A hyena will scavenge graves for food. It is an animal that shows no respect for the dead. Instead, it merely regards the misfortune of once-living carcasses as an opportunity.
In east Nigeria they have a belief that there are people who are capable of turning themselves into hyenas at will. Rush Limbaugh gave credence to that Nigerian superstition last week when he used the tragedy of 100,000 Haitian men, women, and children to promote himself as America’s number one radio thug without a conscience.
The pseudo-manly, rational thinker without a heart radio bit is nothing new for Rush. He has built his career by giving his listeners reasons to hate, fear, judge, and attack the easiest targets among our fellow man. Recently that target was dead, dying, starving, terrified Haitians who ranged in age from newborn to 90. Rush picks his targets well. While the world was seeing pictures of the bodies of Haitian children being dug up from earthquake rubble, Rush was once again reasserting himself as the “dispassionate”, “clear thinking”, wannabe tough guy who masters concepts that are beyond the grasp of less insightful observers. That is the Rush shtick. He projects this idea that as America’s conservative brain trust he is one of the few insightful thinkers capable of rising above those lesser human emotions like compassion, empathy, and decency. His 12 years in school no doubt equipped him for that. Rush is always selling himself as a character you might find in the cult books of Nietzsche or Ayn Rand. His listeners seem to eat up the idea of him being wholly unsympathetic but thoroughly narcissistic and all-knowing when everyone else around him is weighted down with those weak-minded beliefs that the well-being of our fellow man actually matters.
Limbaugh is much like that Nigerian mythical creature who evolved to the point that he is more hyena than human. When he suggested last week that there was no need for Americans to provide for Haitians because we have already paid income tax, he knew that statement would improve his radio ratings. A real “ditto head” would embrace that idea, and he knew it. After that, he used his mic time to politicize the tragedy by suggesting that, in keeping with Obama’s new healthcare reform “death panel” policies, Americans would be giving pills to Haitians to end their lives and their suffering. That was great radio entertainment in Rush’s world and I’m certain that as he spoke those words he was focused on how his clever snarkiness could extract bigger Nielsen ratings from the dead bodies of Haitian earthquake victims.
Haitians are easy targets for hate talkers like Rush. After all, they are black. And as we have heard from every neocon nut with a microphone, they pose an illegal immigration problem in America. They live in self-imposed and self-perpetuated poverty on a useless island. Worse yet, if you believe the TV evangelist Pat Robertson, they are Satan worshippers, capable of black magic and sorcery. As I watch this story unfold, I am hopeful that a surviving Haitian will use sorcery to change Rush’s bloated figure from a hyena back into a human being.