From Rush To Zimbabwe

There’s a sense of alarm I experience whenever I read about comments made by Rush Limbaugh. The latest is his criticism of First Lady Michelle Obama for her “Let’s Move” campaign, the White House Super Bowl menu, her eating ribs in Vail, Co, the fact that she wouldn’t make it as a Sports Illustrated cover, and her waistline which she hides by wearing belts above the waist. Mr. Limbaugh who was criticized for going too far and hitting below the belt, defends himself by suggesting people should look at pictures of Mrs. Obama. I confess it’s the same sense of alarm I felt when I read that 46 people were arrested in Zimbabwe for watching videos of the events in Egypt and Tunisia. It was a gathering arranged by a law professor for those who had no access to TV or cable but the government saw the meeting as an attempt to organize to overthrow Robert Mugabe. You might tell me that Zimbabwe is an instance of no first amendment rights; and if anything Mr. Limbaugh’s case is one of carrying them to new extremes. But my alarm is not based on the intricacies of the first amendment but on whether things that appear so far fetched when they happen somewhere else, couldn’t happen here. When I hear the depths to which Mr. Limbaugh can descend, it challenges my understanding of what could or couldn’t happen in our own country. Maybe Zimbabwe descended to political depths and Rush is taking us to cultural ones, but depths are depths no matter how we get there.