The Wisconsin State Senate refused this week to take up a resolution that would honor a number of Black figures in recognition of Black History Month, but within the same session also voted in favor of a resolution giving honors to the late talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
Ostensibly, Republicans said they did not want to pass the Black History Month resolution, authored by Black lawmakers in the Wisconsin legislature, because it was too specific and included figures they deemed to be controversial.
“We asked them to do [a Black History Month resolution] that was more generic, like the ones we had done in the past,” State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said. “They really didn’t want to. So we never reached consensus.”
Those same concerns, however, did not stop the Republican-led State Senate on Tuesday from passing a resolution for Limbaugh, who dispensed hatred and vitriol toward a number of groups on his radio program for decades, largely without remorse, prior to his death. In defending their vote, some Republicans even painted Limbaugh in a positive light, while ignoring his blatantly hostile and hate-filled history as a broadcaster.
“He was a bold conservative voice, he was a cultural phenomenon, but also very importantly, he was a philanthropist,” Republican State Sen. André Jacque said.
The resolution on Limbaugh further described him as “a talk radio pioneer beloved by millions of loyal listeners for his ardent defense of conservative politics.”
Democratic lawmakers were fast to condemn their colleagues from across the political aisle.
“The Republicans have issues with who we as a Black body choose to honor, but yet we have to sit in this body and honor somebody like Rush Limbaugh who was a homophobic, xenophobic racist,” State Sen. LaTonya Johnson, a Democrat, said.
“You own this. You own his rhetoric. You own his sentiment. The (GOP caucus) owns this — his racism,” Johnson added in other remarks.
Johnson made attempts to read some of the remarks from Limbaugh’s past that Republicans refused to recognize. However, as she was doing so, some members of the GOP State Senate caucus decided to leave the room instead.
Limbaugh, who died of lung cancer last month, attacked a number of groups on his radio program, including members of the LGBTQ community, feminists and people of color.
The radio host promoted the racist “birtherism” conspiracy theory, which wrongly alleged that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S., and frequently played a racist parody song about the former chief executive that included a racial epithet in its title and lyrics. Limbaugh also mocked and openly celebrated the deaths of gay men on his show during the AIDS epidemic, and disparaged Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke by calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” for testifying before Congress in 2012 about access to birth control.
Immediately after his death last month, Vos requested that Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, issue an order that all flags throughout the state be lowered to recognize Limbaugh’s life. Evers ignored the request, and instead ordered flags to be lowered to commemorate the 500,000 Americans who had perished at that point across the U.S. as a result of the coronavirus pandemic — another topic that Limbaugh often minimized and lied about to listeners of his radio program.