Paul R. Lehman, Rush is not a racists; he is a bigotDecember 12, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, American Racism, Ethnicity in America, Media and Race, Race in America | 3 Comments
Tags: African American and American, Al Sharpton, Benjamin Barber, Chris Hedges, Prejudice, Race in America, racists, Rush Limbaugh
Rush Limbaugh is not a racists; he is a bigot. One of the problems in America has to do with clarity of thought. Too many people hear someone express an opinion and take that opinion as fact. Although some of what was expressed in the opinion might be factual, in the context in which it was used, it was rendered an opinion. When Rush is called a racist, the reality of that charge is based in fantasy—the fantasy of multiple races of human being. If someone believes in that fantasy, then calling Rush a racist is fact within the fantasy. In reality, Rush is not a racist, and can never be one because only one race of humans exist.
If someone calls Rush a racist and believes in the fantasy, the reference could be taken as a compliment and support for the belief in multiple human races with European Americans representing the superior race. Part of the problem revolves around the tendency of many Americans to accept opinions as facts. If that, accepting opinions as facts was the only problem facing America today relative to race, then finding a workable solution would not be so challenging. What lies at the center of the problem is that not only are opinions taken as facts, but also these so-called facts are taken as the only acceptable, correct, and right answer. Now the problem becomes more complicated.
Let us suppose that someone who sees himself as a white American and accepts all the ramifications that go along with this belief. To him, his identity of being white is not a myth or opinion, but a fact. He might be able to produce many documents referring to white Americans as a group and a race, but none that proves scientifically that such a race exists. Without scientific evidence or prove, all the white American has is opinions and statements of belief. Let us look at the problem from another perspective.
Two citizens, A and B are walking through a park when a wild turkey and a wild duck appear. Citizen A looks at the turkey and calls it a duck. Citizens B tries to correct him by pointing out the differences between the duck and turkey. Citizen A rejects citizen B’s comments and informs him that he has known since childhood what a duck looks like and stands by his assessment. Citizen B takes out his pocket computer and finds the scientific definitions of both the turkey and the duck. He states that the wild turkey is a meleagris gallopavo, and the wild duck is an Anas platyrhynchos. Citizen A becomes angry and tells citizen B that he will not change his belief just because of this so-called scientific proof. All his life he has been told the difference between a turkey and a duck and he will stand by his opinion and belief because they not only are true but also right.
So, what does this example have to do with Rush? We might say that citizen A represents Rush and the people who think like him. Benjamin R. Barber, in an article (11/29/10) in The Nation, presents quite clearly this situation:
The trouble is that when we merely feel and opine, persuaded that there is no possible way our opinion can be controverted or challenged, having an opinion is the same as being “right.” Being right quickly comes to trump being creditable and provable, and we lose the core democratic faculty of admitting that we might be wrong, and that our views must be judged by some criterion other than how deeply we hold them.
He adds that “Our polarized antidemocratic politics of personal prejudice is all about certainty that we are right paired with the conviction that nothing can change our mind.”
Al Sharpton has accused Rush of being a racists because of the so-called liberties he takes on his radio program regarding the negative characterizations of the African Americans and their experiences in America. Rush can easily brush aside this charge of being a racists and turn it on Al by calling him a racist. They are both wrong because they have bought into the same system of false beliefs. They both believe that more than one race of human being exists—that is a false belief, but neither can prove the other wrong by simply using statements of belief or opinions. What Al could charge Rush with is his prejudice, bias, and bigotry. Calling someone racists does not focus attention on the individual but the group which he represents. A single individual cannot be a racist; it is a group or collective term. Calling someone a bigot on the other hand, allows for specifics to be introduced as evidence to prove the point. Having someone accept evidence as proof raises a totally different and challenging problem.
What has been going on in America for many years is the game of fantasy for facts. The game goes by the name of “race.” Americans have been led to believe that people can be identified by their skin color—white, black, brown, red, yellow etc… The problem with this belief is that it is false and provably so. Unfortunately, many Americans are not willing to divorce themselves from this belief because of the ramifications that divorce will have on them and their sense of value and self-worth. So, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, many Americans, Rush included, continue to believe that there exist a white race, and that this belief is true and accurate, and most important of all, “right.”Rush and his follows will not accept evidence showing they are wrong. Can this attitude be consistent in a democratic society?
Barber comments on this attitude by stating that “Yet what has happened to American democracy is that we have substituted opinion and prejudice for science and reason—or, worse still, no longer recognize the difference between them.” He adds a quote from Chris Hedges’ book, Empire of Illusion, that states “A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudo—events, is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.”
Americans need to be concerned about bringing this game to a close because the consequences of letting it continue unabated spells more problems and challenges. One would hope that America has more citizens than not with open eyes to help steer us away from destruction. Ignorance can be fixed, but stupidity is everlasting.