By David A. Harris, President of the National Jewish Democratic Council
The American response to the horrific tragedy in Haiti has shown us some of the best in our system of government—true leadership from President Obama and his administration and immediate, non-partisan support from former Presidents Bush and Clinton. But we’ve also caught a glimpse of the ugliest underbelly of our public discourse today, personified by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
Admittedly, Rush had already said some pretty heinous things of late. Nazi and Holocaust comparisons have been a favorite hobby of his—comparing President Obama’s website to Hitler’s “youth movement,” comparing the President himself and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Hitler, etc.
But when on Wednesday Rush said that “we’ve already donated to Haiti—it’s called the U.S. income tax.” He was reaching out to his massive listening audience and obstructing the nationwide effort to address the mounting humanitarian crisis on our doorstep. Two days later, Rush said that President Obama’s response to Haiti is “about domestic U.S. politics;” in the same show, he referred to our military as “Meals on Wheels.” To their credit, former Presidents Clinton and Bush pushed back against this foul politicization of these desperately-needed efforts.
There are some moments that deserve to be free of these kinds of profoundly destructive comments, and this moment—when we should all be pulling in the same direction—is one of them. There is a cancer that is increasingly spreading across our public discourse, and it knows no bounds.