When Small Men Cast Big Shadows: The Right Wing Media on Haiti

Is right wing media hurting Haiti – and what should conservatives do about it?

By Richard Lakin

The disaster in Haiti has seen an outpouring of corporate humanitarian aid. Companies like General Electric, Google, UPS, PepsiCo, Comcast, Time Warner, and McDonalds have all made large contributions to the relief effort. One of my own CSR media clients, Laureate International Universities, has donated a substantial amount through the Clinton Global Initiative, and is matching employee and student donations. Private citizens have contributed a lot of money as well, and many local communities have sent medical and rescue teams. The pictures from Haiti have stirred our national conscience and many of us have pitched in to help our Haitian neighbors. There is, however, an element that has exploited this tragedy as yet another excuse for issuing divisive rhetoric.

I suppose no one was surprised when Rush Limbaugh recently said President Obama is using Haiti to boost his credibility with the “light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.” Nor was it unexpected when Fox’s Glenn Beck said that Obama’s rapid response in Haiti “is dividing the nation.” This is a free country, so any self-absorbed blowhard can rant about whatever they want.

What is surprising, however, is the lack of corresponding outrage from conservative members of our congress over these idiotic remarks. Conservatives have embraced and legitimized these pundits as their spokespersons when it was politically expedient, so it would be reasonable to expect them to answer for it when one of them says something stupid. Where is the condemnation from the distinguished ladies and gentlemen whom we’ve elected to look after the interests of The Republic? Their silence infers tacit agreement. Have we become so politicized that even exploiting a humanitarian disaster of historic proportion doesn’t warrant some sort of rebuttal?

Whenever they’re in front of a microphone, conservatives never shut up about family values and their deep religious convictions. Well, here’s a chance to deliver on all the talk about compassionate conservatism. Do they want future generations to look back at the disaster in Haiti and see that our national response was petty political posturing?

Fortunately, that won’t happen. Americans have responded enthusiastically to help the earthquake victims in Haiti. I applaud the non-partisan efforts of former Presidents Bush and Clinton in bringing attention to this disaster. The Right Wing media is out of touch with the national consciousness on this one.

I urge conservative members of our legislatures to publicly rebuke Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Beck. So far, their silence is deafening. If your neighbor’s house were burning, would you consult Rush Limbaugh before you decided whether or not to call the fire department? Do we aspire to be a nation of good-hearted humanitarian people, or do we shape our national conscience from the views of racist talk show hosts and delusional conspiracy theorists? Let us instead continue to listen to what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.

Limbaugh once used Lin Yutang’s quote to assail President Obama; ”When small men cast big shadows, it’s a sign that the sun is about to set.” Rush, I suspect that you’ve defined your legacy instead.

About Richard Lakin

Richard Lakin is the co-founder of 18 rabbits digital media. Named after the Mayan king (695-738 AD) who supported the arts during his reign in Central America, 18 rabbits digital media promotes social entrepreneurs, NGOs, corporate social responsibility, non-profits, and community outreach projects through a strategic program of multimedia and internet distribution. Richard frequently writes about media issues and humanitarian efforts, and produces multimedia for social causes all over the world.

Is right wing media hurting Haiti – and what should conservatives do about it?

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