Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Guest Voz - Ryann Witt: Overt Racist Limbaugh Attributes Oprah and Obama's success to their Race

Today Rush Limbaugh responded to RNC Chairman Michael Steele's comments on Afghanistan by talking about Steele's race, and the race of President Obama. Even Oprah got brought into the mix when Limbaugh tried to explain how African-Americans benefit from the color of their skin.

According to Limbaugh, President Obama never would have become President, and Oprah never would have become wealthy if they were not African-Americans. Limbaugh attributes their success to "white guilt." For those not familiar with the nuances of racist rhetoric, "white guilt" is the idea that whites feel the need to make up for previous injustices to minorities by rewarding minorities today.

However, a closer look at the biographies of Oprah, Limbaugh, and President Obama seem to not mesh well with Limbaugh's "white guilt" theory.

Winfrey hardly grew up in a privileged manner. She was born in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and grew up in poverty in Milwaukee's inner-city. She landed a meager job in radio at the age of 19. Eventually she would get a local day-time television show in Chicago. Oprah worked 13 years in the industry before earning a nationally televised talk show.

Limbaugh, like Winfrey, had no formal education in broadcasting before getting his first radio job at the age of 16. He was born to a family with significant political connections with the Republican party. It took Winfrey over 13 years before she gained a national syndication. Limbaugh was in radio broadcasting on and off (from being fired or quitting) for approximately six years in the talk show host business before he would obtain a national broadcast. This means Winfrey had to work twice as long as Limbaugh before being "handed" her wealth by guilty white people under Limbaugh's reasoning.

President Obama was also hardly born into a privileged home. As has now been well-documented, the President's parents divorced when he was young and he saw very little of his father. He was raised by his mother and grandparents in what could optimistically be called a middle-class lifestyle. He graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations and political science. He then worked as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago performing, among other things, duties related to job training and tenants' rights. He was then admitted to Harvard University Law School (not an easy task for anyone white, black, orange, or purple) where he was editor and president of Harvard Law Review. Later he would serve as a civil rights attorney and assistant professor, before becoming State Senator for eight years, and a U.S. Senator for four years. Anyone who watched the hotly contested primary battle between Hillary Clinton and President Obama knows that he was not exactly handed the nomination by the Democratic elite.

Yet, under Limbaugh's reasoning, President Obama was able to do all these things simply because he was African-American. All of President Obama's college professors gave him good grades because of his color. The Harvard Law Review installed President Obama as editor, and later promoted him to President because he was black. The President won every election because of the color of his skin (despite the failures of people like Jesse Jackson to do the same).

This is the philosophy of Rush Limbaugh, and those who attribute black success to white guilt. Essentially, they claim whites earned their rewards, while blacks were given whatever they have.

1 comment:

Dee said...

I find Limbaugh's words very telling.

I remember as a new manager, there were those that said my advance to management so quickly was due to my race and affirmative action. Little did they know that I scored highest of anyone in the state on my managerial assessments. That was why I was fast tracked.

Throughout my career, I was among the highest rated in the state, in the region and across the nation, all based on performance and results. Again, a few naysayers would attribute my success to my race.

Still later, as I worked virtually and no one knew my race, my performance and ratings continued to rank higher than most others.

Limbaugh does not believe minorities can excel based on their intelligence and performance. Little does he know. His assumptions are very, very telling.

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