While Rush Limbaugh is currently under fire for his unchecked misogyny and sexism, another running theme of Limbaugh’s broadcast career has been hostility towards racial and ethnic minorities. This antagonism, often expressed obliquely via coded language and other dog whistles, became more explicit with the election of Barack Obama.
Here’s a rundown of Rush Limbaugh’s many years of discriminatory attacks on minorities in general and President Obama specifically.
This story originally ran in 2013.
Attacks On Minorities
On June 4, 2009, a few months after Obama’s inauguration, Limbaugh said “angry” minorities are going to use their newfound “power” to enact retribution:
The days of them [minorities] not having any power are over, and they are angry. And they want to use their power as a means of retribution.
On November 11, 2010, Limbaugh proposed a new leadership position for Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC):
Clyburn’s worried about not having a car? Clyburn’s worried about not having the perk of a big office? A driver? So, forth. The way this could all be worked out, Clyburn’s new position: Driving Miss Nancy. He gets to keep the car. He gets to go everywhere she goes.
On January 19, 2007, Rush denounced the “insidious, ridiculous, boorish, classless behavior” in the NFL bysaying:
Look it, let me put it to you this way. The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.
On December 8, 2004, Limbaugh used similar gang-centric language to describe the NBA:
You just gotta be who you are, and I think it’s time to get rid of this whole National Basketball Association. Call it the TBA, the Thug Basketball Association, and stop calling them teams. Call ’em gangs.
On January 19, 2011, Limbaugh mocked the speech of Chinese president Hu Jintao:
Hu Jintao was just going, “Ching cha. Ching chang cho chow. Cha Chow. Ching Cho. Chi ba ba ba. Kwo kwa kwa kee. Cha ga ga. Ching chee chay. Ching zha bo ba. Chang cha. Chang cho chi che. Cha dee. Ooooh chee bada ba. Jee jee cho ba.” Nobody was translating, but that’s the closest I can get.
On March 9, 2010, Limbaugh postulated what would happen if David Paterson, New York’s first African-American governor, were to pick a replacement for the recently resigned Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY):
Let’s assume you’re right [caller]. So, David Paterson will become the massa who gets to appoint whoever gets to take Massa’s place. So, for the first time in his life, Paterson’s gonna be a massa. Interesting, interesting.
On July 22, 2010, while defending Andrew Breitbart’s discredited smear of Shirley Sherrod, Limbaugh said:
Seems that the NAALCP [sic], which is — which equals racism. Forget calling them the NAACP. They are now the R-A-C-I-S-M. NAACP equals racism. And they’re all applauding her [Sherrod] when she’s talking about racism.
On November 15, 2011, Limbaugh defended Newt Gingrich for describing Spanish as “the language of living in a ghetto”:
In my mind, there’s nothing wrong with it. I don’t instinctively know what’s wrong with it. There is a language of the ghetto. There is a language of the barrio. And it’s not good.
On September 25, 2009, Rush said of Native Americans:
“Holocaust?” Ninety million Indians? Only four million left? They all have casinos — what’s to complain about?
On May 30, 2006, Limbaugh said of an indigenous Brazilian tribe:
Have you seen, they’ve spotted — they’ve spotted an isolated tribe in Brazil. An airplane flew over this hut, this thatch roof hut or something, and these savages are body painted in red and they’re trying to shoot the airplane down with bows and arrows.
On August 23, 2006, Limbaugh explained why he believed specific teams would succeed or fail on that season of CBS’ Survivor, which had divided contestants into different teams based on their race:
But our early money is on them [Hispanics] anyway, because these people have shown a remarkable ability, ladies and gentlemen, to cross borders, boundaries — they get anywhere they want to go. They can do it without water for a long time. They don’t get apprehended, and they will do things other people won’t do. So, our money, early money, is on the Hispanics.
The white tribe, I have to tell you — I don’t have a whole lot of hope in the white tribe. The Asian — the Asian-American tribe probably will outsmart everybody, but will that help them in the ultimate survival contest? Intelligence is one thing, but raw, native understanding of the land and so forth — this is probably why the Native Americans were excluded, because they were at one with the land here, and they probably would have an unfair advantage.
You accused me in a sly way of being racist by making comments about who would win the swimming competition. I know what you’re saying. You’re saying I’m being racist, you’re saying I’m being racist because I’m saying blacks can’t swim. I have here a story, and I read this from HealthDay news. “One of the largest studies of its kind confirms that young blacks — especially males — are much more likely to drown in pools than whites. In fact, almost half of all recorded drowning deaths among people aged 5 to 24 are among blacks, according to the study in the American Journal of Public Opinion
Racial Attacks On Obama
On January 24, 2007, Limbaugh described actress Halle Berry’s endorsement of then-candidate Obama as one “Halfrican-American” supporting another:
Hey, Barack Obama has picked up another endorsement: Halfrican American actress Halle Berry. “As a Halfrican American, I am honored to have Ms. Berry’s support, as well as the support of other Halfrican Americans,” Obama said. He didn’t say it, but — anyway, there are those out there — greetings.
On March 20, 2007, Limbaugh debuted what would become a running feature on his program: “Barack The Magic Negro,” sung to the tune of “Puff The Magic Dragon,” inspired by a Los Angeles Times column by cultural critic David Ehrenstein:
So clearly, it is a — I mean, it’s just remarkable to continue to witness the actual racism that exists on the left, using the term “Magic Negro” to apply to you white people who are supporting Obama. Singing a song in my head here during the break: “Barack, the Magic Negro, doo doo do doo.” Uh-oh, Dawn’s shaking her head on that. What are you saying, if I do that, I then will own the term, because I will be taking it above and beyond how it’s been used? Well, that’s what we always do here. We do parodies and satires on the idiocy and the phoniness of the left.
On June 2, 2008, Limbaugh declared that Obama’s race was the only reason he stood a chance of winning the presidency:
When he goes off the teleprompter, he is a different guy. He does not come off as the messiah, he doesn’t come off as this great unifier. He has trouble articulating with a bunch of stutters and pauses and so forth. So — but my point in telling you this is that there must be real animosity toward the Clintons at high levels of this party. To go with a veritable rookie whose only chance of winning is that he’s black.
On September 15, 2009, while riffing on a story of a beating on a school bus, Rush said:
Obama’s America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now. I mean, you put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety. But in Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering “Yay! Right on, right on, right on, right on.”
On June 22, 2009, Rush described Obama’s entire economic plan as “reparations”:
What they don’t know is that Obama’s entire economic program is reparations. If I were [Al] Sharpton, if I’d been guest-hosting Sharpton’s show and I got a call like that, somebody complaining, I’d say “Hey hey hey, shhh. Let me tell you the truth here. Everything in the stimulus plan, every plan he’s got is reparations.”
On June 26, 2009, reading off a column from American Thinker, Rush said:
I share all this with you because it is — she’s nailed who the guy is. Americans look at Obama and they say, “Oh, the first black president,” and they go, “Oh, we’re shedding some of our guilt here. Look how enlightened we are, what a great country we are,” when, in fact, we’ve elected somebody who’s more African in his roots than he is American, loves his father, who was a Marxist, and is behaving like an African colonial despot.
On February 10, 2010, Limbaugh attacked Obama as “uppity”:
When Clarence Thomas said uppity black thinks for himself means he’s off the reservation, so to speak. He’s not following the civil rights speech codes set forth by the Reverend Jackson and Al Sharpton and whoever else is in charge of them. But nobody — Obama is uppity, but not as a black. He is an elitist. He does think he’s smarter and better than everybody else. That’s what he was taught. He’s a Harvard man.
On October 17, 2011, Limbaugh said of Obama’s economic plan:
There’s rioting in the streets now! And there’s going to be more rioting in the streets because that’s part of the program here. And next up there are going to be race riots, I guarantee it. Race riots are part of the plan that this regime has. That’s next.