hosts in America. Think of him as everything that’s wrong with the Republican Party, placed into a sentient creature and given access to the masses. It’s scary, but thankfully his cretinous views are only taken seriously by the same type of people who take their voting intentions from The Sunday Sport or other such publications. Indeed, he is no stranger to controversy. In 2006, for instance, when Michael J. Fox advocated stem cell research, Rush tried to suggest his “moving all around and shaking” was “shameless”. Michael J. Fox has Parkinson’s, but Rush argued he was simply acting. Rush’s attitude is thus akin to that of a playground bully; if someone has a stance you don’t like, attack them for something completely unrelated that they can’t help – such as their disability. Similarly in 2007, he also denounced all servicemen who opposed the Iraq War as “phony soldiers”.  The fact this petulant excuse for a human being is allowed anywhere near a microphone is an affront to civilisation.

But Rush Limbaugh also sought to tell us his wisdom on the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. In a strangely angry way, he thrust the image of Michelle Obama holding a sign with the slogan on it to his camera, proclaiming it to be “pathetic”- repeating this again in a follow-up show, for reasons that escape me. Luckily, Jon Stewart hit back in an excellent and witty way – creating the #F*@KYouRush to show Rush another form other social media power. Rush Limbaugh seems to find the idea of people pulling together through the power of social media despicable, simply- I imagine- due to the differing political opinions of the people supporting it. Somehow, I imagine if the likes of Ann Coulter (who, I might add, tried to twist the #BringBackOurGirls campaign into an anti-Obama campaign) or Bill O’Riley got behind the campaign Rush wouldn’t find it ‘pathetic’. An example of why people who are viciously partisan only come across as small minded.

Ultimately, the power of social media is winning the day – the hashtag campaign has helped garner the attention of hundreds of thousands of people, with images receiving scores of retweets. It did reveal the ugly side of politics, through the form of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter’s frankly wretched attempts to derail it as some sort of liberal conspiracy, but luckily their voices have been drowned out by the sheer number of social media users rallying behind the noble cause of supporting education for all. Something tells me that Rush Limbaugh won’t go away for a long time– but his credibility and audience diminishes with every cretinous sound bite he makes. 

By Rory Claydon

 

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