STFU, Limbaugh

[Content Note: Racism; violence; terrorism.]

So, Rush Limbaugh, professional dirtbag, is complaining that there is "a media conspiracy to 'define deviancy down' by portraying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an adorable kid through teenage anecdotes and photos that make him look handsome." That would be objectionable enough, but then he went on to compare admitted terrorist Tsarnaev to murdered teenager Trayvon Martin:
"You notice also that the news media are doing to Dzhokhar what they did to Trayvon Martin," Limbaugh said on his radio show Tuesday. "They're regularly showing a photo of Dzhokhar that was taken when he was about 14. Soft, angelic, nice little boy, harmless, cute, big lovable eyes."
I'm so fucking angry about that comparison, even and especially in service to one of Limbaugh's entirely typical bullshit media conspiracy stories, that I'm struggling to craft a coherent response.

Trayvon Martin was not a terrorist. He was not terrorizing George Zimmerman's community. He wasn't doing anything wrong at all. He was a kid walking down a street with a bag of Skittles in his hand, who was stalked and harassed and eventually murdered by someone who believed he was up to no good because he was a black kid in a hoodie in his neighborhood.

(And I utterly refuse to indulge any debate here about whether Martin "went after" Zimmerman. If he "went after" him, that was an eminently reasonable self-defense response to an unknown adult who was stalking him in a vehicle and then on foot, something Zimmerman admits doing, though he wouldn't call it "stalking" because he fancies himself some kind of goddamn vigilante hero.)

Limbaugh's attempt to equate Trayvon Martin with a terrorist, for any reason, is a heinous personal attack on Martin, and a profoundly contemptible and harmful narrative that entrenches racist tropes about the violent nature of black men, but the thing that's making me seethe beyond measure is the breathtaking audacity and unfathomable cruelty of comparing one of the most well-known black victims of gun violence to a terrorist, while the country determinedly ignores that young black USians are being terrorized by gun violence.
[T]here exists a clear and unfortunate connection between race and gun violence in this country, and if you are African American, you are far more likely to be a victim of gun violence in America, whether the shooter is Black or White.

...[T]he Children's Defense Fund's Protect Children, Not Guns 2012 reports that in 2008 and 2009, Black children and teens accounted for 45 percent of all child and teen gun deaths, but were only 15 percent of the total child population. Moreover, gun homicide was the leading cause of death among Black teens between the ages of 15 and 19.

For too many Black families, these staggering statistics are not just numbers but ingrained into their everyday lives. For instance, Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honor student, was fatally shot in Hyde Park just days after she returned from participating in President Obama's inaugural parade.

In Prince George's County, Maryland, six high schools students have died of gun violence this academic school year' five of these students were African American and the sixth was Hispanic.

A shooting in Chicago last month took the lives of seven people and injured six others. Ronnie Chambers was among those killed on January 26, 2013; he was the youngest son of Shirley Chambers, who had already lost three other children in three separate shootings. In 2000, Ms. Chambers presciently told the Chicago Tribune after she lost her third child, "I only have one child left, and I'm afraid that [the killings] won't stop until he's gone, too."

In another case, seventeen-year old Jordan Russell Davis was killed on November 23, 2012 by 45-year old Michael David Dunn for playing loud music in Jacksonville, Florida. Dunn pulled up next to Davis and his three friends outside a convenience store. While Dunn's girlfriend went inside to get food, Dunn, agitated by the loud music coming from the SUV, demanded the African American teens to turn down their music.

The teens refused. Dunn shot at least eight times at the SUV while the teens frantically tried to reverse; two of these bullets fatally hit Davis.
Which is to say nothing of the murder of young black people by police, as in the case of Oscar Grant.

This was a letter to the editor in our local paper earlier this month:
While there are many troublesome aspects of gun violence in America, perhaps the most disturbing is the statistical disparity of death by gun violence of black Americans. This disparity is across the board, regardless if shootings are accidental, homicidal or suicidal.

The National Institute of Justice reports that young black males from 15 to 19 are five times more likely to be killed by gun violence than their white counterparts. Black teens are dying at an alarming rate of 11.3 per 100,000 compared to white teens dying at the rate of 2.3 per 100,000.

Chicago further illustrates the incidence of gun-related deaths, as it is reported that in 2012 the 515 individuals killed in Chicago's streets outnumbered the 301 soldiers killed in that same year in Afghanistan.

Investigation into the causes of these racial disparities of gun violence in America can shed light on the larger question of how to reduce gun violence in our population as a whole.

- Sheila R, Taylor, Gary
This isn't an abstract issue to me. This is happening in my community. Like Shirley Chambers in Chicago, Lenore Johnson of Gary has lost all four of her children to gun violence. Do you understand? There are multiple black mothers who have lost four children to gun violence just in this area. Now multiply that across the entire country. And then think about Rush Limbaugh equating someone who was probably not so dissimilar to their dead children to a confessed terrorist.

Trayvon Martin was not a terrorist. He was terrorized. Being five times more likely to be killed by gun violence because of your race, and the dread of living under a heightened threat of violence, and the devaluation of your life by your country's indifference to this ongoing threat, is terrorism, if the word is to have any meaning at all that doesn't center exclusively around scared white people.

I don't have a well-tied bow to conclude this piece. Rush Limbaugh can fuck off.

[Note: Do not tell me that responding to Limbaugh is only giving him oxygen and my outrage is what he wants and blah blah. I don't want to hear it. Just don't. I am not raising my voice for Limbaugh; I am refusing to remain silent for the people he victimizes.]

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus