Rush, Sean, and Dr. Savage

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As
I noted in my
open letter to Rush Limbaugh
, which incidentally, got quite
a positive response, I no longer regularly listen to the gentleman's
radio show. But I do tune in occasionally to see what the foremost
defender of our precious constitutionally-guaranteed rights is up
to. Recently he was carrying on, as he often does, about the political
opposition to the Bush administration's enlightened nation-building
efforts in Iraq. This unenlightened opposition to George the 2nd's
humanitarian efforts wouldn't have gotten away with such unpatriotic
shenanigans in Lincoln's day, the nation's number one historian
and supporter of the Constitution informed his listeners as he related
how Honest Abe had treated those who gave him guff during the so-called
Civil War.

When
Ohio congressman Clement L. Vallandigham had the audacity to make
a speech in which he accused Lincoln of unconstitutionally usurping
power, Abe had the congressman arrested by federal troops and then
deported to the South. Lincoln also shut down newspapers that opposed
the war, arrested editors who took that position, and suspended
habeas corpus, the very acts the congressman was criticizing. Wow!
That's not the Sandburgian Honest Abe that we all learned about
from the government educational establishment. In Illinois, where
I'm from and went to school, Lincoln was godlike and never would
have done such things. But he did do such things, as Thomas DiLorenzo
and others have verified. Lincoln was a dictator, and we're not
supposed to approve of dictators in this country. However, instead
of undermining Lincoln's image, knowledge of these actions of his
during the War Between the States enhances Abe's image in Rush's
mind. Rush approvingly, even merrily, related these facts as an
object lesson. And our wimpy liberals (remember, only liberals oppose
the war) think that the Bush Bunch is roughing up too many folks
in Iraq and here at home who oppose the neocon agenda. Honest Abe
showed us how to handle opposition to presidential will during time
of war, and wasn't he just about the greatest president we ever
had? The Constitution is all well and good, but you can't let it
get in the way in time of war. Presidents, or at least the great
ones like Lincoln and Bush II (stifle that guffaw!), have to be
trusted to do the right thing, even if they have to ignore the Constitution
and act dictatorish now and again. This apparently is the position
taken by Rush, the great constitutionalist.

I
also monitor Rush, Jr., Sean Hannity, but not as much as I used
to. Sean is a Great American. Just ask his adoring fans. They're
all great Americans too. When black congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
smacked a white Capitol Hill policeman who tried to keep her from
entering her Capitol Hill turf because she wasn't wearing her ID
and he didn't recognize her, Hannity went ballistic. Who was she
to resist a cop who was just trying to do his job and keep her turf
safe? No one has the right to resist a cop doing his/her job, according
to Great American Sean, who often claims that he has libertarian
leanings. When anyone involved in policing or security work requests
that you do this or that, the proper thing to do is say "yes
sir/ma'am!" and comply with that request.

Okay.
I'm a law-abiding sort. In my 72 years I've had one ticket for parking
in a no-parking zone from which the no-parking sign had been removed,
one speeding ticket, and two speeding warnings. I've known a few
cops. One of my former students was our local Evansville, Indiana
police chief a few years back; another whom I run across occasionally
is an Indiana state trooper. I've known other Indiana troopers,
city cops, and deputy sheriffs, and the late husband of a family
friend over in my native Illinois was an Illinois state trooper,
as was one of the members of a gun club I once belonged to over
there. The cops I've known reasonably well have all been decent
conscientious guys; I don't envy their work, and I don't want to
cause cops any unnecessary trouble. But unlike Great American Sean,
I can think of times when questioning the authority of the police
is called for.

As
sociologist and former social justice organizer John R. Salter,
Jr. noted in his contribution to my edited book, The
Gun Culture and Its Enemies
(1990), during the civil rights
push of the 1960s, police stations in some southern communities
publicized Ku Klux Klan meetings and recruited for that organization.
And he also noted that the police of some south and southwestern
Chicago districts were no better when he was organizing there in
the 1970s. I can hear the Great American's response: "That
was a long time ago, and we've come a long way since then."
Yup! All the way to Waco and the incineration by federal police
of some 80 men, women, and children, many black, who happened to
have non-traditional religious beliefs and were rumored to be violating
federal firearms law, a victimless and constitutionally-questionable
crime. "But that was during the lawless Clinton years,"
Sean would say. Then how about the sterling performance by federal
police at Ruby Ridge during the reign of George the 1st?
Should Randy Weaver have been polite to them after they killed his
son and wife? But these are only some of the most publicized examples
of wrongdoing on the part of the police, none of whom were punished
for their wrongdoing in the cases mentioned. I certainly don't mean
to tar all police, but though it may come as a shock to the Great
American, wrongdoing by police is hardly rare.

I
sometimes even listen to Michael Savage, another super patriot and
the world's foremost independent thinker. Just ask him. Or wait
a few seconds and he'll tell you even if you don't ask him. Why
here's a man so independent that he can even criticize Bush for
being too wimpy with the insurgents in Iraq and with war opponents
here at home. And he's so independent and courageous that he even
refers to fellow talker Saint Rush, a man who actually possesses
"talent on loan from Gawd," as Hush Bimbaugh. Can you
imagine that? Now that takes real courage, but what would you expect
from a man named Savage? What a courage surge he must have experienced
when he changed his name from Weiner. And how clever he is! Hush
Bimbaugh, of all names. Who would have ever thought of that without
the assistance of a battery of third graders? But Michael has a
way with words. In fact, I wonder sometimes if he doesn't have the
knack of speaking in tongues, because he can babble on incoherently
while conjuring up such profundities as "a citizen's first
obligation is to the state," or something like that. Now that
sounds sort of fascist to me, but he has a Ph.D. that his listeners
have found out about even though he's too modest to mention it more
than a hundred times per show, so he must know. Wait a minute! I've
got a Ph.D., and I didn't know that. Well, maybe that's because
mine isn't from the prestigious (he reminds his listeners) University
of California at Berkeley in epidemiology and nutrition science.
Or was it nutritional ethnomedicine or something like that that
makes him an expert on everything? And then there's his ongoing
trademark exclamation, "I can't take it anymore"! His
listeners know that he actually can, because he's the world's foremost
independent thinker and he's got a Ph.D. from Berkeley in whatever,
and his most worshipful listeners call him Dr. Savage. Well anyway,
Savage (I can visualize him swinging through the trees on a vine
yodeling like Tarzan, but with a Brooklyn accent) wants to get even
rougher on those ragheads resisting the neocon's humane efforts
to liberate them and those liberal (always liberal) American critics
of the war than Honest Abe was on his opponents, North and South.
Nuke the cities of the former after dropping leaflets warning noncombatants
to leave, and shoot the liberal critics for treason. Somehow I don't
feel all better because this guy claims to be a strong independent-thinking
defender of our freedoms, but there are oodles of Dr. Savage worshippers
out there who believe that he is such. This, even though he sounds
like New York Democrat senator Chucky Schumer, another questionable
self-professed protector of our freedoms, but from the wascally
liberal side of the fence. When Savage starts screaming, I think
of all the Ritalin being wasted on unruly school boys.

One
email responder to my open letter to Rush chided me for taking him
seriously — Rush is simply entertaining us. I'm sure that lots of
folks do listen not only to Rush but to Sean, Dr. Savage, and their
numerous clownish colleagues for entertainment. I admit that I get
a sort of scab-picking pleasure out of listening to Savage. But
millions of our fellow Americans uncritically look to these authoritarians
for enlightenment. That's scary!!!! Of course, it's also scary that
millions of our fellow Americans still uncritically look to the
mainstream media for enlightenment. Those of us who have closely
and knowledgeably followed mainstream media coverage of such controversial
issues as gun control know all too well that the talk-radio guys
are right on when they carry on about the liberal bias of the mainstream
media that can reach Orwellian extremes. It pays to examine critically
everything fed to us by the liberal mainstreamers as well as by
the right-wing-authoritarian radio talkers.

May
6, 2006

William
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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