Why a Rush Limbaugh Listener Thinks Calling Obama a 'Magic Negro' Is Okay

His words: "I have had too many years listening to other races putting down the hard-working white middle-class Americans." 

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Reuters

After writing an item titled "The GOP Must Choose: Rush Limbaugh or Minority Voters," which listed numerous indefensible, racially tinged statements from movement conservatism's most popular entertainer, I received numerous expletive-filled responses and one that attempted a counterargument.

I can't say it's a very pleasant counterargument. But I've heard it before from Limbaugh's fans, so I think it merits wider exposure, both as interesting information -- this is how many (though not all or even most) of his fans think -- and as an opportunity to push back against the central conceit.

Here's the letter (the writer asked that I not use his name):

Mr. Friedersdorf: I read your article posted this morning and must say I think you are missing the point. The GOP is not going to choose between Rush listeners and Minority voters. They have never decided to follow or promote Rush. They see Rush as you do, a side-show carnival where they can get free press with the right wing whack-os that listen to him.

But wait, and listen. I am one of those right-wing whack-os. While what you put in your article may be clips and statements that show a side of Rush and his audience, you forgot one thing... He is an entertainer unbound by the political correctness that abounds in our society. If you can't take a joke, don't listen. If you are supposing that we should not make jokes about Obama being the "magic negro", get a life... I have had too many years listening to other races putting down the hard working white middle class Americans in a more derogatory and inflammatory manner.  

All that aside, it appears that you are attempting to paint Rush with the racial-hatred that has been done and tried. I'm sad that you agree that Condeleeza and others "don't count".  Yet you offer no explanation. Here is the explanation. Minorities by and large do not seem to care about thinking past "what's in it for me". I have never heard anyone tell me why Condee, Rubio, Watts, Cruz, and other minority leaders don't count, unless once again it is because they were born into a family of means or they married a white. The real excuse is they do not want to acknowledge their own fears of success under their inspiration and leadership.  

No, in the end the GOP will pander to the left, make stupid choices and carry less and less of the republican vote. They will not side with Rush or any conservative group. If you want us as conservatives to stop saying things that offend minorities, then how about asking the minorities how they would create jobs, heal the sick, create new technologies, and keep our country secure without taxing the rich excessively. We are tired of paying for their families to limp along and rape the SSA, USDA, and other hand-out organizations funded by my hard work. I would be curious to hear the racially balanced rhetoric that exudes from that conversation.

Thanks for taking the time to read my response, have a great day.

In response, I asked my correspondent one question. "Do you have any examples of 'other races putting down the hard working white middle class Americans...'?" He responded with links to three Al Sharpton statements (here, here, and here). I am not surprised that he responded with Sharpton. Indeed, he saved me the trouble of having to write a fresh response especially for him.

As I wrote back in March:

It would be one thing if Limbaugh and Gingrich were jeered by fellow conservatives for their long-running forays into racial demagoguery. Instead the prevailing attitude is something like "turnabout is fair play." Ask a conservative why they don't call these guys out. The answer is often, "but Al Sharpton is worse." Even if that were true, the fact that somewhere a liberal is behaving badly hardly justifies the behavior of their conservative analogues; but the uncomfortable truth conservatives refuse to face is that Sharpton's low point happened two decades ago. Look at the past decade. Limbaugh and Gingrich are the bigger racial demagogues today.

I'd just add one observation. Conservatives have spent the last two decades holding Al Sharpton up as a despicable monster, someone to be ridiculed and reviled. That many see Limbaugh as someone responding in kind is consistent with the notion that they should abhor what Limbaugh is doing, not a counterargument to it. There's obviously a lot more wrongheaded stuff in my correspondent's letter, starting with the notion that "the minorities" are sufficiently like-minded that one can just ask for "their" collective solutions to the world's problems. Funny how a talk-radio show that claims to abhor "the racialism of the left" winds up attracting so many fans -- I've heard from many over the years -- who see the world in such racialist terms.

Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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