On his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh saw an opening to make a sexist joke. Videos apparently show that Osama bin Laden lived in squalor in the hideout in Pakistan where he was killed. And Limbaugh knows that bin Laden had three wives. I bet you can guess what followed. Yup, a joke about how bin Laden could have such a messy house despite living with three wives. He added that "one ought to be enough to keep it clean."
Limbaugh said that he was not making a sexist joke, but actually commenting on "the customs in Islam and the Muslim world," because "over there, what else do they do" besides clean up and have children?
It's so transparent that this comment is actually about Limbaugh's sexism, that it barely needs explaining. In the clip itself, Limbaugh complained that he couldn't tell such a joke in "feminized America." And Limbaugh's sexism is well-documented. He has previously said that powerful women keep a "testicle lock box"; he calls the National Organization for Women, the "NAGs" (the National Association of Gals); he calls women cabinet members "sex-retaries"; and he calls female news reporters demeaning terms such as "infobabes" who "chickify" the news.
Limbaugh is sexist, and he used bin Laden's death to make a sexist joke. No doubt about it.
But that's not all. Limbaugh also displayed his utter lack of knowledge of the Muslim world. While I have no doubt that bin Laden treated his wives despicably, it is hardly universally true that the Muslim world refuses to let women do anything besides housework and childbearing.
In fact, the country where bin Laden was hiding, Pakistan, first elected a woman as prime minister in 1988. The current speaker of the lower house of Pakistan's parliament is a woman. Another largely Muslim country, Turkey, first elected a woman as prime minister in 1993.
It's doubtful that Limbaugh knows any of this, of course.
Thus, this short clip shows Limbaugh squarely in his comfort zone: at the intersection of sexism and ignorance.