Opinion: Rush to the rescue?

February 20, 2013


Dear David from Georgia:

I want to thank you for the email you sent last week. It made me laugh out loud.

It seems you were unhappy I took a shot at Rush Limbaugh a few days back. Limbaugh had argued that John Lewis might have avoided having his skull fractured by Alabama state troopers while protesting for voting rights in Selma, Ala., 48 years ago, if only he’d been armed. I suggested, tongue in cheek, that Limbaugh would have given the same advice to Rosa Parks, who famously refused to surrender her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus.

Which moved you to write: “If Rush Limbaugh were on that bus that day, like so many of us, he would have insisted that Ms. Parks REMAIN seated. ... Rush doesn’t need me to defend him from your silly assumption, but I just like to bring it to your attention that just because Rush is WHITE doesn’t mean he is not a gentleman!”


David, Rush Limbaugh is the man who once said the NFL “all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips” and told a black caller to “take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” So the idea that, in Alabama, in 1955, as a black woman was committing an illegal act of civil disobedience, this particular white man would have done what 14 other white passengers did not is, well, rather fanciful.

But then, it’s seductively easy to imagine yourself or your hero on the right side of history once that history has been vindicated. So of course “Rush” would have stood up for Rosa Parks. Of course “Rush” would have defended Jews who were turned away while fleeing the Holocaust. Of course “Rush” would have supported women agitating for the right to vote. Of course he would’ve defended human rights. Wouldn’t we all?

Actually, no. Not then, and not now.

As it happens, David, your email appeared the same week as news out of Flint, Mich., about Tonya Battle, an African-American nurse who is suing her employer, the Hurley Medical Center. Battle, an employee since 1988, was working in the neonatal intensive-care unit when, she says, a baby’s father approached her at the infant’s bedside, asked for her supervisor and then told said supervisor he didn’t want any black people involved in his child’s care.

So, of course, the hospital stood up for its 25-year employee, right?

No. According to her suit, a note was posted on the assignment clipboard saying, “No African American nurse to take care of baby.” The hospital, naturally, has declined comment.

David, this is ultimately not about “Rush.” He is a rich blowhard and therefore, unexceptional. No, this is about the implicit, albeit unstated, “of course” that comes too easily to you and frankly, to many of us, when we contemplate how we would have responded to the moral crimes of the past.

There is to it an unearned smugness that insults the very real courage of those like Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo and James Zwerg, who did take the morally correct stand at hazard of life and limb. It is easy to “stand up” for the right thing when doing so requires only paying lip service 50 years after the fact, something at which Limbaugh and his brethren have become scarily adept.

But the need for real courage, for willingness to stand up for human dignity, did not end in 1955, something to which our gay, Muslim and immigrant friends — and Tonya Battle — would surely testify. So there is something starkly fatuous in your vision of “Rush” defending Rosa Parks. No, sir. We know where he would have stood then because we know where he stands now.

Perhaps you find comfort in your delusion. But some of us realize we live in an era where bigotry has its own talk show and cable network. Can we find comfort in delusions like yours?

Of course not.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CST each Wednesday on


ddayot 1 year, 1 month ago

"Dear David from Georgia: I want to thank you for the email you sent last week. It made me laugh out loud." I guess we have to take Pitts' word he actually received this email. He wouldn't possibly contrive it for an easy column....


Obama_The_Obnubilator 1 year, 1 month ago

Racism is a two-way street. All humans should be treated with respect. Just some can't keep from stirring the pot.


Phoghorn 1 year, 1 month ago

He certainly helped to rescue us against Memphis in 2008. Everybody remembers Chalmers and his 3, and Collins with his 3 to set up the 3, but Rush's layup in overtime has largely been forgotten.

Rush got himself wide open, received a pass, missed the layup, got his own rebound and put it back for two points. IIRC this gave KU a 4 point lead and gave us a great momentum boost.

Not to minimize the rest of that dream team, but Brandon came to the rescue at the perfect moment.


jonas_opines 1 year, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


Karl_Hungus 1 year, 1 month ago

Rush, what a joke...used to be a dj back in Pittsburgh PA back in the early 70's(Jeff Christie). The other gimp, Bill O'Reilly was on that horrible tabloid show called A Current Affair...both of them are really just hookers, do anything for a buck and really, only dumb people enjoy/believe them.


mom_of_three 1 year, 1 month ago

I had a relative comment to me that the President was doing a disservice to the country by playing golf and entertaining a "womanizer." They believe Rush is a god instead of the blowhard he is. I responded with "so its okay that a serial cheater/divorcer support romney or run for the office himself." they are like rush, they just dont think before they think or speak.


Mercat 1 year, 1 month ago

I'm always suspicious when a left wingnut quotes Rush. Does he have cites, dates, audio? Some of the statements attributed to Rush are out of context and some are downright lies. People like Pitts won't be happy until we only allowed to think and speak like him.


jonas_opines 1 year, 1 month ago

Well, the topic is one thing, but I dunno, this seems like a long column to respond to something written by somebody who's brain is broken enough to consider Rush Limbaugh a "gentleman".

I suppose it's all right as a vehicle to reaching others, but it still seems like writing a three paragraph, well-thought out post to some of our resident wingers. In other words, a total waste of energy.


Paul R Getto 1 year, 1 month ago

Pilonidal Cyst is no gentleman. Entertainer? Perhaps, but nothing more than a bloviator. He drags his minions' money to the bank and laughs, in between sex trips to the islands with his illegal Viagra prescriptions.


Cait McKnelly 1 year, 1 month ago

Why? Because Rush Limbaugh is such an easy target? To quote Karen Teegarden, the founder of, he's the best recruiting tool any women's organization could ever wish for.


appleaday 1 year, 1 month ago

Rush Limbaugh scrapes for subject matter every day.


jaywalker 1 year, 1 month ago

Mr. Pitts is scraping for subject matter today.


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