Rush Limbaugh died on Wednesday at the age of 70. Though his lung cancer diagnosis had been publicly known for months, still his death managed to seem somehow shocking. That is how it always feels when a man of great consequence and importance reaches the end of his time here on Earth. And that is the one thing that nobody can deny about Rush’s life: it was important, consequential. He was a pioneer, a legend, and he changed the country in ways that few media figures ever have, ever could or ever will.
Anyone who doubts Rush’s profound importance need only take a glance at social media. There they will find many people paying grateful tribute to the radio icon and talking about all the ways that they were personally influenced and motivated by him, but another, and perhaps more profound, indication of Rush’s importance is that all of the worst people in our country, many of the most vile and disgusting ghouls that our culture has produced, have come out to celebrate his death openly and dance on his grave without shame. I will not amplify any of them individually by going through a list of all of the filthy things they’re spewing. Suffice it to say that the phrases “rot in hell” and “rest in piss” were trending minutes after news broke about Limbaugh’s passing. These are not just random anonymous internet trolls, but also some of the most prominent left-wing voices who, when they’re not laughing at a man for dying of cancer, are busy lecturing us about the need for civil political discourse.
Media outlets showed a similar lack of restraint. Rolling Stone’s headline read: “Rush Limbaugh, Right-Wing Radio Host Who Trafficked in Bigotry and Cruelty, Dead at 70.” The Daily Beast was only slightly more subtle: “Rush Limbaugh, the Human Megaphone Who Hijacked the GOP, Dead at 70.” Of course, the fever swamps of the left-wing blogosphere weren’t subtle at all. Jezebel’s top headline said simply: “Good Riddance.” In other words, the media and the Left have showed the grace, dignity and compassion you’d expect. Which is to say, none at all.
Rush deserved better than to have the story of his death be a story about the jerks who rejoice over it, but it is worth thinking about this now-familiar routine. We live in a country where this sort of thing happens so automatically that we aren’t shocked anymore by it. When a famous person of a certain ideological persuasion dies, we expect that “Satan” and “Hell” will be trending on Twitter because of all of the users openly fantasizing about their political enemy roasting eternally in a place that they otherwise claim is fictional. And that’s exactly what happened in this case, right on cue. But why does it happen? It seems insufficient to chalk it up to mere “partisanship” or “divisiveness.” What, then, is really fueling it?
To answer that question, the first thing we have to establish is that this truly is a left wing phenomenon. I am not claiming that nobody on the Right did any football spiking or made any jokes about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or some other recently deceased liberal. What I’m claiming is that those reactions were representative of a definite minority. There has not been a time, to my memory, when “rest in piss,” or anything like it, trended in reaction to a famous leftist’s death. For the most part, RBG was eulogized respectfully by both right and left. There are notable exceptions, but those exceptions are still exceptions. On the Left, the respectful eulogy of political opponents has become the exception. Shameless celebration is the norm.
What drives it is the same thing that drives Cancel Culture, to a great extent. It is the belief — again, not totally unique to the Left, but more prevalent by a wide margin — that people with differing views are bad people. Not just that they have bad opinions, but that they are bad themselves, deep down in their souls. The consequence of casting every political disagreement, every alternate opinion, every opposing argument, as racism or sexism or homophobia or whatever other -ism or -phobia, is that those who are conditioned into this way of thinking will come to believe that their opponents are truly and irredeemably evil.
It is easy to make a joke about the fact that the Left calls everything and everyone bigoted, but the not-so-funny reality is that a great many Americans, especially younger Americans, really believe this framing. They have taken it to heart. It is the lens through which they view reality. They look out at the world and see millions of wicked, worthless, racist, knuckle-dragging subhumans staring back at them. They do not recognize the humanity of their opponents. They certainly cannot see any goodness or virtue in them.
The reaction to Rush Limbaugh’s death is not happening in a vacuum, and it is not a matter of random, anonymous trolls simply trying to get a rise out of people. It is a reflection of our culture, and of the ideological divide, and of how deep that divide is, and of the pure, unbridled hatred that has helped to carve it.
Rush was the relentless target of this equally relentless hatred for much of the past four decades. As I’m sure he expected, that has not changed with his death. The man achieved many great things, and made his mark in countless and incalculable ways, but one of the deepest testaments to his life is that these sorts of people are rejoicing over its end. May we all hope to make such an impact with our lives.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.