Rush Limbaugh: Heterosexuals Under Attack By Homosexuals
Once again, Rush Limbaugh panders to the most pernicious of the right side of American politics.
Commenting on University of Missouri Defensive Lineman Michael Sam’s announcement that he was gay, Rush Limbaugh came up with the bizarre theory that heterosexuals are now “under attack” by gays and lesbians:
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh says heterosexuals are “under assault” from the small fraction of the public that is gay and blames the media for turning football player Michael Sam into an icon.
Limbaugh decried the coverage of Sam, a former college football standout about to enter the NFL draft, publicly acknowledging that he is gay. On his radio show Tuesday, Limbaugh said it’s an example of how a homosexual agenda takes over politic
“Why does homosexuality have a political agenda? Why is there anything political about homosexuality while heterosexuality has no political agenda and there is no agenda attached to it?” Limbaugh said, according to a show transcript. “They’re under assault. You say, ‘Heterosexuality may be 95, 98 percent of the population.’ They’re under assault by the 2 to 5 percent that are homosexual.”
The conservative firebrand played clips of an interview with NFL star Jonathan Vilma on CNN, during which he clarified statements that were previously criticized as homophobic. Limbaugh said it was evidence of the media spinning the story.
“The media is gonna turn [Sam] — whether he wants to be one or not, they’re gonna turn him — into an activist. He is going to become one,” Limbaugh said. “He’s the Rosa Parks, he’s the Martin Luther King, he’s the Jackie Robinson. They’re gonna turn this guy into an activist. … This is going to be a totally media driven-story, totally — and because of that, it’s gonna mess everything up.”
Since Limbaugh defenders often accuse his critics of taking his remarks out of context, you can take a look at the transcript of this particular rant yourself, and here’s an extended excerpt of the portion of the remarks that the highlighted text above was taken from:
Let me ask you a different question. Seriously. Why is homosexuality political? Why is there a political aspect to — or agenda associated with — homosexuality, and why does heterosexuality have no political agenda at all? (interruption) What do you mean, I don’t want the answer? I’m just posing the question. (interruption) Well, I don’t know that anybody’s gonna answer it. I’m just… (interruption) No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No. No, no. That’s not your answer. You’re wrong. That’s not why heterosexuality has no political agenda and homosexuality does. That’s not right.
RUSH: Of course I know the answer, but I’m just asking. Why does homosexuality have a political agenda? Why is there anything political about homosexuality while heterosexuality has no political agenda and there is no agenda attached to it? (interruption) Heterosexuality does not have activists. (interruption) You’re wrong. (interruption) Snerdley, you are… (interruption) But they’re under assault. You say, “Heterosexuality may be 95, 98% of the population.”
They’re under assault by the two to 5% that are homosexual. So why? I’m just asking. I’m just throwing them out there. Why is there a political agenda attached to and driven by homosexuality, and there is no corresponding heterosexual agenda? Forget minority versus majority. That not what I have in mind here, and it’s not “because a minority must do what it must do to overcome a majority,” because that’s not the answer. (interruption)
Okay, cool, good. That’s wrong, too. (interruption) I got people shouting what they think in my ear. They’re all gonna be wrong. Okay, let me keep going. Why is it okay now for a gay man to play football? I thought it was dangerous and leads to concussions. I thought it was barbaric. I thought that it too dangerous and leads to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and early death and suicide. But yet, but yet, here comes the first announced gay guy and, “Hey, cool, man! Go for it!”
Why is it heroic for a gay man to play football? I’m just positing these questions, ’cause there is an answer to all of these questions, and the answer is key and fundamental to understanding… (interruption) Folks, you would not believe… (sigh) This is why they’re not miked. You know, you ask me all the time, “How come we can’t hear who’s talking to you?” It’s because of what’s happening right now. I got more people shouting, “Because the media wants a gay football player to succeed!” (interruption)
Okay, that’s why? A gay man playing football is heroic ’cause the media wants a gay player to succeed? Okay. You’re halfway there. Why does the media want a gay player to succeed? (interruption) You don’t mean it that way. (laughing) Don’t bring in faces here and shoves and that kinda stuff. We gotta keep this aboveboard here. It’s a family show. Children’s books and all that we do here. (interruption) Okay. I’m just posing the questions, and it’s all part of my effort to inform, entertain, and educate.
As he so often does, Limbaugh is framing what are otherwise utterly absurd arguments in a way that makes it seem like all he’s doing is asking questions, and indeed they are questions that he already knows the answers to. The reason that Michael Sam coming out of the closet prior to the NFL Draft is a story worthy of national attention precisely because he would be first openly gay active player in an American professional sports league.1 This is just the latest example of a cultural shift that is taking place in this country regarding how gays and lesbians are perceived by the public at large. While it’s becoming common place to point to the string of victories in the marriage equality wars as well as public opinion polls that show majority support for same-sex marriage and a complete reversal of public attitudes about gay and lesbian relationships from where they stood just 20 years ago, there remain some areas where such acceptance still hasn’t taken hold. Professional sports is one of those areas, and the prospect that Sam very well could be on the starting roster of an NFL team next year is, I’d argue, just as culturally important as Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. Before long, it won’t be news at all when an openly gay player takes the field, but we haven’t reached that point quite yet..
Limbaugh no doubt knows this, and indeed one doubts that he actually believes the rhetoric he spews in the transcript above, but the extent to which he panders to the crowd that finds it socially acceptable to shun and hate people because of their sexual orientation is yet another demonstration of just how pernicious rhetoric like his actually is. Any rational person knows that the idea that heterosexuals are “under assault” by a group of people who only ask that they be allowed to live their lives without being denied the rights they are entitled to and without being treated as pariahs is completely absurd. However, the segment of the population likely to listen to Rush Limbaugh on a regular basis believes just that, and the fact that he panders to it makes him even more pernicious than the actual haters themselves.