Opinion: Rush Limbaugh sets the world straight on blackness and Obama


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Soul Brotha #1, better known as Rush Limbaugh, has clarified who is black and who is not. Seriously. He may not look like it, but Rush apparently has deep knowledge legitimate blackness. Taking issue with polls that say some white blue collar workers are leery of Barack Obama because he is black, Limbaugh choked and gargled and spluttered, and gave a quick lesson in blackology: ‘He’s not black,’ he said of Obama. Not a ‘shred of African-American blood’ in him, Limbaugh ranted. ‘He’s Arab.’ Arab, Arab, Arab, Arab.

Honestly, where to start here?

Rush’s point, apparently, is that bigotry and prejudice are fine (he’s Arab! Arab, Arab, Arab, Arab), but it’s important to be bigoted for the right reasons. So anti-Arab bias seems OK. Being anti-black? Well, in the snippet he doesn’t say. But Obama has a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya. He was born in the U.S. and spent all but four years of his childhood in Hawaii. He’s a long-time practicing Christian.

But Rush, let’s address some of your points:

A: You say Obama is not black. He’s disqualified from blackness as you define it because his father is from ‘Arab’ parts of Africa. You mean, the Arab parts like Kenya? That’s sub-Saharan Africa, Rush, and there are lots of black folks there. Besides, you’ve got ethnicity and religion all twisted up. A person doesn’t have to be Black or Arab. There are Black Arabs; there are white Arabs, Arab Christians (a big population in Israel) as well as Arab Muslims etc. But of course, that’s not really what you mean. You’re using code language for ‘Muslim’ and your listeners shouldn’t need more than that be scared of him. Clever. Ignorant, bigoted, fear-mongering and underhanded, but definitely clever.


B. Now for your assertion that Obama isn’t African American. Who could be more so? He is literally of African and American descent. What’s so funny about this is when the term African-American came into vogue, people like you, Rush, railed that it was ridiculous because the link to Africa for many black Americans is distant. Now you have a man whose link is recent and he doesn’t qualify either. Oh please. But many people who call themselves African Americans, like Irish Americans or Italian Americans or Armenian Americans, are acknowledging not only ancestral connection, but the unique experience of being from somewhere else, or having parents or forebears from somewhere else, and assimilating here in the U.S. Like Obama.

C. Shreds of blood? What the heck are those?