Let’s just go down the Nazi propaganda checklist, shall we? You’ll see what I mean. Herr Limbaugh is as good as Goebbels (though he actually looks a bit more like Sergeant Shultz).
■ Polarity in tone, in which one talks politely to the enemy when faced with them directly, but embraces a snark-filled vocal style when they’re gone and you’re once again talking to your own side. Does Rush do this? Check.**
■ Poisoning the well, in which one trivializes any comparable media efforts from the other side while at the same time lauding you and yours. Rush, of course, lambasts the “mainstream media” while reminding us that he has his “talent on loan from God,” is “America’s truth detector,” and is regularly “meeting and surpassing all audience expectations on a daily basis." Check.
■ Promoting ideology over information, in which truth is defined through the language of opinion, generally supported by out-of-context or cherry-picked “facts,” with a nearly 100% concentration on political persuasion. Take, for example, a typical Rush-pinion. "The world's biggest problem,” he says, “is the unequal distribution of capitalism. If there were capitalism everywhere, you wouldn't have food shortages." Opinion as fact, promoting ideology. Check.
■ Scapegoating, during which the propagandist spends time talking with those of similar beliefs, and uses that time to further belittle “them” in ways that make it obvious*** that “they” are the cause of the problems and only “we” can see it. Take this little tidbit, from a conversation Rush had back in 1995 with a like-minded caller: “That’s the basic problem. You [the caller] and I have morals, we have ethics, we have honesty.” Liberals, conversely, must not. Check.
■ Stereotyping, in which entire classes of people are painted in broad brush strokes with increasingly negative terms. Rush repeatedly uses characterizing epithets like “arrogant,” “morally bankrupt,” “feminazi” (irony, anyone?), and, more recently, “prostitute” and “slut.” Here’s one of my favorites, in which he stereotypes liberals as thieves: “Their [liberals] idea of sacrifice is taking from people they don't like.” Check.
■ Manipulating key moral concepts so that what used to be positive is now negative, or vice-versa. These are often cast as oxymorons, as when Rush calls liberals “compassionate fascists,” thereby negating the value (or authenticity) of compassion. In a similar vein, he has said that “compassion is no substitute for justice,” implying that liberals are so married to the idea of compassion that they would violate the rule of law in order to force compassion on others. Check.
■ And, finally, the imagery of dehumanization, used to inspire revulsion and to make it easier to hate. The Nazis famously dehumanized an entire people until millions thought them no more than animals, fit to be slaughtered. And now, years later, here’s Rush describing those “maggot-infested” liberals who “exert a poisonous influence on American life.” Sound familiar? Check.
So there you have it: proof positive that Rush Limbaugh embraces hated Nazi techniques. What does that say about him?
More importantly, what does it say about a country in which he thrives?