Some would say yes in the case of Rush Limbaugh. Many of his analogies on his radio show are race-laden (“Obama is working for reparations with his new health care bill“). His logic generally looks like this:
Let’s see, we’ve got a black president, and I’ve been implicated in several racially tinged controversies, so why not compare him to a slave holder? Plus I can riff off his Abraham Lincoln complex by adding that he’s actually more like a Confederate. Ha. Comparing our first black president to Jefferson Davis! That will get ’em going.
Conor Friedersdorf makes an important note about Rush Limbaugh (and other talk radio hosts on the right). He conducted email interviews with GOP county chairmen across the country and had this one response:
Their listeners do not always or ever understand that they are entertainers. I’m not discounting their ability to formulate opinion or the good they might do as watchdogs. However, we must understand that in order for them to be successful, they have to have good ratings. Their decisions therefore are not based on the good of the Republican Party, but on how certain subject matters will affect ratings. We have to clearly delineate between members of the Republican Party and entertainers. We should be careful to ensure that people do not feel they are speaking for the Republican Party.
Now, on to the left.
Bill O’Reilly continues to make the identical claim of race-bating with Barack Obama. O’Reilly claims that Obama’s poor choices of churches to attend brings him again and again into the presence of reverends turned race activists. This, O’Reilly argues, makes Obama the inciter of (or supporter of inciting) racial disparities and he should be the last one to support racist incitements since he “has made it” through the Ivy League’s and into the Oval Office.
I come away with this question: should Obama never support racial equality since he has made a nice life for himself and his family?
After looking at both sides, the far right with Rush Limbaugh and the racially activist side with Obama’s preachers, I can see it as unfair to quickly label Rush as the racist. Rev. Jeremiah Wright did make some harsh criticisms of America that included racial injustices spanning America’s history. However, with both examples from their respective sides, you have to ask what their goals are from their diatribes. Are they pushing for the topic of race to be discussed openly or higher entertainment ratings? An even better question is if these two sides are ostensibly hoping to play racial peacemaker but the money, fame, or power is the real goal underneath it all.