“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. For when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” — Neitzsche
I have never been a fan of talk radio so I can’t say that I’ve ever actually heard Rush Limbaugh speak. On one hand, I’m told that he was a badly-needed voice of conservatism and that he was very pro-Israel. On the other hand, I’m told that he was a racist and misogynist. He just passed away and I’m hearing from both sides. Those who loved him are mourning him and those who hated him are celebrating.
Let’s assume, for the point of this piece, that Mr. Limbaugh was a racist and misogynist and was overall wrong (I know there are those who don’t agree. Just go with me on this).
According to those who hated him, one of the terrible things he did was to celebrate the deaths of people who didn’t conform to his moral standards. In his mind, he was celebrating the deaths of people who were wrong and were corrupting society. Despicable, right? Problem: the people who are celebrating Mr. Limbaugh’s death are doing the EXACT SAME THING — they’re celebrating the death of someone who was wrong and was corrupting society.
“But Limbaugh really was evil and corruptive.”
That’s exactly how he saw the people whose deaths he celebrated, true or not, and that’s how you’re seeing him, true or not. Again, SAME THING.
“But the people whose deaths he celebrated were innocent and didn’t deserve that.”
I’m sure they were. But you’re not honoring their memories by playing Limbaugh’s game.
“We have a right to celebrate the deaths of evil people. Look at Purim- we celebrate the death of Haman and his sons.”
Not exactly. When we celebrate Purim (which is right around this corner), we celebrate the victory of Esther, her cousin Mordechai, and all the Jews.
What’s the difference?
Of course we remember Haman and Amalek by way of Parshat Zachor and Megillat Esther. We remember what they stood for- hatred, divisiveness, and selfishness. But we celebrate the Chag by going directly against those things. We reach out to family, friends, and community by way of Mishloach Manot, Matanot LaEvyonim, and sharing our Seudah as best we can. We stand against hatred and selfishness by reaching out with kindness, friendship, and respect.
We can do the same with Mr. Limbaugh’s death. Instead of celebrating, which is his game and which was nasty and offensive and thus beneath us, we can play OUR game and we can reach out to family, friends, and others. We can find points of commonality and agree to disagree on the more divisive things. We can choose to connect.
I’m not asking anyone to stop hating him. I’m not asking anyone to attend his funeral or pay his family a condolence call. All I’m saying is that if we want to react to his death at all, let’s do it by playing OUR game, not his. If he was as insensitive as people make him out to be, let’s be the sensitive ones by letting his family bury him and grieve. And if he promoted hatred, let’s be the ones who promote friendship and unity by reaching out to those around us.