The One Time Rush Limbaugh Messed With The Jews

Hadding Scott writes:

Once, Limbaugh said something offensive to Jews. In mid-1993, when dusky-complected Lani Guinier was up for consideration as Bill Clinton’s Assistant Attorney-General for Civil Rights, Limbaugh scoffed at the widely parroted assumption that as a “person of color” she had risen up from unfortunate origins. Limbaugh scoffed at this hagiography: “Let me tell you something! Lani Guinier is Jewish!” He explained that, being Jewish, Lani Guinier had grown up in the lap of luxury. A listener could gather from this that Jews are rich leftists, and in Limbaugh’s world, the enemy.

I was highly impressed with this unprecedented outspokenness and explicit depiction of Jews as wealthy, which carried Limbaugh’s theme of defying and rejecting guilt to an important new level — but I fully expected that it would precipitate some kind of unpleasant reaction, and I wondered if Limbaugh was ready for it. Pat Buchanan had recently made some criticisms of Jews that led to his being labeled anti-Semitic by a chorus of Jews, but Buchanan had weathered the attack and maintained his career in spite of it. Perhaps this was what Limbaugh had in mind.

As it turned out, Limbaugh did not appear to realize what he had done. A week or so later he came on the air in a nervous funk, recounting how, at a social function, the Jewish actor Kirk Douglas had made some vague imputation of anti-Semitism toward him. This had thrown Limbaugh into such a panic that, to exonerate himself of this accusation, which he said could ruin his career, he took the earliest opportunity to proclaim to his radio-audience that he would pay $1 million to anyone who could prove that he had ever made any anti-Semitic statement. The idea apparently was that when nobody claimed the reward, it would mean that he had never said such a thing. I got to a fax-machine as quickly as I could and sent in the answer, that he had referred to a Jew as a Jew in a less-than-friendly tone a few days earlier, and had also invoked the stereotype about Jews being rich, and that Jews disliked being identified that way and would consider it anti-Semitic. I included the address where Limbaugh should send my $1 million check and thanked him in advance, but I never received it.

I supposed that Limbaugh would claim in court that his $1 million promise was a figure of speech, a joke, but his reason for proclaiming that reward was no laughing matter.

It was a very short time after this that Limbaugh, for some reason, became the recipient of a free trip to Israel. (More recently, Glenn Beck also received such a free trip, when he too had spoken some criticisms of Jews.) Apparently he learned something from this trip and from his encounter with Mr. Douglas, because, so far as I know, Rush Limbaugh has never again made a comment about a Jew qua Jew that was anything less than reverential.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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