Politics & Policy

Don’t Caricature Rush Limbaugh — or Anyone, or Any Noble Cause

Radio show host Rush Limbaugh speaks at a forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., June 23, 2006. (Micah Walter/Reuters)
Life is more complicated than lawn signs and listening to only the worst.

Rush Limbaugh was a pioneer. He was also a human being with talents, and goodness, weaknesses and excesses, like most of us.

#RestinPiss was actually a trending hashtag in America in recent days. Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh had died of cancer and people were celebrating. It was declared justified because of some of the harsher things he had said over the years, including his own comments on deaths of others. Some who posted imagined with glee his entrance into Hell. Do we really wish that upon a human being? I suspect that some of the people tweeting such things don’t actually give a lot of thought to the reality of Hell or to our role in adding to the sins that cause people to end up there. We are all only human, whatever our position is, no matter how much money or influence we have.

As a wounded Marine once told Rush Limbaugh in my presence: We all have our roles. You encounter people in your life? Start there. And on your Twitter account, say only things that you would want to be remembered for and that, if there is a God, you would feel comfortable saying in His Presence. Who among us wants to be judged by the worst things we’ve done? I’m certainly praying that the good things are taken into account when I die, and at his passing, I can’t help but remember some of the beautiful things that Limbaugh did in his life, and some of the encouraging exchanges we had. Our merciless society says: To Hell with that. Is that really how any of us wants to be treated?

America needs to take a deep breath, a few steps back from screens, and make some reflective and loving sacrifices for God and one another. Whatever you believe, you know there is something going wrong, and each of us has a role in being the solution. And placards and lawn signs and certainly violence won’t cut it.

Speaking of lawn signs: The most common is Black Lives Matter, and I wonder if we could make that mean something, if we could remember that all human life has inherent and inviolable value. There’s an ongoing campaign called “40 Days for Life”: People sign up for an hour of prayer outside an abortion clinic — some go every day. The goal is to be prayerful, peaceful. When I do it, truth be told, I tend to keep my Rosary in my pocket. Others may have a sign about hope, or offer a brochure about options — or about healing, if the girl is on the way out. The women are young, and what I see are young women who are predominantly black or Hispanic. We shouldn’t make them feel like they have to do this. They look miserable. Earlier this month, one ran out the door crying, as if she couldn’t get out of there fast enough. There must be a better way. But Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want to codify Roe. Double down on misery, in other words.

We’ve gotten to this culture of death we’re in largely on a wave of euphemisms. “Choice.” “Health care.” “Freedom,” which might be the most bewildering. And now the mass deaths in nursing homes in New York play in a particular way into the hands of people who are advocating assisted suicide: wanting law to tell the elderly they are a burden. No! Don’t we love one another anymore? It’s challenging, it’s a cross, but it’s part of life to be beside loved ones in their final days on earth. So much healing can happen in that time.

And now there is an Equality Act. It’s certainly well marketed. Who can be against equality? Except that’s not what’s going on in the proposal. It means boys in girls’ locker rooms, in our new, transgendered, upside-down world. It means new obstacles for faith-based ministries. Don’t we want more people caring for their neighbor, rather than fewer? Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia are currently at the Supreme Court because of that city’s warped view of how to help children in foster care: Lock out the Catholic Church because of what it believes about marriage. A gay couple can adopt in America. Just let Catholic Social Services do what it does well, without having to go there. That’s not a judgment, that’s conscience. That marriage is union between a man and a woman wasn’t a radical position very long ago. Now it gets you canceled? How does that make sense? Catholic agencies are a lifeline for many families. What is to be gained by making the services submit or close?

There is so much going on in our country today that requires so much more complicated than a surface treatment. If President Biden really wants to be a healing figure, he’d hold back some of the most radical policies his party is pushing under the veil of euphemisms. And can we put politics in its place already? Be humane about it. And may God have mercy on us all, however we voted in the last presidential election — or whether we were fans of Rush Limbaugh or not.

This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.

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