• 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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