Limbaugh on Darfur: Racism on steroids


Rush Limbaugh is known for uttering creepy stuff, but what the nationally syndicated radio host said last week about the genocide-stricken Darfur region of Sudan was categorically bigoted and once again proved his disqualification to weigh in on foreign affairs.

Democrats, he said, “want to get us out of Iraq but they can’t wait to get us into Darfur.”

What he said next, however, was brazenly out of context. “There are two reasons. What color is the skin of the people in Darfur? It’s black. And who do the Democrats really need to keep voting for them? If they lose a significant percentage of this voting block, they’re in trouble.”

“The black population,” said a caller, to which Limbaugh replied, “Right.”

In case you’re a little rusty on global issues, Darfur is a region in western Sudan where government-sponsored Arab militia, known as the Janjaweed, is accused of massacring the non-Arab but Muslim tribes. The United Nations estimates that since 2003, more than a quarter million people perished in the conflict while some 2 million were forced out of their homes.

Unlike Iraq, where our unilateralism has run amok, the conflict in Darfur is a multilateral concern for the global community.

At a time when the United States desperately needs to reshape its disfigured image in the world, engaging in Darfur is a golden opportunity to atone for its gaffes in Iraq and regain its standing in the world.

That effort shouldn’t be partisan or color-coded; Black or not, the massacre in Darfur is an international disgrace to humanity.

But unbeknown to Limbaugh, the nation’s best-known conservative radio host, is that the U.S. government, under President Bush, described the conflict as “genocide,” a loaded legal term that forces the U.S. government to act.

It was almost four years ago when former Secretary of State Colin Powell led the administration’s drumbeat to “stop the genocide,” but the war in Iraq, which has since gone south, consumed the resources of the Bush team.

The inaction in Washington touched off an array of actions at the local level. In May, Minnesota became the 13th state to pass a Sudan divestment legislation aimed at choking Khartoum to halt the bloodletting in Darfur.

The point is that the Darfur issue has not only been bipartisan in nature, but global in spirit…, well, at least not counting Limbaugh.

But even if we take Limbaugh’s naïve statement at its face value and assume that Democrats want us out of Iraq and in Darfur, it’s simply the right thing to do. (Unfortunately, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., is the only Democratic presidential candidate who favors American boots on the ground in Darfur.)

Darfur is another genocide unfolding before our eyes. Last time the United States didn’t act on its good moral compass, some 1 million Rwandans were killed in a span of 100 days in 1994. When President Bill Clinton was asked what was the foreign policy blunder that he regretted the most, he cited the fact that he didn’t act precipitously in Rwanda to stop the genocide.

Ditto in Darfur. While our troops are fighting the wrong war in Iraq and the Bush cabal is misappropriating vast resources there, thousands of Darfurians are vanishing from the face of the earth.

Learning from his inaction in Rwanda, Clinton acted quickly in the Bosnian war. On the eve of the Dayton Accord in 1995, which ended the Bosnian war, the world celebrated the United States as a beacon of hope and an ally of the little guy—irrespective of ethnicity or religion. (Bosnians, who were on the brink of a similar genocide, are predominantly white Muslims; the Serbs and the Croatians are mostly white Christians.)

Darfur offers a second chance to remake our image in the world—especially in the Muslim world, where it matters the most.

Limbaugh’s prattle about the issue, however, epitomizes racism on steroids.