My Two Cents: Rush to label Limbaugh a racist ignores facts

Often it’s not what you say, but what people think you said that gets you in trouble these days, as illustrated by the recent flap over conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and Limbaugh’s subsequent resignation from ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown.”

Here’s what Limbaugh said on the network’s Sept. 28 pregame show: “I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.”

Not surprisingly, the mainstream media took the “Limbaugh is a racist” angle and ran with it. There were cries far and wide against Limbaugh’s supposed racial overtones, and calls for him to be fired by ESPN.

McNabb himself said he was upset that Limbaugh made his race an issue. Leo Terrell, a civil-rights attorney and fellow radio talk-show host, said, “He made a racist comment and should resign.”

Some of the Democratic presidential candidates decided to jump on the bandwagon, too. Wesley Clark, Howard Dean and the Rev. Al Sharpton all called for ESPN to fire Limbaugh. Clark, a retired Army general, called Limbaugh’s remarks “hateful and ignorant speech.” Dean, a former Vermont governor, labeled them “absurd and offensive.”

Unfortunately for these and other critics, Limbaugh actually said nothing about McNabb per se, let alone anything racist about him. Limbaugh criticized the media’s coverage of McNabb. (Go back and read the second paragraph of this column again.)

But that doesn’t matter in politically correct America, where the mere perception of racism is enough to vilify someone.

Limbaugh’s contention that McNabb is overrated because the media wants to see a black quarterback succeed is debatable, and reasonable people can come to different conclusions.

What is not debatable, however, is the fact that it’s much easier to be intellectually lazy and dishonest by simply labeling Limbaugh a racist – the facts be damned.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author – whose favorite radio talk show host is Michael Medved – gets in his two cents worth in spite of the old saying that states you only get a penny for your thoughts.