An Open Letter To Rush Limbaugh

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Dear Rush:

I started
listening to you way back in the early years of the first Clinton
administration. I couldn't stand Bill and Hil or any of their associates,
and hearing you and the other conservative talk-radio jocks light
into them made their eight years in the White House a little more
bearable for me. I even bought your books for my elderly mom, who
was a big fan of yours and listened to you regularly until my elderly
dad became more dependent on her and made it difficult for her to
do so. While I didn't agree with you on everything back then, we
were generally on the same page and when we weren't I wasn't particularly
bothered. That hasn't been the case since George W. Bush took office,
and particularly since 9-11 and his administration's atrocious response
to that atrocity.

Since the Iraq
War began I find myself listening to you less and yelling back at
you on the radio on those rare occasions when I do listen. Things
like: "You bombastic idiot! How I'd like to go one-on-one with
you on that?" I know, you think that I'm out of my gourd if
I think I can keep up with you one-on-one in a debate on anything,
but I suspect that I can. You see, Rush, I'm not as impressed by
your intellect as you seem to be, and I'm not convinced that you're
a very good debater because you don't really allow any debates on
your show. And that's what really bugs me — you don't allow anyone
to challenge you. Of the very few guests you have, none of them
disagree with you, and you talk over and interrupt the few callers
who dare to question your pontifications. That's why I've never
bothered to try to get through to argue with you over the phone.
You regularly interrupt callers (even those who agree with you)
who are already aware that they have a limited amount of time to
make a complex point, and in doing so you make it even more difficult
for them by disrupting their train of thought. And then again, I
don't call because I've got better things to do than hang on the
phone for ages until the Your Highness allows me the privilege of
exchanging a few words with you before you cut me off. So I'm taking
out my frustrations through this open letter to you. You probably
won't even hear about it, but if you do you'll surely just dismiss
it as the work of some liberal idiot. But maybe, just maybe, one
of your worshippers will read what I have to say, and maybe, just
maybe, come to question some of your preachments.

One of my biggest
gripes has to do with the way you dismiss those who question American
involvement in Iraq as liberals who hate Bush and want the war to
go badly so that Republicans are discredited and Democrats can regain
the White House in 2008. I voted for Bush twice, or more accurately,
I voted against Al Gore and John Kerry, and I think that the war
is a huge, even criminal, blunder and that Bush and his merry band
of neoconservatives are a total disaster. Of course, in your great
wisdom, you surely think that I'm the print equivalent of one of
those "seminar callers" you claim are always trying to
smuggle their liberal views on your show under the guise of conservativism.
Okay, let's check out my credentials apart from the war.

I'm a retired
sociology professor. I know you think that's just about the worst
kind of professor there is. And I'm not now nor have I ever been
religious — I come from a nonreligious family, third generation.
I can hear you screaming. "Seminar writer! Seminar writer!"
But wait! I'm a strict constructionist/original intenter concerning
the Constitution and a no-compromise supporter of the Second Amendment
right to keep and bear arms who has written many critiques of the
gun-prohibitionist movement (you can check me out on the Internet)
and has belonged to the National Rifle Association since 1955. In
my hawkish younger days, I'm proud to say, I was an Air Force officer.
I've already stated my views concerning the Clintons, and I feel
the same way about such Democrat senators as Kennedy, Kerry, Durban,
Schumer, Boxer, and Feinstein. In my 72 years I've never voted for
a Democrat for president, the U. S. Senate, or governor, and I've
only voted once or twice for a Democrat for the U. S. House of Representatives,
but I'm an anti-liberal, not a Republican. I'm for securing our
borders and clamping down on illegal immigration, eliminating the
Department of Education and other such boondoggles by way of reducing
the size of the federal government and getting it out of our everyday
lives, balancing the budget, eliminating the national debt, and
returning to the gold standard. I agree with you that liberal bias
permeates the mainstream media and that our popular culture is decadent.
I don't support officially sanctioning gay marriage (though I couldn't
care less what's done unofficially), officially promoting or forcing
diversity, preaching in classrooms, or political correctness in
any form. You can believe what you wish, but I'm no seminar writer,
so I'll get back to my first gripe — your dismissal of opponents
as wascally liberals, whether they are or not, so that you don't
have to respond to their challenges.

When you do
this, Rush, you're either being less than honest with your listeners,
or showing that you aren't as informed as you want them to believe
you are. I suspect the former. I can't believe that you don't know
that Pat Buchanan and those who write for his The American Conservative
magazine and the Rockford Institutes Chronicles magazine
have been extremely critical of the Bush Administration and the
policies that have got us involved in Iraq. Then there are syndicated
columnists Paul Craig Roberts, once President Reagan's assistant
secretary of Treasury, who has called for Bush's impeachment (right
on!), and George Will, who has ridiculed the administration's simpleminded
Wilsonian efforts to transform Iraq into a Western-style democracy.
Robert Novak is hardly a Bush or war fan. The late outspoken and
much decorated Col. David Hackworth (USA retired), whose blog provided
a voice for the common soldier, considered the war to be a blunder
and unrelated to combating terrorism. Columnists Charley Reese and
Joe Sobran, Pentagon whistle blower, Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski
(USAF retired), former Republican strategist Kevin Phillips, and
author James Bovard have been scathing in their criticisms of Bush
in general and the war in particular. Ron Paul and John Hostettler,
Republican congressmen from Texas and my part of Indiana, respectively,
were among the six members of the House who voted against going
to war with Iraq, and the former has hardly been shy about putting
his criticism of the war in writing. Do you claim that all of these
folks are closet liberals, Rush? Give me a break! You know better!
I hear that you even finally acknowledged conservative opposition
to the neocon-generated war in Iraq after Bill Buckley threw in
the towel on that bloody and idiotic venture. Since I'm no longer
a regular listener of yours, I missed your rationalization of Bill's
defection. But now and again I do listen to you, and I haven't noticed
any new reluctance on your part to denounce all critics of the war
as liberal Bush- and/or America-haters.

Then, Rush,
there's the matter of your own vaunted conservatism that I'd like
to ask you about. You're big on getting at the original intent of
the Constitution, strict construction and all that. We're on the
same page there — I'm no judicial activist. And you're big on the
Founders. Me too, though I'm not as inclined to deify them as you
seem to be. But Rush, it seems to me that you're rather selective
when you refer to the paper trail the Founders left us. Consider
George Washington's farewell address — I think I've heard you mention
it. He had a lot to say about how we should relate to other nations,
but this sentence about sums it all up: "The great rule of
conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our
commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection
as possible." The italics are mine. Then there was Thomas
Jefferson: "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all
nations, entangling alliances with none." And John Quincy Adams:
"America . . . goes not abroad seeking monsters to destroy."
These Founders weren't isolationists — they were all for trade with
other nations. But they encouraged only such political alliances
with them as might benefit us at any given time, and
they didn't want us messing with the internal affairs of other nations.
Rush, what do you think that the Founders would think about American
troops being stationed in over 130 other countries? I can't even
name 130 countries. And what do you think they'd have to say about
our government's regime-changing/puppet-government-establishing
endeavors over much of the past century? And what do you think that
they would have to say about the country they founded having a military
large enough to be stationed all over the world and to carry out
this meddling in the affairs of other nations?

The Founders
weren't nearly as fond of large professional militaries as you are,
Rush. Consider Washington's warning that we should "avoid the
necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under
any form of government, are inauspicious of liberty, and which are
to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty."
Elbridge Gerry considered a standing army to be "the bane of
liberty," and newspapers of the 1780s referred to the standing
army as "that great support of tyrants" and as a "manifest
danger to public liberty." I'm sure that, historical authority
that you would have your listeners believe you to be, you've read
The Federalist Papers. Do you recall anything in those pages
that would lead you to think that the Founders wouldn't be appalled
by the huge professional military establishment we now have? Do
you consider the Founders' fears concerning the potential use of
a large professional (mercenary) military to establish a tyrannical
regime in this country to be outdated? If so, what do you know about
the workings of governments that they didn't know that would lead
you to believe that we can now ignore their concerns? And then there's
that business about the "military-industrial complex"
that President Eisenhower warned us about more recently.

Rush, I'd like
to take this opportunity to point out that you have a great deal
in common with Osama bin Laden. You both have causes that you don't
question, and for which you're willing to see other people die.
To Osama, his version of Islam is the one true faith, and the United
States in many ways, from support for Israel to military incursions
into the Muslim world, etc., poses a mortal threat to all he and
his hold sacred. To you, your version of the American Way incorporates
universal values, and American support for Israel and military incursions
around the world are all in the cause of "liberation"
— doing the benighted a huge favor by pushing them toward democracy
(that our own Founders rejected in favor of a republic) and the
"freedom" and stability that you assume go with it. (Oops!
Where'd Hamas come from?) Osama was willing to spend the lives of
nineteen willing young men to run airliners into selected buildings
in the United States in the service of his cause. You support a
war to "liberate" Iraq that has taken the lives of more
than 2,000 American troops (some more willing than others) and seriously
injured many thousands of others. Osama's nineteen young men killed
some 3,000 innocent Americans — a horrible deed to be sure — in
the cause of fundamentalist Islam. American ground troops and aircraft
have killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who happened to
get in the way of the Bush administration's "liberation"
efforts. I wonder what the relatives and friends of this "collateral
damage" think about their "liberation."

But while you
and Osama have things in common, you also have your differences.
Osama is, or at least, was, a very wealthy man who could have lived
out his life in luxury, but instead chose to strike out at the most
powerful country in the world and put his own life at risk for his
cause while living on the run, making it difficult to get the medical
care he needs for his kidney condition. Dangerous fanatic? Of course!
Chicken hawk? Nope! You're a very wealthy man who private-jets around
from one palatial residence to another, or from one prestigious
golf tournament to another, risking nothing for your cause while
acting as a fawning cheerleader for the troops you cavalierly note
volunteered to put themselves in harm's way. I suspect that the
fawning is motivated by the chicken-hawk guilt you feel for not
having seen fit to risk your own precious hide in the military helping
to make over the rest of the world by force in accordance with the
harebrained utopian agenda you share with the neocons. Oh! By the
way, how are your listeners to know that the military folks who
call your show claiming that things are really going well in Iraq
aren't administration-prompted seminar callers?

And a final
gripe. You regularly state that those of us who don't support the
war with Iraq are America haters. How disingenuous! Since when does
criticizing your government indicate that you hate your country?
I love my country as much as you do, you pompous ass. But I think
that it's now being run by a bunch of neoconservative idiots as
bad as the liberal idiots who ran it during the Clinton years. When
you criticized Clinton and his foreign policy, did you hate America?
Personally, I think that both the neocons (with much assistance
from you and your talk-radio ilk) and the liberals (with much assistance
from the mainstream news and entertainment media and academia) are
undermining our Constitution and heading us toward totalitarianism.
Liberals have abridged the First Amendment's protection of freedom
of speech through campaign finance reform, done their best to define
the Second Amendment's protection of the right to keep and bear
arms out of existence, and engaged in judicial activism to circumvent
the Constitution, among other statist shenanigans. You and your
neocon heroes are willing to allow the president to override the
Bill of Rights in the name of national security. And you regularly
criticize folks for being concerned about the rights of terrorists.
I'm not concerned about the rights of terrorists; I'm concerned
about the rights of innocents accused of being terrorists. If you
didn't have that half of your brain tied behind your back, as you
like to brag, Rush, you might be able to recognize the distinction.

a good day. Now I feel all better.

A former regular
William R. Tonso

24, 2006

R. Tonso [send him mail]
a retired sociology professor (University of Evansville) who has
written a lot on the gun issue, both sociological and pro-Second
Amendment. His recent book, Gun
Control=People Control
, is a collection of eleven of his
essays previously published in Liberty, Reason, Chronicles,
and Gun Week.

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