Loving Rush Limbagh and Pat Robertson

Loving Rush Limbagh and Pat Robertson January 14, 2010

During my morning news-browsing, I became aware of the despicable statements made by Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson regarding the tragic events in Haiti. I was angry. I then began connecting the dots to those  who keep company with these men either by sympathetically  listening to their commentary or simply in sharing more-than-less of their views on politics.

Almost immediately, I began to draft a post that used the obvious ugliness of Limbaugh and Robertson’s words to indict not only them, but everyone who might find themselves sharing company with Limbaugh or Robertson on politics and/or religion. I was calling-out all Republicans, so-called conservatives, Evangelicals, and especially my Catholic brothers and sisters whose political sentiments are often in harmony with those groups.

Having such a clear misdeed in sight, the logic was easy: guilt by association.

As I tore into Limbaugh, Robertson, and the poor souls who would not be able to squirm out of my guilt-by-associationist grasp, I realized that the true meaning of my post was simple and misguided. I was verbally, mentally, and rhetorically trying to hurt people.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not completely opposed to the inevitable discomfort that comes along with truth. I know that reality is painful. It is true: love hurts.

But, when the pain inflicted causes me delight, there is something amiss. If I take joy in the pain of others, then the truth I speak is void. Without love I am a clanging gong in the wind.

And too many times I sound like that annoying, ear-ringing gong. That is not to say that what I speak is relative or trivial—or even wrong outright. Inconveniently, it also doesn’t hide the fact that is much more radical than a rebuttal that comes on the coat-tails of damning evidence.

What is that radical fact?

That I am called to love my enemy. That I must love Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson. And you should too. How do we love such people who say and do such horrible things?

I am not sure. I have to admit that I am speechless as to where to begin. But I do know this: This task, the task of loving enemies, is a more worthy task than the easy work of taking delight in the pain of others that comes in undressing them with their wrongdoing, or wrongdoing-by-association.

This is not a perfect balance. I am not trying to sermonize. The dilemma is how to speak truth to power in love—true love.

It seems to me that if love is really a worthwhile alternative to the norms of hatred and violence, then, we should begin now by loving those hardest to love at the present moment. Otherwise, we become the ones holding the stones in our hand ready to kill the prostitute.

Jesus had no kind words for the Pharisees, but he forgave them all at the Cross. He loved them. He loved us. We must love too. The challenge is to know where to begin.

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26 responses to “Loving Rush Limbagh and Pat Robertson”

  1. “I was verbally, mentally, and rhetorically trying to hurt people … when the pain inflicted causes me delight, there is something amiss … I am called to love my enemy”

    A post truly worthy of the name “Christian.” This is the “Vox Nova” the world needs, not the hatefulness that so often heard, here and elsewhere.

  2. And now you’re my second favorite Christian, right after the Slacktivist (who is conspicuously absent from your blogroll, I might add). I can’t imagine even trying to love Limbaugh, and I frequently say things like “Well, maybe that [mass murderer/terrorist] had a very rough childhoold, we don’t know.”

    I have to say, one of the best things about atheism is not being under any obligation to make nice with, let alone love, people like Limbaugh and Robertson.

  3. Very well put.

    Some may have noticed that my response to some Vox Nova posts is, “What is the purpose of this post?” or “What are you trying to accomplish with this post?”

    I’m thankful you did so yourself in this case.

  4. The challenge is to figure out where to begin. I’m sure our outrage and contempt occur in situations closer to home than this. It may in the case of some people occur frequently.

    How to cool off the fires of our wrath, especially with people closer to us? Prayer? Thinking, “There but for the grace of God go I”?

    Then when some calm has been restored, restating the reasons causing our contempt and rage with words that lessen the emotion surrounding the situation. Not easy to do.

    Finally offering the effort to God knowing that we tried to follow His commandment to love. It may not be great, but at least we will have tried to bring ourselves under control. If any “objective” good can come out of this, maybe the Lord will make it happen.

    Is this a possible beginning?

  5. Anyone have a transcript of Rush’s show where these comments were made? Media Matters (who I put no trust in) is hardly a reliable source for context.

  6. I do have one other question. Why are we mad at Rush? Because he was using Haiti to make political hay against Obama? Does then Keith Olbelmann fall into this category as well, given he used Haiti as a springboard to support universal health care?

    I don’t mean this as a snide. I really am curious.

  7. Colin: I don’t have the transcript, nor have I read it (obviously). But I didn’t find it at the source I posted, it has been widely reported and discussed in many other credible media outlets. I used the link I did because it was a very direct snippet of Rush’s show. A Google News search would prove my point.

    As for your second question. I don’t watch much TV and never watch cable news. But from what I’ve heard, I personally don’t expect that I would approve of Olbermann’s show either.

    Lastly, I feel that you have missed the point of my post. Perhaps I failed to communicate clearly—and if I did I am sorry for that—but the point is to love our enemies, whoever they may be. For me today, that was Limbaugh and Robertson. For you it may be Olbermann.

    So, rather than tarry over the details, the better thing to contemplate would be: Who are my enemies and how can I begin to love them?


  8. Sam Rocha’s post seems a bit self serving. I listened to Limbaugh’s comments; they were not despicable by any stretch, unless you live under the illusion that liberals tell the truth and are compassionate and conservatives lie and hate people.
    Limbaugh stated that Obama has a political agenda as part of his statement of support for the Haitian people and that he did not trust the While House to actually deliver donations they received. Frankly all my observations of Obama verify Limbaugh’s assessment-Obama will lie whenever needed to promote his liberal agenda and I don’t trust this administration with anything. I’m not a Limbaugh clone, I read a lot. I am a life long Catholic and donate every week and to special needs. But I won’t send a dime via the White House.
    Sorry Mr. Rocha, your liberal agenda is showing.

  9. Sam,

    Thanks for the clarification. I see what you were driving at now. I became really confused when you linked Rush and Pat’s comments, and didn’t really recover after that.


    Thanks for the transcript.

  10. Brian: If I have a “liberal agenda” then I could not have written these two post (among others)—which, of course, I did.



    Anyone who cares to read a quarter of what I have written here could not claim that I “live under the illusion that liberals tell the truth and are compassionate and conservatives lie and hate people.”

    Some things are disputable, but I am confident that my record speaks for itself in this regard.

  11. Sam,

    One more thing. I hope you understand that my reaction to your post came from confusion more than an attempt to be political. I did get lost in the details.

    Peace of Christ,

  12. How do we love such people who say and do such horrible things?

    “Lord, bless them and have mercy on me.” Swiped from Happy Catholic. If it does nothing else, it drains the fun out of hating “them,” whoever they are.

  13. I may have told this story before, but it fits here.

    Once upon a time someone did something unjust and deceitful to me. They were someone I had previously trusted and respected and I took it pretty hard. I was angry for a good while. I went to confession eventually and told the priest that, though I felt no guilt for the situation in question, I did not feel that I should be so angry with my brother (not my biological brother). For penance I was told to pray for him until I stopped being angry. Well, I can tell you that it was tough to start the praying, but once I did, the anger disappeared remarkably fast.

  14. Brian, if Sam can try to love Limbaugh, can you try to love Obama? Can you forgive him for having been elected President?

  15. Sam, Excellent post. When I was living for decades practicing Buddhist mindfullness which always is the path to love I never had the feeling of urgency to love as I do now. Once I felt a speck of God’s Love it has become extremely difficult to remain angry with those who cause suffering. With a little knowledge of quantum mechanics gained through friendships and reading I realized on a Rosary Run 3 years ago that the light I projected was determined by my disposition and it will affect those known and unknown to me. With anger I join the violent frequencies of light that intrude into my awareness and with love I join the luminous frequencies of God’s Light. This is the most difficult mindful practice of all because, when God opened me to experience just a speck of His Love, He also opened me to experience everything that is not love and the suffering that this causes. As a consequence every internal response is much more intense and passionate and if I am not moving towards His Love I have the potential to be more harmful with the light that causes pain and suffering and thus become a member of that culture of death.
    This is the most difficult and yet the most critical part of being a member of Christ’s Body. He tells us we will be known by how we love one another and He will be accepted as real or rejected as an imposter by how we love one another.
    Sam, thank you for bringing this to His Light and ours.

  16. Of course, love does not demand that you never point out to people that they are behaving badly or even take action against them. A number of people have tried to convince me that excommunicating women who have abortions is an act of love on the part of the Church — a stark warning that they have gone seriously astray, and a call to repentance. I see the point, although I still see an inconsistency between saying civil law should hold them blameless victims and canon law should excommunicate them. In any case, my point is not about abortion, but about the fact that the command to love your enemies does not require you to stand by silently while they do harm.

    I would be perfectly happy to boycott Rush Limbaugh’s sponsors.

  17. It may take a while. There are three things really important in my life: my God, my family, and my Country (well maybe four-golf). So how does Obama affect these three areas?
    He is the most pro-abortion president we’ve ever had and he has appointed anti-Catholics to decision making positions. So conclude he is in opposition to my God

    He is attempting to destroy our capitalistic free enterprise system in favor of a socialist-type state. Despite all of its many faults, it has been capitalism, not socialism that has allowed more people to pull themselves out of poverty. No other economic/political system comes close. So I conclude he is in opposition to my Country.

    His spending policies and goal of taking over the healthcare system (don’t be fooled into thinking he is trying to improve our system- it is a power grab) will strap my children and grandchildren with incredible debt. So I conclude he is in opposition to my family.

    I know I am called to forgive; it may take a while. Even if I can forgive, I will oppose this man until he changes. That will probably take longer.

  18. Sam, can you tell me what Limbaugh said that was despicable? Colin said in well in his post. All Limbaugh did was point out that Obama is using Haiti for political points. And frankly he is. Obama can not be trusted. Forgiven maybe, but not trusted.
    Please don’t denegrate people like Limbaugh unless you know what they have said and the context. I keep on hearing Limbaugh is mean. I’ve listened to him for years, and I can tell you that most of what is attributed to him as mean did not come from him, or was twisted. Check your facts

    • Please don’t denegrate people like Limbaugh unless you know what they have said and the context.

      This is the response from Rush defenders every time he says something outrageous. “Out of context.” Please! And I listened to the guy for years back when I agreed with him. His stated views (and a lot of mine too) were awful.

  19. Note that harshly criticizing the views of Limbaugh and Robertson as odious and contemptible is compatible with loving them as persons, and may, in fact, be required by one’s love for them. I am not accusing Sam Rocha of falsely equating love for one’s enemies with that liberal pseudo-virtue, “civility,” but some might (wrongly) draw this inference from his post.

    I am reminded in this context of a passage in Gilead. John Ames, reflecting on the difference between the scribes and the prophets, suggests that the difference between the two consists in the fact that the scribes criticize those with whom they do not identify, whereas the prophets criticize those with whom they identify through love.

  20. can you try to love Obama? Can you forgive him

    I really mean no offense, but aren’t these questions rather judgmental? In order to make such a statement one first must assume that another does not love, and it also seems to imply that the one saying it does indeed love. It’s sanctimonious babble that does not address the issue.

    If what Limbaugh meant by his words is that Obama is untrustworthy, then Limbaugh was right. This has nothing to do with love and forgiveness, or even anger. It relates to trust. You can love and forgive and “feel good feelings” towards someone who is untrustworthy, like Obama, but the fact is – he is still untrustworthy and it isn’t necessarily uncharitable to say it. Sometimes it’s uncharitable not to.

  21. The intention of this post was not to incite a polemic. I personally found the statements made by both men to be despicable, and yet I need to find a way to love. If you feel the exact reverse and have a different fancy for people you find to act in ways that make you angry, then, your love ought to be directed there.

    One thing ought to be fairly clear from my tenure here at Vox-Nova: I am not pandering to this or that side of the aisle. Anyone who reads me here knows that. I frequently get reprimanded by Donkeys and Elephants alike.

    Lets try to focus on the meaning of the post, not its periphery.

  22. Brian D. – I love you. I stand against everything you assert politically, but I love you.

    However, let me engage in self-criticism. I think the comments Limbaugh, Robertson and Brian D put forward actually do their viewpoints more harm than good, and therefore benefit the propagation of my viewpoints. So it makes it easier to love them.

    But what of those with whom we politically oppose AND are effective at promoting thier point of view? In many ways, that is the harder test.

  23. I am closing comments.

    Sadly this post has been read—or perhaps not read at all—as an invitation to weigh-in on the commentary of Limbaugh and Robertson.

    The problem is not with them, it is with my own visceral reaction to them, misguided as it may be. Facing that initial anger—again, rightly or wrongly as it may be—and realizing that in it I am called to love those who I feel angry towards is the task.

    If you disagree with my sentiments, then, you still have the same task before you with different “enemies” to love. That is the task for us all. That was the only premise of this post.