Hypocrisy is the eternal fixture of the conservative, it would seem. We get our quotidian dose of hypocrisy in the head-slapping headlines. Sometime in the next thirty days or so we will read of a “pro-life” Congressman discretely paying for his girlfriend’s abortion, or an anti-same-sex marriage state assemblyman caught in a hotel room with an underage boy. Meanwhile the president of the United States is shocked, shocked!, that the son of a former Vice President got a good job based on his father’s name. It has a kind of wearying inevitability to it. We ourselves are no longer shocked, of course.
When it was learned in 2003, for instance, that conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, the man who once opined that all drug abusers should be hanged from the nearest convenient lamppost, was himself a drug abuser, we weren’t shocked then either. Not particularly. It’s an old story, one that happens over and over to the extent that no one seems to notice any longer.
Leaving the world of hypocrisy for a moment and entering the world of irony, we now learn that Limbaugh, one of the last of the advocates for big tobacco and the negation of the notion that nicotine is addictive, is dying of lung cancer. I get no pleasure from saying this and I cannot find it in myself to feel anything but sorrow. Considering the harm Limbaugh has done I’m not altogether sure that’s not more a fault than a virtue. But I have to admit it: I feel sorry for him.
But he does not merit the Medal of Freedom. Not the same medal awarded to Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. No. that is out of the question, and it is another obscenity of conservatism. We should not stand by and allow a racist who fomented racial division and racial hatred to receive the Medal of Freedom. As soon as a new president is installed in the White House, one of his or her very first duties must be to rescind it and restore the dignity of that sacred civilian honor. It must be rescinded whether Limbaugh is still alive by then or not.
And I hope Rush Limbaugh does live another year or so at least. I don’t want him to die before he’s seen his life’s work destroyed. I don’t want him to die before he sees sanity restored to America, hatred and division defeated, the racist agenda of the conservative class rebuked and the rule of law once again respected. I want him to live to see the day when Congress is healthy again and functioning, not as a rubber stamp to a personality cult, but as a check of, and a balance against, tyranny.
America is a liberal nation. The majority of Americans are pro-choice. The majority of Americans are in favor of some form of universal health care. The overwhelming majority of Americans are anti-gun, pro-same-sex marriage, pro-LGBTQ rights and in favor of the separation of church and state. Conservatism is dying just as surely as Rush Limbaugh, and the judgment of history will not be kind to either.