Rush Limbaugh again took to the airwaves yesterday to obsess about Oprah's weight. The host, unconcerned with the icon's health, instead sought for the second time in a week to prove that as a wealthy woman, she could not possibly have to confront the ugly face of racism.
Oprah previously told Entertainment Tonight about her story of a store clerk in Switzerland who encouraged her to purchase a cheaper bag, steering her away from the higher priced item because it was "too expensive." Oprah said in the interview that the encounter shows that racism still exists, even for someone of her wealth. (The store, and the country of Switzerland have apologized to Oprah and she graciously told reporters that she was "sorry that it got blown up.")
Rush Limbaugh of course believes race could not possibly have been a factor in the story, and posited an alternative theory.
Rush believes Oprah was directed to lower cost items in the store not based on race, but instead on her weight:
LIMBAUGH: Oprah is a plus size woman, and there is discrimination against plus size women. You don't see a whole lot of really fashionable, wealthy overweight women. Most fashionably wealthy women are stick thin. They starve themselves, or they're bulimic or they're anorexic or whatever they do to maintain their social x-ray status. But you very seldom see a really weal-- unless you get into the frumpy, you know, 70s and 80s. But even then it's an exception, to see a very wealthy, overweight, fat woman. So The Oprah could have suffered a double whammy when it comes to discrimination.
This follows Rush's comments on Friday:
LIMBAUGH: We do not know [if] the salesperson based her judgment on The Oprah's skin color. The salesperson obviously thought that The Oprah couldn't afford the what is it -- $38,100 bag. Maybe it's because The Oprah's fat. Well, that's an -- how was The Oprah dressed? I mean, she didn't look like The Oprah, obviously. Was she wearing [a] jumpsuit with tennis shoes, maybe Air Jordans that were not laced up? I mean, who knows?
The silliness underlying Limbaugh's commentary hides a far more deceitful intent. Just as the right, in order to justify their devotion to fossil fuels preaches the junk science of climate denial, they must also expound the junk ideology of racism denial. If the existence of racism can be denied then so to can its impact on the public policy process, transforming Limbaugh's comments from puerile to dangerous.
In a screed earlier in yesterday's show in support of North Carolina's new law requiring voter ID and restricting early voting, signed by the governor on Monday, Limbaugh went on a rant against early voting.
Limbaugh said: "This early voting and same-day voter registration, they're nothing more than Democrat Party tricks to aid them in cheating during elections." The host continued, calling the very practice of early voting "a bastardization, it's a corruption."
It's no surprise that in North Carolina, the black population disproportionately votes early and these restrictions would limit their enfranchisement. Limbaugh isn't simply a bystander to these laws, he is an active participant in their passage. After State Senator Bill Cook introduced this bill in April, he acknowledge the support he received from the conservative host, telling MSNBC "Somebody on Rush Radio liked my bill," adding, "I must have hit the big time."
Limbaugh's denial of racism can't simply be ignored as bloviating -- its impact on public policy is far too corrosive.